Home / General / Shorter Boehner: “Freedom Industries Dumping Chemicals into Rivers is the Definition of Freedom”

Shorter Boehner: “Freedom Industries Dumping Chemicals into Rivers is the Definition of Freedom”

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John Boehner gives his official approval to a regulatory regime that allows companies to cut off the water supply for 300,000 people.

More on the lax regulations of West Virginia that lead to worker deaths, pollution, and toxicity. In other words, freedom.

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  • DrS

    The idea that we should always and ever make the trade off any and all forms of worker and environmental protections for “jobs” seems especially crazy since we don’t even seem to get jobs worth a damn from it.

    In fact, it would seem to me that sensible environmental regulations lead to more jobs. After all, if a company needs to be inspected and fill out some forms, that sounds like at least two jobs for me. One person at the company to work in compliance, and one person with the state.

    Of course, those aren’t “real jobs”

    • Steve LaBonne

      But a struggling working class is always very receptive to those lies. That’s one of the multiple ways in which the plutocrats benefit from a shitty employment market.

    • Rob Bright

      “After all, if a company needs to be inspected and fill out some forms, that sounds like at least two jobs for me.”

      Do either of those jobs actually produce anything? If not, then the cost of paying the salaries for both of those jobs are a net negative and result in the loss of one or more jobs elsewhere.

      • Malaclypse

        Do either of those jobs actually produce anything?

        Water that can be drunk, so that 300,000 people don’t lose water?

        • Malaclypse

          And now I see the nym, and realize that Rob Not-So-Bright is probably another of the Nine Millions Nyms of Jennie.

          • DrS

            It shows all the hallmarks.

          • Don’t think so in this case.

            • Malaclypse

              Yea, I just read further down. Jennie may be dumb, but at least he’s not a libertarian.

              • Rigby Reardon

                To be fair, it scanned just like a JenBob post to me as soon as I read it.

        • Rob Bright

          That’s not production. That’s prevention of potential problems. While such leaks/spills are relatively rare, that sort of thing happens sometimes even with inspectors.

          Let’s say the inspectors had been in place for 30 years and prevented the incident. Say the two jobs mentioned average 40k per year. 40k times 2 times 30 years = $2,400,000.00.

          Is it worth it? Well, one would have to calculate the cost of 300,000 people not having water for a few days against the likelihood that such an incident will or will not happen again in “x” years against the fact that 2.4 mil was spent that could have been spent on a job that actually produces something.

          I’m not saying it wouldn’t be worth it. It might be. I’m pointing out that one has to consider secondary costs as well as the obvious ones. An inspector and a paperwork preparer don’t actually produce anything. They are a net cost at all times up until such an accident occurs (and it has to be the kind of accident that wouldn’t have occurred if the inspector/preparer weren’t working). Only then is a benefit gained from those two jobs. Some facilities are run by people that do their own inspections and never have such an incident.

          Further, I haven’t researched the fine details of the W.V. situation fully, but oil companies are quite heavily regulated and they still have spills on occasion. Might this leak (or other potential leaks) have occurred even if there were an inspector and paperwork preparer? Crap happens sometimes, no matter what you do.

          • Malaclypse

            Let’s say the inspectors had been in place for 30 years and prevented the incident. Say the two jobs mentioned average 40k per year. 40k times 2 times 30 years = $2,400,000.00.

            Is it worth it? Well, one would have to calculate the cost of 300,000 people not having water for a few days against the likelihood that such an incident will or will not happen again in “x” years against the fact that 2.4 mil was spent that could have been spent on a job that actually produces something.

            If the average damage to each customer was $8.00, then yes, it would be worth is, without even going into Net Present Value calculations, let alone multipliers, that will go right over your head, because you are not actually Bright.

            Now, in your silly, silly hypothetical, what are the odds that each customer incurred less than 8 bucks of damages?

            Internet tradition now demands that you sneer and tell me that I don’t understand real-world economics.

