Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Climate Change: Hurry up and wait

Parliament is currently debating the declaration of a climate emergency. As part of this, the government is announcing that the public service will be carbon neutral by 2025. Which is fine, but on a similar scale to electric buses. Sure, it'll help (because every little bit helps). But its somewhat short of the scale of action we need to be taking. And it doesn't help that the government has already announced this policy, then failed to implement it. Supposedly they're resourcing it this time, and that This Time Will Be Different. But its not exactly inspiring, and the government has pretty much worn out any expectation of good faith on this.

The declaration is supposed to show that the government is taking this issue seriously. The "action" they've announced doesn't. In part that's because they're waiting on the process set by the Zero Carbon Act, the budgets and recommended reduction plans which will be released for consideration in May. But there's no reason they can't pre-empt that, and surely they could have come up with something more than this. Its not as if they don't have a pile of policy from last term waiting to go now Winston is no longer blocking the way. But instead, we've got a "hurry up and wait". Its an urgent problem, but we're not getting any real policy for half a year (plus however long it takes to implement it, so 2022). And that's assuming the government follows the Climate Change Commission's recommendations, rather than watering them down so the people destroying our country and our planet can keep on making their money.

And on the third hand, if they do that, this declaration will be great ammunition for the judicial review.

Climate Change: Wellington fails


Last year, Wellington City Council declared a climate emergency and committed to reducing emissions by 43% by 2030, as an interim step towards a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. So how are they going to get there? According to their own plans, they're not:

Last year, Wellington City Council (WCC) announced a bold new series of targets to guide its path towards net zero emissions by 2050. The centrepiece was a pledge to reduce emissions by 43 percent (from 2001 levels) by the end of the decade and then continue to progressively reduce emissions from there.

More than a year later, on August 6, the council launched its implementation plan, a roadmap on how to actually achieve the 2030 target. No press release accompanied the debut of the plan - perhaps because it promises only a 14 percent reduction by 2030, able to be increased to 24 percent if central government curbs the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity and fosters greater uptake of electric vehicles.

Even with the aid of central government, however, WCC expects Wellington will emit 200,000 more tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in 2030 than it has promised.

Its the usual story of New Zealand climate change policy: bold targets followed by inadequate action. Politicians keep doing this, because we keep letting them get away with it. And meanwhile, the temperature keeps on rising. Another story on Newsroom today says that 1740 Wellington properties will have to be abandoned due to sea-level rise within 20 years (and will become uninsurable, unsellable, and valueless long before that). That's the price of these politicians' inaction, their preference for easy PR rather than doing the hard work of actual policy. As for how to change it, we have one real lever on politicians: throw the bums out! And that's clearly what Wellingtonians need to do to their entire council unless they step up and come up with a credible plan to meet their targets.

Meanwhile, Parliament will be declaring a climate emergency today. The parallels ought to be obvious.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Raise trust taxes too!

The government today will introduce a bill to create a new top tax rate for those earning over $180,000 a year. This is good, but there are concerns that a large number of those affected will cheat, and funnel their income through trusts and other vehicles in order to evade taxes. And weirdly, the government is not planning to close this obvious loophole:

Revenue Minister David Parker says the Government will be watching trusts closely to see if people are using them to dodge the new 39 per cent income tax rate.

At present, income from trusts is subject to a tax rate of 33 per cent – the same rate that applies to income earned in the top tax bracket.

But the Government will this week pass legislation lifting the top income tax rate to 39 per cent. Opening a gap between the income tax rate and the trust rate creates an incentive to funnel income through a trust to reduce the amount of tax paid.

Parker said that if there was evidence of this, the Government could increase the trust rate to 39 per cent as well.

So they won't close the stable door until after the rich have rorted. Why not? Apparently, "there are legitimate reasons for people to use trusts". Like what? Because what they primarily seem to be used for is tax evasion, avoiding asset tests, hiding assets from bankruptcy or divorce, and other criminal or rich person stuff. And if they're basicly only used by criminals and rich people, why should they have a tax advantage which is an open invitation to evasion?

But I forget: while normal people don't have trusts, MP's have a lot of them. As with housing, normal people would recognise that as a conflict of interest. And as with housing, it seems a little weird that our "representatives" don't.

