It’s almost like a religious thing for them. A fundamental belief that can’t be questioned. An axiomatic assurance that alleviates all anxieties. And, as with any dogmatic religion it comes with all the accoutrements: A clergy (George Will, Rand Paul). A nunnery (Ayn Coulter, Sarah Palin, Margaret Thatcher). Theologians (Alan Greenspan, Milton Friedman). A wildly misinterpreted ancient text, (The Wealth of Nations). Unbalanced prophets, (Glenn Beck, Michael Savage). Mythical heroes (John Galt, Ronald Reagan). Cabalists and Mystics (the wonks at The Cato Institute). And, of course, its sheep for the sheering.If you’ve ever talked with one of these guys, you know this caricature is only slightly exaggerated, like a Jimmy Carter drawing where he’s got giant teeth, or a doodle of Dick Cheney actually stabbing someone in the heart out of pure meanness.
And, as with most religions, to anyone on the outside, it looks like a rather random and illogical thing to put your faith in.
When dealing with these people we should remember this religiosity, because then we will better understand how they see the world. Like Wahabbis of World Finance, they view people, well, like me, not only as individuals with another point of view, but as apostates and extremists, and I’d like to take this opportunity to point out to them that they are out of their fucking minds.
First, that those of us over here in reality-land do not subscribe to your rigid, radical, and ridiculous ideology, decidedly does NOT mean that we reject the basic tenets of market economics. You can’t get away with calling everyone who disagrees with your purist interpretation of sacred texts socialists or communists. That’s retarded. With a hat-tip to the great Bill Hicks, it’s like saying that people who question the existence of a God who punishes his children with eternal suffering if they doubt his infinite love, can’t still believe in a higher being who isn’t a Dick.
Second, in 2010, at long last, if you are someone who thinks Atlas Shrugged for your sins, can you please, either shut up or reevaluate your knee-jerk totem-worshipping hokum at least until we’ve figured out some way to resolve the massive, uncontrollable volcano that is spewing 100,000 barrels of crude oil and millions of cubic feet of methane into the Gulf of Mexico every day short of resorting to the use of nuclear weapons.
In fact, rather than just shutting your lieholes, would one of you — and I mean this, it’s an open challenge, the column space is yours, we’ll put you on the website and invite our readers to hail or fail your reasoning — please explain how having LESS regulation of the oil industry could possibly have prevented this nightmare.
Now, again, those of us who haven’t quaffed a few gallons of “Fountain Head Brand Snake Oil” are NOT arguing that the Government should be in control of oil production. Our position is that, rather than fully disengaging the government from its oversight function, maybe we should be restructuring the relationship between Washington and Big Oil away from the coke and crank-fueled fuck sessions and towards one where, if it looked like the industry were about to drill a well at a depth under which they have no conceivable way to control a blowout, the government would step in an stop their selfish asses.
And don’t get all cute with me about calling them “selfish asses.” That’s what they are. It’s what you WANT them to be. That’s part of your PHILOSOPHY.
See, the “Fellows of the Free Market Think Tanks” believe that Greed is Good because all that ardent demand will meet someday with a supple supply and we’ll find happiness and joy in an equilibrium price for all our commodities. And, again, sometimes that works like a charm, but not when it comes at the ultimate expense of the public green. Or the deep blue sea.
But somewhere in Washington, there’s a single-hulled Free Market Think Tanker sipping his first cup of freshly roasted Guatemalan coffee, and heading to the water-closet with the lovely floral patterns, preparing to cogitate a way that the evil government and NOT the heroic, plucky little firm of British Petroleum was responsible for the destruction of God-only-knows how many lives, and how, had the noble knights just been allowed to pursue pure profit, all would have gone as swimmingly as a dolphin NOT soaked in 40 weight poison.
And we’ve begun to hear voices from within their ivied stalls.
Recently this gem was floated by the Free Marketeers on Fox News: The REASON British Petroleum didn’t care if their blowout preventer worked was because of the 75 million dollar liability cap on oil companies that pollute the environment. See, if the government hadn’t have placed that cap on their liability, then they a) would have taken out an insurance policy to cover the costs associated with any spill, and b) would have seen that it was in their financial interest to actually prevent a spill.
Thus, their answer for preventing spills in the future: MORE FREE MARKET!!!
It’s so easy to be them. Sometimes I wish I just could give in, take the market as my savior and stop actually thinking.
But any notion that starts with the precept of an unreachable purity (be it Christian, Communist, or Capital) is a hindrance to actually forwarding a debate.
That a serious debate about the proper role of government vis à vis industry is needed can really only be denied by either market fundamentalists or their enablers inside the government who remain willingly blind to the reality that a private company, with fiduciary responsibilities to its share holders and no allegiance to their workers or the citizenry-at-large made a calculated risk-reward calculation that it would be profitable to drill for oil at a depth where even THEIR OWN internal reports said that blow-out preventers had a failure rate of 45%.
This much is clear. The regulatory bodies in Washington have been so thoroughly captured and tamed that they would be better off applying for positions as concert hall castrati. And that needs to be resolved, as trusting that greed alone will guarantee sustainable growth in the 21st Century is a provable fallacy. It’s written in oil all over the Gulf Coast, and it’s time for us to get off the pot and recognize that reality.