            • DrDick

              Internet tradition now demands that you sneer and tell me that I don’t understand real-world economics.

              It always makes me giggle when delusional libertarian morons say that (redundancy for effect and emphasis).

          • DrS

            If you can’t even make it through intro level economics classes, you should probably not blather on as though you do.

            That “cost” is not a cost to the people who are being paid to do the work. That’s called “wages” and they’ll use them to buy things.

            Furthermore, it’s hardly crazy to ask that highly profitable entities might pick up the risk associated with their activities.

          • cpinva

            “Do either of those jobs actually produce anything?”

            a good 30-40% of all employees, in any business, don’t “produce” anything, in terms of either product or billable hours. however, were you to eliminate all those non “producing” jobs, those businesses would rather quickly come to a grinding halt. billings wouldn’t get sent, raw materials/supplies wouldn’t make it to the production line (if they were even acquired), no one would get paid, etc., etc., etc. direct/indirect overhead is an intrinsic part of the cost of every business. a smoothly running administrative aspect is considered an extremely valuable intangible asset. competent regulatory compliance is part of the administration of any company, saving it the potential costs of cleaning up messes, resulting from lax regulatory compliance. it’s a lot cheaper to keep problems from arising, than it generally is to fix them afterwards.

        • That water they have could be drunk if people wanted to badly enough.

      • Hannibal Lecture

        So, you’re arguing that private health insurance companies and the entire financial industry delenda est.

        Welcome to the revolution, comrade!

        Really, would it be too much to ask for anarchocapitalist trolls to have at least some working understanding of real world economics?

        • DrS

          If they had any idea about real world economics, they could not be anarchocapitalist trolls.

        • David Hunt

          Based on empirical evidence. The answer appears to be: Yes, it is too much to ask.

        • DrDick

          Far, far too much. First they would have to learn to read and to visit the real world sometime.

        • GFW

          Indeed.

          “Actually producing something” is a hard test. Customer service phone center people don’t build anything but they often help the purchasers use the thing that another worker built. A few of the people in the financial industry could defend their purpose as helping to allocate capital so other people can build things.

          What this really underlines is
          a. Very few jobs actually produce anything.
          b. Quite a lot of jobs are necessary support for those that do.
          c. There’s a wide range of job usefulness …
          d. … that isn’t well related to pay.
          e. (aside) Agreed that private health care paper shuffling is highly inefficient.
          f. Jobs are worth whatever we as a society agree they are worth.
          g. If we did everything efficiently, there wouldn’t be anywhere near enough jobs for an employment based economy.
          h. Actually there aren’t quite enough jobs right now, and there may never be again.

          Which leads to the whole universal income concept, wiping out the least useful jobs and considerably reducing inequality. (I think I’m on safe ground suggesting that safety and compliance jobs would still exist in that future.)

      • DrS

        Do either of those jobs actually produce anything? If not, then the cost of paying the salaries for both of those jobs are a net negative and result in the loss of one or more jobs elsewhere.

        LOL…really. Jobs doing what, exactly?

        Eating pancakes?

      • UserGoogol

        Regulation for the sake of regulation is obviously not a particularly efficient way to create jobs, but sure. One job helps makes industrial chemicals, which helps let people get the stuff they need, and another job makes those chemicals not spill into rivers, which helps people drink water and not die, which is also nice.

        Of course, regulation doesn’t create “stuff” per se but that’s really not what the economy is about. Private sector or public sector, much of the economy is about doing things instead of making things.

  • Malaclypse

    My kingdom for a press corp that follows up with “So, your position is that we need more safety inspectors to enforce the regulations we already have?”

    • rea

      Although, as the linked article shows, the company probably didn’t actually violate any regulations.

      • joe from Lowell

        Sure they did. Discharging sand or flour into a waterway violates the Clean Water Act.

        They probably didn’t violate any OSHA, EPA, or DOT regulations in the storage and handling of their chemicals, but once they hit a water body, the company is in trouble.