Climate Change: Europe must defend itself in court

The European Court of Human Rights has fast-tracked a case by young climate change activists challenging whether European states are doing enough on climate change. And now, 33 countries are going to have to defend their policies in court:

In a sign of the urgency of the climate crisis, the court will announce on Monday that it has green-lighted the crowdfunded case, which was filed two months ago. It has already confirmed it will be treated as a priority, which means the process will be fast-tracked.

The states – the EU27 plus Norway, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, Turkey and Ukraine – are obliged to respond by 23 February to the complaints of the plaintiffs, who say governments are moving too slowly to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are destabilising the climate.

If the defendant countries fail to convince the Strasbourg-based judges, lawyers say they will be legally bound to take more ambitious steps and to address the contribution they – and multinational companies headquartered in their jurisdictions – make to overseas emissions through trade, deforestation and extractive industries.

This is pretty significant case, with potentially huge consequences: every European country could be forced to rewrite its climate policies and make deeper cuts as a result. Which in turn could have a significant effect on global emissions, while setting a precedent for future accountability. And the mere act of having to front up and defend themselves in court should force these countries to consider the impact of their policies and whether they are doing enough.

Its not the only case. Three weeks ago a French court ordered its government to show it was taking sufficient action to stay within its carbon budgets. Which probably doesn't bode well for their performance before the ECHR.

In New Zealand, our Zero Carbon Act was built for cases like this. If the Minister sets an emissions budget which is too generous, or a reduction plan which is too weak, they can be judicially reviewed. And if they go against the advice of the Climate Change Commission in doing so, its likely to go against them. Which is one way of making sure they actually do something.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Labour finally does the right thing

The government has finally introduced a bill to double sick leave entitlements to ten days a year. Good. But its worth remembering that despite a global pandemic raging, Jacinda Ardern originally ruled this out, just as she has ruled out wealth taxes or a capital gains tax. Its unclear whether this was because of real opposition, or just because she didn't want the public jumping the gun on a planned election policy, but either way, the perception is that she had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this, and then did the absolutelt minimum she thought she could get away with. Which again makes me wonder why the "Labour" Party is so reluctant to support workers rights, and what they actually stand for, if its not labour.

The wrong conclusion

Back in September, we learned (thanks to a whistleblower) that the SIS had looked the other way on child abuse. Today, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security released their report on the issue. Their verdict is basicly the Scottish one: "not proven". Why? Because there are no records showing the question of passing the information on was ever considered. The SIS's "internal review" took that as somehow exonerating them: effectively a "we have no idea what happened, but we're sure we did the right thing". The IGIS concludes the opposite: that they did not tell the police. But the lack of records of any consideration and the lack of any legal obligation or policy on the issue means they refuse to conclude that it was improper:

At a distance of some decades, with the limited information available, I do not find myself in a position to reach a firm conclusion that the Service acted improperly by not informing the Police of what it learned in this instance. A Service officer proposed, with good reason, that the Police should be contacted. More senior staff in the Service were entitled to make a decision. The information was not passed on. I find that questionable, but in the absence of any recorded reasoning and considering all the circumstances I cannot be sure it lacked a proper foundation.
Nowdays, the Public Records Act means public agencies have a positive obligation to create and maintain records, so if something like this had happened after 2005, the lack of records of a potentially significant decision would imply that it was never considered (or alternatively, that a crime had been committed). Back then, there was no such obligation, so the IGIS is giving them the benefit of the doubt. I'm not sure that they should. They note that this was a serious decision requiring serious consideration, and that at the time such consideration generated a paper trail. The absence of such a paper trail suggests strongly that there was no such consideration. And that is exactly the impropriety complained about.

The good news is that the SIS now has a police on when to pass information to the police, so there's a standard for them to be judged against (even if its one they wrote themselves, in secret). The IGIS will also be reviewing information sharing between the SIS, GCSB, and police. So maybe they'll be stopping this from happening in future.

Blaming anyone but themselves

Labour is increasingly under pressure over its refusal to implement a wealth tax or similar solution to end house hoarding. Their answer? Blame the public:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is putting some onus on the public for the housing crisis, saying the Government had tried taxation to ease the soaring market three times without public support.


