The NRC: A Den of Anti-Nukes, Theives and Scoundrels

November 6th, 2009
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I won’t make it a secret that I hate, loath, despise the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and all the problems that they cause. One of the most shocking things about this agency is that many of those who worked for the NRC or even served as commissioners have gone on to become prominent anti-nuclear campaigners. In general, most will not be so blatant about their anti-nuclear agenda while at the agency, as that would make their intent too obvious and present a conflict of interest that even Jimmy Carter couldn’t turn a blind eye to.

Most disturbingly, many of the most viscous anti-nukes were the founding members of the NRC or helped establish the regulatory protocol in the early years of operation. This should leave no doubt as to why the agency was created and the agenda behind the NRC from the beginning. Although some less anti-nuclear commissioners have been appointed since, it is impossible to erase the legacy of the organization or deny the fact that it was born out of an attempt to kill the nuclear industry.

A few examples:

Peter Bradford - Bradford was a sworn commissioner of the NRC from 1977 to 1982. Before his term at the NRC, he served on the Main public utility commission. His activities with the Maine government were generally supportive of the enviornmental special interest sector. Bradford is not a scientist or an engineer. He is a lawyer by education and a career bureaucrat.

After his term at the NRC, Bradford went on to become a public anti-nuclear activist. He is a member of the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a well known anti-nuclear group – which is actually not composed of scientists, although they do have a few. Bradford is unabashedly completely anti-nuclear. He has been a contributor to NIRS, an organization whose goal is the complete elimination of nuclear energy. He has also been a contributor to Greenpeace events.

On behalf of NIRS and Greenpeace, Bradford took the anti-nuclear side of a debate with Patrick Moore, one of the more public proponents of nuclear energy for its enviornmental benefits.

Victor Gilinsky -Victor Gilinsky served as a commissioner for the NRC from 1975 to 1984. Prior to that, he was involved in the “reorganization” of the AEC, which helped to end the Seaborg era of progressive pro-nuclear policies. Gilinsky was a prominent fear-monger during the Three Mile Island incident, helping to convince the public that they were in extreme danger. Since then he has been an “energy consultant.” Gilinsky was also a major opponent to “nuclear exports” effectively quashing the Atoms for Peace program and ending US involvement in the international market for peaceful nuclear technology.

His activities have included testifying before congress about the terrorism and proliferation dangers of nuclear reactors. Gilinsky was His extreme anti-nuclear sentiments can be seen in several editorials he has written, including “A call to resist the nuclear revival” which ran in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Robert Pollard - Robert Pollard was the chief safety engineer for the NRC from 1976 until his resignation in 1979. Allegedly he resigned as a “whistleblower” over safety concerns. Pollard had made a lot of extreme allegations over the safety of reactors, many with little or no supporting evidence. Immediately after resigning, he went to work for the Union of Concerned Scientists. He continues to work as an “expert” for the Union of Concerned Scientists and has been a public figure in the anti-nuclear movement. His activities include activities to dispute nearly every licensing and re-licensing of nuclear facilities. Since 2001, he has exploited fears of terrorism to renew his scaremongering, making claims that nuclear plants present a danger to the public due and are vulnerable to terrorism.

Howard K. ShaparShapar initially worked for the AEC, but in 1973, he worked to draft the legislation that would disband the AEC and create the NRC. Sharpar worked at the NRC as Executive Legal Director and Assistant General Counsel for Licensing and Regulation. His activities included a push for more regulations and opposition to fuel reprocessing. In recent years, he acted as an expert witness and consultant for anti-nuclear lawsuits, most prominently legal attempts to stop the Yucca Mountain spent fuel repository.

Sharpar died last month of a heart attack. Good riddance.

There are others, former NRC inspectors, litigators, paper-pushers and others, some who worked there only a few years ago. Few are scientists, more are lawyers or bureaucrats. Though less prominent, many now work for law firms and public relations firms where they continue to work to oppose nuclear energy.


This entry was posted on Friday, November 6th, 2009 at 1:30 am and is filed under Bad Science, Enviornment, History, Nuclear, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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41 Responses to “The NRC: A Den of Anti-Nukes, Theives and Scoundrels”

  1. 1
    Carletes Says:

    Somedays I wish there was a terrorist dumb enough to attack a plant or have a plane crash into one. Just to show the futility of it. Of course it would be construed in the media completely wrong. Just like how although TMI-2 was a grand success of engineering safe guards, it is remembered as one of the ‘worst accidents in nuclear history.’

    I had no idea so many NRC officials had become part of UCS. Quite depressing.


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  2. 2
    geg Says:

    Do you really think stupid, childish photoshops like this advance any kind of argument?
    I’m no fan of the NRC but these tactics devalue the important things you actually have to say.


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  3. 3
    drbuzz0 Says:

            geg said:

    Do you really think stupid, childish photoshops like this advance any kind of argument?
    I’m no fan of the NRC but these tactics devalue the important things you actually have to say.

    I’ve thought about it. Obviously there is some dramatic overstatement humor, and I see your point that it is childish and makes the whole thing a joke, but honestly I have come to think that visual representations that imply a given entity is associated with something bad is probably going to have a greater impact on the thinking and memory of many than arguments ever will.

    You could look at the impact that over the top political cartoons have on public perception. Even ridiculously overblown images seem to resonate. The 1966 presidential election was clinched by the ridiculous and childish notion that Barry Goldwater wanted to have little girls playing with flowers vaporized.


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  4. 4
    Jason Ribeiro Says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the NRC had some type of non-compete clause for its employees? I’m sure such a thing could not be legally hold water as it does for private business, but it seems to me that it is grossly irresponsible to thwart the industry which accounted for their previous employment. As you indicate, the NRC was setup to be adversarial to the nuclear industry.

    Gregory Jaczko repeated the mission statement in a recent speech: “ The mission of the NRC is to license and regulate the Nation’s civilian use of byproduct, source, and special nuclear materials to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, promote the common defense and security, and protect the environment.”

