Will Work for Food

I was reading through some leftish/alarmist environmental blogs, and I was struck by how many desperately want to buy into the story line that poorer nations are the true heroes of Copenhagen, holding the rich nations feet to the fire so they will commit to deeper CO2 cuts.

Really?  A bunch of dictators who demonstrably have little concern for their citizens and spend most of their time trying to figure out how to divert state funds into their Swiss bank accounts suddenly care about the effects of anthropogenic climate change on their nations?  Hugo Chavez, whose nation currently is avoiding following Zimbabwe down the toilet only by its oil revenues really wants the world to wean itself off oil?

Here is the perfect analogy for the Third World's sudden interest in climate:  The "I will work for food" sign.  Beggers learned that (at least for a while) this sign was a good marketing tool.  They had no intention of doing any work  (I had a friend who used to drive up to all of them and offer them landscaping work in exchange for lunch, always to be turned down flat) but they knew it made potential donors more sympathetic -  see, they really want to work but are just down on their luck.   If you haven't seen the movie Interstate 60, you really need to.  Relevant clip below:

This is exactly the equivalent of the Third World's sudden interest in climate change.  Up to this point, their leaders have shown no interest in stopping the raping of their own local ecosystems.  These guys are certainly not conservationists, but they know a good marketing tool.  Copenhagen is about these guys putting their hands out, and using climate as the marketing tool to soften up their marks in the West.  These nations certainly have no intention of having any targets or restrictions placed on their countries.   And it looks like they may succeed, at least in the treaty phase.

Obama has positioned himself in such a way that he feels that he has to have something he can call a win at Copenhagen.  So he goes to the politician's traditional playbook, which is to use taxpayer money to buy a deal to try to make himself look better.  He is working to do this with the passage of the health care bill and he probably will do this in Copenhagen, agreeing to $100 billion a year in payoffs to third world kleptocracies so he can look like a winner to western socialists.


  1. Dax:

    This is a great analogy. These third world dictators know a good free handout when they see one.

  2. Methinks:

    Perfect post.

  3. Evil Red Scandi:

    Several years ago a co-worker and I tried this - we had some cleaning to get done at a large site (labor intensive, but not at all skilled) and so we tried to get a few of our local "will work for food" guys to do it. We had zero takers and damned near got assaulted a few times.

  4. MJ:

    Neat clip. Kind of reminds me of the scene in "Falling Down" where a homeless guy approaches Michael Douglas in a park and asks him for a "loan" to help him get back to Santa Barbara. Douglas' response is priceless.

  5. Bob Hawkins:

    The best way to get rid of the guy outside the subway station with the tale of woe, who just wants fare to get home, is to pull a token out of your pocket and hold it up. You only need to buy one token.

    And to be precise, what the third world dictators recognize is called "a sucker."

  6. me:

    Spot on. Even if it weren't for the trustworthiness issue, and even if there was irrefutable proof of CO2 as the worst and most important aspect of human-caused climate change - would allowing first-world polluters to continue polluting at the same level by transferring money to developing economies (which would use the money to grow their economic base) be a solution to that problem? Methinks that would just make things worse. Much worse.

  7. LowcountryJoe:

    I watched the clip and was intrigued. So I rented the movie from Amazon and watched it on the computer. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie...seemed to have delightful libertarian theme to it. Now I think I'll look-up Bob Gale to verify it. By the way, I picked up a copy of your book and read it several weeks back. Good stuff; at the risk of sounding cliche, it was a page-turner.