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[P]
Bill to Promote the Proliferation of the Modern Diesel

By Burning Straw Man in Op-Ed
Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 07:06:59 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

According to an article I read today on CNN Money, the House is about to introduce a bill to promote diesel sales by offering a tax credit to fuel companies which produce low sulfur diesel. While in general I try to follow the adage of "if the government can stay out of it, they should", this bill hits a few of my hot spots.


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The modern diesel is exploding in popularity in Europe, "where about a third of light-duty vehicles sold each year are diesels". However, current U.S. regulations have restricted the engines. In any case, to cut a long story short, I will include the letter I wrote to my representative on the subject. I believe it contains the necessary information.

Congressman Price,

I wanted to express my support of a bill about to be introduced by Michigan's Representative Dingell. The bill intends to encourage sales of more diesel cars, by providing tax credits for oil companies that produce low-sulfur fuel.

I read about the bill at CNN: http://money.cnn.com/2002/08/28/pf/autos/diesel/index.htm

I drive a Volkswagen Golf TDI, a modern, clean turbo-diesel engine. I have a lifetime average of slightly over 50 miles per gallon. With low-sulfur fuel, currently only available in California and other select locations, my mileage would improve, and my emissions would be less!

The bill purports to also include some specific directives to automobile manufacturers. I would like to see a limit on these directives, supporting only those manufacturers who build responsible vehicles, not 7000-lb. 12-MPG SUVs marketed to the general public as personal transportation.

However, I would like to ADD to the bill even more support for producers and retailers of BIO-diesel. This is home-grown diesel fuel, made from organic oil, such as soybean, even kitchen grease.

For more information about biodiesel:
http://www.biodiesel.org/

I encourage you to do the research yourself, and look into the emissions and efficiency of the modern diesel engine. I believe this bill will help the environment in North Carolina by encouraging the production and purchase of the more efficient modern diesel engine automobiles. By adding further support for producers and retailers of the incredibly clean, renewable fuel source Bio-Diesel, you would be helping to encourage the growth of this industry into North Carolina.

Currently, there are no bio-diesel filling stations in the state:
http://www.biodiesel.org/buyingbiodiesel/retailfuelingsites/default.shtm

I affirm that I am a voting resident of North Carolina's 4th district. My family and I reside in Durham.

For more information:
http://www.greendieseltechnology.com/
http://www.veggievan.org/
http://www.howstuffworks.com/diesel.htm

[note: letter presented unchanged except for added emphasis in blatant attempt to extract foot from mouth]

But why should the government get involved? Because it already is involved. Gasoline-Electric Hybrid vehicles like the new Honda Civic and Toyota Prius get similar mileage and produce nearly identical emissions, but those two vehicles can get you a hefty "clean fuel" $2000 tax break.

So the government can either get out of the business altogether, or continue on the way of using legislation and funds to fight both sides of the issue.

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Poll
Diesel is:
o the future of the combustion engine! 37%
o dirty, smelly, worse than gasoline! 15%
o we want borax engines! 10%
o bring on the perpetual motion flywheel engine! 35%

Votes: 64
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o article
o http://mon ey.cnn.com/2002/08/28/pf/autos/diesel/index.htm
o http://www .biodiesel.org/
o http://www .biodiesel.org/buyingbiodiesel/retailfuelingsites/default.shtm
o http://www .greendieseltechnology.com/
o http://www .veggievan.org/
o http://www .howstuffworks.com/diesel.htm
o Also by Burning Straw Man


Display: Sort:
Bill to Promote the Proliferation of the Modern Diesel | 166 comments (152 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Question (3.33 / 3) (#1)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 12:53:08 PM EST

If modern diesel is so much better than gasoline, why do we need government intervention in order to support its acceptance? Shouldn't the marketplace determine which fuel we use? I guess I'm just trying to understand the drawback. There has to be one.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
drawback (4.33 / 3) (#2)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:04:08 PM EST

In my (biased) opinion, the main problem with diesels finding acceptance in the US is because of the absolutely horrible old-clunker diesels from the mid 1970s. Sluggish, loud, and dirty.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
True (none / 0) (#8)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:26:59 PM EST

A guy I know used to drive one of those old Mercedes diesel rattlers. Sounded like a rusty lawnmower, and it got roughly the same mileage.

But I don't believe that the only reason diesels aren't selling is because of their legacy. I've heard great things about the TDI.. a diesel engine is actually a simpler concept than a petroleum one. So what's the problem? I guess cold starts are an issue but any modern diesel warms the engine block..

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

the problem (none / 0) (#14)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:50:52 PM EST

IMNSHO...
  1. People buying modern diesels are generally doing it because they are trying to get high-mileage cars.
  2. A modern diesel has roughly the same mileage as a hybrid gas-electric. So they are in the same market.
  3. People who buy hybrids can get $2000 tax break.
The government has created the situation by giving these tax breaks.

Either get rid of the tax break for hybrids, or create one for the diesels, because they are roughly the same emissions/mileage/etc/etc.

Except of course, when you race a modern diesel v. a hybrid. Then they are very different beasts. Test drive both, uphill. Also, get on the highway with both, going 55. Try to accelerate to 65, as if you were trying to pass someone. Hint: the diesel will do both easily. The hybrid will choke.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

no problem here (none / 0) (#53)
by flinkflonk on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 05:15:15 PM EST

1. People buying modern diesels are generally doing it because they are trying to get high-mileage cars.
And remember, this goes both for miles/gallon and lifetime. Yes, a Diesel engine has a much longer life expectancy than a gasoline engine.
2. A modern diesel has roughly the same mileage as a hybrid gas-electric. So they are in the same market.
Except the hybrid gas-electric is a) generating more greenhouse gases (because of the gasoline engine), even if it's running on electricity half the time. And b) it's more expensive, which brings us to...
3. People who buy hybrids can get $2000 tax break.
Well, ok, I'm not living in the US so this US tax cut is quite irrelevant here. But it's one of the reasons you have hybrids and they're just about unknown over here in Europe. And I can't see how hybrids could ever have had a chance without that tax cut.
That said, I have a Golf TDI and am very pleased with it. I wasn't with the Ford Escort Diesel I had before, for reasons I'll not bore you with here. Just let it be said that Ford has a long way to go when it comes to Diesel engines (and car-building as such, I've never driven a car that unpredictable...). I've heard rumours US Diesels made by Ford and GM are even worse than this particular car/engine, but I have no first-hand experience with those.

--
Verb is a noun, which simply isn't fair. Fair is a noun or an adjective. Adjective is a noun, but can also be an adjective, as can most English nouns. Go figure, which is both a noun and a verb and good advice.
[ Parent ]
Cummins (none / 0) (#16)
by crowbraid on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:55:06 PM EST

I have a Cummins diesel in my pickup, and they tell me it has 40% fewer parts than a gasoline V8. There is a weight penalty, however, as it does weigh nearly 1000 pounds, while a V8 weighs, umm, around 600-700. Right, my truck uses a manifold heater, so cold starts (I've started it right up in temperatures down to -20) hasn't been a problem. The mpg (miles per gallon) is quite a bit better than a gasoline V8 as well. Mine gets 20mpg solo, and 13mpg towing a 5 ton fifth wheel, while the equilivalent V8 under the same circumstances would get around 15mpg solo and 10mpg towing.

[ Parent ]
legacy has a lot to do with it (none / 0) (#103)
by StackyMcRacky on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 05:44:49 PM EST

my family and friends were horrified when they found out i bought a TDI. "the smell!" "the noise!" "you'll have to change your fuel filter every 3rd day!" although i have proven them all wrong, they still don't trust my car.



[ Parent ]
Did a little reading (4.66 / 3) (#11)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:47:16 PM EST

Well, I did a little reading and it would seem that modern diesels, even biodiesel, are still dirtier than gasoline. Low-sulfur fuel and particle filters reduce emissions, so I guess that's what you're going for. You should make that clear, because a casual reader might leave the article thinking that your Golf TDI is cleaner than a standard gas engine. In reality, it's much dirtier.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
you moron (1.75 / 4) (#21)
by Shren on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 02:23:38 PM EST

Let's just lay it out simple so it's not complicated for you.

Which is cleaner?

  1. Gasoline
  2. Hybrid Gasoline/Electric
  3. Diesel
  4. Hybrid Diesel/Electric
  5. Biodiesel
  6. Hybrid Biodiesel/Electric
  7. The towel in my bathroom
The answer is 6. It has 'bio' in the title, and 2000 dollars from the US government can't be all wrong.

--
Just because it's all-natural doesn't mean it's good for you. Hemlock is all-natural.

[ Parent ]

depends on the kind of dirt (4.50 / 2) (#23)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 02:26:35 PM EST

particle emissions, yes, the TDI is dirtier. pounds of greenhouse gasses, no, the gasser will produce much more greenhouse gas (aka "smog").

and I can't believe the article doesn't stress strongly enough about the desire for low-sulfur fuel -- I must have edited something when I meant to zig.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Clean diesel (none / 0) (#30)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:13:26 PM EST

I just thought you implied that any modern diesel was cleaner than gasoline.. you did put in that once you ran low-sulfur in your car, it'd be cleaner. So I guess you're right.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
re: clean diesel (none / 0) (#35)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:42:05 PM EST

any modern diesel is cleaner than gasoline. it just depends on your definition of "clean" :) even current "sulfurous" diesel fuel produces much better mileage, and takes much less energy to refine.

but if particulate emissions, a.k.a. "soot", are what you are talking about being "clean" or not, then obviously current U.S. diesel is not as "clean".
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

smog != greenhouse gas (none / 0) (#59)
by rhino1302 on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 08:13:42 PM EST

Smog is mostly due to particulates (smoke + fog = smog), and yes, diesels are much worse than gasoline motors. Particulates are not a major greenhouse contributer, at least on the global level.

You are right about there being a trade-off on emissions. Generally speaking, the higher the combustion temperature in a diesel, the lower the emissions, and the higher the efficiency. However, higher combustion temperatures actually increase Nitrous Oxide emissions, which are further increased by the use of biodiesel. I know the big truck diesels have been having a real rough time with that trade-off. I seem to remember a year or two ago, the major diesel manufacturers were complaining that there was no way they could meet some proposed emission standards. I wonder what happend to that...

IMHO, the major failing of the environmental movement is it's inability to rationally deal with these sorts of trade-offs. For example, my town's water supply is marginally over the limit for arsenic (natural phenomena, not put there by some evil corporation). Should we spend $10 million to upgrade the water treatment facility for something that's most probably not a problem, or should we use that money to decrease overcrowding in the high school?



[ Parent ]
also (5.00 / 4) (#3)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:16:20 PM EST

Despite the fact that a modern diesel is just as efficient as the latest hybrids (e.g., Honda Civic, Toyota Prius), the latter two vehicles make you eligible for a $2000 tax break in the US. So the US is encouraging heavily refined gasoline and caustic batteries, which has the net effect of discouraging diesel.

Compare a 2002 Golf diesel v. the Honda Civic and Toyota Prius hybrids at this government site. Quick hint: nearly identical greenhouse gasses and mileage. But the latter two have little "tax break!" icons next to them. And the latter two use gasoline. The diesel can be powered by US-grown biodiesel.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Supply? (none / 0) (#22)
by dipierro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 02:24:46 PM EST

The diesel can be powered by US-grown biodiesel.

Can it? I was under the impression that there was a very low supply of US-grown biodiesel.

What do you use?



[ Parent ]
If you read the article... (none / 0) (#24)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 02:28:57 PM EST

... it says that there are no biodiesel filling stations in my state.

Thus, the logical conclusion is that I must be using regular diesel. Half of the point of the article is supposed to be that I don't have access to biodiesel. I must have really done something wrong if that didn't get across...
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Rhetorical question (none / 0) (#26)
by dipierro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 02:52:30 PM EST

My question as to what you use was rhetorical. My point was that you say that "diesel can be powered by US-grown biodiesel," but I'm not sure this is true in actual implementation. I have read that the supply of US-grown biodiesel is far to low to be used for more than a very small percentage of cars in the U.S.

[ Parent ]
I believe (none / 0) (#31)
by krek on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:14:50 PM EST

that that has more to do with low demands, or should I say low expectations of demand. Just because there is a dirth of US produced biodiesel at the moment, does not mean that diesel engines cannot be powered by it once there is a ready supply.

I would say that the author was directly addressing this problem. 'Can' does not imply 'will'. What is your point then?

[ Parent ]
My point (none / 0) (#32)
by dipierro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:30:26 PM EST

Doesn't expending energy producing biodiesel kind of defeat the purpose of using biodiesel in the first place? If you want to lower taxes on biodiesel to reflect the slightly lowered emissions, fine, but I doubt that's going to suddenly solve the problem that there simply isn't that much biodiesel available.

[ Parent ]
no, but... (none / 0) (#34)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:40:04 PM EST

... as was pointed out already in these threads, things like this will solve that problem.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
They say they will (none / 0) (#43)
by dipierro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 04:11:12 PM EST

I guess we'll have to wait until Fall of 2002 to see. Like I said, if biodiesel cause 50% of the pollution of regular diesel, then I see no problem with lowering the taxes by 50%. If it then becomes cost effective to use biodiesel, then so much better. If not, then it's not something we should be wasting taxpayer money on.

[ Parent ]
taxpayer money (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 04:18:44 PM EST

Yes, wasting taxpayer money, like illegal foreign wars, and existing tax credits for electric hybrids.

Okay, I didn't need to add the "illegal foreign wars" barb. sometimes I just can't help myself!
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Electric hybrids (none / 0) (#48)
by dipierro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 04:25:25 PM EST

is a completely different situation, because it is the car itself which is saving the energy, not the fuel.

That said, I disagree with tax breaks for those who use electric hybrids.  The tax break should be factored into the cost the of the fuel.

[ Parent ]

What are you talking about? (none / 0) (#37)
by krek on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:46:16 PM EST

In what way does "expending energy producing biodiesel kind of defeat the purpose of using biodiesel in the first place"? I assume that an equal if not greater amount of energy must be consumed in order to get the oil out of the ground and then to refine it. Besides, I again assume that the energy required to produce the biodiesel could easily be generated by the use of biodiesel, once the supply chain is up to snuff that is.

