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Bhopal disatster: Nothing to do with capitalism

 
SaulDeOhio
 
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SaulDeOhio
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08 August 2008 05:47
 

Update:

Robert Bidinotto has found the version of the article that was published in the Wall Street Journal, and posted it on his blog:The Politics of Mutual Plunder (updated)

Clarification on the Bhopal disaster—The facts constitute a far greater indictment of the Indian government than my 23-year-old recollection of my original article, above, suggests. Here’s from my July 19, 1985 article, “Bhopal: The Fruit of Industrial Policy,” in The Intellectual Activist, as excerpted by the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 3, 1986:


The Indian government had its heavy hand on every aspect of the Bhopal plant, from its design and construction to its eventual operation. Initially, the facility merely imported raw pesticides, such as one called Sevin, and then diluted, packaged and shipped them. This was a relatively safe and simple operation. But, in accordance with industrial policy, Union Carbide was under constant pressure from the government to cut imports and reduce the loss of foreign exchange. To do this, Carbide was required by its state-issued operating license to transfer to the Bhopal facility the capability to manufacture the basic pesticides and, subsequently, even their ingredients. Everything was to be “Indianized.” Even the chemical production processes used in Bhopal were developed by Indian researchers . . .

To produce Sevin, carbon tetrachloride is mixed with alpha-naphthol and a chemical known as methyl isocyanate, or MIC (the chemical that leaked in the accident). Liquid MIC is a highly unstable and volatile chemical, and a deadly toxin. . . .

MIC was not required in Bhopal while the factory simply packaged Sevin, its final product. But the logic of “industrial self-sufficiency” and “technology transfer” required the manufacture of Sevin from scratch—and that meant dealing with its hazardous ingredients, including MIC.

So in 1971, the Union Carbide factory opened a small plant to manufacture alpha-naphthol, and began to import and store MIC—a chemical which never had to be in India in the first place, except to satisfy the Indian government. . . .

In 1977, based upon projections of growing demand, the Bhopal factory began to increase its alpha-naphthol facilities dramatically. A new $2.5 million plant—designed, of course, by an Indian consulting firm—was built. Ten times larger than most similar plants, it at once displayed design problems of scale: equipment would not work or would turn out to be the wrong size. . . .

Ultimately, faced with an inoperable alpha-naphthol facility, the factory’s management decided to [open an MIC production facility in 1980]. . . . The parent corporation sent guidelines for the design of the safety systems; but under Indian law, the details had to be determined by an autonomous Indian-staffed consulting firm. . . .

What had begun as a Carbide subsidiary for packaging pesticides was now a government-directed business manufacturing and storing a deadly chemical in a technologically backward culture.

Those were not business decisions. Those were political decisions. . . .

One last element of government policy helped lay the groundwork for the pending disaster. The area around the plant had been deserted at the time Carbide moved in. But in 1975 the local government, in a re-zoning scheme, encouraged thousands of Indians to settle near the plant by giving them construction loans and other inducements. In effect, government first helped to make the plant unsafe, and then drew the people into the path of the coming gas cloud.


Add to all this the fact that after the plant was opened, the Americans were sent packing and were replaced by under-educated locals—most of them friends and relatives of local officials—and the culpability is clear.

Union Carbide was thus the victim of a “bait and switch.” They came into India under one set of business circumstances; but as time passed and they acquired a huge investment in sunk costs, Indian officials changed the deal in numerous ways, removing from Carbide the power to govern the operation of their own facility. Anyone who wishes to blame Carbide and capitalism for the outcome, rather than the Indian government’s fascistic “industrial policy,” is simply ignoring the bald facts of the case.

 
 
eucaryote
 
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08 August 2008 18:09
 
SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

The issue here is free market capitalism getting the blame for an accident caused by government planning of the economy, and you want to change the subject to nuclear power.

No, I think the issue is inadequate regulation and operation of a dangerous industry. Such things become technical issues. I don’t see the obvious link between this disaster and one ism or another. I am very careful not to mix ideology with technical issues. Bidinotto and those of whom he is critical, are doing nothing but.

I bring up the current nuclear power issue because it is timely and roughly analogous, though unlike the nuclear power issue, it was likely that Union Carbide Corp. (UCC), was able to sell the ag chem it produced at a profit without subsidy. And of course in addition to low profitability, nukes are orders of magnitude more complicated, expensive, dangerous and risky than run of the mill chemical processing plants.

Current proposals are to provide the nuke industry with 100% loan guaranties along with direct subsidies and relaxation of regulation. Isn’t this the kind of case that Bidinotto is making against the Indian government?

Unlike the very few subsidies directed to renewables and conservation which are directed at consumers, nuke subsidies go to a handful of huge private companies.

The wikipedia article on Bhopal disaster is interesting. Somewhat contradictory on the points that Bidinotto raised. There are claims that it was UCC that insisted on siting the plant in the heavily populated area and not their Indian partners.

Also, for what it’s worth, UCC contends that there were no safety problems at the plant but that the accident was caused by a saboteur. Apparently UCC has not used any of Bidinotto’s arguments, including those critical of it’s Indian partners, in it’s defense.

SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

What makes nuclear power so uneconomical for private businesses to run is environmental lawsuits every time they announce plans to build ANYTHING. Its a wonder anyone ever builds any new power plants of any kind. They haven’t built any new power plant, of any kind, for decades in California because of that.

Same thing goes for disposal. It is possible to handle and dispose of nuclear waste safely, but the environmentalists come out of the woodwork to oppose the building of any dump site anywhere.

No Saul, You are ignoring several facts, independent of regulatory issues, (safety and environmental, national security), that make nukes real dogs for investor utilities. Removing regulation doesn’t do much to address these issues. The fact is that the plants are expensive, the fuel is expensive and utilities generally have better investment opportunities available to produce more power at a lower cost. Conservation pencils out to be the lowest hanging fruit available. Again, utilities look at the real costs, they are not necessarily ideologically driven.

As you and Bidinotto correctly point out with respect to the Bhopal case, the government subsidies creates an industry of it’s own whose primary job is not necessarily to create energy, (or pesticides) but instead to mine the government vein. I have real doubts about the wisdom of solar and conservation subsidies for that very reason. When it’s related to enormously expensive and potentially dangerous industries like nuclear, one has to wonder if we won’t end up precisely with Bhopal type situations.

And again solar and conservation subsidies are made to the consumer and the returns on those investments accrue to the consumer. Consumers are the taxpayers that created the pool that the energy subsidies are drawn from so these subsidies are a means of returning tax dollars to consumers rather than diverting tax dollars into Bureaucratic, government regulated, private multinational companies.

SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

And also, there is the issue of governemnt subsidies to coal, oil and gas power plants, making them more economically competetive compared to nuclear. Subsidies for nuclear are necessary in order to compete.

So you are in favor of government subsidies of taxpayer dollars, as long as they go to the technology or investment, or company of your choice? So much for your libertarian principles. confused

SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

Again, you are taking an example of a problem caused by government meddling where it doesn’t belong.

But providing 100% capital subsidy of taxpayer dollars to the energy industry of your choice doesn’t constitute “meddling”. So much for your free market ideals. oh oh
How about removing all energy subsidies? If you did this even for just direct subsidies and not externalities, the price of energy of all kinds would skyrocket. The economics for solar and conservation technologies would follow suit. These technologies, even completely unsubsidized, become not just cost competitive but cost imperative overnight.

SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

I am not opposed to some government oversight of hazardous industries, if it can be justified as property rights protection of potential victims of disasters such as that at Bhopal.

Well that’s good to know. For example you probably don’t have problems with laws preventing the use of lead paint in toys. Your libertarian principles would probably lead you to also think that industries should be insured against “property damage” caused to others by their activities. Likely you don’t have any problems with the idea of mandatory liability insurance for drivers to insure the damages of others in the event you have an accident that “damages their property”. I think that most if not all states require mandatory liability insurance. (Of course you usually get hit by the drunk driver without any).

So how come the nuclear industry is not required to carry liability insurance commiserate with the potential damage their activities might do to our “collective private interests”? Removal of this subsidy alone would cause the industry to have to shut down existing plants as it’s not possible to insure against their potential damage. I would not be surprised to learn that among the subsidies that the Indian gov’t provided to UCC was limited liability against potential damages.

SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

But the problem is that when it is government meddling that caused the problem in the first place, it is still free market capitalism that gets the blame.

Well, I’m not doing that Saul. The kind of gov’t “meddling” that was responsible for permitting Bhopal disaster is exactly the same kind of meddling with the energy industries in the US, and we get much the same kind of results. However much of the problem appears to have come from the wrong kind of regulatory involvement and an exploitation of government money by corrupt government but also by UCC.

 
 
Thomas Orr
 
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Thomas Orr
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09 August 2008 22:22
 
SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

But the problem is that when it is government meddling that caused the problem in the first place, it is still free market capitalism that gets the blame.

I thought that in this age libertarians should be free game like communists and for the same reason. But here comes the brave soul SaulDeOhio, hats off everybody.

That’s good, very good. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be able to ask some questions, which are of great interest to me.

1. Tell me, Saul, if you are are for or against litigations? The reason I am asking is one famous court battle that started the GMO witchhunt. Monsanto sued a Canadian farmer who harvested and re-seeded Monsanto’s owned gene on his rapeseed farm. The farmer didn’t buy or steal the gene, it got into his farm as genetic pollution with the wind. The farmer lost but immediately after that numerous governments banned genetically modified rapeseed, and other GMO seeds. Questions. Was the court decision justified? Were the reactions of governments justified? Were the subsequent lawsuits by organic farmers who claimed that Monsanto makes it impossible to do organic business justified?

2. Many years ago the public was shocked by learning that Florida police raided the backyard of one elderly lady and forcefully removed the “organic” orange tree the lady grew in her backyard. Reason? Complaints from the industrial growers that non-pesticide treated orange trees harboring insects are a threat to their orchards and profits. Questions. Was the action of local authorities justified? Are we - in turn - justified when we try to sue the agrobusiness for polluting our air and water with pesticides? My stupid state makes it illegal for me to grow black currants which are suspected of harboring viruses potentially threating the white pine. White pine logging is long dead as a meaningful industry in my state but the ban is still in place. I was born in Europe and I love black currants. What should I do?

