Monday, 9 September 2019

An argument for mandatory retirement for academics of a certain age

Geoff Bertram didn't like my column on cap and trade regimes for water. Here's his letter in today's Dom Post. 
At last a New Zealand Government takes a couple of meaningful steps towards water regulation.

Right on cue, the New Zealand Initiative’s Dr Eric Crampton rushes into print (Sept 6) attacking the new policy because (i) he has a better idea – cap and trade, and (ii) some dairy farmers who have irresponsibly over-expanded might go broke (and so should be bailed out by the rest of us).
Right on cue. Hmm.

Our work on cap-and-trade was added to our 2017-2020 research agenda in 2016. The first report, on cap-and-trade in water abstraction, came out in May. My article extending it to nutrient trading came out in Policy Quarterly last month. All of that was well in advance of the government's announcement; the column was well-timed, but Bertram may not have noticed that I have a fortnightly column there. Seemed to make sense to hit that topic last week.
Take first cap and trade. Yes, it might have been a good idea over the past two decades, when Federated Farmers has had ample opportunity to implement it as a self-regulation device, and the NZ Initiative has had ample time to help it design and implement such a scheme.
The Initiative was formed in 2012. I joined in 2014, and added cap-and-trade to our research agenda in 2016 for the 2017-2020 programme. Not quite sure where Bertram's finding decades.
But no, it’s wheeled out only when it can be used as a roadblock to Labour-led Government policy. If you’re serious about the environment, beware Right-wing lobbyists touting alternative policies.
We planned this work when we thought National would be in government - they were odds-on to win the 2017 election at the point we started thinking about this project.
Second, that issue of compensation. Crampton would be on firmer ground had he previously been an advocate for compensating the workers and benefit receivers who were stripped of their life savings, their children’s prospects and health, and their hope of ever getting decently housed without crippling debt, by the unionbreaking and benefit-slashing of the 1990s – policies enthusiastically promoted and applauded by his organisation and its predecessor, the Business Roundtable.

Farmers, their leaders, and their bankers have had plenty of warning to get their house in order. Innocent victims they are not.
Geoff Bertram, Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
Depends what you want, Geoff. If you want a system that will be hated by farmers and reversed with the next change in government, you just keep pushing that old barrow. If you want environmental improvement that can stand over the longer term, well, have a look at my report and article.

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