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Oil spill off Louisiana coast

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It's my understanding that with the current ownership and rules of the road, it does count as initiation of force, which is why the police can step in. If the road was actual private property, it would depend on the property owner's rules. Is driving like that putting someone "at risk"? Yes, but it's not an initiation of force until property damage happens (a crash), or if the reckless driver is breaking the rules of a privately owned road. If someone is running fast on a sidewalk and waving their arms around crazily, they are putting others at risk of getting a punch in the face, but it's not a threat nor is it an initiation of force, until someone is hit. What if someone is driving extremely slowly on a fast moving highway? I'd say that's putting others' safety at risk too, but until a crash happens, then there hasn't been an initiation of force. What about cell phone use? Putting on make-up? Chatting in the car? All of these are "reckless" behaviours while driving, but it's the same argument that if something is "risky" then government should put a stop to it (at least it has with cell phone use).

The problem I have with this reasoning is that, in my view, the initiation of force begins with a conscious choice. It can't be that one chose to behave recklessly, but force was initiated only at the point where that choice had damaging consequences. For example, I think that firing a gun at someone, if it can be considered the initiation of force at all, is the initiation of force when the choice is made to pull the trigger, even if the bullet misses the target. It follows that if driving recklessly can be considered the initiation of force at all, that the initiation begins when the choice is made to drive recklessly, whether or not there's a crash.

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In choosing to drive recklessly, the initiation of force is against the authority governing the road.

Actually colliding with someone is a separate initiation.

I still don't understand why the choice (to drive recklessly) and the consequence (the actual collision) are treated as separate and distinct. To me, this flies in the face of causality: what caused the actual collision IOF, other than the choice to drive recklessly? We are dealing here with culpability of the most important kind. I don't dispute that there is force involved in the actual collision, I am asking at what point was that force initiated? Is force not initiated by and with the conscious choice of the individual who initiates it? I submit that force cannot be initiated by circumstances, it is initiated only by persons at the point that they choose to initiate it, that therefore the two initiations are actually one and the same (against both the authority governing the road and the person with whom the collision occurs). The reason is that the actual collision was caused by the choice to drive recklessly, i.e. the only choice that was made.

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This has happened before.

IXTOC I Bahia de Campeche, Mexico 1979-Jun-03

On June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, IXTOC I, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The IXTOC I was being drilled by the SEDCO 135, a semi-submersible platform on lease to Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). A loss of drilling mud circulation caused the blowout to occur. The oil and gas blowing out of the well ignited, causing the platform to catch fire. The burning platform collapsed into the wellhead area hindering any immediate attempts to control the blowout. PEMEX hired blowout control experts and other spill control experts including Red Adair, Martech International of Houston, and the Mexican diving company, Daivaz. The Martech response included 50 personnel on site, the remotely operated vehicle TREC, and the submersible Pioneer I. The TREC attempted to find a safe approach to the Blowout Preventer (BOP). The approach was complicated by poor visibility and debris on the seafloor including derrick wreckage and 3000 meters of drilling pipe. Divers were eventually able to reach and activate the BOP, but the pressure of the oil and gas caused the valves to begin rupturing. The BOP was reopened to prevent destroying it. Two relief wells were drilled to relieve pressure from the well to allow response personnel to cap it. Norwegian experts were contracted to bring in skimming equipment and containment booms, and to begin cleanup of the spilled oil. The IXTOC I well continued to spill oil at a rate of 10,000 - 30,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980.

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The question should be whether force is initiated. However, my question then is this: can force be initiated by conscious and deliberate recklessness? Driving a car should not be prohibited, but what about driving a car recklessly on a crowded highway in a manner that puts others' safety at risk? Does that count as initiation of force?
I need to think though this a few times, but I have a clearer understanding of the nature of the problem. When you hit someone or physically trespass against them, that is actual force. Initiation of force is the initial act in a causal chain terminating in actual force. Whether your act is the initial act in a chain leading to actual force is not controlled by whether you are deliberate or reckless; in fact, deliberateness and recklessness are relevant only in determining whether you should be held legally liable.
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To me a more interesting question presents itself: should oil companies be allowed to drill if unable to cover the cost of a major accident or catastrophe?

This essentially dovetails with my original question.

More importantly, the assumption made by Russk and Seeker is that money can return the damaged party to the original state before the initiation of force. As we talked about the Exxon Valdez spill, it is clear from all the studies in that case the Prince William Sound has not returned to its previous state, despite the cleanup efforts. So in cases where the damages are not reversible, or at least for not many years, does the government have an interest in mitigating risky behavior that have the potential for catastrophic consequences?