    Like many mission statements, this one is poorly written. It lost me after license and regulate. Not that I don’t understand the rest, but the scope and definition for the ensuing list leaves a lot of questions. Next, it sticks this clause in: “promote the common defense and security”. Really? Now I’m confused again, I don’t see any sign of them promoting anything much less common defense and security. Security of what? Then they append it all with “protect the environment”. Why? How? Is that their job? That’s a huge job to protect the whole environment, are they sure they’re up to it?

    I’m prodding these questions to make the point that NRC thinks it’s mission is to either save the planet or it’s an organization in search of an identity. Regardless if that assumption is correct, it’s plain as day that this group could never handle a major expansion of the nuclear industry even if all the supply chains, financing, approved reactor designs, and qualified personnel were as ready as a standing army. If Senator Alexander’s suggestion of 100 nuclear plants by 2030 were to start today, licenses would have to be granted at the rate of 1 every 10 weeks to stay on schedule.

    Anyone want to give a stab at a better mission statement for the NRC?


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  5. 5
    Matthew Says:

            Jason Ribeiro said:

    Anyone want to give a stab at a better mission statement for the NRC?

    How about:

    “To cripple the US nuclear sector, reduce energy security, increase air pollution and cancer, and boost energy prices to the point where several hundred people a year die because they must either freeze or starve?”

    At the very least, it’s accurate.


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  6. 6
    BMS Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    The 1966 presidential election was clinched by the ridiculous and childish notion that Barry Goldwater wanted to have little girls playing with flowers vaporized.

    Make that the 1964 presidential election. ;-)


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  7. 7
    drbuzz0 Says:

            BMS said:

    Make that the 1964 presidential election. ;-)

    oopsies


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  8. 8
    DV82XL Says:

    Unfortunately dealing with these sorts of regulators (and as I have said before, the U.S. is not unique in this regard) is going to require that nuclear energy, both industry and supporters, grow a political wing capable of lighting a fire under the powers that be.

    The last few days I have been trying to get some feedback from members of this list of pronuclear NGO’s and most of them seem dead in the water, and those that are not are frankly impotent or dissipated. With this sort of lobby, it’s no wonder we are getting nowhere.

    Mean while I can name at least three cases where a antinuclear ‘group’ with a web presence and an inflated name, routinely presents briefs to governmental committees, and is quoted often in the press, but upon closer examination proves to be little more than ONE PERSON.

    A prime example is The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility that consists of a Junior college teacher and a post office box here in Montreal. This clown shows up everywhere pretending to talk for an organization that its own board of directors dissolved many years ago. Nevertheless you can find him pontificating on TV and radio and in the papers any time a nuclear issue come up in Canada, and he is a regular presenter at every commission on the topic.

    We need some of this to get our points in front of the public. Steve I know you have done it, and I know I have done it, but we need more, and I desperately wish I knew how to bring that about. Obviously just having a web page isn’t enough, as the lack of responses from that list proves. If anyone has any other ideas, now is the time to table them.


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  9. 9
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    We need some of this to get our points in front of the public. Steve I know you have done it, and I know I have done it, but we need more, and I desperately wish I knew how to bring that about. Obviously just having a web page isn’t enough, as the lack of responses from that list proves. If anyone has any other ideas, now is the time to table them.

    I’d like to do more, and I have attended public meetings and such things, written letters to the media (which occasionally have resulted in action) and things like that. But I’m neither rich nor do I have an unlimited amount of spare time.


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  10. 10
    Matthew Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    I’d like to do more, and I have attended public meetings and such things, written letters to the media (which occasionally have resulted in action) and things like that.

    But I’m neither rich nor do I have an unlimited amount of spare time.

    hmm… Maybe raise the issue as a social justice one, and co-opt the flow of useful idiots that the anti-nukes draw on. The students with small brains who will support almost anything if it’s framed the right way, who then end up being a decent sized demographic. We really need to get the meme of high energy prices affecting the poorest worst out there.


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  11. 11
    DV82XL Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    But I’m neither rich nor do I have an unlimited amount of spare time.

    That’s one of the problems of course – the clown up here that I was referring to above manages to make money by charging for public appearances, unsolicited donations and funding from grants.

            Matthew said:

    hmm… Maybe raise the issue as a social justice one, and co-opt the flow of useful idiots that the anti-nukes draw on. The students with small brains who will support almost anything if it’s framed the right way, who then end up being a decent sized demographic. We really need to get the meme of high energy prices affecting the poorest worst out there.

    I have always said that recruiting at the colleges and universities should be a priority – the question is how to form the first cadres.


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  12. 12
    Frank Kandrnal Says:

    At least those rascals pictured in the cartoon above were not traitors to their cause as compared to NRC employees who exhibited treasonous behavior toward the industry they were supposed to represent. It is no secret that many lawyers were anti nuclear activists with agenda to penetrate into government positions where they could manipulate the outcome of their anti nuclear movement. As you can see they succeeded to cause terrible damage to humanity. Their accomplishment can be measured in more poison and CO2 in the atmosphere, more poison in water and land and continuing poverty among many in poor countries where ever increasing cost of electricity together with fossil fuel cost drives many to desperation or outright starvation.
    It clearly shows that some of NRC employees were there not to make nuclear energy safer for the benefit of humanity but to kill it. This makes them worse than all those”kind gentlemen” pictured above. Lack of cheap energy in the world will kill more people than all of those scoundrels managed to do combined together. For this reason I defend the cartoon as appropriate to show severity of the situation.


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  13. 13
    Frank Kandrnal Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Unfortunately dealing with these sorts of regulators (and as I have said before, the U.S. is not unique in this regard) is going to require that nuclear energy, both industry and supporters, grow a political wing capable of lighting a fire under the powers that be.

    The last few days I have been trying to get some feedback from members of this list of pronuclear NGO’s and most of them seem dead in the water, and those that are not are frankly impotent or dissipated. With this sort of lobby, it’s no wonder we are getting nowhere.

