Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Through the massive wealth that corporations are able to obtain they are able to take unreasonable risks for society. This is a problem that exists across multiple fields and industries in both the public and private sectors such as in the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis when the Lehman Brothers collapsed and were bailed out by the federal government as detailed in akadjian's article "25 images of markets regulating themselves". After the collapse they were able to successfully argue to the government that without a bailout they would be SOL and the economy would collapse. If this was the first time that big banks had asked for handouts then it might not have been as big of a travesty but it has been standard operating procedure for banks to take on extremely risky investments for the highest possible profit margins and when their investments fail they just ask the tax payers for a bailout. This happened first with the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company in 1984, with US Savings and Loans in 1989, 2001 with the airline industry, and again in 2008 with A.I.G. Lehman Brothers and several others.
When you look at how much money these companies are getting for messing it is completely possible to see how they justify making such risky decisions as what they did with sub-prime mortgages. Its as if their vehicle of profit is stuck in overdrive speeding down the highway not caring if it breaks down or crashes they know it can be fixed for free. When it becomes expected that the taxpayer will pay corporations for making mistakes and the average citizen can at best declare bankruptcy should they not get some compensation for the risk they are taking the brunt of? If the people have to keep supporting these businesses every time that they fail then they should become the property of the people and their profits should be used to reduce taxes. This could incentivise business to make less risky decisions while still keeping the company profitable, because if they need to be saved by the government they would then become property of the government. This would be good for both businesses and the consumer as it would allow them to return to profitability and reduce expenditure by using services the government already uses meaning that all of their savings could be given directly to the consumer in the form of cheaper services.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Precaution is a strategy that must be used with prevention in order for either strategy to succeed properly. When properly enacted, precaution is a way of using a collection of facts and partial truths about a process or idea that we have enough evidence for to form a conclusion, even if it cannot be fully proven, on how to act in the future. As a way of preventing disaster, precautionary systems exist everywhere in modern society. In areas such as the banking industry, nuclear politics and the environment some type of system exists to prevent disasters that could happen somewhat easily if no one was trying to prevent them. However in many cases regulations put on by bodies such as the Federal Reserve are used as guide lines on how to game the system to the point where many banks find creative ways to ignore the spirit of the regulations without violating the letter of it.
In his essay "Six Reasons Why We Need Prevention"  Peter Montague argues that precaution, especially in actions that effect the environment, should be a strategy employed by all people no matter their political opinions. This is extrapolated from the idea that everyone on this planet is in it together so protecting the environment and the resources it offers to us should be a priority for everyone so as to leave the Earth a better place for its future inhabitants. Because it is human nature to want to leave your children with a life no harder than your own it is a strong argument made by Montague that wanting a good life for your children should be all that you need to justify almost any environmental precaution. In an ideal world these concepts would be second nature to those the people that are in charge of making decisions that could have negative impacts on the environment to value the greater good over anything else. However in the real world this is not the case, and many of the people that run the world value the profit of their companies and what's good for themselves over the greater good of what would best benefit society the most in the long haul. This can be seen recently in the sub prime mortgage crisis that caused the current recession. When big banks were able to get the Glass Steagall Act revoked in 2001 it allowed them to start issue sub prime mortgages again to people with poor credit. A very profitable and risky strategy that had been made illegal as it had left a large portion of the population in a great deal of debt around the time of the Great Recession.
We do not live in an ideal World, and because of this letting individuals and corporations choose whether precaution is necessary and how it should be enacted is not a feasible strategy. This is a job for governments who value what is good for their people in a non-bias fashion. The author argues that such a strategy is possible and that governments should be pushed to switch into a precautionary and preventative stance that will allow them to not only protect its people and its land from the most harm but to set it in a path that leads to greater improvement for all. These steps could be taken slowly in order to make the transition from the governments current stance of simply setting limits to becoming a precautionary organization that is much more involved in all aspects of life. In this way we will be able to best protect the people of this planet.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The problem of using market forces to determine the viability of implementing a new technology is a very old one and embodied very well in the electronic transmissions used in today's hybrid cars. The technology was originally designed in the late sixties and from the beginning few people believed in it, to the point that they couldn't get a patent for it until they attached a working version of it to a car and drove it around. Then even after over a decade of work, the entire project was deemed too expensive and complicated to implement and immediately mothballed. Similar technologies would be implemented using the same work decades later in the Prius hybrid car.
When you look at the market forces of the time following the patent of the technology in 1974 there is no reason that they couldn't have successfully implemented the technology in the 1970s as by that time the oil crisis was in full swing and more efficient cars were in high demand. With over 30% gains in gas mileage, had it been implemented this technology could have easily become wildly successful across the whole auto industry and saved a substantial amount of gas over the past forty years had they become even half as successful as they are today.
If there had been a central authority choosing the fate of this technology, then it easily could have become a standard feature in all vehicles that could have led to a wider acceptance by all car owners and commuters instead of being mostly isolated to environmentalists as is the case today. Also having a global authority promoting and pushing both consumers and manufacturers to adopt this technology could have have lead to a dramatic increase in the intensity of research into battery and electric motor technologies that have only advanced rapidly today with the growth of the mobile device industry. In all the failure of this technology upon its creation was due to the nature of industry always being in the pursuit of higher profits instead of looking at new technologies as ways to improve the impact of their products on the world.

