Earth to John Kerry: yes, you are a lunatic.
Mr Kerry is in Davos, Switzerland, with the rich and the famous. We will return to him in a minute. First, an update.
The middle class is getting crushed. It has only two major assets — time and houses. It earns its living by selling its time. It keeps its wealth at home, under its own roofs.
For the last 22 months, real wages have fallen. Over the last year, for example, the average working stiff got a 5% wage increase. But adjusted for inflation of 6.5%, the gain turned into a loss.
Meanwhile, his store of wealth — his house — is in the early stages of a sell-off. It goes like this: first, houses become too expensive, so the typical middle-class family can no longer afford the typical middle-class house. Then, naturally enough, sales fall. Builders stop building. And finally, prices drop. We are just at the beginning of the final stage. Here are the figures:
At the peak of the housing bubble in 2006, the median family spent 42% of its income on housing. Now, the figure is 46%. And two years ago, you could get a 30-year mortgage at 2.77%. Today, the rate is more than twice as high.
In response, new-house permits are at a 31-month low, down 30% from a year ago. Existing house sales have fallen for 11 months in a row; year over year; it’s the second largest decline on record.
And now, prices are headed down. They’re off 11% so far. If the pattern of the last bubble repeats itself, the total loss will be around 30%. But it could be more.
Income down. Net worth down. What’s a family to do? Stop spending.
Real retail sales (after inflation) have gone down for three years in a row. Savings rates have fallen to a near-record low. And in the last quarter, consumer debt increased at the fastest rate since 2007. Now, there’s US$16 trillion of it — a new record.
Recession cannot be far away.
So, let us turn back to the US’s ‘Climate Envoy’.
Do you know what a ‘Climate Envoy’ is? We don’t either. But John Kerry is one. After working for the good of mankind for the last 40 years, he got the plummy gig from Joe Biden. But that is the story of Kerry’s life. Born into the very rich Forbes family (through his mother)…and educated in Switzerland, he dated Jacqueline Kennedy’s younger sister and sailed with JFK on his yacht. Later, he married into the Heinz family and ordered a US$10 million yacht of his own.
Now 79, what’s a man like that supposed to do with himself? Kerry imagines that he and his band of brothers and sisters have been selected to save the world.
Yes, it sounds lunatic. And it is. But it’s also the state of play…circa 2023. Kerry explains it:
‘When you start to think about it, it’s pretty extraordinary that we — select group of human beings because of whatever touched us at some point in our lives — are able to sit in a room and come together and actually talk about saving the planet…
‘I mean, it’s so almost extraterrestrial to think about saving the planet.’
Touched by the gods
Extra-terrestrial? Kerry thinks he and other Davos denizens were ‘touched’…and yes, we think they were ‘touched’ too…but not so much by the hand of a benevolent, New Testament God, but of a mischief-making god from the Greek era, one who’ll turn him into a pig or a fool. Save the planet? Really? Certainly, no serious human being, blessed with even an iota of humility or common sense, would think such a thing.
The planet was here long before the human species appeared. It’ll be here long after John Kerry and his whole tribe have been turned to dust and scattered to the winds.
Saving the planet? Fugittaboutit. What they’re really pretending to do is to keep the world’s output of ‘greenhouse gases’ from increasing. Would that be a good thing? Nobody really knows.
Both CO2 concentrations and temperatures have been much higher in the past. Somehow, the planet survived. Nor is there any absolute correlation between the two. Sometimes, when CO2 was increasing, temperatures were decreasing, and vice versa. So it’s not clear that higher temperatures are a bad thing (they may increase crop output, for example). Nor is it clear that adding CO2 will necessarily make things hotter. And in any event, there’s no evidence at all that we humans can actually set the world’s thermostat where we want it…or that, even if we could, it would be worth the costs…or that we’d be pleased with the results.
And here we come up against ‘The Science’ again. As our neighbour explained on Wednesday, there is no such thing as ‘The Science’. Science never has the final truth…it is simply a way of discovering ‘truths’ that are later replaced by other truths. ‘The Science’ presumes a body of facts and formulae that are fixed — universal and eternal. It doesn’t exist.
‘The Science’ slurs
In the 17th century, it was practically indisputable in England that the Irish were racially and culturally inferior to Englishmen. Then, in the 19th century, The Science told us that Africans were inferior to Europeans. Later, in the 20th century, German racial scientists believed Eastern Europeans and Jews were inferior. They were ‘untermenschen’ who could be treated differently from Germans. A propaganda pamphlet explained it:
‘Just as the night rises against the day, the light and dark are in eternal conflict. So too, is the subhuman the greatest enemy of the dominant species on earth, mankind. The subhuman is a biological creature, crafted by nature, which has hands, legs, eyes and mouth, even the semblance of a brain. Nevertheless, this terrible creature is only a partial human being.’
Now, ‘The Science’ tells us that we are all the same, which is also untrue. But at least it’s not murderous.
‘The Science’ is anti-science. Once people get it in their heads that ‘The Science is settled’ — meaning there can be no more discussion or discovery — ‘The Science’ becomes faith…religion…a body of thought not subject to criticism or doubt.
And there…in the nave of the High Church of Davos…is John Kerry, the US’s envoy, its Cardinal for Climate Affairs, reciting the creed.
Yes, oh Great Science, we have erred and strayed like lost sheep.
We have done the things we ought not to have done — such as drive gasoline-powered automobiles…
And left undone those things we ought to have done — such as put up more windmills and solar panels…
And there is no health in us…
And then, from the holy city of Davos, the word goes forth: you…you deplorables…stop driving your pickups.
For The Daily Reckoning Australia