    Mean while I can name at least three cases where a antinuclear ‘group’ with a web presence and an inflated name, routinely presents briefs to governmental committees, and is quoted often in the press, but upon closer examination proves to be little more than ONE PERSON.

    A prime example is The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility that consists of a Junior college teacher and a post office box here in Montreal. This clown shows up everywhere pretending to talk for an organization that its own board of directors dissolved many years ago. Nevertheless you can find him pontificating on TV and radio and in the papers any time a nuclear issue come up in Canada, and he is a regular presenter at every commission on the topic.

    We need some of this to get our points in front of the public. Steve I know you have done it, and I know I have done it, but we need more, and I desperately wish I knew how to bring that about. Obviously just having a web page isn’t enough, as the lack of responses from that list proves. If anyone has any other ideas, now is the time to table them.

    Patrick Moore is a good ambassador to spread truth about nuclear power, however, he need to be made aware of thorium technologies. His arguments are persuasive and based on truth but I did not hear him mention anything about thorium. The Greenpeace and other anti nukes use time worn arguments about old nuclear technologies. It is like talking about old computers with 500K floppy disk drives. Energy from Thorium must be driven home to public, especially the molten salt LFTR reactor as the greatest possibility for safe reactor of the future.


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  14. 14
    Bruce Says:

    We need some of this to get our points in front of the public. Steve I know you have done it, and I know I have done it, but we need more, and I desperately wish I knew how to bring that about. Obviously just having a web page isn’t enough, as the lack of responses from that list proves. If anyone has any other ideas, now is the time to table them.

    The reason people like that, such as science in the public interest, can get in front of the media like that is that the media largely agrees with them. For awhile Science in the Public interest was literally just a couple with a PO Box and a fax machine that persistently informed news papers and other media sources about their latest information. I think they do a lot of good work, but it is interesting that such a small group can get so much coverage.

    http://www.cspinet.org/

    Just do a google news search for them, they are in multiple news stories a day, it’s pretty amazing. There is a counter organization (http://www.cspiscam.com/) that for awhile, was better funded, but gets almost no coverage or quotes in articles because the news media understands they are just shilling a pro-industry pro-profit point of view.

    http://news.google.com/news/search?aq=f&um=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=science+in+the+public+interest

    You wouldn’t get the same kind of coverage, because the media already knows the facts on nuclear power (and even if you think their facts are wrong) they won’t just accept what you guys are telling them instead of what they currently believe. To be effective, you need to provide quotes and “facts” that ling up with what reporters already believe but can’t just state as their own opinion, its got to be a quote which they can include as coming from an “authority” which you guys would want to be you I suppose. There are other “foundations” which have been very influential in the healthcare debate, getting a lot of their quotes into articles, but they tend to be better funded. The progressive ones are a great place to donate money though, a lot of bang for the buck.


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  15. 15
    DV82XL Says:

            Frank Kandrnal said:

    Patrick Moore is a good ambassador to spread truth about nuclear power, however, he need to be made aware of thorium technologies.

    While I am a firm believer in thorium fueled reactors, the fight right now is to see that nuclear is not shoved to the back by natural gas dresses up in renewables.

    Patrick Moore, and the few other high profile pronuclear supporters are helping, but they are not enough. Converts like these too, unfortunately have a hard time getting past the fact that they are converts, and the message can be lost.

    But we need more, and more organized support, because mass is the only thing we can bring to fight money in the political arena.


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  16. 16
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Although I agree that the best technologies that will ultimately do the job are generation 4 and beyond reactors and that includes thorium based fuel cycles, fast spectrum reactors, molten salt reactors, gas cooled reactors and so on, with the current regulatory structure I think that it’s setting the bar too high to really think that those are going to be standardized and built as power reactors for the time being.

    Right now, I’m just hoping to see more PWR’s and BWR’s being built. Yeah, I know, they are far from perfect, but I think it’s the best we can reasonably hope for in the near term.


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  17. 17
    Finrod Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I have always said that recruiting at the colleges and universities should be a priority – the question is how to form the first cadres.

    Create a generalised mass movement of the most dedicated supporters. Some of them will either be university students, or have influence on some university students. Work from there.

    Don’t expect that it will only be the physics/engineering/hard science crowd supporting this. There are plenty of people who study economics, the humanities, business and so on who are sympathetic, no matter what the stereotype suggests. Cultivate such sympathisers as you can find.


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  18. 18
    Frank Kandrnal Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    Although I agree that the best technologies that will ultimately do the job are generation 4 and beyond reactors and that includes thorium based fuel cycles, fast spectrum reactors, molten salt reactors, gas cooled reactors and so on, with the current regulatory structure I think that it’s setting the bar too high to really think that those are going to be standardized and built as power reactors for the time being.

    Right now, I’m just hoping to see more PWR’s and BWR’s being built. Yeah, I know, they are far from perfect, but I think it’s the best we can reasonably hope for in the near term.

    I absolutely agree that to get ahead of climate change and energy shortage we need to build more PWR’s, BWR’s and realistically it is the only way at present. However, in order to educate public about nuclear power to gain their support we must depart from business as usual. Anti nuclear activist use very powerful arguments against existing reactors, such as long lived waste, limited supply of U235 and lack of passive safety. Simply said, public does not know there is a better way in nuclear energy to give us bright future with plentiful, clean, and low cost energy.
    My technique to educate anyone about nuclear energy, who is willing to listen, is like this;
    I talk about thorium, uranium and present nuclear waste as fertile materials to produce unlimited energy for the future in LFTR and IFR reactors. I point out the inherent safety in these reactors that no one ever seem to heard of and I point out that coal fired power plants emit more radioactivity than a nuclear plant, hence low level radioactivity is nothing to be feared. This conversation usually spark a lot of interest. Some will say! You are full of s**t, so I reach into my wallet and pull out preprinted links to web sites with the information about these promising nuclear technologies, radiation, coal fired problems and fallacies of renewable solar/wind schemes. I tell people, don’t take my word for it what I am saying, here are some web links, go and find out for yourself. The next time I see those folks their reaction about nuclear power is usually very positive. Some exclaim! Frank, I had no idea what those environmentalist bastards are doing to us , feeding us all this crap on a silver platter. Finding the truth is shocking to most folks, hence their conversion is instant in favor of nuclear power production.
    I use this technique for over 10 years now and have converted many young and old anti nuclear yahoos who would not even listen about nuclear power at first conversation. Thanks to internet, today more data is available to support what I am preaching so it is much easier to get people on our side than it used to be. Nevertheless, there are some hard core anti nuclear folks out there who will deny any evidence suggesting that solar/wind power alone will not solve worldwide energy needs.


