Rodney Hide on the fools who have good intentions

Rodney Hide slips the knife into Seeby Woodhouse, tickles his ribs up for several paragraphs then right at the end twists hard.

I can remember a similar sentiment I expressed to Seeby over lunch one day shortly after he blubbed on the stage at one of Dotcom’s manufactured public events, though I was rather more brutal and nuanced like Rodney is.

Seeby Woodhouse is a smart and successful tech entrepreneur. He exemplifies the barminess that comes over even the best and brightest when it comes to environmental policy.

He told NBR?s Ask Me Anything he votes Green: ?Although the Greens? policies may cost me a little more as a high-income taxpayer, I?m happy to pay that in return for clean rivers, a non-polluted environment, freedom from internet spying, Kiwi kids who go to school with lunches, a future for my kids where the planet doesn?t boil and generally sound economic policies that deliver for all sectors of society.?

I, too, would vote Green ? and pay more tax ? if the results were as Mr Woodhouse believes them to be.

But noble intentions aren?t enough; they don?t guarantee good results. And belief is no substitute for reason.

The century just gone was choc-a-bloc with noble intention and naive belief. The result? Unrivalled human misery. Nationalistic fervour and the promise of workers? paradises delivered gulags, death camps and a world at war.

Naive political belief ? as exemplified by Mr Woodhouse ? is at once charming and beguiling and the most dangerous thing on the planet.

Almost everything that the Greens have predicted has not come to pass. On top of that they aren’t really Green, more like deep red.

We look back and comfort ourselves that evil is done by evil men. But the 20th century horror was driven by noble intentions fueled by naive belief.

In October, 1939, as the Nazi war machine crushed Poland, the newly admitted freshman class at Princeton University voted Adolf Hitler the ?greatest living being? and the next year?s freshman class repeated the verdict.

Albert Einstein, who was just next door at the Institute for Advanced Studies, was voted No 2.

I am not for a moment comparing the Greens to the Nazis or the Communists ? that?s for another column. My point is that we should have learnt by now not to be seduced by noble intentions and naive belief.

But we haven?t. It appears a mistake we are destined to repeat. The nuttiness just gets repackaged and reheated. It?s now branded environmentalism.

The Green parties of the world have their roots in Nazism…they might not like the cold hard truth but it is the truth nonetheless.

Mr Woodhouse also displays the faulty thinking that bedevils environmental policy. We need just a little bit of this to achieve a total result of that. Just a little more tax for clean rivers and a non-polluted environment. There is no explanation for how that happens. It just does.

Oh, and the promise of economic policy that delivers for ?all.? Somehow the government is delivering for just the ?few? and there is ? out there, with just a little bit more tax ? a policy prescription that will deliver for ?all.? Oh, how sweet that sounds. And all we need do is vote for it.

There is the threat, too ? found in all demagoguery and propaganda: if you don?t vote Green, the planet will boil. The choice is between Heaven and Hell ? and Mr Woodhouse is voting Heaven.

Of course, the planet is in no danger of boiling. It?s not even warming. And there?s no prospect that voting Green will improve world weather.

As I said there is not a single thing the Greens have ever said of done that has come true. Micro-chipping of dogs was supposed to stop dog attacks…nope. Outlawing smacking was going to stop child abuse…nope again. Global warming? Not happening. Clean green tech, isn’t. Peak oil? Same same.

If the Greens say increased taxes will solve the world’s problems it won;t, not ever. The dirtiest countries last century were socialist or communist countries…and yet we are supposed to believe that turning New Zealand into a socialist nirvana like Venezuela will save us all. As Venezuelans how the socialist paradise is turning out…and they have the worlds largest oil reserves to pay for all the nuttiness and they are still broke.

There are in this view of politics no trade-offs, no resource scarcity, no limits to what government can deliver, no unintended consequences, no uncertainty. One day the world is like it is; the next, it?s entirely different ? and better ? simply because we voted for it to be so.

I suspect Mr Woodhouse would view me as world-weary, and old, given up on idealism and the prospect of a better world. But we were all young once. I, too, once fervently viewed the world just as Mr Woodhouse now does. And there is a difference: I was 15.