Again, the only valid reason for there not being enough biodiesel available is that the demand has not been generated in sufficient quantities to make the production of biodiesel a profitable activity. A little public education and some industry leaders who are willing to take a small risk should very quickly get a thriving biodiesel industry up and running.

[ Parent ]
Convice me why biodiesel is worth it then (none / 0) (#42)
by dipierro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 04:08:32 PM EST

I assume that an equal if not greater amount of energy must be consumed in order to get the oil out of the ground and then to refine it. Besides, I again assume that the energy required to produce the biodiesel could easily be generated by the use of biodiesel, once the supply chain is up to snuff that is.

What basis do you have for those assumptions? Also, don't forget that biodiesel does pollute. Using biodiesel to produce biodiesel defeats the whole purpose of using biodiesel in the first place.

Again, the only valid reason for there not being enough biodiesel available is that the demand has not been generated in sufficient quantities to make the production of biodiesel a profitable activity.

Agreed.

A little public education and some industry leaders who are willing to take a small risk should very quickly get a thriving biodiesel industry up and running.

Why is that a good thing?



[ Parent ]
Fair enough (none / 0) (#49)
by krek on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 04:33:25 PM EST

Given that biodiesel pollutes as much or more than regular gas, then, yes, there is very little point to developing a thriving biodiesel industry other than independance from various oil monopolies, and significantly less damage to the environment in terms of extraction.

But the general consensus is that biodiesel is less polluting than normal petrolium based gasolines, and thus, my basis, and thus, why it is a good thing.

You do realise that pollution is not an on/off situation, that some things may pollute more than others and, therefore, while not perfect, do provide a better solution, right?

[ Parent ]
Normal petrolium based gasolines are already taxed (none / 0) (#51)
by dipierro on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 04:53:40 PM EST

But the general consensus is that biodiesel is less polluting than normal petrolium based gasolines, and thus, my basis, and thus, why it is a good thing.

I just want to clarify that we're completely off the topic of the original post at this point, since the bill the author was promoting was about tax credits for "low sulfur diesel," not biodiesel.

You do realise that pollution is not an on/off situation, that some things may pollute more [presumably you meant less] than others and, therefore, while not perfect, do provide a better solution, right?

Yes, and as I said in another post, if biodiesel pollutes 50% less than regular diesel, then it should be taxed 50% less. I'm under the impression that biodiesel is currently not taxed at all, and yet we still don't see many people using it. Perhaps that's because it's not a viable fuel source? That's my opinion, which I'll gladly change if someone points me to information otherwise, but until then I'm going to assume that's the case.

Is something that pollutes less a better solution than something which pollutes more? Maybe. It depends how much less, and how much more it costs to produce. If the least pollution was the best solution then we'd be using wind power for everything, or something. (Actually when I played Sim City I used to build mountains and then use hydropower, maybe that's the best solution).



[ Parent ]
OT: inbox.org (none / 0) (#101)
by Burning Straw Man on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 04:22:19 PM EST

How do you like inbox.org? I just signed up for a trial, looks short and sweet. Needs a K5 ad if it is what it claims to be.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
I think it's great (none / 0) (#108)
by dipierro on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 08:03:41 PM EST

of course, I run it :)

[ Parent ]
so where's my account? :) (none / 0) (#124)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 10:27:32 AM EST

any possibility of adding some SPAM filters (or publishing your SPAM router block lists, if any -- the SPAMCOP link is nice), (ad-free) Webmail access, etc? I'd probably pay more than $5/year for clean, ad-free web email.

more details I'm interested in:

  1. do you use any encryption for passwords (i.e., POP3 and IMAP support some kinds of encryption on passwords).
  2. do you have a privacy policy? I know it probably sounds like over-kill... maybe there should be an "open privacy policy" that a lot of sites could use, like, "we will never ever do anything with any of your data, except as directed by you" but in legalese.
  3. either bandwidth or traffic caps? I'd prefer the former, but the best solutions I've seen are hybrids. i.e., bandwidth cap at 128 kbps for first X MB, cap goes down to 16 kbps after that.
with a great site like "inbox.org" I would love to see the following tools:
  1. ability to create hundreds of "myfakename-xxxxx@inbox.org" which forward to "myrealname@inbox.org". I do this at home, e.g., "caveman-k5@caveman.org" to forward to my real account, in case I start getting a lot of SPAM in my real inbox addressed to the fake email.
  2. simple forwarding tools
  3. simple info for finger-daemon (very optional)
sorry for all the k5 questions, probably should just send an email...
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
It's there (none / 0) (#128)
by dipierro on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 11:11:42 AM EST

I just sent you the password and details. The signup process isn't automated yet. Spamassassin (slightly tweaked) is turned on by default and will add "*****SPAM*****" to the subject of emails it thinks are spam. If you want to change that to either block it completely (which I wouldn't recommend because there are nonzero false positives) or not change the subject, send us an email. SSL based POP and IMAP are available (use upstart.securesites.com ports 995 and 993 respectively. There is no webmail access at this time. At least none I'm going to admit to. The myfakename thing we're actually working on. I currently do it with my own accounts, semi-manually. But it's been put to the side because we didn't think there'd be much interest. Forwarding we're considering, but we're somewhat concerned about bandwidth usage. There aren't any direct caps other than the aggregate ones set by my hosting provider. If you expect to be using a lot of bandwidth let us know, and we might have to work something out. If you send spam your account will be shut off and you will be sued for damages. We don't have any plans at this time to offer finger services. Basically I think you see why we haven't advertised it on K5 yet. It's just a barebones POP/IMAP service right now.

[ Parent ]
more ideas... (none / 0) (#129)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 11:38:43 AM EST

referral program. since you already use paypal, for every person I refer to inbox.org, I get a $1. basically that way it would be kinda like buy 5 accounts, get 1 free.

and I have no intentions of using inbox to send spam! basically I am a -very- light email user. maybe 3-5 personal messages a day, usually 10-15 lines of text, no attachments. I was asking about the caps to protect me from greedy users :)
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Spam... (none / 0) (#143)
by dipierro on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 10:02:19 PM EST

Yeah, I phrased the spam warning poorly, I guess. My intention wasn't to imply that you might be thinking about spamming, but more to ensure you that we take it very seriously. I personally am a big believer that ISPs have the power to virtually eliminate spam, and that they should use it.

[ Parent ]
problems (none / 0) (#148)
by Burning Straw Man on Sat Aug 31, 2002 at 11:59:36 AM EST

still no actual reception of incoming mail. i can connect to the SMTP, POP, and IMAP servers (as well as the SSL ones, thanks!) but all incoming mail seems to magically disappear. I sent a note to the link from inbox.org -- if things work out I definitely have some friends who'll be signing up as well.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
Just sent a test (none / 0) (#149)
by dipierro on Sat Aug 31, 2002 at 12:29:35 PM EST

which appeared to go through the system. I sent you an email at your other account, as well. There were setup problems that were fixed last night.

[ Parent ]
thanks (none / 0) (#150)
by Burning Straw Man on Sat Aug 31, 2002 at 05:32:36 PM EST

everything's rolling smoothly, now.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
The unfortunate truth (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by SomeGuy on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 10:45:55 PM EST

Biodiesel would require a massive amount of agricultural production to support, far more than is currently needed for food (at least in the U.S.). A gallon of gasoline is ~31,000 Calories, compared to the human consumption average of ~2500 Calories. According to one website I found, the U.S. uses 700 million gallons of gasoline a day. That's ~3 gallons/person, or 93,000 Calories of gasoline burned per person per day: approximately 40 times what we consume. Even factoring in the "inefficiency" of feeding grain to cows, pigs, etc., that's still several times our current agricultural production needed for 100% replacement of gasoline with biodiesel -- and that's not even factoring in that the biomass -> biodiesel conversion is itself not 100% efficient.

[ Parent ]
Finally (none / 0) (#97)
by krek on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 03:55:29 PM EST

A valid reason as to why biodiesel is not as good as it may, at first, seem. Thank you.

Do you happen to know what sort of crop is required to produce biodiesel? Everything that I hear speaks of vegetable oil and waste from frying french fries. This does not seem to me that they have looked very hard at the sources of biodiesel. I know that there is a bush that grows in southern California, that contains some sort of extremely flammable oil, and is responsible for the large majority of the brush fires that occur in that area. Has anyone ever looked at that plant as a potentially superior source of biofuel, has anyone ever looked at agricultural methods that would maximise the biodiesel output of biodiesel producing plants rather than maximising for nutrition or raw yield?

My question is, has anyone ever really looked at ways of amking it feasible, or is biodiesel just one of the latest buzz-words?

[ Parent ]
They are making BioDiesel feasible (none / 0) (#102)
by poopi on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 05:03:36 PM EST

Biox

-----

"It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - chimera
[ Parent ]

cool, thanks (none / 0) (#120)
by krek on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 09:44:29 AM EST

It doesn't say much about the cultivation needs though does it?

I just found out that some percentage of the Montreal public bus fleet has been converted to biodiesel for a trial period, I am not sure what the percentage is as they seem to be keeping it secret.

[ Parent ]
Biodiesel (none / 0) (#130)
by Eccles on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 12:01:54 PM EST

Do you happen to know what sort of crop is required to produce biodiesel?

It can be generated via a number of processes and thus from a number of different crops. However, yield and cost are huge issues. Crops high in oil generally are optimal for biodiesel creation. To keep costs down, typically producers look for situations where they can use the waste products from food production -- which can be purchased cheaply and is a win-win environmentally -- rather than large-scale farming. Certainly research has been done into what crops have the best potential yield, though.

But I'm no expert. I suggest a library or a little time spent web-searching, there is some useful material on the net.

[ Parent ]
What market? (5.00 / 5) (#6)
by inerte on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:23:28 PM EST

USA's governament tries to control oil's prices with any means they can find. How come will the market decide when, for example, you have eletric propulsion, but almost none investing on it, marketing it, using it, because oil companies command some governament sections and have massive ad budgets?

There's no market decision on oil.

--
Now see if YOU can understand what I write.


[ Parent ]
governmental control of oil prices (none / 0) (#40)
by lonemarauder on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:58:38 PM EST

USA's governament tries to control oil's prices with any means they can find.

Ever heard of OPEC?



[ Parent ]
Because government intervention already keeps it o (none / 0) (#158)
by strlen on Mon Sep 02, 2002 at 04:49:45 PM EST

Because government intervention already keeps it out. There's an excellent diesel engine, available for passenger cars, called TDI (Turbo Diesel, Direct Injection),which is manufactured by Volkswagen. From a 1.9 liter engine, it produces 150 lb/ft of torque (enough to pass that asshole doing 55 in the leftlane without even needing to downshift), and 90 hp (seems like little, but that's more than all the hybrids, the car it's sold in is also light weight, the hp comes at a begining of the power band (not at the end like on a Honda Civic)). In fact, if it wasn't for high sulfur content of non-biodisel, and other shitty US-spec diesel, we'd also be able to get the 2.5 TDI, which makes 150 hp (which combined with a light vehicle is not only enough hp, but also tons of fun). But wait.. Volkswagen can only sell 2,000 of these vehicles in California, if not even less. Because of government interference (CA emissions laws, even though the TDI is a very clean engine compared to other diesels, and diesel pollution also settled on the ground, rasther then enters the atmosphere; biodesiel is even cleaner). So I think, the problem isn't that the diesels are bad, it's because there's already government interference to keep them out.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Biodiesel (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by acoustiq on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:46:51 PM EST

I few weeks ago I was in the Canon Envirothon competition, where during an "off" (i.e. not competing but listening to presentations and visiting local agencies) day I learned about biodiesel. Biodiesel, since it is made of renewable resources such as soybeans, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and has fewer emissions than petro diesel. IIRC, they told us that it can even smell like popcorn when a truck is running off it! One major reason to use biodiesel is that it requires absolutely no change in the engine to use. Every legacy vehicle can take advantage of biodiesel now. It costs marginally more than petro diesel, but that cost, I believe, is outweighed by its numerous benefits. I will support any action by the government to encourage the use of biodiesel, and you should, too!

--
"When someone says, 'I want a programming language in which I need only say what I want done,' give him a lollipop." - Alan Perlis
Biodiesel is still much dirtier than petroleum -NT (none / 0) (#13)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:48:51 PM EST



--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Howso? (nt) (none / 0) (#25)
by ekips on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 02:51:24 PM EST



-----------------

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. If this had been an actual emergency, do you really think we'd stick around to tell you?
[ Parent ]
depends on kind of dirt, see below (n/t) (none / 0) (#27)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:05:18 PM EST


--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
Some modifications required (none / 0) (#82)
by woofbot on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 01:35:47 PM EST

One major reason to use biodiesel is that it requires absolutely no change in the engine to use.

That's not entirely true. Biodiesel has a tendency to coagulate and lower temperatures, so if you live in a cooler climate, modifications do need to be made to heat the fuel so that it stays liquid.

Grist Magazine had a decent writeup on the subject recently. Here's the link: Biodiesel article

[ Parent ]
Fittings.. (none / 0) (#94)
by molo on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 03:39:08 PM EST

The biochemical compounds also tend to eat away at certain parts like rubber hoses and fasteners.  Converting to biodiesel requires some fuel line changes because of this.

--
Whenever you walk by a computer and see someone using pico, be kind. Pause for a second and remind yourself that: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -- Harley Hahn
[ Parent ]
Biodiesl better? (none / 0) (#106)
by Lynx0 on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 06:22:20 PM EST

It is actually not clear if Biodiesel is really a better alternative when it comes to the enviromental impact. The plants the oil is produced from are produced by using normal agricultural mehtods, which involve pesticides, heavy machinery and fertilizers. Also the crops have to be transported to the oil mills.
And biodiesel also has to be refined.
That amounts to the CO2 emissions that are only about 30% lower than those of normal diesel fuel.
The emission of aldehydes, which can induce cancer, is even 30% higher with biodiesel.