        • rea

          I should have said, they didn’t violate any regs, other than spilling the chemicals. But the point of regulating them ought to be preventative rather than punitive.

          • cpinva

            “But the point of regulating them ought to be preventative rather than punitive.”

            that is the purpose of regulations, the punitive aspect only applies once the regulation has been violated.

            • joe from Lowell

              Right. The issue here is that having regulations that kick in once the chemical hits the water supply is an ineffective way to be preventative.

              Holding a stick over the company’s head in case they pollute the water does serve a preventative purpose, but having understood protocols for operations, inspections to make sure they’re being followed, and requirements for handling and operational plans that the company must keep current are all things that need to happen, too.

      • Malaclypse

        Fair enough. I just want to imagine someone trapping Boehner into wanting to hire safety inspectors.

  • The man who only consumes water if he accidentally looks up during a rain storm says we don’t need to take steps to protect the water supply.

    Is anyone surprised?

    P.S. Hur hur, shorter Boehner.

    • rea

      You are unfair to the man. He consumes a lot of water keeping those golf courses green

      • Is he peeing on them–or would that be keeping them yellow?

      • Malaclypse

        Also, too, water is an essential ingredient in booze.

      • NonyNony

        I’m sure he occasionally has some soda with his scotch as well.

    • p.p.s. I move that Steve Winwood’s Freedom Overspill be played or linked whenever this incident is mentioned.

      The only reason I don’t suggest that the CEOs of companies that dump toxic waste be forced to listen to it for several days on end, is I am a firm believer in the 8th Am.

      • Mike G

        CEOs of companies that dump toxic waste be forced to listen to it for several days on end

        CEOs of companies that dump toxic waste should be forced to drink from the waterways they polluted for several days on end.

    • socraticsilence

      That is unfair, he probably adds a drop or two to open up his breakfast.

  • What is that I’m smelling?

    Is it teen spirit?
    Is it licorice?
    No…IT’S FREEDOM!!!

    • Tom Servo

      Speaking of the smell of licorice, I recently (over New Year’s) shared some ouzo with a friend to see if my 19 year old judgment all those decades ago was correct.

      And it was, it’s still fucking disgusting at 40.

      • Bitter Scribe

        Then I pray to God you never come across this stuff some other barfly talked me into trying recently. It was completely clear, like ouzo, but tasted like pure mint toothpaste. (And like ouzo, it packed quite a wallop.) I forget the name but it doesn’t matter because I am never coming near that stuff again.

      • DrS

        More for me!

        Although, for anise flavored liquor, I prefer arak

  • Rob Bright

    What’s wrong with simply allowing each injured party to sue the company for pollution and damages? Sufficiently large verdicts would either put the company out of business or strongly encourage them to be more careful the next time.

    A true free market system would punish polluters more severely than regulation would. Note that the same people who want more government regulation are the same people who complain that government protects large corporations. So, on the one hand, you have government regulating corporations while at the same time protecting the corporations. It’s a circle jerk.

    Further, the idea that more regulation is going to make unreasonable people comply perfectly is laughable. Has the drug war resulted in the disappearance of drugs from the streets? Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs 11+ years ago and have seen reduction in government expenditures as well as usage rates… and they’ve seen an increase in people seeking voluntary treatment.

    In other words, Portugal found that less regulation of drugs was cheaper, more likely to result in people not trying and/or getting off or drugs. A further benefit is that they no longer have people getting criminal convictions for possession. Such convictions kill the tax base because the convict can no longer make as much money post conviction.

    • Well, the 5th Circuit Court just issued a ruling significantly reducing the ability of workers to file class action suits over this type of thing. So that’s one problem with the legal strategy–the Republican judges of the New Gilded Age are looking to make collective action against corporations impossible.

      • Hannibal Lecture

        Anarchocapitalists never deal with the question of “What happens if the judges are bought with a rounding-error fraction of the money that the capitalists can earn by fucking over their workers and the surrounding communities?” [*]

        [*] Let alone with the question of: “What happens if most of the judges will have natural class sympathies with the capitalists?” Hell, anarchocapitalists choose not to recognize the words “class” or “sympathies” as having any meaning whatsoever.

