FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Opie, Anthony and Enron

The maelstrom surrounding the termination of two radio broadcasters for encouraging a sex stunt in St. Patrick’s Cathedral affords us a rare and salient opportunity to think about some of our political assumptions and to examine some of the political cant that confounds the debate over the role of government in our lives.

Firstly when we refer to “government” we are being imprecise, even misleading, for, after all, we could more accurately substitute “the voters”, or “the citizens” when we refer to the actions of government regulators who are appointed and confirmed by the representatives of the people in our republican form of government. The “government” is not imposed on us by Martians; we, the citizens, construct our government from the ground up at every level through our participation in the institutions of democracy.

I’m bemused to see that some of my fellow citizens who have been most intense in their denunciations of the role of “big government” in our lives, have been among the most strident accusers of Messrs. Opie and Anthony. The very same individuals who recoiled at the suggestion that the SEC implement a more rigorous regulatory regime in the matter of corporate governance, now call for another regulatory agency, the FCC, to fire not only Opie and Anthony, but their managers too!

How is it that some of my fellow citizens who relentlessly proclaim the virtues of economic liberty, have a seemingly more casual commitment to cultural liberty? And how is it again, that these same guardians of the cultural commonweal don’t grasp the gritty reality that their ideology of laissez-faire economic libertarianism is the true cause of the cultural dissipation that they correctly abhor.

For, in truth, the very same economic forces and incentives that encouraged the chicanery rampant at Enron and other corrupt corporations, have made Opie and Anthony, and their imitators inevitable. When powerful private interests, be they energy traders or radio stations, manipulate the political process in order to prevent voters/citizens from employing the legitimate power they derive from democratic institutions so as to assert a minimal standard of ethics in the way these private entities conduct their business with the public, they beget the cultural anarchy that is a natural and ineluctable consequence of the economic anarchy in which they revel.

If we are honest with ourselves, we will come to grips with the immutable, albeit inconvenient, truth, that what some ideologues mislabel economic “liberty” is a prescription for the very social and cultural unraveling that they so adamantly deplore. Enron’s managers pursued a strategy of anarchic deregulation whereby they hoped to reap in the short term an enormous bounty of riches without the valid governmental constraints specifically designed to guard the public economic interest from powerful private economic predators. These valid constraints, previously imposed by the voters/citizens in their own legitimate interest, were removed through a combination of legalized bribery in the form of political contributions as well as a costly and perniciously effective propaganda campaign carried out by industry sponsored think-tanks and foundations utilizing proven modalities learned in the public relations and advertising industries.

Similarly, Opie and Anthony’s managers benefited from an evisceration of broadcasting standards that allowed them to exploit the immensely profitable vulgarity of their charges as they garnered great private rewards by sullying our publicly owned airwaves. It is a sure thing that the station encouraged Opie and Anthony to carry on as they did precisely because it was hugely profitable. Like the executives at Enron there was little incentive to worry about tomorrow while the champagne was flowing today.

The FCC, just like the SEC, was defunded and defanged at the behest of interested private parties who nurtured an exotic and deceptive notion of freedom that was ultimately grossly destructive to both the public pocketbook and the public culture. People who decry the excesses of Opie and Anthony have to understand that public culture is affected by immensely powerful private interests and that these private interests are not primarily concerned with either economic or cultural morality. They are focused on maximizing their own private profit today, come what may to the public weal tomorrow.

Much as it may be “conservatively incorrect” to concede, the inescapable fact is that Opie and Anthony represent a colossal free-market success at the same time as they amount to a sordid moral failure.

Regrettably, this is a contradiction that orthodox “free-market” enthusiasts are reluctant to face. Inasmuch as these private interests have an enormous impact on the public life of our nation, the citizens/voters maintain a wholly valid interest in making certain that neither our public economic or cultural priorities succumb to the narrow and myopic prerogatives of a relatively small number of people, whether they be Enron managers or Opie and Anthony managers.

Jay Diamond is a New York radio commentator.

He can be reached at: JAYKDIAMOND@aol.commailto:JAYKDIAMOND@aol.com

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 16, 2019
Conn Hallinan
The World Needs a Water Treaty
Kenneth Surin
Britain Grovels: the Betrayal of the British Ambassador
Christopher Ketcham
This Land Was Your Land
Gary Leupp
What Right Has Britain to Seize an Iranian Tanker Off Spain?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Democratic Virtues in Electing a President
Thomas Knapp
Free Speech Just isn’t That Complicated
Binoy Kampmark
The Resigning Ambassador
Howard Lisnoff
Everybody Must Get Stoned
Nicky Reid
Nukes For Peace?
Matt Johnson
The United States of Overreaction
Cesar Chelala
Children’s Trafficking and Exploitation is a Persistent, Dreary Phenomenon
Martin Billheimer
Sylvan Shock Theater
July 15, 2019
David Altheide
The Fear Party
Roger Harris
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Bachelet’s Gift to the US: Justifying Regime Change in Venezuela
John Feffer
Pyongyang on the Potomac
Vincent Kelley
Jeffrey Epstein and the Collapse of Europe
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Hissy-Fit Over Darroch Will Blow a Chill Wind Across Britain’s Embassies in the Middle East
Binoy Kampmark
Juggling with the Authoritarians: Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Fake Book
Dean Baker
The June Jobs Report and the State of the Economy
Michael Hudson – Bonnie Faulkner
De-Dollarizing the American Financial Empire
Kathy Kelly
Remnants of War
B. Nimri Aziz
The Power of Our Human Voice: From Marconi to Woods Hole
Elliot Sperber
Christianity Demands a Corpse 
Weekend Edition
July 12, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Skull of Death: Mass Media, Inauthentic Opposition, and Eco-Existential Reality in a Pre-Fascist Age of Appeasement
T.J. Coles
“Strategic Extremism”: How Republicans and Establishment Democrats Use Identity Politics to Divide and Rule
Rob Urie
Toward an Eco-Socialist Revolution
Gregory Elich
How Real is the Trump Administration’s New Flexibility with North Korea?
Jason Hirthler
The Journalists Do The Shouting
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pâté Politics in the Time of Trump and Pelosi
Andrew Levine
The Electoral Circus as the End of Its Initial Phase Looms
David Swanson
Earth Over the Brink
Ron Jacobs
Presidential Papers
Robert Hunziker
The Flawed Food Dependency
Dave Lindorff
Defeating the Trump Administration’s Racist, Republican-Rescuing Census Corruption
Martha Rosenberg
Pathologizing Kids, Pharma Style
Kathleen Wallace
Too Horrible to Understand, Too Horrible to Ignore
Ralph Nader
An Unsurpassable Sterling Record of Stamina!
Paul Tritschler
Restricted View: the British Legacy of Eugenics
John Feffer
Trump’s Bluster Diplomacy
Thomas Knapp
Did Jeffrey Epstein “Belong to Intelligence?”
Nicholas Buccola
Colin Kaepernick, Ted Cruz, Frederick Douglass and the Meaning of Patriotism
P. Sainath
It’s Raining Sand in Rayalaseema
Charles Davis
Donald Trump’s Fake Isolationism
Michael Lukas
Delisting Wolves and the Impending Wolf Slaughter
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Shaking Off Capitalism for Ecological Civilization
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail