If you’re still collecting evidence that a society built on extractive wealth is liable to moral pathology, put this one in your dossier.Â The Saudis are demanding that if we use less of their climate-toxic export, we should pay them (and the other oil-exporting countries) for what we don’t buy.
Let us pause in awe at the nerve of this idea.Â The policy-relevant citizens of Gulf oil states [update: Mark points out that these states are not all alike:Â Emiratis, for example are few and all pretty comfortable, while Saudi Arabian privilege and comfort is pretty much restricted to a relatively small population of royals, relatives, and wired-in hangers-on and there is a large population of disenfranchised poor]Â toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not coddled as one of these privileged lottery winners, swanning around the lobbies of ridiculous hotels and airconditioned shopping centers in spotless white dishdashis, never carrying anything bigger than a cellphone with which to check on the steady inflow of unearned money from a no-work government job, or his brokerage account, or the current price of his pied-a-terre in Mayfair. If something actually needs to be, like, done (cook dinner, build a hotel, look for oil, drill for oil, pump it) they hire expats from around the world and watch. What the government doesn’t pay its men for knowing nothing and doing nothing, it spends to abuse its women, and to spread ignorance, superstition, and savagery through the land and maybe some terror amid the overseas suckers who found, extract, refine, and buy the oil.
They have had more than half a century to accumulate wealth beyond the wildest imagination of people who work for a living, simply because they were struck by underground magic lightning where they happened to have pitched their tents.Â That wealth could have made them the most educated, productive, creative, fixed-for-centuries society in the world, but they chose to spend it becoming the most incompetent, dependent, and primitive.Â Now these parasites propose that the world owes them this lifestyle even if our taste for oil changes to a taste for planetary survival?
Verily, the mind reels.