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October 10th, 2006


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12:04 pm - A perfect example of the correct role of government
This is exactly the sort of law all governments should pass, and a perfect example of good government in action, of course, this law is coming up for a vote in the EU Parliament, but I can't see anything similar happening in the US. Particular bits of the artile about this proposed (and likely to pass) law stand out to me:
At its second reading on Tuesday, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) insisted that chemical manufacturers must be held legally responsible for the safety of their products, and must replace hazardous chemicals if there are safer alternatives.

The parliament's environment committee voted to stand by a more ecologically friendly version of the regulations by insisting that industry endeavour to phase out the most dangerous chemicals.
and
As amended today, the proposed law requires industry to prove chemicals are safe. This is a radical shift in the burden of proof, as governments now generally permit a chemical to be sold unless public regulatory authorities prove it is dangerous. Moreover, the proposed law requires companies to replace any chemical deemed hazardous with a safer substitute, if there is one.
These sorts of laws are why I loath libertarianism and why I wholeheartedly support governmental regulation of business, since laws like this are concrete and obvious ways to keep people safe and healthy.

My hope is that this law passing might help the US to some extent as companies phase out the manufacture and use many of the more dangerous chemicals. OTOH, we might end up a dumping group for chemicals illegal in the EU and legal here, much like pesticides banned here are sold to the 3rd world. In yet another way, the US might become ever more of a 3rd world nation...
Current Mood: pleasedpleased

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Comments:


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From:alobar
Date:October 10th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
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> must replace hazardous chemicals if there are safer alternatives.

I would much rather see a law which demands hazardous chemicals be stopped even if there are no safe alternatives.

> why I loath libertarianism and
> why I wholeheartedly support governmental regulation of business

Libertarianism has several definitions. The one I use boils down to saying that people have a right to do what they want with their property. However, those rights end where and if their actions harm others. I consider myself a very Green Libertarian.
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From:heron61
Date:October 10th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC)
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If you define property as human-made constructs I can somewhat accept this, but I do not agree with this wrt land, I dislike the very idea of private land ownership and am all for limiting people's rights for what they can do with land they "own". Also, my definitions of others includes endangered species.

Also, given that wealth is generated by a combination of individual work and use of existing infrastructure and the labor of others, the idea of paying taxes to guarantee all citizens have their basic needs met and to fund government efforts like the above law that protect the citizens from harm is only just and fair.

Far too much modern libertarianism is about radical land rights and avoiding paying taxes. In the 1960s and early 70s, libertarianism seems largely to be about keeping the government out of people's bedrooms and repealing laws against recreational drug use, I'm all for such efforts, but the modern focus of libertarianism disgusts me as both greedy and selfish.
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From:alobar
Date:October 10th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
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Like in all political movies, the fat cat rich people tend to want to take over the party. Same as Democtrats.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:October 10th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
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I'm a libertarian in the 1960's and 70's sense. I know too little about property and taxes to have an opinion either way on those issues.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:October 10th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
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I consider myself a Libertarian Progressive. I thought I was the only one!
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From:alobar
Date:October 10th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
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I have even met progressive Democrats and Republicans on ocassion. Party labels on candidates mean far less to me than what the candidate actually stands for.
(Deleted comment)
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From:heron61
Date:October 10th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
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Horrific how? I can see it potentially being ineffective if oversight and accountability of corporation are not a priority, but I don't see how this law could actively bad, merely useless.
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From:dancinglights
Date:October 10th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
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The only related badness I can think of is Germany's decisions to make many herbal supplements and vitamins lower-dose and prescription-only because they're "too dangerous", and manufacturers then taking the opportunity ("well, there's more regulation and red tape now...") to hike cost up to about the same as complicated prescriptions. Like St. John's Wort now costing nearly as much as SSRIs.

