BP and the Libertarian Lie

Yves Smith asked for commentary from libertarians on the BP oil spill:

Many of my investor buddies e-mail each other frequently during the day (yes, e-mail, not IM or tweet) and I am on the periphery of some of their discussions. One of them took note of the fact that the libertarians in this crowd had gone silent on the question of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and wanted to ask all libertarians: What is the proper libertarian response to the oil spill?

A commenter, Attempter, really hit home:

This is the kind of thing that utterly defeats their lies, on many levels.

1. The oil, if it can be said to “belong” to anyone in the first place, belongs to the people, so on its face it was robbery to have anything other than a national oil industry, which might at most use private service companies as hired contractors only.

2. Undersea drilling is a monumental undertaking which could never find private funding with no massive government backing and backstops. Since by definition the project must either be corporatist or fully nationalized, again it’s clearly nothing but unproductive looting to allow anyone to extract a private rent.

A true libertarian, if any such existed, would say that if an economic project can’t be done without massive government “investment” and backstopping, it shouldn’t be done at all.

3. It was always a flat out lie when the likes of Milton Friedman flippantly said “tort law can handle all harms”. How could BP pay the infinite damages here even if it were willing to, the way the libertarians claimed it would be?

4. But of course rackets like this aren’t willing to pay for the destruction they cause, and they rig the system to absolve themselves of having to. Thus BP received every waiver imaginable, didn’t have to take out any insurance at all let alone the trillion dollar policy which should have been required. Meanwhile it’s apparently only subject to a $75 million liability cap, and as we speak the Democrats are allowing a bill to modestly raise this limit to be held up by Republican. That’s a perfect example of the rigged system the libertarians always lie and claim doesn’t exist.

There’s your Friedman tort safeguard in action, functioning exactly the way he always really meant when he told such lies, the way he always knew and intended it would function.

The fact is that economic libertarianism was never anything other than a stalking horse for the dictatorship of big corporations. The goal has always been to lift all responsibilities from the holders of concentrated wealth and property and remove all restrictions on their rapacity, aggression, and destruction, even while big government is maintained as a looting mechanism, to force the politically weak to be the initial cash cow and to take on the cost and the risk, and to aggressively uphold this property regime. (The lie that it’s possible to have large-scale concentrated property and wealth at all without a very big, aggressive government is intellectually identical to saying “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”)

The result is the kleptocracy we have today. The result is Bailout America.

That was awesome.


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