Brilliant article that clearly sets out the responsibility essential for capitalism to be successful. Business and industry that requires government subsidy is not capitalism. The Constitution guarantees equal protection of the law to all, not just to the politically connected. Government veers far from equal protection when the rights of one group are denied to subsidize those of another. Emily’s comment
Robert F Kennedy Jr: “The best thing that could happen to the environment is free-market capitalism.” by Jon Rappoport
As I was looking into what Trump will do and won’t do to preserve what’s left of the American environment, I read Robert F Kennedy Jr’s book, Crimes Against Nature.
The book not only details wholesale destruction by pollution, it offers a foundation for understanding corporate crimes.
Kennedy keeps it simple. He proclaims himself a champion of the free market—which comes as a shock, until you realize what his addendum is:
CORPORATIONS SHOULD ABSORB THE FULL COST OF MANUFACTURING THEIR PRODUCTS.
AND THAT COST INCLUDES THE HARM THEIR PRODUCTS CAUSE.
For example, if Smithfield’s giant pig farm-factories allow highly toxic open-air feces lagoons to sit in the sun and spread into the soil for miles, they should have to build sewage treatment plants at those sites to process all the waste before it escapes.
“To handle all that [pig-farm feces] waste, farmers in North Carolina use a standard practice called the lagoon and spray field system. They flush feces and urine from barns into open-air pits called lagoons, which turn the color of Pepto-Bismol when pink-colored bacteria colonize the waste. To keep the lagoons from overflowing, farmers spray liquid manure on their fields nearby. The result, says Steve Wing, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is this: ‘The eastern part of North Carolina is covered with shit’.” —National Geographic, 10/30/14
Here is what Robert F Kennedy Jr. told radio interviewer, Rachel Lewis Hilburn on 6/3/16: “…a hog produces ten times the amount of fecal waste by weight as a human being, so if you have a facility that has ten thousand hogs in it, it’s producing as much sewage as a city of a hundred thousand people. Smithfield has one plant in Utah—they call it Circle Four Farms—that has a million hogs on it, so it’s producing the same amount of waste as New York City every day.”
Get it? If a corporation releases toxic excrement across the land, part of the cost of making their product (pork, bacon, sausages) is cleaning up the land.
This dictum doesn’t exonerate companies from criminal prosecution, but it forces them to understand a clearer concept of the marketplace.
Pollution becomes an element of making a product. It isn’t a “mistake” whose remedy is forever fought over after the fact.
The free market is maintained. But it doesn’t absolve corporations from paying their full rightful cost.
This would redefine what it means for a company to price its products.
“Well, if we have to pay for killing a billion fish and erasing commercial fisheries, what will we sell our electric motors for? Looks like it’ll be fifty times what we’ve been charging for them. I guess we should rethink our business model…”
Of course, offering this revised notion of the free market doesn’t mean that any major corporation will accept it. But it does create a starting point for activism that doesn’t just hand over the whole issue of pollution to the government—which leads to extremism on the other side. Kennedy isn’t saying that. I am. The government wants to make thousands of rules when they have the green light to do so; and many of the rules are inhibiting and insane for businesses.
What Kennedy is proposing isn’t perfect by any means, and he knows it. There would be inherent conflicts and battles all the way along the line. But it’s a start, as I say, and it clarifies what “free market” means.
The finished product a company makes, and the cancer and brain damage and genetic disruption that ensues, are not two separate events. The second is part and parcel of the first.
Kennedy is the head of an organization called Riverkeeper, dedicated to protecting the Hudson River. He describes journeying up the River and talking with many people whose businesses and homes and families were impacted by the gross pollution in the River. Some of these people weren’t interested in “environmentalism” at all. But they responded and joined Kennedy’s fight because their livelihoods and home values and health were on the line. On an intensely personal level, they understood his stance on the free market.
Kennedy: “What polluters do is escape the discipline of the free market. You show me a polluter, I’ll show you a subsidy – a fat cat who’s using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market.”
I’m not encouraged by what I see so far in the Trump administration’s approach to the quality of the land, sea, and air. His nominee for head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, appears to be a front man for polluting interests. In a previous article, My Position on Donald Trump, I wrote: “I think Trump favors jobs, all jobs, and will go to extremes to create them…He’ll cast a blind eye toward big corporate toxic GMOs/pesticides. He’ll overlook and ignore major areas of agricultural and industrial pollution, and permit them to expand.”
I still believe that, until and unless Trump proves it isn’t true.
He has stated he wants pure water and pure air. Let’s see some evidence of that. If he turns out to be a “know-nothing” with a hands-off agenda, we would be in danger of witnessing the reincarnation of George W Bush re the environment—an unmitigated disaster.
Even if you believe the business of America is unfettered business—and you welcome and embrace that ideal—talk to a few families who have been on the receiving end of serious pollution, and then consider how the free market should work.
Holding high-level criminals accountable doesn’t have to equal being swallowed up by socialism.
It’s actually a step on the road to restoring the root meaning of capitalism—absent the cronies and their deals and payoffs and subversions and perversions.
Or, if you’re still a hardliner who thinks any kind of environmentalism is a blow against the spirit of America, put on wading boots and walk into the middle of one of Smithfield’s huge, chemical-laden, pig-feces lagoons on a summer afternoon, at one of their facilities where they harvest a million pigs. Fire off a fervent salute to Smithfield and the Republic for which it stands.
As you try to stay upright, as inflammation invades your lungs, summon up a vision of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and Thomas Paine saluting with you and proclaiming that this is what they had in mind, when they helped launch a new nation birthed in freedom on this continent.
See if you can make that work.