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« Guilty men and guilty women | Main | A service »
Tuesday
Sep272011

In which I catch a Turner

I hardly know where to start with Lord Turner's talk, and to be frank I gave up trying to record my thoughts after a while.

He was quite good on the uncertainties in the science, going through the a series of scientific steps emphasising that we knew little about this one, this one was very unclear, there were huge uncertainties in this area and so on. He went on to describe how, based on this uncertain science, he and his colleagues had formulated a global plan for reducing greenhouse gases. This struck me as a little foolish, not to say rather hubristic.

The moment of drama came in his final slide, which was a graph from the famous work of Layard, which purports to find that above a certain level of wealth, more money does not make you happier. Turner's point was that even if the Climate Change Committee's prediction that their plans will not affect our lifestyles very much proved to be wrong and we did in fact become poorer, it would not make us less happy. There was, he said, "no doubt" about Layard's findings. The evidence, we were told was "overwhelming".

The only problem with Turner's story is that it is not true. This is of course a hotly disputed area of economics, with the so-called Easterlin paradox having been fought over for forty years or so.

I managed to get the first question and I called him on his misrepresentation. He then changed his story, declaring his full agreement that the subject was disputed. He said that he hadn't had time to go into these details.

Shameful.

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Reader Comments (70)

Will he be donating his excess salary to fighting CO2.

No.

Like Prince Chuckles and Lord Gore he talks a good game but actions do not back it up.

Hypocrites the lot of them.

Reminds me of Animal Farm.

All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterbreath of fresh

It's good of Turner to be worried about our happiness. It must be hard for him, being so concerned about our emotional lives. It may even spoil the enjoyment of his outdoor heated swimming pool at his second mansion. Material wealth doesn't guarantee you happiness, you see.

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Money can't buy you happines, but it can buy so much bacon, healthcare, alcohol, holidays, IVF treatment, gadgets, cars, boats, etc. that you'll soon forget just how sad and miserable you are.

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterHyperthermania

Who is he to tell other people how to live? Or to learn to like a lower standard of living?

Perhaps he would like someone to tell HIM how to live?

Thanks
JK

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJim Karlock

It is arguable whether a poorer world would be a happier world, but it would certainly be less healthy and less nourished. Furthermore it would be less able to cope with calamities including those caused by the weather.

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Nice to hear the gravy train for the Global warming enthusiasts stops short of Avarice Station. Wealth will not buy happiness. Is Al Gore dropping appearance fees in order to preach the litany from the joyful position of those whose business and careers he has helped destroy?

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon at WA

I have a real bee in my bonnet about the oleaginous Turner and his ilk.

Excuse me reposting this link to Guido which made the fag-end of the previous thread:-


Adair (now Lord) Turner is the consummate "quangocrat".

He seems to have popped up in major public roles throughout my (considerable) adult; life nearly always on the wrong side of the argument - stepping effortlessly from one well-upholstered disaster zone to the next.

As Guido pointed out yesterday, it's significant that Adair Turner and Chris Huhne, who were both prime movers of the "Britain in Europe" campaign which tried to railroad us into the Euro, are now leading warmist propagandists.

Quote from their pamphlet at the time:-

“Opponents of the euro have forecast disasters which have in fact never happened and which always looked most unlikely… Euro-sceptics constantly underestimated the competence of Europeans and their ability to organise things properly.”

.


http://order-order.com/2011/09/26/some-more-guilty-men/


...............and now, they're leading the large to national economic self-destruction again.

Are they just slow learners - or do they really hate us?
Sep 27, 2011 at 9:22 AM | Foxgoose

Just to rub salt into the wound - Turner also used to be a trustee of WWF (after he had been a banker and oil exec natch).

...... and he refers to himself as a "technocrat", although his Oxford degree was in English & History

.........Oh, and he also campaigned for his FSA staff to keep their bonuses after the biggest regulatory failure since the South Sea Bubble.

As the more volatile denizens at Guido's are wont to wonder - "will there be enough piano wire and lamp posts to go around?".

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

"no doubt" about Layard's findings. The evidence, we were told was "overwhelming".

Its amazing how rarely that type of statement turns out to true , so if you ever hear it being made start asking questions .

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

The search for an admirable and prominent proponent of climate alarmism continues ...

