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Offline TCU

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What is Democracy
« on: December 25, 2012, 03:11:21 PM »
What is Democracy

Now, let's put aside the conspiracies, the black projects and the armchair quarter-backing of elite organisations. We know the score. The problem perhaps is exactly that...We do know the score. We know that our societies are founded upon the finite resources of this singular planet and we know that the human beings who the people permit to establish laws over us...control those finite resources by means of military strength, blackmail and economic sabotage.

We know that it can't go on...yet we allow it. Do you know what economic sabotage of a third world country really means to its poorest victims? Have you been to a war-zone and seen first world soldiers target practising upon civilians simply in order to relieve the boredom? ...Yet we of the first world allow this to happen in order to preserve our little "American Dreams"...and guess where those dreams come from...they come from the corporate-state authority that creates the dreams that you die chasing.

If democracy is supposed to be so wonderful, then why does it mean that the majority of the first world allow and permit weaker third world nations to suffer simply in order to keep their 10 miles-per-gallon vehicles on the road; to keep the TV blasting with its endless spectacle of Pop-Idol and soaps; to keep a constant electricity flow simply in order to power lights and computers in buildings where thousands of people move fake digital figures around in fake markets that don't even exist. The whole fucking thing is an illusion used to keep the people in subservience to the corporate elite who are laughing their fucking tits off at you and your blind stupidity right now.

This thread is a news thread...it is articles that expose the consequences of democracy...that is the human "majority rule". Let us take a look at what dumb, stupid, ignorant, selfish humanity has done and wants to achieve...and what the future consequences of those "human desires" will be. You wanted your shitty oil; You wanted military action; You wanted a surveillance state...and it don't look like you're doing shit to do anything about stopping it so I'm forced to conclude that while you've got your car, your status symbols, and your TV, and your soaps, and your fake fractional reserve economy...While you've got those things...You don't give a damn FUCK what happens to the rest of the world and all those who suffer in it. You don't even care about your own children's future.

"whaaa...why don't you go and kill yourself and stop spoiling my fun...whaaa, whaaaa"...Yeah, sounds like a fucking baby doesn't it...ME, Me Me...feed ME, wipe MY ass...Why don't you kill yourself if you don't like me hunting rhino...rhino don't matter to the earth like I do...You must be fucked in the head to think that the last rhino on earth matters more than me...whaaa, go and kill yourself if you don't like us poisoning the planet and killing anyone who stands in the way...feed ME...Only I and my immediate short term hedonistic goals matter...God in my image said so...whaaa

Well, here we go...Only you mattered...Now every living being on earth will pay the price. If that's how stupid humanity is then what is the fucking point in it?
« Last Edit: December 25, 2012, 07:29:59 PM by TCU »
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Offline TCU

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Re: What is Democracy
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2012, 03:30:36 PM »
Global Scarcity: Scramble for Dwindling Natural Resources

National security expert Michael Klare believes the struggle for the world’s resources will be one of the defining political and environmental realities of the 21st century. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he discusses the threat this scramble poses to the natural world and what can be done to sustainably meet the resource challenge.

Michael Klare, a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, devotes much of his time these days to thinking about the intensifying competition for increasingly scarce natural resources. His most recent book, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, describes how the world economy has entered a period of what he calls “tough” extraction for energy, minerals, and other commodities, meaning that the easy-to-get resources have been exploited and a rapidly growing population is now turning to resources in the planet’s most remote regions — the Arctic, the deep ocean, and war zones like Afghanistan. The exploitation of “tough” resources, such as “fracking” for natural gas in underground shale formations, carries with it far greater environmental risk, Klare says.

In an interview with Yale Environment 360 contributor Diane Toomey, Klare discussed China’s surging appetite for resources, the growing potential for political and military conflict as commodities become more scarce, and the disturbing trend of the planet’s agricultural land being bought by companies and governments seeking to ensure that their people will have enough food in the future. The way to reduce resource conflicts, says Klare, is to find substitute materials and to significantly boost efficiency in a host of realms, most notably energy. Hope for the future, he says, lies with innovative entrepreneurs and, especially, the young. “They all want to be involved in developing solutions,” said Klare, “and they have a lot of optimism and enthusiasm for this.”