Source: http://www.wdr.de/tv/dschungel/themen/beitrag17021998_3.html (in German, TV report based on study of the German Department of Enviroment)

[ Parent ]

Holly Crap! I was just thinking about this... (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by poopi on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 01:54:59 PM EST

...and here it is on K5! Kudos to you for writing that letter. I should do the same here in Canada. Although I don't care for traditional diesel (even low-sulfur) Bio-Diesel is very interesting.

In fact in Oakville, Ontario there is a pilot plant (refinery?)which can produce Bio-Diesel at nearly the same cost as Fossil-Diesel.

Frankly I can't wait for a hybrid electric-diesel car, like this concept by Chrysler. If you pour Bio-diesel into that puppy, I think it would make for a very marketable car that is also quite environmentaly friendly. Come to think of it Volkswagen and Honda should get together and build a electro-diesel hybrid. Honda knows "electric" and VW knows diesel. I'd buy one in a flash.

-----

"It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - chimera

VW responds (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 02:03:46 PM EST

I asked VW about the same issue:


Thank you for contacting the Volkswagen website. We appreciate your interest in the Volkswagen brand.  At this time, Volkswagen has no plans to introduce a Hybrid vehicle into the North American market.

--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
Screw that -- fuel cells (none / 0) (#117)
by Quila on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 09:22:49 AM EST

Check this out. I want one. Not the stupid concept design, but something nice based on the underlying fuel cell platform. And the good news is that these things should be cheaper to produce than normal cars!

I hope they have some good force feedback on that fly by wire system.

[ Parent ]

Diesel-electric hybrid (none / 0) (#160)
by strlen on Mon Sep 02, 2002 at 07:54:24 PM EST

Actually similar technology is already in use on trains, where a 2-stroke diesel drives a generator, that powers the drive train, at the instance where power lines aren't available. Hence, when the train is in the city they can just use the city power lines, and when its out in the country, it can just use the diesel motor.

Such technology would be impressive, indeed. If a TDI can get as much mpg as a Prius hybrid, than a TDI-electric hybrid can get truly amazing gas mileage, and be cleaner as well.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

After reading the comments so far (4.25 / 4) (#29)
by krek on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:07:38 PM EST

I am starting to think that, as in most cases, legislation will do nothing but impede future innovation and the uptake of said innovations. Legislation seems to be impeding the uptake of biodiesel by rewarding those who buy hybrid cars. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, what was meant to encourage people to shop with an eye towards the evironment, has, a few years latter, helped slow the adoption of a competing, but equaly valid, form of 'saving the environment'.

Let the markets decide, and that is not some evil, corporate mantra. We are the market, we are the consumers, so saying "let the markets decide" is just saying, let the people decide through the use of their wallets. And, debates about capitalism aside, this is a good thing.

The problem is one of lack of education, the same lack that plagues our various electoral processes; people cannot be trusted to make the correct decision when they do not have all of the relevant information. Instead of legislating a poorly understood decision, money and effort should be directed towards public service announcements, educating the public on the details of the issue at hand.

If the government took all of the money allocated towards income tax credits and funneled it into an advertisment campaign, I feel quite certain that a public attitude shift would occur, and no one would feel strong armed. To boot, when new innovation come along that will decrease fuel consumption, or decrease the emmisions of the fuel, or even remove the need for combustion, there will be no need to alienate those who have been subsidised in the past, all you have to do is shift advertising gears.

If you doubt, just look at cigarettes, nobody really thought much about it thirty or forty years ago, but now, after an extensive advertising campaign, being a smoker in the US is the next worst thing you can be other than a pedophile. Not that you have to have such an aggresive stance in this case, convicing everyone to switch to biodiesel or electric or hybrid or whatever, should only be as difficult as convincing five to ten percent of the auto buyers to switch, then the infrastructure will be there and it will become easy and feasible for the rest to switch when they see the benifits.



Corporate mantra (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:45:53 PM EST

Let the markets decide, and that is not some evil, corporate mantra

100% correct, and it shouldn't be! In an ideal market, freedom from government meddling will ensure that the best competitor wins. Only when we have a combination of huge government and corporate influence do we get to where we are now, where media monopolies are protected by law and government's purpose is to ensure a steady revenue stream to corporations. Corporations only become evil when we play double standards with our foreign policy, supporting oppressive countries in the name of 'globalization.'

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

I would have to disagree slightly (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by krek on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:54:26 PM EST

The manner in which we got "to where we are now", and the manner in which "corporations become evil", is by granting corporations the rights and freedoms of individual human beings. They are not people, we cannot expect them to behave in a humane way. This is just a recipe for disaster.

Otherwise... indeed!

[ Parent ]
but who granted corps the rights of individuals? (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 04:16:46 PM EST

answer: government :)
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
Correct you are (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by krek on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 04:37:49 PM EST

The thing is is that, as I heard it, the granting of individual rights upon corporations happened in a court case where the decision seemed to be a reasonable compromise at the time, and were granted for some rather innocuous reason. Unfortunately, I cannot remember much about the case.

It was a mistake, one that can and should be rectified.

[ Parent ]
Question (anyone, anyone) (none / 0) (#61)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 09:44:44 PM EST

What, exactly, is so objectionable about corporations having the status of a legal person? I've asked this question many times before and never received anything resembling a satisfactory answer. I'm very willing to listen with an open mind, but for all of the condemnations this policy receives nobody seems to be able to clearly articulate the problem. Hell, I can't even find a website out there that really makes the case beyond engaging in a bunch of hysterical hand-waving.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
an answer (none / 0) (#66)
by showboat on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 03:18:05 AM EST

One of the most succinct, though incomplete, answers is this: the Corp. gains power by existing in the long term and posessing the ability to utilize the power/knowledge/flexibility of X people simultaneously, while J. Public only exists in the short term (and any long-term benefits are few and far between, e.g. legacies) and can only utilize 1 man's power/knowledge/flexibility at a time (give or take loyal friends/servants, which deplete other finite resources).

[ Parent ]
Indeed (none / 0) (#75)
by krek on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 09:46:32 AM EST

Since corporations have no natural lifespan, giving them the right to life and the pursuit of happiness, is both dangerous and nonsensical. the right to life would force us to ensure the existance of a corporation for eternity, and the right to hapiness makes no sense since corporation feel nothing, not duty, nor regret, and definitly not happiness.

I would like to ask cr8dle2grave for some reasons for corporations having the individual rights of people. Fair's fair after all.

[ Parent ]
Absolutely (none / 0) (#85)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 01:50:14 PM EST

I would like to ask cr8dle2grave for some reasons for corporations having the individual rights of people. Fair's fair after all.

Fair enough, but you've still not provided an answer to my question. You've only demonstrated that in some very obvious ways a corporation is not analogous to an actual person. No surprise there, but it wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted specific examples of what abuses are allowed due to the status of legal personhood.

The truth of the matter is that having the status of a legal person only confers upon corporations the standing to sue and be sued. This entails recognizing some of the rights of property ownership afforded individuals and limited 1st, 5th, and 14th amendment rights. These very same rights are afforded all other groups, formal and informal. An organization is always a proxy for an individual or a group of individuals. Why should we have less rights when acting in concert with others than we do when acting alone?

I looked around a bit and found out a little bit about the nature of the movement attacking the corporate "personhood". The movement seems to have started with the publication of a tract, Taking Care of Business, published by Richard Grossman and Frank Adams. The precepts put forward in this tract seem to be exclusively endorsed by radical environmentalist and explicitly socialist groups seeking to promote an agenda allowing the government absolute and total control over corporations.

Sorry, I'm not impressed. I believe the concept of public ownership over the means of production to be a fatally flawed concept and this recent permutation of the concept is possibly more confused and ill conceived than its predecessors. It seems to continue to allow for private ownership, but would turn administrative control over to the government -- except it seems for very small companies doing business as sole proprietorships and simple partnerships. A superficial refutation of this movement can be found here.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
The reason: (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by slippytoad on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 02:11:20 PM EST

The truth of the matter is that having the status of a legal person only confers upon corporations the standing to sue and be sued.

More importantly, the liability for causing harm to someone else is not on the head of a person, but of a group that has an inexhaustible supply of lawyers and time. So instead of suing the ceo of a company, you sue the company. The lawyers are happy with this because companies have more money, but in the end the public loses because ceos and operating officers are never held responsible for their own misdeeds, because those misdeeds are in the best interests of the corporation, therefore the deterrent effect of laws against environmental (and other) abuse is evaporated. I don't know the document you reference as the "start" of this movement, and furthermore don't care about it. I am merely concerned with the current state of affairs -- there is in my opinion an easily-attained balance between social responsibility and the right to pursue one's fortune, and we don't have it.
If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
[ Parent ]

Not related (4.00 / 2) (#91)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 02:49:12 PM EST

I agree that there exist very real problems with the manner in which the legal system deals with corporations, but it is not related to either their status as a legal person nor the sheilding provide by limited liabilty. It is a political problem and cultural problem.

There are two types of protection afforded investors by the legal limitation of liability: sheilding from debt and sheilding from third party injury.

The limititation of debt liability assures an investor that they cannot be made liable for an amount greater than the money they invested. Imagine you had a little Enron stock in your 401k and there was no limitation of debt liability, not only would you be out the money you invested, but you would also find yourself individually named in in lawsuits filed by Enron's creditors. Under those circumstances, why would anyone take the risk of investing in a company they didn't have direct control over.

That situation could be even worse if there were no sheilding from third party injury. Imagine that Enron is sued in a class action lawsuit for causing environmental damage. Not only would you be facing liability for Enron's debt, you would be facing paying out a portion of the damages awarded in a court settlement.

You could be looking at a situation in which you invested around $1000 and ended up owing in excess of $100,000. Under those circumstances I'd choose to leave my money in savings account -- and I presume you understand why that would be devastating to the economy.

Importantly -- take note and repeat over and over -- the protections afforded investors by the limitation of liabilty does not extend to corporate officers and employess acting in their official capacity. If you break the law -- criminal or civil -- you are personally liable. The reason corporate officers and employees are not prosecuted individually is because either the law broken was written in such a way that it only penalizes a company in terms of fines, or due to the exercise of "prosecutorial discretion."

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
It is debatable (5.00 / 2) (#92)
by krek on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 02:53:01 PM EST

But I also do not believe that corporations should have a right to privacy, not public ones anyway, and by public, I mean publicly traded. Corporations have also recently obtained the right to sue foreign governments that impede their ability to seek profit.

I have answered your question, you may not find my arguments valid, but there they are.

I agree that the government should stay the hell out of business, but they do have the responsibility to set some ground rules, in my opinion the ground rules have been perverted a wee bit.

You say that you "believe the concept of public ownership over the means of production to be a fatally flawed concept", well I would hate to break it to you, but the majority of the "means of production" are already publicly owned, or should I say publicly traded, where the use of the word 'publicly' is a bit of a red herring.

You also say "Why should we have less rights when acting in concert with others than we do when acting alone?", I have had this argument used against me before, and I have to say I don't see the logic of it. How does working in concert with a group of others, without the corporate 'people' rights, decrease the rights of the individuals working together? They each retain their individual rights, nothing they can do can take that away from them. How is it that not obtaining additional rights becomes a form of losing rights?

And, tit for tat, you, also, have failed to illustrate the reasons that you support individual rights for corporations, all you did was quickly outline the results of granting such rights and then hold up a piece of oppositional documentation as that endorsed by "radical environmentalist and explicitly socialist groups seeking to promote an agenda allowing the government absolute and total control over corporations".

Individual rights are based on the concept that every person was born with certain inaliable rights which could not be effectively suppressed even if that was the desire, therefore it is best, and just, to instead tolerate and even support these rights. Examples of such rights are the right to free thought, it is sheer folly to try and regulate that which people think in the privacy of their own mind; and, the right to free-association, again it would an act of pure stupidity to try and dictate who a person may or may not associate with.

Try this, personal rights have been very well spelled out in documents of law, what has not, however, been well spelled out, but, is generally a well understood concept, is responsibility. If responsibility is not well outlined in our laws, and corporation have no natural understanding of responsibility, how can we expect them to act in a responsible manner? The thing that makes me feel safe walking the streets is that I believe that the vast majority of people are restrained from killing or robbing me because they know and feel it to be wrong, there is just no such restriction on a corporation. Example, DeBeers' diamond cartel.

Or this, the argument is probably very similar to the one that will be taking place once we have successfully created our first run of Artificial Intelligences, and I mean real ones, not just simulations that can impersonate a real person, except, the difference is that these AI's will probably be conscious and self aware, something that corporations will never have.

I guess my real, fundamental objection is that corporations are not people, so why should they have the rights of people, it just seems like a box that Pandora should have left alone.

[ Parent ]
To begin... (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 03:50:37 PM EST

...I apologize for my hostile tone. I just find this subject a little exasperating because I see absolutely no sense in it.

How does working in concert with a group of others, without the corporate 'people' rights, decrease the rights of the individuals working together? They each retain their individual rights, nothing they can do can take that away from them. How is it that not obtaining additional rights becomes a form of losing rights?

I don't know what you hope to achieve by attacking corporate personhood, but those groups who rally around the cause are explicitly seeking to curtail the rights of individuals when acting together under a corporate structure. Advertising is usually one of the main targets. Should a company have the right to advertise its product in a manner it chooses? I say absolutely, but if no First Amendment right is granted to a corporation the government could set up a bureau of advertising with authorization to approve or deny any and all advertising done on the part of corporations. What about newspapers? If published by a corporation, they would be subject to direct government control. I'm not making up these examples, they are the express aim of many of those groups at the forefront of promoting the idea that corporate personhood is an abuse.

What about non-profits? Should you and I and other like minded citizens be able to form a group and publish materials to promote a cause? This is a right that some would have denied to a corporation, simply because it is a corporation.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Corporations are not people (none / 0) (#123)
by krek on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 10:09:09 AM EST

It is really that simple.