Sep 27, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

"As the more volatile denizens at Guido's are wont to wonder - "will there be enough piano wire and lamp posts to go around?"."
Sep 27, 2011 at 11:37 AM | Foxgoose

Attributing a quote to someone else, does not excuse that you voluntarily chose to select this view, and report it here on Bishop Hill.

Yet another example of the implicit violence and ugliness of thought, that is so often present on this blog.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed
Sep 27, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Resist the temptation !!!

You know its not worth it.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterbreath of fresh

It is important to allow for what I call the 'ratchet of rising expectations'. As (material) living standards rise, people's baseline expectation of 'norrmal' standards also rises. Their level of satisfaction is relative to that baseline. So, for example, when most people only had monochrome TVs, acquiring a colour TV would be a treat, but when everyone has a colour TV, they are probably no more satisfied than their parents or grandparents in the 1950s with a monochrome TV. But if they were suddenly forced to go back to the standards of the 1950s they would be very unhappy indeed!

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Based on your summary, Turner displays inordinate hubris and on so many levels. The attitude of such as Turner reminds me of Robespierre: So sure and so bereft of humanity.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

This paper demolishes Layard's case:

http://bpp.wharton.upenn.edu/betseys/papers/Happiness.pdf

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley

Layard's case may be simple to disprove. But what makes its proponents so ridiculous in the eyes of the general public is their inability to practice what they preach.

It's very simple: if you propose the principle that more money does not make an individual more happy then give your excess money away. Full stop. That's it. Anything else is rank hypocrisy. And until you do that no one will listen to you (apart from other rich people who like telling poor people what to do without doing it themselves).

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Isn't it amazing how many people like Turner are SO ready to tell other people that they won't be 'less happy' etc with a lower standard of living - provided of course that it doesn't affect them...

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Archbishop Turner is just an emissary of Archbishop Cameron:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5003314.stm

"Improving our society's sense of well-being is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times."

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Is there a link between support for the Euro and AGW?

Using warmist logic, growing support and implementation of the Euro has caused global warming.

Implementing common sense indicates they are both dying causes

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

I think it's a simple misunderstanding of pronouns: "if ... we did in fact become poorer, it would not make us less happy." When you read the "we" as the Scottish populace, and the "us" as Abp Turner, the Rt Revd Sugden et al., it makes perfect sense.

Let them build a windfarm, receiving just what its energy produced is worth, without subsidy. And pay for any losses they make, with donations from the faithful. Now that's a win-win situation.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

"[Turner] went on to describe how, based on this uncertain science, he and his colleagues had formulated a global plan for reducing greenhouse gases. "

A science filled with uncertainties but they are certain a global regime must be instituted and some of us must be made poorer? These people show a peculiar logic.

"Turner's point was that even if the Climate Change Committee's prediction that their plans will not affect our lifestyles very much proved to be wrong and we did in fact become poorer, it would not make us less happy."

Again peculiar logic. If you assume Layard is right what evidence is there that we have, individually *and* in aggregate, already surpassed the level at which more money doesn't make us happy? I could well imagine a point in time when my wealth increasing did not bring me additional glee but the thought of my wealth decreasing will always be an unwelcome unless it is through trade and I am getting something in return. Taxing my wealth away is not mutually beneficial. Turner appears to me to have perverted an already contentious claim from Layard. It may well hold true that above a certain level of wealth we do not get happier but it does not follow we can be made poorer and remain happy.

Turner would seek to reduce our wealth in return for something he admits he is very uncertain about indeed that may or may not be of benefit to everyone or to me as an individual but certainly be of benefit to Turner's chums in government and to crony capitalism. He is a malign statist who has shown his colours yet again. Here he is wanting to regulate carbon emissions on a global level (which would naturally require global governance) and proclaiming that the state can define what level of wealth makes everyone happy, and wouldn't you know it we're already there and are ripe for making poorer.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Perhaps the most revealing thing is that they intend to make us poorer and are already preparing their defensive positions.

Sep 27, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Money can't buy you happiness but it can buy you a yacht that pull right up alongside happiness. As Dave Lee Roth said.

Sep 27, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterduncan

Hyperthermania: "Money can't buy you happines, but it can buy so much bacon, healthcare, alcohol, holidays, IVF treatment, gadgets, cars, boats, etc. that you'll soon forget just how sad and miserable you are."