3. To drill or not to drill. Should the federal government open the Arctic National Refuge for oil drilling? If we do and disaster happens can we go and bankrupt the guilty oil company be demanding that every penny worth of damage plus compensation for pain and suffering are repaid? If we do and disaster happens will the government shared the responsibility for allowing the disaster to happen? GWB assured the public many times now that because of “technological advances” drilling in susceptible ecological system is safe. One of the latest drilling we allowed was in Wyoming (natural gas) and it turned out very bad for the local ecological system. What has changed since then? Can we trust GWB?

4. Bad government meddles in business’ affairs. Business in turn meddles in government’s affairs. For years developers terrorized local communities. They accumulated a huge reserves of land and if denied permits to build a shopping mall went ahead and sued. So, we allowed them to build ugly buildings everywhere they wanted. Now, the credit crunch came and the same developers line up at the local governments’ doors asking for - and getting - tax reliefs. I would like to get a tax relief, too, but instead got a tax hike of $2,000 on my house. Questions. Should we sue GWB for urging Americans to become a society of owners? Should we expand our business friendly policies by allowing WalMart to sue individuals who don’t visit WalMart stores often enough? On the other hand, can we grant organized communities the same status we grant corporations? Can a community get some sovereignty over its territory and be free without the need to excuse yourself, and without fear of being sued, to decide with whom it wishes to do business and with whom it wishes not?

5. High taxes are bad, aren’t they? Why is it then that every time IMF reviews economies of countries in trouble the recommendations are always higher taxes and other austerity measures. We are in trouble, aren’t we? Do we need higher taxes then? Will you be willing to run for political office promising higher taxes?

6. Do you believe in “sanctity of business contract”? When everybody was discussing the mortgage crisis some libertarians were warning against any government interventions, which could undermine the “sanctity of mortgage contracts”. Helping homeowners who were taken for a ride by unscrupulous mortgage industry seems to be a threat to sanctity of business contract no less severe than gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage. OK, so why is it that my credit card company can change the terms of the contract it signed with me every time it wishes? Why is it that CEOs can vote themselves big bonuses and then declare bankruptcy making void and null all the contracts they signed with the public, shareholders and the workers?

TO

 
SaulOhio
 
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10 August 2008 04:49
 

Thomas: Despite the fact that none of your questions have anything to do with Bhopal, and all of them make incorrect assumptions about my economic beliefs and free market economic theory, I will answer.

Thomas Orr - 10 August 2008 02:22 AM
SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

But the problem is that when it is government meddling that caused the problem in the first place, it is still free market capitalism that gets the blame.

I thought that in this age libertarians should be free game like communists and for the same reason. But here comes the brave soul SaulDeOhio, hats off everybody.

That’s good, very good. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be able to ask some questions, which are of great interest to me.

1. Tell me, Saul, if you are are for or against litigations? The reason I am asking is one famous court battle that started the GMO witchhunt. Monsanto sued a Canadian farmer who harvested and re-seeded Monsanto’s owned gene on his rapeseed farm. The farmer didn’t buy or steal the gene, it got into his farm as genetic pollution with the wind. The farmer lost but immediately after that numerous governments banned genetically modified rapeseed, and other GMO seeds. Questions. Was the court decision justified? Were the reactions of governments justified? Were the subsequent lawsuits by organic farmers who claimed that Monsanto makes it impossible to do organic business justified?

Genetic patents should be treated like copyrights. You plant seeds you grew yourself is like copying the gene. Monsanto should be allowed to make a profit on the GM crops they create. They put a lot of money and work into producing these crops, so they deserve the reward for the product so many people buy, proving that those customers believe it is a good product.

As for the organic farmers suing Monsanto, I don’t know any details except what you told me. I would presume that they aren’t using GM seeds, so what does what they do have anything at all to do with Monsanto?

I’ve heard a lot of stories about Monsanto that turned out to be distortions or even outright lies

2. Many years ago the public was shocked by learning that Florida police raided the backyard of one elderly lady and forcefully removed the “organic” orange tree the lady grew in her backyard. Reason? Complaints from the industrial growers that non-pesticide treated orange trees harboring insects are a threat to their orchards and profits. Questions. Was the action of local authorities justified? Are we - in turn - justified when we try to sue the agrobusiness for polluting our air and water with pesticides? My stupid state makes it illegal for me to grow black currants which are suspected of harboring viruses potentially threating the white pine. White pine logging is long dead as a meaningful industry in my state but the ban is still in place. I was born in Europe and I love black currants. What should I do?

These are issues that cannot be solved by simple reference to free market principles. You have to actually determine in these cases if what you do on your land is actually having the effect on someone else’s property they say it does. The courts need to decide these things on a case by case basis.

