31 October 2015

Economics, the Environment and Questions That Must Be Asked

When I see things like this I think about the idea that the Free Market is self-regulating. I realize that many of its most strident advocates are critical of globalisation and its effects, but this is due to their own reductionistic understanding of economics. Their minimalist understanding of the nature of economics blinds them to this logical telos of the Capitalist system.

People are filled with avarice, and in a system that hides the truth, in a society (for a host of reasons) that doesn't care about the effects of their lifestyle on others, mere knowledge is insufficient to regulate the market. In a culture that is highly complex and frankly beyond the comprehension of most people, even imagining a media which reveals the truth and contextualizes it, (a fantasy to be sure)... reporting and consumer knowledge are not enough.

Do I relish regulation and restriction? Of course not, but I also dread the depraved and covetous nature of fallen man and how he will disregard others in the pursuit of wealth and power.

Forget the 'green' aspect of this. This is affecting people. Many try to divorce environmental questions from society and try to contrast economic and social stability with environmental viability.

Granted this example is extreme, but it touches at the heart of the struggle. While your industry may employ people, it still does harm, and the harm is often multi-generational and in the end the destruction exceeds the temporary benefit. People may be employed for a generation, but the harm lives on for multiple generations and in the end (ironically) costs more. But the company and the greed that made the mess, they're all too often exempt and the costs fall on society. That's wealth redistribution on another level. That's profits at the expense of society, a form of welfare on the macro-scale.

This is not true in every case but it must be weighed. Looking at these pictures should be a reminder that the extreme positions in any of the economic or political camps cannot properly deal with the multiple variables at work in modern techno-industrial society.