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  #31  
Old 12-15-2005, 06:20 PM
Borodog Borodog is offline
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

Can you explain "de minimus" for a non-lawyer?
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  #32  
Old 12-15-2005, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

Despot is exactly right.

de minimus = minor, very little.
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  #33  
Old 12-15-2005, 06:53 PM
Borodog Borodog is offline
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

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If the roads were privatized, their owners could be rightly sued for the pollution they create.

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This doesnt work under American tort law for many reasons. First, as a practical matter, any individual's "injury" from pollution is likely to be de minimum, and thus individually there is no incentive to sue (even though collectively the injury might be material). Second, because each individual's injury is de minimus, any provable damages would also be de minimus. Thus even if you wanted to get lawyered up to sue, there is no economic incentive to sue. Third, thus the primary remedy you're talking about is really injunctive in nature--ie, an order from the court to the defendant "to stop polluting." This is a classic case of a situation where government intervention is appropriate--protection of public goods where a collective action problem prevents the tort law from properly functioning.

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What? Your argument is that individuals are most likely not harmed enough to bother pursuing compensation, but that they need regulation to protect them from what isn't harming them?

And the remedy is not injunctive. You simply cannot get them to "not pollute," since even low emission vehicles still have emissions. Furthermore, this is not even an argument in favor of regulation, since as pvn has already pointed out, regulations set "acceptable levels" of pollution which are, obviously, non-zero.

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Fourth, the use of lawyers to reduce pollution is an unnecessary economic deadweight loss--lawyers essentially are economic friction for both the plaintiff and defendant. A much more efficient solution is regulation, with each individual complying voluntarily with regulations b/c of the threat of being discovered and sanctioned (criminally or civilly). Economists would describe this as lowered "fencing costs".

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Wait. Lawyers are economic friction but regulatory bureaucracies are not? How is not polluting for fear of being sanctioned by a regulatory agency better than not polluting for fear of being privately sued?

Furthermore, a regulatory bureaucracy has a financial incentive to not solve the problem. If the problem were solved the regulatory agency could not generate revenue nor justify its existence.

Not to mention the inevitable corruption that arises from government regulation of private industries as competitors lobby to have the regulations written and interpreted in their favor and against the interests of their competition.

Did I mention that I worked for the EPA?

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Fifth, it is not even clear that road owners could be held liable under tort law for the pollution caused by the operators of vehicles. For instance, road owners could make a rule: "Only low-emission vehicles may enter the tollway. By driving on our tollway, you represent that you drive a low emission vehicle." If it turns out that a high-emission vehicle were driving on the tollway (and thus causing a pollution "injury"), the toll road owner would probably not be liable under American tortlaw, because the injury was caused by an intervening tortfeasor. Thus, as a legal matter, your approach is contrary to American principles of civil liability.

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A "low emission vehicle" still has emissions. A road owner could not provide a road without admitting liability for pollution usless the vehicles were actually zero-emission.

Furthermore I am not representing that I believe the current instantiation of American tort law is the "correct" one. In fact, it is something that I have little knowledge of the details of, so I can't really mount much of a defense (as you can probably tell). So if you're going to descend into the arcana of tort law, I guess you win.
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  #34  
Old 12-15-2005, 07:07 PM
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

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What? Your argument is that individuals are most likely not harmed enough to bother pursuing compensation, but that they need regulation to protect them from what isn't harming them?

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No, the injuries 1)will be difficult to proove and 2)only a few people will get cancer, most will get asthma, some will not have noticeable injuries. All these injuries will be caused by a variety of pollutants, not just the highways.
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  #35  
Old 12-15-2005, 07:09 PM
Rick Nebiolo Rick Nebiolo is offline
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

Isn't there another problem with hybrids. That is, the energy costs associated with making them (perhaps associated with batteries) exceed the typical fuel savings.

Thought it was discussed elsewhere on this forum a while back but I can't find the link.

~ Rick
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  #36  
Old 12-15-2005, 07:38 PM
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

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What? Your argument is that individuals are most likely not harmed enough to bother pursuing compensation, but that they need regulation to protect them from what isn't harming them?

