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Leaded gas was a known poison the day it was invented (2016) (smithsonianmag.com)
611 points by mrfusion 8 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 399 comments





I guess we live on the shoulders of nastiness and things get better. So TEL was part of our boot sequence. What nastiness are we subjecting ourselves to today?

BTW: The guy that invented TEL also invented CFCs! See Thomas Midgley Jr: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Midgley_Jr.

This guy who invents awesome working chemicals that are tragically bad for people on a worldwide scale manages to exit life dues to his own inventions, unrelated to chemistry... Kind of Ironic! Thomas Midgley, Jr. (1889–1944) was an American engineer and chemist who contracted polio at age 51, leaving him severely disabled. He devised an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to help others lift him from bed. He became accidentally entangled in the ropes and died of strangulation at the age of 55. However, he is better known for two of his other inventions: the tetraethyl lead (TEL) additive to gasoline, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).


> What nastiness are we subjecting ourselves to today?

Maybe an overwrought comparison but I genuinely do feel like we’ll look back on this age of social media and disinformation in the same way we did leaded gas. The people making money knew exactly how dangerous it was and the problems it caused but they did everything in their power to cover it up in the name of profit. Originally it felt like a social annoyance and not much else but in this era of vaccine denialism, election fraud conspiracy theories, even body image issues from touched up photos, there’s little doubt in my mind that society is suffering and that the problem will likely get worse before it gets better.


Yeah, the analogy between toxic media and toxic chemicals is pretty good. However, I'd put they blame for that somewhere you might find surprising: influencers.

Everybody likes to hate on "big tech" these days, but if there's anyone that knows the dangers and all the ill effects but ignores them to make a profit, it's content creators. They are hyper-attuned to the way people respond to their content, and they'll do anything to get a reaction, the more intense the better. And if that means siccing a mob on somebody, so be it. If it means doing stunts that endanger people in the real world, fine. And polarization is the best technique they've stumbled onto yet: say stuff that enrages people to get them to engage with the post, and then pick up followers among those that watch the rage with glee.

Just about every successful influencer has done a post about how hard it is to be internet-famous. It's almost always about how the negative effects of their work get reflected back at them. They know how the things they say harm people, they just want the negativity to be directed elsewhere.

There's a lot of debate about how social media companies should be regulated, how much censorship should be allowed, how much platforms should subsidize legacy media etc. But none of it will matter if we don't rein in what's considered acceptable in the creator economy.


> Everybody likes to hate on "big tech" these days, but if there's anyone that knows the dangers and all the ill effects but ignores them to make a profit, it's content creators.

This is like blaming smokers instead of Philip Morris.


I think your analogy is pretty apt. However, even though I don't think you can give corporations a free ride just because 'people could choose not to use the product', this is not an absolute! 'People could choose not to use the product' does hold a lot of truth.

When social media companies are trying to make the media as addictive as possible to keep you scrolling and viewing ads, and employing psychological exploits to do so, it's not quite as simple as 'people can just choose not to use it'.

It's hardly a free choice when they're actively undermining your ability to choose freely.


Sounds like you agree with OP then. Content creators have the same motivation as the platform company. They want to make as many people view their content as possible, failing that they would like to make their exiting community see their content as much as possible. Exact same motivation just at a smaller scale, as they are just one part of the system.

See also gambling and addictive gambling behaviors in video games, like loot boxes

Yup. It's blaming smokers for second-hand smoke. We need to figure out the social-media equivalent of "no smoking" signs.

A circle-cross with the Twitter bird in the middle would do.

Pre covid there was a pub chain in london that banned use of electronic devices, presumably to get people talking instead of tweeting.

Went in with a colleague to have lunch and go over some diagrams. Got laptop out so we could see the diagrams and then got kicked out, had lunch down the road instead.

If I’m eating out on my own I’ll read a kindle. That’s not allowed. Read a dead tree is fine though. Pathetic.


Sooo... Use a notebook or printouts?

I think it’s a little bit more like blaming advertisers and Hollywood for promoting smoking, rather than the producer or consumer

More like blaming the tobacco farmers instead of Phillip Morris, although it falls apart at the point that I’m not sure tobacco was seen as anything more than a commodity.

Smoking hurts oneself primarily, whilst angry internet mobs hurt others

Sure, it's the influencers pumping the oil, but it's social media networks running the pipelines, and they're splitting the profits.

Unfortunately, toxic content is a lot harder to regulate than toxic chemicals, when one man's truth is another man's fake news.


This may be a "don't hate the player hate the game" type situation. Influencers or aspiring influencers are doing what they do because they are working inside a construct that's set up to reward them for it. They are not blameless, but they are not conspiring to create that damage that social media had done to society, they are in s sense being put up to it by the platforms and users (who by the way I don't think should get a free pass either - PSA: delete twitter)

I guess I put more of the blame on the influencers because they are the ones making editorial decisions. Sure the platforms are optimizing for engagement too, but it's all content-agnostic. The influencers choose their words carefully, and they choose harmful words because it makes them more money.

I don't think it's quite fair to label it content-agnostic. I mean it sort of technically is, but practically it isn't.

By pushing 'engagement' at all costs, it's essentially inevitable that all the terrible behaviors we see from 'content creators' happen. I agree that they are far from blameless, but when your entire platform is practically globally available to anybody and you only reward unsavory behavior... you're going to get unsavory behavior.

There could be many, many people behaving ethically, and most people may never even see any of them due to the way the platforms are set up.

It's technically content-agnostic in the most technical sense, but practically it's one big system designed to incentivize and surface unethical behavior.


> and you only reward unsavory behavior... you're going to get unsavory behavior

They don't only reward that. They reward any engagement, and some content creators have raced to the bottom in terms of creating divisive content.


Setting up an incentives structure for racing to the bottom is still more blameworthy than reacting to the incentives by racing to the bottom. It's a question of relative power: being in a position to even be able to set up incentives for others is inherently a position of power.

It's not about power. Making cars doesn't mean you're responsible for people murdering other people with those cars, even though you're in a position to supply cars and they aren't. There is no power involved - no one is being coerced into behaving badly.

And the reason that it makes them more money is because that is exactly what the algorithm is designed to encourage and what it pays out the most for.

