A Moral Defense of Capitalism?

We've just come from a press conference held by the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism.

The Center called the press conference to announce its opposition to Earth Day.

At the press conference, the Center's executive director, Robert Tracinski, asked the question that was on everybody's mind -- why in the heck would anybody be against Earth Day?

"People think that environmentalism just means being for clean air and clean water -- and who could possibly be against these things?" Tracinski asked. "In fact, we believe that environmentalists don't really care about clean air and clean water. Their real goal is to destroy technology and to subordinate mankind to nature."

"Watch the crowds of environmentalists who will gather on the Mall tomorrow, and notice that they have never met a form of technology they liked," Tracinski said. "Every kind of new technology is attacked, from nuclear power to genetically modified foods. But they also oppose every old, existing technology, from fertilizers and pesticides to the internal combustion engine. And they always place the blame for every problem on one basic target -- the Industrial Revolution."

We pointed out to Tracinski that most environmentalists don't want to get rid of all technology -- they just want to get rid of dirty technologies and replace them with cleaner technologies -- electric cars for gasoline powered cars, for example.

"If they are for a new technology, let them go out and invent it," Tracinski said. "But they say -- get rid of the old technology first and maybe somewhere in the future we will have some new technology."

Not really Bob. The new technology is here and being actively blocked by the old technology industries. Don't you read the papers?

The Center, based in Spotsylvania, Virginia, is closely affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute. Rand was the philosopher who laid the intellectual groundwork for Reaganism (Alan Greenspan is a Rand fan) -- no law restraining corporate power is a good law.

The Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism feels the same way. Its web site (www.moraldefense.org) is dominated by articles denouncing the antitrust laws and the government's case against Microsoft.

One article, which is representative of the tone of the others, is titled "The Injustice of Antitrust Laws as Reflected in the High-Tech Lynching of Microsoft."

The article is written by Richard Salsman, a senior policy analyst at the Center. Salsman compared the government's case against Microsoft to a KKK lynching of a black man.

"Like the black man, the local victim didn't do anything wrong -- on the contrary, he seems to have done everything right," Salsman writes. "Still he is hated. He is despised. He is being lynched. For no other reason. What will you do?"

Comparing the lynching of a flesh and blood human being to the government's antitrust case against Microsoft is a bit over the top.

So, we wanted to know, who is funding your Center Bob? Where is this money coming from, anyway?

"We really don't feel comfortable giving out our donors -- we don't consider it important," he said.

Wait a second Bob. What do you mean you don't consider it important? Is this Microsoft money talking?

"I'm not going to answer that question," Tracinski said. "I don't consider it to be important."

But then Bob breaks down -- a little.

"We have received money from Microsoft, but we aren't going to say how much," Tracinski said.

Microsoft's Rick Miller confirmed that the company had donated to the Center, but he too refused to reveal the amount of the contribution.

Miller said that Microsoft gives to a wide range of interest groups across the political spectrum and doesn't support everything every one of them says or believes. Gates, for example, is not in favor of dismantling the antitrust laws, as is the Center, although Gates believes the antitrust laws are being misapplied in the case at hand.

Still, if implemented the extremis views of the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism would lead to a society where big corporations would be allowed to roam freely without restraint -- lawless corporations in a lawless land.

Tracinski said he didn't understand why we wanted to know whether Microsoft was funding his operation.

We want to know exactly what beast we are dealing with here, Bob. Don't be like the Wizard of Oz, yelling at us not to look behind the curtain.

A whole pack of Totos is pulling on that curtain and nothing you can do will prevent it from being ripped to shreds.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor.

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