Business Ethics Blog Posts 7-21-2016 The Concrete Sarcophagus Edition

Fukushima to be entombed in a concrete sarcophagus? 

The idea of leaving the plant as is and creating a sarcophagus around the three melted down reactors is extremely problematic. The groundwater issue is just one problem that would be a permanent problem. Even the ice wall if it eventually works as planned can only operate for a few years. Erosion and groundwater flows would create a permanent problem for the ocean and the region around the plant. This would also leave the fuel and crumbling buildings in place. Building failures, radioactive dust and fuel debris would all still be in place. This would need to be managed not just due to aging but further natural disasters such as typhoons and tsunami. Current problems include fuel fragments that have been found in unit 1′s torus room basement water. These have been a concern as groundwater flows through these basements that if improperly managed, more of these fuel fragments could leave the basement into the groundwater.

Koizumi asks for help for U.S. veterans who came to Japan’s aid during meltdown. 

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is calling for donations to the relief fund he founded for U.S. veterans who claim their health problems resulted from radioactive fallout after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Speaking at a news conference on July 5 alongside another former prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, Koizumi said of the U.S. veterans: “They went so far to do their utmost to help Japan. It is not the kind of issue we can dismiss with just sympathy.”

Can Economists Reason? 

Neoclassical economics has since long given up on the real world and contents itself with proving things about thought up worlds. Empirical evidence only plays a minor role in economic theory, where models largely function as a substitute for empirical evidence. The one-sided, almost religious, insistence on axiomatic-deductivist modeling as the only scientific activity worthy of pursuing in economics, is a scientific cul-de-sac. To have valid evidence is not enough. What economics needs is sound evidence.

Paul Kiser’s Blog Today!

Liberals are blamed for almost everything, but we are not responsible for the fiasco at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland this week. We did not make a secret deal with Donald Trump to destroy everything Republican. We didn’t pay Rudy Giuliani to do an impression of Hitler speaking to a Nazi rally. We didn’t make Melania Trump look like a Stepford wife and upload her with a speech that was plagiarized from Michelle Obama’s convention speech from eight years ago.

Drug Prices are too high and unfair. 

(This is a particularly good article. You should make a special effort to go to teh original site and read it in full. jp)

First, about 38% of the basic research science is actually funded by taxpayer money—so the public is paying twice: once in taxes and once again for the drugs resulting from the research. This, of course, leaves a significant legitimate area of expenses for companies, but hardly enough to warrant absurdly high prices.

Second, most large drug companies spend almost twice as much on promotion and marketing as they do on R&D. While these are legitimate business expenses, this fact does undercut using R&D expenses to justify excessive drug prices. Obviously, telling the public that pills are pricy because of the cost of marketing pills so people will buy them would not be an effective strategy. There is also the issue of the ethics of advertising drugs, which is another matter entirely.

Third, many “new” drugs are actually slightly tweaked old drugs. Common examples including combining two older drugs to create a “new” drug, changing the delivery method (from an injectable to a pill, for example) or altering the release time. In many cases, the government will grant a new patent for these minor tweaks and this will grant the company up to a 20-year monopoly on the product, preventing competition. This practice, though obviously legal, is certainly sketchy. To use an analogy, imagine a company held the patent on a wheel and an axle. Then, when those patents expired, they patented wheel + axle as a “new” invention. That would obviously be absurd.

Online Charter Schools Seek to Evade Regulation

Ohio’s Steve Dyer reports in his personal blog that defenders of Ohio’s Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the notorious ECOT online charter school, have even been lobbying delegates to the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland against Ohio’s crack-down on e-schools which seem to have been collecting millions of dollars every year from the state for phantom students.  Dyer writes: “And now, the Ohio Coalition for Quality Education—the state’s ironically named and most egregious defender of poor-performing charter schools… slipped a letter under the doors of delegates to the Republican National Convention….”  The letter “blames sneaky Democratic bureaucrats at ODE (Ohio Department of Education) for ECOT’s problems….”  In fact, as Dyer explains, passage of a bill modestly to increase regulation of Ohio’s charter sector was passed with bipartisan support.  But now, as Ohio’s largest and most profitable charter stands to lose millions of dollars because it has been inflating the per-pupil attendance on which state funding is based, powerful backers are appealing to anyone they can to try to keep their school operating and keep the tax dollars flowing into their profits.

New York Times fails to properly weigh Mike Pence’s education record

Revenge Against the Elites

On the morning after British voters chose to leave the European Union, Obama was in California addressing an audience at Stanford University, a school often celebrated these days as the pre-eminent educational institution of Silicon Valley. The occasion of the president’s remarks was the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and the substance of his speech was the purest globaloney, flavored with a whiff of vintage dotcom ebullience. Obama marveled at the smart young creative people who start tech businesses. He deplored bigotry as an impediment that sometimes keeps these smart creative people from succeeding. He demanded that more power be given to the smart young creatives who are transforming the world. Keywords included “innovation”, “interconnection”, and of course “Zuckerberg”, the Facebook CEO, who has appeared with Obama on so many occasions and whose company is often used as shorthand by Democrats to signify everything that is wonderful about our era.

The socialist faculty have corrupted our youth

So, I guess we should gird ourselves.  If the Republicans lose in November, watch out for some pretty mean-spirited scapegoating directed at the professoriate.  For clearly in the eyes of those like Luntz the younger generation has been “lost’ to “socialism” all because of us and that cries out for a “solution.”  Never mind, of course, that most academics, even on the left, neither call themselves or actually are socialists of any stripe.  Never mind that the number of classes in which openly “socialist” readings predominate is minimal and at many institutions totally non-existent.  I challenge anyone to identify a single “socialist” Economics department.  Never mind also that the most sacred principles of our profession enjoin us from indoctrination.  And, most of all, never mind that a generation brought up during the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, at a time when income and wealth inequality, not to mention simple abject poverty and homelessness, have grown to hitherto unseen levels might well be likely to question the morality and workability of unrestrained capitalism.  Surely instead it’s the professors’ who are to blame for such allegedly extreme views among the youth, not their life experiences.

Overheating. 

‘What do the fateful Brexit referendum, the epidemic spread of Nintendo’s ‘Pokémon Go’ game, the escalating death of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the fivefold growth in tourism since 1980 have in common? The short answer is that they all express symptoms or outcomes of global accelerated change, or ‘overheating’, as I call it in my new book.

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