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Boycotts or Government Intervention? And Is “Socialism” Just a Nasty Extremist Word?

In our ever-increasingly vitriolic world, it is refreshing to come across a blog that presents level-headed reasoning for the various boycotts of British Petroleum in response to the current oil fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico. I considered reposting the entire blog but thought better of it for the space since I also want to post my comment here.

The author of The Ve Magni explained that Newsweek claimed a boycott would not affect BP in any real way and that mom-and-pop locations would feel the brunt of the boycott, then suggested more effective would be to involve the government. Then the blog author presented this lucid argument.

The whole point of free market capitalism is that consumers determine what is successful in the marketplace. Lets say Company X makes mattresses and sells to mom-and-pop mattress stores all across the country. If the mattresses are good quality, comfortable, and reasonably priced, you can bet that consumers will buy them, and both Company X and mom-and-pop will profit. However, if the mattresses are cheap quality, with springs poking your back, and are made of potentially toxic materials, consumers won’t be so eager to buy them. Duh.

So mom-and-pop now have a bunch of crappy mattresses from Company X that they can’t sell. They will stop placing orders with Company X and find a new supplier with a better product. Yes, they may lose money in the short term, but that’s capitalism. Every business gambles when they buy product to resell. In the big picture, after enough stores stop ordering from Company X, they will be forced to either a) improve their products and practices, or b) go out of business. Yes, people will lose jobs. Yes, that’s sad. But is the consumer responsible for paying the salary of everyone involved in the making of a crappy product, or on the payroll of a corrupt company simply because if they don’t buy the product, the company may go out of business?

I posted the following as a comment on that blog and just wanted to share it with everyone here as well.

I agree that action from “we the people” are much more effective than whatever government could do. Also, putting pressure on mom-and-pops, whom we may even know personally, heightens the impact this boycott could have.

One thing about BP that most may not know about or consider: they are one of the foremost in exploring more “green” alternatives to energy. One thing to be careful of here is the possibility that this “accident” was not so accidental after all, but that it is a well-conceived plan to get government involved in energy even more than they currently are and to force unrealistic demands upon all oil companies and the population in general, much like was performed in the meat industry a century ago. Large companies knew that smaller companies could not survive government regulation so they staged bad meat “conditions” to get the government involved. Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle was a major player in this process as well, a completely fabricated novel about the meatpacking industry. The result to all of this was the Food and Drug Administration, one of the most corrupt government agencies in our country. Let us hope that this does not happen to energy any worse than that industry sector already suffers. Oil companies may indeed be evil, as you put it. But you ain’t seen nothing yet, if the government gets its noose around that neck. The outcome will not be pretty. Suffice it to say, I believe we the people can solve it all on our own; we need no help from the government on this issue.

America was founded on principles of personal self-reliance with a minimum of government involvement. This has capitalism at its core. While the infrastructure of our country is founded on these principles, unfortunately, we have indeed allowed elements of socialism to creep into our society. Anything controlled by government hints of socialism. Any time government takes property (dollars or stuff) from a private individual and uses that to benefit others (or no one as is often the case), that is socialism. Sadly, our nation has traveled much too far down this road of socialism. And though it is painful to use that word in respect to OUR United States, and though many so-called extremist groups use that word and “communism” far too much, the cold reality is still such that, yes, we must admit that we are a socialist country. Only by recognizing the symptoms of this cancer and calling it what it is, will we then be able to use the healing methods available to us (such as the individual non-governmental boycott) to root out that socialism and get back to being a self-reliant, capitalist, nation again.

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