Friday, February 7, 2014

For the past few centuries technology has advanced almost unopposed by legislation and government interference of any kind, but the author of Why Technology Assessment? has proposed that we long ago reached a point where technological progress should be looked at from a perspective of global impact  by the citizens and governments of the world rather than by those implementing them. The author makes a very powerful argument for the implementation of such an idea and pushes for his their own ICENT to monitor and approve all new technologies watching for possible side effects or direct effects of their implementation that have the possibility of making the world worse for majority of the people on Earth.
If implemented, this group would be revolutionary in scope and concept for a single organization to drive and direct innovation globally in a way that could possibly make the whole world significantly better instead of people with money doing what they want such as the case with wealthy conservationist Russ George dumping 100 tons of iron into the ocean in an attempt to slow global warming with massive algae blooms. The effects of this large scale geoengineering are currently unknown and this makes it a dangerous prospect for most governments with enormous budgets to research the possible downsides of geoengineering. Yet this man just dumped iron in the ocean to more or less see what would happen, even if he had an idea there is no way of knowing the effect of doing something like that on an ecosystem that large. It is these types of actions that a monitoring agency of ICENT could never prevent and would only end up dumping chemicals into the ocean to try and fix it and spending more money trying to enforce its ruling than most governments could spare for the UN right now. If this man can do something this potentially damaging without anyone catching on before it happened then how could having a large bureaucratic agency overseeing the publishing and sale of every new technology before it goes into market. If someone or a company creates a new technology of some kind they should be able to immediately do anything they want with it and not be punished by being forced to go through another patent desk like agency except it would likely be much slower because it would be a global agency. Such a force as that would likely stifle innovation along with probably running out of money extremely quickly. If innovation were to be stifled on a large enough scale then it could cause a stagnation of the invention and the global economy. In all new technologies should not be regulated more than they already are.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

For the majority of the world's population unfairness abounds and is everywhere. The majority of the world's population does not have access to the many of the technologies and other aspects of affluence and modern civilization that almost all of our population enjoys today. How this difference is viewed, interpreted, and challenged are all very important aspects of social justice. Problems such as getting clean drinking water to everyone on Earth, world hunger and education are all parts of social justice that are argued and debated about frequently all over the World.
Outside of natural disasters people in America rarely wonder when they will next be able to get clean water or if drinking it will make them sick, because for most people finding water is as simple as turning the knob on your faucet or finding a public drinking fountain. Here safe water exists in abundance for everyone and is not even a factor when people consider their survival in the modern world. However in the majority of the world this isn't the case, most cities in newly 'civilized' countries have slums full of poorly constructed shacks with no running water or toilets. This is unimaginable for anyone that lives in a first world country where water and sewage are piped directly into and out of every home. While this disparity can easily be considered a travesty by many, it is an issue that we should not concern ourselves with outside of personal philanthropy overwhelming poverty should be dealt with by the national and local governments where it exists. As it is outside of the bounds of our government to spend the tax dollars of its citizens on the citizens of other countries who will likely never be able to contribute to improving our country or pay back the tax dollars we spent on them, even though helping to expand infrastructure and  improve local access to water in slums would greatly improve the quality of life for those people it should be done only by their own government and individuals or organizations that are working towards that goal.
However it is not wrong to help these people that need it, as they do have it significantly worse than anyone who could be reading this. The reality of the situation is that everyone should want to help those who are worse off than them, however there are some that have the means to give and do a lot more than others and they are the ones that should really be trying to make a difference.