Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Campaign of Deception

What would you say somebody walked up to you with the following deal:

"I need your help. I am working for somebody who is arranging to have dirty bombs delivered to a lot of major cities around the world; Los Angeles, Miami, New York, London, Hong Kong, Sydney. You get the picture. These bombs won't kill many people. What they will do is render large portions of these cities uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. The economic damage would be massive.

"My problem? I think the authorities are on to me. If they move too quickly, they could disrupt the whole program. I need to distract them. That's what I want you to do. I want you to come up with some way to throw them off the scent until the person who hired me can finish his work. I'll pay you half a million dollars each year for as long as it takes, and even give you the first year's worth in advance.

"What do you say? Do we have a deal?"

What type of person would accept such a deal?

Whatever type of person this is, he or she is morally comparable to the employees of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The terrorist, in this case, is carbon dioxide. The middle-man working for the terrorist is Exxon/Mobile. The people who agreed to create this diversion while bombs are placed that will render large portions of several major cities uninhabitable are those who work in the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The CEI started a campaign consisting of two 60-second commercial built around the theme, 'Carbon dioxide; some call it a pollutant. We call it life.' They are trying to sell the idea that, because carbon dioxide is something that we exhale as a part of our life and plants use, that it is a harmless product that we should not worry about. They condemn those who would call it a pollutant.

If they truly believe this, they should have no trouble agreeing to a simple experiment. Let us take all of the employees at the CEI and put them in a chamber with 100% pure carbon dioxide. Let us see how much "life" we can find after, say, 15 minutes.

This is a graphic demonstration of a simple fact: What is a 'good thing' at one level of concentration might produce some adverse effects at a different concentration. There is nothing in these advertisements that say anything to counter the science of global warming. It is nothing but a feel-good commercial that says, "carbon dioxide is our friend." Its purpose is to disarm the population so that they will not take steps to protect themselves from the harms they will suffer as carbon dioxide levels rise.

For this, CEI collects money from energy companies who want us distracted while carbon dioxide releases a bomb that will render large portions of coastal cities uninhabitable -- a level of damage that will make a terrorist strike look like child's play.

Some scientists are saying that, in 10 years, the terrorist "carbon dioxide" will be unstoppable. We will no longer have the ability to prevent it from setting off its bombs that will damage all coastal cities. Even if this is an overly pessimistic assessment, I am certain that CEI will not mind. If it turns out that this "terrorist" needs a little more time, CEI is willing to buy this "terrorist" as much time as it needs, as long as CEI continues to get paid.

What type of person would do this?

And let us not forget the middle man -- the people who are funneling the money from the terrorist 'carbon dixoide' to organizations such as CEI. The middle-man in this case is a company such as Exxon Mobile -- who has contributed over $2 million to CEI.

The terrorist 'carbon dixoide' is paying Exxon Mobile billions of dollars per year. That is why Exxon-Mobile has decided to ally themselves with this terrorist -- for the money. CEI is willing to help for table scraps compared to what CEI is making. (Of course, some of the people in CEI may well have large stock holdings in Exxon-Mobile. If there are any, they are getting paid twice. The terrorist pays them once as an employee of the 'middle man', and once again as the organizers of this campaign to divert attention from the terrorist until the job is done.

One of the tools that people use to fight terrorism is to try to cut off its source of funding. So, we need to ask, from where does Exxon/Mobile actually get the money it uses to finance this campaign?

Well, actually, they get it from you, dear reader -- some of you.

They don't get much from me. I quit driving when I was 18 (with a 1 year exception).

For those of you who think that you cannot live without a car, I have a request. There is another company out there called "British Petroleum" (which also sells gasoline under the name 'Amoco'). The next time you need a tank of gas, I would like to ask that you do not give your money to the organization that is more than eager to finance destruction equivalent to a terrorist bomb in every coastal city. I would like to ask that you look for a "BP" or "Amoco" station instead. And encourage friends and family to do the same.

