Our former U.S. Vice President Al Gore just sold one of his business holdings and earned a bit profit – and he contradicted himself while doing it.
Gosh, I am shocked! Aren’t you?
The headlines tell us that Gore is being pummeled with criticism from his fellow liberal-progressives because he sold Current TV, a television network that he co-founded, to Al Jazeera, a television network based in Qatar. In the liberal-progressive worldview, this transaction is problematic on two accounts.
For one, Gore did business in an oil-producing country (Qatar), and for liberal-progressives, this is an un-forgivable sin. In their view, it simply doesn’t matter that the civilized world (the United States included) runs on oil, and needs a lot of it every day. It also doesn’t matter that everyone who is reading this right now (liberal-progressives included) is likely using a computer that is made, in part, with oil-based plastics, and may even be consuming electricity that was generated by – gasp! – oil.
These realities generally don’t matter for liberal-progressives. On the contrary, it is simply accepted as an un-examined “truism” that oil companies are evil, and the production and consumption of petroleum-based products violates the orthodoxy of environmentalism. This is the first reason Mr. Gore’s transaction is being criticized.
But Gore’s business dealings in Qatar are regarded as bad for yet another reason: they appear to have been extremely profitable for him. Worse still, Gore appears to have intentionally violated his own dogmatic hostility towards the oil industry in pursuit of his profit-making.
For liberal-progressives, businesses exist to serve the “collective interests” of “everybody” – however one might define those things. And if an individual business owner or company makes “too much profit” (again, the definition of “too much” is ambiguous), yet another un-forgivable sin has been committed.
Common Western thought on economics, shaped largely by about five thousand years of pre-American civilization and Adam Smith’s ground-breaking philosophical work “The Wealth of Nations,” teaches that every human being naturally pursues their own self interest. This becomes obvious when we take an honest look at how most of us live today.
For example, most of us who work, quite rationally seek to earn as much as we can in exchange for our labor. Likewise, when we acquire products and services provided to us by others, we generally try to get the best product or service at the best (read “lowest”) possible price. This is not a matter of being greedy – it’s a matter of being a good steward with one’s money, time and talents.
Similarly, when we take money that we have earned and invest it in a business venture – such choices generally entail the risk that the venture might fail and we might lose all our investment money – we quite rationally hope to produce a “return,” or a profit, from that investment. When viewed this way, there is seemingly nothing immoral, certainly nothing illegal so far as we can see, with Mr. Gore’s business deal.
The most problematic point in all of this is that so many American liberal-progressives seem to not understand these most basic, natural realities of self-interest and economics. Perhaps equally as disturbing is the fact that, apparently, many liberal-progressives have never before noticed the serious inconsistencies between Al Gore’s words and behavior.
For well over a decade Mr. Gore has preached the gospel of hostility towards oil companies and predicted cataclysmic disasters because of its consumption, while flying around the world on energy-inefficient private jets and being shuttled across town in fuel-guzzling limousines. He commands that the world practice energy conservation, while for many years he sold so-called “carbon credits” from his own for-profit corporation. And in 2007 an investigation conducted by the Nashville Tennessean newspaper revealed that the home that Gore and his then-wife Tipper shared at that time consumed approximately twenty times the amount of energy consumed by most comparably-sized households.
The travesty of Al Gore is not that he’s done business in an oil producing country, or that his business dealings have produced profits. It is that his public life has largely been a charade for the past many years, and he has perpetuated a culture of false assumptions which has now become a culture that is turning against him.
Will liberal-progressives learn from this, before they crown their next iconic “leader?”
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.