Daily Archives: August 12, 2012

#occupybikeseat, Wreck-free Sunday

Aside from demanding punishments that fit the crimes when drivers kill I try not to inject too much politics into this blog. Sure there is the Gay Marriage Challenge page that “supports” gay marriage by asking people to convince me to do otherwise. But I have kept out of the really big political questions, for one reason: Transportation is not a partisan issue. Or it shouldn’t be, anyway. But for some reason making the roads work for everyone has become a political issue with “conservatives” on the side of “everybody drives a car” and “liberals” on the side of “the roads belong to everyone”.

What this and the headline are leading up to is I went to a “History of Occupy Dallas” meeting at First UU Church of Dallas. We heard the 23 grievances from the original Occupy movement, how the main goal of the movement is to extract corporations and corporate money from politics and from the government, so that government can go back to protecting the people from the abuses of power inherent in a corporate structure (The corporation does not actually “exist”, so there is nothing you can physically do against a corporation when they breaks laws that would result in a real person going to prison). Basically the only thing you can do to a corporation is fine them, which leads to some really stupid decisions as to “how much” a murder costs, and do you charge by the body count or like when a human commits murder does one count cover all the deaths. And how does a corporation commit murder you ask? By deciding that a certain number of deaths are “acceptable” when selling a product or providing a service. The most famous example of this was when Ford decided that saving $9/car on gas tank shields on the original Pinto would cause x number of deaths at $Y per death payable by the company. The problem is that there was nobody who could be blamed for the decision, which meant that the person who decided that a certain number of deaths from a defective product was acceptable could not be charged with murders, a deliberate death of random people being one of the lesser classes of murder, but still murder. In the Ford case they had a number of civil cases to fight, and after the document was made public about the saving $9/car would cost less than the settlements for the lawsuits, well those settlements went up by orders of magnitude. And at the time the only recourse against corporate murder was one-at-a-time civil lawsuits by the families of the deceased, if you had no surviving relatives then the corporation got away with your murder.

Now as weak a protection as that may be, there are moves afoot to take even that away from the people. There is a provision in a trade agreement called the TPP that prevents people from suing if it impacts the profits of a company, likewise it also prevents enforcing laws that negatively impact the profits of a company. Basically what it would mean is that the only laws that would apply to any company would be the ones that protect their profits. Anything else they could ignore with impunity. I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as a recipe for turning the US into China or Vietnam, only worse. I mean seriously, they could claim that minimum wage laws impair their ability to make a profit and refuse to pay anyone or allow them to quit working. In other words it would allow slavery without the need for the worker to actually be housed and fed by the slave master… and they could shanghai people from the street to work for them if they needed more workers, without fear because laws that impair their profits could not be enforced against them… And if anyone tried to resist these companies the company would still be protected by laws against violence or vandalism. This is what Occupy is fighting against.

And what does this little blog have to do with all this? I’m sure the regular readers have noticed that nearly every wreck I link to could be prevented by getting the infrastructure right. Well a big part of that would be getting the laws right so that hitting a cyclist or pedestrian would be a crime, not an “oops, sorry!” If that were to happen it might impair the ability of oil companies to make a profit and they could veto enforcement of those laws. I’m not sure about if they could actually do anything about changing the physical infrastructure to make riding a bike physically safer even if they could veto enforcement of laws that make people not in cars safer. That would take some finagling, because then you would have the oil companies fighting for their profits over the construction companies profits. But you can see how that could “work” fir cyclists.

And that’s your ration of Doom and Gloom for today.

PSA, Opus