The elites of our recent free-market golden era gilded age loved the invisible hand.

The invisible hand (either large or small hands) worked its special magic right up until 2008 when it pulled the lever and the trap door opened and the floor dropped out from under us. The free market textbook said this wouldn’t shouldn’t couldn’t happen. But suddenly the invisible hand was replaced by the invisible immobilizing walking boot, as we’ve hobbled around ever since.

There was a lot that was invisible during this era. Carbon dioxide included. The climate problem was inconvenient in several ways. Ideologically, what could free-market absolutists possibly have to say about it? Only one thing. That it couldn’t be true. And so that was that. And as long as enough diversionary factinoids were injected into the atmosphere along with the carbon, it was all just a ‘debate,’ not a runaway catastrophe. And there were those who saw to it that Factinoid Diversion Institutes accompanied all carbon sources, as they were cheaper than clean energy. And others stood by and watched.

Even now, in the death rattle of the denier strategy, the tactics still fit the model. Denial, even knowing, purposeful lying, is now being recast as ‘free speech’ in the ‘marketplace of ideas.’ It takes some nerve to defend deliberate lying because ‘free speech.’ Although when you insist that free markets trump everything, lies look a lot like any other product offering (and speaking of products trumping, see also: Donald Trump products).

Whatever the lies, intellectual dodges and looking the other way, eventually the world got around to discovering something even the free marketeers should understand. The bottom line. And now here we are. We find ourselves paying helicopters to dump water on unending wildfires, because we didn’t want to invest in solar. We are paying people to shovel mud out of flooded houses, because we didn’t want to pay for better fuel efficiency. We are staggering around obliterated communities because we didn’t want to be bothered with clean-energy policy. We are facing a world perpetually destabilized by unceasing waves of climate refugees because putting a price on carbon seemed too much of an intrusion.

Our elites both actively caused and passively allowed the debate to play out this way for the crucial decades we needed to be acting. So now we are getting a climate collapse to go with our economic collapse. There are no waters in Casablanca. We were misinformed.