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Author Topic: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.  (Read 641 times)

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Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« on: April 28, 2013, 08:40:18 PM »
I was driving home from my weekly Pathfinder Organized Play game when I was channel surfing on the radio when I heard on of the DUMBEST things I ever heard on air. I forgot who it was talking but they insisted that by making more 'industries self-regulate' we could save money, time and lives since business knew how to do things effectively than government.

I was .. so angry I had to pull over and swear intensely for five minutes.

Okay..today I can do a quick search of several new sites and find DOZENS of incidents that refute that claim. It's not about who is better at inspecting/regulating. It is about consequences. Without regulation and consequence you get things like..

-The Fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. It hadn't been inspected since 2006 (or according to some reports even further back.. OSHA last visited in 1985). It hadn't notified DoHS as required by law that it was storing unstable fertilizers and had a bucket load of fines.  My issue with this is.. without a properly armed regulatory agency (state or federal) with inspectors and empowered authority you get things like this.
  -What would have things been like if they had reported their stock pile.
  -What would the state of safety been if the site had been inspected regularly.
  -What would the cost in collateral damage had been if the zoning laws had prevents homes, schools, retirement facilties and such hadn't been built nearby.
   -Finally.. how about this? Business operates on risk. It's a sum deal. Which costs more.. putting safety measures in place or risk fines, lose your certification and dozens of other CONSEQUENCES. 

I appreciate the desire to reduce the cost of government but gutting regulatory agencies isn't the way to do it.

Today, in some states, a revealing book like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle would get him in legal trouble, yes.. hauled into court and sued trouble. I can think of a LOT of things in government that could cut down costs. Like.. contract bids, material costs and other points where the government gets GOUGED. How about fixing tax loop holes.

The difference between business and Government is something like this. Where Public Interest versus Profit come into priority. Not entirely.. but.. somewhat. A big point though.. In my opinion a good healthy government should be about maintain the public interest. Safe work facilities, healthy food practices, a lack of anti-trust practices, outright fraud and countless other things that a good healthy regulatory environment looks out for should be covered.

To expect business of any size to weight their practices in public interest versus their bottom line is insane. Anyone who expects industry to do otherwise should investigate safety considerations before Unions and OSHA came into being. Or the FDA where food is concerned.

It just.. GALLS me to see folks willing to dabble and regulate the HELL out of my personal life and privacy but refuse to consider what is safe to drink, eat, live or work.

I wonder which famous person will have to die publically, messily and/or needlessly before that is fixed.

Rant done.. gone in search of my bottle of maker's mark.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2013, 08:59:16 PM »
Maybe, if we work at it, we can get the word 'conservative' to be in reference to the amount of authority an extralocal body should have over a local one again, and that this applies no matter what type of entity is involved - corporate, governmental, etc.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 09:05:15 PM »
Maybe, if we work at it, we can get the word 'conservative' to be in reference to the amount of authority an extralocal body should have over a local one again, and that this applies no matter what type of entity is involved - corporate, governmental, etc.

Care to elaborate? I am not QUITE sure after the rage inspired headache that I'm following what you're saying at this point.

I do agree that a LOT of terms need redefining.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2013, 09:20:04 PM »
Burke conservatism was a strong proponent of local autonomy, but over time the word's political connotations became more about tradition, and recently about authority over private entities (no matter how globe-spanning said private entities may be) often placing them above local interests.

The overwhelmingly vast majority of Americans are not happy about the amount of power that corporations hold. Those who are distrustful of government might find this a more compelling argument. What is the difference between a government and a corporation that can afford an army of lawyers - or mercenaries, in the absence of meaningful government?

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2013, 09:27:00 PM »
Burke conservatism was a strong proponent of local autonomy, but over time the word's political connotations became more about tradition, and recently about authority over private entities (no matter how globe-spanning said private entities may be) often placing them above local interests.

The overwhelmingly vast majority of Americans are not happy about the amount of power that corporations hold. Those who are distrustful of government might find this a more compelling argument. What is the difference between a government and a corporation that can afford an army of lawyers - or mercenaries, in the absence of meaningful government?

Ah..thank you for the clarification. Pollen counts and rage have me wishing I had more anti-histamines. Thank you for taking the time to help the respitorially addled.

I am always happy to have you put things out, as I learn something. :D

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2013, 10:04:36 PM »
Self-regulation can work if the ramifications of not acting in the best interests of the society HURTS!

Say if the fertilizer company would be hit with a $1 billion fine plus all the lawsuits I think it might have had an impact on how they operated. Just an idea.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2013, 10:16:48 PM »
Self-regulation can work if the ramifications of not acting in the best interests of the society HURTS!

Say if the fertilizer company would be hit with a $1 billion fine plus all the lawsuits I think it might have had an impact on how they operated. Just an idea.

Thing is..without a regulating entity.. like OSHA, FDA, or such.. who would levy the fine?

I'm sorry.. we've seen enough accidents, spills, massive botulism/ect incidents in the last 13 years to prove that 'smaller government' isn't working. I'm more of a Reagan 'right size' government. He did some stupid downsizes.. but he wasn't afraid to keep regulatory authority in the hands of the feds.

Look at the internet. Right now..no one has regulatory oversight for the US's internet. So you have no central point for fraud, computer crime and such. You got the FBI, NSA and other regulatory groups responsible for various legal issues within the US.. but depending on the agency little no support or infrastructure to do anything.

If someone crashed the NY Stock Exchange tomorrow..who would be lead on the investigation? Who would have oversight?

Every food production industry has increased from two to three times but the health/safety inspectors have been cut by at least half (or more) depending on the region of the country. 

You got proposed legislation that is going to make putting 'Growth Hormone' or 'Genetically Modified' illegal to put on food. Ten years from now what else won't be allowed on ingredient lists to protect 'design secrets?'.

You want smaller government? Cut the staffing in places like Congress and the White House. Curtail 'free postage' from federal agencies, elected officials and the military. Make them pay post office a rate for their use.

Today companies have more rights to protect their information than the public has rights to be informed.

that is wrong.

Offline WildCat

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2013, 10:33:35 PM »
Meanwhile, one major item on the "conservative" agenda is "tort reform" which is another way of saying 'make sure that the slap on the wrist when your lack of safety procedures hurts and kills people doesn't even sting all that badly'.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2013, 10:49:47 PM »
Meanwhile, one major item on the "conservative" agenda is "tort reform" which is another way of saying 'make sure that the slap on the wrist when your lack of safety procedures hurts and kills people doesn't even sting all that badly'.

Tort reform is moot when more and more companies require arbitration over actual court deeds. I had a friend who was a 2nd party contractor for a military contract. He got juiced pretty bad and told he couldn't sue the primary contractor..but had to go into arbitration under their contract. He checked.. out of 90+ cases that the arbitrator did.. 3 were for the person over the company.

Offline WildCat

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2013, 11:40:08 AM »
Tort reform is moot when more and more companies require arbitration over actual court deeds. I had a friend who was a 2nd party contractor for a military contract. He got juiced pretty bad and told he couldn't sue the primary contractor..but had to go into arbitration under their contract. He checked.. out of 90+ cases that the arbitrator did.. 3 were for the person over the company.
Eye-opening. And I think I would include that as part of the problem I think of as "tort reform" rather than an alternate problem. But that may just be me not being a legal expert.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2013, 11:46:28 AM »
Eye-opening. And I think I would include that as part of the problem I think of as "tort reform" rather than an alternate problem. But that may just be me not being a legal expert.

It's terrifying how many folks have signed their right to court away.. you have to agree to arbitration to sign up for Xbox live now..

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 01:35:08 PM »
Thing is..without a regulating entity.. like OSHA, FDA, or such.. who would levy the fine?

I'm sorry.. we've seen enough accidents, spills, massive botulism/ect incidents in the last 13 years to prove that 'smaller government' isn't working. I'm more of a Reagan 'right size' government. He did some stupid downsizes.. but he wasn't afraid to keep regulatory authority in the hands of the feds.

Look at the internet. Right now..no one has regulatory oversight for the US's internet. So you have no central point for fraud, computer crime and such. You got the FBI, NSA and other regulatory groups responsible for various legal issues within the US.. but depending on the agency little no support or infrastructure to do anything.

If someone crashed the NY Stock Exchange tomorrow..who would be lead on the investigation? Who would have oversight?

Every food production industry has increased from two to three times but the health/safety inspectors have been cut by at least half (or more) depending on the region of the country. 

You got proposed legislation that is going to make putting 'Growth Hormone' or 'Genetically Modified' illegal to put on food. Ten years from now what else won't be allowed on ingredient lists to protect 'design secrets?'.

You want smaller government? Cut the staffing in places like Congress and the White House. Curtail 'free postage' from federal agencies, elected officials and the military. Make them pay post office a rate for their use.

Today companies have more rights to protect their information than the public has rights to be informed.

that is wrong.

