So when I first heard defamed Enron founder Ken Lay died, I figured like many that karma had finally caught up with that bastard and good riddance (though I hoped those bilked in the deal would still have a claim to his assets as restitution… but alas, even in death, Ken Lay had his middle finger up). But I didn’t consider it very newsworthy from a libertarian POV.
Some, like the uber-capitalist Ayn Rand Institute was all like (paraphrasing a touch)… “derr… this dude was a crook, and hated babies,” but warned us not to blame the capitalism machine when someone like Lay comes to take the controls and screws things up. Mostly it was a drumbeat of stories about the crony-wins-all capitalism scheme we have in America and the blame was squarely on corrupt politics in power (namely Republicans).
But don’t let that kind of “blame the villain, not the weapon” kind of mentality throw peeps like Russell Shaw off, who is all like: “OMG libertarianism is evil, kill it!” Ok, I paraphrased again, here’s what he actually said:
Because the only force that can restrain the worst impulse of free markets is government, you should be prepared to shout down those who would remove government entirely- or almost entirely- from the boardroom.
The energy industry is especially besotted with men (yes, mostly men),who would take America to the poorhouse in order to line their pockets. It is for this reason that the energy industry should be controlled, price caps placed on gasoline, fuel economy standards raised on vehicles, and prohibitions reinforced against drilling in environmentally endangered areas.
[…] I know you Libertarian techies disdain politics. So did the tech firms who have found themselves out-lobbied on Capital Hill. Finally, they are getting wise to the immutable fact that if technologists either treat politics with disdain, or espouse a political agenda that is reflexively anti-regulatory, you are cruisin’ for a losin.’
That’s right kids, because one company screws up and wasn’t held accountable enough for some nanny-statist… we need more regulation and government control. What could go wrong? (*cough* Amtrak *cough*). But in reality the system still can’t compete against when those who are running their regulated companies and simply lying to the regulators — something Shaw completely ignored here. Even with a permanent regulatory position in every company, those who lie won’t be caught until the house falls down (or analysts say WTF when they report ten billion percent increases in profits), which is when they get caught and rightfully face the worst kind of punishment available for it: fraud, theft and deception.
But seriously though… if Ken Lay was following such hardcore libertarian values, why is it the lion’s share of his contributions went directly to Republicans and the Bush 2000 campaign? Could it be because Lay was an indicator of a bastardized capitalist system that Republicans have been cramming down our throats?
In any case, there’s certainly no libertarian kindness here towards corrupt capitalists like Ken Lay, and that’s the damn truth.