Archive for October, 2012

Bills of Immunity — New Tool Against the EPA?

October 27, 2012

While ideally we would work foremost in establishing the Rule of Law by building more permanency and less arbitrariness into the framework or constitution of laws, in reality such rule may be long in coming so long as an army of bureaucrats rage the land with mandates and codes.  We may indeed need some merry men (e.g. freedom fighters) from Robin Hood against King John (tyranny) until King Richard (i.e. the Rule of Law) returns.  To this end I propose fighting ad hoc and arbitrary rules with exemptions to such.  While exemptions might appear incongruous to the principle of the Rule of Law, i.e. that law should equally apply to everyone, it must be noted that arbitrary and ad hoc rules by their very nature aren’t establishing a Rule of Law in the first place.  Such mandates are all too often established by unconstitutional bodies with no real direct accountability to the people at large. e.g. the EPA.  Their technocrats are constantly tweaking a fugacious web of rules and regulations that few can predict with certainty.  Against such a web of oppressive government I propose Bills of Immunity which I will describe after first describing the evils that such Bills would mitigate.

Such technocrats all too often harbor zealous convictions that can rarely be tempered with economic caution or prudence.  Such priests of the temples of technology often practice the creed that if something can be done, then it must be done, regardless of the cost. All too often the costs are very real, as can be seen in the recent economic recession with around half of recent college graduates unable to find work, many underemployed, and even more struggling under inflation and stagflation as costs rise and government stimulus plans of the past have eroded our currency even further.  The zealous pursuit of stemming CO2 emissions at all costs has cost us far too much in lost opportunities and lost generations of unemployed youth to warrant second thoughts on whether a more measured and economically tempered course ought to be considered in order to save humanity first and the planet second.  Tax money that could have gone to real humanitarian needs such as lowering the deficit and protecting freedom has been poured into green technologies not even half way to breaking even.  While government subsidies may have promoted some technological development, the lack of market discipline that such “free” money entails too often promotes waste and bad investment.  And moral objections to subsidies aside, some investments have been poured into technology that is still quite far from cusping on breakthroughs in self-sustainability.  Just this year, the Economist magazine published an article (see http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/04/electric-cars) showing how far electric cars have still to come before they are even economically viable.  The price of the battery per kWh needs to come down from $600 to $200 to become viable according to that article.  The battery itself in its present makeup could pose an environmental impact in itself unless properly disposed.  It’s current lifetime average of seven years must also be improved in order to increase the marketability and less the environmental impact.

Even if their actions were wiser, the mere idea of their actions being consciously made and promoting a general social engineering that by necessity must constantly be tweaked towards greater perfection leads to greater uncertainty by its ad hoc and discretionary powers.  The individual citizen or business is all too often ignored as ill affording such regulations’ discretionary unpredictability.  No man or women can truly predict, plan or fulfill their individual dreams under such an entangled web of rules.  They simply wriggle and often helplessly avoid the impending doom that often awaits them as the spiders of government eventually suck their blood out and leave them empty shells.

Against such doom I propose Bills of Immunity that provide a period of protection from frivolous lawsuits or creeping changes in regulation by limiting the culpability of a business or entity to laws existing at the snapshot in time at which such a Bill of Immunity was issued.  Such bills would offer reassurance that investments in time and money would be protected for the period of the Bill from unpredictable changes in regulation or law that couldn’t be anticipated at the time of such investments.  Such bills could potentially limit the arbitrary power of the EPA by countering it’s discretionary powers with government provided guarantees of protection against such authority when such authority wielded powers in violation of the contracts provided under such Bills of Immunity.

Some might protest against freezing liability standards on the argument that future data might reveal unforeseen dangers that pose a threat to society.  However such arguments could be countered twofold.  First and foremost we ought not to base the law strictly on providing contingencies for unforeseen dangers if such contingencies lead to greater uncertainty with respect to the law and power of authorities.  Secondly such arguments tend to be based on the fear that corporations will neglect the public safety in their pursuit of profit.  Such arguments neglect the inherent goodwill of individuals and the companies they work for as well as the role of public and social pressures to be more responsible and minimize the impact on one’s surroundings.