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What exactly is this legally enforceable requirement to mitigate risk?

One thing to try to keep in mind is how private property would likely end up being divvied up in the society that ought to be. So talking about things like candles starting chain fires in a neighborhood means you're likely talking about a subdivided housing development with shared roads and probably some common agreements.

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More importantly, the assumption made by Russk and Seeker is that money can return the damaged party to the original state before the initiation of force. As we talked about the Exxon Valdez spill, it is clear from all the studies in that case the Prince William Sound has not returned to its previous state, despite the cleanup efforts.

Are you saying that unless something is restored to its previous state, the notion of restoration is pointless? 'Cause I remember a kid stole a dollar from me in grade school. The teacher made him give it back, but I wasn't returned to my previous state: several of my cells had divided in the mean time.

Does that mean the government should close down schools, so this inherent risk schools have, by which kids may stay forever in an altered state can be averted?

So in cases where the damages are not reversible, or at least for not many years, does the government have an interest in mitigating risky behavior that have the potential for catastrophic consequences?

I answered that question. The current government does have that interest, because they are a collection of fascists. A rights respecting government would not, because mitigating risk that is inherent in all actions is obviously inherently in conflict with all rights to action.

As long as you fail to use individual rights as the underlying principle governing political relationships, you're not going got understand the answer, no matter how many times you ask the question. Nor will you come up with a solution that is objective, and not monstrously fascist. If you want politicians to have power over BP based on the concept of "risk", you want them to have power over everyone. There are no risk free actions.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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The one thing that nobody has addressed yet is why BP is drilling here to begin with. Are there easier places to extract oil? Can oil companies overcome the regulatory barriers to drill there? Does drilling in such places involve less risk? I ask because I don't know for sure, but I suspect that's the case. Offshore drilling seems to be easier to get a bureaucrat to sign off on - the farther away the better.

Actually, it looks like this was close to being addressed already:

Perhaps it would not be so hard to drill if oil companies were allowed to drill closer than, what, 60 miles from shore?
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The one thing that nobody has addressed yet is why BP is drilling here to begin with.
My understanding is that there's a fair amount of oil there. That is enough reason to a company to pursue the oil, IMO. It does not matter whether there are easier places to extract oil.

The question about regulatory impediments to liberty do, assuredly, play a role in a company's decision to engage in business, but the question does not play any role in moral evaluation. However, I do not believe that there are any serious regulatory issues w.r.t. "off shore" versus "on land" that actually motivate the choice to drill in a particular spot. Rather, the pickin's are slimmer on land.

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Are you saying that unless something is restored to its previous state, the notion of restoration is pointless? 'Cause I remember a kid stole a dollar from me in grade school. The teacher made him give it back, but I wasn't returned to my previous state: several of my cells had divided in the mean time.Does that mean the government should close down schools, so this inherent risk schools have, by which kids may stay forever in an altered state can be averted?

Which is indicative of....what? What do cells subdividing have to do with anything? It is certainly not a similar situation to having an entire ecosystem affected by toxic oil and having it still impacting the environment (and thus people's income) 20 years later. I mean if we're going to have even a semi-serious conversation here, you've got to figure out why such false equivalencies are only distracting from any point you wish to make.

The current government does have that interest, because they are a collection of fascists.

I think you meant to say statists. Fascism is a term that really does not apply here. Unless you have your own definition you are working from that I am not aware of, please see here.

As long as you fail to use individual rights as the underlying principle governing political relationships, you're not going got understand the answer, no matter how many times you ask the question. Nor will you come up with a solution that is objective, and not monstrously fascist.

Why are you obsessed with misusing the word fascist? Anyway, I am not deviating from the underlying principle of individual rights ruling supreme. My question is in relation to the competing rights of two parties, one to partake in his autonomous action, and the other to the protection of his property from the (potentially) threatening actions of that first party. Now when I say potentially, I mean an action that can be considered reasonably and significantly dangerous to another's property or person.

In the case of BP and this spill, it can be argued, and has been by others on this very thread other than me, that government oversight may be warranted when certain actions, such as off shore oil drilling, create a level of potential destruction that threaten the individual rights of property owners. The threat to be mitigated can not be trivial or inconsequential, but must pose a significant hazard.

