NY Times: Big Chem, Big Harm? – A Commentary by “Rothschild”

“Rothschild” Response and Commentary on this NY Times article.

The obfuscation of truth and health threats by big business has always been something that has enraged me.  But before I say “regulate!” I ask, what is the role of Government?  I’m not sure what the general public thinks the contemporary role of Government is, but according to the constitution of the United States; the role of government, is to protect the Rights of the People.  Article 1-4 describe the role of the Legislative, Executive, Judiciary, and the States. The 1st 10 Amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, describe, not what people may do, or are permitted to do, but what the Government, “Shall Not” do.

“It is not because men have made laws that personality, liberty, and property exist.  On the contrary, it is because personality, liberty, and property exist beforehand, that men make laws. What then is Law?  As I have said elsewhere, it is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense…

If every man has the right of defending, even by force, his person, his liberty, and his property, a number of men have the right to combine together to extend, to organize a common force to provide regularly for this defense.

Collective right, then, has its principle, it’s reason for existing, it’s lawfulness, in INDIVIDUAL right; and the common force cannot rationally have any other end, or any other mission, than that of the isolated forces for which it is substituted.  Thus, as the force of an individual cannot lawfully touch the person, the liberty, or the property of another individual — for the same reason, the common force cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, the liberty, or the property of individuals or of classes.” – Frederic Bastiat, “The Law”, 1850

Now that being said, I believe it is the responsibility of the individual to protect one’s self, but also the responsibility of the stronger and better equipped to protect the weaker and less equipped. Human life and human liberty are the most valuable things in society, and it is the role of society to protect both life and Liberty first, and property rights shortly after. I do not put property rights on complete equal footing, because I don’t believe that we truly own anything, but are stewards of God’s gifts to us, and that the preservation of human life is of the upmost of importance, even if that means the sacrifice of one’s own life. I maintain the Christian world view that promotes the sacrifice of the individual for his fellow man; as these scriptures exemplify  “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of  God be that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:16-18, 22, 23 NIV)” also “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12, 13 NIV)”. And, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1 NIV)” as well as, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7, 8 NIV)”

Now the reason being that Christians promote this perspective is based upon this concept, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 NIV)”

What is important and historically shaping, by those that maintain this world view, is that man is not an animal, but was created special, with a likeness to God, not in a physical representation, but by the fact that we have volition, reason, creativity, humor,  a desire for fellowship, and a moral accounting of ones own actions.

I present these verses, not to get preachy, but to present the foundational elements of the concept of Law based upon the preservation of life, liberty and property. Earlier I mentioned how property comes after life an liberty, but is still very important, because property can be a preserver of both life and liberty, and can threaten the persistence of both if itself is threatened.

Now in response to the article and actions of Big Chem, I would say that much of what big chem does, threatens all three aspects of humanity that the Law is designed to protect.  Chemical pollution threatens, our health (life) and environment (liberty and property).  It is the responsibility of the perpetrator (the individuals who form the collective of Big Chem) to abide by the Law (preservation of LLP (life liberty and property)), and it is the responsibility of the rest of society to defend themselves individually or collectively if the collective of Big Chem acts with lawlessness.

The unfortunate reality is that we as individuals don’t use our ability as customers to influence the actions of the “Big” Collectives. We are just as guilty as they are because we continue to purchase their products. One might say that we can’t avoid it and that we are held hostage by the ubiquitousness of their products in our lives, that may be so, but we also demand a certain living standard and are not willing to toss away the conveniences of plastics and the like. One might also argue that such chemicals have allowed the population to increase because we’ve been able to feed, cloth, house, and doctor people into longer lives, with greater prosperity. And again one might argue that it could have been done with cleaner chemicals, and then the argument could turn to the concept of disclosure, obfuscation, and responsibility. Did Big Chem know of such baddies as BPA? Did they know what it could do to the human body and environment?  For how long have they known?  Could they have avoided it in their products?  How were they disposing of their waste products? Who is responsible? Should heads roll?

The question of disclosure is a huge one.  If a collective is knowingly producing something that is harmful, but is presenting it as a product which is not harmful, they are acting with lawlessness, and justice should be sought. If the media knows of the danger, it is their responsibility as the whistle blowers to make the public aware. Once the public is aware, it is their responsibility to stop buying the product, and to seek justice. If Lawlessness had occurred by the hands of the collective, those in leadership positions should face criminal penalties. And if we are talking about justice, such penalties should be equivalent or greater than the penalties that we enact upon such minor law breakers such as petty thieves and drug users. It enrages me to see a drug user deprived of liberty and property for risking his own LLP, but a white collar criminal who pays almost no penalty for threatening the LLP of many.

So, I put the blame partially on ourselves for not seeking justice for the wrongs done to us by white collar criminals. Also, we allow white collar criminals to retreat behind the corporate personhood of the collectives they serve, and avoid responsibility for their individual actions among the collective. In Nuremberg we did not let the “I was only following orders” excuse, excuse the individual from lawlessness, and we should not allow that same excuse today within the modern corporation. An individual is a moral agent with the ability to know right and wrong inherently. If they are asked by another to act with lawlessness, it is their responsibility with in society to sacrifice their perks of employment, and to blow the whistle, rather than succumb to lawlessness.

I also put blame upon the American people for continuing to reelect politicians rather than peers to the legislative and executive branches of government. Politicians genetically are predisposed to lawlessness, and therefore can’t be trusted with the preservation of LLP.  We have the perfect example in the upcoming election, a Goldman Sachs man, vs a Goldman Sachs man. The people loose either way.