Yale Environment 360: You make the point that when it comes to the age-old competition for raw materials, we’re in an unprecedented age. How so?

Michael Klare: I do believe that’s the case. Humans have been struggling to gain control of vital resources since the beginning of time, but I think we’re in a new era because we’re running out of places to go. Humans have constantly moved to new areas, to new continents, when they’ve run out of things in their home territory. But there aren’t any more new continents to go to. We’re going now to the last places left on earth that haven’t been exploited: the Arctic, the deep oceans, the inner jungles in Africa, Afghanistan. There are very few places left that haven’t been fully tapped, so this is humanity’s last chance to exploit the earth, and after this there’s nowhere else to go.

e360: Natural resource extraction has never been a pretty business when it comes to the environment, but you write that now that the era of easy oil, easy gas, easy minerals and other resources is basically over, and what’s left is in deep water, remote or inhospitable climates, or in geological formations that require extraordinary means to get at. So paint me a picture of what extracting these tough resources looks like.

Klare: We’re really going to be using very aggressive means of extraction, so the environmental consequences are going to be proportionally greater. For example, to get oil and natural gas out of shale rock, you can’t just drill and expect it to come out. It doesn’t work that way. You have to smash the rock, you have to produce fractures in the rock, and we use a very aggressive technology to do that — hydraulic fracturing — and the water is brought under tremendous pressure and it’s laced with toxic chemicals, and when the water is extracted from these wells it can’t be put back into the environment without risk of poisoning water supplies. So there’s a tremendous problem of storage, of toxic water supplies, and we really haven’t solved that problem.
And that’s just one example. Drilling in the Arctic presents a tremendous problem because the Arctic, by its very nature, is at the edge of survival and all the species there are living at the edge of survival, so any oil spill could push them over the edge into extinction. So [oil companies] must have on hand all kinds of extra capacity to deal with the possibility of spills, and that’s much more difficult to engineer than in the Gulf of Mexico, where there are tens of thousands of boats that you could hire on short notice to bring out skimmers and booms to contain a spill. There’s nothing like that in the Arctic. Moreover, if this were to happen in winter, there would be no way to move equipment up there to build a relief drill. Remember, it was a relief drill that closed the Deepwater Horizon spill, but you can’t do that in the middle of winter when the Arctic [Ocean] is covered with ice.

e360: Yet despite all that, there’s profits to be made.

Klare: There’s profits to be made, and this is particularly important to recognize — that this is attractive to the private international oil companies, like Shell, BP, and Exxon Mobil that are going into the Arctic, because they’ve been pushed out of the Middle East, Venezuela, and Russia by state-owned companies. So there are very few places where they can go and control the whole process of production, from beginning to end, and the Arctic is one of those few areas.
There’s more to it than just that. We’re really at a turning point and I think most people in this country and around the world understand that before too long we’re going to have to transition to other types of energy if we’re to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. But the big oil companies, they only know one business, which is producing oil and natural gas and selling it in their service stations. And so they’re determined to maintain their business model as long as possible and they’re resisting the transition to alternative fuels.

e360: North America has more than its share of so-called tough oil and gas. That includes the Alberta tar sands and the shale gas fields in the U.S. that are being fracked. As energy extraction heats up in North America, you’ve written that the U.S. is in danger of becoming “a third-world petro state.” What do you mean by that?

Klare: Consider what [happened] in the 1960s and 1970s when U.S. and European oil companies moved into countries like Nigeria and Angola. You had very low government oversight of oil company operations, little or no environmental protection, a lot of corruption, so it was easy to expatriate your profits. You didn’t have to worry about labor regulations or labor unions. But now those places in the so-called Third World are becoming much tougher. They’re either nationalizing their resources or enforcing their environmental regulations or labor laws. So it’s not as profitable as it once was.
Meanwhile, in the United States, there are these formations that were once inaccessible, shale rock in particular. But to gain access to these resources in the United States and Canada it will be necessary to roll back a lot of the environmental protections and the labor and tax laws that were imposed over the past 50 years. So the oil companies and the gas companies really want to turn this country back to what it was before environmentalism became an issue, and make it more like the way the Third World was in the 1950s and 60s, with very lax environmental oversight and labor concerns, so that they can use the very aggressive, environmentally hazardous techniques to extract oil and gas from these tough formations.

e360: What developments can you point to that indicate that the U.S. is on the road to this?