Now let's take a look at the Exxon Valdez spill, and the actual efforts to be made whole through the court system. The actual damages paid in 1989 up front ($300 million) by Exxon to commercial fishermen only applied to the fishing season that year. Fishermen in Alaska made $100,000 per year on average, but only received about $10,000 each. At the time, it was thought the ecosystem would repair itself in a few years, and this affected the lawsuit, but that was not the case. As you can see, suing a company like Exxon won't yield a payout for up to 20 years, a period of time many died before being adequately compensated. If you're a company with the resources of Exxon, you can employ a myriad of delay tactics, and bury your opponents in legal filings and bogus scientific "studies", all of which has to be countered by your own attorneys working for free for 20 years in the hopes that maybe they'll get a payout down the line that will make it all worth it. Most firms couldn't afford to even take your case, and the big firms would only take it if they could get a big payday through a punitive damages claim. So there is no chance Exxon will be sued for actual damages beyond that first year because 1)the studies showing definitively that the oil caused the decline in the fishing were only completed years later, and 2) those potential plaintiffs would have to wait a similar time to see another lawsuit through, and 3) what law firm would take the case?

So one alternative to the Exxon scenario is to have some regulatory oversight in place to mitigate the possibility of future occurrences. This is a perfectly reasonable line of inquiry.

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And here is a link to an analysis of the Exxon litigation. A long but thorough explanation of how you can get screwed in the court system fighting for your rights.

Interesting bit from the conclusion that goes to my point:

Courts continue to struggle to manage these massive cases, seeking to use the legal tools at hand. Powerful and well-funded defendants do not lack imagination or incentive to pose innumerable legal barriers, and aggressively assert their legal rights and otherwise use the law, the courts and the judicial system to serve their interests. Plaintiffs who sustain injuries must be prepared for years of litigation, during which time the laws may change, their resources may be exhausted, and their lives must continue.
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Litigation procedures and tactics are a separate issue than the oil spill. Simply drilling for oil cannot be perceived as a threatening action worthy of any government interference until it infringes on others' property or life. All future occurrences or accidents can't be accounted for and should not be handled by the law until they exist. Until then, prevention of accidents is the prerogative of the property owner doing the action to first mitigate his own loss of property and life, then others. Usually this actually means taking extra precautions to avoid damages to others (for example, Factors of Safety in engineering). However, in cases where these precautions failed, a decision on criminality and due cost has to be handled by courts after the fact.

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Interestingly, there was no compensation whatsoever by the Mexican government (or Pemex itself) for damages caused by the state-owned Pemex oil company in the IXTOC I disaster. A government can screw you over worse than a company can.

Edited by Grames
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Which is indicative of....what? What do cells subdividing have to do with anything? It is certainly not a similar situation to having an entire ecosystem affected by toxic oil and having it still impacting the environment (and thus people's income) 20 years later. I mean if we're going to have even a semi-serious conversation here, you've got to figure out why such false equivalencies are only distracting from any point you wish to make.

I did not equivocate anything. I merely pointed out the ridiculousness of your claim, that the role of a government should be to restore harmed parties to their previous state. If you want, I can quote back that the post where you formulated that specific thought, I directly addressed.

think you meant to say statists. Fascism is a term that really does not apply here. Unless you have your own definition you are working from that I am not aware of, please see here.

Why are you obsessed with misusing the word fascist?

I used it correctly. Fascism is precisely the national control of corporations and economic activity in general the current administration is aiming for. Statism is a wider term, that includes fascism, socialism, communism, and other forms of central planning.

In the case of BP and this spill, it can be argued, and has been by others on this very thread other than me,

Appeal to popularity.

In the case of BP and this spill, it can be argued, and has been by others on this very thread other than me, government oversight may be warranted when certain actions, such as off shore oil drilling, create a level of potential destruction that threaten the individual rights of property owners. The threat to be mitigated can not be trivial or inconsequential, but must pose a significant hazard.

Argued how? Stating and then repeating is not an argument. Not even when there is supposed team work behind the effort.

The actual damages paid in 1989 up front ($300 million) by Exxon to commercial fishermen only applied to the fishing season that year. Fishermen in Alaska made $100,000 per year on average, but only received about $10,000 each. At the time, it was thought the ecosystem would repair itself in a few years, and this affected the lawsuit, but that was not the case

What are you talking about? The Supreme Court ruling I linked you to was made in 2008.

