The Ferguson Affair is no Reason to Abolish the EPA.

by Pitt Griffin on August 15, 2014 · 0 comments

in Business, Corporatism, Economics, Environment, Politics

“If men were angels no government would be necessary” – James Madison

The Ferguson PD deployed armored vehicles and heavily armed, camouflaged officers to counter the protests over the Michael Brown killing. Libertarians are leaping on that overreaction to decry a government grown too large; too authoritarian; too fascist. Their solution? Dispense with the whole apparatus; sweep it away; drown it in a bathtub. But that is to throw the baby out with the bathwater .

This is not the army in the Middle East. It is the police force in Ferguson, Mo.

An out of control police force is no reason to deep-six the EPA.

There is no doubt that, on the large scale, the NSA overreach – and small, the militarization of local police departments – government has been feeling its oats. All – except those who enjoy being spied on and brow-beaten by the brown-shirted bully boys – agree that these vile incursions on individual rights are despicable. But that should not be a rallying call to disband the EPA – nor any of the other agencies that protect the citizens from the depredations of corporate America.

Libertarians jump the shark when they conflate government oppression of the citizen with government regulation of business. Nobody wants the government to interfere with the individual’s pursuit of happiness. But there is much to recommend some entity preventing big business from peeing in everyone’s swimming pool (speaking metaphorically).

And what should the nature of this entity be? Libertarians tell us that the “free market’ will police itself. That “bad actors” will be weeded out. It is a utopian delusion – refuted by reality. Companies behave badly – time and time again – not because there is too much regulation, but because there is bad regulation. It is the same as saying that because “bleeding” and leeches didn’t cure disease, we should get rid of medicine.

Love Canal - a libertarian's vacation paradise.

Love Canal – a libertarian’s vacation paradise.

The need for something to rein in industry is overwhelming. In 1969 the Cuyahoga river in Ohio caught fire. In 1978 Love Canal was evacuated. In 1983 the Hudson River was declared a superfund site after being PCBed into submission. And that hardly scratches the surface of corporate environmental indifference.

Relying on the free market to police itself is like relying on an infant to keep his high chair clean. We need the EPA. And if it behaves in ways offensive to the individual then it needs to be improved not discarded.

It isn’t just the polluters who skate over decency. Money makes sinners of so many. Drug addicts are excoriated for there lack of moral fiber. Substance abuse is poo poo’ed as a disease and sneered at as a moral failing. But the addiction to profit seems to have abscised whatever moral fiber financiers may have brought to the party. Even to call them financiers is to give them a status beyond their exaltation.

Wearing an expensive suit doesn’t make you an upright man. Pimps and drug barons have style and flash but are scorned as society’s leeches. How is a hedge fund manager or any other get rich quick huckster any different? Capitalists who invest in new factories contribute to the economy – and make money, why not? But the masters of the universe use exotic, impenetrable financial instruments to create wealth – seemingly out of thin air – but not to contribute to economic growth.

If these self regarding, money mavens treat the economy as a casino they should expect to be regulated if they anticipate the general public backstopping their adventurism.

Business has bought itself a pack of poodles in Congress – and spends millions to convince the gullible to keep reelecting them. It is sad irony that the wide-eyed were convinced to enslave themselves to corporate rapacity by plutocrats selling them the idea that corporate regulation is fascism. It is one thing to wear chains. It is another to willingly don them.

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