On Earth Day (which was Sunday – keep up) the inchoately titled Free Market America … er, foundation, released a video entitled, “If I wanted America to fail” in which they tackle the knotty subject of climate change and carbon pricing through the medium of a patronising preppie grossly oversimplifying a complex problem.
No, please, go ahead and watch:
This gave me an idea. I gathered the rabble who comprise the Scroguery and suggested we respond. I assumed we’d all tackle the points raised in the video. Instead – being the free-minded gentlefolk we are – each has taken his/her own approach. Feel free to offer your own response to the video in the comments.
If I wanted America to fail, I would institute an endless number of foreign wars, pitching all of them as essential to freedom. This will create a massive public expenditure, too massive for any nation to bear, as France in the 1700’s, England in the 1800’s, and Russia in the 1900’s found out.
I would replace science, math and facts with slanted opinions, and teach kids that truth is whatever they or their ministers want it to be. This will, over time, effectively kill off entire sectors of our knowledge industry, leaving us strong in missile technology, but weak in life sciences, just like N. Korea.
I would reverse the trend to secularity which has brought mankind so far so fast, and re-institute religious dominated societies so we can be more like Iran and Afghanistan. I would replace science with superstition.
I would encourage a winner-takes-all economy, so that wealth, power and opportunity accumulate in an increasingly smaller segment of society, so that talent and IQ is wasted, and so that we are led by those bred to lead, not by those who earned the right. I would starve public schools and invest in private schools.
I would relax pollution laws, so we become more like Rio or Mexico City, and our children grow up smaller and not quite as smart.
I would keep commodities, like energy, artificially cheap, so people don’t have to fret about things like efficiency, making us more like Venezuala.
I would shut down immigration, because while looting the world for its best and brightest and hardest working has made this country great and pushed us far ahead of other resource rich countries like Canada and Australia, now it threatens to make the lazy and less gifted uncomfortable.
If I wanted America to fail, I would encourage homogeneity.
I would give in to the Christian Right and back their agenda of making this a truly Christian country. I would discourage other faiths by offering up exclusively Christian prayers at every civic event and meeting, recruiting primarily Christian chaplains for the armed forces, and prohibiting tax-exempt status to non-Christian or non-credal churches. I would base our foreign and domestic policies on a narrow interpretation of the Bible.
I would give in to the nativists and back their agenda to discourage immigration. Legal immigration should be strictly limited to acceptable ethnic groups who will be most easily assimilated: Christians and Europeans (or those of European descent). I would round up all of the illegal immigrants, using every law enforcement and military resource at my disposal, and repatriate them en masse. They can “appeal” from where they came from. I would block those who cannot prove their citizenship from medical care, education, jobs, and housing. I would make the stigma of being illegal something that carries over to their children: no more citizenship by right of “jus soli.”
I would give in to those who want traditional roles for men and women. I would end programs that encourage women to pursue unnatural careers and vocations, such as Title 9. I would encourage a two-tiered pay system for men and women to encourage men to appreciate and embrace their devalued role as Breadwinners, Fathers, and Heads of Households. I would end public support for early childhood education, preschool, and childcare to encourage women to perform their primary function: stay-at-home moms. I would outlaw contraception, divorce, and prohibitions against domestic violence. I would reinstate the term “bastard” on the birth certificates of the illegitimate and work to stigmatize them and their mothers. I would reinstate sodomy laws and restore the ability of employers, landlords, and social institutions to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation to force homosexuals back into their closets. I would repeal anti-bullying legislation so that kids can keep their potentially-homosexual classmates in line.
If I wanted America to fail, I would shutter the nation’s journalism schools and replace them with massive federal funding for public relations and advertising programs. I would fund Offices of Public Indoctrination for all those would write about political affairs. Perceived value of governments and corporations would take precedence in public utterances over actual value.
All bloggers and Twitter account holders would be liable for the accuracy of their writings according to governmental perceived-value standards.
I would demand that corporations be entitled to preview any article in which they are mentioned, no matter if the mention is incidental. I would dispose of state and federal shield laws. I would repeal the First Amendment.
Children in pre-school would be taught ad nauseum that information is owned by governments and corporations.
And aren’t we halfway there?
I’d make the education mission accountable to the financial interests of corporations and the wealthy instead of to the needs of the people and the democracy. I’d begin by implementing curricular reforms that emphasized rote memorization and the performance short-term, repetitive tasks and I’d eliminate any and all functions which led to the cultivation of critical thinking and core problem solving skills.
