My college friend Joe Ganem posts on the BP oil spill. He doesn’t blog often, but his analysis is clear and insightful. His conclusion skewers the lawless state of affairs at the corporate pinnacle:
Unfortunately, the most likely outcome of this disaster is that nothing will change. There will be calls for tougher regulation, but, just like the financial overhaul working its way through Congress, change will be cosmetic. Opponents of more financial regulation use the same rhetoric as opponents of more oil industry regulation. They denounce increased regulation as an attack on “free markets.”
But for “free markets” to work the agents must have a personal stake in the outcomes. Real free markets are composed of the thousand of small business owners and their workers who have a personal financial stake in their successes and failures. It’s a sham to say that the executives of banks and oil companies are agents in a free market when they can only reap profits, while everyone else pays for their losses.
The real problem in modern capitalism is that it’s like every cliché of the Old West: full of bullies, helpless sheriffs–the very portrait of lawlessness. For the guys with guns, there are no personal consequences for bad behavior–at least not in this life.