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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

on "pearls of wisdom" « Previous | |Next »
July 7, 2010

Paul Kelly is considered the doyen of the Canberra Press Gallery. He has the track record to justify speaking to us from his Olympian heights about the shape of Australia, its history, problems and future. Kelly writes his op-eds and we all read them for the pearls of wisdom and nuggets of insight. He offers PM's advice about how best to govern the country, and they listen attentively as he one of News Ltd's quality journalists that we should be willing to pay big bucks to read.

Or so Murdoch would like us to believe. Should we? Well, Kelly has just written his usual penetrating article on the population issue that offers free advice to the PM. The best way to understand the issues is in terms of whether one should plan to throttle back economic growth in the cause of environmental restraint and adds:

The policy problem is obvious: the need for better integration between the immigration program and social, transport, environmental and infrastructure provision, much of which involves state governments. This is where Australia must lift its planning and governance.

Les ignore the "throttle back economic growth" bit and focus on the integration bit. What is the best way to approach that? The Gillard Government says it is in terms of sustainability.

So what policy advice does Kelly offer in terms of sustainable and integration? Clarity is need he decrees. The new Sustainable Population Minister Tony Burke, in his June 28 Lateline interview,

raised the false bogy of "some sort of unlimited, unconstrained" growth, and said Gillard gave a high priority to "carrying capacity" but wanted a skilled migration program to meet the needs of business. People were entitled to be confused...In the past, Gillard has flirted with the notion of "carrying capacity". In her speech yesterday, she rejected an immigration policy driven by "an arbitrary single number". Presumably, this is Gillard as a new PM rejecting any population cap based on the loopy "carrying capacity" concept. If this slogan was given credence, Australia's immigration future would be thrown wide open and Labor would face a new round of political grief.The idea that Australia could not "carry" 36 million people is absurd. Yet nobody doubts the ability of environmentalists to construct principles that make this seem untenable.

So the ecological concept of "carrying capacity" is loopy because it means that Australia could not "carry" 36 million people, which is evidently absurd. Presumably, these comments are what News Ltd calls pearls of wisdom and nuggets of insight into the nature of things.

Let's explore Kelly's integration of the immigration program and social, transport, environmental and infrastructure provision from the sustainable and carrying capacity perspective. Take Adelaide. Its growth --economic and population---is limited by the shortage of water. We all know that. Why is there a limit on water? Because too much water was taken out of the River Murray by irrigators so that the river no longer flows as a river. Secondly, Adelaide is going to get less water and become much hotter because of global warming that is caused the coal fired power stations that fuel economic growth. That 's what environmental degradation means in Adelaide.

So the idea of carrying capacity is far from loopy for someone living in Adelaide. Kelly doesn't even begin to engage with the idea of the number of individuals who can be supported in a given area within natural resource limits, and without degrading the natural social, cultural and economic environment for present and future generations.

Nor does Kelly explore the links between economic growth, carrying capacity, and the environment. He doesn't even seem to be aware that a flaw with neoclassical economics is that it promotes economic growth with little regard to the environmental consequences. He assumes that economic growth is good for the environment, and isn't aware that the economic solution to environmental degradation is to compel firms to pay for the environmental and social costs of their actions.

Now Murdoch reckons we are willing to pay to read Kelly's junk, such as this kind of superfical reporting and tired polemics? More fool Murdoch. He doesn't even know the significance of 'googling.'

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:32 PM | | Comments (5)
Comments

Comments

News Ltd is in favour of Australia Unlimited. It's a 1930s concept

the crux of the carrying capacity idea is that there are limits to growth. The planet is comprised of finite resources. Australia Unlimited denies this.

Murdoch stands for a bad free press. The hope is that it will become better.

As George Orwell put the media's political language consists largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

Kelly is a master of the false dichtomy, a stock in trade of tabloid journalism.
His thinking re "loopy" is spasticated inthe original sense taken as a whole the response represents a contradiction in terms, how long is some of these have seen the light of day?
"Sustainability is loopy". Behold the new Messiah of the pomo economics of excess, where use value and exchange vaslue operate as active anathema.

Paul,
Kelly would be so upset that you defined him as tabloid journalism. He is a quality broadsheet commentator who writes compelling political narratives.

He must be getting old these days as the cliches and stereotypes are doing most of the work.