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  19. 19
    Frank Kandrnal Says:

    In my previous comment I neglected to mention how I deal with religious people in nuclear education.
    To religious folks I tell that God gave us this wonderful nuclear energy and intelligence to use it so we can live and prosper in peace. I argue, how else could it be that there is such an incredible amount of energy in the atom! Only God is capable to do this (it is pointless talking about four forces in universe to most religious people) and because he also gave us intelligence, it was his intention for us to discover his ultimate energy secret. I also supply preprinted web links for their own education. This technique works nearly every time for religious people to agree that power in the nucleus is indeed a gift from God for us to use.
    As an after thought from an engineers point of view. The fact that we were able to discover the energy secret mother nature held in the nucleus in such an unbelievable amount make you feel, almost religious.


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  20. 20
    Carletes Says:

            Frank Kandrnal said:

    As an after thought from an engineers point of view. The fact that we were able to discover the energy secret mother nature held in the nucleus in such an unbelievable amount make you feel, almost religious.

    I agree.. I may be an atheist, but it is so heartening to know that we have discovered an energy source that can allow us to do almost anything in the coming centuries. Think about all the great scientific ideas in the past that were halted because they required too much energy.

    If not religious, then maybe just a reflection on how wonderful the laws of physics are and how the universe has been set up. Perfectly balanced, but allowing us to achieve unimaginable feats.


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  21. 21
    An Actual Scientist Says:

    The NRC has some very anti-nuclear roots and there is no doubt about that. To understand why this is the case, you have to look at how it came about. The NRC comes from the breakup of the AEC which was actually legislated during the Ford years but didn’t come into force until Carter. The reason for the creation of the NRC was the belief that the nuclear industry was under-regulated, over-promoted and that it needed a dose of heavy-handedness, to some level.

    The good old days were the Seaborg era, and that came to an end with Nixon. The argument started being advanced in the 1960′s that the government was too pro-nuclear and that nuclear energy really needed more regulation and that the government should not promote it. Seaborg was just too much of a cheerleader for the benefits of nuclear energy and the fossil fuel industry hated that. Nixon appointed Schlesinger, who later would be secretary of defense to the AEC. He wasn’t experienced in nuclear energy and ended the pro-nuclear era to some degree.

    A massive PR and political campaign was launched against the AEC and the new leadership hardly did much to oppose it. The idea was that the AEC had a conflict of interest by promoting and regulating the industry. This is really a bit odd, when you consider that the FAA, the USDA and nearly every other regulatory agency does the same thing. It was congress that abolished the AEC and created the NRC, but Ford approved it. At the time, the mindset was akin to thinking “Finally, we’re going to stop that industry from running a muck and give them the regulation they need!” In other words, the NRC was seen, from the begining, as a body that should be very strict and not give much freedom and no promotion to nuclear energy. Carter cemented this with his appointments. Really, the in the early years there was an acid test for the NRC that ruled out anyone who was unabashedly pro-nuclear.

    Stephanie Cooke, one of the most anti-nuke reporters of the era was one of the leaders in the push to the reorganization of the regulatory system.

    Things have changed since then, at least in that now the agency is not stacked with unapologetic anti-nukes at the top level, but it has plenty at lower levels. Those who built the protocols and established the foundations of the NRC were all anti-nukes, and that was by design.

    There are scientists, engineers and those who have worked in the energy sector in the NRC and the current chief of the agency does have a PhD in physics. However, the agency is, by design, a legal commission governed more by legal protocols than anything else. The vast majority of the staffers at the NRC, especially at the highest levels are either lawyers or fall into a category that is politely called “career public servant” and is impolitely called bureaucrat or paper pusher. The scientists and engineers for the NRC are mostly at the low level. They do the physical inspections of plants and that sort of thing, but the decisions and the letter of the law rests on those who are more likely to have a degree in law or public administration than in anything technical.

    The name itself should be a giveaway. It’s a commission, with sworn commissioners who are given the title “the honorable” and operate as a kind of psuedo-court of administrative law, almost like a public inquiry. It’s a paperwork agency and it is chartered explicitly with regulatory authority and nothing more. It is much different than most other regulatory agencies in this respect.


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  22. 22
    Jason Ribeiro Says:

            An Actual Scientist said:

    The name itself should be a giveaway. It’s a commission, with sworn commissioners who are given the title “the honorable” and operate as a kind of psuedo-court of administrative law, almost like a public inquiry.

    It’s a paperwork agency and it is chartered explicitly with regulatory authority and nothing more.

    It is much different than most other regulatory agencies in this respect.

    That said, I’m curious if anyone knows the protocol for what the commissioners or its employees are allowed or not allowed to say about nuclear energy or the industry? For example, is it ok for a commissioner to give an endorsement like “nuclear energy is great!” or would that get them in trouble for not being impartial? I would hope they can still hold onto their first amendment rights in this area.


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  23. 23
    DCS Says:

    I think that they wouldn’t get kicked off the Commission for doing something like that, but institutions have a life of their own, and those who go in there “to change the system”, end up as the ones being CHANGED BY the system. A bureaucracy is an institution that is alive, it is self-regulating, maintaining homeostasis.