Klare: For example, when the Bush Administration was in office, and Congress was under control of Republicans, the 2005 Energy Policy Act exempted hydrofracking from the Clean Water Act so that oil and gas companies could use hydrofracking with toxic chemicals and were not covered by the protections that all other kinds of industrial activities in the United States are subject to.

e360: Talk about the China-African connection and how it fits into the race for what’s left.

Klare: China now is the fastest-growing world economy and it’s very manufacturing-oriented, and China is also building cities and infrastructure very rapidly. All of this is incredibly resource-intensive. They need everything: oil, natural gas, iron, copper, more exotic things for the electronics that they build, like chromium, lithium, and palladium. And eventually food, because they’re unable to produce all the food they need for their population. So one of the major tasks of the Chinese leadership is to scour the world for all the resources that they need to keep the Chinese economic machine growing, and this will only become a bigger problem the further you look into the future.
To give one example, until relatively recently, 1993, China was self-sufficient in oil production and was until very recently self-sufficient in coal. But now China has to import half of its petroleum and that will increase to three-quarters. It’s now importing coal. Now, Africa is one of those areas that the Chinese leadership sees as a prime source of raw materials, and they think they have an advantage there, because of the historic animosity of the former colonies towards the West. They come in and say, “We’re going to do things differently. We’re not going to plunder your resources the way the imperialists did. We’re going to do this in a more cooperative fashion, so turn to us, let us develop your resources, and we’ll help develop your country.” And they’re making a tremendous pitch to extract all of Africa’s resources.

e360: And that promise to be the kinder, gentler extractor? What’s your take on that?

Klare: Opinions are divided on how realistic this promise that China is making of offering development to Africa is. To what degree is this really just the icing on the cake, when really they are no different from the European imperial powers in their drive to plunder Africa for their own benefit? They are building railroads and roads. But are the roads and railroads merely to facilitate the shipment of the iron ore and the copper ore to the coast to be put on ships to be carried to China? That’s the way it looks to me, more and more. Moreover, typically the Chinese say, “Well, we will build all of these facilities, new ports and railroads.” But typically they insist that Chinese state-owned companies build the railroads, ports, and airports. They bring in Chinese workers who live in self-contained compounds. They don’t offer jobs to local people, and so they’re creating a lot of resentment to China, just as there was once towards western imperialist exporters.

e360: Minerals, including lithium and platinum, get a lot of attention in your book. These are minerals with industrial, military, and commercial applications. It seems that the difference between easy access minerals and tough access minerals is not the extraction method but the degree of remoteness, military conflict, and regime volatility that companies have to contend with.

Klare: Well, yes, it’s a combination of all of those. The good, easy mining ores are largely gone now. So you have two choices. You can use more aggressive means to exploit the same old mines — tearing mountains apart they way they do in Chile and Indonesia for copper, where the mines are so vast you could see them from space, and you’re getting less and less desirable ores and so you have to treat them more with arsenic and other poisons. The consequences to the environment are therefore greater. So that’s one option. The other options are to go to the Arctic, and they are talking about producing some of these minerals in Greenland. For the first time, they’re moving into Nunavut, the native lands in Canada, far above the Arctic Circle, to get iron ore.
And the other possibility is to go to places you stayed away from because they were dangerous, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or now Afghanistan. Many people believe that Afghanistan has a tremendous treasure trove of valuable minerals: copper, iron, lithium, rare earths, and if you’re prepared to bring in an army to protect them, there’s a lot of minerals there.

e360: And then there are the rare earth elements, with names that are difficult to pronounce, like scandium and promethium. Our cell phones and laptops are chock full of some of these substances and demand is expected to skyrocket over the next few years. But right now, China is just about the only country producing them. Is that going to change, and if so, what are the environmental implications?

