Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trust us. We're from the Company

Back in the 80's, Ronald Reagen told people The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" In that, was the message that government is the problem. That the noble business man and corporation were our friends - they would save us from the horrors of socialized medicine, from airlines bogged down with "regulations" that prevented them from providing you cheap airfare. That is only we removed protections from the credit and financial industry, the system would police itself just fine, and everything would magically correct itself.

This view has continued, and found its zenith in the recent Bush administration. No protections needed, to the point that when businesses went to assist the War in Iraq, it was spelled out that the companies operating there under US occupation wouldn't be held criminally liable for anything. At all. After all, the system would work! People who didn't like their jobs would quit. Those pesky "regulations" and "rules" only got in the way of honest business people.

And, as always, they always forget that for every 99 honest men, there is 1 that is not, and preys upon the rest. For 99 times that "the market works", there is the 1% when it fails, and fails utterly, and drags down the other 99% with it.

The newest point: Halliburton telling employees that contaminant was an irritant at work sites in Iraq. Turns out the stuff that was bothering the workers was sodium dichromate - a cancer causing agent.

It wasn't until people started having problems with nosebleeds, and ulcers, that they realized what was going on.

Oh, well - if they don't like it, they can just quit their jobs. That's how the market system works, right?

Only - the market system can only tell you the worth of something *right now*. It doesn't tell you the worth of something later. It's worth it to me to get an oil rig running *right now* for my money. Later, when I have cancer and I'm bleeding through my lungs, maybe that won't be such a good deal.

But hey, I'm sure the market will correct for that as well.

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