Saturday, July 17, 2004

The EPA's corruption goes even deeper than one would think. In proposing new regulations, the agency is required to do "cost/benefit" analyses--i.e. who is harmed, who is benefited, and what the net dollar effects are. This kind of collectivist "social calculus" is already corrupt enough, but look what qualifies as a "benefit"... (From WSJ, 7/16/04)

Regarding an EPA rule on how many fish a power plant could kill when it sucked in river water for cooling: "The rule would cost utilities money while benefiting commercial fishermen by giving them more fish to catch. The EPA argued that there was an additional benefit: the 'sense of altruism [and] stewardship' consumers would feel by protecting river ecosystems. It contended this was worth hundreds of millions of dollars--more than the benefit to fishermen."

In other words, altruism--i.e. self-sacrifice--is counted as amonetary *benefit* in the EPA's calculus of regulation! When you hurt your own interests, that makes you feel good (or it should,unless you are some kind of monster). So it's really in fact a huge *gain* for you, when the government uses its guns to force you to pay higher costs for energy generation.

Fortunately, a Washington think-tank caught the EPA out in this particular case:

"They found [the altruism calculation] rested in part on a study of consumers in affluent eastern Long Island who were asked whether they would be willing to pay to protect the wetlands. By the EPA's logic, Ms. Dudley argued in formal comments and an opinion piece in the Washington Times last year, Americans 'place a much higher value on a fish swimming free than one on your plate.'

"The article was passed around EPA headquarters, and agency officials say it added to the pressure on the EPA from the WhiteHouse and the Energy Department to drop the altruism calculation."

Surprise--when the altruism component was dropped out, the'benefits' no longer outweighed the 'costs'.

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