Klare: Well, the thing about rare earths that I learned is that they’re not exactly rare as a percent of the earth’s crust, but they’re not found in concentrated nodes. They tend to be found with a lot of other things, including typically radioactive materials. So you have to separate them from other minerals you don’t want. China has taken over production of most of the rare earths. They have the concentrations and they are willing to overlook the environmental consequences. A lot of this is in inner Mongolia, and they are trying to promote economic development there. And from what I understand, it’s resulted in terrible environmental devastation of the surrounding agricultural areas that have been poisoned with the tailings from this rare earth production. But it was not because they had more of the minerals, but because they were willing to overlook the environmental hazards involved. Now they’re tightening up on their controls, and so the supply has gotten tighter.

e360: It seems that one could argue that it’s not the running out of resources that we have to fear, but rather the environmental cost of obtaining them.

Klare: There are several things happening all at once. There is the future point down the road where things really will be very scarce, and then civilization as we know it will collapse, unless between now and then we develop new ways of living. I’m talking about something that could happen.
In 2050 or farther down the pike. Oil will run out. But between now and then, we will have other problems. The price of things will rise and that will create everyday hardship in people’s lives and we’re seeing that today. But we’ll also see conflict arising in this race for what’s left. We’re already seeing signs of that in many places, for example, in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, as China and its neighbors are increasingly using military force to exert their claims over undersea reserves of oil and natural gas. So there will be many consequences to this final stage in humanity’s struggle to gain control over vital resources.

e360: There’s a relatively new phenomenon in which countries, mainly in the Persian Gulf, are buying up farmland in poor countries to grow crops for consumption at home. Saudi Arabia, for instance, has been buying up land in Sudan and Ethiopia. How have we come to a point where farmland has become a global commodity?

Klare: You know, I can’t help but think that there’s something very cynical and ugly about all of this, but a lot of the people who are in this business, they talk about Malthus, future population growth, starvation, climate change, all of these things making food the most precious commodity of the future — that whoever possesses land to grow food will be the rich people of the future. That’s the pitch that they make to investors, and it is based on the notion that people will be starving and desperate for food. Now, there are a second group of investors, those from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and so on, who say that we will not be able to feed our future population, and so therefore we will buy farmland in foreign countries to grow food exclusively for our own population, irrespective of the needs of the people who live in the food-growing areas. They’ll have to fend for themselves, but we’ll provide for our own people. And this, too, derives from very nightmarish scenarios of what we’ll see in the future.

e360: You say that to head off the global nightmare for the race for what’s left that we’ll need to engage in a race to adapt, and that includes finding substitute materials, improving efficiency. When I read this part of your book, I was rather surprised at its optimistic tone. You say you see signs that we’re already in the race to adapt. Talk to me about that.

Klare: Being around students, they think they know the bad news already and they’re determined to do something about it. They want to be in the solutions business. I think this is a universal phenomenon around the world because I have students in my classes from virtually every continent now, and they all want to be involved in developing solutions, and they have a lot of optimism and enthusiasm for this. So it’s partly that energy that I’m feeling from my students and young people about the possibilities of positive change. And then I see that there are entrepreneurs who are coming up with very creative solutions to the problems I describe, who are creating the alternative modes of producing energy and using materials more efficiently. And I think that with time they will gain momentum.

Author : Diane Toomey
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Re: What is Democracy
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2012, 08:44:14 PM »
The Chemist's War

The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.

It was Christmas Eve 1926, the streets aglitter with snow and lights, when the man afraid of Santa Claus stumbled into the emergency room at New York City's Bellevue Hospital. He was flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he kept telling the nurses, was just behind him, wielding a baseball bat.

Before hospital staff realized how sick he was—the alcohol-induced hallucination was just a symptom—the man died. So did another holiday partygoer. And another. As dusk fell on Christmas, the hospital staff tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill by alcohol and eight dead from it. Within the next two days, yet another 23 people died in the city from celebrating the season.

