Out for themselves
Thank you for publishing Melanie Sturm’s recent article that fairly well articulates the right’s current position (“The last best hope of Earth,” July 7, 2011, The Aspen Times).
Simply put, it seems they believe that anything that the free market does is good and that anything government does (except wars) is bad. And granted, if you’ve had significant dealings with virtually any part of the bureaucracy it is easy to understand this sentiment.
But their point of view disregards the fact that the government is responsible for protecting the public (group) interest. While it would be nice to think of a benevolent capitalist system with a conscience, that is not how it works. That is why we have costly and annoying government interference such as child labor laws, minimum wage, vehicle emissions controls and seat belts, to name a few.
Left to its own supervision, the free market tends to produce things like Love Canal, lead paint and DDT. Profit is the objective and there is nothing wrong with making money. But would it be OK for big pharmaceutical companies to run a cost-benefit analysis showing it to be much more profitable to manage AIDS, cancer, etc., than to cure them? They have managed to cure erectile dysfunction and a host of other problems, resulting in great repeat business but haven’t made as much progress in areas where the real money doesn’t come from a cure.
You have to wonder if our “health care system” isn’t actually better off financially with an unhealthy populace. Maintaining the status quo of a process-driven system that sells endless tests and prescriptions is definitely more profitable than a results based system run by the government would be.
Melanie points out that the free market raises people’s lives by providing jobs. This is true and we all know there are many excellent employers and corporate citizens.
But it is also obvious that what we have seen in the last 40 years of globalization is jobs being moved by corporations out of the U.S. to locations without any protection for the public interest. No pesky minimum wage or child labor laws and no worries about polluting the environment. But at least we should feel good because we are creating opportunity for those who otherwise would have none. Right?
It is very difficult to understand why at this moment of national financial difficulty the small percentage of the population that controls a vastly disproportionate percentage of our wealth is so militantly opposed to stepping up with a greater contribution (higher taxes) for the benefit of all. “Greed” is the only word that comes to mind.
Capitalism could be the great engine for lifting humanity but only if those in positions of true power start realizing that empowering others to elevate mankind will be more thrilling than accumulating and counting trinkets.
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Residents involved in planning Aspen’s new airport have reached significant conclusions about how big the facility will be and how many passengers it will accommodate in the future.