Lets see factory goes BOOM, any agency could level the fine after like the Secretary General's Office in court it would be a mandatory base fine, one could add a lot more for loss of life say $10 million per person injured and $100 million per person killed. But you need to make it ironclad this is the base fine you will be hit with in the case of the Chemical Factory you would be looking at several billion dollars in fines. I would however hit this after lawsuits for injuries and harm done to likely cripple most businesses when its done. Make safety and proper behavior the better business choice over the fast buck.

I agree regulation is far better but if you make it really hurt to not do the right thing and make it stick its an alternative.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2013, 02:51:07 PM »
Problem with making it really hurt, as you put it, it would be a pointless fine. If the company cannot pay the fine, it goes bankrupt and shuts down. No one gets the money from the fine. And the point of regulation is to stop things from happening. Prevention trumps cure every time.

Offline Wheeler97

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2013, 04:52:59 PM »
Self-regulation is a joke. There are multiples of examples where companies chose to let people die because it would be cheaper to pay the lawsuit awards than it would to make a safer product or facility.

Ford was one such company. http://users.wfu.edu/palmitar/Law&Valuation/Papers/1999/Leggett-pinto.html

They chose to not replace faulty fuel systems on the 1970's Ford Pinto and some of their other car and truck models. Their cost/benefit analysis determined that replacing the parts, for $11 per vehicle, would cost $137 million, versus about $50 million in lawsuits if they allowed an estimated 180 people to die, 180 people to be severely burned, and a total of 2100 vehicles to burn up from the faulty system. It was cheaper to let people die, so that was the choice they made. Of course, in most cases that this system could be a primary factor in deaths, the argument could be made that other factors were at fault, so I don't think the real numbers of severe accidents are known in this case.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2013, 05:13:43 PM »
Okay.. one of the facts that seems to have slipped most of the news shows is that these folks FAILED to report that they were storing Ammonia Nitrate on the facility.. by LAW they are required to notify Homeland Security anytime they have more than a few hundred pounds and at the time of the explosion they had TONS.

Also, fines were clearly not working as they already has several different types of fines in place already.


FYI Wheeler.. it's not that uncommon for a business to do a cost/benefit assessment like Ford did. It is normal corporate practices to do so, but it almost univerally looks bad when it comes up that they've done it.

I'm not in favor of punative fines.. I want fines to be something that is tangible and evident in their C/B ratio but in the end.. when you got a smoking crater and dead/injured people all around... fines aren't helping you rebuild the community. In a way punative fines are kicking the dead horse after you've beaten it silly.

I would rather have more inspectors, a better system of feed back/interaction/follow up. OSHA didn't come back because..they had to be CALLED in. Several agencies have no mechanism beyond the company asking them to come in and inspect them. And what responsible corporate citizen is going to add THOSE costs to their bottom line. Several others only act on the documentation that the company submits.. so if they don't file.. or file erronously (on purpose or not) you never get flagged for inspections.

Accountability is a big issue but we still don't see a lot of it in industry. The noisy wheel gets the grease, and with the curtailment of 'whistleblower' protections over the last 6 to 8 years.. few folks are coming up to say 'This isn't safe'.

We've got several faulty mechanisms in place where industry has slipped by unseen by John Q Public. You got more and more enforced arbitration, where the arbitrator is financially tied to the big corporate client. You've got several circuit courts known to be 'company friendly'.

I wonder how long it will be till we have a Union Carbide level accident where half a medium size city is ruined, destroyed or whatever before this foolish idea of self-regulation finally dies.

Look into the state of industries such as the Meat Packers before the fallout from Upton Sinclairs book, The Jungle, brought official scrutiny to it. And it could be argued that the industry has fallen back on those bad habits of a century past.

Offline Sethala

Re: Rant about Industry 'Self-Regulation'.
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2013, 01:07:06 AM »
Rant done.. gone in search of my bottle of maker's mark.

Random off-topic, but after reading 4chan, this takes on a much more entertaining meaning...

Anyway, on the topic at hand... I like the idea of capitalism, and I think it may be the "best" economical system, but it needs regulations in order to succeed or it'll collapse in on itself, and those regulations need to be put in place by people that have no inherent interest in the success or failure of corporations.  Self-regulation doesn't work at all, because when the numbers come down to "profit" versus "safety", profit wins every time.

Unfortunately, a big part of the problem is Citizen's United and the systemized legality of bribes it's created, as the officials that are in place to fix such problems are easily persuaded by large campaign contributions to either ignore the problem or try to prove it doesn't exist.