    I know what I’m taking about – it’s happened to me. Not the NRC, but a different quasi-government (in this case, a state university) bureaucracy I had doubts about the fairness of as a student, and I got sucked into it and became an employee. Little more than a couple years later, I was doing things that in retrospect I couldn’t believe I did as a “bureaucrat j.g.”. I was capable at pushing back on some stuff, lines of communication and influence were there, but other things, I still can’t really abide by what I did, because it wasn’t fair.

    Sometimes it isn’t you who changes the system. It’s the system who changes you.

    In the case of the NRC, the core assumption is that “Nuclear power needs to be pre-emptively regulated.” (rather than for example, the NTSB, whose core assumption is that “We investigate stuff that goes wrong, and figure out why it goes wrong.”) I would change the NRC from a pre-emptive regulatory board to more of an FAA or OSHA model – we tell you what we generally expect of someone in the industry we supervise, you’re responsible for complying (and we’re not going to check on you every minute, but we do reserve the right to check on you), and if something gets screwed up, you need to tell us, so that we can investigate, figure out why it went wrong, and disseminate lessons learned, or adjust the general standards that you’re responsible for complying with. (E.g. move from an “everything that is not allowed is prohibited” model to an “everything that is not prohibited is allowed” model.)

    Call it the “Neutronics Safety Board” or something like that. How do we do this? It’s hard to do in one fell swoop, without Congress getting involved, but one approach would be to grandfather old type regulation on old type reactors, for instance, while having a trial “regulatory easing” or “self-regulation” program on new reactors, or even in terms of baby steps, allowing experimental reactors within an experimental zone (say like INL or something like that) to be subject to this different regulatory model.

    That way, no one thinks that they’re going to lose their jobs at the NRC, the NRC bureaucracy can compare the pre-emptive regulation approach with the retrospective-regulation approach, and come to their own conclusions about it. (I think that it’ll work well, and they won’t mind that much. Most of them, that is.)

    Never do a frontal assault, because if someone thinks they’re being attacked outright, they’ll come out with all their defenses. Instead, slowly change their paradigms through suggestion, encouraging experimentation, let them take credit for their successful program that you suggested – even wrote the memos for – drafted the regulations – prepared for signature – researched – made a case so they didn’t have to go out and expend their effort, etc.

    That would be my suggestion. Don’t demonize and don’t oversimplify, like “The NRC IS EVIL”, but neither let them change you; always maintain your critical perspective and realize that another world is possible, and the best way to go there is with you and the NRC going there together rather than you tearing them down, unless they’re absolutely unreasonable. If they are unreasonable, talking to their superiors (after you’ve talked to them and tried to convince them, so they don’t think that you’re going behind their back or going to others before them) and having Congress lean on them is one option to get them to consider other ways of doing their business. Still, sometimes a frontal assault is necessary. (Having a group to beat on the doors of their offices, engage in noisy protests, and threaten their jobs while you, the reasonable and decent nuclear power type offer reasonable and decent suggestions often works too. I.e. deal with us – or DEAL WITH THEM.)


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  24. 24
    Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    More madness from the tiny minority of humanity (ie, thieves of the highest order, scoundrels and mad men) who dishonestly commandeer a lion’s share of the world’s wealth, depravedly ‘bonus’ themselves for doing so, dishonorably make the rules by which all human beings live and deplorably rule the world primarily for the own benefit of themselves and their minions.

    Words to live by from the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us:

    Go forth and multiply. We Masters rule. Forget about humanity.

    Plunder, gorge yourselves and hoard ’til you are sated. Satisfy your unfulfilled wishes. Greed rules. Forget about humanity.

    Build McMansions, pleasure centers, hideaways from the world, skyscrapers, faster cars, bigger cars, mega-yachts and polluting aircraft for personal aggrandizement and gratification. Greed rules and rules absolutely. Forget about humanity.

    In times of danger to self and others, with a single exception, you have an inviolate “duty to warn”. In the “stand alone” case the rule is to be set aside: You can forget about humanity.


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  25. 25
    Finrod Says:

            Steven Earl Salmony said:

    More madness from the tiny minority of humanity (ie, thieves of the highest order, scoundrels and mad men) who dishonestly commandeer a lion’s share of the world’s wealth, depravedly ‘bonus’ themselves for doing so, dishonorably make the rules by which all human beings live and deplorably rule the world primarily for the own benefit of themselves and their minions.

    And this is the NRC your taliking about, is it?


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  26. 26
    Fnord Says:

    Could you go after the NRC as unfairly restraining interstate commerce?


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  27. 27
    Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Dear Finrod and Fnord,

    Just for a moment, please consider that ‘cancerous’ greed and a plethora of material addictions are widespread diseases of many too many leaders and their minions in my not-so-great elder generation, a dangerously disordered minority who harbor the potential for utterly ruining the future of children everywhere and the Earth as a fit place for life as we know it.

    In such circumstances, do knowledgeable people who choose to remain electively mute end up complicitly appointing themselves mortal enemies of the future of life? Or not? If not, how is this behavior to be reasonably and sensibly characterized?

    Is it not yet self-evident that the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us live in patently unsustainable ways as dangerously disordered greedmongers, plunderers, hyperconsumers and hoarders and that the human beings among us with feet of clay are unexpectedly the very people to guide the human community toward sustainability because they retain the capability for doing so?

    Sincerely,

    Steve


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  28. 28
    Q Says:

            Steven Earl Salmony said:

    Is it not yet self-evident that the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us live in patently unsustainable ways as dangerously disordered greedmongers, plunderers, hyperconsumers and hoarders and that the human beings among us with feet of clay are unexpectedly the very people to guide the human community toward sustainability because they retain the capability for doing so?

    Sincerely,

    Steve

    There is nothing inherantly wrong with consumption or desire for goods and services. Consumption is only bad when whatever is being consumed carries some kind of negative effect in its production or usage. Example: Using a lot of electricity is bad not because it is bad not because electricity is bad or using it is somehow sinful or harmful. It is bad only because most electricity is generated from coal and coal creates pollution.

    If you have an energy source that is clean and plentiful you can use as much as you want. Also, the same is true with all other things. Using lots of food is not bad either, if the food comes from production methods that are not harmful and if there is plenty of food to go around. It’s only a bad thing if there is either a shortage or if there are big impacts from its use.