However, Ardern this morning told TVNZ1's Breakfast that "the appetite for some of these policies also needs to come from the public".

"We've tried three times now to do things that specifically sit in that taxation category and there hasn't been wide support for that," she said.

Oh really? In 2019, the public supported a capital gains tax by 44 to 35 percent. And just before the election, 48.7 percent of kiwis thought Labour should be taxing the wealthy more versus 43 percent who disagreed. While neither of these is majority support, its the majority of those who care enough to have an opinion, which is as good as you get. And they're both numbers the government could easily have worked with. Instead, they chose not to, out of chickenshittedness and a desire to grovel to the rich. And rather than own that decision, they're now seeking to blame anyone but themselves. And isn't that so very, very Labour?

But snark about Labour cowardice aside, the other way of looking at this is that Ardern is telling the public "make me". And so we should. The question is how many Labour MPs we have to threaten to turn into democratic roadkill along the way.

Friday, November 27, 2020

The secret advice on Labour's RMA "fast-track"

Back in June, Labour steamrolled the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill into law, using urgency and a sham select committee process which left too little time for submitters to respond effectively. The law created a separate "fast-track" process for resource consents for "shovel-ready" projects, which cuts the public out of environmental decision-making while creating a nexus for corruption. Ostensibly, this is to prop up the economy and support jobs in the wake of the pandemic. But advice released under the Official Information Act suggests it might not in fact be all that effective.

(The pathway to learning this is sadly typical. I requested the advice in May, the day the government announced it would be introducing legislation. Ministry for the Environment gave themselves an extension for "consultation", which ensured that it would not arrive until after the law had passed, incidentally preventing it from informing anyone's submissions. They then withheld a bunch of it as "confidential", so I complained to the Ombudsman. They released some more two weeks ago, but still withheld the really interesting stuff withheld as "still under consideration", despite the fact that the law it related to was passed months beforehand. So I went back to the Ombudsman, who clearly told them that their decision-making didn't pass the laugh test, so here we are...)

The interesting document is here. Paragraphs 9 through 19 were originally redacted. As for why, its not because they were "under consideration" - again, the law had passed, so the decisions had been made - because they basicly completely undercut the case for the law. MfE thought that the number of developments wanting to use the mechanism "may be relatively small. The far bigger determinant for major projects proceeding or not is money, especially for public infrastructure". They had no estimate of whether a Ministerial rubberstamp would actually be any faster than the usual process. Instead, they thought that the existing "call-in" process could be used just as effectively. Or, judging by that comment about money, just funding stuff. They had no idea whether the law would be effective. And they had no idea whether the system would be used by private developers because they hadn't asked.

Reading this, its hard to escape the conclusion that the government panicked and surrendered to the worst demands of the "rip up the RMA" brigade in a desperate effort to be seen to be Doing Something. Despite advice saying that that was all it would be. So in the end, it might not be that harmful to our environment. The damage done to our democracy, OTOH, and to institutional protections against corruption, is far more severe.

And meanwhile, the danger this law was supposed to mitigate, a huge Covid-recession, seems not to have eventuated. Which seems to make the entire thing unnecessary. In which case, we might as well repeal it, before it actually does do some damage. Changing that "second" to a "first" - or to "six months" - should do the trick.

Climate Change: Calling us on our bullshit

Under Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand is - rhetorically at least - pretending to be a leader on climate change. Meanwhile, our emissions keep going up and up, with the second-highest percentage increase among Annex I countries. And now, our friends are finally calling us on our bullshit:

New Zealand's attendance at a summit of high-profile, high-ambition global leaders on climate change is in doubt.

The Sprint to Glasgow meeting is scheduled for December 12, the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement. Hosted by the United Kingdom, it is intended to gather together the countries most intent on tackling climate change in the lead-up to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year.

While the final list of attendees has yet to be determined, Newsroom understands New Zealand may be excluded over concerns it is not doing enough to reduce emissions.