Doctors were accustomed to alcohol poisoning by then, the routine of life in the Prohibition era. The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made people sick. The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came tainted with metals and other impurities. But this outbreak was bizarrely different. The deaths, as investigators would shortly realize, came courtesy of the U.S. government.

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

Although mostly forgotten today, the "chemist's war of Prohibition" remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was "our national experiment in extermination." Poisonous alcohol still kills—16 people died just this month after drinking lethal booze in Indonesia, where bootleggers make their own brews to avoid steep taxes—but that's due to unscrupulous businessmen rather than government order.

I learned of the federal poisoning program while researching my new book, The Poisoner's Handbook, which is set in jazz-age New York. My first reaction was that I must have gotten it wrong. "I never heard that the government poisoned people during Prohibition, did you?" I kept saying to friends, family members, colleagues.

I did, however, remember the U.S. government's controversial decision in the 1970s to spray Mexican marijuana fields with Paraquat, an herbicide. Its use was primarily intended to destroy crops, but government officials also insisted that awareness of the toxin would deter marijuana smokers. They echoed the official position of the 1920s—if some citizens ended up poisoned, well, they'd brought it upon themselves. Although Paraquat wasn't really all that toxic, the outcry forced the government to drop the plan. Still, the incident created an unsurprising lack of trust in government motives, which reveals itself in the occasional rumors circulating today that federal agencies, such as the CIA, mix poison into the illegal drug supply.

During Prohibition, however, an official sense of higher purpose kept the poisoning program in place. As the Chicago Tribune editorialized in 1927: "Normally, no American government would engage in such business. … It is only in the curious fanaticism of Prohibition that any means, however barbarous, are considered justified." Others, however, accused lawmakers opposed to the poisoning plan of being in cahoots with criminals and argued that bootleggers and their law-breaking alcoholic customers deserved no sympathy. "Must Uncle Sam guarantee safety first for souses?" asked Nebraska's Omaha Bee.

The saga began with ratification of the 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages in the United States. * High-minded crusaders and anti-alcohol organizations had helped push the amendment through in 1919, playing on fears of moral decay in a country just emerging from war. The Volstead Act, spelling out the rules for enforcement, passed shortly later, and Prohibition itself went into effect on Jan. 1, 1920.

But people continued to drink—and in large quantities. Alcoholism rates soared during the 1920s; insurance companies charted the increase at more than 300 more percent. Speakeasies promptly opened for business. By the decade's end, some 30,000 existed in New York City alone. Street gangs grew into bootlegging empires built on smuggling, stealing, and manufacturing illegal alcohol. The country's defiant response to the new laws shocked those who sincerely (and naively) believed that the amendment would usher in a new era of upright behavior.

Rigorous enforcement had managed to slow the smuggling of alcohol from Canada and other countries. But crime syndicates responded by stealing massive quantities of industrial alcohol—used in paints and solvents, fuels and medical supplies—and redistilling it to make it potable.

Well, sort of. Industrial alcohol is basically grain alcohol with some unpleasant chemicals mixed in to render it undrinkable. The U.S. government started requiring this "denaturing" process in 1906 for manufacturers who wanted to avoid the taxes levied on potable spirits. The U.S. Treasury Department, charged with overseeing alcohol enforcement, estimated that by the mid-1920s, some 60 million gallons of industrial alcohol were stolen annually to supply the country's drinkers. In response, in 1926, President Calvin Coolidge's government decided to turn to chemistry as an enforcement tool. Some 70 denaturing formulas existed by the 1920s. Most simply added poisonous methyl alcohol into the mix. Others used bitter-tasting compounds that were less lethal, designed to make the alcohol taste so awful that it became undrinkable.

To sell the stolen industrial alcohol, the liquor syndicates employed chemists to "renature" the products, returning them to a drinkable state. The bootleggers paid their chemists a lot more than the government did, and they excelled at their job. Stolen and redistilled alcohol became the primary source of liquor in the country. So federal officials ordered manufacturers to make their products far more deadly.

By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons—kerosene and brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added—up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly.