I’d make “efficiency” a core metric for evaluating the success of any school, program or system and I’d insist on “accountability” in the form of extensive testing and I’d implement hiring, compensation and management processes designed to discourage career educators. After all, the sort of education the country requires can be handily executed by entry-level teachers looking to gain practical work experience before moving on to more lucrative jobs. This way, we would assure that our nation’s schools were producing graduates ideally suited to the demands of employers, maximizing standardization while minimizing the disruptive social influence of liberal educational philosophies.
I’d make sure that education was expensive. Again, a new entrant into the economy facing decades in service to student loan debt is more easily managed and more generally compliant than a worker unburdened by pressing financial concerns.
Since educational failures are self-replicating – an ignorant population is more easily duped, more willingly misled, thereby making each successive generation more amenable to manipulation – each victory makes the next battle easier than the one that came before it. Over time, I’d begin leveraging the less critical, less educated public’s increasing conviction that the business of America is business and that the government is the source of all problems. Working hand in hand with my allies on the social right, I’d further undercut progressive forces in society, such as the science and research sectors, by enabling the introduction of “intelligent design” into formal curricula and fostering the idea that “controversial” ideas like climate disruption (which is perceived as dangerous by the nation’s industrial hegemony) should be “debated” until consensus can be reached. A suitably dis-educated populace will be unable to discern when I subsequently move the goalposts on these “debates.”
The end result? An easily manipulated population that serves the interests of a neo-feudal social and economic order.
If i wanted America to fail, i’d create a series of myths about what made America great and which conveniently ignored any facets of history that ran contrary to my narrative. I would politicize every aspect of life, and establish politics as a moral battle between good and evil. I would invoke God, to lend fire and brimstone to the moral battle set as party politics. I would become inflexible, and i would see people of different ideas as my enemy. I would dehumanize my political enemies. I would attempt to establish the belief that my enemy is the cause of all of America’s problems.
If i wanted America to fail, i would look only to my mythical American history as a guide to building the future. I would sacrifice my children and grandchildren on the altar of my own comfort and ephemeral wealth. I would indoctrinate them with my narrow world view and hope that they too ignore the wealth of knowledge found in science and a developed, rational mind. I would keep them tight in the bosom of a religion that required blind obedience to implausible histories.
If i wanted America to fail, i would trade the Republic for an Empire. I would throw away my civil liberties for the illusion of security from an illusory threat. I would turn the temple of democracy over to the moneychangers and pretend that they’re doing God’s work. I would elect corrupt leaders who act a part in the moral battle between good and evil, and i would continue to believe their personas even after all evidence showed “good” and “evil” to be working together.
If i wanted America to fail, i’d listen to and share stupid shit from organizations like FreeMarketAmerica.org. And i would go to the polls and vote for Democrats or Republicans.
If I wanted America to fail, I’d opiate the masses through entertainment and media—anything to circumvent the kind of free thinking necessary for responsible, effective self-governance.
I would use the media to turn governance itself into a form of entertainment, distracting the majority of potential voters and disgusting the rest—creating the impression that governance is irrelevant and not worth participating in, thereby disenfranchising them.
I would encourage a media environment that promoted financial incentive over public trust, sacrificing what people need to hear in favor of what they want to hear.
I would encourage uses of technology that allowed us to work more instead of just working better, emphasizing quantity of work rather than quality of life.
Where the declaration that free markets will solve everything fails is in the pricing of externalities. A company does not set out to produce pollution or waste in the production of their products or services; it is a by-product. Where that by-product is of neutral or positive benefit, no-one pays any attention (a bit like people turning up at their local restaurants to get the used cooking oil to turn into biofuel). Where that by-product is of negative consequence then it is essential that it be priced. If that by-product has no financial value to anyone, but a negative impact on society, then it is up to regulators to impose a market on that good.
Only then can the free market do its work, much as it did in solving the problem of excess sulphur production by industry
If the best scientific minds have proven that excess CO2 production will have, and is having, a detrimental impact on society then it is up to regulators to find a mechanism of pricing that cost into production. Certainly, it would be helpful if politicians did not lie about the costs of this intervention. It can’t fall on suppliers without also falling on consumers.
But the free market cannot price a good that is not sold, and it cannot produce efficiencies on something that is – by design – costless.
If I wanted America to fail, I would…do absolutely nothing.
Dr. Sidicious Bonesparkle
What Wufnik said.