Talk isn't enough. The government actually needs to act. But while it has established a framework under the Zero Carbon Act, it has shied away from any real action to reduce emissions or hold polluters accountable, and committed to not requiring our biggest polluters - farmers - to do anything until after 2025. Which is a pretty lax attitude for something Ardern has called "my generations nuclear-free moment".

Next week, Parliament will declare that climate change is an emergency. The government needs to start acting like it. We no longer have time for their foot-dragging and their lies. They need to either start reducing emissions, or resign and yield power to someone who will.

Labour sells out kiwis

So, Labour has given in to the whining from farmers, and will be allowing 2,000 RSE workers into the country to pick their fruit, though with tighter conditions: they'll have to be paid a living wage and employers must pay for their quarantine. Which sounds good, until you remember that the employers control their workers' accomodation (described by some workers as "“camps”, “prisons” and “reservations”", which is what you get when people are literally forbidden from living in normal houses) and get to deduct its costs, so are in a perfect position to claw back the headline increase through increased charges. So while it might raise wages across the horticultural sector, the actual RSE workers probably won't see the benefit. But hey, this prick will have more peasants to abuse.

But the real cost here is the quarantine spaces. They're a highly limited and contested resource, and the government is saying that they're going to use them to subsidise courgette-guy's bottom line. Every couple of days I see stories in the news about kiwis trapped overseas, separated from their loved ones and forced to wait out there risking death in the plaguelands because they can't get one of those over-subscribed MIQ spaces. And "kind" Jacinda has just said they need to wait longer so this guy can get his courgettes picked. Meanwhile, MIQ workers - who are already quitting because of the conditions - will be expected to risk their lives not so kiwis can return to their families, but for the horticulture industry's bottom line. I wonder how many of them will be willing to do that?

Fuck that. Those quarantine spaces belong to kiwis. And we shouldn't be giving them to businesses until every kiwi who wants to return is home. As for the fruit, let it rot. No-one is going to starve if they don't get their christmas cherries or their fancy wine. Kiwi lives are more important than exporters' profits.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Climate Change: An emergency

Some good news today: Parliament will declare a climate emergency next week:

The Government has revealed plans to pass a climate change emergency motion in Parliament next week.

An attempt was made to pass one last term but NZ First opposed it.

The motion itself would have no practical effect on laws or the running of the country, but would instead symbolically signal that the Government and the House saw climate change as an emergency.

Which is great, but it needs to be backed by solid action - and in New Zealand, that means action on agricultural emissions. James Shaw, the Climate Change Minister, is making some noises that it will be more than symbolic, but from Jacinda Ardern's statement about how farmers will have more influence on Labour this term because they won some rural seats, I'm not hopeful. But maybe for once Labour will prove me wrong.

NZDF should not be allowed to handle this in-house

Yesterday we learned that an NZDF soldier with links to Nazi groups has been charged with espionage (along other things) and will be prosecuted via court-martial. Whether the charges are justified is for a court to determine, but it seems deeply inappropriate to use a military court for this. The vast majority of the offences - and the most serious - are against civil, not military law, and while the Court Martial has jurisdiction, it is normal for ordinary crimes by soldiers to be tried in ordinary courts (as evidenced by the litany of drunken assaults and drug dealing in the pages of the Manawatu Standard). While espionage is an extraordinary offence, it is not a military one, and the same standard should apply. In addition, a civil court will have more experience in dealing with the other offences (possession of an objectionable publication, accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose), and is therefore less likely to fuck it up. But ultimately, it comes down to trust: civil courts are seen as more trustworthy than military ones, and less susceptible to the institutional arse-covering behaviour so recently displayed by NZDF over Operation Burnham.

Some of the charges are purely military, and the military can handle those. But they shouldn't be allowed to handle serious criminal offences against the people of New Zealand in-house. These charges should be tried in an open, civilian court, so that we can all see that justice is done.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Taking the piss

While the borders are closed, employers can still get visas for "essential" workers. But some of the jobs deemed "essential" don't seem to be:

Applications were approved for 633 different jobs ranging from low skilled roles including taxi driver, cafe worker and cleaner, through to highly skilled jobs such as paediatrician, aircraft engineer and chemical engineer.

The visa approvals come at the same time as many New Zealanders are finding themselves out of work as a result of Covid-19’s impact on businesses and the economy.