Nice rendition of lyrics I have read in other guises, Hyperthermania. A little refinement and it could (I believe should) become pervasive in many theaters of the war on the messy masses.

I wonder could it be Joshed?

Sep 27, 2011 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

KnR: Yes, the exaggerations are revealing if you've seen some science-based controversies. This is my current understanding:

"Overwhelming" means underwhelming.
"Anti-science" means let's not talk about the science.
"Flat-earther" or some equivalent means someone who disagrees with a fictitious consensus.

Sep 27, 2011 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

Ahem, so they think we will all be happier listening to their constant stream of alarmist lies?

As I have said before the only thing worse than a hypocrite is a sanctimonious hypocrite.

We are having a fabulous Indian Summer has anyone heard a weather forecaster mention this on the BBC?

All journos on the BBC shoul be compulsorarily named Robert or Roberta Sole? :-)

Sep 27, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Dr North has a remedy to this ailment.

Sep 27, 2011 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

And I meant to endorse Nicholas Hallam's words, too: "It is arguable whether a poorer world would be a happier world, but it would certainly be less healthy and less nourished. Furthermore it would be less able to cope with calamities including those caused by the weather.

Sep 27, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

Well done, BH. Did you say there was going to be a video clip available?

Adair Turner: not only intimately involved with bank regulation at the time of the banking crisis, not only a firm advocate of the UK joining the Euro right up to the present day, but also a staunch supporter of renewable technology at any price. Says it all really.

Sep 27, 2011 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Just as well nobody allows Lord Turner to run a whelk stall.

Sep 27, 2011 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Yet another example of the implicit violence and ugliness of thought, that is so often present on this blog.
Sep 27, 2011 at 12:01 PM ZedsDeadBed

Tamora: Why has thou slain thine only daughter thus?
Titus: Not I, 'twas Chiron and Demetrius:
The ravish'd her, and cut away her tongue:
And they, 'twas they, that did her all this wrong.
Saturninus: Go fetch them hither to us presently.
Titus: Why, there they are, both baked in that pie;
Whereof their mother daintily hath fed,
Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred.
(V.iii.55-62)

From Titus Andronicus - By William Shakespeare

Hint to Zed - Shakespeare was a peaceful bloke with a lively imagination.

Sep 27, 2011 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

"The moment of drama came in his final slide, which was a graph from the famous work of Layard, which purports to find that above a certain level of wealth, more money does not make you happier. Turner's point was that even if the Climate Change Committee's prediction that their plans will not affect our lifestyles very much proved to be wrong and we did in fact become poorer, it would not make us less happy. There was, he said, "no doubt" about Layard's findings. The evidence, we were told was "overwhelming".

The only problem with Turner's story is that it is not true. This is of course a hotly disputed area of economics, with the so-called Easterlin paradox having been fought over for forty years or so."

I can resolve the dispute right now, they should stop jacking off and get back to some real work. ...

The underpinning works (Maslow, Herzeberg, McGregor) are about the motivation for individuals actions not the group happiness of whole nations. An attempt to leap from one to the other suggests that someone has been taking something that was not prescribed ( or not taking something that was..)

In the sameway that employers translate Maslow's and Herzeberg's insight that once a certain level of need is satisfied Pay is no longer a "Positive" motivation to improve work performance into "No point in paying the bastards much then". The theory here seems to be that above a certain level of GDP per capita a whole society can then be happy, and additional "money" would be wasted. Total cobblers, what it means is that people are pissed off about other things. And as they are higher up the pyramid, things they consider even more important than base economic performance, things that might in fact lead them to call for GDP growth beyond the "happiness" level. As for the general contention that a country can forego growth in favour of greenness and stay happy as long as a certain minimum is met....Ay caramba.. Firstly high defecit plus deliberately reduced growth equals higher taxes, and in all the management consultancy alternative universes that exist there is none in which higher taxes increase happiness. Secondly given inflation and so on constrained growth means that every year more and more people have to step down that ziggurat of need and rediscover their old dissatisfaction about money. Thirdly, you'd have to be fornicating mad to beleive that this kind of smugly satisfied pseudo communist consensus economic management would ever stay on track and deliver the goods.