If we were still in the era where feeds were just a chronological list of posts by people you're subscribed to, that might be a little different.

But the feed is manipulated by algorithms that dump any non-toxic things away into obscurity while upranking and featuring the most controversial things in order to get more engagement. That's by design.


Both are absolutely to blame. Both the social media companies and the content creators.

Both are choosing to ignore the damage which is a direct result of their actions and they both ignore long term damage in the name of an immediate profit return.

There no reason we have to choose one or the other when both are clearly willing to destroy.


I agree, and they both refuse to change (moderate the platforms, make good faith efforts to reduce or disclose bias, etc.) because money trumps ethics.

I’m not sure what solutions exist though, I’m in favor of regulatory action but it’s often just moving the goalposts as there are always loopholes to be found.


It's a false notion that these influencers are the ones making these editorial decisions. Imagine you are in charge of ad spend for a large corporation. You majored literally in advertising with a minor in psychology, you don't give a damn about the morality beyond whether or not you leave profit on the table. You simply aren't going to hire influencers who don't play this game how you want it to be played and take advantage of these dark patterns. As a result, the market looks how it is because people who don't play the game aren't landing jobs.

> they are the ones making editorial decisions

...

> they choose harmful words because it makes them more money

OK but who is responsible for the fact that choosing harmful words is more profitable?


The audience of the stuff that content creators create and the platforms distribute collectively decides what is more profitable. It's a positive feedback system and ignoring any of the parts will result in a failed "solution".

> Everybody likes to hate on "big tech" these days,

Yeah, because they're the Standard Oil and Aramco of this story.

> but if there's anyone that knows the dangers and all the ill effects but ignores them to make a profit, it's content creators.

That's like blaming the owners of mom-and-pop filling ("gas") stations for the ills of leaded petrol ("gas").


Putting the blame on influencers makes no sense. Content creators play this game but they didn't create it, companies participating in the market created this environment and ultimately fund these influencers. A content creator is basically a paid actor.

I disagree. The future doesn't have less social media, it has more. We won't look back with contempt, but amusement much as we do today at early cgi and tabloid efforts.

I don't love the idea with the current iteration, but every mass media invention has the exact same trope play out as we're seeing with social media.

1) first adopters and skeptics

2) major use

3) exploitation of those users

4) combo of regulation and individuals becoming more savvy

We're deep in phase three. It might get worse still, but I don't see much worse until you factor in additional game changers (deep fakes seem most obvious, but my money is on something currently unknown)

A new equilibrium will be found, better for some interests and worse for others.


It depends what you mean by "social media". Facebook already feels very dated and Instagram is getting that way.

People will get bored of it all, I know I have. Right now my platform of choice is Discord. It might technically be social media but it's way less toxic as it encourages people to build relationships rather than shouting at each other.


Or acting as faux celebrities. That is what I find to be the worst aspect of social media. I don't really care as much about disinformation and such, but the amplification of ego is what truly makes things toxic whether or not people are right about anything.

I use Facebook for hyper-local news and groups only. I have no other use for it. I use Insta to follow subcultural interests, such as vegan cooks, shapers, small niche bands I like, car modders, and unusual cat reels.

I had something interesting happen to me last week on Insta. It was very late at night and I was about to fall asleep, when a live feed alert informed me that a band I liked was talking live directly with just about anyone about their new album release.

It was amazing to see them that open and welcoming to their fans and to be able to instantly download their album after being told it had just dropped. That kind of instant communication is wild.


That seems highly unlikely. Almost half of social media users are considering leaving the platforms, while around 10% have deleted Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other app. We also know that the data shows that the pandemic increased the likelihood of people leaving social media, which would seem odd on the face of it, because you would think it would lead to more adoption due to being at home. What happened is that the pandemic was a catalyst for people finding what was truly meaningful in their personal lives; social media wasn't it.

> Maybe an overwrought comparison

Yes, I assert that comparing social media to a deadly substance is overwrought, hyperbolic, and not lucid enough to be helpful.

Lead causes brain damage and kills people.

What we call social media is an advertising business offering free channels of shallow discourse as incentive. The business has delivered.

Consider social media to be a test of the education system and of democracy in general. If society has failed the test, the test has been useful indeed.


That is unfortunately not trying to see the problem from the future hindsight. Which is the exercise that GP is suggesting.

Social media is not a toxin of any sort. To call it "toxic" is a metaphor that expresses the revulsion that people feel for the idiocies that social media channels have uncovered.

So I do disagree with the liberty of the metaphor in this case.

Social media is the business of providing channels of communication to people in exchange for some lucrative data. Other businesses do this too (television, radio, newspapers).

I am not at all a proponent of social media. The discourse is broken by petty, idiotic exchanges. The signal-to-noise ration is far too low and the sophisticated advertising techniques have become a form of surveillance that I reject.

But petty, idiotic exchanges have always existed. So have ignorant people, propaganda, gullible people, and fanatics. They can meet in basements, in taverns, in temples, in arenas... The fundamental problem is failing education and social disorder.

It takes great liberty of metaphor to compare social media to a real toxin. I share people's dislike of social media. But I will look back on the past decade and not blame any of the social-media companies for the idiocy of people who should know better through public education.


Lead poisoning does have a clear biological mechanism, establishing it as a toxin in a way that social media does not.

However, the liberty of the metaphor is well justified.

Social media is a plausible (not proven, but plausible) factor in a 57% increase in teen suicide between 2008 and 2018 (noting that rates were stable for the years 2000-2008, and that 2006 was the watershed year for smartphones and social media)[1].

I'm not motivated to dig out the numerous resources showing the deleterious influence of social media on teen psychology, but it doesn't take much searching if you are open. There are clear psychological mechanisms, and Facebook especially was clearly and explicitly designed to take advantage of these psychological mechanisms.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr69/NVSR-69-11-508.pdf


> clearly and explicitly designed to take advantage of these psychological mechanisms.

"Explicit manipulation" is a modus operandi of business and politics. At what point it becomes mephistophelian is largely determined by group conventions.

Social media accounts can become for some people an avatar of self-worth. There is even the reputational business model, i.e. linking business profiles. (Let's leave aside for now the question of streaming sex-work and voyeurism.)