3. To drill or not to drill. Should the federal government open the Arctic National Refuge for oil drilling? If we do and disaster happens can we go and bankrupt the guilty oil company be demanding that every penny worth of damage plus compensation for pain and suffering are repaid? If we do and disaster happens will the government shared the responsibility for allowing the disaster to happen? GWB assured the public many times now that because of “technological advances” drilling in susceptible ecological system is safe. One of the latest drilling we allowed was in Wyoming (natural gas) and it turned out very bad for the local ecological system. What has changed since then? Can we trust GWB?

Can we trust Obama? Or Al Gore? Remember that any power you give your own party’s candidates, the other guys will have when they get into office.

4. Bad government meddles in business’ affairs. Business in turn meddles in government’s affairs. For years developers terrorized local communities. They accumulated a huge reserves of land and if denied permits to build a shopping mall went ahead and sued. So, we allowed them to build ugly buildings everywhere they wanted. Now, the credit crunch came and the same developers line up at the local governments’ doors asking for - and getting - tax reliefs. I would like to get a tax relief, too, but instead got a tax hike of $2,000 on my house. Questions. Should we sue GWB for urging Americans to become a society of owners? Should we expand our business friendly policies by allowing WalMart to sue individuals who don’t visit WalMart stores often enough? On the other hand, can we grant organized communities the same status we grant corporations? Can a community get some sovereignty over its territory and be free without the need to excuse yourself, and without fear of being sued, to decide with whom it wishes to do business and with whom it wishes not?

It wasn’t GWB that urged “Americans to become a society of owners”. It was FDR. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were founded by FDR as part of the New Deal, with access to Federal credit, to help people get mortgages when banks thought they were too much of a credit risk. There are a few other policies that encourage bankers to give loans to people who are bad risks. And what are banks being criticized for, which helped cause the credit crunch? Giving loans to people who are bad risks! The market gets the blame for the consequences of government planning. As usual!

5. High taxes are bad, aren’t they? Why is it then that every time IMF reviews economies of countries in trouble the recommendations are always higher taxes and other austerity measures. We are in trouble, aren’t we? Do we need higher taxes then? Will you be willing to run for political office promising higher taxes?

Why are you assuming I agree with the policy recommendations of the IMF? I don’t.

6. Do you believe in “sanctity of business contract”? When everybody was discussing the mortgage crisis some libertarians were warning against any government interventions, which could undermine the “sanctity of mortgage contracts”. Helping homeowners who were taken for a ride by unscrupulous mortgage industry seems to be a threat to sanctity of business contract no less severe than gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage. OK, so why is it that my credit card company can change the terms of the contract it signed with me every time it wishes? Why is it that CEOs can vote themselves big bonuses and then declare bankruptcy making void and null all the contracts they signed with the public, shareholders and the workers?

TO

I don’t understand what you are getting at. If I believe in the sanctity of business contracts, and I do, then I agree, banks should not be able to alter the terms of a mortgage contract, except in ways specified in the contract itself. If they are able to do so, then it is not a problem with my principles. Its a problem with policy failing to live up to my principles.

Here is more on the political situation in India that helped cause the Bhopal disaater:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bqayncotemg

Go to near the end, John Stossel’s last interview of an Indian politician, saying the government should plan everything in the economy.

[ Edited: 11 August 2008 17:49 by SaulOhio]
 
 
Thomas Orr
 
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10 August 2008 12:57
 
SaulOhio - 10 August 2008 08:49 AM

Thomas: Despite the fact that none of your questions have anything to do with Bhopal, and all of them make incorrect assumptions about my economic beliefs and free market economic theory, I will answer.
...
I don’t understand what you are getting at. If I believe in the sanctity of business contracts, and I do, then I agree, banks should not be able to alter the terms of a mortgage contract, except in ways specified in the contract itself. If they are able to do so, then it is not a problem with my principles. Its a problem with policy failing to live up to my principles.

Saul,

if the policies of the past 28 years (beginning with Reagan) fail to live up to your principles you are one hell of a demanding guy. Do you seriously think our Congress should be even more friendly to the business than it has been in those years?

The purpose of my questions was to demonstrate how absurdly we’ve been bending over to accommodate what businesses demanded. Nobody listened to the rights of the Florida woman because businesses “provided jobs” while the Florida woman did not. Then came the age of outsourcing and businesses bluntly stated they are not in business of providing jobs. Nevertheless they demanded the same privileges because they were creating “wealth for their shareholders”. I don’t know what their line is now after the Enron era but I know one thing. As history proved it’s time to stop listening to what libertarian utopists are saying and start treating businesses like we treat everybody else meaning holding them accountable for their actions and making laws designed to assure that they behave. Now when you start crying as you’ve been crying in the past that those laws are excessive regulations which create problems rather than preventing them I am not willing to listen to you anymore and as you can see my sentiment is shared by most people on this forum.

