Thanks for pointing that out.
In a hypothetical free market utopia, a comment like my 2014 comment could be correct, though it’d still be worth mentioning that physically addictive drugs are bad, as well as brain-affecting drugs. People voluntarily do lots of dumb things. I wouldn’t want to run a tobacco company because I think smoking is bad. People who think smoking is bad should do something else with their lives instead. I didn’t understand enough about how we don’t live in that more capitalist world, so my comment was problematic.
I still think it’s bad for Epstein to tie his pro-fossil-fuel advocacy to smearing tobacco companies (without much detail). Also maybe he should look into and talk about some of the many ways I’m now confident that fossil fuel companies have behaved awfully (like ~every industry). He could put it in context and still defend them overall, but they don’t have a bunch of wonderful people running them. A few individual fossil fuel executives might be great people (which would be worth researching, explaining, praising, etc. if there are some awesome ones) but I’m confident lots of high level fossil fuel executives suck. Maybe, if he did that, people would stop calling him a fossil fuel industry shill – or at least he’d have a more effective counter argument.
Also I don’t want cigarettes or coffee banned.
Overall I’ve lowered my opinion of all industries. Epstein seems more pro-industry in general and just picked on one particular industry because it’s widely unpopular. I don’t know whether cigarette company executives were worse than some of the stuff being done today (or then) with e.g. food additives – it’s possible that they were/are but I don’t think Epstein knows either.
Today I argue with people like George Reisman and other pro-capitalists who are IMO way too friendly to Amazon, Jeff Bezos, sometimes Elon Musk (who is currently trying to break the contract he signed to buy Twitter, who is friends with the Chinese Communist Party, and who routinely breaks laws), social media platforms, and most industries.
As much as I disagree with the leftism, anti-capitalism and pro-governmentism in e.g. https://mattstoller.substack.com I’ve been reading that and thinking a lot of the complaints about industry are good points. I still think Mises is the best author I know of re the theory of monopolies, but we live in a world with a “mixed economy” where industry is less of an approximation of the capitalist ideal than I used to think. (Also Mises was writing many decades ago when industry maybe was more capitalist? I’ve vaguely heard that things started going down hill after the New Deal but I don’t really know the history enough. But I think some of these things, like overall level of government involvement in the economy, have been getting worse.)
To summarize, like most Objectivists and libertarians, I used to think industry was way better than government. Now, without raising my opinion of government, I think (as an over-generalization) that a lot of industry is nearly as bad as government and has a lot of the same flaws (and a lot of industry has significant ongoing relationships with government instead of being clearly separate). Even the “governments initiate force” argument isn’t a clear differentiator when companies lobby the government to initiate force on their behalf.