But for the vast majority of users (I estimate hundreds of millions of users, on the back of a napkin), social media is not fatal or damaging. People connect, check friends' news and say hello, then disconnect.

> not proven, but plausible

We know that social media has been used in some cases for bullying and cruelty. The evidence has been tried in court. Social media has been a means of communication in these cases, like the anonymous telephone call or the stamped papermail. (The ghoulish Edgar J. Hoover had his vile FBI operation send at least one letter to MLK telling the civil-rights leader to kill himself.)[1]

The worse tendencies of human nature have of course been known to us for some time. Adam Smith wrecked the job prospects of his friend David Hume. On Usenet of yore, there were flame wars: people pursuing a quarrel because someone is wrong on the Internet.[2] Also consider a funny piece by Woody Allen about two stubborn men playing chess by stamped papermail.

Irascibility, stubbornness, cruelty, and schadenfreude joy are failings of character that are usually treated as legal.

Bullying is a problem and is explicitly punishable in some codes of conduct. To cause death is much worse, of course. It is a crime.

Bullying does happen every day, in hallways and buses and roadways and offices, among people of all ages. There are tyrannical bosses, tavern disputes, cruel remarks in sport, and the art and business of gossip. In some cases, we even applaud a great leader despite that fact that he treats people like rubbish. (I think of at least one famous figure in computing and one former elected leader of a large country.)

In short, I would not say in this case that correlation equals causation, but correlation may indicate something disturbing about the collapse of group ethics and social discourse. I find social media deplorable for the tone of people's discourse. I also don't like television or malicious text messages.

By the way, I upvoted your post. Cheers!

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FBI%E2%80%93King_suicide_lette...

[2] https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Xkcd


Knowing better does not make you immune to psychology. Social media, more than any other form of communication, is optimized to drive engagement through dopamine - the endless quest for likes, views, and so on. The weaponization of this to spread misinformation is an inevitable consequence of the business model, not an accident. The biggest players in the industry know these feedback loops and their consequences and encourage them still to prop up profits. This has serious consequences to society and to human lives. The executives of social media companies are just as culpable as the executives of oil companies who suppressed research on the effects of tobacco in the 60s/70s and global warming research in the 80s.

Social media is the business of providing channels of communication to people in exchange for

In most popular cases, it is communication of people to finely drawn images of all sorts of ideas which bring money. Social media is not a social media, it’s an advertising/deception media. Face it: people on average are not able to socialize properly on a large scale, because the reality is boring and images of all sorts are escapist’s fun. That’s why cinema/theaters and artists existed since forever. “Social” media is a well-coined term that everyone accepted blindly.


Failing education is certainly a big problem (and I financed a tiny reform school for five years trying to combat the tiniest of slices of it) but you are missing the power of reach. Not even Edward Murrow could dream of the reach of Facebook.

Television in the US has long had an astonishing reach. Even in 2021, there are media companies in the US that operate on a segmented market with notorious control (e.g. Fox).

Would you say that the difference between television (TV) and social media (SM) is that TV can only push the propaganda from a central server, whereas SM provides the push of propaganda as well as mutual reinforcement through sharing comments?

I find it all quite deplorable, I assure you. But I really think the "toxicity" is a precursor to the expression of the "toxic" opinions. They already existed, but were hushed by the shame of direct attribution in regular public discourse.


> Lead causes brain damage and kills people.

With all the deaths caused by anti-vaxxers, one could argue that social media also causes brain damage and kills people.


Likewise with disinformation’s role in electing officials that don’t take climate change seriously, or who roll back EPA protections.

If anything social media has a capacity for indirect harm that is in some cases greater than the original harm in question.


CO₂ could be candidate. Perhaps the effect will be even at a grander scale than leaded gas.

It seems like the top of the list to me! - though it’s been emitted for longer in quantity.

Factory farms, polyunsaturated fats, refined grains (white wheat and rice), HFCS, human driven cars, and sitting desks will all be seen as barbaric or grossly unhealthy in the future.

Throughout the last year or so, I've seen multiple people on HN call out polyunsaturated fats, is there a specific reason for that? Google hasn't really turned up anything for me that looked particularly compelling.

Soybean oil is one prominent and very prolific and profitable example. It is everywhere. It was first developed to add to feed to fatten animals (turkeys). You can still buy it in fifty gallon drums at feed mills. Nasty stuff. It breaks down and oxidizes readily under heat (and in the body). Oxidation == free radicals. Hydrogenation (hydrogen injection) makes it thick at room temperature, otherwise it is a thin oil like any other vegetable oil you might be familiar with.

Very fattening, no nutrient value. Unless a restaurant is willing to invest in peanut oil (and they will tell you on the menu if they did because it costs so much more than hydrogenated soybean oil) all fried foods are cooked in burnt up (oxidized and broken down) soybean oil. You have to c he ange the oil in a fryer every day to get a decent food product out of it. Good restaurants might filter it and reuse it for one additional shift/day. In reality it is used until it is smoking heavily and not able to cook food without rendering it deflated and dark brown.

There are massive inertia and industry lobbyists (producers and food mfg) behind it that know how to install fear in politicians. We have know for along time that putting it in your body is a bad idea.


Canola oil, some seeds and (true) nuts, as well as fatty fish also contain lots of polyunsaturated fats. Most of those are generally considered healthy. Would those also become unhealthy for the reasons you've listed?

I think arguing that "polyunsaturated fats will be seen as grossly unhealthy" requires more than an example of (ab)use of a particular oil.


Yes, they're all heavily processed in refineries using noxious chemicals, they have low smoke points, and get rancid easily. They are not a type of oil (omega-6 [1]) that humans have eaten much of until recently. We mainly got our source of them from food rather than pure oil.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are good for you in moderation if extracted cold without processing, uncooked, and stored in opaque containers in a fridge.

In general, getting oils from foods is best, rather than using them in refined form.

The reason PUFAs are pushed so much is probably due to heavy support from the farms and industry that manufacture them.

[1] https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(13)...


I don't claim to have any expertise in this matter. I suppose it's quite possible that the common understanding of "PUFA good, SFA bad" is flawed somehow. I'm not sure I agree with your arguments, though.