The results were immediate, starting with that horrific holiday body count in the closing days of 1926. Public health officials responded with shock. "The government knows it is not stopping drinking by putting poison in alcohol," New York City medical examiner Charles Norris said at a hastily organized press conference. "[Y]et it continues its poisoning processes, heedless of the fact that people determined to drink are daily absorbing that poison. Knowing this to be true, the United States government must be charged with the moral responsibility for the deaths that poisoned liquor causes, although it cannot be held legally responsible."

His department issued warnings to citizens, detailing the dangers in whiskey circulating in the city: "[P]ractically all the liquor that is sold in New York today is toxic," read one 1928 alert. He publicized every death by alcohol poisoning. He assigned his toxicologist, Alexander Gettler, to analyze confiscated whiskey for poisons—that long list of toxic materials I cited came in part from studies done by the New York City medical examiner's office.

Norris also condemned the federal program for its disproportionate effect on the country's poorest residents. Wealthy people, he pointed out, could afford the best whiskey available. Most of those sickened and dying were those "who cannot afford expensive protection and deal in low grade stuff."

And the numbers were not trivial. In 1926, in New York City, 1,200 were sickened by poisonous alcohol; 400 died. The following year, deaths climbed to 700. These numbers were repeated in cities around the country as public-health officials nationwide joined in the angry clamor. Furious anti-Prohibition legislators pushed for a halt in the use of lethal chemistry. "Only one possessing the instincts of a wild beast would desire to kill or make blind the man who takes a drink of liquor, even if he purchased it from one violating the Prohibition statutes," proclaimed Sen. James Reed of Missouri.

Officially, the special denaturing program ended only once the 18th Amendment was repealed in December 1933. But the chemist's war itself faded away before then. Slowly, government officials quit talking about it. And when Prohibition ended and good grain whiskey reappeared, it was almost as if the craziness of Prohibition—and the poisonous measures taken to enforce it—had never quite happened.

Correction, Feb. 22, 2010: The article originally and incorrectly said that the 18th Amendment banned the sale and consumption of alcohol. It banned the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol, not consumption. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)

Deborah Blum

10,000 people were murdered by the government for not paying a toll upon distilled grain? When will people learn that governments are nothing more than armed gangs or mafia's extracting forced tolls from the people? Why did nobody rise up in anger and demand that those lives - any life - was worth more than the taxes upon a proof liquid? Why were the government members (For the people, by the people) responsible not hung and gutted in the streets for waging war upon their own populace?
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Re: What is Democracy
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2013, 01:15:52 PM »

"The Ford Pinto case is mentioned in most Business Ethics texts as an example of Cost-Benefit analysis, yet in those formats any appreciation of the complexity surrounding the issues of such decisions is overly simplified. As a thorough study, this book provides material that enriches the entire idea of using a particular case as an avenue of learning about Ethics, Business, Society, Technology, and Government Regulation. Rather than as a mere reference tool for educators and other professionals, this book could be successful in the classroom in a way that no other anthology or collection of short case studies could be." - Greg Pasquarello, Neumann College

Cost-Benefit AnalysisOne of the tools that Ford used to argue for the delay was a "cost-benefit analysis" of altering the fuel tanks. According to Ford's estimates, the unsafe tanks would cause 180 burn deaths, 180 serious burn injuries, and 2,100 burned vehicles each year. It calculated that it would have to pay $200,000 per death, $67,000 per injury, and $700 per vehicle, for a total of $49.5 million. However, the cost of saving lives and injuries ran even higher: alterations would cost $11 per car or truck, which added up to $137 million per year. Essentially, Ford argued before the government that it would be cheaper just to let their customers burn!
The other side of the equation, the alleged $11 cost of a fire-prevention device, is also a misleading estimation. One document that was not sent to Washington by Ford was a "Confidential" cost analysis Mother Jones has managed to obtain, showing that crash fires could be largely prevented for considerably less than $11 a car. The cheapest method involves placing a heavy rubber bladder inside the gas tank to keep the fuel from spilling if the tank ruptures. Goodyear had developed the bladder and had demonstrated it to the automotive industry. Ford Motor Company ran a rear-end crash test on a car with the rubber bladder in the gas tank. The tank ruptured, but no fuel leaked. On January 15, 1971, Ford again tested the bladder and again it worked. The total purchase and installation cost of the bladder would have been $5.08 per car. That $5.08 could have saved the lives several hundred people.
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Re: What is Democracy
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2013, 12:57:09 PM »
Oxfam seeks 'new deal' on inequality from world leaders

The 100 richest people in the world earned enough last year to end extreme poverty suffered by the poorest on the planet four times over, Oxfam has said.

