Cause, Consequence, and Responsibility
by Jacob G. Hornberger
In a classic case of killing the messenger, China’s communist government is arresting people for publishing news stories about the massive crash of the Chinese stock market.
In an editorial on the matter, the New York Times correctly observed, “The crackdown smacks of desperation. China’s communist government is looking for scapegoats for its mistakes.”
But why would that surprise anyone? Governments always look for scapegoats, especially when it is the government itself that is the root cause of the problem.
Recall the home-mortgage debacle here in the United States. Prior to the crisis, the Federal Reserve was maintaining one of its periodic easy-money policies to induce banks to lend money to people so that they could purchase homes. The banks responded positively to the Fed’s artificial incentive by lending vast quantities of money to less-than-credit-worthy people.
Then, the bubble burst, as it always does when government expands the money supply in order to promote its political agenda.
Did the Federal Reserve accept responsibility for what it did? If you believe that, I’ve got a fantastic bridge in communist China I’d like to sell you. Instead, U.S. officials did what their counterparts in China are doing. In desperation, they looked for scapegoats, namely the banks that did all that lending.
Federal prosecutors dutifully secured criminal indictments and federal civil attorneys filed lawsuits. The banks were portrayed, not surprisingly, as greedy, evil, profit-seeking, fraudulent bourgeois swine who were preying on innocent people who just got in over the heads by signing big notes for home purchases.
It’s not the only instance of where the U.S. government causes a problem and then looks for scapegoats.
Consider Iraq. Today, U.S. officials, including those in the Pentagon and the CIA, the two main parts of the national-security state apparatus that has been grafted onto our governmental system, tell us that Islamic State (ISIS) poses a grave threat to “national security.”
But do they take responsibility for bringing ISIS into existence? Of course not. They simply begin with ISIS and go from there, justifying more intervention and, of course, bigger taxpayer-funded budgets for the military-industrial complex.
But the fact is that ISIS is a direct consequence of the regime-change operation in Iraq that the U.S. government conducted after the 9/11 attacks. If there had never been an invasion of Iraq, a country that never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so, there never would have been an ISIS.
Do U.S. officials take responsibility for producing the chaos that brought ISIS into existence? If you believe that, I’ve still got that bridge in communist China for sale. They are not about to take a position that might cause people to question the national-security establishment and its decades-long policy of foreign interventionism and regime change.
Consider the horrible immigration crisis in Europe, which is producing massive death and suffering. Where are those migrants coming from? Most of them are coming from the areas where the U.S. government has caused or contributed to the chaos with its policy of foreign intervention, war, bombings, assassinations, and regime change — places like Syria, Libya, Iraq, and elsewhere. Those people are fleeing to Europe in a desperate attempt to save their lives and the lives of their families, and many of them are dying in the process.
Do U.S. officials accept responsibility for any of the death and suffering? Of course not. Like the Chinese communist regime, U.S. officials instead look for scapegoats. The most popular scapegoats are the transporters of the illegal immigrants. Like here in the United States when illegal immigrants are found dead in the back of 18-wheelers, it’s the transporters, not those who cause the chaos with their interventionism, who are condemned and vilified.
Moreover, do those who enact immigration controls (and their proponents) accept personal responsibility for the deaths of those immigrants? Of course not. The blame is placed on the immigrants themselves for trying to save themselves and their families by violating immigration laws.
On a related note, recall the Holocaust. Did U.S. officials, including President Franklin Roosevelt, accept any personal responsibility for at least some of the Jews who were killed? Of course not. The entire blame was placed on the killers. Yet, in the 1930s Hitler had offered to let German Jews leave Germany and come to the United States or any other country that would accept them. FDR’s response? We have immigration quotas, he said. The Jews would just have to remain in Germany.
Look at the federal government’s drug laws, which have produced, decade after decade, death, destruction, robberies, violence, bribery, gang wars, and the like. Do U.S. officials, as well as the proponents of drug laws, accept responsibility for the horrific consequences of the drug war? Of course not. They blame it all on drug users, drug dealers, drug gangs, corrupt officials, and the like. But the fact is that none of this would be happening if there were no drug laws.
It is interventionism, both domestic and abroad, that is responsible for much of the death and suffering around the world. Rather than looking for scapegoats, interventionists and their supporters would be better off just looking in the mirror for the responsible party.