I object to granting the rights of a person to a figment of someones imagination. Corporations do not exist as people, they exist, at most, as a piece of paper with some kind of contract on it. We already have tons of laws to protect pieces of paper with contracts on them, why do we need to start treating that piece of paper like a living breathing human being?

If you can get me a nice, intimate date with a corporation, say Sun, or Talisman, then I will back off and allow them to have corporate personhood. A diner and a movie preferably, and while sex is not neccessary, it would be nice for it to be a possibility.

[ Parent ]
Please check your facts- (none / 0) (#111)
by Lugh on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 12:04:45 AM EST

Corporations were able to sue and be sued prior to 1886, when they became 'natural persons' in an unusual Supreme Court case. Look at these cases, for example- [94 U.S. 155, 94 U.S. 164, 94 U.S. 179, 94 U.S. 180 (1877)].

With that out of the way, let's go back to the question- what's the advantage in allowing corporations to be 'persons'? I personally think it's all about the 4th and 14th amendments (the 4th makes surprise inspections for things like OSHA or EPA reg violations unconstitutional, and the 14th is used as an argument against charter revocation.) The 1st amendment issue is a red herring- unlike the 4th, 5th and 14th, no mention is made of 'persons' in the 1st- it doesn't matter who's publishing/speaking.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

I'm no expert (none / 0) (#112)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 12:53:40 AM EST

I'm parroting the information I've found. Standing was the reason given on most legal sites for the existence of the personhood staus of corporations, and even if they could sue and be sued prior to 1886 their claim to standing has surely increased now that they are covered by the 14th and have broadly recognized property rights.

As for the 1st, it took numerous SCOTUS rulings to clarify that -- campaign donations and advertising (commercial speech rulings).

But I do agree that 4th (sorry, I earlier said 5th) and 14th are the real issues. Charter revocation seems to me the utmost in stupidity, but I agree that the 14th would be possibly useful in combating it. And the 4th guarantees what I believe to be absolutely well merited protections from undue government intrusion.

In short, I don't understand the issue and nobody out there is providing any solid information. The people claiming personhood is abuse seem to desire a return to some pre-industrial notion of a corporation which exists solely at the discretion of the state and who's purpose is narrowly defined and closely regulated.

My response: move someplace else. The limitation of liability is absolutely essential to the formation of sufficiently large accumulations of capital to contribute to large scale growth and prosperity. I like living in a weathly country and ejoy the benefits. There are plenty of third world nations out there for those who want to play at living like our less fortunate anscestors.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Me neither (none / 0) (#118)
by Lugh on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 09:41:46 AM EST

I'm parroting the information I've found. Standing was the reason given on most legal sites for the existence of the personhood staus of corporations, and even if they could sue and be sued prior to 1886 their claim to standing has surely increased now that they are covered by the 14th and have broadly recognized property rights.

It's fine that you're parroting your sources- I'm not doing much more than that. However, if they're arguing that CP is a prerequisite for being able to take legal action, well, that's clearly false.

As for the 1st, it took numerous SCOTUS rulings to clarify that -- campaign donations and advertising (commercial speech rulings).

You're right, it did take many SCOTUS rulings to really define the meaning of the 1st amendment. Regardless, it doesn't change the fact that CP is irrelevant WRT free speech.

But I do agree that 4th (sorry, I earlier said 5th) and 14th are the real issues. Charter revocation seems to me the utmost in stupidity, but I agree that the 14th would be possibly useful in combating it. And the 4th guarantees what I believe to be absolutely well merited protections from undue government intrusion.

Simply put- the state giveth, and the state can taketh away. Not that I'm generally advocating state power, but here, the state gave the charter, and quite frankly, it should be able to set the terms for the continuance of that charter, or revoke it if it sees fit. (At least this was the case back in the day- I'll admit that I'm not sure what the precise mechanism for incorporation is these days.)

My response: move someplace else. The limitation of liability is absolutely essential to the formation of sufficiently large accumulations of capital to contribute to large scale growth and prosperity. I like living in a weathly country and ejoy the benefits. There are plenty of third world nations out there for those who want to play at living like our less fortunate anscestors.

Personally, I consider limited liability to be little more than a shield for criminals and an excuse for laziness in investors. IMHO, if you're investing in a company, you'd better do a thorough job of checking on that company. You wouldn't have had an Enron or a WorldCom if investors were really looking at the companies they held stock in (and not because, as you suggest, large companies wouldn't exist). The Reason article you cited asked why companies tolerated the restrictions put on them by incorporation, and then later points out that limited liability could be achieved through contract law, but incorporation is a valuable shortcut. I assert that if most people knew about the abuses permitted by LL (imagine if you had to sign a contract with Nike before buying a pair of their shoes), they'd never go along with it.
This ties into what I see as the greatest problem with large corporations- concentration of power. I disagree with your earlier assertion that corporations represent the interests of a large number of people. I think the reality is that they represent a small number of people, while using funds from a large number of people. As I suggested above, WorldCom, Enron and similar cases would not have happened if investors were really paying attention. Since they're apparently not, well, they are not really interested, and their interests are not being represented (unless they wanted the company to go belly up.) The board and the executives are the people who are really represented by the corporation, and the corp. gives them a huge lever with which to shift (or is that shaft?) the rest of us. For instance, as the article I pointed to earlier notes, for a corporation, defending itself in a lawsuit (where it already has a massive advantage) gets to write off those expenditures. I wouldn't, you wouldn't. Basically, I don't like the concentration of power, and I don't see corporations as being any better a receptacle for vast amounts of mojo than a government is, and they can be arguably worse, since there's not even a theory that says a corporation should be accountable to me.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

One layman to another (none / 0) (#132)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 01:57:54 PM EST

Simply put- the state giveth, and the state can taketh away. Not that I'm generally advocating state power, but here, the state gave the charter, and quite frankly, it should be able to set the terms for the continuance of that charter, or revoke it if it sees fit.

That is the point of debate. I'm not arguing that in some ultimate sense the state lacks the power or the authority to dismantle a corporation or to regulate it any fashion it sees fit, but I strongly oppose treating corporations that way. I favor a system of more limited state authority and, to that end, respecting corporate rights affords people acting collectively the same protections they are afforded personally.

Personally, I consider limited liability to be little more than a shield for criminals and an excuse for laziness in investors.

Not everybody can be a full time investment broker and must, therefore, rely upon others when investing. Placing all the responsibility upon the individual investor would dry up the market, which, irrespective of any ethical concerns, would be economically disastrous. There has to be some balancing of interests. Having a system which assures to high degree that everybody is absolutely playing by the rules is no good if we are all in the poorhouse.

I disagree with your earlier assertion that corporations represent the interests of a large number of people. I think the reality is that they represent a small number of people, while using funds from a large number of people.

You've heard the old saying, "What's good for General Motors is good America." I side with corporations not because I am directly benefited -- I'm a solidly middle class working stiff -- but because I perceive my advantage as coincident with theirs.

As I suggested above, WorldCom, Enron and similar cases would not have happened if investors were really paying attention. Since they're apparently not, well, they are not really interested, and their interests are not being represented (unless they wanted the company to go belly up.) The board and the executives are the people who are really represented by the corporation, and the corp. gives them a huge lever with which to shift (or is that shaft?) the rest of us.

You're painting with a very broad brush here, most companies are not run like Enron and WorldCom. Publicly traded corporations are justifiably subjected to all manner of regulation not imposed on privately held corporations, and I'm very much in support of increasing regulation that would address the obvious failings of the current system. I believe the problem would be best addressed by the increasing criminal and civil liability for executives, rigorously enforced accounting standards designed to increase transparency, and rules prohibiting the the types of relationships between investment banks, brokerage houses, corporations, and accounting firms that could give rise to clear conflicts of interest.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
I think responsibility is the right word (none / 0) (#139)
by Lugh on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 05:04:57 PM EST

Not everybody can be a full time investment broker and must, therefore, rely upon others when investing. Placing all the responsibility upon the individual investor would dry up the market, which, irrespective of any ethical concerns, would be economically disastrous. There has to be some balancing of interests. Having a system which assures to high degree that everybody is absolutely playing by the rules is no good if we are all in the poorhouse.

I don't think that we should but all the responsibility on the individual shareholders, just their due part. It annoys me that if someone drives a getaway car for a bank robber, they're an 'accomplice,' but if they give a million dollars to RJR Tobacco, they're an 'investor.'

As for drying up the market, I don't have any numbers handy, but I recall discussing in one of my journalism classes the prevalence of stock market information in the media, despite the low percentage of Americans who actually play the market, and asking what that said about our target audience. Lack of figures aside, I suspect that, in fact, the bulk of the stock market is held, not by small investors, but by large ones, who are, almost by definition, investment brokers, and the bulk of the stocks held by small investors are in mutual funds, which are managed by investment brokers. Again, this suggests to me that someone's not doing their job. I'll admit that in the real world, 100% ethical and regulatory compliance would be either impossible to achieve or prohibitively expensive, but I think we could be doing better than we are now. As a not-quite-related question-- if an ethical economy is unworkable, what does that say about humanity?

You've heard the old saying, "What's good for General Motors is good America." I side with corporations not because I am directly benefited -- I'm a solidly middle class working stiff -- but because I perceive my advantage as coincident with theirs.

I'm firmly in the middle class as well, but I don't believe the old addage. It's easy to think of things that would be good for GM but horrible for the US and its citizens. Say, the elimination of Ford and Chrysler, and 200% tariffs on all foreign automobiles. Great for GM but lousy for everyone else. As a more down-to-earth example, it would be to the movie studio's advantage if people could only buy black box computers and entertainment devices which it was illegal to open or tamper with, but I've got a feeling you would object to that. My basic objection is this-- corporations are amoral entities which exist only to produce a profit. I believe that if it suddenly became sufficiently profitable to knock me off and sell me as spare parts, the company I worked for would do so. I don't perceive my advantage to be necessarily coincident with that of any particular corporation, because if nothing else, at the end of the day, I'm still going to have a 900 lb. gorilla to compete with. Personally, I'd like to have the option of taking it down if it becomes necessary.

I'll admit that I'm painting with a broad brush, but it's not just Enron and WorldCom, it's Shell and its abuses in Nigeria; it's WalMart and its harassment of pro-union workers; it's Nike and its continued use of sweatshops to pad its bottom line. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Generally, yes, the more numerous, smaller companies are probably not as offensive as the larger ones, but that's because they neither have the ability to commit offenses on such a scale, nor the clout to get away with it. I think that if you have a right, you have a corresponding responsibility, and many corporations have ducked their responsibilities. Consequently, they are no longer deserving of the associated rights. I support the regulatory fixes you suggest, but i think we need to go further and reexamine the entire concept of corporations. I don't know-- maybe this entire thread should be about ethics.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

Why less rights (none / 0) (#146)
by pyro9 on Sat Aug 31, 2002 at 10:01:33 AM EST

Why should we have less rights when acting in concert with others than we do when acting alone?

Because that's a fair and reasonable trade. I could turn the question around and ask why should you face less liability when working in concert with others than when you act alone?

The answer to both questions is that you (plural) have chosen to limit both by forming a legal corperation.

Another way to say the above is that the People as represented by their government have agreed that it is in everyone's best interest to facillitate your economic activity by allowing you to form a collective which limits your individual liability. In short, the People have granted you a priveleged status in law.

In the absense of morals or ethics, any intelligent entity's behaviour will be controlled solely by potential benefit verses potential liability within the confines of ability to act.

Since liability has been sharply limited, we must either place a cap on potential benefit (talk about an unfair disincentive), or limit ability to act by controling rights. The latter seems like a much better choice.

The People's limitation of the collective's rights may be justified by the volentary nature of the agreement and the reasonable trade for the limited liability.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Answer, Answer (none / 0) (#70)
by rigorist on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 08:37:59 AM EST

A paraphrase from a decision, I believe by Oliver Wendell Holmes (could be Learned Hand) - a corporation has no body that can be kicked and no soul that can be damned to Hell. Giving the rights of a human to something which does not the liabilities of being human is a dangerous thing.

[ Parent ]
A rather fancy way of saying (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by krek on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 09:45:17 AM EST

That corporations have no recognisable human morality, nor ethics, and no compulsion to be a good citizen beyond what is explicitly stated in law.

[ Parent ]
Answer: Nothing (none / 0) (#76)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 11:10:35 AM EST

There is nothing inherently wrong with a corporation having the rights of a person. The problem is that currently they have more rights than people. Corporations have better access to government, because we want to help the economy. Corporations have favorable tax laws and government subsidized industries. Corporations have armies of lawyers and accountants whose goal is to exploit complicated laws and rules in order to tweak their numbers as much as possible.

No, there is nothing wrong with corporations having the rights of people but we must not forget that they aren't people. At the base level our government must be made up of people, not corporate dollars. As it is, we are governed by large corporations who have been given many more rights than people.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Let's see... (none / 0) (#79)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 01:12:40 PM EST

You claim:

The problem is that currently [corporations] have more rights than people.

I'm not so sure about that. The only 'right' I am aware of held by corporations and not by individuals is limitation of liability, but that really isn't a right of a corporation so much as it is a right of an individual investor. Actually it isn't a right at all, but an central element of the legal structure of a corporation, as determined by state and federal law.

As for your list of privileges held by corporations:

Corporations have better access to government, because we want to help the economy.

There is no special right which provides corporations with better access to the government. They have same access rights and privileges afforded each of us. In practice, corporations have more leverage when lobbying than does your neighborhood interest group, but the reason for that is betrayed in your own complaint: because we want to help the economy. The logic goes: healthy business environment --> healthy businesses --> jobs --> tax revenue. Of course legislators want to encourage the development and growth of businesses, it provides jobs for their constituents and money for the public coffers.

Also, when you compare corporations to similarly influential entities, such as labor unions, you'll see that their access is no greater.

Corporations have favorable tax laws and government subsidized industries.

The tax laws are not favorable to corporations. The reason many smaller companies choose to form as partnerships or LLPs is to avoid the double hit of corporate income tax.

Corporations have armies of lawyers and accountants whose goal is to exploit complicated laws and rules in order to tweak their numbers as much as possible.

