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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] A Need for Lawyers

Henry K van Eyken wrote:    (01)

> I am not going to say that we don't need more lawyers, because I really
> don't know. What I see happening, though, is that all the extra costs that
> corparations incur (lawyers, advertising, etc.) simply taxes consumers. For
> them, it is just the cost of doing business. So we end up paying for the
> lawyers working both sides of each case.    (02)

I have to disagree. Not that I really want more lawyers, but in this
case the response you point to is *precisely* the point. When damage
awards cut into profits, a lot of money is lost, and that affects stock
prices. And when the "cost of doing business" in a way that is bad for
public health causes the prices of harmful products to go up, then several
things happen:
   1) Those products disappear, because for the same money you
        can get healthy products.
    2) When the number of suppliers of healthy products increases,
         the cost comes down, as a function of supply and demand.
    3) Serious money gets spent to find *healthy* ways to lower
        costs. For example, there is one margarine that advertises
        itself as "trans fat free". Whatever partial hydrogenation
        process they are using would get a humungous shot in the
        arm, and be used everywhere.    (03)

Right, now the cost of doing business is FREE. As a result, none
of this desirable outcomes is occuring.    (04)

OH YEAH. One I forgot to mention. Spam.
I spent $30 on a spam eliminator. It still takes a couple of minutes
every time I read my mail at home to use it and filter out the crap.
At work, I get messages all day. When I hear that beep, I check
my mail because it may be a response to one of the many requests
for information I have sent out, that I need. When it turns out to be
spam, I delete it -- but in that 10 seconds, I have broken my train
of thought and reduced my productivity -- and that happens every
15 minutes or so throughout the day -- because I NEED the information
I'm looking for.    (05)

Who is paying that cost? *I* am. And who is benefitting? Nobody,
as far as I can tell. I can't believe anybody reads that crap. But still,
they send it. Can we get past the direct mail lobbies to create
legislation. Maybe -- when hell is leaning towards tepid. But a lawsuit?
We could do that TODAY. And we don't need to convince 99
congressmen to do it. One judge is all it takes.    (06)

And then there is obesity. Partial hydrogenation has a lot to do with
that. We are now listing obesity as a cause of dozens of diseases.
(Personally, I think that's a foolish confusion of correlation with
causation. But if some credible scientist is saying it, then it can be
used in court. Heck. They give us faulty food. I don't mind giving
them faulty logic.)    (07)

> There is an organization for investigative journalism: nternational
> Consortium of Investigative Journalists: http://www.icij.org  See also
> http://www.public-i.org
> Round organizations such as these out with a way of improved public insight
> into how and where to get info that is reliable. Public computency would be
> a route to take.    (08)

In a perfect work, ruled by omni-present knowlege bases that give all
consumers the information they need at each purchase point, and which
are not controlled by the companies selling the defective merchandise,
that might happen. Am I holding my breath? I don't think any of us are.    (09)

The fact is that the science of partial hydrogenation has been known
for 30 years. It started getting in the books I read (interpretations of
scientific journals) about 10 years ago. I've seen in a few articles
since then, and it made one news broadcast last year. It will still take
another 20 years before it is "common knoweldge".    (010)

That 50-year pace reflects the limit at which we, the public, can
identify and absorb important new information, to the point that it is
reflected in our laws. But how much damage has been done in that
time? How many people have to suffer and die prematurely, before
we call a halt?    (011)

The legal route has the advantage of speed (compared to the
alternative). In addition, the sheer publicity puts pressure on the
corporations involved.    (012)

Another example:
Our foods are so devoid of nutrients that I have to take supplements.
And I pay for them. Only I'm not that religious about it. At the Colgan
Institute, where they deal with athletes, they rely on supplementation,
because they can't rely on the food. They did a lot of careful testing.
You could pick one orange out of a pile and find 400 mg. of Vit. C.
Right on spec. The one next to it? Zero.    (013)

What we have are cases where some people are allowed to make a
profit, because other people underwrite the cost of their malfeasance.
The list so far is:
      * Lung cancer
      * Breast cancer
      * Water
      * Nutritional supplements
      * Spam    (014)

And that's just off the top of my head. When you see the real list
of diseases that partially hydrogenated oils are implicated in, it's
scary. Then there are thalidomide, saccarchine, high-fructose
corn syrup, and aspartame. The list goes on and on. At some
point, the count of potential infractions adds up to "depraved
indifference" on the part of one or more mega corporations.    (015)

To the degree that *we* pay the costs, while *others* reap
profits stemming from those very costs -- to that exact degree
we are "serfs", making money for the lords we "serve".    (016)

Do I want to see people make a profit? You bet! It's the number
one social mechanism in the world for getting what we need,
when we need it, at the lowest possible cost, in the highest
possible volume.    (017)