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Government Mandated Safety Inspections

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_j_
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I recently read this article about the indictment of nuclear plant workers charged with hiding reactor damage.

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/art...ate=printpicart

This got me wondering how safety issues would be addresses ideally, in circumstances where neglect could lend to the potential for mass casualties. Are there bases, in Objectivist terms, for allowing government mandated safety inspections of private businesses in situations such as these?

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Are there bases, in Objectivist terms, for allowing government mandated safety inspections of private businesses in situations such as these?

Nope! This is the responsibility of the individual owners. If someone wants to have a nuclear power plant to produce electric power and money they are responsible for its proper care and functioning. If it is ever found out that someone is harmed or could be harmed by the nuclear power plant, and the government finds this to be true, then a lawsuit and indeed criminal charges could be brought against the owners, supervisors, workers etc. What business owner would want their source of money to be in disrepair?

The government regulation could make it costly to do business and therefore make it increasingly difficult to properly function a nuclear reactor, and should be avoided.

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Liberal complaints aside, a reputation for exacting quality and care is to the benefit, not of the consumers, but of the business with that reputation.

However, shane, could be harmful is not a valid reason for indictment. I could kill someone. Only when I actually do so can criminal charges be brought against me. The same applies to businesses proffering inferior products regardless of how careless they are.

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I could kill someone. Only when I actually do so can criminal charges be brought against me.

Unless of course, you threaten someones life. But I'm guessing you left that out because it wasn't essential to your point?

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Liberal complaints aside, a reputation for exacting quality and care is to the benefit, not of the consumers, but of the business with that reputation.

However, shane, could be harmful is not a valid reason for indictment. I could kill someone. Only when I actually do so can criminal charges be brought against me. The same applies to businesses proffering inferior products regardless of how careless they are.

So essentially wouldn't it be quite possible that a reacktor could leak low level radiation for many years without anyone knowing? How would anyone know? Buy personal Geiger (sic) counters? I don't know, I recognize that it's immoral to put restrict a person's (and therefore a company's) rights but to be honest I would probably not want to live anywhere near a nuclear reactor if it could be operated in a good or poor condition if I would have no way of knowing.

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And no one would be forcing you to live near a nuclear reactor, so if you thought it was unsafe thent you could by all means move away and put yourself out of harms way. And yes, it probably would be smart for those that choose to stay near the nuclear reactor to buy Geiger counters or pay someone to do some readings around their homes everynow and then to be safe.

Edited by IAmMetaphysical
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Liberal complaints aside, a reputation for exacting quality and care is to the benefit, not of the consumers, but of the business with that reputation.
Sure, but I as the consumer can also benefit from the exacting quality and care.

However, shane, could be harmful is not a valid reason for indictment. I could kill someone. Only when I actually do so can criminal charges be brought against me. The same applies to businesses proffering inferior products regardless of how careless they are.

I could kill someone as well, but there is no reason to believe so. If there is reason to believe so (and we all know what a "reason" would consists of i.e post #4) then those charges can and should be served.

Edited by shane
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And no one would be forcing you to live near a nuclear reactor, so if you thought it was unsafe thent you could by all means move away and put yourself out of harms way. And yes, it probably would be smart for those that choose to stay near the nuclear reactor to buy Geiger counters or pay someone to do some readings around their homes everynow and then to be safe.

Well that is fine for something where improper safety can be easily detected. But there are certain cases where it isn't quite so simple. I work for the IT department at a medical billing company and we have certain regulations for encryption and taking steps to protect patient's SSN and personal medical history. If we are broadcasting that information in the clear then it is possible that someone is gathering it all up, but there is no way to know.

It would be possible to find out if a particular hospital is using encryption before visiting it (and go somewhere else if they are not) but that only works for one step of the billing process. A typical medical record will travel through about four or five entities before it gets paid (hospital->billing company->billing distribution center->insurance company, and sometimes others). Any one of those companies could have a contract with another company that does not use encryption. There is no way for you to find the exact path of companies that your record went through and I doubt any company would be willing to answer your questions about encryption. They don't have to show you their contract and probably won't even if they were using encryption.

So how would I, as a patient reasonably find out if there is any step in the process that is sending my information in the clear, like in the Geiger counter example above?

Edited by skap35
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So how would I, as a patient reasonably find out if there is any step in the process that is sending my information in the clear, like in the Geiger counter example above?

Sounds like a niche for a blossoming capitalist to exploit!!

Most companies do everything they can to protect your information, but if you wanted to know you would have to ask, probably more than once, and get that information. If they did "broadcast" your information and you can prove it then you could bring a lawsuit against them. BTW security stocks have been hot for a while, a sign that the government doesn't need to regulate but that free markets are self regulating.

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Just for the record. I am not referring necessarily to a nuclear, Chernobyl, type accident. I am referring to possible situations where there is a potential for instant losses in the tens of thousands or greater, and over a widespread area.

