14 April 2006


Here is how the investor class sees things these days... kind of grim... meanwhile, the slightly-less-self-centered capitalists appear to be railing around this "spare the taxpayer, spur the economy, save the planet" mantram...Here's what they tell themselves:
''Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth,'' Dahle said. ''Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.'
"Socialism" collapsed because it was really only state capitalism, and state capitalism died because, while it was drifting into debtor-nation status, Gorbachev handed the Soviet Union over to a cabal of Thatcherists. Selling state capitalism using the propaganda of socialism did wonders for Russia, but it could only work for so long.

BTW, "the market" has no "economic truth." Practically everything I've read in economics looks for a short dismissal of the questions of "who benefits? who loses? and in what way?" Phrases such as "good for the economy" are meaningless -- "good for the investor class" might mean something, whereas "good for the economy" can mean "bad for the working person," especially when used to describe a jobless recovery. And then "good for the economy" can mean "bad for the environment," as it does in China, which means that eventually "good for the economy" will bite everyone on the butt.

(Furthermore, "the market" is itself a product of manipulation -- prices, production, companies, etc. are all products of manipulation, so "market manipulation" is a redundancy.)

The economist assumes that "more money" is good for you -- but it really isn't good for you if you spend it in a way that is bad for you, for instance if you use your money endangering your health with greasy food or recreational drugs or fast cars. Oh yeah -- the owning class will only buy into "green capitalism" insofar as it provides a "greenwash" cover for their real profit-making activities, which involve jettisoning costs onto nature (i.e. trash, pollution) and the consumer (i.e. public subsidy) while hoarding profits for themselves. The accounting ledger (under conditions of capitalist competition) demands no less.

My point is this: raising environmental taxes will be tolerated only insofar as polluting industries can be outsourced elsewhere. No self-respecting German business would want to pollute in Germany, when it's cheaper to pollute in Indonesia, anyway. So raise pollution taxes in Germany -- it will only hurry capitalists who are out the door anyway. "Environmentalists" of this stripe really need to stop pretending that "national economies" still exist in any meaningful way, since it doesn't fool anyone. We know what globalization is.

When economists start measuring the optimal environment to be produced by production itself, that's when we can start listening to them. Otherwise we can assume that economic reason is an unhealthy form of reason.


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