        • DrS

          I don’t think they have any sort of a realistic grasp about the power of concentrated money and how that might affect their desired governmental scheme.

          Or, they do and that’s exactly the point.

          Evil or dumb, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

          • Hannibal Lecture

            I think of it as an inclusive-or question.

            • Dark Helmet

              Don’t you dare question me.

          • DrDick

            I am almost certain that they are completely unfamiliar with anything and everything in the real world.

          • cpinva

            evil and dumb is no way to go through life son.

        • Linnaeus

          The anarcho-capitalists also start with the assumption that all parties in a potential suit are equal in power and resources. I, as an individual citizen, simply do not have the money or time to dedicate to a lawsuit (that has any chance of winning) against a much wealthier corporation.

    • Malaclypse

      That worked well in Bhopal.

    • Hannibal Lecture

      Shorter Anarchocapitalist Troll: I have never heard of these concepts you call transaction costs, nor corporate limited liability, nor do I have any understanding of how duties and liabilities are created by law and administered by actual people.

      I also have no ability to distinguish between the criminal regulation of the behavior of powerless individuals and the lack of civil regulation of large-scale economic activity. [A hint for our trolly friend: both of those things have been shown to create negative externalities and corrupt the judicial process.]

      God, the anarchocapitalist dipshittery never wavers — it’s the one true faith.

    • DrS

      Look, Portugal found that it was better to deregulate certain chemicals, and all Freedom Industries did is give people free chemicals, so that’s exactly the same thing and all those customers should just be happy about the free chemicals they got cause it’s just like they got some free cannabis, you hippy liberals.

    • BigHank53

      Go read the MSDS for the chemical in question, and you’ll discover that the manufacturer doesn’t even know what the long-term effects of exposure are. Sue on what grounds? How do you, an individual, demonstrate that exposure made you sick? If you can’t demonstrate harm, you’ve got no grounds to sue, case is dismissed, please pay court costs to the clerk on the way out…

    • MattT

      In addition to all the reasons this is stupid that have already been listed, you just objected above to hiring a couple of inspectors on the basis of cost, but you don’t think setting up the court system to handle 300K “individual suits” will cost anything?

      • Linnaeus

        but you don’t think setting up the court system to handle 300K “individual suits” will cost anything?

        I’d wager that most of those potential suits won’t be brought because most affected parties will not be able to do so. And that’s the point of all this “free market regulation” garbage.

        • MattT

          Yeah, saying polluters will suffer consequences and stop polluting because of magic beans is just another way of saying that polluters shouldn’t actually suffer any consequences. I just think it’s funny that even if you assume the magic beans, these scenarios still don’t work.

      • Mike G

        I think you’ll find that the “free market” quickly evaporates when it comes suing a polluting corporation in WV. All of a sudden the Galtists are peeing their pants and running into the arms of crony government to shield themselves from liability.

    • njorl

      In order for a system reliant only on lawsuits to work, you would need to ensure that litigation was capable of recouping all of the damages, even those in excess of the company worth. Stockholders would be subject to loss of more than the value of their stock. If impoverishiing every stockholder failed to recoup the damage, you would then pursue customers of the company and seize their assets. All customers who benefited from the risks which caused the damage would have to be liable.

      That is a nightmarish system which would bring commerce and investment to a screeching halt. Regulation by a strong government is absolutely indispensable for a capitalist system.

    • joe from Lowell

      What’s wrong with simply allowing each injured party to sue the company for pollution and damages?…A true free market system would punish polluters more severely than regulation would.

      I learned a few things about libertoids from all that time I spent on the Reason web site.

      This is part of the bait and switch. Whenever someone brings up regulation, talk about law suits. Whenever someone brings up law suits, talk about tort reform.

