SodaStream vs. Statism: When being green isn’t enough
Statism rests on a fairly simple conceit: the free market is ruled by greed and exploitation, so government intervention is necessary to level the playing field. Inherent in that mindset is the assumption that the government is benevolent, and its actors are without their own selfish motivations. A selective naivety is necessary to maintain this wishful worldview against the constant barrage that is reality, and it leads to some fascinating contradictions. For example, the same group that believes George W. Bush started a war in order to drive up Halliburton’s stock price (or something), never stops to think about the potential pitfalls of handing the government other immense powers, such as defining what the term “health care” will mean.
Politicians are happy to exploit this naivety to accumulate power, feigning self-righteous idealism to mask their ulterior motive. Getting away with anything is possible as long as you claim that you’re doing it for the children, or to uplift the disadvantaged worker, or to strengthen the middle class, or to protect… the bottled soda industry?
We’ll get to that in a second. First, recall O’Brien’s dark reveal at the end of George Orwell’s classic 1984:
The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power… We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites… They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.
We’ll quickly slide past how Egypt is providing a very depressing recent real world example of that last line, and transition into Mark Steyn’s response to the Chick-fil-A-permitting absurdity in Chicago this past summer:
As an exercise in sheer political muscle, it’s impressive. But, if you’re a feminist or a gay or any of the other house pets in the Democrat menagerie, you might want to look at Rahm Emanuel’s pirouette, and Menino’s coziness with Islamic homophobia. These guys are about power, and right now your cause happens to coincide with their political advantage. But political winds shift. Once upon a time, Massachusetts burned witches. Now it grills chicken-sandwich homophobes. One day it’ll be something else. Already in Europe, in previously gay-friendly cities like Amsterdam, demographically surging Muslim populations have muted leftie politicians’ commitment to gay rights, feminism, and much else. It’s easy to cheer on the thugs when they’re thuggish in your name.
That leads us to a recent announcement from the UK:
SodaStream International, Ltd (NASDAQ: SODA), was informed by Clearcast that the Company’s new global advertising campaign has been pulled from transmission and will not be permitted to air in the UK market… The ad shows different scenes of soda bottles disappearing instantaneously as people use the SodaStream soda maker, delivering a powerful message about waste and sustainability. The spot closes with commentary of ‘with SodaStream you can save 1000 bottles per year.’ Despite already airing successfully in the United States, Sweden and Australia, it has been deemed inappropriate for UK audiences.
Clearcast offered the following reasoning for the decision: “The majority decided that the ad could be seen to tell people not to go to supermarkets and buy soft drinks, instead help to save the environment by buying a SodaStream. We thought it was denigration of the bottled drinks market.”
SodaStream creates a revolutionary new product that gives people the convenience of making their own soda from tap water at home, with the added environmental benefit of reusable bottles replacing the disposable plastic ones. Win-win, right? Wrong, because they forgot to take into account the new status of the “bottled drinks market” as a protected minority class (or something), which apparently already ranks ahead of the green movement on the list of righteous causes.
It’s probably as simple as Clearcast, the UK TV advertising regulators, being in the pocket of Big Soda companies. But maybe their head is a pro-Palestine ideologue who simply wants to stick it to an Israeli-based company. Or perhaps the recycling industry is concerned that the sudden elimination of all those plastic bottles will give them a lot less to do.
But it hardly matters what motivated this absurd decision.
The point is that your freedoms will no longer be based on any firm set of principles, or protected by any unalienable rights. No, your freedoms will be subject to the whim of a long list of mini-dictators, whose allegiance lies with nothing but their own power. As Orwell warned, that’s where this ends. Drink up while you can.