I am disappointed that you were quick in writing a response to my post because in the example of the Monsanto lawsuit you missed one juicy point. The point was that the farmer re-seeded Monsanto’s gene unknowingly. He’s been re-seeding what he had harvested for about 30 years before the lawsuit and he wasn’t a bit interested in purchasing patented seeds that would make his time-honored practice illegal. He got the freaking gene as the result of genetic pollution caused by wind cross-contamination. What Monsanto did by filing the lawsuit was worst than what unscrupulous salesman would do by offering you a “free-sample” and then sending a bill demanding that you pay for it.

Now, let me explain where the organic farmers were coming from. Organic product is not organic anymore if it contains genetically modified material. If my neighbor grows GM corn I am prevented from doing my organic business because there is no way I can stop contamination of my organic corn from my neighbor’s GM field. Of course I am happy that organic farmers sued because I can see it as the response Monsanto deserved. At this point in the debate petro and agro business usually call for “science” and accuse the organic movement of representing philosophy and attitude “not supported by science”. Wow, I like it even more because now we can all engage in the debate what takes precedence: business or science. Can we go after your business because it ignores the scientific findings on global warming? Or should we lend our full support to organic farmers who have the right to do their business the way they like regardless of how well their practices are supported by science?

Actually, the usual suspects of Monsanto and their ilk lose very badly in scientific debate, too. This year they decided to boycott the United Nations conference on farming practices after 300 leading scientists from all over the world recommended that “traditional” approach to farming with chemical fertilizers, pesticides and GMO be revised as a model for the Third World to follow and more attention be given to organic methods and local genetic material. In the interview I listened to on the radio one of industry’s PR rep stated that their scientists “are better”. Yeah, right. Corporate science is an oxymoron in case you didn’t know that yet, Saul.

I am a little annoyed with your bringing up the Bhopal incident “revision”. What are you trying to say? That it was all India’s government fault? You must be kidding us and yourself if that’s what you think. Besides, I am only impressed with India’s government decision to control how business is conducted in their country. They know better after the fiasco of so called green revolution. When you think about estimated 100,000 Indian peasants driven to financial ruin and suicide by the economics of the green revolution plus acres of formerly fertile land turned into contaminated desert it is hard to keep believing Monsanto’s fairy tales of ending the world’s hunger, don’t you think so? In case you didn’t know India is in the forefront of the Third World countries movement taking a very skeptical look at the industry claims when it comes to bio patents and ways to conquer the world hunger and I am very impressed with their scientists. Contrary to what you think the dispute about GMO is not about denying Monsantos their Goid given rights to profits. I would call it Chinese solution. Rather than encouraging its software pirating industry to steal from Microsoft China decided to adopt Linux and I don’t know why Stephen Balmer didn’t like it. Can you tell me why Monsanto is unhappy if we ban their genetically engineered seeds and thus prevent anybody from stealing and infringing on their copy rights?

Conclusions? The most irritating thing about proponents of the unrestricted free market economy is their oversimplification of reality. The mere notion of a free market is not as simple and straightforward as you want us to believe. Actually, free market is a very complicated thing, which can exist in it’s “pure” form only as an academic example. Something like infinitely small object with a mass we sometimes invoke in science classes.

I formulated my question as a hint to you that in daily examples all we have are very complicated situations, which only a fool can attempt to address with his “free market” principles. Are you ready to repent?

TO

 
SaulOhio
 
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10 August 2008 17:52
 
Thomas Orr - 10 August 2008 04:57 PM

Saul,

if the policies of the past 28 years (beginning with Reagan) fail to live up to your principles you are one hell of a demanding guy. Do you seriously think our Congress should be even more friendly to the business than it has been in those years?

Its not about being friendly to business. Its about being neutral, keeping government’s hand out of business, except to protect property rights by preventing force and fraud, enforcing contracts, settling disputes, and MAYBE providing a stable currency.

The purpose of my questions was to demonstrate how absurdly we’ve been bending over to accommodate what businesses demanded.

As history proved it’s time to stop listening to what libertarian utopists are saying and start treating businesses like we treat everybody else meaning holding them accountable for their actions and making laws designed to assure that they behave.

But thats what I have been saying. Government should not impose restrictive regulations on business, but neither should it make laws favoring business. Especially not one business over another, or at the expense of other people’s rights.

Now when you start crying as you’ve been crying in the past that those laws are excessive regulations which create problems rather than preventing them I am not willing to listen to you anymore and as you can see my sentiment is shared by most people on this forum.

There is a difference between enforcing laws to protect property rights, and micromanaging businesses. You don’t even seem to understand what I am saying, not matter how many times i explain it. I say the government should enforce only certain kinds of objective laws, make everyone equally accountable to those laws, and protect everyone’s rights equally, and you think I mean the exact opposite, that government should penalize some people in order to favor business. Am I not using plain English here?

I am disappointed that you were quick in writing a response to my post because in the example of the Monsanto lawsuit you missed one juicy point. The point was that the farmer re-seeded Monsanto’s gene unknowingly. He’s been re-seeding what he had harvested for about 30 years before the lawsuit and he wasn’t a bit interested in purchasing patented seeds that would make his time-honored practice illegal. He got the freaking gene as the result of genetic pollution caused by wind cross-contamination. What Monsanto did by filing the lawsuit was worst than what unscrupulous salesman would do by offering you a “free-sample” and then sending a bill demanding that you pay for it.

