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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10809/more-sleepless-nights/

More sleepless nights

October 10, 2009 by

I just finished repairing grout in my master bathroom. As a home repair hack, I typically remove excess caulk and sealant with my bare fingers — it’s messy, but quick and easy.

OK. So far, so good.

Then, while washing my hands, I read this warning on the back label, “This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.”

Seeing the capital “S,” I decided that state does not refer to everyday residents of California, but instead refers to the occupying apparatus of coercion and compulsion.

Such a realization means a lot to me. You see, I don’t like to be out of it, the last to learn what everyone else knows. A small matter of pride. But there it is.

So I relaxed a bit.

Yet that cancer thing got me thinking and doubting once more.

Am I OK? Especially considering that my state, the State of Ohio, has not seen fit to warn its hapless residents.

I have to assume that agents of the State of Ohio can read labels and, thus, are aware that the unspecified chemical is known to the State of California as a cancer risk. So is the cancer concern a function of geography, and I am OK out here on Ohio? Or is my state keeping something from me?

I’ll be tossing and turning for the next three nights, until Tuesday morning when Ohio’s health department reopens its doors to the masses. Only then will I know my fate – that is, of course, if they’ll even tell me the truth.

Oh, well …


Raymond T. Walter October 10, 2009 at 9:38 pm

And thus the “infantilization of the masses” under the paternalistic state elites continues!

newson October 10, 2009 at 10:22 pm

it’s the killer combination of frangipani essence and putty that you’ve got to look out for. relax, ohio state experts realize this. they love you no less than the state of california its subjects.

Jamie October 10, 2009 at 10:23 pm

New tourism slogan: California! We know what’s best for you.

The rest of us can only aspire to become so progressive! It’s a shame with all that talent they can’t cure Nanci Pelosi’s union-boss affliction.

HL October 11, 2009 at 12:13 am

Four Seasons Spa in Cali…ah, relaxing…glance at some bureaucratic looking sign…will it warn against happy endings?….nope, just advising me that somewhere in the environs lurk cancer causing materials….oi Dios!

I had lunch with a visiting Cali attorney a few weeks ago and he had me in stitches with his Tales from LA. Surely, very soon the final “pop” will come, and come hard, for that bubble of pop culture.

Shay October 11, 2009 at 6:59 am

Some of the warnings are worded better, like the one that reads “Warning: causes cancer in the State of California.” Since you’re applying the substance in Ohio, you’ll be fine.

But seriously, the scene that comes to mind for me is people angry that companies put chemicals in their products without labeling it clearly (warning: contains chemicals that could be toxic), so they call on the state to force companies to. Or perhaps people want manufacturers to stop using harmful things in products, but want to use coercion to get it (note the disclaimer at the bottom describing that the warning is required by law, not that the product is actually dangerous). Or someone wants to appear to be looking out for the safety of residents, so they require labeling.

Once the ball is rolling, then people might assume that lacking this warning, something does not contain harmful chemicals, so then it has to be put on everything to avoid the manufacturer getting sued. Given the ridiculousness of some warnings required, the simplest way to deal with it is to put “Warning: causes cancer in California” and be done with it.

Randy October 11, 2009 at 8:57 am

I’m thinking; In an effort to help the governator with his budget crises … CA should erect signs at all entry points into the “State”:

“Warning. Stuff in here is potentially harmful – we think.”

matt at anarchyjapan October 11, 2009 at 4:52 pm

My parents-in-law (who are Japanese) have an apple farm in Japan. They use various chemicals on the apples for various reasons. My sons spend a lot of time there in the summer, and I as well. I do wonder about the chemicals.

I’m a chemical-phobe, but I often tell myself how irrational I probably am. For some of the chemicals, I’ve noted on the Internet that various “greens” (using the term loosely) have said some of them are dangerous for various reasons and because of various studies.

The question is, in a libertarian or non-government society, would we expect there to be organizations that would actually seek out this information? I mean it’s a given that the government does a bad job, because it’s political. But who out there would do a good job?

I have no idea, but have wondered if its just the case that in a poorer society, that until enough capital and resources are built up, marginally they are better off with unhealthy chemicals than without them. This is because the chemicals help increase productivity (that is *feed* hungry people). But perhaps as a society gets more wealthy more people can opt for naturally grown products and so on … if there is such a process, then certainly the government by trying to equalize everything would hurt this process. Does any of that make sense?

I do think this is an interesting topic …

Seattle October 11, 2009 at 5:10 pm


Your argument is utilitarian, so ultimately it fails. Problem is there’s no such thing as a “common good” so saying a society is “better off” with or without chemicals doesn’t make any sense.

matt at anarchyjapan October 11, 2009 at 5:52 pm

“Problem is there’s no such thing as a “common good” so saying a society is “better off” with or without chemicals doesn’t make any sense.”

Thank you. I agree. I think this is just the poor way I phrased my thoughts though. What I’m saying is there is a market for questionable chemicals (and products derived from them), and that this is not necessarily a bad thing. That people who attempt to stymy this market might create unintended consequences that cause more harm than good. I’d attempt to say more than that but can’t right now … just thinking this through, at this point, I think I can see where competition would eventually move people away from using *bad* or questionable products, but there might always be a market for them, right? And for some people this is unsettling I guess. Again though, to remedy the situation via government would create a bigger problem.

Ben Ranson October 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Matt- My dad has a small (hobby size) apple orchard, and occasionally uses a variety of pesticides and herbicides. I don’t lose any sleep over it.

On a lighter note, long contact with dangerous agricultural chemicals does lead people to develop a rather callous attitude towards them. To the non-farmer, agrochemical marketing campaigns can be unintentionally hilarious.

For example, the Sept/Oct issue of American Fruit Grower has an ad for an herbicide called Prowl H2O. The ad features a large and threatening picture of black jaguar, accompanied by the tag-line, “Get more bite for your buck. Thorough, persistent and ravenous – the power of Prowl H20 is yours to unleash…”

It seems likely to me that some California farmer unleashed a persistent and ravenous application of Prowl H2O all over the almonds in my trail mix. I guess I’d rather not know.

Larry N. Martin October 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Worse than that, Horst. Cities actually pipe that stuff straight into people’s homes! We are all exposed at the sink and in the shower! Is there no one who can stop this massive conspiracy?

(8?» October 12, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Matt says,
“The question is, in a libertarian or non-government society, would we expect there to be organizations that would actually seek out this information?”

This is one of my favorite questions to answer from a libertarian perspective. A short thought experiment makes the answer self-evident.

In each hand I hold two contradictory reports concerning the safety of chemical X. One report is from Consumer Reports, while the other is from the FDA (or some other federal watchdog agency).

Which report are you more likely to believe?

Not only would Consumer Reports exist in absence of external government, it already exists in spite of it. Their purity (they accept no advertisements) minimizes any conflict of interest, and provides a far more valuable resource to individuals than the political collective, which is wide-open to abuse.

Now, if only Nader understood.

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