Over at Vox, David Roberts wrote, Exxon Researched Climate Science. Understood It. And Misled the Public. As you may have heard, a couple of years ago, some news outlets documented that Exxon scientists had studied global warming and found it to be true, but the company hid the information. They then spent a lot of money releasing information designed to muddy the waters and make people believe that it was all a hoax — or at least something that was uncertain.
Now, seventeen state attorneys general have gotten together to investigate whether Exxon broke any laws having to do with “racketeering, consumer protection, or investor protection.” That’s all good. Just the same, I suspect it will come to nothing. And even if it does, no one will go to jail. Instead, Exxon will be fined some amount of money that will be nothing compared to the money they made by deceiving the public.
Exxon Isn’t in the Business of Doing Good
There’s another issue here. Do we really look to our private companies to keep us safe? Isn’t the real villain in this case the Republican Party that has done everything it can to carry water for the dirty energy industry? These elected officials are supposed to look out for the interests of the county and its people, not its campaign contributors. And not the people who will give them cushy jobs when they leave office.
I have found that it is normally conservatives who are most upset when they find out that a private company like Exxon isn’t doing the “right” thing and is instead enriching itself by any means available. Liberals are rarely surprised by this kind of thing. And that explains to some extent why liberals are for government interference in the marketplace and conservatives are not.
In this case, I’m talking about conservative voters. Obviously, conservative politicians are about as vile and cynical as any group comes. But there is a great deal of naivete among conservative voters. These are, after all, the people who listened to Trump say daily through the campaign that he would repeal Obamacare, and yet thought that he wouldn’t really do it.
Naive Conservative vs Cynical Liberals? No
These naive conservatives will claim that my position is just cynical. I don’t have faith in my fellow man! But my position isn’t cynical; it is just fact-based. Private companies are in the business of making money. That means they will pay employees the lowest amount they can. That means they will charge the highest prices they can.
(This is another thing that drives me crazy. People think that companies set reasonable prices for things. This is not true. They charge as much as they can. It is only in a competitive market that various companies force each other to push the price down. I always hear this nonsense about “reasonable” pricing when it comes to corporate taxes. “If you tax them more, they’ll just raise their prices!” Really?! Then why aren’t they charging more now? Why do these people think McDonald’s is selling hamburgers for less than they could?)
Liberals Allow Conservatives to Exist
It often seems to me that conservatives can only exist because liberals allow them to. Without liberals to make society distinctly better, conservatives would be forced to see the dystopia that their policies actually create.
Thus there are really only two kinds of economic conservatives. First, there are the cynical people who only care about themselves and lording over everyone else. And second, there are naive people who live in a fantasy land where Exxon looks out for the best interests of the world. So economic conservatives really are stupid or evil. And I don’t know which is worse.