    Humans have infinite wants and are prone to consuming and expanding what they have and do. That is our nature because it is to our benefit as individuals. To try to force humans to behave otherwise based on the faulty belief that it will benefit the collective is not a good idea. It denies our very nature and because it is so unnatural to human behavior, it needs to be forced with draconian measures.


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  29. 29
    Fnord Says:

    Steve,

    Take your sanctimonious bull**** and cram it up your ass.

    I’ll be nicer when you actually grok that nuclear is about the only scalable, EJ-scale, power source that is sustainable.


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  30. 30
    Finrod Says:

            Steven Earl Salmony said:

    Dear Finrod and Fnord,

    Just for a moment, please consider that ‘cancerous’ greed and a plethora of material addictions are widespread diseases of blah, blah, blah and so on.

    Utter drivel, unworthy of a considered response.


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  31. 31
    katana0182 Says:

    Steve – I understand that American consumerism may have its downsides in its full realization, excess waste and certain forms of profligacy (e.g. Hummers, McMansions) being one of them, and I don’t like conspicuous consumption for its own sake, as it’s fake. But this is a moral and an individual virtue, and a social virtue for those who accept a more harmonious form of life, not something that can be mandated by the state.

    I recently read an article about a shantytown dweller’s association in South Africa pleading for electricity to keep food cold, to cook dinner, to light shanties at night. That’s where fossil fuels can’t really help us, because they’re finite, and that’s where nuclear power can help us, because it’s nearly infinite. To those who die at the rate of 40,000 every day due to hunger, or from preventable diseases, to those who live on the coastal areas that will be flooded by a planet gone out of control, to those who don’t have houses, American consumerism – or even good old fashioned American engineering – offer a better world for them than any other option including the romanticist notion of “going back to the trees”. The choices have been made by our great numbers – they cannot be sustained through anything but extremely high technology. To think otherwise is a foolish delusion and would be the end of human equality.

    Are you offering a better world for them? Are you offering a better world for us? No. Neither.

    As such, your views are relevant, but ultimately, the necessity of delivering a better world for the entire human species takes precedence over your views. Human life and human equality and human freedom have to come before some romantic delusion of the supremacy of the value of nature (which is highly valuable, for its own sake, for its aesthetic values, for its social values, for its usefulness – and not just in monetary terms.)

    Nature without humanity is unacceptable. Extinction is not an option. We do as our genes dictate, and we proceed to ensure the maximum number of human individuals survive to pass their genetic diversity on to the next generation. That is just the way of things.


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  32. 32
    drbuzz0 Says:

            katana0182 said:

    I recently read an article about a shantytown dweller’s association in South Africa pleading for electricity to keep food cold, to cook dinner, to light shanties at night. That’s where fossil fuels can’t really help us, because they’re finite, and that’s where nuclear power can help us, because it’s nearly infinite. To those who die at the rate of 40,000 every day due to hunger, or from preventable diseases, to those who live on the coastal areas that will be flooded by a planet gone out of control, to those who don’t have houses, American consumerism – or even good old fashioned American engineering – offer a better world for them than any other option including the romanticist notion of “going back to the trees”. The choices have been made by our great numbers – they cannot be sustained through anything but extremely high technology. To think otherwise is a foolish delusion and would be the end of human equality.

    Are you offering a better world for them? Are you offering a better world for us? No. Neither.

    As such, your views are relevant, but ultimately, the necessity of delivering a better world for the entire human species takes precedence over your views. Human life and human equality and human freedom have to come before some romantic delusion of the supremacy of the value of nature (which is highly valuable, for its own sake, for its aesthetic values, for its social values, for its usefulness – and not just in monetary terms.)

    What makes you think I omit those in other countries or the world’s poor from my push for more energy, more nuclear generated electricity and more industrialization? I’ve had many posts discussing hunger and the need for more countries to embrace modern agriculture and become more productive in that area, and ultimately join the international trade of food, fertilizers, industrial goods etc in a way that is economically beneficial to all.

    There is a such thing as being too much of a consumer, and people should not be encouraged to consume beyond their means or to go into debt over luxury goods, but consumption is what ultimately leads to jobs and to upward mobility. The way you improve life for the lower class is first to reduce scarcity. The less fresh water, electricity, food or whatever else there is, the more expensive it will become. Ultimately, it ends up going to the rich in such circumstances, and that increases the class divide and makes them all the more powerful. If electricity were cheap and plentiful, the above mentioned issues would not be a problem.

    Part of consumerism is the flip side – for everything consumed, it must be produced. For the lower class, the best situation they can be in is one where their is a huge demand for labor and limited labor force. It increases their options and drives up wages. Every hummer needs to be built in a factory. Not only that, but the materials need to be mined, the vehicle needs to be maintained etc etc. It ends up creating work for dealerships, mechanics, financiers, factory workers, insurance agents, car audio installers, tire manufacturers, plastic producers, steel smelters.

    Consumption has another side and that is the effect of social equalization of goods. You and I would not be able to fly for a reasonable price if there were not first extremely wealthy people who went on holiday on the Pan Am Clipper.

    Going back to the issue of refrigerators and electricity – the first refrigerators sold for home usage came out around 1911. They used sulfur dioxide as the refrigerant and were extremely expensive – they cost more than an automobile. They required installation of an outdoor heat condenser and a large compressor system. Many didn’t have electricity anyway, but if you were rich you did. Costs continued to decline and the first widespread mass produced refrigerators came out in 1927, but you had to be at least upper middle class to afford them. However, by the late 1930′s they were fairly common and by 1950 just about everyone had one.

    You can see what consumerism has done for countries like China. China still has a ways to go and has made hit bumps in the road on many occasions, but the fact of the matter is that there is a Chinese middle class now that is many millions strong. That was not the case 20 years ago.

