Re: extropians-digest V1 #104

Jeremy Ulrey (
Tue, 12 Nov 1996 05:53:47 -0600

> Capitalism encourages people to be unethical. The most unethical can be
> the most profitable, althought this is not always the case, it happens
> way too frequently. The amount of environmental damage one person
> can do when he doesn't have total control over a large organization is >far less.
> On his own he could pollute a small piece of land, as the
> businessman he can destroy an entire ecosystem. Capitalism gives power to
> the unethical so they can do more damage.

I have to disagree here. I think that if there were many individuals
with their own plants, it would be unrealistic to think that none of
them would try anything "unethical" to further their own career. Let's
say only one person tried to get away with dumping waste illegally. The
opposing businesses have two options: they can team together and use
their clout to have this man punished, or they might recognize the
profits to made by following suit and use their collective guilt to
hopefully avoid punishment (on a freeway filled with speeding cars, what
are the chances that you of all people will be the one who gets pulled
over?) In other examples you might be able to pull off the old
"righteousness of the little man" argument, but in this case the people
doing the dumping will have to suffer along with the rest of humanity.
The fact that they do it anyway is indicative of the fact that most
people, whether small-time entrepreneurs or faceless heads of monolithic
corporations, don't see toxic waste dumping as a matter of ethics. The
promise of easy money makes them rationalize the dumping on the grounds
that either it's really not that big a problem or else it's a problem
that can easily be taken care of with someone else's time and money.