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John Macionis, capitalism is an economic system im which natural resources and the means of producing goods and services are privately owned. Justice in a capitalist system amount to marketplace freedom. He also defines Global economy as the expanding of economic activities with little regard to national borders.
Within the context of these definitions describe the nations worst environmental disaster that is currently taking place in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Are we better off or worse because of the market forces which drive industry to increse profit as seeminly any cost? What would have to change to avoid those type of disasters in the future?
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I think that the answer to this is largely dependent on how one feels about the potential risks to capitalism. As Macionis defines it, the root of capitalism lies in the private ownership of the means of production and the justification behind it is faith in the marketplace. If this is so, then one has to conclude that the risk of a BP oil disaster is worth the sanctuary of the market place. For a capitalist, the risk of losing private ownership is far worse than any other disaster risked. The BP oil spill is disastrous, but far worse, for the capitalist, would be the loss of the private marketplace. Having said this, I think that the pure free market advocate would question BP's apparent cutting of corners in ensuring all needed safety mechanisms were installed on the oil rig. At the same time, I think that pure capitalists would also examine BP's oversight of the well and with its relationship with Transocean and Halliburton, which helped to produce the well and rig.
The flip side to this coin would be if one felt that private ownership of the means of production has become manipulated as a front to evade responsibility and endanger the public good. Given the recent rise of publicized corporate malfeasance in the last decade, there might be an argument that does not advocate the loss of the private marketplace, but seeks to ensure that there is stronger oversight in the cause of the public good. There have been too many instances, it has been argued, where the freedom of the private marketplace has been used as a shield to evade "doing the right thing" in exchange for maximizing profit at the public's expense. These individuals would argue that the marketplace is a forum, a public bazaar for exchange, and not some shield where industrialists can retreat each time they have been exposed for sacrificing the public good.
What we would have to do is quit being so dependent on oil. Failing that, what we would have to do is to accept higher oil prices.
The thing that people seem to overlook is that BP was using this well because we Americans want lots of oil and we want it cheap. No one is forcing us to use the amounts of energy that we do.
Because we are committed to using so much energy, firms must try to find oil. Because we do not want to pay a lot for the oil, firms are encouraged to try to get the oil as cheaply as possible. We, the people, are the ones who demand the oil and it is our fault that this kind of thing happens. We could stop using so much or we could be willing to pay for more safety. Either way, the responsibility is ultimately ours.
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