I also don't believe any of those ridiculous numbers. Find some credible sources, or stop repeating them. Your math is ridiculous. It would mean there had to have been 30.000 fishermen (who divided the 300 million you claim EXXON paid out), all making 100.000 every year from fishing, who could no longer fish because of the spill. That makes it 3 billion dollars in yearly income, from fishing. If we were to assume a very generous 10% profit from revenues for the industry, that makes it a 30 billion dollar/year industry, wiped out by Exxon. (that's above Alaska's GDP, fyi)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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The purpose of bringing up Exxon was to show the potential futility of taking claims to court against a mega corporation. In order to protect one's rights and property, relying on the court system after the fact would seemingly give such mega corporations more rights than individuals. Trying to sue a company like Exxon, which had clear liability beyond dispute, was an exhaustive ordeal. If you're lucky you might get a settlement offer, which almost assuredly will be far below the actual damages, but at least its money in hand.

If anyone wants to read the link describing the litigation and how such lawsuits usually go down, be my guest. If you prefer to live in a dreamworld where courts magically bestow even-handed justice and that money plays no factor in an attempt to claim damages, you can do that too.

Fascism is precisely the national control of corporations and economic activity in general the current administration is aiming for

If you read up on fascism you will find that in order to qualify as fascism, something has to have just about ALL the elements of that ideology. You can't just pick out the ones that seem to match with your thesis. What about extreme nationalism, totalitarianism, ethnic purity, suppression of dissent, cult of one supreme leader, etc?

What are you talking about? The Supreme Court ruling I linked you to was made in 2008.

The original case was argued in the early 90's. All the subsequent appeals were about the punitive damages, not the actual damages, which were figured in the original case.

I also don't believe any of those ridiculous numbers.

The average income statewide for fishermen may be closer to $65,000 according to this site, but it may be different for the fishermen of Prince William Sound. It is a $11 billion industry up there. From this site:

After the spill, the average annual income of a salmon seiner went from $176,500 to less than $88,250, according to the trustee council. In 1992 and 1993, earnings hit a new bottom, the lowest in 15 years. By 1999, average earnings had made a comeback, reaching $130,000, per the council's figures.

Regardless, they made pretty good money. The problem is the debt load of many of the fishermen was tremendous, to pay for permits and specialized boats. No compensation for that.

I just find it curious that you are are so willing to side with Exxon versus the individual fishermen, many who's lives were clearly destroyed by Exxon's transgression. Why not take the blinders off and read for yourself what happened to those people? If you think anyone was even close to compensated for their actual damages you just aren't paying attention or are being obtuse. Don't you care about individual rights?

Edited by Michael McGuire
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If you read up on fascism you will find that in order to qualify as fascism, something has to have just about ALL the elements of that ideology. You can't just pick out the ones that seem to match with your thesis.

A quality specific to fascism (as indirect government control over corporations is) is a fascist quality.

From this site:

I'd love to go all out, but it's not a poorly written article. For a college girl working as an intern there, that is. Still, she is a liberal activist (her twitter has the always witty "Oh, Faux "News." observation), and I have about as much reason to trust her random numbers as I have to trust yours.

The average income statewide for fishermen may be closer to $65,000 according to this site, but it may be different for the fishermen of Prince William Sound. It is a $11 billion industry up there.

Right. It currently is an 11 billion industry, and they are fishing that much out of the ocean, in current money. In all of Alaska. I assure you that figure was far smaller before the Exxon Valdez accident, which did not affect the entire state of Alaska, which ash the longest shoreline among all the states. What evidence do you have that the damage to fishing was greater than 300 million?

Regardless, they made pretty good money. The problem is the debt load of many of the fishermen was tremendous, to pay for permits and specialized boats. No compensation for that.

Exxon didn't take their money for those permits, Exxon shouldn't give it back.

I just find it curious that you are are so willing to side with Exxon versus the individual fishermen, many who's lives were clearly destroyed by Exxon's transgression.

It was an accident, not a transgression. A transgression is an intentional act. And I am siding with the decision of the Supreme Court, which I found to be lawful an objective.

Why not take the blinders off and read for yourself what happened to those people? If you think anyone was even close to compensated for their actual damages you just aren't paying attention or are being obtuse.

I have read the Supreme Court decision explaining why the victims were in fact properly compensated, as per US law. I challenged you to point out their factual errors, and I still would love to see evidence of any. You don't have it, the best you could come up with after three pages is an article by a liberal college girl, and a series of logical fallacies and insults.