Sep 27, 2011 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Ozanne

Slightly OT but here's an intriguing self portrait by another quangocratic eminence - "Baroness" Bryony Worthington.

http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=8403&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ClimaterealistsNewsBlog+%28ClimateRealists+News+Blog%29

In it she cheerfully relates how she was seconded from Friends of The Earth to DEFRA (by Millband D) to write the Climate Change Bill -

So by the time David Miliband joined DEFRA, I had left Friends of the Earth, having set up the campaign, I spent some time in a power company learning how things work there, which was very interesting and they had then seconded me into DEFRA. So when David Miliband arrived and said, “Right it looks like we are going to have to have a Climate Change Bill, who do we know in the department who can help us with this?

Then someone said, “Well, Byrony wrote the document that Friends of the Earth, that kicked this whole thing off. Why don’t we get her in and see if she can help?” So I got shifted off my...I was doing some work on public awareness and a campaign about educating about climate change and told, “Right, you’re going to be part of a team of civil servants. We want you to draft a bill.”

.

Jolly Hockeysticks - Eh!

And there was silly, befuddled old me - still thinking we lived in a democracy of some sort.

Sep 27, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

No limit to Turner's conceit, is there. Having completely failed in an area that one was led to believe was in his area of competence, he now claims to have formulated a plan to reduce greenhouse gases - relevant experience or training: zilch. You have to admire the chutzpah of the man - with this degree of delusion, it is the only thing keeping him out of a psychiatric ward.

Sep 27, 2011 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

"The moment of drama came in his final slide, which was a graph from the famous work of Layard, which purports to find that above a certain level of wealth, more money does not make you happier."

Please mother...hide the sharp implements! Just found out my tumour is now down to 1/5th (yep, they still use fractions and I can prove Latard so wrong!) and then have to read this sort of garbage! Bish...How you sat through that is beyond me!

Sep 27, 2011 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

I have a real bee in my bonnet about the oleaginous Turner and his ilk.
Sep 27, 2011 at 11:37 AM Foxgoose

To be honest Foxgoose....It reminds me more of "Yes Minister"!!!!!!!!

Sep 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

@Foxgoose

About this alleged 'baroness' - is that name of hers one of those predetermination things or did her parents issue it as a warning? Here are some herb database entries:

...other uses of Bryony. ... Acrid, bitter, purgative, laxative, emetic...

Bryony, Black: Overly emetic, overdose causes most painful death

Makes you wonder, why not just call your daughter 'strychnine' and be done with it?

Sep 27, 2011 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

Just before I go....I find you all admirable today for sticking to the new rule and ignoring it ;-) Clap clap all!
Catch ya all a.m.

Sep 27, 2011 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

DNFT
Sep 27, 2011 at 12:11 PM | simpleseekeraftertruth


Perfect ;-)

Sep 27, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Someone needs to ship Adair Turner about fifty pounds of rotten tripe.

His last batch seems to be just about all done.

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Sounds like Turner and Muir Russell would get along.

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

I think it is particularly weak of Turner to claim that he hasn't had time to get into the details of research linking happiness to wealth, since he gave an illustrated presentation at the LSE on exactly this subject in October 2010

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSophie Tucker

Turner also said this in Oct 2010:

even though increases in income create only slight or negligible increases in welfare, any reduction in income is “strongly negative” for wellbeing.

which seems in direct contradiction to what he semms to be claiming now.

http://news.efinancialcareers.co.uk/News_ITEM/newsItemId-28882

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

And this:

...life would be wonderful if you got a £500k bonus, but it will still be wonderful without it. Repeat this three times a day between now and the New Year.

Is banker still spelt with a "w"?

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharles Darwin

I read that the critical level of income is £28,000 a year, which is perhaps plausible for a one person household. However the median income in the UK is quite a way below £28K and so over half the counntry has not yet reached happiness saturation.

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

The problem is that we know that a reduction in living standards for the well-off is a minor inconvenience, for the poor already struggling to pay rocketing UK fuel prices with more severe winters to come it can be a matter of life and death.
For the really well-off of course (such as Our Dear Leader's father-in-law) it's a nice opportunity to make a killing from green bribes for the rich... I mean Feed In Tariffs.

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Being rich doesn’t make you happier but it does make being unhappy a whole lot easier…

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered Commentero2bnaz

I only did it for Adair.....

Sep 27, 2011 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

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