Thinking Out Loud

June 4, 2009

Economics Without Consequences

Truth or ConsequencesA couple of days ago I wrote about General Motors and suggested that if the government is stepping in to take over the operations of GM to save it from bankruptcy, surely it sets a precedent for other iconic companies. A comment posted wondered why the U.S. government didn’t do what it did with Bell, where it broke the company up into several Baby Bells. I also mentioned WalMart in passing.

What if something did happen to WalMart? Would the government simply let it die? Not if GM is any indication. But what if GM, and WalMart, and Mircosoft, and Coca Cola, and Major League Baseball, and Starbucks, and MacDonalds; what if they all were teetering on the edge and the government was having to step in to save them all? And what do you call it when the government owns a sizable portion of the industry taking place? Not capitalism, that’s for sure.

The problem is — as I stated already — we want to live in a world without consequences. The next generation to take over the world of business and commerce had its earliest interaction with the world of consequences around the topic of sex. Don’t want disease or pregnancy? Just use a condom. Already pregnant? Just have an abortion. In debt over your head? Declare bankruptcy. Don’t like your spouse? Get a divorce. Don’t like your job? Just quit, you can always go on welfare. Did something less than honest? Just get a good lawyer.

A world without consequences. But what if everything we ever did could come back to haunt us? Apparently this isn’t a new thought for me. Here’s what I posted on this blog exactly one year ago.

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The part of the world where I live has finally got around to banning the use of cosmetic pesticides and herbicides on commercial and residential lawns. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take effect until the current season of chemicalization ends. Anyway, you’d think that as an environmentalist I would be thrilled, but I’m not for two reasons.

First, there’s the phone call I got tonight from a telemarketer telling me what a terrible thing the government did, and hoping that I will join the people who are getting as much chemical spraying done in this, the final season.

Second, and more important, I think it could take twenty years before the true impact is known. This stuff is not filtered out in our drinking water (as it’s fully dissolved) and there are obviously going to be some — hopefully not many — long-term effects that are going to show up in today’s children; aside from the short-term effects (such as environmentally triggered asthma) that we’re already seeing.

Even if you never sprayed your own lawn, if you ever hung your sheets outside to dry, some experts say you possibly absorbed the same amount of toxic chemicals through your skin as you slept as though you had sprayed your own lawn.

What I’m wondering is, if twenty years down the road, the people who perpetrated these crimes against our air and water might be tried for their actions in a manner that some were tried for war crimes years after the war. I mean, who’s to say that as the “green” agenda moves forward, the things that were done in the last fifty years by the weed spray companies and their allies are not regarded as truly criminal? And would such an action be limited to those who actually applied the products, or could the aforementioned telemarketers be found as complicit in their actions?

I hope it doesn’t come to that. But if it does, I hope the guilty are appropriately punished. Because they did not act in ignorance… they knew the truth all along.

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Well, that was a year ago.   Consequences.   They’ll catch up to ya.   What did Jesus say about sowing and reaping?

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