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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Abstract Distractionism

Conservatives are all over the Chilean Miner Rescue - as are most Americans. I would argue rightfully so, as this story shows that mining, no matter where you are in the world, is dangerous and more stringent safety measures are required. However, conservatives are using this story of joy, hope, and victory, as a tool to - you guessed it - bash Barack Obama and his alleged "anti-capitalist" stand-points.

It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism.

Amid the boundless human joy of the miners' liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high.

In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost. The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:

"The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper."

Uh, yeah. That's a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that's right. Ask the miners.

If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?

The alleged quote and the context - you know, that word that all conservatives are so steeped in when it comes to having their own words thrown back at them - is not sourced in the article at all. It's simply just a tossed out phrase inside a poorly conceived thesis designed to anger the very people that read Fox"Nation" and somehow feel they are being "informed".

But let's be frank about this - Capitalism is NOT what saved these men.

What saved these men was the kindness of people like Brandon Fisher and the use of his drilling technology. But if we want to put this into abstracts, like Daniel Henninger is doing, we could say that a sense of community, a sense of "yes, I am my brother's keeper" that saved these men.

This isn't about conservative ideology or contortions of a contextually irrelevant quotation from a man you despise being placed against the lives of 33 men, this is about reality and what was used to pull these workers up from the bowels of the earth.

Moreover, I would postulate that this shows that a "small business" - willing to put up it's own money in a time of economic uncertainty in their home country - was willing to sacrifice profit and praise in order to save people that utilize socialized medicine once they were brought to safety. So how does that settle with Henninger and the reactionary conservatives that lap up his narrative?

Using such abstract notions to rationalize situations like this, or even those not nearly as serious as this, shows that conservatives are more than willing to use anyone as an example to besmirch those with whom they disagree.

1 comment:

Troy Camplin said...

Capitalism isn't an abstract notion. Capitalism did rescue those men. What do you think led to the drilling technology that saved them? Not a government program. It was discovery through market processes. And generosity is not the antithesis of the market. Quite the contrary. Generosity in ever-greater levels is made possible by the wealth and possibilities created by capitalism. Accidents happen. That is life. But the wealth, technology, and worldwide cooperation created by capitalism is what has saved more people -- and made more people's lives better -- than any other system on earth.

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