Of Course Mining Pays, That’s Why We Can’t Have It

Bill Kaye-Blake points us to a Patrick Smellie column where he points out the enormous value added by the mining sector in New Zealand relative to other sectors.

Although he says that we need to consider economic reality, 99% of New Zealanders do not think that way. There’s no way to communicate with people who react like rabid dogs whenever the benefits of extractive industries are discussed. I’m annoyed there aren’t comments below the column so I could screenshot median voter opinions on this stuff.

Remember that more people protested the mining in national parks thing than the GCSB Bill. Even though most New Zealanders will never set foot in a National Park their entire lives, and that the Denniston Plateau used to be a mining area, rational thought processes are thrown out the window when it comes to extractive industries.

Likewise, the discussion around offshore oil drilling is not a logical cost/benefit analysis in New Zealand. There is no discussion of the trade-offs involved and no discussion of how environmental protection technology has received enormous investment over the past few decades. Facts don’t matter when you’re dealing with progressivism – which as an atheist political ideology inspires religious levels of devotion in one of the most interesting ironies of political economy.

Then, when you add in the progressive resentment of blue collar people earning high wages in extractive industries, we really can’t have a situation where people working in extractive industries doing risky but skilled work earn more than office workers with strong environmental protection opinions. That would be, well, another data point against the value of environmental studies majors. I mean, jeez, those jumped up West Coast coal miners wanting $80,000 a year to risk their lives and limb to extract dirty, yucky coal! The cheek of the working class!

The people who are against extractive industries are generally quite well-off. They’re of the same tribe that wants heritage buildings that can kill people in earthquakes protected. They have a strong emotional reaction to proposals of offshore oil drilling because of their weak amygdala. They are so stupid they don’t realise that New Zealand was built on the back of extractive industries and you need those extractive industries to create the networks of supporting businesses that create even more jobs and wealth.

This is what we have to deal with in a democracy. Something that on any rational assessment of the fact benefits every single New Zealander is disregarded because weak and irrational people will crucify the party that relaxes environmental protections at the ballot box.

Of course mining pays and adds a lot of value to the New Zealand industry – that’s the very reason why we can’t have it. It is one of the issues that makes me very disappointed at the level of cognitive ability with respect to managing tail risk (Deepwater Horizon! Rena!) and forgetting that there are two sides to a cost/benefit analysis of more resource extraction projects.