    • joe from Lowell

      Wow, lot of old favorites in this comment:

      So, on the one hand, you have government regulating corporations while at the same time protecting the corporations. It’s a circle jerk.

      Doesn’t “protecting the corporations” in this sentence mean “sometimes failing to restrict their behavior,” and if this is a bad thing, why would the policy “never restrict their behavior” be more desirable?

      Further, the idea that more regulation is going to make unreasonable people comply perfectly is laughable.

      As opposed to deregulation, which perfectly prevents all bad acts? Once again, how is sometimes failing to accomplish the intended result supposed to recommend a policy of always failing to achieve the intended result?

      Has the drug war resulted in the disappearance of drugs from the streets?

      And here we see the “corporations are people, my friend” fallacy. As if a corporation, which depends upon its legal standing to be allowed to operation, subject to the inspections and interventions of a regulatory state, is operating similarly to an individual person who uses drugs.

    • DrDick

      A true free market system would punish polluters more severely than regulation would.

      Bwahahahahahahahaha!

      That has to be the dumbest thing I have heard all week. We tried that (see “the Gilded Age”) and it failed miserably. That is why we have all those regulations. What color is the sun on your planet? Have you ever visited planet earth?

    • ADHDJ

      “A true free market system would punish polluters more severely than regulation would.”

      A counterfactual and a No True Scotsman in one licorice-flavored slurry. Nice!

      Now, let’s talk about nonviolent drug offenders, because they are exactly like corporations that pollute. Every time you smoke a doob, 300,000 people are deprived of basic drinking water. That’s just science right there.

      Athe people that die because of this are the lucky ones. They no longer have to live in a country with such crippling regulations, government confiscation of your money, political correctness, and laws against child prostitution.

      Of course the company being blamed is a victim, but online glibertarians are the biggest victims here, the virtuous and successful who totally are captains of industry and stuff even though they have hours to spend posting inane bullshit on the internet. Great producers who have to be faced with the negative consequences of their crackpot beliefs put into practice. Which. Is. So. Not. Cool.

      Guilt tripping is the purest form of mooching. You are trying to mooch this guy into recognizing some semblance of reality, logic, basic principles of economics and so forth. For shame, moochers, for shame!

    • Bitter Scribe

      Yeah, and while we’re at it, why do we have laws against robbery and assault? Mugging victims should just sue their attackers. If a mugger attracts enough lawsuits, he’ll stop mugging people because it will no longer be cost-effective. It’s just free-market common sense.

      • Karate Bearfighter

        I foresee service-of-process issues.

    • Matt

      What’s wrong with simply allowing each injured party to sue the company for pollution and damages?

      Ah yes, the universal libertarian solution to everything: because in libertarian fantasy-land, everybody has access to lawyers who’ll work for free until the case is won and the courts always decide things correctly.

  • So-in-so

    If “Producing something” is a job requirement we can drastically shrink the executive count (and compensation) of most companies.

    Sever punishment of polluters just doesn’t happen, or “costs jobs” when the corporation folds its tent after polluting the air/water/ground. In the case of WV mining companies, lax regulation results in killing miners, which is hard to un-do by punishing the corporation.

    Also missing the point that you can’t punish anyone without “regulations” defining what acts merit punishment.

  • JMP

    “A true free market system would punish polluters more severely than regulation would.”

    Hahahaha. Sure, if you live in a Randian fantasyland; but in the real world actual history shows that regulation works a hell of a lot better to prevent environmental (and other) disasters than the alleged magical powers of the free market which do not actually exist. But to Libertarian fundamental idiots like you, actual facts don’t matter.

    • NonyNony

      The reason why we don’t use a 19th century regulatory regime anymore is because the 19th century sucked.

      This is something that free-market fundamentalists regularly refuse to deal with – that their ideas actually mostly were tried and people thought it was horrible and worked to put something different into place. Something that would give them clean drinking water and air that didn’t cause you to devolve into coughing fits whenever you wanted to take a breath.

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