7.12.2004

The Death of Hobbes: The United States of Nature

Today I saw another sign.

Rippling up out of the thin lines of text, collected into columns at NYtimes.com I saw the churning pistons of unimaginable power. Today I saw the evil machinations of the New World Order, careening onwards, an unstoppable juggernaut lubricated with the ignorance and impotence of the common man.

"Congress is poised to approve an international trade agreement that could have the effect of thwarting a goal pursued by many lawmakers of both parties: the import of inexpensive prescription drugs to help millions of Americans without health insurance."

How is it that this law is about to get passed if the majority of congress opposes a major part of it?

Well apparently "Only in the last few weeks have lawmakers realized that the proposed Australia trade agreement — the Bush administration's first free trade agreement with a developed country — could have major implications for health policy and programs in the United States."

Certainly, any thinking person has already given up on the ability of the average US citizen to follow politics or the economy in any meaningful way, but some weak-hearted dreamers might still assume that those people who have been elected to represent the populace are paying attention for them.

Think again: "Most trade agreements are so complex that lawmakers rarely investigate all the provisions."

I am already hardened to these horrors; but I can hear the innocents of the world crying out: "They don't read the bills they are passing??? This is how the most powerful nation in the world decides what it will do???"

Be honest with yourselves; it's only natural. If only 30% of the people vote, then lawmakers shouldn't read more than 30% of the bills they pass. Eschatological calculations are often surprisingly simple.

Those of you who are truly wise in the ways of apocalypse will perhaps wonder how this is a sign of worldwide doom. Who amongst us hasn't already given up on the United States? The entire nation is an omen of our impending destruction.

But alas, they shall pull us all down with them. Remember all those free trade agreements that we signed? The ones that our elected representatives convinced us were in our own best interest? Well the devil is coming to collect.

"In negotiating the pact, the United States, for the first time, challenged how a foreign industrialized country operates its national health program to provide inexpensive drugs to its own citizens."

"Joseph M. Damond, an associate vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said Australia's drug benefit system amounted to an unfair trade practice.

"The solution is to get rid of these artificial price controls in other developed countries and create real marketplace incentives for innovation," Mr. Damond said" flicking his forked-tongue.

Hobbes suggested that life was "nasty, brutish and short." He argued that in the 'state of nature' man would habitually display utterly unethical competitiveness. Man is naturally inclined to kill and mutilate his fellow man if it is profitable for him. Hobbes argued that we must engage in a social contract to bind us into a collective that would work for the benefit of all. In Hobbes' eyes this artificial social collective is the ark that keeps us afloat above the abyss of the state of nature. Originally this collective had an all-powerful king in the seat of power. Since then, we have progressed to democracy, where all people who have signed the 'social contract' also have a say in how that collective operates. But the people have long ago stopped reading the fine print in the social contract. While our attention waned, the ammendents came fast and furious.

Our free trade agreements are only superficially about trade, at a deeper level they are about returning us to a state of nature.

Those harmless contracts that were signed by the nations of the world are about to come due in ways we never expected. Once we begin to define things such as health care as "artificial price controls" where does it all end? We are about to see a blazingly fast race to the bottom. Health care? Why should governments be distorting the market by providing health care at free or discounted prices? And schools? The education market would have so much potential for natural growth if big government weren't oppressing us with free education! And what about the policing market? Or the fire-fighting market? The natural rhythms of those particular markets are currently completely overwhelmed by "artificial price controls." Environmental controls on industry? The natural man cries out "Why shouldn't poor people be able to dump toxic waste in their backyards to make a few bucks? Give them freedom or give them death!"

An apocalyptic re-reading of Hobbes teaches us that the social contract, and thus society itself, are nothing but "artificial price controls." After the beast of trade has been freed, the price demanded by the "state of nature" will certainly be a life that is "nasty, brutish and short."

July 12, 2004
Trade Agreement May Undercut Importing of Inexpensive Drugs
By ELIZABETH BECKER and ROBERT PEAR

3 Comments:

Blogger deadpan said...

i don't have anything much to say, but that was some good writing.

10:05 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Queasy making, but not startling.

Will you post again someday?

3:45 p.m.  
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