> they're all heavily processed in refineries using noxious chemicals

While processing might matter, it's hard to tell just from that if it does. Admonishing processing with "noxious chemicals" sound a lot like suggesting that something is healthier because it's natural.

> they have low smoke points, and get rancid easily

I can see these as detriments or even show-stoppers for some uses, but I fail to see how these are important if you don't overheat the oil or let it go rancid. I see these more as issues of incorrect use. In some sense they are of course downsides of the product since some other fats might have better properties in terms of ease of use (harder to overheat), but I don't think it follows that they're unhealthy by themselves. They could be, but that doesn't follow from a low smoke point.

As for omega-6 fatty acids, I've understood there to be some evidence that they're not healthy in large amounts, so there might be some truth to (at least some) polyunsaturated fats not being as healthy as they're made out to be. I still don't really see enough here to get behind the statement that polyunsaturated fats will be seen as grossly unhealthy in the future.

I might be wrong -- again, I have no expertise here -- but I just don't see it in the arguments.


> even body image issues from touched up photos,

Body image issues from advertising was an issue that existed way before the advent of Instagram, though - even before the first line of Photoshop was coded. Ultra-thin, half starved and sometimes drugged models were the norm for way, way too many years.


My bet is advertisement. We know it is detrimental to informed decision, to market efficiency and to mental health. This is just an opinion that can't be relayed on any outlet that depends on advertisement (90% of them maybe?)

Advertisement is great if all claims are required to be 100% true and provable.

Then it is called journalism. It already exists and it is usually considered unethical to fund it when you are one of the object of their scrutiny.

> The people making money knew exactly how dangerous it was and the problems it caused

Wow it didn't take long for evidence of that to surface:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-knows-instagram-is-tox...


I disagree. The "disinformation" is exaggerated. Many conspiracy theories turn out to be true after time. The problem is, there is a vocal group of people, who take the government/big corporation official stance as gospel, and anyone who even dares to question the status quo is branded as a harmful influence.

> Many conspiracy theories turn out to be true after time.

I would be interested to know what evidence you have for this. Of course, given the billions of ideas in the world there are necessarily a few conspiracy theories that were later shown to be true. But it has always been my impression that the percentage of conspiracy theories that later turn out to be true is vanishingly small... perhaps one in a million or less?

Do you know of any evidence of the prevalence of ideas seen as conspiracy theories at first but later shown to be true?


So you think the Earth will be proven to be flat and the vaccines will be proven to have nanobots and 5G modems in the future?

I think that Covid will have been proven to come out of Chinese virus lab. Which doesn't sound as a crazy conspiracy theory right now, but for a time during 2020, was suppressed just as the conspiracy theories you've listed.

Have you considered a possibility that may be, the outright idiotic conspiracy theories that you're talking about don't actually have that much supporters, and could be used as scrape-goats to excuse the censorship and information control which would actually be targeted at much less insane stuff?


I believe COVID came out of a Chinese virus lab, but I also think that the leak of the virus was done out of incompetence, not malice.

That's reasonable. Also, I _think_ that it came from a lab, but it's still 80-90%, not 100% for me. And then there are some theories that I don't agree with, as I think that their probability is 5-20%, but it's important that those theories, too, aren't silenced, as they're completely different from 0% "Earth is flat" BS.

Edit: Actually, strike that: I think that none theories should be silenced, including flat Earth. Exactly because of what I described in this thread.


What's your view on video violence and internet porn?

>Originally it felt like a social annoyance and not much else but in this era of vaccine denialism, election fraud conspiracy theories, even body image issues from touched up photos, there’s little doubt in my mind that society is suffering and that the problem will likely get worse before it gets better.

I'd go the exact opposite way and say that in this age of free information the self serving lies of the old centers of power were found wanting and ignored. Blaming fakenews for things going wrong is the dying gasp of a failed system trying to stay relevant like the catholic church was after the printing press.

Before I get dogpiled on because of the current pandemic, we should remember the food pyramid, the following fat epidemic and the 200k deaths a year we have been getting every year for the last 30 years: https://www.pnas.org/content/115/5/957

The past wasn't great, experts got things wrong and a whole lot of people died.


I think there are always people around, more than we care to admit, who will do things they know are bad to make a buck and to wield power (and frankly, most of us, sadly, have a price; look at the widespread participation of people in tech in the aforementioned industries and companies even though they and we all know the bad stuff they're doing). So I wouldn't treat this as some exception. I think people are extremely good at quietly repressing knowledge they're rather not have interfere with their desires.

> this era of vaccine denialism

Not central to your point, but this isn't really that widespread. 98% of Americans have the full regime of vaccines. The whole "antivax" scare is largely fiction and has been whipped by journalists afraid of people asking questions. Now, where the covid vaccine is concerned, that's different. People who aren't skeptical of vaccines qua vaccines are skeptical about this particular vaccine or whatever you want to call it because of the obscene level of politicization around it masquerading as "science". So I wouldn't conflate the two.


On the contrary, I think it's dangerous to ignore the very close link. Yes, they've switched talking points from mercury to spike proteins but it's the same playbook. The meme just got more viral when it hitched a ride on politics.

I think telling people who are only skeptical of this one new thing that they are anti-vax is just driving people to become anti-vax rather than change their mind about the Covid vaccines.

I have a data point of one in my father, who followed exactly this path.


>What nastiness are we subjecting ourselves to today?

Among the list of nasty things we are doing, fracking stands out. Fresh water is scarce in much of the world. Ground water is drying up and massive aquafers are eroding.

Simultaneously we are pumping cancer directly in the ground, breaking up rocks, and mixing the cancer stuck in the rocks into the ground water. Pumping that cancer back out and ... god only knows what is really happening to it.

My town, which relied on well water for as long as it has been a town, had city water installed in 2005~. Right around the time all the well heads were going up. I would guess that my well is no longer safe/usable - though I have never had it tested.

Seems a real shame and extremely short sighted.


> though I have never had it tested.

Unless neighbors had theirs tested, there's no reason to assume there are issues with your well's water quality or that fracking caused them. Testing it if you plan on using it again is reasonable, though.


What has higher probability of causing contaminated groundwater than nearby fracking?

It's not known that the groundwater is contaminated in this case.

In the general case do you know of a higher probability source of contamination?

