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Skin in the game

Skin In the Game


Guest post by Rereke Whakaaro.

It has jokingly been said, that people can be classified into two groups. Those who classify people into groups, and those who do not.

On the subject of Catastrophic Climate Change, almost everybody ends up being classified, in one way or another, and such classification seems to be unavoidable. You are either a Believer or a Denier, and that is it.

Or is it?

Are there no other classifications that could be considered? It seems that there are.

wilde, ozone, UV, sun, climate, tropopause

Take for example, the group of people who belong to professions that make pronouncements on Climate Change, but who in reality have no “skin in the game”. These are people who will utter dire predictions and make forecasts, but are not held to account when their prognostications do not come to pass.

I am, of course, talking about journalists, who are paid to watch the world go by; and career academics, who are paid to explain how the world goes by; and the career bureaucrats, and other Government employees, who are paid to keep an eye on the intellectuals, and to implement the policies they recommend. Do these people have any “skin in the game”? Is there a down-side for being wrong, for this group? Likewise, consider economists and bankers; who are never held to account for any losses incurred by those who misguidedly take their advice, even when those losses are counted in millions.

Compare the folks in that group, with your own Lawyer, or your General Practitioner, both of whom can be held to account by their respective professional disciplinary committees. Or compare those folks with dozens of other professions, all of whom have the legal obligation of “getting it right”, usually mandated in law; Engineers, and Accountants being obvious examples. This is the second group.

Which group would you trust more? Those who are answerable for their actions, or the advice they give, or those who are not?

And what of the politicians? Where should we place them? In which group, do they belong?

Well, they certainly have “skin in the game”. That fact is tested at each and every election. It is also tested within caucus and by the party apparatus on an ongoing basis. No political party wants to give ammunition to the opposition. But, even so, it is difficult to place politicians in either of the first two groups.

So I place politicians in a group of their own. Where members are required to make judgements, and decisions, on behalf of us all, based upon theoretical concepts, supplied by academics; public opinion, manipulated by journalists; international market trends, surmised by economists; financial mechanisms designed by bankers, looking for new investment opportunities; and do all of this, within the overarching bureaucratic structure. I am surprised that politicians do as well as they do, in the circumstances.

Also, we have the organisations that make up the lobby industry, pushing their own political memes to garner support from members and charitable donations from groups and individuals looking to reduce their personal tax liability. These “charitable” organisations march to their own drum, towards an ideal nirvana that can never be achieved. But they gladly accept donations from Industry, Governments, and the UN, on the hypothetical route to the future. This is the fourth group.

And then of course, there is the blogosphere, and blogs such as this, with a self-imposed mandate to keep the other four groups honest, by publicly pointing out when they are not.

The Ancient Roman aristocracy understood the power of the people – the plebeian classes – and were afraid of them. So it is today. Ultimately it is the people who hold all the power. So those with no skin in the game, will eventually find themselves out in the cold, and feeling very sad.

Jo deserves her weblog awards. They were voted for, by people like us: We are the fifth group – we are the people and like the Roman plebeians, we cannot be ignored.

And let’s not forget it’s a new year. Please take a moment of time and some of your treasure and tip Joanne via the PayPal link at the home page. Joanne does this blog because it is the right thing to do. Please help support free speech and proper science.

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