Climate change hysteria entered a new phase this week. Rupert Murdoch has acquired National Geographic. A renowned climate change denier acquires NG and in the bargain changes it from a non-profit to a for-profit enterprise.
I am not sure which aspect troubles people more, but the fact they are connected at all is instructive. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have put the stable on notice to have their steeds and saddles ready.
It is an interesting development and one that has been foreseen in more than the Book of Revelation. Joseph A. Schumpeter talked about it more than 70 years ago. Murdock acted against the trend.
In 1942, economist Schumpeter, then of Harvard, published “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.” It came out as New Deal ideas were becoming the dominant form of political thought, and is a precursor of “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. Schumpeter pointed out that capitalism is the most efficient way to create wealth ever found. The extension of that thought matters.
He postulated that capitalism will fail not because of its shortcomings, but will fail because it is so capable. It creates more wealth than is needed for day-to-day existence. That allows a class of people to survive whose only role is to attack capitalism. I have often wondered what motivates these people. It seems to me that more wealth, even if poorly distributed, is better than less wealth.
An equal sharing of poverty seems to run against the well-being of society.
Bureaucracies live because capitalism creates more than it uses and some of the excess can be used in regulation. Good regulation is welcome. Marginal is less so. Bureaucracies grow until they explode.
Ideologues and the malicious have the ability to attract attention. There is less outright dissent when people must be busy doing things just to get along. Survive in some places.
While economic downturns are never perfectly just, they do include the benefit of taking the ill-informed and noisy folks away from the news. People who are working have neither time not money for the superfluous.
Perhaps the Murdoch acquisition is a sign of return to something approaching common sense.
Ideologues beware. The National Geographic purchase is the canary in the coal mine. People are becoming more adept and sorting rhetoric from data, and fact from delusion. Look for pragmatism to rise up.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.
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