Calling something unsafe when someone who manufactures a cheaper alternative lines your pockets to do so seems the major possible downside of legislation like this. Mind you I am all for the legislation, I just wish I could see a way to stop that abuse of it.
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From:heron61
Date:October 10th, 2006 09:09 pm (UTC)
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Influence buying is a perpetual problem with all governments, but the EU seems to do a better job than most (and especially a better job than the US) at keeping this in check, so I'm not as worried about that as much there as I would be here.
(Deleted comment)
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From:heron61
Date:October 10th, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
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In the US, this seems and obvious case of corporate interests buying influence. Everything I've seen indicates that this is less of a problem in the EU. Beyond that, I'd also very much rather have a few harmless things banned than a few dangerous products on the shelves.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:October 10th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
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I'm with you on this one.

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From:anomali
Date:October 12th, 2006 12:19 am (UTC)
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I've read several of your entries and want to read more.
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From:heronheart
Date:October 12th, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
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My hope is that this law passing might help the US to some extent as companies phase out the manufacture and use many of the more dangerous chemicals. OTOH, we might end up a dumping group for chemicals illegal in the EU and legal here, much like pesticides banned here are sold to the 3rd world. In yet another way, the US might become ever more of a 3rd world nation...

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the US had already become a dumping ground for products longer considered environmentally legal in the EU. Germany in particular has some very interesting environmental laws. Things like the manufacturer has to accept ownership of appliances, cell phones, and cars when they are junked. When that law passed, manufacturers suddenly decided they had better start building products that could easily be taken apart and recycled.
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From:heron61
Date:October 12th, 2006 05:59 am (UTC)
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I'm not surprised at all.

Things like the manufacturer has to accept ownership of appliances, cell phones, and cars when they are junked. When that law passed, manufacturers suddenly decided they had better start building products that could easily be taken apart and recycled.

Dear gods that is an utterly brilliant law. I'd vote for that in a second, but US business owners would have fits and go on endlessly about pointless government interference and similar yammerings. *Sigh*
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From:rjgrady
Date:October 12th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
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My break with libertarianism was midwifed by environmental issues. The libertarian concept of liability suggests that someone must pay for everything they take from someone else and offer restitution for all harm... the logical end of this position is that every factory that puts out a puff of smoke incurs a liability to everyone within a few hundred miles that breathes.

To me, environmental regulation is a necessity, a corporate action of society. If there were no government, it would be necessary to incorporate a non-profit company for the purpose.
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From:heronheart
Date:October 13th, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
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The Libertarian perspective also assumes that money is an adequate measure of restitution. How much is somebody's health worth? How much is a species worth? Some harms have no restitution.
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From:rjgrady
Date:October 13th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)
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No remedy, but a a just restitution is possible. Sad to say, life and health can (and sometimes must) be valued in terms of money (or more concrete measures of resources). For instance, if it took the entire GNP of Ohio to prevent an average of two cases of asthma per year, it's not going to happen.

Where you get into problems is when rogue corporations decide for themselves what the risk is, and how much your life is worth, and make no restitution at all.
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From:heronheart
Date:October 13th, 2006 03:12 am (UTC)
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Sad to say, life and health can (and sometimes must) be valued in terms of money (or more concrete measures of resources). For instance, if it took the entire GNP of Ohio to prevent an average of two cases of asthma per year, it's not going to happen.

There I would disagree. To me it's a question of how is that wealth being used? If that GNP of Ohio is being used to build McMansions for the wealthy then I think the two cases of asthma are more important. If a significant amount of that wealth is being used to research and implement industrial processes that will avoid causing those cases of asthma, then maybe it would be worthwhile.
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From:heron61
Date:October 13th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)
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I simply do not agree, see my response to the comment you are responding to for my thoughts on this question.
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From:heron61
Date:October 13th, 2006 04:56 am (UTC)
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My thought exactly, more over the attitude that everything can be monetized makes it far too easy for someone to say that avoiding X horrific result is "too expensive", as opposed to being something that is simply wrong and avoiding it is a precondition that must be acknowledged in any plan and so makes doing horrific and vile things far easier and more likely, because both ethics and the common good become items with dollar signs attached to them.

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