In that case, if all that is true, and you aren’t leaving some critical piece of information out, then I agree with you, the court ruled incorrectly.

I am a little annoyed with your bringing up the Bhopal incident “revision”. What are you trying to say? That it was all India’s government fault? You must be kidding us and yourself if that’s what you think.

By the time of the accident, the Indian government had full control over the plant, and Union Carbide had practically no say about what was going on there. So yes, the party that has control of the situation is responsible. If someone steals your car, takes it on a joyrise through town and kills someone during the police chase, are you guilty of murder just because your name is on the title and registration?

Conclusions? The most irritating thing about proponents of the unrestricted free market economy is their oversimplification of reality. The mere notion of a free market is not as simple and straightforward as you want us to believe. Actually, free market is a very complicated thing, which can exist in it’s “pure” form only as an academic example. Something like infinitely small object with a mass we sometimes invoke in science classes.

You think I think the free market is a simple thing??????

Go have a look at George Reisman’s Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics. Thats the tome from which I learned how free markets work. If I hand you a 1096 page manual on a machine, would you say it was a simple little gadgett?

I formulated my question as a hint to you that in daily examples all we have are very complicated situations, which only a fool can attempt to address with his “free market” principles. Are you ready to repent?

TO

I would be “ready to repent” if you actually had an argument. Its all a strawman. You don’t even have the faintest clue about what I am talking about, as shown by your “favoring business” gibberish. A free market doesn’t mean government doing what business tell it to do. Get a clue.

[ Edited: 11 August 2008 17:47 by SaulOhio]
 
 
eucaryote
 
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11 August 2008 10:59
 
SaulOhio - 10 August 2008 09:52 PM

Its not about being friendly to business. Its about being neutral, keeping government’s hand out of business, except to protect property rights by preventing force and fraud, enforcing contracts, settling disputes, and MAYBE providing a stable currency.

BS Saul, you’re such a hypocrite. You’re just into getting the governments hand and money into the businesses that you want.

 
 
SaulDeOhio
 
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11 August 2008 11:47
 
eucaryote - 11 August 2008 02:59 PM
SaulOhio - 10 August 2008 09:52 PM

Its not about being friendly to business. Its about being neutral, keeping government’s hand out of business, except to protect property rights by preventing force and fraud, enforcing contracts, settling disputes, and MAYBE providing a stable currency.

BS Saul, you’re such a hypocrite. You’re just into getting the governments hand and money into the businesses that you want.

No. Thats BS. Give me ONE SHRED of evidence that I want the government’s money. Show me one single time I asked for it.

The only money I want from the government is my tax dollars. Thats money I payed them, and believe I deserve returned to me. Though I have no objection to my money being used for police protection, courts, and military protection (and a few related agencies), money taken from me to give to other people who did not earn it would be criminal if it wasn’t the government doing it.

I have NEVER argued for any subsidies to any industry. There is no evidence that I ever have. You are making that up. Its a completely arbitrary assertion, born of your own imagination.

 
 
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11 August 2008 13:54
 
SaulDeOhio - 08 August 2008 09:29 AM

And also, there is the issue of governemnt subsidies to coal, oil and gas power plants, making them more economically competetive compared to nuclear. Subsidies for nuclear are necessary in order to compete.

Short memory Saul.

Will you go on record here as being opposed to all government energy subsidies and regulation for all energy industries?
There are major implications to such a position, especially with respect to your favorite industries.

 
 
SaulOhio
 
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11 August 2008 17:06
 

I know about your claims, which you have repeated time and again, that nuclear power would be economically unsound without government subsidies. But you should also know by now that I believe it to be so uneconomical mostly because of environmentalist legislation and litigation. Which of us is right can probably only be settled if we actually had a free market.

Just because you think nuclear power would require subsidies doesn’t mean I want such subsidies.

Like I said, you should know this by now, which is why I am reacting to your statements as if they are an intentional lie.

 
 
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11 August 2008 17:42
 
SaulOhio - 11 August 2008 09:06 PM

I know about your claims, which you have repeated time and again, that nuclear power would be economically unsound without government subsidies.

It’s not me that’s saying this, it’s industry. In the energy legislation before congress the industry is insisting on massive subsidies including 100% loan guaranties and liability limitation. No subsidy, no nukes. Do you support legislation providing these subsidies to nuclear power, yes or no? If the legislation is not passed, the future will look just like the last 30 years in which there have been no nukes ordered.

So I don’t believe that the industry requires subsidies, I know it for a fact. How? By listening to what the industry wants.

SaulOhio - 11 August 2008 09:06 PM

But you should also know by now that I believe it to be so uneconomical mostly because of environmentalist legislation and litigation.

Yes, but what you believe isn’t true. This is just a straw man that you throw up in your mind to help you deny the truth because it’s dissonant with your world view and your absolutist economic philosophies.

The subsidies that the nuclear industry wants have very little to do with protecting them from “environmentalists” and everything to do with feeding at the public trough.