Ahead of next week's World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the charity urged world leaders to tackle inequality.

Extreme wealth was "economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive", the report said.

The global economic system required reform so that it worked "in the interests of the whole of humanity".

A four-day summit involving political and economic leaders runs in Davos from next Wednesday.

In its report entitled The Cost Of Inequality: How Wealth And Income Extremes Hurt Us All, the UK charity said that efforts to tackle poverty were being hindered by an "explosion in extreme wealth".

The richest one per cent of the world's population had increased its income by 60% in the last 20 years, Oxfam said.

It reported that while the world's 100 richest people enjoyed a net income of $240bn (£150bn) last year, people in "extreme poverty" lived on less than $1.25 (78p) a day.

"We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many - too often the reverse is true," said Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking.

"Concentration of resources in the hands of the top 1% depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else - particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder."

The charity called for a "global new deal to reverse decades of increasing inequality".

Its suggestions for leaders due at the Davos summit include:

    Closure of tax havens around the world
    A reversal of "the trend towards more regressive forms of taxation"
    A global minimum corporation tax rate
    Increased investment in free public services and safety nets for people out of work or ill

"As a first step world leaders should formally commit themselves to reducing inequality to the levels seen in 1990," Ms Stocking said.

"From tax havens to weak employment laws, the richest benefit from a global economic system which is rigged in their favour.

"It is time our leaders reformed the system so that it works in the interests of the whole of humanity rather than a global elite."
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Re: What is Democracy
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2013, 08:35:58 AM »
Pro Sweatshop Arguments

In 1997, economist Jeffrey Sachs said, "My concern is not that there are too many sweatshops, but that there are too few."[29] Sachs and other proponents of sweatshops cite the economic theory of comparative advantage, which states that international trade will, in the long run, make all parties better off. The theory holds that developing countries improve their condition by doing something that they do "better" than industrialized nations (in this case, they charge less but do the same work). Developed countries will also be better off because their workers can shift to jobs that they do better. These are jobs that some economists say usually entail a level of education and training that is exceptionally difficult to obtain in the developing world. Thus, economists like Sachs say, developing countries get factories and jobs that they would not otherwise. Some[who?] would say with this situation occurs when developing countries try to increase wages because sweatshops tend to just get moved on to a new state that is more welcoming. This leads to a situation where states often will not try to get increased wages for sweatshop workers for fear of losing investment and boosted GDP. However, this only means average wages around the world will increase at a steady rate. A nation only gets left behind if it demands wages higher than the current market price for that labor.

When asked about the working condition in sweatshops, proponents say that although wages and working conditions may appear inferior by the standards of developed nations, they are actually improvements over what the people in developing countries had before. It is said that if jobs in such factories did not improve their workers' standard of living, those workers would not have taken the jobs when they appeared. It is also often pointed out that, unlike in the industrialized world, the sweatshops are not replacing high-paying jobs. Rather, sweatshops offer an improvement over subsistence farming and other back-breaking tasks, or even prostitution, trash picking, or starvation by unemployment.[29][30]

The absence of the work opportunities provided by sweatshops can quickly lead to malnourishment or starvation. After the Child Labor Deterrence Act was introduced in the US, an estimated 50,000 children were dismissed from their garment industry jobs in Asia, leaving many to resort to jobs such as "stone-crushing, street hustling, and prostitution." UNICEF's 1997 State of the World's Children study found these alternative jobs "more hazardous and exploitative than garment production."[31]