As do many individuals, non-profits, labor unions, etc....

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
In practice (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 01:44:10 PM EST

Technically you're right. By the letter of the law, corporations have no extra rights. However, many factors contribute to an environment where corporations are more powerful than individuals. These are factors such as the recent government bailout of the airline industry. Farm subsidies - not for your mom and pop farmers, but for tiny little companies like ADM.

And if corporations can avoid paying a single dollar in tax through various creative ways of looking at losses, I fail to see how double taxation is an issue.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Of course (none / 0) (#86)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 02:08:59 PM EST

However, many factors contribute to an environment where corporations are more powerful than individuals.

Of course they are more powerful than any one individual. That is as it should be. They represent the interests, directly and indirectly, of many people.

These are factors such as the recent government bailout of the airline industry. Farm subsidies - not for your mom and pop farmers, but for tiny little companies like ADM.

I'm no fan of farm subsidies or steel and textile tariffs (I do see some rationale for the airline bailout), but they're no worse than all of the other recipients of the immense amount of "pork" shoveled out of Washington. Some of it goes to companies, some of it special interest groups, and some of it goes to individuals (like the tax credit for hybrid cars). C'est la vie.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Get rid of it all (none / 0) (#95)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 03:40:45 PM EST

they're no worse than all of the other recipients of the immense amount of "pork" shoveled out of Washington.

I'm with you - get rid of it all. Remove welfare, corporate or otherwise. Remove artificial government controls and watch real competition take effect.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

I think we need to quantify the debate (none / 0) (#110)
by Lugh on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 11:59:03 PM EST

The tax laws are not favorable to corporations. The reason many smaller companies choose to form as partnerships or LLPs is to avoid the double hit of corporate income tax.

I don't think we're really talking about the smaller examples of the species here- I think this debate is really happening at the crossroads of corporations and great size/power/influence. Regardless, if the small corps. are taking a double hit, take a look at what some of the bigger ones are dodging, or getting back.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

And... (none / 0) (#113)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 12:59:55 AM EST

...they contribute enormously to the federal tax collection rolls in the form of the personal income tax paid by their employees, and the employees of their contractors, and the employees of their distribution partners, and etc.... I'd like to see a lot of the "corporate welfare" abolished, but tax incentives are, in principle, a useful tool to encourage growth in certain sectors.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
We dodge our taxes and pass the burden on to you! (none / 0) (#121)
by Lugh on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 09:53:49 AM EST

This actually points to another problem with corporations- they're damn near impossible to punish. You can't imprison them, you claim we shouldn't be able to 'kill' them, and any fines that are imposed on them are just passed on to their customers. Back last summer, when gas prices in Michigan were going through the roof, the state government investigated claims of price gouging, but the only penalty they could apply was the imposition of fines. What's the point? The gas stations were being investigated for overcharging, and if it was determined they were guilty, they'd be fined, and... Raise gas prices. Hm...

You suggest in several places that when crimes are committed by corporations, we should really be looking at punishing those specific people who committed the criminal act. Fine. I can agree with that. However, a corporation does have a personality of sorts and an atmosphere which can encourage and permit criminal acts (Unocal, for instance, wasn't just a handful of isolated individuals). If corporations want the rights accorded to real people, they should damn well be subjected to the same responsibilities as real people, and since fining them is pointless and incarcerating them is impossible, the only threat of punishment we have for a corporation is charter revocation.

Okay, now I'm going to apologize preemptively for sounding hostile, but I get worked up over this because of corporate abuses, and what I see as the baseless arguments for CP.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

Not all tax burdens... (none / 0) (#131)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 01:26:26 PM EST

...are created equal. What and who bears the tax burden has broad ramifications on the overall economy. For instance, European countries have traditionally taxed retail transactions (VAT tax) at a significantly higher rate than the US, and that may go a long way toward explaining why consumer spending represents a much smaller portion of their overall economies. The largest single source of tax revenue in the US comes from personal income tax (40.7%), while the burden of corporate income tax is comparatively small (8.7%). And among those paying personal income tax, the wealthiest 1% shoulder over a third of the burden, the wealthiest 5% over 50%, and the bottom 50% under 5%. Executives, mid-level managers, and professionals are the source of most federal revenue. Should that burden be shifted to companies? Maybe a little, but taxing businesses too much reduces the incentive to investment and therefore reduces the number of available jobs, disproportionately affecting the poorest among us.

This actually points to another problem with corporations- they're damn near impossible to punish. You can't imprison them, you claim we shouldn't be able to 'kill' them, and any fines that are imposed on them are just passed on to their customers.

What would revoking a corporate charter accomplish, save providing a little sense of satisfaction to some? A healthy company is worth significantly more than the sum of its parts, therefore dismantling it willy-nilly and auctioning off its assets is tantamount to throwing money out the window. As you've said, a company is not a person and a desire to punish a company is little more than a anthropomorphic projection. An unconscious entity cannot be punished, but when a corporation breaks the law there are conscious entities, in the form of employees, who can be made accountable. A real threat of punishment directed against executives and corporate officers seems to me the best method of assuring corporate compliance with the law.

Fines are also useful in correcting corporate behavior because a company is not able to simply pass those along to the consumer, unless they are a monopoly. Competition assures that the hist will have to come from the operating budget. Fines are not so much punishment to a company as they are incentives to those individuals running the company to comply with the rules.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
It could stand some shifting... (none / 0) (#135)
by Lugh on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 03:26:36 PM EST

Not a complete reversal, but there could be a rebalancing without harming things, methinks. Again, this is a sticky point with me, especially with the recent spate of companies suddenly reincorporating in some off-shore tax have to escape 'high' taxes, and then you find out they weren't really paying that much, if anything at all. I admit that I haven't done too much research on this, and it could be two different subsets of companies, but I rather suspect not.

What would revoking a corporate charter accomplish, save providing a little sense of satisfaction to some?

In particularly egregious cases, it removes a tool for criminal activities. Take the tobacco companies, for instance- here, you have several companies with a history of fraudulent activities going back decades, involving complicity at all levels of the organizations. I think they would be a good candidate for charter revocation. Not because they sold a toxic product, but because they repeatedly and knowingly lied about how toxic and addictive it was. Shell might be another good choice because of its human rights abuses in Africa. At some point you just have to say enough is enough and take away the tools that are letting people break the law and abuse the system. If there's a real need that they were meeting, someone else will come along and meet it, and pay more attention to the legal niceties while they're doing it. If it can't be met in a non-criminal fashion, maybe we should ask ourselves how badly it needed to be met.

As you've said, a company is not a person and a desire to punish a company is little more than a anthropomorphic projection. An unconscious entity cannot be punished,

So, a corporation can't be punished, but it take legal action, own property, and has privacy rights? I'll admit that I'm anthropomorphizing if you do the same.

but when a corporation breaks the law there are conscious entities, in the form of employees, who can be made accountable. A real threat of punishment directed against executives and corporate officers seems to me the best method of assuring corporate compliance with the law.

I agree with that as well, but I still think there needs to be some sort of extreme sanction for the worst offenders. However, neither approach deals with the fact that the offenders (at least the high-ranking ones) can still draw on the resources of the company(ie lobbyists, lawyers, press access) while being investigated/prosecuted.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

A nip here, a tuck there (none / 0) (#136)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 04:24:31 PM EST

Take the tobacco companies, for instance- here, you have several companies with a history of fraudulent activities going back decades, involving complicity at all levels of the organizations. I think they would be a good candidate for charter revocation. Not because they sold a toxic product, but because they repeatedly and knowingly lied about how toxic and addictive it was.

Ughh... You've stumbled onto a particularly sensitive subject for me. The only form of political violence I've ever considered is fire bombing the offices of the American Cancer Society ;P Actually, there are limits to the regulation a government can impose before lawlessness becomes common. In normal criminal law, drug prohibition exemplifies this.

I accept I am on the losing side side of the war in this case. The merciless regime of the healthy will continue to gain ground and people like me -- drinker, smoker, and poor eater -- will be increasingly ostracised and outcast.

Shell might be another good choice because of its human rights abuses in Africa.

Unfortunately, there is no way of conducting business in Sub-Saharan Africa without being complicit in human rights abuses.

If it can't be met in a non-criminal fashion, maybe we should ask ourselves how badly it needed to be met.

Our other option is to ask ourselves if perhaps our laws aren't going a bit to far.

So, a corporation can't be punished, but it take legal action, own property, and has privacy rights? I'll admit that I'm anthropomorphizing if you do the same.

Sure, I'm anthropomorphising, but I'm doing it consistently. The rights of a corporation should be no less than the rights of those who own it. Acting collectively shouldn't compell us to surrender our rights. For the same reason the governement can't simply walk into my house absent permission it shouldn't be allowed to simlply walk into my business either. The rights of a corporation are a consequence of the fact that it is nothing more than a proxy for real people, and, conversely, the punishment for a corporation should be vistied upon those people from whom it derives its rights.

I agree with that as well, but I still think there needs to be some sort of extreme sanction for the worst offenders. However, neither approach deals with the fact that the offenders (at least the high-ranking ones) can still draw on the resources of the company(ie lobbyists, lawyers, press access) while being investigated/prosecuted.

Don't even get me started on the subject of reforming the criminal justice system. There are things that could be done to vastly improve it, but in the end we all need to accept that the rich and powerful are... well, rich and powerful. I've no patience for utopian theorizing, so I've learned to just accept that somethings will always remain imperfect. But then again, my father pounded into my head from a very young age his mantra, "people suck, life's not fair, and the government can't fix it," so I might be just a little jaded.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
One quick thing (none / 0) (#140)
by Lugh on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 05:14:58 PM EST

ghh... You've stumbled onto a particularly sensitive subject for me. The only form of political violence I've ever considered is fire bombing the offices of the American Cancer Society ;P Actually, there are limits to the regulation a government can impose before lawlessness becomes common. In normal criminal law, drug prohibition exemplifies this.

Like I said, I don't dislike the tobacco companies for what they sold, I dislike them for concealing it. If they hadn't waited until the government put a gun to their head before admitting 'our products cause cancer, and are addictive and we've been trying to make them more so,' well then, people would have had the information, and it would have been their business whether or not they wanted to use the product. Go ahead, smoke, drink, do drugs, eat meat (mmmm... Steak...) whatever-- I don't care. My concern is the decades of fraud. Personally, I think our drug laws are ludicrous and in bad need of loosening.

I don't have time to reply to the rest of this just now-- I'm on my way out the door. Maybe later.


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

Hmm.. (none / 0) (#156)
by Kwil on Sun Sep 01, 2002 at 02:54:17 PM EST

The rights of a corporation should be no less than the rights of those who own it.

So does that mean a corporation should have the right to vote?

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Accountability (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by Cadrach on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 02:19:50 PM EST

Here's one example of why the fiction of corporate personhood is detrimental. Let's say that I'm in the marketing department of a corporation, and it would be beneficial to the corporation for me to make official statements that are less than honest. If we grant corporate personhood, the corporation has the right to free speech, and thus it can make the dishonest statements. If the (monetary) benefits of the dishonesty outweigh the (monetary) costs of being caught, it is in the corporation's best interest (from our screwed-up capitalist point of view) to make these statements. If it has no right to speech, then an individual at the corporation, namely myself, could be held responsible for what that individual said, and could face punishments which cannot be employed against corporations, such as prison time. Knowing this, the individual (myself, in this example) might choose not to take the dishonest action in question.

But wait, you say, the company would just threaten to fire the employee and end up getting the employee to do what they want anyway, and even end up taking responsibility for the actions so that the corporation doesn't have to. I suppose that this is a legitimate concern, but I find it hard to believe that most companies would be able to find large quantities of employees that are willing to be sent to jail for several years for a simple paycheck. I certainly wouldn't be willing to, but I don't suppose I'd be willing to be unethical even if I weren't held accountable.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. --H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]

It is called fraud! (none / 0) (#93)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 03:00:03 PM EST

The company, depending on what was said, would be liable for fraud and you would probably be fired. If you personally broke any criminal laws, you would personally be criminally liable if the district attorneys office, which had jurisdiction, choose to prosecute you. If you want a district attorney who is "tough on corporate crime", then get out there and organize like minded people into a voting block in your state or work to make it an issue at the national level by passing tougher laws and electing a President who'll pursue it. This has nothing to do with corporate personhood.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Answer (none / 0) (#141)
by pyro9 on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 07:44:18 PM EST

Several reasons: One, it confers all of the rights of a natural person to a corperation that cannot face the same consequences as a natural person. For example, if a corperation is negligent (enough to call it homocide) and people die, does it get put in jail? If so, how? What happens to me if I do exactly the same thing?

Corperations, by nature, tend to amass much larger sums of money than a natural person. Consider how this plays out if I try to sue a corperation. Consider how their (LARGE) contributions affect the political process.

In addition to enjoying their rights as a natural person, Corperatioons also enjoy limited liability, longevity well beyond an actual person, imperviousness to pain, immunity from prison (even if they kill in cold blood) and the ability to change their identity at will.

In short, by granting corperations personhood, the courts created a new race of faceless, amoral, and immortal titans with enormous appetites and little sense of responsability to their fellow beings.

That's a far cry from the original concept of being granted a charter for the public good (and having it revoked should they prove to be a detriment).


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Not exactly a 'reasonable compromise' (none / 0) (#109)
by Lugh on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 11:02:56 PM EST

The court case you're thinking of is Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company [118 U.S. 394 (1886)], and it wasn't exactly a compromise. Corporate lawyers had been chipping away at the distinctions between 'artifical persons' (ie, corps.) and 'natural persons' (ie- you and me), ever since the passage of the 14th amendment, which states:

SECTION 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This was being done in order to free corporations from the regulatory powers that the states had over them prior to this time, such as the ability to revoke corporate charters.

In the aforementioned case, in which the question of whether or not corporations were 'natural persons,' Chief Justice Waite announced, before the oral arguments were made "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does." This was not a compromise.