And remember, all these straw men “environmentalists” that you put up is to keep all or our private property safe from the kind of disaster that became Bhopal. In that case a little less subsidy and a little more regulation from either the industry or the government might have prevented the disaster. In terms of costs, litigation from environmentalists has been nothing but a fly in the butt of an elephantine industry.

SaulOhio - 11 August 2008 09:06 PM

Just because you think nuclear power would require subsidies doesn’t mean I want such subsidies.

So then you must be against any nuclear power program that includes government subsidies? Correct?

SaulOhio - 11 August 2008 09:06 PM

Like I said, you should know this by now, which is why I am reacting to your statements as if they are an intentional lie.

I just like rubbing your nose in your contradictions and watching you twist in your own dissonance. Believers have a hard time dealing with information that’s contradicts predetermined “truths”.

 
 
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11 August 2008 18:26
 

Eucaryote: You have not done a single thing to disprove the claim that environmentalist legislation and litigation increases the cost of nuclear power.

Why Greens Are to Blame for Blackouts

The origins of today’s energy crisis can be traced back to the 1970s, a quarter of a century before any “deregulation” took place, when environmental groups committed to stop the construction of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Lawsuits, demonstrations, and media campaigns succeeded in delaying the plant’s construction for ten years. A “study” released by the Environmental Impacts Analysis was used to force unnecessary project changes on the original plant’s plans, like the inclusion of an expensive but superfluous mechanism to cool water dumped into the Pacific Ocean—presumably so fish wouldn’t “feel the heat.” Environmentalists justified the changes by claiming that nuclear power is inherently unsafe. But the fact is that hundreds of nuclear plants have been safely producing electricity around the Western world, without the burden of having had environmentalist changes to their original plans. A spokesman for the Government Accountability Project, another environmentalist organization, explained their agenda: “We don’t want safe nuclear power plants. We want no nuclear power plants.”

Environmentalists, however, did not succeed in preventing Diablo Canyon’s completion in 1985, though they managed to multiply building costs twelve-fold, from $500 million to $6 billion.

Similar problems plagued San Onofre, built to supply Southern California with energy. The nuclear plant was completed in 1984, and also had its cost driven up by environmentalist litigation, from $1.3 billion to $4.3 billion. Businessmen quickly realized that such high and unpredictable costs made construction of nuclear power plants financially impractical, and no entrepreneur has dared build another nuclear plant in California or anywhere else in America since.

Prediction: eukaryote won;t be able to present any evidence to refute this except some sort of ad hominem attack against the author of the article I quoted and the organization he works with.

So here’s another source:

COSTS OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS — WHAT WENT WRONG?

Make no mistake about it, you can always improve safety by spending more money. Even with our personal automobiles, there is no end to what we can spend for safety — larger and heavier cars, blowout-proof tires, air bags, passive safety restraints, rear window wipers and defrosters, fog lights, more shock-absorbent bumpers, antilock brakes, and so on. In our homes we can spend large sums on fireproofing, sprinkler systems, and smoke alarms, to cite only the fire protection aspect of household safety. Nuclear power plants are much more complex than homes or automobiles, leaving innumerable options for spending money to improve safety. In response to escalating public concern, the NRC began implementing some of these options in the early 1970s, and quickened the pace after the Three Mile Island accident.

This process came to be known as “ratcheting.” Like a ratchet wrench which is moved back and forth but always tightens and never loosens a bolt, the regulatory requirements were constantly tightened, requiring additional equipment and construction labor and materials. According to one study,4 between the early and late 1970s, regulatory requirements increased the quantity of steel needed in a power plant of equivalent electrical output by 41%, the amount of concrete by 27%, the lineal footage of piping by 50%, and the length of electrical cable by 36%. The NRC did not withdraw requirements made in the early days on the basis of minimal experience when later experience demonstrated that they were unnecessarily stringent. Regulations were only tightened, never loosened. The ratcheting policy was consistently followed.
————————————————————————————————————
Clearly, the regulatory ratcheting was driven not by new scientific or technological information, but by public concern and the political pressure it generated. Changing regulations as new information becomes available is a normal process, but it would normally work both ways. The ratcheting effect, only making changes in one direction, was an abnormal aspect of regulatory practice unjustified from a scientific point of view. It was a strictly political phenomenon that quadrupled the cost of nuclear power plants, and thereby caused no new plants to be ordered and dozens of partially constructed plants to be abandoned.
———————————————————————————————————-
A major source of cost escalation in some plants was delays caused by opposition from well-organized “intervenor” groups that took advantage of hearings and legal strategies to delay construction. The Shoreham plant on Long Island was delayed for 3 years by intervenors who turned the hearings for a construction permit into a circus. The intervenors included a total imposter claiming to be an expert with a Ph.D. and an M.D. There were endless days of reading aloud from newspaper and magazine articles, interminable “cross examination” with no relevance to the issuance of a construction permit, and an imaginative variety of other devices to delay the proceedings and attract media attention.

Nuclear Power Is ‘the Safest Industry’

eucaryote - 11 August 2008 09:42 PM

I just like rubbing your nose in your contradictions and watching you twist in your own dissonance. Believers have a hard time dealing with information that’s contradicts predetermined “truths”.