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No, my argument is that nobody has been sufficiently harmed such that they individually have the incentive to pursue legal remedies. This is the classic dillema economists call the "collective action problem." For instance, suppose Citibank stole 1 cent per account each month. Would you sue? No, because your remedy is the recovery of 1 cent. Thus "collective action" is required rather than individual action. This is why problems like this are solved either by the "class action lawsuit" or through governmental regulation and enforcement.

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regulations set "acceptable levels" of pollution which are, obviously, non-zero.

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Obviously. Pollution is acceptable. This is widely agreed upon in the regulatory world (EPA, OSHA, whatever). As it should be. For instance, suppose the manufacture of steel caused as a bioproduct, the production of dioxin, a major carcinogen. Should steel making be outlawed? No. Instead, what happens is that government regulations proscribe an acceptable level of pollution (although some pollutants can be deemed so toxic that a zero-level is the only acceptable level). Basically, sound regulation is all about cost-benefit analysis, not absolute prohibitions on pollutants, etc.

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Lawyers are economic friction but regulatory bureaucracies are not?

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Both create deadweight economic losses. The question is which creates a smaller loss. Bureaucracy, while definitely undesirable, is much more efficient than private litigation (which by the way, requires that the government pay for a separate bureaucracy known as the court system). If you recommended massive private litigation, then you would necessarily create a massive judicial bureaucracy.

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How is not polluting for fear of being sanctioned by a regulatory agency better than not polluting for fear of being privately sued?

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There is a concept in tort law, particularly among the law and econ thinkers, about asking "who is the lowest cost avoider"? Basically, the law should be set up so that the least cost avoider takes action to avoid the injury.

Suppose, for example, that I own a house on a hill. You have a 1M house downhill from mine. If a landslide occurs, your house will be destroyed. I can build a retaining wall for $5000 downhill from my house but uphill from your house. If I build the wall, there is an 80% chance that a landslide will be avoided.

In situations like this, the law wants a retaining wall built because it is the lowest cost solution. The problem, however, is that I get minimal benefit from building this wall. So a few outcomes could happen. (1) Regulation gets passed that says "uphill owners must build retaining walls"; or (2) everybody gets taxed, and government comes in and builds a retaining wall itself; or (3) no retaining wall gets built, but the downhill landowner can sue me for negligent conditions of the land resulting in injury. (Actually, this last remedy is a bit unclear--the law distinguishes between "natural conditions occuring on land" and "artificial conditions and activities on land")

But my basic point is, when trying to figure out how an injury should be avoided, you need to look at the lowest cost avoidance. Voluntary compliance by individuals (due to the threat of civil or criminal liability from regulation), can be a very cheap solution (provided the regulation does not grow too unweildy). Private enforcement of rights is very very expensive.

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Furthermore, a regulatory bureaucracy has a financial incentive to not solve the problem. If the problem were solved the regulatory agency could not generate revenue nor justify its existence.

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This is actually erroneous. Bureaucracy does not have an incentive to not do its job--its the opposite. The incentive bureaucracy has is to do its job, and then some. This is why bureaucracy grows. When laws get passed, bureaucracy steps in an starts the supervision/enforcement cycle, thus justifying its existence. One of the biggest complaints about the "administrative state" is that bureaucracies, through the rulemaking process, can essentially make an end run around the democratic legislative process, and start creating more and more quasi-laws that cost an ever increasing amount to comply with. For example, the consumer product safety commission prescribed the distance that slats on a baby crib can be spaced. Why? Because once upon a time, some kid got his head stuck between slats spaced too widely apart, and he got killed. So now government has created (independent of the democratic legislative process), a rule that costs all purchasers of baby cribs more money. THIS is why people hate bureaucracy--not because they go around trying to NOT do their job.

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Not to mention the inevitable corruption that arises from government regulation of private industries as competitors lobby to have the regulations written and interpreted in their favor and against the interests of their competition.

