Why won't capitalists stand up for capitalism?
Our real problem is that unfettered capitalism hasn't recently been tried. So why won't capitalism defend itself?
A truly shocking, depressing truth emerged from the Fakegate/Gleickgate scandal and I'm surprised no one has mentioned it.
I'm talking about how disgracefully mean capitalists can be when it comes to defending capitalism.
By rights a free-market think tank like the Heartland Institute ought to be awash with cash. After all, it goes out every day to crusade on behalf of all those values that rich people ought to hold dear: freedom of choice; minimal regulatory interference from government; political decision-making based on hard evidence rather than junk science and green activism.... But instead, it's so skint (in think tank terms its $4.6 million budget is peanuts) it can barely even scrape together enough cash to pay speakers at its annual climate conference. Not even those supposedly notorious funders of Evil Climate Change Denialism (TM) the Koch Brothers were prepared to stump up. Their modest $25,000 contribution, it emerged, had been earmarked for healthcare research not climate scepticism.
Not, let me hasten to add, that I wish to single out the Koch brothers as an example of corporate stinginess. Thanks to their generous funding of organisations like the Cato Institute they probably contribute more to the cause of free markets, small government and liberty than any other capitalists in the world. But what about all the other businessmen and entrepreneurs and capitalist running dog lackeys out there: where are they in the great global struggle between free markets and big government?
Cowering in their dug-outs, that's where they are, most of them, while the poor bloody infantry (that'll be me, then) go out and do all their dirty, scary, dangerous work for them, thankless and mostly gratis. Either that, or worse still, they're giving succour to the other side, paying for enemy's ammunition, funding his propaganda, kow-towing to his anti-capitalist prejudices.
Let me give you some recent examples.
1. A letter this week to the Daily Telegraph from members of The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, including the CEO of Thames Water, the group director of Lloyds Banking Group and, (no really!), the Chairman of Shell UK , urging Britain's continued transition towards a "low-carbon economy." But as all the scientific evidence shows, there is no case whatsoever for the transition to a "low-carbon economy." If carbon-dioxide is a harmless trace gas, valuable as plant food, but with an almost negligible influence on global warming – and it is – then in what wise, pray, does it make sense to divert billions of pounds' worth of scarce resources in the teeth of a depression towards averting a non-existent problem?
2. General Motors CEO Dan Akerson grovelling and abasing himself before the Climate Inquisition over the GM charitable foundation's minuscule contribution to Heartland Institute. Listening to the way the man apologises you'd imagine that it was Heartland which had emerged as the villain of the Fakegate/Gleickgate story - not the lying, cheating, conniving, stealing, smearing environmental movement.
3. Gasland v FrackNation. Gasland, as you probably know, was the anti-shale gas hatchet job movie made a couple of years back by Josh Fox. (It's the one where, famously, the methane is shown burning in a tap, supposedly as a result of the controversial drilling process of fracking). And the reason you probably know about it is because its distribution has been so lavishly funded, with contributors rumoured to include Russian firms like Gazprom (which are naturally not keen to have their valuable export market reduced by shale gas) and which definitely include the pathologically anti-shale gas Park Foundation (which has assets of $320 million, and in 2010 spent $19 million on mostly leftist causes, $3.5 million to anti-shale gas projects). A sequel: Gasland II is due out later this year.
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