Home Economics Nick Dearden Really Is A Ghastly Oik

Nick Dearden Really Is A Ghastly Oik

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Dearden is from Global Justice Now – the usual bunch of Trots who never quite have left mother’s basement. Their political views haven’t advanced from the age when that was where the train sets were either. Nor, actually, has their knowledge:

The trade rules contained in the UK-Australia deal will be a disaster for the environment. On the one hand, it will certainly increase carbon emissions if we replace food from Britain, or our near neighbours, with food from a country on the opposite side of the world.

No, not really, As Adam Smith pointed out it used rather less resources to get our wine from Bourdeaux than it did to grow the grapes in Scotland. Tomatoes from southern Spain have, even after transport, lower emissions than those hothoused in England. New Zealand lamb – yea after transport – has fewer emissions than Welsh hillside stuff. Whether Oz beef will than Hereford I sunno. But it’s not a safe bet now, is it, that it will be higher emission?

Dearden’s real thing is that he doesn’t like trade.

Importing more industrially produced food doesn’t only boost that industry in Australia, it will over time drive small farmers who can’t compete out of business and put downward pressure on standards here. Our own farming system will become less environmentally sustainable.

But if emissions here are higher and we replace that with food from lower emission sources then we’re becoming more environmentally sustainable, aren’t we?

Laying aside the government’s protestations to the contrary, this trade deal will affect food standards through clauses that effectively allow us to import food made to lower standards than we employ here.

Gosh, so consumers get a choice! How Trot to insist that they may not.

Trade deals limit a government’s ability to intervene in the economy, lest any action be judged “discriminatory” to foreign corporations. Some deals even include clauses that make it impossible for governments to effectively regulate fossil fuel exports. The problem is that this kind of government intervention is precisely what we need if we’re to build a more environmentally friendly economy.

Unlike global climate commitments, trade deals are highly enforceable.

That’s what he really wants to whine about. ISFS arbitration systems. You know, the ones that say governments must uphold the contracts they sign. And they can be sued in a court they don;t control to make them do so.

Trade deals are, instead, about clearing away obstacles to the free movement of goods, services and money around the world.

Can’t have people doing as they want now, can we?

Dearden is simply a ghastly little oik.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Well, as an Aussie, I’m happy with the trade deal. The only point I’d feel you need to consider is if the blockades of the brave old days of yore might return.

    But of course these blockades were introduced by the wicked Huns and Frogs. Who now dominate the EU. So perhaps an Aussie deal might even be of benefit in that regard.

  2. If offered the choice of a nice wine or leg of meat from our Pacific cousins of better quality or price than the French or Germans (who clearly despise us for leaving their “Club”), then why wouldn’t I seek that in preference?

    Can’t accuse me of being a “Little Englander” if the choices are about purchasing from Country X as opposed to Country Y, can you?

    I do look forward to the point where our growth and GDP surges way ahead of our erstwhile “EU partners” and our pre-BRExit and pre-COVID highs, because that would be a final nail in the coffin of the Remoaners (at least you’d hope they’d shut their yaps at that point) and the further we diverge from the EU with our global trading model the more impossible “Rejoin” becomes and the more unreasonable EU demands appear.

    The future is looking kind of rosey (if not even Rosé)

  3. Food standards are one of the areas where a government can legitimately impose regulations which limit consumer choice. This is because there are aspects where the consumer, even if well informed, is unable to effectively exercise their choice. Food and drink are often consumed by people who do not prepare them and have no real opportunity to have any but the crudest influence on their ingredients. If you have ever gone to restaurants or visited other people’s houses and had to allow for an allergy you’ll see how difficult it is.

    Furthermore, in some cases it is impractical for a consumer to be suitably informed as the assessment is of a highly technical nature. The effects of a regulation may be such that they take too long to be observed by an individual, so you can only regulate via a competent body. While this can be done by private organisations (e.g. organic food certified by the Soil Association), that’s quite dangerous for safety related matters as any organisation will tend (just like a government) to broaden its role, leading to consumers having to choose between products which are uncertified and those certified to an unnecessarily high standard. The reason why government enforcement tends to work better is that unnecessary regulation is met with howls of protest from those who don’t want something banned, while a private organisation will dismiss any protest by pointing out that conformance is purely voluntary.

    And finally, another role of govenment is symmetry breaking. There may be more than one acceptable way to do something, with none much better than another, but a huge benefit from everyone doing it the same way. Probably the best example of this is which side of the road to drive on – either left or right are perfectly fine, but mixing them is very bad. An example of this from food is the production of eggs: the USA requires them to be washed while Europe requires that they not be washed – see https://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/10/25/why-american-eggs-would-be-illegal-in-a-british-supermarket-and-vice-versa/ for why.

  4. Charles

    Oooo – next you’ll stumble upon the idea of having “standards” rather than “laws”, and then the poor, slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging ignoramus customer simply has to see that the food is “in accordance with BS 8388608A-1863”, and laws dealing with false labeling take care of it all. Plus, food (etc) has to be fit for purpose. If it isn’t – if it poisons you – then that’s a no-no.

    That way you don’t need a EU-style ever-increasing pile of laws.

    Note that it’s still government enforcement. It’s just not laws about everything.

  5. @BlokeInTejas – no. standards are not enough in some areas, and one of them is food. I can’t check food labels in restaurants or when visiting other people’s houses. And part of the need to impose regulations is that the harm to be prevented is difficult to assess. If you leave it for everyone do do by themselves it will just result in fads and fashions – not properly assessing the risk.

    Furthermore, if enough people take an excessive risk, this may drive the safer products out of business, removing the choice for everyone.

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