Their greed led to 11 horrific and unnecessary deaths. It has harmed an enormous tourism industry, threatened business at countless fisheries and disrupted life for many along the Gulf Coast. As the pollution grows worse, those consequences will only compound.A fundamental insight of Adam Smith, the father of economics, that is accepted almost universally among economists was that self interest through the working of markets works for society's well being. In "The Wealth of Nations" he wrote,
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.
Greed is best thought of as a constant. Does he really believe that prior to the spill BP was not greedy? Does he believe that they were public interested agents devoid of greed during the long decades without spills? While it is possible that BP is guilty of neglect, it is probable that the spill was an accident caused by unforeseeable circumstances.
Senator Reid might have observed that BP has promised to pay all legitimate damages from the spill which are estimated between several hundred million and seventeen billion dollars. It has lost thirty billion in market value. A greedy firm would certainly act to limit spills and the damages they cause to avoid the heavy cost of cleanup. Greed may well explain the lack of spills in the past.
If Senator Reid has evidence that greed induced neglect led the death of eleven employees, he should present it to police for investigation. If he does not have evidence, he is engaged in calumny. Bryan Caplan, author of "The Myth of the Rational Voter," sagaciously observes,
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines a demagogue as "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power." Put bluntly, rule by demagogues is not an aberration. It is the natural condition of democracy. Demagoguery is the winning strategy as long as the electorate is prejudiced and credulous.If Reid's economic understanding is so weak that he does not understand basic economic motives, he should not be reelected. If he engages in demagogic rhetoric, even with a soft voice, he should not be reelected.