For a longer discussion of this, look here


Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
[ Parent ]

Capitalist flaws (5.00 / 2) (#58)
by Skwirl on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 08:13:24 PM EST

I agree with most of the points of the root post, but there's one thing that the capitalistophiles always forget: There is no such thing as an ideal market.

This becomes blaringly obvious when you deal with a market-space that has high barriers to entry. That's why government interferrence is the worst in areas that need lots of infrastructure (energy, telecommunications) and industries where the cost of failure is high (transportation). These industries are usually dominated by monopolies or oligopolies and monopolies almost never have the public's best interests in mind. At least the government pretends to have our interests in mind.

Capitalism relies on the existence of a diverse marketplace. Geography and momentum often makes that goal impossible. Bill Gates can, and has, stomp into any market he pleases and gain some dominance, but that doesn't mean he's a skilled realator or a skilled journalist, it just means that he has a lot of money.

I also question whether it's possible for the average consumer to digest all of the information necessary to make ideal decisions. The average person is neither a dietician, an engineer, an ecologist, nor an ethicist. Bad products survive because large corporations have the mindshare to push them on us. Wrestling that mindshare from the corporations and propagandists and back to the people will be a tremendous task.

In short, capitalism works when you're building lightbulbs and lawnmowers, but it does little to account for electricity and gasoline.

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]

borax link, turbine flywheel info (none / 0) (#38)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 03:51:15 PM EST

I see some people actually voted "Borax" on the poll: so here is some information on Borax-Hydrogen fuel technology from ABC News.

The "flywheel" option on the poll is based on a turbine-flywheel engine, which used a small gas turbine to transform fuel into kinetic energy, stored on a massive flywheel. When you needed energy (i.e., wanted the car to go forward) you just harnessed some of the immense kinetic energy on the flywheel and off you go. Do a Google search if you want any number of information about that.
--
your straw man is on fire...

Flywheels = bad juju. (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by seanic on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 06:45:58 PM EST

Flywheels have many inherent problems, some of which were flushed out with Chrysler's effort to build a LeMans winning racer.

For starters the vehicle is gyroscopically stabilized and orientation of the flywheel becomes impossible. If it is set up one way the car won't want to turn, if you fix that it will have a problem on banks and inclines. Next on the hit list is the very high amount of energy stored in a flywheel which has to be dissipated in the event of an accident or bearing failure. The shrouding required to protect from the flywheel letting go is heavy and awkward. Finally the size of the flywheel can be manipulated to reduce the weight or diameter but the rotational speed goes up to compensate to keep the amount energy storage capacity useful.

--
"The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is, however, alleviated by their lack of consistency" -- Albert Einstein
[ Parent ]
Counterrotation (none / 0) (#65)
by KWillets on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 02:00:30 AM EST

Flywheels can come in pairs, rotating in opposite directions to cancel the angular momentum.  Hardly an insurmountable problem.

[ Parent ]
flywheels... (none / 0) (#81)
by chopper on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 01:15:07 PM EST

just do what Rosen did, and put the flywheel on gimbals so it can rotate in any direction.

easy. then, the only problem is coming up wqith a flywheel design which won't shred the car to pieces if it fails; newer carbon-fibre designs are doing just that.

really, a turbogenerator and flywheel would be the most efficient way to go (as of right now).

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Why might Dingell be pushing this? (none / 0) (#54)
by leviramsey on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 05:31:41 PM EST

Might it have something to do with Ford's rumored diesel electric version of the Taurus?



YES! (3.00 / 1) (#55)
by Mr. Piccolo on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 05:57:11 PM EST

But how do we get all those truckers to use BioDiesel?

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


truckers and biodiesel (none / 0) (#56)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 06:41:45 PM EST

One of my links has a lot more information on this topic.

Due to the lubricity of biodiesel, it is being widely deployed as part of fleet fuel.

Another start is using biodiesel to fuel bus systems.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Tax incentive? why or why not (5.00 / 3) (#60)
by seanic on Wed Aug 28, 2002 at 08:42:04 PM EST

The tax incentive will go away soon enough even though the original $2000 deduction, which was originally going to phase out in 2004, has been extended until 2006. One of the major reasons for this, and for hybrids being included in the first place, is pressure from the auto lobby. The big three said they wouldn't make a hybrid without the tax break and it is being extended because they couldn't get their act together and get one on the showroom floor.

One problem with your thesis has to do with the history of the deduction. Predominantly, it was geared toward commercial vehicles as shown in the section for vehicle deductions.

1. $50,000 for a truck or van with a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,000 pounds or for a bus with a seating capacity of at least 20 adults (excluding the driver).
2. $5,000 for a truck or van with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds but not more than 26,000 pounds.
3. $2,000 for a vehicle not included in (1) or (2).


Given that fact it appears that this was intended, specifically, as a move away from diesel. Additionally, the publication (535) allows for deductions on clean-fuel vehicle refueling property. Another is that diesels are already fairly popular (when compared to electric or hybrid), well proven and efficient. There is no incentive for the government to endorse development of the technology because the auto companies will do it themselves. That said, I agree a deduction should apply to auto diesels especially low sulfur biodiesel.

The biggest obstacle is that the government doesn't want everyone to drive fuel effecient vehicles. Yes, you read that right, the US gov't wants, no, needs big gas guzzling SUVs and 12 mpg sports cars. Why? Money. At 18.4 cents per gallon that is a lot of money to keep roads in good repair, fund new highway projects and conduct studies to promote safe travel among other things which may or may not be entirely in the public's best interest. Each of the states takes their own cut for similar purposes. If everyone was getting good to excellent fuel economy those taxes would go up, the price of fuel would climb, citizens would bitch about the higher prices for the same or worse (if that's possible) roads, etc. An argument can be made that the more fuel efficient vehicle does less damage to the roadway but we are talking about a revenue reduction potentially reaching 50% or more and even without traffic roads won't last twice as long.

Finally, the tax incentive is only really useful to those people who already have reason to itemize their deductions. People who rent and have few deductions will find that the deduction doesn't help.

--
"The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is, however, alleviated by their lack of consistency" -- Albert Einstein
Poor implementation (none / 0) (#78)
by slippytoad on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 12:39:07 PM EST

I don't know where you get your analysis of the government wanting gas-guzzling suv's, but if that's the rationale it's piss-poor. The reason I want to own a hybrid car is not to reduce the amount of money I pay for gasoline. I am cognizant of the rules of economics enough to know that the price of gas will eventually go up if everyone uses hybrids -- the demand will go down, and the supply will gradually be restricted to prevent the oil companies from wasting resources getting oil out of the ground that they can't sell. I have no problem paying a 'road tax' to keep the roads in repair -- freeloaders who don't want to pay for decent roads should not drive on them, in my opinion.

The reason I want more fuel-efficient cars is that I want there to be a world I can live in in the future.
If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
[ Parent ]

It's politics (none / 0) (#142)
by seanic on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 08:38:36 PM EST

Low fuel prices are popular, high taxes are not. Politically, raising the tax on fuel is a dangerous thing to do because people see that every time they fill up or even drive by a filling station on their way to vote. If it were low profile or done gradually people wouldn't notice quite as much.

If the government really wanted fuel effecient vehicles the CAFE standard would have been raised a little since 1989 when it was restored to 27.5 from 26 miles per gallon for cars. The standard for trucks is currently 20.7 mpg. It is a political motive, they talk of vehicles getting better economy knowing full well it would raise the tax. Granted programs like the PNVG are going a long way to improve things and will hopefully bear fruit in the near future.

When the majority of vehicles are highly fuel effecient the tax will go up but the cost of driving won't really increase because if you look at the numbers a 50 percent reduction in fuel usage would double the tax but the overall price would go up only about 20 percent and the average person will whine about it more than they already do. For what it's worth my hybrid has averaged about 66 mpg over the last two years and I'm looking to build a series hybrid with a 20hp diesel.

--
"The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is, however, alleviated by their lack of consistency" -- Albert Einstein
[ Parent ]
Diesel == Clean? (none / 0) (#63)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 12:17:46 AM EST

I'm no expert. And I don't know what criteria the DOE wonks behind www.fueleconomy.gov used to rate emissions, which they score on a 1-to-10 scale, 10 being the cleanest.

But it bears mentioning that most gasoline-powered cars score in the 6-to-10 range, but the VW Diesels all score a 1 - the worst possible score.

Like I said, I'm no expert, but unless you're really sure the new Diesels are roughly as clean as gas engines, you might be better off not to toot the cleanliness horn. Modern American-market gasoline engines run astoundingly clean, it's not surprising (if it's true) that Diesels would have some catching up to do.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!

Actually (none / 0) (#68)
by Betcour on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 03:41:29 AM EST

It really depends what emissions you measure. Diesel used (and most still) output lots of particules, unless they get equiped with a particule filter. The only car that I know of to have one is the Peugeot 607 HDI, which you are unlikely to see anywhere in the USA, but more cars and manufacturers will probably use them in the coming years. And of course COČ output is always lower than with unleaded since diesel have lower consumption.

[ Parent ]
That rating is not based on Greenhouse gases (none / 0) (#84)
by Fon2d2 on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 01:46:59 PM EST

If you looked all of the efficient cars listed scored well on the greenhouse gases but the diesels were rated badly on the amount of smog-forming air pollution they emit. That's because they are stinky. I remember once I saw a white two-door coupe on the highway with a license plate that read "VEGICAR". I imagine it must've been a diesel with some form of used frier grease poured in instead. You could literally see the cloud billowing out from the tailpipe. Another thing that would be a downside to the widespread use of biodiesel is the increase in agriculture it would take to produce all that fuel. Something to think about.

[ Parent ]
Why do owners of efficient cars get tax breaks? (4.50 / 4) (#64)
by pfaffben on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 01:56:31 AM EST

when I don't get a tax break for not owning a car at all and riding my bike everywhere? To me, this does not make sense.

your tax break... (none / 0) (#67)
by upperclasstwit on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 03:18:42 AM EST

...comes in the form of not paying the tax added to gasoline. Generally, I agree with you tho...how bout a tax break for people that use a motorcycle as their primary means of transportation.

[ Parent ]
We get the same break (none / 0) (#72)
by wiredog on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 09:05:16 AM EST

Since our vehicles use much less fuel.

Can't sleep. The clowns will get me.
[ Parent ]
Preferred transportation (none / 0) (#69)
by Graham Thomas on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 04:56:34 AM EST

So you prefer riding your bicycle to driving. Nothing wrong with that at all. I prefer riding my horses to driving. At some point, though, you will have to drive. Bicycles and horses, at least in most parts of the world, are not allowed on highways. Ecologically it would be nice if cars were done away with and *only* bicycles, horses, and such were allowed on highways, but since tarring and concretisation of the world has advanced so far already, and motor vehicles have become so commonplace and so integral, it's a little too late.



[ Parent ]
'most parts of the world' (none / 0) (#114)
by PrettyBoyTim on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 08:19:13 AM EST

Bicycles and horses, at least in most parts of the world, are not allowed on highways


Ahhh ha ha ha...

Oh... Mercy.

I think you'll find that most countries *do* allow them on the majority of roads.

[ Parent ]

Highways aren't "the majority of roads". (none / 0) (#145)
by Graham Thomas on Sat Aug 31, 2002 at 05:15:43 AM EST

You simple-minded idiot.

[ Parent ]
wrong again (none / 0) (#164)
by PrettyBoyTim on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 12:49:31 PM EST

From Webster's:

\High"way`\, n. A road or way open to the use of the public; a main road or thoroughfare

[ Parent ]

Huh? (3.33 / 3) (#71)
by godix on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 08:45:35 AM EST

"While in general I try to follow the adage of "if the government can stay out of it, they should", this bill hits a few of my hot spots."

So in other words having the government use its power to force people into doing things you don't like is wrong, but if it's your pet project the government is perfectly ok to do it? This is the 'logic' that got use the big monolithic government that intrudes on everyones personal choices to begin with. Reminds me of the liberals I see who scream about how rights are being violated in the name of 'anti-terrorism' and 'drug control' but turn around and claim even more should be violated in the name of 'enviromentalism'.

*SIGH* Government is power at the end of a gun. Would you be willing to point a gun at me and tell me to follow your pet project or else? If the answer is no, then why is it ok to have the government do it instead?


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


wrong, wrong -- and I'll tell you why (2.00 / 1) (#73)
by Burning Straw Man on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 09:27:35 AM EST

I won't get into the 'drug control' and 'environmentalism' mess. But to clear some things up...

The government is already in the 'pet project' business. From taxing gasoline, to giving tax breaks on hybrids, the government is already in my 'pet project'. If they are going to be in the business of "helping" people decide what car to buy, then they might as well be doing it in the way I feel is best -- this is Democracy.

The best solution would be for the government to get out of the business of "helping" us decide what cars to buy. But since that is extremely unlikely (read: probably impossible without violent revolution), I decided to write a letter to my Congressman, voicing my opinion on the subject.

Also, tax credits are not exactly the same as holding a gun to your head.

Okay, I will get into that "drug control" v. "environmentalism" argument. What personal rights do environmental laws infringe upon?
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#77)
by lb008d on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 12:19:17 PM EST

What personal rights do environmental laws infringe upon?

It infringes on my God-given right to dump my used oil and paint on that part of God's green Earth I own! That's what!

Same goes for corporations - they own the land, they should get to do whatver they want with it! If their pollution causes cancer, get cured and move away! If they want to clear cut then for God's sake let them make a buck! The trees will grow back!

[ Parent ]

I can't think of a decent subject (none / 0) (#104)
by godix on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 06:01:28 PM EST

"The best solution would be for the government to get out of the business of "helping" us decide what cars to buy."

But instead of actually supporting this, instead I'll ask the government to get even more involved than they already are. There is a difference between saying 'I don't like it but can't do anything about it' and saying 'I don't like it, so I should encourage it to go on even more'. Your actions and your stated beliefs are at odds.

"Also, tax credits are not exactly the same as holding a gun to your head."

