Posted: Jan 09, 2022 8:42 pm
by Hermit
Macdoc wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:plain old capitalism is manifestly awful for the environment

not sure what your point could possibly be
....that companies and indviduals make choices that impact the environment negatively has nothing to do with capitalism.

The choice being made, to maximise profits, has everything to do with capitalism. If that is at the expense of the environment, the welfare of the workforce, the safety of the public or whatever else, so be it.

Sure, theoretically there is a choice between maximising profits regardless of any harmful consequences and making do with a smaller margin in order to avoid causing harm, but in practice the default is to "choose" the former, at least as far as medium and large businesses are concerned. The pressure by shareholders, partners and the stakeholders to maximise return on investments is irresistible. If the returns are deemed not enough - and too often not even too much is enough - the chairman, board of directors, CEO, CFO and/or COO get sacked. Unsurprisingly, all of them want to avoid losing their six to eight-digit annual salaries and bonuses, so they cave in to the shareholders' demands. The shareholders typically don't give a flying fuck about environmental and other repercussions. Those are things that happen somewhere far away in place and time. Why would they care if the Amazon or Tasmania get denuded? They don't live there. It doesn't affect them. This is why disasters great and small keep happening. Focusing on the bottom line alone allowed the tobacco industry to falsely claim that smoking is harmless even though they knew bloody well that it is not. This is why the fossil fuel industry lies its arse off, denying anthropomorphic climate change even though their own scientists knew it was real more than four decades ago. This is why thousands of workers die or are permanently damaged every year in the course of doing their job. All of it is just collateral damage caused by maximising profit. Yes, all of it.

The pressure does not only affect top management. Top management regularly arranges meetings with middle managers to review their performance, which is measured the same way everywhere: How much profit did they generate? And on it goes to lower management, supervisors, office managers and so on, who in turn pull up lowly workers for not producing enough widgets, picking enough orders et cetera. The pressure to cut corners, ignore safety procedures and generally take no heed of what adverse consequences might result is pervasive and almost impossible to resist.

The central principle of capitalism is profit. There is no way of denying it. Laissez faire or free enterprise capitalism of the sort Milton Friedman and the entire Chicago School of Economics (among others) advocate means no regulations. No regulations to counteract the pernicious effects of the economic free-for-all. Laissez faire capitalism is evil.