Taxi drivers, cafe workers and cleaners. And the longer list includes things like bank workers, accounts clerks, call centre operators and bus drivers (and that's just the first few pages). As with the shortage of rural agricultural workers, its hard to escape the conclusion that the reason no kiwis are available to fill these roles is because we won't accept the terrible pay and conditions offered, and the problem isn't so much a "skills shortage" as a shortage of people willing to work for the wages these cheapskates are prepared to pay.

These employers are simply taking the piss and looking for a licence for exploitation: someone they can threaten to deport if they don't accept whatever shit is offered. And the government is aiding and abetting them in this by giving them access to migrant labour, which is functioning purely as a regulatory subsidy. Its time that stopped. Outside of a few areas of genuine shortage, if you can't find workers in a market economy, then the answer is to offer more. And if employers aren't willing to do that, then they deserve to go bankrupt.

A Parliament that sounds like Aotearoa

I'm watching the swearing in of MPs today on Parliament TV, and pleased to hear the linguistic diversity in our Parliament. In addition to a good number of MPs doing their oaths or affirmations in Te Reo, there's also been Samoan, Tongan, Dutch, Korean, plus (as best as I can guess) Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi, and no doubt others where I wasn't paying attention. MMP gave us a Parliament that looks like Aotearoa; now we've got one that sounds like it too. Unfortunately, a quirk of procedure means that anything not in English or Te Reo isn't legal, and must be done separately afterwards. Which is pretty obviously something we need to fix. These are all languages of Aotearoa, and it is bizarre that they cannot be used for this basic administrative act. Our law should reflect modern Aotearoa, not the colonial New Zealand of the 1950's.

(As for the ritual grovelling to the foreign monarch, its distasteful and demeaning and needs to change too. Our politicians should serve the people and the country who elected them, not some unelected inbred on the other side of the world who claims their "authority" by divine right).

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Reading the room

It looks like the government has finally read the room on the housing crisis, with Finance Minister grant Robertson writing to the Reserve Bank to tell them to start looking at controlling house prices:

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has told Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr that it’s time to think about out of control house prices.

Robertson has written to Orr telling him that “housing price instability is harmful to our aims of reduced inequality and poverty, and is also likely to negatively impact the Government’s aim of creating a more productive and inclusive economy”.

He wants the bank to think about the ways it and the Government can work together to achieve “sustained moderation in house prices that we have both sought”.

His letter suggests this could include asking the governor to consider stability of house prices when it makes monetary policy decisions, including decisions about interest rates.

This is something that Ardern was ruling out just last week, despite it being the way the Reserve Bank Act is meant to operate. But I guess she's finally picked up on the public anger over this. The prospect of people without wealthy parents being locked out of home ownership forever and the creation of an English-style landed gentry is deeply at odds with most kiwis' perception of how our country should be, and we expect the government to fix it. Ardern's staunch refusal to do so and her successive ruling out of any effective policy measure was making people angrier and angrier. But while this is a start, the government needs to go further, from "trying not to make the problem any worse" to actually solving it with mass house-building and wealth taxes. And if they don't, they'll be out on their arses next election.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Ardern's crocodile tears won't fix the housing crisis

People are getting very grumpy at the government's refusal to act on the housing crisis. Jacinda Ardern's response? To tell everyone she cares:

Jacinda Ardern says one of the things that sets her Government apart from the National Party is Labour's concern over skyrocketing house prices.

The median house price in Aotearoa recently hit $750,000, and in Auckland it's soared past $1 million.

In an interview with The AM Show on Monday, Ardern said she "has concerns" about New Zealand's housing market.

"I don't want to see this ongoing escalation that is making it increasingly difficult to get first home buyers into houses, and that is something we're concerned about - and that's a different view to the previous Government."