Every time you say something like that, it sounds like you are projecting. You haven’t presented any information. I have presented plenty of information, with references.

[ Edited: 11 August 2008 18:32 by SaulOhio]
 
 
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11 August 2008 19:27
 

Eucaryote and Thomas,

You do know that you are talking to a true believer don’t you?
There is really no difference between our Saul (bless his heart) and your run-of-the-mill fundie.

Jesus/Mohammed/The Free market is always right.
When confronted with evidence to the contrary the True Believer becomes very uncomfortable.

In my long, depraved and sordid life I have come to recognize the type of personality that is the owner of this curious type of mind and I also know what motivates it.

It is motivated by fear.

After all, the safest way is straight and narrow.
No confusion no surprise and God forbid, no doubt.

I am currently working on a sequel to ‘A clockwork Orange’ and I am trying to get Saul to play the starring role.

Picture Saul tied to a chair with his eyes forced open by metal clamps while he is forced to watch the horrors that narrow-minded greedy idiots like himself have inflicted on our pretty blue planet while Noam Chomsky’s voice-over calmly destroys all his asinine ideas.

I think it will be a blockbuster.

 
 
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11 August 2008 21:18
 

Saul,

Your second source was not too bad. You should have quoted the 1st paragraph,

No nuclear power plants in the United States ordered since 1974 will be completed, and many dozens of partially constructed plants have been abandoned. What cut off the growth of nuclear power so suddenly and so completely? The direct cause is not fear of reactor accidents, or of radioactive materials released into the environment, or of radioactive waste. It is rather that costs have escalated wildly, making nuclear plants too expensive to build. State commissions that regulate them require that utilities provide electric power to their customers at the lowest possible price. In the early 1970s this goal was achieved through the use of nuclear power plants. However, at the cost of recently completed plants, analyses indicate that it is cheaper to generate electricity by burning coal.

Note that this paragraph specifically states that growth in the nuke industry was NOT due to environmental concerns including fear of reactor accidents, radioactive release, or radioactive waste. (which coal, oil and gas also share). The paragraph states the COSTS, (in general), have increased which include fuel, technology, labor etc.

Now I know that Saul is trying to say that costs have ONLY increased because we made nuclear power plants too safe. So he is selectively quoting only a couple of the paragraphs that follow, implicating “regulatory ratcheting” as a part of increasing costs. I would suggest that the so called ratcheting occurred as we gained experience with nuclear technology and learned the many modes of potential failure.

But isnt’ that just a Bhopal mentality? Don’t we all wish that someone had made Bhopal too safe?
At one time, automobile dashboards were made of hard steel and steering columns easily skewered human torso’s in an accident. We didn’t even realize that in a car accident there were two collisions, the car with the object and the occupants with the car. Even the early “safety glass”, which was so much better than plate glass was famous for the unique “diamond necklace” decapitations it performed when the occupant’s head was forced through the glass and then pulled backwards. Shit, if it weren’t for Raph Nader, we might not even have seat belts today, much less surround air bags. Somehow, the auto industry had to be forced to address safety concerns in it’s products so that today, we come full circle and given the alternatives, we see safety as a feature with a benefit for which we are willing to pay….there’s a market for it.

Not requiring dangerous industries to invest in safety commensurate with risk is a subsidy. Just like not requiring dangerous industries to invest in insurance policies commensurate with risk. Big huge government subsidy not available to other energy industries. The insurance companies are in the business of assessing risk. If they won’t insure it, how safe can it be?

If nuclear energy is so cost effective to safely produce, why does the nuclear industry require 100% subsidy to even think about entering the market? Why Saul? It’s not just those pesky environmentalists, and to the extent it is, their concerns are also mainstream concerns. We don’t want to be looking backward, wondering why we didn’t do a better job of regulating safety in light of a Bhopal like event.

 
 
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11 August 2008 21:44
 
Sander - 11 August 2008 11:27 PM

I am currently working on a sequel to ‘A clockwork Orange’ and I am trying to get Saul to play the starring role.

Picture Saul tied to a chair with his eyes forced open by metal clamps while he is forced to watch the horrors that narrow-minded greedy idiots like himself have inflicted on our pretty blue planet while Noam Chomsky’s voice-over calmly destroys all his asinine ideas.

Very good Sander! Made me laugh out loud!

I’ve referred that movie to SHF’s own Andy of Mayberry, Billy Shears! Possibly you could get Billy to play the role of the Dim, who you may recall as the “droog” of Alex, who was sent to prison for his violent antisocial crimes where, by way of the kind of treatment you describe above, he was rendered completely unable to defend himself against violence.

Sadly, after Alex’s release he has an unfortunate meeting with a vagrant. We saw him beat up this same vagrant, with the help of his droogs at the beginning of the film. This time the tables are turned and Alex is incapable of defending himself. When the police come to his aid we learn they are his former droogs, including Dim. They’re cops now. Helpless against violence, they take Alex out and beat the shit out of him.

 
 
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