Entrepreneurial vs. Casino Capitalism

This week’s New Yorker editorial “Puppetry” by Hendrik Hertzberg properly takes Fox Commentator Glenn Beck to task for distorting the life-story of financier George Soros. There are plenty of reasons to criticize George Soros, but how he survived the Holocaust as a pre-teen in wartime Hungary is not one of them. What bears mention is the fact that Glenn Beck may have overplayed the “holocaust” card, but Glenn Beck is one man, a frothy, overwrought pundit who offers a lot of useful insights to his viewers, but isn’t always right. Beck may be condoned by his network, but he hardly represents a movement.

It is indeed appropriate for the New Yorker to condemn Glenn Beck for demonizing George Soros, but the New Yorker is being hypocritical. New Yorker writers routinely participate in character assassination when they criticize climate change skeptics, and they too devalue the holocaust, every time they taint anyone who may disagree with the theory that anthropogenic CO2 is going to destroy our planet as a “denier.”

In last week’s New Yorker editorial, for example, entitled “Uncomfortable Climate,” author Elizabeth Kolbert leads off by calling attention to the behavior of Congressman Darryl Issa, who as a teenager was accused of car theft. This, along with the fact that Issa is “one of the richest men in Congress,” precedes Kolbert’s discussion of Issa’s intention to reopen investigations regarding whether or not it is justifiable to regulate CO2 emissions. In her editorial, Kolbert also makes sure to cherry-pick the most easily mocked quotes attributable to Republican members of Congress, ridiculing their Christianity, reminding us how wealthy they all are, deploring that “the recent election represents a new low.”

Kolbert also uses New Yorker as a forum for her to play the holocaust card, as in a March 2009 post entitled “Donating to the Deniers,” a piece where, again, she references a handful of political donations, that altogether amounted to less than $50,000, made by energy companies to politicians who were known global warming skeptics. Is this the best she could do? This scope-insensitivity is typical of alarmist journalists, who apparently either fail to grasp that the money is overwhelmingly pouring into the coffers of the alarmist lobby, or cynically provide these anecdotes to the contrary because they know most readers won’t notice the differences in magnitude.

It is interesting to note that later in the November 29th issue of the New Yorker, after defending financier George Soros in their lead editorial, the New Yorker offers a feature entitled “What Good is Wall Street?“, by John Cassidy. In this lengthy examination of Wall Street, Cassidy makes clear what pretty much everyone in America already knows, which is, as he puts it, “for years, the most profitable industry in America has been one that doesn’t design, build, or sell a single tangible thing.” Does anyone at the New Yorker see the irony – George Soros may as well be the patron saint of Wall Street! Glenn Beck got inappropriately personal regarding George Soros – that isn’t behavior exclusive to Glenn Back, or the right wing – but Beck’s more valid criticisms of big finance, and the larger-than-life individuals who play at big finance, are pretty much in agreement with John Cassidy’s.

As it stands today, Wall Street has sucked the life out of the United States of America, and the worst is likely yet to come. Big finance, along with their puppets in big government and big labor, have dismantled American manufacturing, and suckered us into national bankruptcy. Another of Glenn Beck’s primary insights has been that the notion of right-wing vs. left-wing, Republican vs. Democrats, is nothing but a smokescreen for financial elites to manipulate our government and act contrary to the interests of the American people. The New Yorker would do well to embrace this complexity, because the latest and greatest scam perpetrated by Wall Street on the world is their scheme to CO2 into a trading commodity. This scheme will further enrich big government, big labor, compliant businesses, and, most important to the big finance crowd, it will keep the lights on in lower Manhattan. But it will result in slower overall economic growth, undermine more useful innovation, transfer wealth away from addressing more compelling environmental challenges, depress development of cost-effective energy solutions, stifle the emergence of competitive new companies, empower monopolies, and deny upward mobility to aspiring individuals and emerging nations. It will do NOTHING to change whatever climate destiny nature may have in store for us.

The New Yorker remains my favorite magazine despite having become, over the past six years or so, the intellectual big brother of every left-wing alternative weekly newspaper in America. They are capable of far more nuanced editorial positions. The New Yorker editorial writers should ponder this: Capitalism as practiced by manufacturers and innovators who compete to build things that work better, faster, and cheaper, is the finest engine to uplift humanity ever conceived. Capitalism, on the other hand, as practiced by financiers who create fictitious currencies to gamble with other people’s money – currencies as diverse and fraudulent as derivatives or carbon credits – are another beast entirely. If this 2nd, more pernicious version of capitalism is a casino, and it is, then Wall Street is the house.

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