By Helen Scharber, CPE Staff Economist
On February 8, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2007, a bill designed to limit the use of antibiotics in healthy farm animals. Though their surnames do not lend themselves as aptly to a bill about livestock, Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Snowe (R-WA) introduced a nearly identical bill to the Senate the following week. Why are lawmakers suddenly so concerned with porcine penicillin? As Snowe explains, “The effectiveness of infectious disease fighting antibiotics continues to be compromised by their overuse for agricultural purposes.” In other words, the antibiotics we’re feeding our edible friends are speeding the development of drug-resistant super bacteria, a type of progress that’s bad for pigs and for people.
It’s extremely common for articles about different health issues to cite some statistic about the drain on the economy that the illness causes, both in terms of direct expenditures for healthcare to deal with it, as well as the indirect costs of missed work time. It was this quote in The Ecologist that got me thinking about this, “The indirect costs [of obesity in the UK] are estimated to be in the region of £2.5 billion per year, including costs to the NHS [National Health Service] and costs to industry through sickness and absence” and typing “economic cost disease” into Google’s Scholar search turns up a slew of examples from the bowels of academia figuring the same way.
The Washington Post reported a couple days ago on the dwindling and precarious situation among the big accounting firms. As the opening paragraph asks, “With only four major firms left in the business, are there too few to let any fail?” The article goes on to list numerous troubling and legally challenged activities by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche, KPMG, and Ernst & Young in recent years, all in the shadow of Arthur Anderson’s undoing as an enabler of Enron’s mishigas.
The CBC reports
Alberta carbon dioxide pipeline could cost $5B
Last Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2007 | 12:19 PM MT
A plan to pipe carbon dioxide from Alberta’s oilsands and store it underground could cost as much as $5 billion, says Alberta’s environment minister.
The province wants to capture carbon dioxide and send it through a 400-kilometre pipeline. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Guy Boutilier said earlier this month that the pipeline would cost $1.5 billion and the carbon dioxide would be used to help get more oil out of low-producing wells.
He was pushing for the federal government and industry to split the cost of the project.
But Environment Minister Rob Renner suggested Wednesday it could cost much more.
“The number of $1.5 billion has been floated,” Renner said. “I suspect that the number — all costs included — will be significantly higher than that.
“I’ve seen estimates as high as $5 billion by the time it has taken into account the cost to industry to implement the [carbon] capture facilities.”
Wow. Just a thought here, and ignoring that the carbon dioxide would be sequestered (for how long and how securely?) in an effort to bring yet more fossil fuel to the surface so it can be burned and converted to carbon dioxide, most of which won’t be captured but will add to the greenhouse mix; so my thought is, just how much energy conservation technology could be implemented with $5 billion (even if it is Canadian dollars), or even the lower estimate of $1.5 billion? I’d definitely bet a dollar that it’d be enough to cancel out way more CO2 emissions than the pipeline would help sequester (and I repeat, for how long, and how securely?).
The latest (March 2007) newsletter from the Center for Rural Affairs has several good articles, mostly in response to the proposed Farm Bill and the President’s proposed federal budget now before Congress. [Note: once the next newsletter comes out, the link to this one will change and you’ll be able to find it through their newsletter archives.] And as usual, the “Corporate Farming Notes” are worth following. Some examples:
Ex-chair of the Fed, Alan Greenspan, was frequently criticized for throwing his weight around in favor of those whose economic position is based on owning financial capital, at the expense of the vast majority of the public. Congress loved everything about Greenspan and would have made him chair-for-life if they could, so it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that his replacement, Ben Bernanke, tends towards the same bias. Dean Baker paints a “hypothetical” scenario that would lead to just that conclusion. How else to explain why Bernanke would be so eager to smooth the rough waters of the financial markets? Aren’t they just natural expressions of the rational free-market system? To paraphrase Marilynne Robinson from one of her essays in Mother Country, if the markets are natural systems, like rivers, what obligation is there to flatten out the waterfalls and smooth over the rapids? The answer seems to be the obligations of class.
A sweet week for family policy in the print media. Don’t miss Ruth Rosen’s cover article on “The Care Crisis” in The Nation of March 12, 2007 OR the special report entitled “The Mother Load” in The American Prospect of March 2007, with contributions by Heather Boushey and Janet Gornick, among others. Both magazines insist that creative feminist family policy ideas should move to front and center-left of the Democratic party agenda.
First, a confession. I am a virgin blogger so I may not get the links–or the lingo–quite right. But here goes:
The fact that so much of what the “intelligence” community does is done in secret makes it a little hard to judge the worth of their efforts. But here are a few things to consider.
1) When they do accomplish things, it often turns out badly. Very, very badly.
2) When they don’t accomplish things, the bad results are avoided perhaps only by the grace of God (and the more cool-headed minds that stand between the U.S. intelligence community and whatever it is they are trying to accomplish). Case in point: intelligence on Iran’s nuclear programs turns out to be pretty much a bunch of junk.
Speaking of which, I liked Alexander Cockburn’s recent column on selling bridges to the New York Times. (Full column available to Nation subscribers only, but this intro is a nice taste.)
By Heidi Garrett-Peltier, CPE Staff Economist
You are what you eat. And according to Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, that means we’re corn. Corn has now made its way into our diet in the form of fillers, sweeteners, oils, alcohols, pills, and breakfast cereals, not to mention of course the indirect path it takes through animal feed. Why should we care? Because cheap corn has been linked to obesity, and obesity will soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death.
By Matthew Riddle, CPE Staff Economist
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, grabbed headlines in Massachusetts recently when Governor Deval Patrick signed onto it, committing Massachusetts to a cut in its emissions of greenhouse gasses from power plants, and reversing Mitt Romney’s decision to abandon the agreement. In addition to rejoining RGGI, Patrick also outlined some proposals for its implementation, which may prove to be even more significant than his decision to join.