That brings me to my next thought. We the people failed again in regard to protecting our own LLP by allowing monopolies to exist, a Monopoly can only exist when the governing body creates the conditions for such a collective to thrive, and destroy current and future competitors. In fact our government is in the Monopoly creating business; which brings the argument full circle.  To regulate, or not to regulate?

“Competition is a sin”, John D Rockefeller, Standard Oil.

JDR was a big proponent of using the legislative branch to create regulations that were unfavorable to his competition, yet favorable to himself. He used Lobby Groups to propose regulating his own industry in order to put the other guys out of business and consolidate power and influence. He may be dead but his progeny are not.  David R. is still kicking, and I’m sure old John has hundreds of great great grand children ruling the wood paneled board rooms of many of the fortune 500.  They certainly haven’t forgotten the old man’s quote, and haven’t forgotten how to wield the reigns of the politicians.

If we say regulate, are we helping ourselves or are we helping the big boys? Who are the lobby groups pushing for regulation? Who owns the media outlets promoting the concept? Who is responsible for the lawlessness that has brought the idea of regulation to the forefront? Shall we have their heads instead? People are motivated by incentives, and corporate heads on proverbial spikes would be a much greater incentive than the stern warning by a regulatory commission and some obscenely small fine and a slap on the wrist. I seek justice, not regulation. I also seek responsibility on our part, we did not secede responsibility at the ballot box.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to see Big Chem (and all his buddies, pharma, agro, auto, banking, etc) go down, but I don’t want to create an environment that while doing so I reduce the Liberty of myself and my fellow man, and increase the power structure of The politicians.

– “Rothschild”

August 25, 2012

NEW research is demonstrating that some common chemicals all around us may be even more harmful than previously thought. It seems that they may damage us in ways that are transmitted generation after generation, imperiling not only us but also our descendants.

Yet following the script of Big Tobacco a generation ago, Big Chem has, so far, blocked any serious regulation of these endocrine disruptors, so called because they play havoc with hormones in the body’s endocrine system.

One of the most common and alarming is bisphenol-A, better known as BPA. The failure to regulate it means that it is unavoidable. BPA is found in everything from plastics to canned food to A.T.M. receipts. More than 90 percent of Americans have it in their urine.

Even before the latest research showing multigeneration effects, studies had linked BPA to breast cancer and diabetes, as well as to hyperactivity, aggression and depression in children.

Maybe it seems surprising to read a newspaper column about chemical safety because this isn’t an issue in the presidential campaign or even firmly on the national agenda. It’s not the kind of thing that we in the news media cover much.

Yet the evidence is growing that these are significant threats of a kind that Washington continually fails to protect Americans from. The challenge is that they involve complex science and considerable uncertainty, and the chemical companies — like the tobacco companies before them — create financial incentives to encourage politicians to sit on the fence. So nothing happens.

Yet although industry has, so far, been able to block broad national curbs on BPA, new findings on transgenerational effects may finally put a dent in Big Chem’s lobbying efforts.

One good sign: In late July, a Senate committee, for the first, time passed the Safe Chemicals Act, landmark legislation sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, that would begin to regulate the safety of chemicals.

Evidence of transgenerational effects of endocrine disruptors has been growing for a half-dozen years, but it mostly involved higher doses than humans would typically encounter.

Now Endocrinology, a peer-reviewed journal, has published a study measuring the impact of low doses of BPA. The study is devastating for the chemical industry.

Pregnant mice were exposed to BPA at dosages analogous to those humans typically receive. The offspring were less sociable than control mice (using metrics often used to assess an aspect of autism in humans), and various effects were also evident for the next three generations of mice.

The BPA seemed to interfere with the way the animals processed hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin, which affect trust and warm feelings. And while mice are not humans, research on mouse behavior is a standard way to evaluate new drugs or to measure the impact of chemicals.

“It’s scary,” said Jennifer T. Wolstenholme, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia and the lead author of the report. She said that the researchers found behaviors in BPA-exposed mice and their descendants that may parallel autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder in humans.

Emilie Rissman, a co-author who is professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at University of Virginia Medical School, noted that BPA doesn’t cause mutations in DNA. Rather, the impact is “epigenetic” — one of the hot concepts in biology these days — meaning that changes are transmitted not in DNA but by affecting the way genes are turned on and off.

In effect, this is a bit like evolution through transmission of acquired characteristics — the theory of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the 19th-century scientist whom high school science classes make fun of as a foil to Charles Darwin. In epigenetics, Lamarck lives.

“These results at low doses add profoundly to concerns about endocrine disruptors,” said John Peterson Myers, chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences. “It’s going to be harder than just eliminating exposure to one generation.”

The National Institutes of Health is concerned enough that it expects to make transgenerational impacts of endocrine disruptors a priority for research funding, according to a spokeswoman, Robin Mackar.

Like a lot of Americans, I used to be skeptical of risks from chemicals like endocrine disruptors that are all around us. What could be safer than canned food? I figured that opposition came from tree-hugging Luddites prone to conspiracy theories.

Yet, a few years ago, I began to read the peer-reviewed journal articles, and it became obvious that the opposition to endocrine disruptors is led by toxicologists, endocrinologists, urologists and pediatricians. These are serious scientists, yet they don’t often have the ear of politicians or journalists.

I’m hoping these new studies can help vault the issue onto the national stage. Threats to us need to be addressed, even if they come not from Iranian nuclear weapons, but from things as banal as canned soup and A.T.M. receipts.

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