That's nice. But as long as Ardern is ruling out any effective policy to address the problem - wealth taxes, capital gains taxes, mass house-building to flood the market - then its just crocodile tears. And coming from someone with a $2 million house, its simply insulting.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Good riddance

Australian polluter Beach Energy has announced that it is cancelling plans to drill off Dunedin next year. The exploration permit in question, 38264, has a "drill or drop" requirement and has to drill an exploratory well by October 2021. But more importantly, it expires in November 2021. PEPANZ, the polluter lobby group, is hoping the permit can be extended, but that would be illegal. While the Minister can waive the drill or drop requirement on application, both sections 35(4) and 36(4) of the Crown Minerals Act make it clear that petroleum exploration permits can only be extended under s35A, for the purposes of appraising a discovery. As there has been no discovery, there can't be an extension, so this permit is basicly toast. And good riddance to it. If we are to save the world, we need to give up fossil fuels and decarbonise. Stopping exploration and leaving stuff in the ground is an important part of that process.

As for PEPANZ, the less offshore exploration there is, the less reason there is for them to exist. So hopefully it'll be good riddance to them soon as well.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Obvious questions for the NZDF

Today the Brereton report on war crimes by the Australian SAS was released, finding that Australian SAS troops had murdered 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners of war, with various actions taken to cover up the crimes. A special prosecutor will be appointed, and 25 soldiers have been referred for prosecution. Additionally, an entire squadron of the SAS will be disbanded and struck off the army list so there will be a permanent reminder - "2 squadron: struck off for war crimes".

Obviously, there are a hell of a lot of ways this can go wrong yet, and a hell of a lot of ways for the ADF to sabotage the process, but for the moment it looks like Australia is taking this seriously and that a real attempt will be made at justice. And hopefully Australians will be disgusted enough to force them to stick to it. Meanwhile, it ought to be causing disquiet on this side of the Tasman, because of the close links between the New Zealand and Australian militaries. Did the NZ and Australian SAS ever work together in Afghanistan? Were NZ troops implicated in or witnesses to any of this? Were they contaminated by the toxic murder culture which was allowed to grow unchecked in Australian units? NZDF ought to be reviewing every incident of cooperation and every death to make sure they weren't. Unfortunately, given their attitude to the Operation Burnham inquiry, I expect their fingers will be firmly stuck in their ears. They won't want to look, because what you don't know can't hurt your career (or anyone else's). The question is whether the Minister will make them check - and whether the public will make them. Because the big lesson from the Burnham inquiry is that we can't trust the public statements of the NZDF, and that only forced scrutiny has any chance of getting the truth.

Keeping Rates Low

For decades, the Wellington City Council has been Keeping rates Low, skimping on infrastructure maintenance to pander to elderly property-owners. The result? Shit on the streets:

Wastewater crews are working to fix a drain that is causing human faeces to pour onto a street in central Wellington.

Wellington Water was told of the spillage on Hopper Street near Mt Cook just after 8am.

The manhole in the middle of the road is bubbling up and overflowing with sewage, which is running down the street and into the gutter.

Obviously this isn't as big as January's poomageddon. But its the same underlying problem: a council trying to be cheap. But as with any maintenance issue, that just means dumping costs on others. At some stage, Wellington residents need to accept that if they want a functioning city, they actually need to pay for it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Climate Change: The problem of air travel

Until the pandemic, air travel was one of the fastest growing causes of greenhouse gas emissions. And its obscenely unequal, with just 1% of the world's population causing 50% of the problem:

Frequent-flying “‘super emitters” who represent just 1% of the world’s population caused half of aviation’s carbon emissions in 2018, according to a study.

Airlines produced a billion tonnes of CO2 and benefited from a $100bn (£75bn) subsidy by not paying for the climate damage they caused, the researchers estimated. The analysis draws together data to give the clearest global picture of the impact of frequent fliers.

Only 11% of the world’s population took a flight in 2018 and 4% flew abroad. US air passengers have by far the biggest carbon footprint among rich countries. Its aviation emissions are bigger than the next 10 countries combined, including the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia, the study reports.

The researchers said the study showed that an elite group enjoying frequent flights had a big impact on the climate crisis that affected everyone.

So how do we stop this? Taxing the fuck out of it, for a start. But the really rich aren't price sensitive like us plebs, and also tend to travel privately to avoid having to mingle with the peasants, which in turn results in far higher emissions than cattle class. So banning private jets needs to be part of any solution. We cannot let a handful of billionaires destroy the world for their own convenience.