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I've read the Supreme Court decision explaining why the victims were in fact properly compensated, as per US law. I challenged you to point out their factual errors, and I still would love to see evidence of any. You don't have it, the best you could come up with after three pages is an article by a liberal college girl, and a series of logical fallacies and insults.

You insist on evading reality by intentionally not understanding why thousands of Alaskan fishermen were not adequately compensated, people who received a fraction of their actual losses, and doing so by essentially saying "Well the Supreme Court ruled this way so it must be just." I can bet you have haven't even bothered to find out why so many fishermen were devastated. The court had every legal justification for ruling the way it did, but in the end is justice served? Ask the plaintiffs who died before they got money, or the plaintiffs who were stripped of their livelihood through no fault of their own. You have no answer for this, nor do you seem to even have any curiosity about it. You seem to be celebrating your own ignorance with respect to why it is very difficult to sue a large corporation.

I'm at least somewhat encouraged that no one posted any agreement to your assertions here, which probably means you're an outlier here in your unreasonableness. My bad for not recognizing this sooner.

Have a good one.

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More importantly, the assumption made by Russk and Seeker is that money can return the damaged party to the original state before the initiation of force. As we talked about the Exxon Valdez spill, it is clear from all the studies in that case the Prince William Sound has not returned to its previous state, despite the cleanup efforts. So in cases where the damages are not reversible, or at least for not many years, does the government have an interest in mitigating risky behavior that have the potential for catastrophic consequences?

I never made that assumption. The environment may never be returned to its original state; however, that doesn't make compensation for damages illegitimate. If you are severely injured in some way, by some action, the compensation received can be legitimate even though you may never return to your original state. The question of mitigating catastrophic oil spills was what I had asked previously. Some responses touched on the issue, but I still think that risk mitigation for probable, catastrophic events looks like a rational policy. Before, I used and built upon an example that someone else provided, about burning debris in one's yard, etc... However, a more widely known and understood example would be the regulations imposed on the nuclear energy industry.

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The one thing that nobody has addressed yet is why BP is drilling here to begin with. Are there easier places to extract oil? Can oil companies overcome the regulatory barriers to drill there? Does drilling in such places involve less risk? I ask because I don't know for sure, but I suspect that's the case. Offshore drilling seems to be easier to get a bureaucrat to sign off on - the farther away the better.

Actually, it looks like this was close to being addressed already:

It depends on where you are at (which state). There are a lot of oil rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Most are west of the Florida panhandle. When I lived in Florida, drilling off the coast of Florida was always debated, and I don't even think it was possible for new rigs to be built. Gov. Crist recently said he will not support drilling for oil off the coast, after popular support for drilling had been pushed back due to the recent oil spill. So, in certain cases, drilling offshore can be very hard to get approved.

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Since this conversation has mainly focused on whether the government should regulate industries to prevent things like this from happening, here's a qustion I haven't seen answered:

Should the government take action to stop the current oil leak, or should it be left solely to the corporation responsible?

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Should the government take action to stop the current oil leak, or should it be left solely to the corporation responsible?
It is the responsibility of BP, so the question should be refined to one of two different questions. First: should the government step in if BP's actions are insufficient to ameliorating the violation of other people's property rights. Now so far, nobody's property rights have been violated, but the potential is there. If rights are violated, then there is a well-defined way to address the problem, and those who are aggrieved may file suit in court to seek relief. If the application of objective principles of law lead to a finding that BP should be forced to do something that they are not doing, then that is a legitimate function of government.

The follow-up question is, what if after all is said and done, BP says "to hell with it, we quit, we abandon all interests in the US, it's your problem". (An utterly inconceivable outcome, but for the sake of discussion, you could imagine...). Then, after the carcass of former BP is carved up by the courts, and there is still a problem (for example, suppose they don't cap the leak and they say "Tough titties, we're outa here"), what should the government do? Should it act as executor of the estate and assign someone the job of fixing the problem?

That's a more interesting philosophical question. I'd say that the interest of the government should be minimal: they should appoint a suitable executor who would use whatever available BP assets to solve the problem, and should not themselves get into the business of plugging oil leaks.

The proper function of government is regulating the use of force, not plugging oil leaks.

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Is there any credence to the claim that the Obama Administration caused the Oil spill? Rush Limbaugh keeps going on about that

Rush plays a high level meta-game with some of his poses. This one just mirrors some of the nutty criticisms of Bush, so could be an example of that. I don't believe it.

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