    Yes, I am offering a better world for everyone. Ultimately I’d like to see a world where more people live the way we, in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and most of Western Europe live. I’d like a world in which the lower classes of South Africa or Bolivia or Cambodia have to worry about things like the fact that someone hit their Hummer with a shopping cart and left a big scratch in it, as opposed to whether their children will see the next day.


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  33. 33
    Finrod Says:

    Doc, I suspect Katana was addressing Steven Salmony, not you.


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  34. 34
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Finrod said:

    Doc, I suspect Katana was addressing Steven Salmony, not you.

    Oh… yeah. Good call.


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  35. 35
    katana0182 Says:

    I was addressing Mr. Salmony – didn’t know you were Steve too, Doc. Pleased to get acquainted.

    I was replying to Mr. Salmony’s idea that we all can give up the technological society that allows our population density to be possible – we can’t – not without a lot more than those 40,000 folks a day dying. That’s what I meant by saying that our choices are already made for us – because the people who are alive today matter more than some ideal of man and nature – and to discard technology would reduce our planetary carrying capacity to probably 1 billion or so. That means 5 billion people have to die.

    My comment about Hummers was more of stating that I sympathize with the sentiment that there is such a thing as overconsumption and unnecessary largesse, and that I agree with the aesthetic position that certain aspects of overconsumption are banal, but, unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, moderation and conservation of energy and goods is more of an ideal and an admirable virtue rather than a political goal, especially if conservation is pursued in lieu of ensuring continued and expanded supply of energy. Ending material scarcity is a far more sound policy than sumptuary (as opposed to necessary) restrictions on consumption.

    Now, I certainly share the goals of the environmental movement as to pollution, because unlike consumption alone, pollution harms others and decreases everyone’s quality of life, and the best way to deal with pollution in regards to energy is to build nuclear power plants, as they don’t pollute, nor emit carbon – and they work 100% of the time (excluding outages), as opposed to wind and solar power.


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  36. 36
    drbuzz0 Says:

            katana0182 said:

    My comment about Hummers was more of stating that I sympathize with the sentiment that there is such a thing as overconsumption and unnecessary largesse, and that I agree with the aesthetic position that certain aspects of overconsumption are banal, but, unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, moderation and conservation of energy and goods is more of an ideal and an admirable virtue rather than a political goal, especially if conservation is pursued in lieu of ensuring continued and expanded supply of energy. Ending material scarcity is a far more sound policy than sumptuary (as opposed to necessary) restrictions on consumption.

    Well, Hummers get dumped on a lot for being the quintessential big vehicle, but I don’t really dislike them. For one thing, they are indeed quite roomy and powerful, which makes them drive well. The H1 is also extremely safe. If I recall correctly, it has the best safety record for it’s occupancy of any mass market road vehicle in the US. Also, it’s not as much of a fuel guzzler as people think – the H1 has a very effecient milspec high compression diesel engine.

    In any case, they are really very comfortable, roomy, capable vehicles. Not to mention, they have some of the best on and off road traction of anything you can buy.

    The H1 being the “real hummer” – the H2 is really just another SUV that is actually smaller than some others.

    However, there’s no doubt that people can over-consume to the point that it’s just annoying. There are some parts of Brooklyn NY that are very expensive, because they have individual row houses with a front lawn and garage, which is highly desirable in NYC. They go for like $750,000 each. Of course, the front yards are small – smaller than a tennis court. Some of them, the people who live there obviously feel a need to seem as wealthy as possible or something and the tiny yard is surrounded by a polished marble wall and in the center of it there is a ridiculously large marble fountain with a gilded statue along with sculpted bushes – all crammed into this ridiculously small yard. I look at that and it looks gawdy as hell and like a complete waste.

    That said, I really would rather live with such gawdy excess than live in a society where how much one consumes and how much they might flaunt it were legislated.


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  37. 37
    Chem Geek Gregor Says:

    I have heard a lot of environmentalists talking about “conspicuous consumption” It leaves me asking, why the hell does it matter how conspicuous it is if you really care about the ecological impacts?

    Isn’t it a lot worse to have an inefficient, unfiltered coal power plant, even if it’s in a low population area where it hardly gets noticed than it is to have a stretch-limo hummer with a metallic flake paint job? Sure, you *notice* one of them more, but the impact is a lot less. It’s like coal fires, they’re usually in isolated areas and often not noticable on the surface. So does that mean they don’t matter?

    For that matter… if you have two big cars that burn a lot of fuel, and one is understated in its style and barely noticable and another is gawdy, covered with chrome and a loud exhaust system, so it sticks out like a sore thumb, aren’t they equally bad for the enviornment?


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  38. 38
    Pronatalist Says:

            Chem Geek Gregor said:

    I have heard a lot of environmentalists talking about “conspicuous consumption”

    It leaves me asking, why the hell does it matter how conspicuous it is if you really care about the ecological impacts?

    Isn’t it a lot worse to have an inefficient, unfiltered coal power plant, even if it’s in a low population area where it hardly gets noticed than it is to have a stretch-limo hummer with a metallic flake paint job?

    Sure, you *notice* one of them more, but the impact is a lot less.

    It’s like coal fires, they’re usually in isolated areas and often not noticable on the surface.

    So does that mean they don’t matter?

    For that matter… if you have two big cars that burn a lot of fuel, and one is understated in its style and barely noticable and another is gawdy, covered with chrome and a loud exhaust system, so it sticks out like a sore thumb, aren’t they equally bad for the enviornment?

    Oh, but don’t you see? It’s not really about “science” as they claim, but rather being “greener than thou,” judging people unfairly, finding any excuse to control people, “It’s the thought that counts,” and shutting down freedom and capitalism. So “out of sight, out of mind,” really does appear to apply. It’s not science, but a freaking POVERTY RELIGION with most of the most noticable vocal eco-nuts.