If I decide that your goals don't fit me, I'm expected to pay extra money for the privlege of disagreeing with you. If I do not, large people with guns are going to come and either jail or shoot me for it. That certainly sounds like you are trying to force your beliefs on my by the point of a gun....

"What personal rights do environmental laws infringe upon?"

I can't drain a swamp on my own land if some rare bird decides to stop and take a shit in it. A corperation that owns a large forest can't cut down the forest if enviromentalist claim they saw some rare owl in it. Many enviromental laws violates owners property rights. It can be claimed that it is worth violating some peoples rights for the greater benifit of all, but don't ever fool yourself that your idealism isn't paid for at someone elses expense.


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


[ Parent ]
People forget (4.00 / 1) (#116)
by Quila on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 09:15:53 AM EST

That a tax credit for one person means the other people have to pay more.

[ Parent ]
very true (none / 0) (#126)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 10:32:29 AM EST

I know I completely overlooked this. I'll try to keep this kind of thing in mind.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
fine, if you believe in land ownership :) (4.00 / 1) (#127)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 10:38:26 AM EST

Which I don't. The land was there before you were born, it will be there after you die. I don't think one can "own" such a thing. You can enforce a boundary, you can defend your household, etc. But feeling entitled to draining "your swamp" is just waaaay crazy IMNSHO.

Of course, with existing property laws, it should be allowed, so I sympathize, and your point is well taken. However if 51% of the populace seem to want a law banning the draining of any swamps, for any reason... then it will become a law. If you don't like it, get the law changed, or drain your swamp anyway and fight it up to the supreme court (assuming you are in the US, sorry if otherwise).
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

The only alternative to land ownership... (4.00 / 1) (#134)
by John Miles on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 03:20:15 PM EST

... is the idea that you can occupy only the land you can defend from people who own bigger guns than you do.

Would you like that better?

No?

Then you're "in favor of land ownership," whether you acknowledge it or not.  History and human nature dictate that those are the only two options open to you.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

another alternative (none / 0) (#138)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 04:40:14 PM EST

is the idea that you can occupy only the land you can defend from people who own bigger guns than you do.

Even without land ownership laws, there are still laws that say that people cannot threaten me with guns, or shoot me with guns.

I simply don't think that person A has any more right to drain a swamp than person B, regardless of what any title of land ownership says.

Every single inch of land is communal property. Everyone has a right to the land. The land was there before we were born, and will be there after we die.

It is a strange phenomenom indeed that we have this urge to draw a line around a square of dirt or forest and claim it as "ours".

If you want to build a barn, you pick a nice spot, and if nobody minds, you build a barn. If the majority of the people don't want the barn built, you argue until you win the majority, or you try to build it somewhere else.

If you want to drain a swamp, and a majority of people don't want the swamp drained, you can argue until you win the majority.

By having these environmental laws, it says implicitly that the majority of the people don't want the swamp drained. Since the swamp is the "property" of the people (actually, we are stewards of the land, but that's getting into some strange philosophy which I don't have time for), their majority decision rules.

Again, no property rights of the land "owner" are abridged, because there are no individual property rights over land. Modern environmental law seems to concur.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Land ownership (5.00 / 1) (#144)
by godix on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 10:29:54 PM EST

"I don't think one can "own" such a thing."

I have some questions about people with this belief, but for some reason I never can get an answer. Perhaps you can answer them.

I've always wondered how improvement of land would work if no one owned it. For the sake of example, Lets say person A has the money and desire to purchase farm equipment and improve the yield of a plot of farmland. Since person A doesn't actually own the land, they have no justifiable claim to stop anyone who wants from coming and taking his increased yeild. Because of that Person A sees no point to increasing the yeild. The end result: The land isn't as improved as it could be, Person A is unhappy because he couldn't do what he wanted, and everyone else is ticked because they have to pay more for food (lower supply=high price ya know). What would you propose to rectify this situation?

Another case: A bunch of white people settle in middle of Kansas. A black person comes along and builds a house. That's fine becuase no one owns the land he's building it on. All the white people get together and claim they liked the land the way it was, majority rules, the black has to tear down his house, and incidently there's no where else the white folks think the black man should build at. Without property ownership how can this be prevented?

All land around has been torn up for parking decks, except one plot that has an apple tree in it. One winter it the people decide to chop down the tree and burn it for warmth. Without property rights how do you prevent citizens from taking a shortsighted approach to things, as they often do?

A bunch of mosquitos are bringing malaria to an area. There's a reasonably good chance that draining swamp land will destroy mosquitto breeding grounds and make malaria much more rare. Unfortunately 51% of the people like the 'wetlands'. How do you enforce public health concerns with land?

Similiarly to the above, the citizens of NYC decide that ANWAR is the perfect place to dump their trash. Since the citizens of NYC outnumber the citizens of Alaska, what's to prevent a large population from dumping waste wherever they want?

Everyone agrees that a military base is problems, so one never gets built anywhere because the majority always oppose it. A week later Canada invades, takes over all of America because there's no defenses anymore, and enforces it's rules of property ownership. How do you stop this?

If you haven't noticed, the first question is about why would anyone develop something when they won't own it and have a chance to take future profits from it. The last is related to how to defend yourself if the NIMBY (not in my back yard) idea is allowed to run free. The other questions are all related to tyranny of the majority in one way or another. These are a few of the problems I see with no property ownership. For past civilizations, Russia answered these questions with an oppesive dictatorship and the American Indians answered these questions by getting their asses kicked by a group that did believe in land ownership.


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


[ Parent ]
quite the challenge (4.50 / 2) (#147)
by Burning Straw Man on Sat Aug 31, 2002 at 11:57:41 AM EST

I'll go point by point and match you extreme abuse for extreme abuse. And probably not actually answer the question, because honestly I don't know enough. But this is my general thinking as of 31 August 2002, and it is subject to change through debate or coersion.


Lets say person A has the money and desire to purchase farm equipment and improve the yield of a plot of farmland. Since person A doesn't actually own the land, they have no justifiable claim to stop anyone who wants from coming and taking his increased yeild. Because of that Person A sees no point to increasing the yeild. The end result: The land isn't as improved as it could be, Person A is unhappy because he couldn't do what he wanted, and everyone else is ticked because they have to pay more for food (lower supply=high price ya know). What would you propose to rectify this situation?

counter-example: Lets say person A owns a plot of farmland. But person A is not utilising the farmland with advanced techniques and equipment, and the surrounding community would like lower food prices and better yield. But, since person A owns the land, there is nothing to be done.

rectify: All Person A has to do is convince the other parties that his plan is the best, and the land will be developed. If he can't convince the other parties that his plan is the best, well then, perhaps the people don't value low food prices as much as Person A thought.


Another case: A bunch of white people settle in middle of Kansas. A black person comes along and builds a house. That's fine becuase no one owns the land he's building it on. All the white people get together and claim they liked the land the way it was, majority rules, the black has to tear down his house, and incidently there's no where else the white folks think the black man should build at. Without property ownership how can this be prevented?

counter-example: A bunch of white people settle in the middle of Kansas. A black person comes along and wants to build a house. But it's too bad, because all the white people own the land already, and refuse to sell any to the black man.

prevention: There are already laws against discrimination on the basis of race. If the black man you speak of wishes to pursue the matter, he will find many friends in the ACLU and other organisations.


All land around has been torn up for parking decks, except one plot that has an apple tree in it. One winter it the people decide to chop down the tree and burn it for warmth. Without property rights how do you prevent citizens from taking a shortsighted approach to things, as they often do?

counter-example: All land aroudn has been torn up for parking decks, except one plot that has an apple tree in it. One winter, the owner of the tree decides to chop it down and burn it for warmth. Without communal rights to preserve the last apple tree, how do you prevent private owners from taking a shortsighted approach to things, as they often do?

prevention: If the people needed firewood that badly, maybe the apple tree's time had come. If the majority of the communal land owners decide the tree is best used as firewood, that's the way it will be. It is up to those people who are not shortsighted (this would be people like you!) to convince them otherwise.


A bunch of mosquitos are bringing malaria to an area. There's a reasonably good chance that draining swamp land will destroy mosquitto breeding grounds and make malaria much more rare. Unfortunately 51% of the people like the 'wetlands'. How do you enforce public health concerns with land?

counter-example: A bunch of mosquitos are bringing malaria to an area. There's a reasonably good chance that draining swamp land will destroy mosquito breeding grounds and make malaria much mroe rare. Unfortunately the owner of the land likes his 'wetlands'. How do you enforce public health concerns with land?

enforcement: It is up to the people who want to drain the wetlands to stop malaria to convince the people that this is the best idea. If they can't convince them that the value of reduced malaria is greater than the value of preserved wetlands, then the people have chosen to value preserved wetlands over reduced malaria, and that's the way it will be.


Similiarly to the above, the citizens of NYC decide that ANWAR is the perfect place to dump their trash. Since the citizens of NYC outnumber the citizens of Alaska, what's to prevent a large population from dumping waste wherever they want?

counter-example: Similarly to the above, the citizens of NYC decide that ANWAR is the perfect place to dump their trash. Since a prominent citizen of NYC owns a large portion of ANWAR, what's to prevent the people of Alaska from having waste dumped on them?

prevention: The people of NYC have no communal land rights over ANWAR, because they do not live there. The people living in the affected area decide if the amount of money NYC is willing to pay for dumping is worth the nastiness of having the trash there as well. If there is no one living in the area (such as ANWAR) then I see no reason to stop the trash dumping. If someone wants to live there and fight for its preservation, have a nice time.


Everyone agrees that a military base is problems, so one never gets built anywhere because the majority always oppose it. A week later Canada invades, takes over all of America because there's no defenses anymore, and enforces it's rules of property ownership. How do you stop this?

counter-example: Everyone agrees that a military base is problems, so one never gets built anywhere because land owners won't sell the land for building. A week later Canada invades, takes over all of America because there's no defenses anymore [...] How do you stop this?

stopping it: If the majority of the people cannot be convinced of the value of military protection, then they shouldn't be surprised when they are overrun. Convince them that they need military protection, and they will welcome it. If you can't convince them they need military protection, the chances are, Canada is not about to invade.

All your points are very valid and good questions.

However, for nearly every extreme you can present, there is another example for the extremes of land ownership.

Remember, the feudal system was based on land ownership, but that didn't stop the majority of people from starving, dying, and suffering through life, to benefit the few lords.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

You vastly overrate humanity (none / 0) (#151)
by godix on Sun Sep 01, 2002 at 01:01:50 AM EST

Lets see if I can sum this up:
Basically you believe that a collective group will do the right action more often than not. Because of that, collective groups should have control of land instead of individuals.

I believe a collective group usually does the worse action possible in most situations. Because of that I think individuals should have the power to override the majorities will (within limits).

Assuming I've summed up your beliefs correct, please explain how much history you know. I'm not trying to insult you; I just don't understand how anyone who knows a lot about Japans actions in Nanking, slavery, the church domination in the middle ages, 'divine right of kings', Spanish Inquisition, WWII Poland, Islamic reaction to 'Satanic Verses', treatment of American Indians, British actions in India, or any of the hundreds of other horrors supported by the majority (Hitler should be skipped due to Godwins Law) could still believe that the most people will do the right thing.


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


[ Parent ]
continuing (none / 0) (#153)
by Burning Straw Man on Sun Sep 01, 2002 at 02:32:06 AM EST

as far as history goes, one of my minors in college was history, albeit ancient history: Egypt, Greece, Sumeria, Persia, etc. I've never taken a U.S. history class, and my only "European" history class was in high school, covering mostly the fall of Rome to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

my background: grew up on a large family-owned farm which had been passed down for several generations, about 100 acres or so, IIRC. so I have a great respect for proper land management and natural resource management.

I think I adopted the "land ownership is bad" stance about the moment I typed it a few days ago. And I'll probably have changed my mind by next week. I swing from communist to capitalist, from libertarian to socialist and back from time to time, depending on how highly I rate my fellow human at the time. One of these days I'll settle on something, but generally I get into a lot of political arguments, and the next week, I'm arguing a position, and the person I'm debating ends up screaming, "Damn it, weren't you advocating the exact opposite position last week?!?"

Most of the time I feel that people are generally good. When people use their turn signals, and properly stop their cars at pedestrian crossings. The rest of the time I want to go back to the farm, build a giant wall, and place automated gun turrets on the walls, because in general the populace seems to be an apathetic mass of morons.

But that's the thing about going out and becoming a computer scientist. I can never go back to the farm, no matter how much a part of my soul it is. Most of the reason I never have any firm political beliefs over time is because I'm stuck between being an agrarian and a technocrat.

Of course, now the farm has computers, faxes, digital readouts for nitrogen levels and charts for when to spray Ammonia for peak effect. And maybe that's why you can't go back -- because you want to go back for the peace of it all, the open, endless rolling honesty of that life. But when it comes down to it, it ends up being mostly the same bullshit you have to deal with in the city.

I often wonder what society would become if there were a global crisis, say complete economic collapse, nuclear war, catastrophic flooding from global warming, that kind of thing. I often just assume I'll go back to farming. But I doubt I could really do it anymore.

What does any of this have to do with land ownership? No idea. Just get started talking about land and I'll tell you about the landmarks around the old farm, and be glad to be able to call it home sometimes.

Damn, it must be late. 2:30 AM. No wonder I'm writing all this weird crap.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

wait a minute (4.00 / 1) (#154)
by Burning Straw Man on Sun Sep 01, 2002 at 02:47:22 AM EST

you vastly overrate humanity

Advocating private ownership of land is actually holding the individual to a very high standard. If the individual can do whatever they want, you have to believe that they will make very good choices.

However in general, I have to agree with most of your points. "In any sufficiently large group of people, most of them are idiots." ... and ... "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups."

Because of that I think individuals should have the power to override the majorities will (within limits).

Strangely enough, so do I, to an extent. I linked to a diary post of mine somewhere in this thread, basically outlining that democracy should require a two-thirds majority instead of a simple majority, to limit the power of 51% of the people deciding for the other 49% (or, in the case of our impending War with Iraq, 49% of the people deciding for the other 51%). This way, if person A wanted to drain "their" swamp, 51% of the people couldn't stop them, 67% of them would have to want it. If 67% of the people don't want the swamp drained, there's probably a pretty damned good reason.