What Free Markets Require

The Competitive Enterprise Institute says that it favors free-market solutions to the world's problems.

That's a lie.

A free market system is one that protects property rights. This includes the right of each individual to preserve their life, health, and property from harms that others may inflict. If I were to start a fire on my property that burns down your house, on a free market system, then I am responsible for the costs (plus punitive damages).

The free market system has a set of rules that have to be set in place in order for the ‘invisible hand’ to operate. One of those rules is: “Those who do the harm pay the cost.” In more technical terms, this is called “internalizing the costs.”

The way this works is that we set up a system so that if an action does harm to others, those who perform the action compensate those affected for the harms done. Free market forces will then give that person a reason to stop the activity at the moment that it quits producing a net social benefit.

If we allow that person to continue the action without paying the costs, then he will do more harm than good. He will continue to perform the action even to the point where he is doing excessive harm to others, because he does not have to pay for the harm. Yet, he still gets to pocket the benefit.

This is the type of system that Exxon/Mobile, CEI, and the Bush Administration are trying to set up. They want a system where rich people can continue to pocket the benefits of their action without paying for the costs they inflict on others –- particularly if those “others” do not have a lot of money.

Let me repeat this.

According to free-market principles, “Justice” = “Those who do harm to others pay the costs.”

According to Exxon/Mobile, CEI, and the Bush Administration, energy companies are free to inflict whatever costs they want on others – up to and including the potential of doing massive damage to every coastal city equal to or greater than that of a terrorist weapon of mass destruction, without paying the costs.

What will the effect of these principles be? What will result from a government that says, “Energy companies can inflict whatever harm they want without suffering the costs, but can still pocket the benefits?” The result will be energy companies inflicting as much costs as possible. Ultimately, it would be rational for them to destroy a city if doing so can bring them a dollar in profits – because they get to keep the dollar, and they don’t have to pay for the destroyed city.

It sounds a lot like the same type of “morality” one would find among a group of terrorists.


I want to go back to my original question. What should our attitude be to somebody who accepts a bribe and agrees to distract officials long enough for a client to plant a bomb that would destroy significant portions of every major coastal city?

That's the attitude we should have to members of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Exxon/Mobile, and the Bush Administration, because this is exactly what they are trying to do. They are funding and campaigns to divert our attention while carbon dioxide plants a bomb that will destroy substantial portions of every coastal city. They don't care. They just want the money.


Hume's Ghost said...

CEI wants to privatize the atmosphere. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Please explain.

Anonymous said...

I think that you are wrong comparing CEO morality to terrorists. CEOs are immeasureably less "moral". However diseased and evil and insane and wrongheaded terrorists are, their motive, consciously at least, is to make things "better" for some daffy definition of that word. CEOs like the scum running Exxon/Mobil just want to get richer and the consequences for anyone else be damned.

Anonymous said...

I think that you are wrong comparing CEO morality to terrorists. CEOs are immeasureably less "moral". However diseased and evil and insane and wrongheaded terrorists are, their motive, consciously at least, is to make things "better" for some daffy definition of that word. CEOs like the scum running Exxon/Mobil just want to get richer and the consequences for anyone else be damned.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


To clarify:

I compared carbon dioxide to terrorists (only insofar as the will render large portions of several cities uninhabitable).

I compared Exxon/Mobile CEOs to "middlemen" who handle the money for the terrorists -- who care nothing for the terrorists' objectives but have found a way to make themselves rich by helping the terrorists.

Anonymous said...

A misunderstanding happened, to my fault.
I understood the article.
I hoped Hume's ghost would explain the privatization of the atmosphere.

Hume's Ghost said...

See here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm for market-based approaches to environmental protection, there are some neat reforrestation success under credit-trading plans, but what CEI wants is to shift the burden of cost for pollution onto someone else. Instead of a company having to pay to pollute, private individuals would have to pay to have clean air.

At least that's the impression I get from reading their site.

Anonymous said...