Writer Johan Norberg, a proponent of market economics, points out an irony:[32]
“    [Sweatshop critics] say that we shouldn't buy from countries like Vietnam because of its labor standards, they've got it all wrong. They're saying: "Look, you are too poor to trade with us. And that means that we won't trade with you. We won't buy your goods until you're as rich as we are." That's totally backwards. These countries won't get rich without being able to export goods.    ”

In the Wal-Mart episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, Professor of Economics Benjamin Powell from San Jose State University is interviewed. Professor Powell argues that sweatshop-type jobs in a developing country are often a significant improvement over other employment options (for example, subsistence farming). He further notes that the United States went through its own period of sweatshop labor during its development.[33] According to an article in Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context, sweatshops became prevalent in the United States during the Industrial Revolution. As new jobs in factories began to appear, people left the hard life of farming to work in these factories. Although the working conditions and wages in these factories were very poor, the agricultural nature of the economy shifted into a manufacturing one because of this industrialization. Through this new industrialized economy, sufficient wealth was created and a large middle class began to emerge. The labor movement came about with this rise in the average level of income and factory workers began to demand better wages and working conditions. Through much struggle, workers and advocates were able to achieve basic rights for workers, which included the right to form unions, and negotiate terms such as wages, overtime pay, health insurance, and retirement pensions; and eventually they were also able to attain legal protections such as minimum wage standards, and discrimination and sexual abuse protections. Furthermore, Congress set forth to ensure a minimum set of safety standards were followed in workplaces by passing the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970. These developments were able to improve working environments for Americans but it was through sweatshops that the economy grew and people were able to accumulate wealth and move out of poverty. As Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman states in a 1997 article for Slate, “as manufacturing grows in poor countries, it creates a ripple effect that benefits ordinary people: ‘The pressure on the land becomes less intense, so rural wages rise; the pool of unemployed urban dwellers always anxious for work shrinks, so factories start to compete with each other for workers, and urban wages also begin to rise.’ In time average wages creep up to a level comparable to minimum-wage jobs in the United States.”[34]

In an article about a Nike sweatshop in Vietnam, Johan Norberg wrote, "But when I talk to a young Vietnamese woman, Tsi-Chi, at the factory, it is not the wages she is most happy about. Sure, she makes five times more than she did, she earns more than her husband, and she can now afford to build an extension to her house. But the most important thing, she says, is that she doesn't have to work outdoors on a farm any more... Farming means 10 to 14 hours a day in the burning sun or the intensive rain... The most persistent demand Nike hears from the workers is for an expansion of the factories so that their relatives can be offered a job as well."[35]

According to a November 2001 BBC article, in the previous two months, 100,000 sweatshop workers in Bangladesh had been put off work. The workers petitioned their government to lobby the U.S. government to repeal its trade barriers on their behalf to retain their jobs.[36]

A 2005 article in the Christian Science Monitor states, "For example, in Honduras, the site of the infamous Kathy Lee Gifford sweatshop scandal, the average apparel worker earns $13.10 per day, yet 44 percent of the country's population lives on less than $2 per day... In Cambodia, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras, the average wage paid by a firm accused of being a sweatshop is more than double the average income in that country's economy."[37]

On three documented occasions during the 1990s, anti-sweatshop activists in rich countries have apparently caused increases in child prostitution in poor countries. In Bangladesh, there was a closure of several sweatshops which had been run by a German company, and as a result, thousands of Bangladeshi children who had been working in those sweatshops ended up working as prostitutes, turning to crime, or starving to death. In Pakistan, several sweatshops, including ones run by Nike, Reebok, and other corporations, were closed, which caused those Pakistani children to turn to prostitution. In Nepal, a carpet manufacturing company closed several sweatshops, resulting in thousands of Nepalese girls turning to prostitution.[38]

An October 19, 2008 Associated Press article reported about the Chinese citizens complaining about how the current U.S. economic crises had caused them to lose their sweatshop jobs. The article quoted Wang Wenming, who had lost his job at a Dongguan sweatshop, as saying, "This financial crisis in America is going to kill us. It's already taking food out of our mouths."[39]

Defenders of sweatshops cite Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan as recent examples of countries that benefited from having sweatshops.
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