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The Consumer and the People Next Door

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Entropy
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Business men are the head of huge factories, many of these factories pollute the air and water around residential and commercial areas.

These toxic bi-products are a health hazard, so why is it unreasonable to think that the people who profit off the production of these factors should have to pay taxes for public health-care? If my factory made the air over your back-yard...and you breathed that every day...and eventually you got a lung infection, or you thought you might have emphysema, am I justified in claiming that your health-care has nothing to with me?

Business men also own food companies that contaminate meat with growth hormones, to maximize profits, and put chemicals into many food products to make them look better, or to preserve them longer.

Since it is proven that these hormones cause cancer and a majority of people eat the food products. Are those businesses justified in saying public health-care has nothing to do with them?

If consumers must buy food from these companies, is it irrational to think that the public has a right to monitor and control what goes into those products?

Edited by Entropy
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Business men are the head of huge factories, many of these factories pollute the air and water around residential and commercial areas.

These toxic bi-products are a health hazard, so why is it unreasonable to think that the people who profit off the production of these factors should have to pay taxes for public health-care?

Perhaps because Objectivists do not believe "health care" should be "public"; i.e., paid for by the government via taxation.

You illustrate perfectly why public health care is a threat not just to peoples' pocketbooks but to their freedom. "You can't do that, because society refuses to pay for your healthcare." Thus peoples' dietary and lifestyle choices are restricted according to what is currently believed to be "healthy" and the science on what is "healthy" has most probably been corrupted by political favoritism in the passing out of research grants. If you have a politically incorrect hypothesis about what a healthy diet is like, for instance, good luck getting a government grant to test it. So bad science and bad politics lead directly to people being forced to live against their own judgement of what is best for then,

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Business men are the head of huge factories, many of these factories pollute the air and water around residential and commercial areas.

These toxic bi-products are a health hazard, so why is it unreasonable to think that the people who profit off the production of these factors should have to pay taxes for public health-care?

I'd take it a good deal further and say that if a company could be shown to be causing a neighbor direct physical harm they should be responsible for any and all costs associated with returning the individual to their original state or compensating them directly when that is not possible. In fact, that is was our legal system does. Of course, you need to actually prove your case against an individual entity. So this is only accomplished in a specific and objective way.

What you seem more interested in, though, is to avoid the impossible task of tracing actual harm and lump all businesses into one category and label it "damaging to our health." This would affect software companies with 15 employees and virtually no "carbon(or any other) footprint" and large car factories with thousands of employees bunches of smokestacks responsible for this same harm. Doing so, vaguely holding all businesses and wealth producing individuals responsible for every harm that occurs to anyone is capricious and myopic in nature.

This could be fair, but first you would need to add up all of the values they produce and subtract the cost from them. So for example, the car factory where you purchase your car might be able to be shown to produce enough poisonous fumes to take 5 years off of your average lifespan. So if that was determined to be 100 years based on your healthy lifestyle and long lived grandparents then they would be responsible for compensating you, at least financially for 5% of your life...or roughly $165k in the US plus some reasonably determined amount for the emotional cost of that lost year. But then we would need to factor in your gains from being able to drive a car rather than walk to places which would amount to around 14 years of your life or around $462k. Also we would need to add in the lessened cost of all of the material items you consumed due to the mechanization of jobs over your whole life so, maybe $974k for that. Also some reasonably determined amount for the emotional value gained by having access to so many products and services that would be unavailable without those dirty factories. We can just say that those cancel out, for the sake of argument. So...$1.436 million - $165,000 comes out to $1,271,000 that you would owe to them. You know, if you wanted to be fair.

As a side note, this myopic-ness is one of the most frustrating things that I routinely come across in interacting with leftists. Opportunity cost is impossible to measure and always massive. So taking 50% out of everyone's pay has a cost that will end in being orders of magnitude higher than those actual dollars because there is no telling what businesses may have gotten started, what ideas could have been pursued, or what technologies invented had that money stayed in the capable, productive hands of them that created it.

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If a factory harms the health of people who live near it or damages their property, the owners of that property can make a legitimate claim that the company is violating their individual rights (although that also depends on the circumstances under which the people acquired that property. If the factory was there first, I don't know what the company's moral obligations are). Objectivism doesn't hold that people can do whatever they want to the environment if that means directly harming other people or damaging their personal property.

In cases such as these, the company owners would only be obliged to pay for the value that they've destroyed, as determined by the court of law, directly to those who they have violated. No general health tax is justified.

As for companies that sell unhealthy food, it's up to the consumer to decide if he wants to buy it. The only obligtation of the company is to disclose any health risks associated with the consumption of its products. After that, it's up to the consumer to weigh the risks and decide for himself if he wants to purchase the product. There is absolutely no justification for a health tax associated with selling unhealthy food. If a company fails to disclose health risks associated with their food and it ends up making someone ill, then that is a violation of the consumer's rights, and the consumer has the right to press charges against the company. But anything the company owes is to the person that it violated, not the government in the form of a tax.

Also, "unhealthy" means different things to different people, and not everyone minds eating unhealthy food to begin with. Many people choose less healthy food on purpose according to their own individual needs and preferences. So even if they implemented such a tax, there would be no objective criteria for administrating it.

Also, your claim that people have "no choice" but to buy these products is not supported by any evidence. On the contrary, people have 100% control over whether they buy hormone-infused meats. If you tell me that all the meat sold in supermarkets is unhealthy (which would be a ridiculous claim), then that would only be because there is no demand for your standard of healthy meat.

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Thanks, although, rereading it I notice a bunch of embarrassing grammatical errors. Wiser people than me edit before posting.

This may be the most backhanded compliment that you've ever received- but since I have so much written contact with people whose first language isn't English I usually ignore grammar and just look at content B)

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  • 4 years later...

This is old but I'll post my question anyways.  I just found this out.  Coca Cola paid millions of dollars in a lawsuit because they used to put benzene in their product and nobody went to jail.  Would an O'ist government handle this case any differently?  Should someone go  to jail in a case like this?

http://www.supermegamonkey.net/2006/03/new_benzeneflavored_cola.shtml

 

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Nope.

The story does not seem to identify any victims who suffered any damage.

Consumers should have the right to buy drinks on the assumption that it will not kill them. But they should be able to have the choice to buy "cheap cola" made in the third world with minimal inspection or labeling, as well as a "high end" cola made in the west with rigorous inspections and full disclosure.  Such offerings might not be in the interests of a prominent company like Coca Cola but a new start up should be free to use such a scheme.

Both criminal and tortious negligence law, of course would still be part of O'ist justice.  There must be victims though.

 

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21 minutes ago, dadmonson said:

What about Nestle using slave labor? There are victims in that case so should anyone go to jail?    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nestle-admits-to-using-slave-labor-groups-hope-other-companies-will-come-forward_5655cec6e4b08e945fea9729

The article does not say any individual at Nestle participated in slave labor, only that companies in supply chains were doing this unbeknownst to Nestle.

Now living off of the avails of crime is a crime, but it requires a causal nexus and also knowledge.  I do not know if both are here.

If a company hired a party to fill an order, and that party said to the company that it would commit crimes to fill the order, and the company went ahead with the order without requiring the party to explicitly avoid criminal behavior, then there would be a case of criminal activity, but it would be restricted to individuals who acted and had knowledge.

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