Scientists tell us that every year the lives of roughly 30,000 people are cut short by power plant emissions. They also cause 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions, and an additional 550,000 asthma attacks.
Thirty-thousand is a lot of people (not to mention the heart attacks, hospital admissions, and asthma attacks) — especially if one is you or a loved one. Of course, if you were made of stern stuff, you could say that, well, it is only 1/10 of 1 percent of our population. Is it a price worth paying to have our homes toasty warm in the winter and cool in the summer? Should we try to force the lowering of those emissions? The technology is available. We could force the polluters to put all sorts of equipment on their smoke stacks to catch the pollutants. It will cost money but save lives.
First of all, understand, those polluters are not bad people. You DO want a nice warm home in the winter, don’t you. I do. They see a way to earn a living by catering to your needs. You don’t have a problem with that, do you? I don’t.
So, do we (1) cut short the lives of 30,000 people a year so that you can be comfortable? Or, do we (2) raise the cost a bit so that you can still be comfortable and your neighbor (and, maybe, you) won’t get lung cancer?
Hopefully, most readers of this blog would say that (2) is probably the better idea. Good on you! I would say that, too. Now, apparently there are a lot of Americans that like option (1). Remember, one of the government organizations that both Rick Perry and Ron Paul was going to get rid of was the EPA. A third candidate, Rick Santorum doesn’t like the EPA very much, either. They are the ones that help set the standards and enforce them.
It would seem to me that no matter how staunch a capitalist you are, you would see a place for the EPA. Here’s why: Supposed I owned a power plant to provide electricity for the people of my community. I would try to maximize my profits by keeping the price low enough so that I could get customers willing to give up their wood-burning fireplaces and switch over to my plant. At the same time, I would get the most efficient burners for the coal — burners that would convert as much of the coal to heat as is humanly possible, and, last I would negotiate for the best prices for the coal that I must purchase. I need to maximize my profit.
“Well, OK, but what about the carcinogens?” you ask. The power plant entrepreneur would say, “That’s not my problem.” I would imagine that, even today, power plant owners would be more likely to say (just like the cigarette industry) that, well, it is more of a theory than a fact, we’re looking into it, etc., etc. If you, as the public are concerned about yourself, your loved ones, etc., It is up to you to do something about it. The power plant owner is not going to do anything. Your cancer is tragic but it isn’t his problem, and, besides, you can’t prove that his coal caused your cancer. Maybe it was the coal from the power plant in the next city. All we can do is go by statistics and say that, “your neglect is killing me, it is killing my loved ones, and I am going to make it your problem!” So you create a protection agency (let’s call it The Environmental Protection Agency — EPA for short) to make sure that your interests are represented, and are not dependent on the good heartedness of the power plant owner.
The EPA and other regulatory agencies are very much a part of our Capitalist system. Who ever said that it wasn’t reasonable for us as the consumer to represent our interests to the entrepreneur? It is hard for me to fathom that in the 21st century there are still some who do not understand that.
The pro-life people are absolutely livid with Rick Santorum’s dismissal of —and call to rescind—the new EPA standards that will reduce the amount of mercury emissions put into the air by coal and oil burning power plants. They (the pro-lifers) also questioned how a man who is so staunchly and deeply pro-life could be so against ridding the environment of the neurotoxins that can badly damage the health of those still in utero (whom Santorum profoundly believes to be living beings) and following birth.
Personally, my patience is wearing thin. Are Perry, Santorum, and Paul the best that the Republican party can offer? Is this what we Americans deserve? I don’t know what I did to deserve them. Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul are a laugh a minute but really, now, we are trying to decide who should be the next president — Obama or someone from the Republican side. Please Republicans, GET SERIOUS!