Waiting for conservatives to take capitalism and personal responsibility seriously – fracking edition

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Photo by Tim Evanson. https://www.flickr.com/photos/23165290@N00/9287130523/

Today we get a report from Reuters on new research from Oklahoma that the disposal of wastewater from oil and gas drilling into underground wells is likely linked to earthquakes in that state.

Hey, conservatives, listen up.

You often claim to oppose socialism. But this is a kind of socialism – the BAD kind. The oil and gas companies get their profits, while outsourcing a huge cost – earthquakes – to the people of Oklahoma.

And you often claim to support capitalism. This is not capitalism, and it’s not good economics. Capitalism requires that you are responsible for the entire cost of your product. That’s the only way we can properly price a product. That’s the only way we get efficient markets. Etc., etc. Normally this is the kind of stuff conservative economists would tell you, but instead what we usually get from that crowd is opposition to “burdensome” government regulations. Well, sometimes, regulations are just designed to make sure costs are privatized, not socialized. We certainly need some sort of regulation in this case – or maybe just really, really expansive and expensive insurance policies.

Also normally, conservatives, you go on and on about personal responsibility. But where is the personal responsibility of these oil and gas drillers if they allow the costs of earthquakes to be spread to everyone else? This is a basic moral issue, and I don’t hear many conservatives jumping up and down about this one.

Either way, look, fracking is a bad idea for many reasons – water quality, air quality, methane leaks that increase global warming among them. And I have found this assessment to be shared by liberal and conservative people I know. So, opposing fracking and this kind of wastewater disposal shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for many people.

But when a multi-billion dollar industry gets it’s head wrapped around an idea – and then gets to freely use its billions to legally corrupt our democracy and influence our legislators – well, bad things ensue.

Bad for our democratic republic. Bad morally. Bad capitalism.

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