Slightly off topic: I’ve asked several people I know in the energy industry how they’d feel about having fracking done on their land where they drank the well water, and the response was pretty universal, no problem, as long as they knew which companies were doing the work - they view the whole thing simply from a quality standpoint, reputable operators/service providers were going to produce a safe outcome, people cutting corners was where the risk was.

> What nastiness are we subjecting ourselves to today?

I'm gonna go with overfishing. Anyone who has been shopping since the 1990's has seen fish diversity decline and prices skyrocket beyond inflation (not to mention a sharp increase in farmed and faux-colored fish like salmon). Illegal fishing is impossible to combat.

See China's illegal fleets:

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27412691 [2] https://twitter.com/epineyro_ok/status/1378112721628114947


My dad used to tell me stories about how when he was a kid, during the drive down to Grand Isle, you would see cars lined up on both sides of the highway for as far as the eye could see because families would park on the curb, set out some outdoor chairs, and fish for speckled trout, flounder, and redfish in the marsh. It was common when they were biting to bring home an ice chest of fish to eat.

Commercial fishing also had no hard limits back then, and so we eradicated the redfish population and most of the specks. We now have pretty substantial limits on how many of each we can keep when we go fishing, to the point where you're doing it just for the experience because you won't catch enough to recoup the gas money.


I had a laugh back in ~2000 when VP Cheney said humans weren't having an impact on the environment. I grew up on long island and we used to pull bivalves (steamers, mussels, perriwinkels (not a bivalve)) in the 60's and 70's. Then in the 90's everything was banned due to pollution. O.G. immigrants still harvested despite the bans, but it was sad to see the consequence of pollution.

Most people who are under 50 years old in the New Orleans area have NO idea whatsoever that there used to be an entire amusement park and beach on Lake Ponchartrain where people would go, enjoy the day, and enjoy the beach.

This is because the water became so polluted that families no longer thought that it was safe to be in. It's been decades now and the water quality is just starting to be clean enough to swim in again.


Hypothetically, what would happen if we (USA) banned all fish imports and greatly restricted domestic catches for a few years? For the sake of argument assume there's no economic impact on local fishermen (e.g., through grants), but would that be enough of a catalyst to make China's illegal fleets economically inviable and allow the oceans to recuperate a bit, or are more drastic measures necessary?

That's basically what Canada did with the Grand Banks in 1992. They didn't ban fish imports, but they did deploy the navy to prevent other countries (eg, Spain) from continuing to fish there. This absolutely devastated Newfoundland's economy, and even with unemployment insurance, the population dropped because people left to find work.

I don't think a few years would cut it, the Grand Banks are juuuust starting to come back after almost 30 years of nearly no fishing.


> Midgley's legacy has been scarred by the negative environmental impact of leaded gasoline and Freon. Environmental historian J. R. McNeill opined that Midgley "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth's history", and Bill Bryson remarked that Midgley possessed "an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny".

And yet, it is also considered that he has benefited more than harmed; simply by helping provide countless people with refrigeration.

That only works if we presume that the only way we could have discovered refrigeration was via CFCs, which seems improbable to me. My chest freezer uses propane as a refrigerant; why couldn’t we have just jumped straight to that?

Propane can be used as a refrigerant. It is cheap and performs reasonably well. The obvious downside is flammability. In the US the total charge for a propane fridge or AC is limited to 150 grams of propane. That is a rather small window unit.

I think propane had to wait for precision manufacturing to be commoditized before it could be tolerated in living spaces. Leaking propane around switching electrical equipment can end badly.


We already had ammonia as a working fluid, and it's great at the job. Also a very toxic substance you do not want any significant quantity of in your home. The great strength of CFCs is how non-toxic/non-flammable they are compared to the alternatives.

Speak for yourself! Back in the day my dorm fridge was an ammonia absorption unit. No compressor. Absolutely silent. Loved it. Perfect when living in 80 square feet.

because traditional methods of food preservation deserved to be abandoned?

Your argument assumes refrigeration is a universal good, and other alternatives were not. Likewise, that the highly centralized food distribution system which became the defacto due to refrigeration is a universal good, while decentralized systems are not.

such as the rich and varied food of Vietnam. https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2017/02/vietnams-low-tech-fe...


PFAS and phthalates are 2 of the biggest things. An working federal government would have banned these decades ago.

Also, plastics touching food ever. "Food grade" plastic is a myth sold to us by the plastics industry. This one is going to take longer though.


„"Food grade" plastic is a myth” – do you know any reliable sources where I could read up the details?

Re. "food grade": I think maybe some plastics might be ok, but, when I've recently done some projects involving plastic parts, I've been shocked to learn how little is food-grade. Like, almost nothing with any dye, especially any black dye. Yet how often does one see black plastic cutlery and plates, or microwave dinner trays? Then they have this legalese on them like "do not reheat". WTF? Rubbermaid containers don't seem to be food-grade either.

I'd bet that some small minority of plastic really is food grade, that the rest hides behind legalese, that consumers can't tell one from the other, and that both are routinely used for food, certainly within the home, and probably also commercially.

Also: There are a bunch of dirty political tricks that industry could pull to "problematize" concern about endocrine disruptors. Think of the famous "crying Indian" ad that started the recycling scam, but with hip 2021 sensibilities. I think we're going to have to be ready for that trick. "Those right-wingers! It's like that scene in Dr. Strangelove -- always concerned with their precious bodily fluids." You can see how it'll work.


When I was a kid I never liked plastic cups and glasses because it made the drink taste "plasticy".

Hot liquids are the worst. I find that takeaway coffee is disgusting because the coffee smell is replaced by the smell of melting plastics.

What is the issue with black ink? Is it part of the chemistry of it having things potentially harmful or else?

I don't know the chemistry. What I do know is that if you start searching for food-grade storage containers you'll mostly find plain white HDPE, and that other colors of the same containers, from the same manufacturers, are not rated food-safe. I forget how I formed the impression that black was least likely to be food safe, except that black is what I otherwise would have wanted, and I could not for the life of me find food-safe black containers. But I think there was something else about that specific colorant as well. Sorry I can't find more specifics. I might be motivated to find a real expert now.

> What nastiness are we subjecting ourselves to today?

We should be ashamed at the number of people that die everyday in car "accidents". Specially pedestrians and cyclists.

