capitalism

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This post is going to attempt pulling three disparate subjects I wanted to talk about into one coherent rant… ready?

I’m savagely disappointed in John McCain, my candidate of choicelessness, and was dismayed to hear Michael Hollick’s complaints about being underpaid for his voice acting role as the main character of Grand Theft Auto IV. These happened within a week of each other, and got me incensed by how this country is dominated by populist feel-good, and not rational understanding.

McCain, along with the hypocritical bitch whose husband I’ve already written about, is pushing for a Gas Tax Holiday paid for by money the government doesn’t have (until it taxes it out of the people). Like the biodiesel fad that has led to mass starvation in worldwide food shortages, it stokes that unjustified indignation people have who think Big Oil is plundering the common man. Meanwhile, Hollick, telling the NY Times of the “mere” $100,000 he made voicing Nico Bellic, made the presumptuous remark, saying “But it’s tough, when you see Grand Theft Auto IV out there as the biggest thing going right now, when they’re making hundreds of millions of dollars, and we don’t see any of it.”

I’ve been reading Atlas Shrugged recently, after a debate with a co-worker where he felt I didn’t fully understand Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy and had represented it unfairly in my Bioshock article. After reading it, I’ve realized that I was more right than I ever knew. She created a complete strawman for her Atlas’ and now I know I can’t point out any flaw in her logic if I’m in the same room as her fans/cultists. But I did gain an appreciation for how deeply she feels for the great men and women who are assaulted for their wealth and power by the very people who depend on it.

And I have a similar if less fervent feeling for Big Oil. Yes I’m going to defend them. Do you people know that Big Oil has had a declining profit margin since Standard Oil? That Big Oil today has a lower profit margin (7-9%) than most other industries (look up the highest yourself)? And that’s without the reinvestment into infrastructure people damn them for! Did you know that the government’s gasoline taxes rake in twice as much as Big Oil revenues?

But Big Oil has made so much money! They should give back to the people, cried the looters! Did you know that if you graph Big Oil’s “huge” profits to oil consumption, the correlation damns no one but the oil-gobbling people ourselves? Did you know that Big Oil isn’t even that big? Exxon (the largest of Big Oil) ranks 14th largest in the world, the biggest being ARAMCO which is 12 times its size! Sure, let’s return Big Oil to the mercy of the people, let’s just make it state-owned… like the 13 other oil giants in the world that dwarf “Big” Oil.

So when Hollick says it’s hard to watch GTA make millions, isn’t he right? It’s not like he signed a contract agreeing to all these terms, nor had any idea of the popularity of the world’s best-selling game beforehand. Clearly he was misled. He should have protested the obvious exploitation by letting another unknown actor take the $100,000 blow that was merely better than average for opportunity starved voice actors whose video game work isn’t protected by their own selfless union. :rolleyes:

Where Ayn Rand was wrong was her trust in the utilitarian nobility of the elites in capitalism, a trust not so different than the trust in the working man found in her nemesis: socialism. But her dangerously seductive philosophy was birthed from a real and tragic irony. If you run a business, shall I punish you when people can’t get enough of your product? When the people force profits upon you, shall I force you to give back charitably? Shall I take your right to pursue profit in the name of National Security, along with wire-tapping and waterboarding?

So then, tell me what right Hollick has to feel anymore pain than the hundreds of other people who worked far more for far less pay and fame, whose efforts in anonymity made Nico Bellic possible? Tell me what right Hollick has to the millions GTA made, when any number of elements in that game could have become the clincher to its appeal? Did anyone buy GTA because Michael Hollick was starring in it?

Then tell me what right we have to demand Big Oil’s morality at our feet, when it is us who drank in the prosperity of energy irresponsibility until the mirage began to fade?


After reading many reviews of P.T. Anderson’s seminal new film There Will Be Blood, I am disappointed to see how much misinterpretation there is. Where the themes of greed, godlessness, capitalism, hatred, and revenge are certainly present, they are peripheral, and recent oil politics have led critics to miss a central theme that ties all those issues together: the loneliness of godhood. I will explain the four different meanings of the film’s title to show that that loneliness is what drove anti-hero Daniel Plainview to his tragic end.

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