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The private lobbying function is merely an extention of the democratic process. It is the way in which legislatures (and rulemakers) are influenced. I much prefer this approach than a tyrranical government that cannot be influenced by its constituency.

Do corporations have a disproportionate say? Undoubtedly. But we work in a market economy, and the corporatios have more money than the Earth Justice! crowd, so that's just life. If you dont like it, try to get Ralph Nader elected president.

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A "low emission vehicle" still has emissions.

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Yes, chemistry is a bitch, isn't it. This is called combustion. There are byproducts. One byproduct is heat. Another byproduct is water. Another is CO2. Another are volatile organic compounds that turn into smog after they get hit by sunlight. What's your point? We should all walk? But walking creates byproducts. CO2 from increased respiration. Energy consumption in the form of food, which is turned into sewage, which is a pollutant? I dont understand your point.

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A road owner could not provide a road without admitting liability for pollution usless the vehicles were actually zero-emission.

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Im not sure you have a good idea of what zero-emissions is. No such car exists. When you have an electric car, you use batteries. Batteries get charged off the power grid. The majority of the power in this country is generated from coal and natural gas plants, which in turn create emissions. Just because you cant see tailpipe emissions, doesnt mean these cars are zero emissions. This is called the "mobile source" vs. "stationary source" problem.

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So if you're going to descend into the arcana of tort law, I guess you win.

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As you can see from my detailed response, I am not relying entirely on tort law to debunk your proposal. You just have a bad understanding of economic incentives generally. And also, you seem to have a poor grasp of air quality issues specifically. (In an earlier life, I analyzed air quality and transportation issues for a living.)
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  #37  
Old 12-15-2005, 07:42 PM
LittleOldLady LittleOldLady is offline
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

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Do you feel superior to us regular mortals because you are a vegetarian?

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Haha. Ed would feel superior no matter what.
He was born with a huge ego!

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No, he wasn't born with it. His parents fed it, and it grew large. [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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  #38  
Old 12-15-2005, 09:26 PM
wacki wacki is offline
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

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part of that enjoyment being the knowledge that she is being socially responsible

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If hybrid cars will help ensure the US can satify it's needs with shale oil. Hybrid cars in 2012 will most likely be far more damaging to the environment than a muscle car in the 60's.

If she wants to be socially responsible she should be asking her congressman why ITER has been on the shelf for 25 years. There are plenty of other things she can do. I've typed this stuff out a million times so I've lost all will to do it again.
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  #39  
Old 12-15-2005, 11:08 PM
Ed Miller Ed Miller is offline
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

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If she wants to be socially responsible she should be asking her congressman why ITER has been on the shelf for 25 years. There are plenty of other things she can do. I've typed this stuff out a million times so I've lost all will to do it again.

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I agree with you 100% about the fusion research. I'm not certain what's holding it up, but I strongly suspect it's the oil lobby. That makes me very mad.
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  #40  
Old 12-15-2005, 11:18 PM
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Default Re: Toyota: \"No Financial Justification in US for Buying Hybrids\"

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part of that enjoyment being the knowledge that she is being socially responsible

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Actually, Ed's wrong here. I didn't buy it because I get enjoyment from it's "social responsibility." I listed my reasons above. I think it's a cool car, the technology is cool, it looks cool, it's fun to drive and it was a great purchase - great because it's actualy gone up in value and because it saves me gas money.

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If hybrid cars will help ensure the US can satify it's needs with shale oil. Hybrid cars in 2012 will most likely be far more damaging to the environment than a muscle car in the 60's.

If she wants to be socially responsible she should be asking her congressman why ITER has been on the shelf for 25 years. There are plenty of other things she can do. I've typed this stuff out a million times so I've lost all will to do it again.

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You're doing the same thing Beer and Pizza did earlier - if I choose to fight one environmental battle, I must fight them all, otherwise I'm a hypocrite.

You go ahead and lobby your congressperson. I'm going to keep driving my hybrid and show that there is a market for creative energy vehicles & low emissions vehicles like electric vehicles, hybrids, hydrogen, corn oil...whatever...
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