    Unlike so many of the meddlesome green nazis, I’m not so interested in secretly and hypocritically consuming more than the average hard-working person, nor especially in doing it conspicuously. (In fact it annoys me when the typical speed demon out there, passes me on the way coasting towards a wait-2-minutes red traffic light. Why must I waste gasoline to get to an intersection where I have to stop anyway, when I have enough car momentum to get there eventually anyway? What gives them any right to “cut in line” ahead of me, when they had been behind me?) Why can’t we just be left alone and the green nazis stop pushing their false earth worship religion down our throats, and leave us alone?

    What should it matter to anybody whether some of us might still have a black car, and just the other day I heard some stupidity about the green nazis wanting to paint the entire developed urban world white, supposedly to stop so-called “global warming,” or now “climate change” as they so fondly call it, as if anything had been proven by now.

    It’s about hypocrisy, junk-scare-tactics science, so of course whether it’s “conspicuous” or not, matters a whole lot more than actual, usually mostly neglible, environmental impact.

    I think low population areas should be treated far differently and even more freely than highly populated areas. Let them burn their leaves out in the countryside, if that’s what they still want to do. Low populated areas have far less need to limit pollution sources, because there aren’t many people around to be affected. It’s far safer in such places, to let the coal fires, wildfires, or whatever, burn naturally unchallenged and do their thing, since there’s still the room for nature to be wild. Of course I like and advocate very much, the prospect of highly populated areas, since it’s so important to the many populous humans, to allow our population to continue to be free to grow and expand naturally, and grow naturally “wildly” even perhaps. “Wild” baby booms should always be encouraged, even in the most highly populated of supercities, or amongst huge cities naturally growing larger and starting to coalesce into one another. Not that any specific person should have to live in highly populated areas, but rather, highly populated areas should be welcome to exist and expand naturally, so that everybody can enjoy having their precious darling babies regardless of overall population size or densities, and the human race may continue to enjoy expanding naturally, as much as God would allow.

    And I’m not so impressed with the idea that all whatever “consumption” shouldn’t be conspicuous? Isn’t that sort of the idea behind some of those Hummers? Not to consume, but perhaps to show off one’s wealth or status a little? Or should we be all the same, a bunch of unquestioning communist conformists, no individuality or individual expression allowed? I see some rather “conspicuous” nice-looking recreational vehicle motorcoaches on the freeways. Should they not be allowed, or should owners be required to paint them ugly drab colors? No, why shouldn’t they be proud to enjoy what they earned and worked so hard for, and I like to see such huge RVs beautifully and proudly colored.


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  39. 39
    DV82XL Says:

            Pronatalist said:

    I think low population areas should be treated far differently and even more freely than highly populated areas. Let them burn their leaves out in the countryside, if that’s what they still want to do. Low populated areas have far less need to limit pollution sources, because there aren’t many people around to be affected. It’s far safer in such places, to let the coal fires, wildfires, or whatever, burn naturally unchallenged and do their thing, since there’s still the room for nature to be wild. Of course I like and advocate very much, the prospect of highly populated areas, since it’s so important to the many populous humans, to allow our population to continue to be free to grow and expand naturally, and grow naturally “wildly” even perhaps. “Wild” baby booms should always be encouraged, even in the most highly populated of supercities, or amongst huge cities naturally growing larger and starting to coalesce into one another. Not that any specific person should have to live in highly populated areas, but rather, highly populated areas should be welcome to exist and expand naturally, so that everybody can enjoy having their precious darling babies regardless of overall population size or densities, and the human race may continue to enjoy expanding naturally, as much as God would allow.

    With friends like you, we don’t need enemies.

    I have spent considerable time in cities like Calcutta, Sao Paulo, Manila, and Cairo, and I can tell you that these are not places that any reasonably civilized person could see as being anything but a blight. The degree of suffering, and the numbers doing so, are palpable to anyone with a modicum of sensitivity. To suggest we need more of this is as indifferently cruel as it is shortsightedly stupid.

    You do not speak for any part of the Rational movement, but for the far religious Right, who’s ideas are as roundly rejected by thinking people as those you describe as green Nazis.


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  40. 40
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Pronatalist said:

    I think low population areas should be treated far differently and even more freely than highly populated areas. Let them burn their leaves out in the countryside, if that’s what they still want to do. Low populated areas have far less need to limit pollution sources, because there aren’t many people around to be affected. It’s far safer in such places, to let the coal fires, wildfires, or whatever, burn naturally unchallenged and do their thing, since there’s still the room for nature to be wild. Of course I like and advocate very much, the prospect of highly populated areas, since it’s so important to the many populous humans, to allow our population to continue to be free to grow and expand naturally, and grow naturally “wildly” even perhaps. “Wild” baby booms should always be encouraged, even in the most highly populated of supercities, or amongst huge cities naturally growing larger and starting to coalesce into one another. Not that any specific person should have to live in highly populated areas, but rather, highly populated areas should be welcome to exist and expand naturally, so that everybody can enjoy having their precious darling babies regardless of overall population size or densities, and the human race may continue to enjoy expanding naturally, as much as God would allow.

    Uh…… wait… people should be encouraged to reproduce? Uh…

            Pronatalist said:

    And I’m not so impressed with the idea that all whatever “consumption” shouldn’t be conspicuous? Isn’t that sort of the idea behind some of those Hummers?

    Well, actually I’ve always thought Hummers get more criticism than they deserve. The big Hummer H-1 is considered the quintessential over-consumption/shameful/sinful vehicle. However, the reality is that it’s not nearly as bad as it is made out to be. It’s actually a military-greade Humvee that has been rebuilt into a civilian luxury vehicle. It has a mil-spec high compression turbo diesel engine – thus it gets better fuel effeciency than one might think. It’s also extremely durable and will last a long time. Driving that thing on the road, you’re not going to need the shocks, struts or breaks replaced very often.


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  41. 41
    George Carty Says:

    Could a case not be made for the curbing of consumerism, in that less income spent on consumption (especially consumption of imported products) would mean more money for investment, eventually increasing the capital to labour ratio and increasing wages?

    Of course you’d have to make sure that the money freed up was invested in actual production, rather than squandered on idiocy like real estate speculation…


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