"This catastrophe in the Gulf could be that kind of defining moment."

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Moore also echoes popular confusion about the oil industry... and utopianism
"That means if people are sinful, if all of us are sinful, then all of us have to have accountability — and that includes corporations." Moore says. "Simply trusting corporations to go about their business without polluting the water streams and without destroying ecosystems is really a naive and utopian view of human nature. It's not a Christian view of human nature."

He's a bit off here because a) the oil industry--along with all others--is already heavily regulated and b) nobody in the industry wants to spill oil (they make their money selling oil, not spilling it!) and c) free market capitalism is the philosophy that denies utopian views of human nature. The 'progressive' idea that government can produce an ideal society is based on utopianism.

Really muddled thinking going on there.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I don't think it's ridiculous to believe that capitalism and enlightened self-interest will not prevent corporations from doing things supposedly in that interest (e.g. doing things cheaply, even if by the regs, to save money) that later show poor thinking and not only loss of money on their part but problems left for others to deal with. But you are right that there is some "muddled thinking" going on.

Of course I don't trust corporations any more than the author, but I also don't trust government for that matter. Both are run by people, and I don't trust many people for obvious reasons. The author is clearly wrong in thinking that the government or even the collective "wisdom" of all the people in this country are the solution to the problem, just as we shouldn't be blindly trusting the corporations.

I don't want a world that is completely paved over any more than he does, but I'm quite happy that I don't live like a gorilla. There is some wisdom in being good stewards of what God has given man, but stewardship certainly does not mean "getting back to nature" or foregoing all the advancements that things like oil have provided.

Dave Barnhart

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well, history is pretty clear that the profit motive doesn't guarantee a corporation will act wisely. What it does guarantee is that, eventually, corporations that don't act wisely cease to exist. The oil case is a prime example. If you keep spilling oil rather than selling it, you soon lose to your competitors who have figured out how to sell more and spill less. Admittedly, corporations are sometimes breathtakingly stupid... because a 4th grader can figure out that selling is better than spilling. But there is also pressure toward efficiency and that involves risk: you cut an expense believing it will be safe to do so. And sometimes end up being really, really wrong.
But my real point is that we don't need laws to tell companies to do what they are going to do anyway: try to balance risk with reward. They'll fail sometimes and no law is going to prevent that. But without pressure toward efficiency, you develop economies of shrinking productivity and increasing poverty.
I do believe there's a balance to be struck, but in the long run, safety imposed by gov't agencies that are not involved in the business tends to gradually favor avoiding risk (they have no stake in lost productivity) and decreasing efficiency. The result is higher cost of operation and higher prices and less value for everyone involved. So regulation has to be extremely cautions and restrained.
It's one of the many aspects of economics that are somewhat counter intuitive and most people don't have the patience to take the long view think through the true cause-effect chain with its many links.

As for a world completely paved over, it would never happen in a free society. Why? Because there is a "market" for forests, gardens, fields, etc. Where people want something and other people are free to provide it, there will always be a "product." The problem with our culture today is that most people no longer even consider whether there might be a better mechanism than government for solving these problems. It's become "common knowledge" that the large organization we call government is automatically better than the (usually much smaller) organizations we call corporations. I don't really see why we should assume that.

To connect w/Moore's observations: he seems to assume that corporations made up of sinners will be "accountable" to a government that is made up of something better. But "government" is just a different kind of corporation... also made up of sinners.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.