If you looked at our reaction to Covid, you'd think we value human life very much, but when you look at how our streets works, you realize we actually don't.

The problem is even worse in poor countries.


Not to mention getting hit or run over by a car is a pretty brutal, this is from experience.

Even a tiny hit that causes no obvious injury is a shock to the system, I say that as a cyclist who's been hit a few times in that way.

Well consider what EPA managers are up to in terms of suppressing science about newly introduced chemical and their risks based on science.

https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science/epa-lead...


> What nastiness are we subjecting ourselves to today?

People have already listed a lot of true answers and a number of speculative answers (also likely mostly true, imo), but I'll toss in that we use two-stroke engine leaf blowers and lawn mowers everywhere—mostly right outside our homes—and it's absolutely bonkers. Massive amounts of NOx, PM2.5, etc.

We spent all this time and money cleaning up our cars (which are still pretty bad), but then run these tiny things that are far worse, right where we live.

I'm willing to bet the noise pollution of them + traffic has a significant negative effect on our health too, but in terms of localized air pollution, the emissions from leaf blowers running a few times week across the street from me easily trump that from all the cars driving past my house.

Hoping electric leaf blowers get good and gain popularity.


Gas leaf blower fans are going into effect in sooner Bay area cities, so you'll probably get your wish.

Wood heating remains improbably popular (and favorably regulated). Not to mention the stupidity of diesel cars: trading a little bit less CO2 for actively poisoning the lungs of your immediate environment.

Wood is at least not a fossil fuel.

Just ensure that it is dry (actually dry) and that the combustion is complete

In South of Chile where wood is a very common and available fuel for cooking or heating this has been a permanent issue every winter, too many people with asthma as a consequence of pm2.5 and other particulate materials


There’s a whole class of persistent organic pollutants that probably fit that bill. Plastics manufacture can involve BPA and phthalates; things like PCBs / PBBs occur in a surprising range of places like transformers and capacitors, fire retardants and carbonless copy paper; dioxins form in a bunch of processes and are toxic in frighteningly small doses, and the latest to join the club are the PFAs, which are involved in firefighting foams ans surfactants, or the preparation of water repellent treatments and non-stick coatings. Many are implicated in cancers and endocrine disruption, and may bioaccumulate to significant levels even in people with low exposure. The book Slow Death by Rubber Duck (2011) was a pretty thorough introduction to the subject - although I imagine by now many of its references will be out of date by now.

I can only wish that more people realized that we didn’t have to start with something so destructive before we could “get better eventually”.

Implying we would know about all possible destructiveness at time of invention.

Isn't the article's primary claim exactly that?

Sort of. As the saying goes: the dose makes the poison. The article itself presents a quote stating that the low level of lead exposure caused by TEL in gasoline was thought to be safe at the time.

They knew. They chose to do it anyway because it was the better deal for them. Couldn't care less about the people they harmed.

In my country, this is called criminal imprudence. If this isn't a crime in the US, it should be.


I think that that’s just an excuse, considering how we didn’t stop when we finally knew.

"What nastiness are we subjecting ourselves to today?"

I have a suspicion that slathering typical consumer sunblock agents (and spraying the out of aerosol cans, and breathing the sunblock, etc.) is going to seem unwise to future us.


Well… maybe. I mean, certainly we could find out that was the case and that there was a safer sunblock alternative we might have been using if we had only known about it- but compared to what we definitely know today about sun exposure I think this is a bit of a different story, especially for light skinned people.

Sorry - I wasn't clear ...

I am not contrasting sunblock vs. no sunblock ...

I am contrasting cheapy chemical sunblocks vs. pure titanium dioxide (?) which appears to be totally benign/inert and which is easy to purchase in a few different form factors (although not spray, which, again, I think is problematic).


You don't have to suspect these things, because they are correct. Almost all spray sunscreen has been found to contain benzene:

https://www.valisure.com/blog/valisure-news/valisure-detects...


  - Sugar.
  - Social networks.
  - The coddling of the mind.
I think you will find that all three have vicious cycles built into them.

Sugar is an excellent example.

In fact, the sugar industry has been behind the effort to deflect blame to fat for the last 50 years.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074...


It’s kind of hard to discern from the article, so is fat good and was unfairly blamed? Or fat and sugar are both bad, but they emphasized the fat part?

I think the biggest takeaway from all the research I did is that not all fats are equal. Monounsaturated fats seem to be generally just good. Omega-3, also, seems good, and Omega-6 less so, but part of that could actually be more about the ratios of omega-6 to -3, which can be 15:1 in the Western diet but people have better health outcomes when they bring omega-6 consumption down and increase omega-3 to get the ratio closer to 4:1 to 1:1.

Saturated fats are still debated - some studies did show replacing saturated fats with vegetable fats did reduce cardiovascular disease etc., but then that might be more that there are some protective effects to the vegetable fats and adding them in rather than replacing might have had a similar effect…

Then there are about a million confounding variables. Doing a decent amount of exercise is a big one, because it’s harder to control for than the other common health detriment - smoking, but things like whether your dairy is grass-fed (as it is here in Australia and much of Europe) vs. grain fed apparently makes a big difference (grass fed apparently has a lot more things like CLA, omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin K2, the benefits of which seem to potentially more than cancel out any problem from the saturated fat).

One other big problem is that a lot of “low fat” products tend to have more sugar added to make up for it.

Too much sugar is bad, yes, and it’s pretty alarming how seemingly little you need to be over that threshold. Literally a single can of coke is almost the entirety of the sugar one should be consuming in a whole day! Fruit juice is also pretty bad unfortunately - basically just as bad as soft drink (I love soft drinks, apple juice, sweet ice tea, it’s been a challenge to cut most of it out!).


> I think the biggest takeaway from all the research I did is that not all fats are equal.

You can say that again...

I was recently looking at the nutrition content of Wendy's cheeseburgers; they actually do a pretty good job at displaying nutrition facts and also scaling it with custom orders. Anyway, I noticed that a triple cheeseburger could have ~4g of trans fats.

Wait a sec, is Wendy's ignoring regulations about trans fats?

No, as it turns out. I discovered that some trans fats from nature are actually beneficial (palmitoleic acid and vaccenic acid in the beef patties). This went totally counter to everything I thought I knew.

