My Blog List

Monday, June 29, 2015

To SCOTUS the health of 10's of thousands of people is not a Cost.

The Supreme Court, as usual, is issuing a mix of decisions by Imperial Decree, that decide what is "constitutional" or "unconstitutional". Often exceeding their authority in the process. When they exceed it in a manner the RW likes they applaud. When they decide, as they did today on Gay Marriage, against the Right Wing, they want to impeach the lot. Essentially they are trying to divine whether or not regulations are within the authority of the laws authorizing them, and whether laws are within the authority of the articles and sentences of the constitution.

What concerns me most are their corrupt decisions. Reasonable people are going to disagree about the constitution's meaning. In a sane government we'd be more concerned about whether laws work as we want them to and policies accomplish their purpose. Our problem is not whether or not laws are constitutional or unconstitutional but whether we've constituted well-constituted policies and laws or have created badly constituted law. Fixing the constitution is outside the role of the Supreme Court so the best they can do is to interpret the constitution well. Sadly our Supreme Court is Corrupt, so it interpret's the constitution corruptly. They do the same thing with laws. Their decision in Michigan versus EPA is a good example of corrupt interpretation. I'm sure that the five who decided in favor of Polluting power generation companies will do well financially. But their decision was predicated on gross dishonesty from the opening paragraph. The denial is predicated on a lie about the EPA's willingness to consider "cost". The Gang of 5 Are a corrupt group of corrupt judges who will be amply rewarded for this decision. It's cheaper to buy Congress and Judges than to provide clean air to the rest of us. The Majority claims:

"The Agency refused to consider cost when making its decision. It estimated, however, that the cost of its regulations to power plants would be $9.6 billion a year, but the quantifiable benefits from the resulting reduction in hazardous-air-pollutant emissions would be $4 to $6 million a year." [10-46_10n2.pdf]

Now note the word "quantifiable" cost -- which is a dodge to avoid admitting that the Gang of 5 was excluding "external costs", "downwind costs" or the thousands (tens of thousands) of people who will get sick and die due to this decision. And sure enough Justice Kagan notes in her dissent:

"The Environmental Protection Agency placed emissions limits on coal and oil power plants following a lengthy regulatory process during which the Agency carefully considered costs. At the outset, EPA determined that regulating plants’ emissions of hazardous air pollutants is “appropriate and necessary” given the harm they cause, and explained that it would take costs into account in developing suitable emissions standards" [10-46_10n2.pdf]

Elena Kagan notes in her dissent that:

"EPA conducted a formal cost-benefit study which found that the quantifiable benefits of its regulation would exceed the costs up to nine times over—by as much as $80 billion each year. Those benefits include as many as 11,000 fewer premature deaths annually, along with a far greater number of avoided illnesses" [10-46_10n2.pdf]

And these are conservative calculations. SCOTUS Perjured themselves in this decision.

Considering "External Costs"

In a normal society, if you dump poison on my property and my children drink it, I can sue you for the costs. This decision is the equivalent of giving people a license to poison other people, since it is incredibly difficult for people to sue utility companies for poisoning them. The Right Wing seems to have no regard for what happens to 90% of us with these kinds of decision making. Essentially they see us as slaves (or worse) and are creating a plantation world where the powerful rule with impunity.

My father did a study on the costs and benefits of a Incinerator in Indiana. He considered the downwind impacts on the health and morbidity of people who would have to breathe air from the plant and the costs of making such products healthy. Based on those calculations the report recommended against building the incinerator. A few years later a new study was commissioned where external calculations were forbidden. That one recommended an incinerator. The only way the SCOTUS Gang of 5 could conclude that the EPA was refusing to consider costs was by ignoring external costs.

They are corrupt.

Post Script: Chris Hayes on Context

Chris notes: Scalia criticized the use of context in his dissent on the ACA, but invented context (as well as lying about whether EPA considered Costs) in this decision.

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