As the financial system totters around Samson’s sightless head, we can all feel good blaming the post-Lapsarian evils of what we have been brainwashed into believing in some way represents "free market capitalism." We can huddle together and sing the Internationale in atonement at the shrine of the saintly FDR, stopping a moment to pay an undue reverence to the sanitized half-memory of the rag-bag of charlatans, vote-grubbers, and fellow travellers who rode his coat-tails to power.
Ah well. Amid the unseasonable chill and lashing rain which besets us, this bleak, solar minimum July, such a mass outbreak of comradely curmudgeonliness would make a rare divertimento from the relentless persecution of poor, old "carbon."
If it does, however, it might not entirely please Sir David King — former chief witchdoctor (sorry, scientific advisor) to the British government. In a wonderful example of utterly misplaced climate battiness from a serial alarmist, he used an Observer op-ed last weekend to suggest a radical new opportunity for unwarranted state intrusion in our lives — not entirely whimsically, either, one suspects.
No more tilting for windmills for this Green Knight: instead he has in mind a radical new role for the Bank of England — you know, the institution which has proven s-o-o successful in discharging its existing mandate of keeping down inflation and of preserving financial stability; the one whose former governor, it should not be forgotten, was a fervent advocate of the policy of stimulating the turkey-breeding mess of the housing bubble and the fiscal blow-out in order to compensate for the chicken-farm collapse of TMT, which also happened during his watch.
In place of mundane monetary manipulation, Sir David would like the Bank to be henceforth entrusted with the job of reducing economy-wide CO2u201A emissions (no, honestly!), presumably complete with the requirement that if a wet litmus paper turns too vibrant a pink when waved in the air, the Governor would have to dash off one of those confounded apologia to the Chancellor and adopt a polar bear as penance!
Suspect science, bad economics, and poor politics all in one remit. That’s quite an achievement, even for a career bureaucrat!
On second thoughts, why not? Then, when the perversely-incentivised bankers next land themselves in difficulty — compounding up from cap-and-trade to continent-wide crash in a flurry of crazed financial creativity, no doubt — we can presume the Old Lady will stand ready with a "special facility" to swap the noxious flatulence they give off for a steady puff at the collective oxygen tank.
After all, the ordinary working man will never realise just who is responsible for the fall in air quality he will be asked to suffer as a consequence and, besides, what better way to be Green than to collapse the modern industrial economy amid the ringing approbation of the anti-capitalist mob?
Sean Corrigan [send him mail] writes from Switzerland.