In other words, it never ceases to surprise me how nuanced nutrition can be and how easily we oversimplify it.


Yeah, it's interesting, hey? I mentioned Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) - that's another one that is technically a trans fat, but seems to be beneficial (although apparently supplementation doesn't seem to have the same benefits as getting it in food, so maybe there's another interaction, like how foods that contain CLA also often contain Vitamin K2 as well).

A Wendy’s triple cheeseburger still sounds like a poor choice.

FWIW, my reading of the tea leaves is that fat alone is fine, sugar alone is bad, and sugar+fat maybe worse.

The basic logic of the anti-sugar sentiment is this:

Excess of blood sugar is toxic and so it triggers a shot of insulin, intended to drain sugar from the blood and hide it in various places: the muscle tissue, the liver, and last resort - the fat cells. Normally it works just fine, but sometimes the system gets overwhelmed with a big sugar rush and starts producing too much insulin, draining too much sugar, overshooting the target, causing hunger, craving for more sugar, and eating more sugar. The human then goes into the infinite loop of sugar binging accumulating fat on the go.

Now if you add dietary fat into the mixture it's possible that the fat cells will suck it up too. That I don't know for sure.


What is "the coddling of the mind"?

The term came from https://www.thecoddling.com/ but here I refer to a specific aspect:

Suppose your reaction to discomfort is to retreat or isolate yourself from it. Having done so you will find that your calibration of comfort has changed and things you previously found at the fringe but normal now became clearly uncomfortable. If you repeat this process several times you will find that the field of acceptable things to do has narrowed itself to a single fine line of propriety that is surrounded by a vast field horrors and misdemeanors. Worse yet, the narrower the range of acceptable things, the more anxious you will be and the harder you will lash out at those recently (but no longer) normal things.

For a tame example, I have a number of friends who as they got richer retreated into more and more comfortable suburbs. Perfectly reasonable right? Well, they are now afraid to visit downtown because crime, dirt, and homeless. Not at all reasonable anymore.

I'm sure you can come up with more examples. In fact now that I told you, you can't escape seeing them.


> Suppose your reaction to discomfort is to retreat or isolate yourself from it.

Why wouldn't that be my reaction? Seems a pretty normal reaction to most discomfort. I lean into discomfort only when necessary and avoid it otherwise at all costs, that strategy has gotten me pretty far in my half+ century.

But even if we assume the proposition that people somehow become more withdrawn as they withdraw... what's the downside?

Perhaps your downtown really is a mess and they choose to avoid it. I'm guessing you're not a mind reader, and yet you've created a narrative that your friends have withdrawn due to their inability to handle discomfort and are now... what exactly, bad for the earth? (Recall, that was literally the proposition you responded to.)

Sounds rather arbitrary as well as subjectively punitive to me.

EDIT: This reminds me of me when I was in my 20's. I used to look down on people who went on vacation and stayed in hotels, or god forbid, resorts. I saw them as soft-headed sheeple who needed to be spoon-fed "fun in a can". Not me. I backpacked. I went to developing nations. In my mind, if you went to a foreign country, you didn't really "visit it" unless you lived among the natives and got your fingers dirty. I got giardia in Belize, was held up at gunpoint in Serbia, escorted by soldiers in Israel, woke up in a roach infested bed in a hostel in Thailand. ... But today? I want to snap my fingers and have someone bring me a cocktail while I sit poolside and sun my fat belly. I no longer enjoy wallowing in 3rd world filth as a means to establish me credentials. I want comfort because I work too goddamn hard for my vacations to involve police reports. So perhaps this is result of cowering away from discomfort, or perhaps it is just a change of priorities.


> Why wouldn't that be my reaction? Seems a pretty normal reaction to most discomfort. I lean into discomfort only when necessary and avoid it otherwise at all costs

That is a fairly common reaction. But accepting discomfort, without aversion to it, is powerful.


Aluminum and metal particles. There are various (inconclusive) studies suggesting a tie between metal particles in the blood/brain and dementia. Ever notice that foods now say thing things like "Ingredients: baking powder (aluminum free)", that you can get "Aluminum free" deodorant, etc?

Liking to stack the deck in my favor, I've moved to all stainless steel and cast iron cookware.


Stainless steel cookware typically contains aluminum for the part that retains heat, whether that be a disc on the bottom of the pan or sandwiched in the walls of the vessel. Steel doesn't retain heat well but is prettier and more durable, so it goes on the outside. In any case, it should be a safe choice if you want to avoid ingesting aluminum.

Aluminium is a good conductor. I presume the reason for an aluminum layer in pots and pans is to prevent hot spots and possibly conduct the heat faster.

Aluminium is the 7th most abundant element on earth (1.5% by weight) and even more so in the crust. It is used in various forms as additives in food, and discomfort medications. Reasonable tolerance seems likely.

In contrast, stainless steel is typically 20% or more chromium and nickel. Both heavy metals, chromium being worse. Good stainless steel does not corrode or release much, if handled properly, but if you are cusing naked stainless steel, you are consuming chromium and nickel. Especially with new or bad cookware, acidic foods or when scraping with hard utensils.

While aluminium is much less toxic, I don't in fact use cookware with aluminium surface, as I think it leaks too much / too easily. I either carefully use stainless steel, or often prefer enameled / ceramic glazed cookware.


"Forever chemicals" perhaps?

Easy; micro plastics.

Fossil carbon, loads of food additives, and the way the military industries generate much of technological innovation all come to mind.

Animal farming

> This guy who invents awesome working chemicals that are tragically bad for people on a worldwide scale

Cars and fridges bad, is pretty much HN at it's core.

These saved millions, probably billions of lives (depending on how you measure it)

Thomas Midgley Jr work making these more efficient means he is an amazing human being that helped humanity saving many many lives.

I guess people need something to justify pushing code around that does nothing?


Processed/GMO foods with less nutrients, exhaust and brake dust from motorways and streets, HPV variants that don't get attention, Lyme disease, probably long-COVID, probably a ton of things I haven't even heard of.

This was probably downvoted due to the mention of GMOs but I think it is not unreasonable to be concerned about these. Most seem to be perfectly fine but one that seems most concerning is GMO roundup ready crops, not because of the GMO, but because they are being sprayed with a dangerous chemical which seems to cause cancer.