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Just for the record. I am not referring necessarily to a nuclear, Chernobyl, type accident. I am referring to possible situations where there is a potential for instant losses in the tens of thousands or greater, and over a widespread area.

The situation you are referring is very unlikely to happen because nuclear reactors are extremely safe. Nonetheless, some people would still rather not live anywhere near one and that is their ultimate decision.

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Unless of course, you threaten someones life. But I'm guessing you left that out because it wasn't essential to your point?

Yes, although I should further clarify because there's often lack of precision about the word "threaten" in this context. A criminal threat is one that is deliberate in some way. A rushing river does threaten my life, but it has no aspect of consciousness or deliberate-ness about it.

Whereas a doctor can just not bother to pay attention and deliberately put me at risk, or a nuclear power plant operator can fail to do his job or not report a safety problem or whatever and also deliberately put me at risk. But a nuclear power plant in and of itself is not a threat to me in this particular meaning; it's a threat like the river is a threat.

Just for the record. I am not referring necessarily to a nuclear, Chernobyl, type accident. I am referring to possible situations where there is a potential for instant losses in the tens of thousands or greater, and over a widespread area.

This plant being operated remotely, I take it? I can sleep contentedly knowing that everyone that works at the plant (i.e. the people who are responsible for it's day-to-day operations) will be the first ones to die if anything goes wrong. As free men, they have values to protect and thus reasons to protect them.

Under any other sort of economic system, they are slaves, and their feelings about their own safety are illustrated fairly well by the destruction of the Taggart tunnel in Atlas Shrugged.

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This plant being operated remotely, I take it? I can sleep contentedly knowing that everyone that works at the plant (i.e. the people who are responsible for it's day-to-day operations) will be the first ones to die if anything goes wrong. As free men, they have values to protect and thus reasons to protect them.

Under any other sort of economic system, they are slaves, and their feelings about their own safety are illustrated fairly well by the destruction of the Taggart tunnel in Atlas Shrugged.

I am concerned with being put on a train with "irrational" people where I do not have a choice to board or not. :)

A little bit more about where I am coming from...Generally when I have a question about the application of Objectivist principles, or if someone asks me how I think some situation could be handled without the government, I find that the philosophy leaves a way of "policing" itself, rational solutions to common problems. As an example, I have been approached before about the issue of speed limits. Easy solutions while applying principles are available for those concerned with this aspect of safety.

This issue however leaves me unsettled.

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Like pharmecutical companies, I'm sure a lot of nuclear plant operators like federal inspections, as they can use it as a means to gain legitimacy and trust of the public. If such inspection regimes disappeared (I doubt they would, just as the FDA was propped up by both interest groups AND drug companies) I can see an independent commission established by concerned city organizations as well as the plant owners themselves to assure the public of their continued safety.

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I am concerned with being put on a train with "irrational" people where I do not have a choice to board or not. :o
Only you can put yourself on the train so it is always your choice, unless of course you live under a communist regime. But this situation requires you to make judgement call in regards to the train and its functioning. Just as if you were living near a nuclear power plant.

A little bit more about where I am coming from...Generally when I have a question about the application of Objectivist principles, or if someone asks me how I think some situation could be handled without the government, I find that the philosophy leaves a way of "policing" itself, rational solutions to common problems. As an example, I have been approached before about the issue of speed limits. Easy solutions while applying principles are available for those concerned with this aspect of safety.

This issue however leaves me unsettled.

This nuclear issue is no different than the speeding limit issue, but I do understand your struggle.

It is easy to apply objectivist principles to simple situations as well as more complicated situations where rational people who are free to act must be responsible for their actions. In the speed limit example that would be applicable to the owners of the roads and those they permit to drive on them. Similarly, in a free society based on individual rights and responsibility the owner has the right to run a nuclear plant and responsibility to run it safely, and most importantly be proud of that fact. But, if the government were to mandate safety regulations upon his nuclear plant, he is no longer free to safely run his plant. He is forced to comply with the mandates, it is no longer his business, and his selfish interests are subordinated to socialism, religion, fear....whatever. This is against his nature and therefore against life and a losing situation all around. The main point is that all values come from the individual seeking a selfish goal according to rational principles, and when you take that away through mandates or regulation you take away values, you take away options and you take away that mans ability to achieve life.

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I can see an independent commission established by concerned city organizations as well as the plant owners themselves to assure the public of their continued safety.

These independant commissions already exist, like the AATB (American Association of Tissue Banks), which creates its own standards and registers tissue banks that adhere to them. Companies in premium business (like selling tissue grafts that are going to be implanted into other human beings and carry ENORMOUS potential for risk with them) are FANATICAL about certifications and inspections.

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Only you can put yourself on the train so it is always your choice, unless of course you live under a communist regime. But this situation requires you to make judgement call in regards to the train and its functioning. Just as if you were living near a nuclear power plant.

How easy is it to enter into a foreign state if you live in a small one?

I have no problem understanding why the government regulations are wrong.

Edited by _j_
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