My problem with land ownership does not extend to private ownership of nearly anything else. You want to stockpile a bunch of diamonds or gold chains? Fine, have fun. Those are actual material things you can own, pick up, count, etc. I just don't understand the thought that land can be owned, not whether or not it should be owned.

Kind of like my opinion of intellectual property (which is bad, since I work in Comp Sci research and file patents like the rest of us). I just don't believe it exists. I think of "land property" in the same sense. It doesn't exist, so why debate about whether or not it should be set up the way it is?
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

This is a long thread. (4.00 / 1) (#155)
by godix on Sun Sep 01, 2002 at 02:23:47 PM EST

"Advocating private ownership of land is actually holding the individual to a very high standard."

I don't think so. Without clear rights to do whatever to the land, an individual is easily at the will of the majority. Public ownership of land is a nice ideal, but it just doesn't work in reality. Every example I know just couldn't pull it off, land always ends up under someones control. Russia and other modern 'communist' countries had it controled by dictatorships. American Indians had it controlled by tribes and wars would be fought if other tribes tried to move in (this is kind of community control, but really the land is still owned). Those are the only two times I can recall that non-land ownership was even attempted on a large scale.

"basically outlining that democracy should require a two-thirds majority instead of a simple majority"

Not that bad of an idea, but still not great. At various points in time more than 66.6~% of the people have supported some incredibly bad ideas. There has to be some way to protect minorities, and shifting the definition of minority from 49% to 33.3~% doesn't really do that. You need something around that guarentees rights to everyone and some way to make sure those rights are protected. America chose a consitution and supreme court for those roles, although plenty of other methods are avalable.

"If 67% of the people don't want the swamp drained, there's probably a pretty damned good reason."

Giving power to the majority just makes a few individuals fight their power games with FUD instead of buyouts or other methods. Look at the silocon breats enhancement scare from awhile back and imagine if public policy was made on that type of propaganda.

"I just don't understand the thought that land can be owned, not whether or not it should be owned."
"Kind of like my opinion of intellectual property. I just don't believe it exists."

So basically your problem isn't with ownership, it's with ownership of intangable things? The problem is the intangable and physical are intetwined with each other. Lets make an example: I want to build a house, this requires me to to get a lot of lumber. At what point does wood shift from an intangable 'part of the land' to a physical 'board'? If I cut down the tree does ownership suddenly transfer from the community to me? How is that different that a tree that just fell down in a storm? Perhaps I have to do something with it to make it mine, but is there really a difference between a dead tree and a dead tree cut up? Does that difference happen with the very first cut, or could the community claim ownership of my work right up to the point I'm done turning the tree into lumber? What if I grow a tree specifically intending to cut it down for lumber later, is that tree mine or the communities? Maybe the difference between 'mine' and 'everyones' is what I intend to do with it instead of what I have done with it, but how exactly could you judge that in a consitantly fair fashion?

Another example: I want to build a skyscraper. For whatever reasons the majority lets me. 10 years later the majority decide they don't want my skyscraper around. Can they do anything about it? Is the building mine, and since the building can't be moved the land it's on mine as well? Is the land still the communities and so the majority have the right to destroy this guys building because it's on 'their' land?

These types of questions are why I'm for land ownership. If we were still nomadic people who didn't build permanent buildings or mine resources then communal land ownership might work. But we aren't, we are an industrialized nation that often changes the land by either buildings or resource gathering. Without clear land ownership, there are entirely too many problems figuring out who owns the buildings or resources and when they start to own it.


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


[ Parent ]
incredibly bad ideas (none / 0) (#161)
by Burning Straw Man on Tue Sep 03, 2002 at 02:12:47 PM EST

At various points in time more than 66.6~% of the people have supported some incredibly bad ideas.

this is yet another reason I would like to see a law passed which institutes a mandatory review of ALL federal laws and programs by a Congressional committee, on a regular basis (maybe within every 4 years, although I would prefer 2 years). If anyone on that review board thinks the law or program is an "incredibly" bad idea, then the law or program is put to a House vote, and if it fails to get 51% of the votes, the law or program is repealed. There would have to be some "grace period" for the states to decide for themselves if they want to adopt the law or program on a state-by-state basis.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Sounds similar (none / 0) (#162)
by godix on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 08:45:20 PM EST

to my idea that there should be a consitutional ammendment forcing all laws passed to have a sunset clause of 10 years (length of time is debatable). If 10 years from now Congress wants the law to remain they can pass it again. I think we finally found something we agree on.....


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


[ Parent ]
Oh, incidently (none / 0) (#152)
by godix on Sun Sep 01, 2002 at 01:03:40 AM EST

Thanks for answering my questions. I've never had a person against property rights be coherent enough that I could figure out their reasoning before.


Don't mind the plummeting noise, mojo always makes that sound after I post.


[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 1) (#133)
by trhurler on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 02:08:57 PM EST

People who think exactly as you do are the reason all the intrusive government is there right now. You just don't fucking get it, do you?:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
reducing intrusive government (none / 0) (#137)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 04:25:45 PM EST

I campaign extensively to reduce intrusive government.

Read this diary entry of mine. Still very formative stages, but the main point is a constitutional amendment requiring a 2/3 vote in the senate to create any new federal law or program.

The bottom line is that it is much easier to add a law or program, than it is to remove a law or program.

The main reason is that nearly all politicians (this excludes the LP) do not believe that they can curry public support by riding a platform of "I am going to remove these laws and programs!" Instead they ride the platform of "I will do these great new programs! Vote for me!"
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Which personal rights? Plenty (none / 0) (#159)
by strlen on Mon Sep 02, 2002 at 07:50:44 PM EST

For one the right to property. It's next to impossible to buy a new TDI in California. Thus I don't have the liberty of buying a new car that gets 49 miles per gallon. If that's not personal liberty, it's hard to say what is.

Second, I can't change the exhaust pipe on my motorcycle, to increase its performance, or to make myself more noticeable to a moron soccer mom, who decides to merge into me (motorcycles are easily lost in blind spots, and stock exhaust systems are fairly quiet). Or the liberty to do myriad of other work on my car, which increases its performance, and/or fuel effieciency. My friend found it impossible to register a truck that he converted to propane, because of the bloated CARB (california air resources board) burearacy which required that his propane equipped truck have a GAS TANK EVAPORATOR (when it doesn't run on gas, morons!), and would even give him a list of required equipment unless he was a licensed smog station.

There's plenty of other laws like that, and the bureacracy it's created has made it easy for police to harass young people who performance cars, as all they have to do is pop the hood, and proceed to give ridiculous tickets for parts which may even be legal, in spirit of environmental laws dealing with "tampering with emissions equipment".

Sorry, but the enviromentalist movement has totally missed is target, and even its noble goals do not justify the extent of intrusion into private property of individuals, and rights to choose of consumers.  Is it not as outrageous as the war on drugs? Yes, but it's still instrustive.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

Social Engineering (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by heatherj on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 01:14:12 PM EST

Anything that means the gov't collects less taxes is fine with me. However, such a bill's impact on our household would likely mean that our next pickup would be a diesel. I know you seem to have a hard time with this, but some people buy SUV's & trucks for good reasons. In our case, we have frequent need of a pickup truck. It also happens to be our newest, most reliable reason, so it is what the man of the house uses to commute to work every day, 100 miles round trip. For anyone living in a rural area, this is not an unusually large commute, and I have heard of people going twice as far for a good job. Cheaper diesel would have a larger impact on the environment and on people's pockets if it applied to ALL vehicles, not just those you deem politically correct.

Housewives used to drive full size station wagons. It was decided that they were politically incorrect when CAFE standards were first established. Minivans are a good alternative for some, but, for anyone that needs to transport both passengers and cargo, and for anyone that needs to be able to get out in bad weather, basically the only alternative to an SUV is the Subaru Outback. For work, of late, I have spent considerable time in the back seats of both minivans and mid-size SUV's. For comfort, the SUV wins, no contest, and it still has cargo space, and it can handle the fact that this is a rural area, and dry road conditions and snowplowing in this state are both notoriously bad.

Trucks? (none / 0) (#100)
by mindstrm on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 04:13:55 PM EST

Did he mention trucks? I don't think so.

It's well known that a great many people living in urban areas buy SUV's that they definitely DONT need, and it's a huge waste of energy.


[ Parent ]

Less Tax (none / 0) (#163)
by vectro on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:53:53 AM EST

So if the government, for example, were to collect no tax from women, while increasing the tax rate for men by 95%, you would view that as an improvement?

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Accountability (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by Cadrach on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 02:14:44 PM EST

Here's one example of why the fiction of corporate personhood is detrimental. Let's say that I'm in the marketing department of a corporation, and it would be beneficial to the corporation for me to make official statements that are less than honest. If we grant corporate personhood, the corporation has the right to free speech, and thus it can make the dishonest statements. If the (monetary) benefits of the dishonesty outweigh the (monetary) costs of being caught, it is in the corporation's best interest (from our screwed-up capitalist point of view) to make these statements. If it has no right to speech, then an individual at the corporation, namely myself, could be held responsible for what that individual said, and could face punishments which cannot be employed against corporations, such as prison time. Knowing this, the individual (myself, in this example) might choose not to take the dishonest action in question.

But wait, you say, the company would just threaten to fire the employee and end up getting the employee to do what they want anyway, and even end up taking responsibility for the actions so that the corporation doesn't have to. I suppose that this is a legitimate concern, but I find it hard to believe that most companies would be able to find large quantities of employees that are willing to be sent to jail for several years for a simple paycheck. I certainly wouldn't be willing to, but I don't suppose I'd be willing to be unethical even if I weren't held accountable.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. --H.L. Mencken

Wrong place. (none / 0) (#89)
by Cadrach on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 02:17:57 PM EST

Okay, I'm an idiot; this is my first post on kuro5hin, and I posted to the wrong place. This was intended to be a reply to this post. Sorry.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. --H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]

no worries (none / 0) (#98)
by Burning Straw Man on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 04:05:53 PM EST

It was a well-written post, IMO, keep posting, don't worry about it.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
biodiesel.. (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by mindstrm on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 04:11:49 PM EST

okay, as cool as it is...

I believe someone once pointed out that the only reason it's economical to use biodiesel right now is because it's basically free.. ie: kitchen grease... it's seen as a waste product.

If EVERYONE started buying it, it would become expensive quickly, and there is simply not enough out there. how much land would it take to make enough biodiesel to run the nations vehicles?

And this low-sulfur diesel.. that DOES get refined at some point to remove sulfur.. where does it go? what other chemicals are involved in the process?


Not to Mention ... (none / 0) (#105)
by icastel on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 06:02:28 PM EST

... all the petroleoum-based diesel (about 5 gallons.) and electric power it takes to make each barrel of biodiesel.

This biodiesel concept is pure nonsense because you end up contaminating the atmosphere in the process of producing this "bio" thing.

And, did you know gullible is not an actual word?




-- I like my land flat --
[ Parent ]
Regarding the economics of biodiesel... (5.00 / 1) (#107)
by ArtFart on Thu Aug 29, 2002 at 06:58:49 PM EST

I'll have to agree with this caveat. It's all to easy to visualize biodiesel turning into another fiasco-cum-consumer-fraud like "gasohol". Remember that? When it became apparent that alcohol not only cost more but took more energy to produce than it "saved", Archer Daniels Midland renamed it "oxygenated gasoline" and bribed enough politicians to get it rammed down motorists' throats as an "anti-pollution" measure.

[ Parent ]
Ethanol Efficiency (none / 0) (#157)
by pulnimar on Mon Sep 02, 2002 at 01:50:55 PM EST

This is no longer true, and possibly hasn't been true for over a decade (according to this report):

http://www.ncga.com/news/releases/2002/august/news0080202.htm

I believe the press release is wrong in the detail, as the PDF report says ethanol gives 134% more BTUs over it's *entire* life cycle, not just the production of ethanol cycle.

[ Parent ]
I hate diesels (3.50 / 2) (#115)
by Quila on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 09:11:50 AM EST

Not in theory mind you, they're great there.

But I get nauseated every time I'm following one of these new supposedly clean diesels (VW TDI, Mercedes CDI, etc.) and get a blast of black smoke in the face every time they hit the accelerator.

Clean diesels aren't clean yet.

Are you talking about the new euro diesels? (none / 0) (#119)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 09:43:52 AM EST

Interesting - since we don't have the clean fuel for them in the states, I don't think I've ever smelt one.

They still run that dirty?


--
So many freaks, so few circuses.


[ Parent ]

Yesterday (none / 0) (#122)
by Quila on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 10:09:05 AM EST

I was behind a fairly new immaculate Mercedes C320 (gorgeous car) on the Autobahn, and got a light puff of black smoke in the face when he hit the gas. I also got it with an Audi A6 max. two years old, and the smoke was worse.

I see this on all diesels. I figure time-to-smoking is about a year, then it gets progressively worse.

It's really too bad because aside from the actual smoke, these diesels are pretty impressive.

[ Parent ]

Bummer. (none / 0) (#125)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 10:30:24 AM EST

I assume the problem is that they still burn a little oil. Having put 40 (yeah, forty) quarts of oil in my father's semi, I know how diesels can go through oil...


--
So many freaks, so few circuses.


[ Parent ]

bio diesel smell (none / 0) (#165)
by growyourownfoodcom on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 12:51:31 AM EST

I use bio diesel ,that I make myself,in a ford f350 and depending on the source of the oil it could smell like french fries or donuts! The smell you dislike may be from fossil fuels.
www.growyourownfood.com Plug in and grow!!
[ Parent ]
hey (none / 0) (#166)
by Burning Straw Man on Wed Apr 09, 2003 at 03:33:15 PM EST

I doubt you'll see this reply... but I'm interested in making my own biodiesel also. Any links or references you could provide would be really helpful!
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
Bill to Promote the Proliferation of the Modern Diesel | 166 comments (152 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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