I've got a sneaking suspicion we ought to go through everything else Thomas MIdgley Jr. invented and ban it, just to be sure. Leaded gas, CFCs, and the contraption he killed himself with is a worrying pattern.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Midgley_Jr. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Midgley_Jr.


> However, within the first two months of its operation, the new plant was plagued by more cases of lead poisoning, hallucinations, insanity, and five deaths.

> On October 30, 1924, Midgley participated in a press conference to demonstrate the apparent safety of TEL, in which he poured TEL over his hands, placed a bottle of the chemical under his nose, and inhaled its vapor for 60 seconds, declaring that he could do this every day without succumbing to any problems. ... Midgley would later have to take leave of absence from work after being diagnosed with lead poisoning.

Guy sounds like a nut.

> Environmental historian J. R. McNeill opined that Midgley "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth's history", and Bill Bryson remarked that Midgley possessed "an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny".

Later down in the legacy section, these are some serious burns, almost laughable if it weren't for them being true and the consequences of that.

But I must say, although it's fun to pin it on one man, many people and corporations were involved in the propagation of his catastrophes.


> Environmental historian J. R. McNeill opined that Midgley "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth's history"

I can't stop laughing when I read this.

But it is shocking that one human can have such an impact on Earth.

It's actually kind of scary.

What's to stop the next nut, perhaps in a country outside the reach of international law, from causing the same?


It can work both ways though. A single person can also invent a scalable way to sequester CO2 for example.

It's a lot easier to burn things than to figure out how to unburn them though

after being diagnosed with lead poisoning ... again.

> In 1923, Midgley took a long vacation in Miami, Florida, to cure himself of lead poisoning.


I think that proves he really believed what he was saying!

Or that he was willing to risk his health for wealth at everyone's expense.

Nah. It's much more plausible that he sincerely believed lead wasn't that dangerous.

I think its somewhat reasonable that he knew it had short term issues at high concentration but believed that the body would flush it out on its own. And not that any exposure caused permanent damage.

Sure, he was willing to take some level of risk, but he certainly wasn't expecting to be hospitalized for lead poisoning.

Didn't CFCs save a lot of people's lives back in the days of badly designed fridges? He couldn't have known about the atmosphere

[flagged]


You don't know that. Also you are trying to defend this guy (from the wikipedia article): "Environmental historian J. R. McNeill opined that Midgley "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth's history",[21] and Bill Bryson remarked that Midgley possessed "an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny"."

To put his other inventions under more scrutiny seems like a smart idea, but arguments for authority seem weirdly misplaced in this context.


Your hindsight is 20/20. Congratulations.

And Midgley should also have known better, with the lead poisoning and all. Again, if you only need common sense to spot a very bad idea, there is just no excuse. Your argument has no legs to stand on.

I have a very distinct memory of disembarking from the Budapest to Belgrade night train to the smells of leaded fuel in Belgrade.

Budapest was no standard of cleanliness at the time (late 90s), however Belgrade was truly still in its post-war phase and had all of the energy, anger and edge of a place that had been pretty beaten up.

We were robbed, given a pistol in a nightclub (still have no idea what was going on there, I just remember being really surprised that pistols came in styrofoam and shrink-wrap packages when they are new... Being from Canada I had never even seen a pistol before), were surrounded by really beautiful people who we thought wanted something from us but who were only generous and kind, and .... the smell.

The smell of that leaded fuel was everywhere. It smelled sweet and was so unique. It's what has stuck with me 20+ years later.

One other side note from that trip. We were in the countryside (mean to be meeting a friend from home in his ancestral/family village but took the wrong bus) and someone in the village directed us in to a pub that was basically an old barn. Inside there were many middle eastern guys and a mix of Serbian and english speaking people. I was given a pin by one of the middle eastern guys after I threw an excellent game of darts on the dartboard next to him.

Years later I had a job for a defense contractor and the subject of that trip and the pin came up. I showed him a picture of it and he recognized it instantly: al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. I looked it up and so it was.

We were put up with a local elderly woman who served us some type of soup in the morning and then someone gave us a ride out of town to a bus stop that had service that day. We waited only an hour until the first car came along, reeking of leaded fuel.


Thank you for sharing this, what an adventure you had.

Pure gasoline is not that great of a motor fuel because it knocks (explodes when it's not supposed to during the internal combustion engine cycle). This is a major problem with high-compression airplane engines.

However, tetra-ethyl-lead (think one lead atom bonded to four ethanols minus the oxygen atoms) was never necessary to combat the problem. Ethanol's anti-knock properties at a blend of 85% gasoline 15% ethanol were well known, and issues with corrosion in fuel lines had been dealt with. However, that meant giving farmers (the only ethanol producers) 15% of the profits, and the famously monopolistic Rockefeller didn't like that. Indeed, about that whole Rockefeller-financed ethanol temperance movement, and Prohibition in general...

In addition, alkylation strategies in World War II by Shell produced 100-octane aviation gas for prop engines, with no lead. It's been reintroduced it seems (wiki):

Shell Unleaded 100-Octane Fuel

"In December 2013 Shell Oil announced that they had developed an unleaded 100 octane fuel and will submit it for FAA testing with certification expected within two to three years. The fuel is alkylate-based with an additive package of aromatics. No information has yet been published in its performance, producibility or price. Industry analysts have indicated that it will likely cost as much as or more than existing 100LL."

In the long run though, electric airplanes look far more attractive for the short-haul prop-driven world.


A Tesla battery weighs as much as a Cessna 172. I don't know how practical a battery powered GA aircraft with competitive range would be.

> In the long run though, electric airplanes look far more attractive for the short-haul prop-driven world.

In the interim, the Rotax 912/914 series is a nice, modern, reliable powerplant for smaller/lighter airplanes that will happily burn autogas.


Apparently there are diesel prop engines that can run with Jet A1 (see [1]). This is apparently especially convenient given that at some airports Avgas isn't easily available compared to jet fuel (at least here in Australia, according to a pilot/aviation YouTuber that I was watching about this just yesterday).

1. https://newatlas.com/cessna-turbo-182-nxt/23465/


kerosene, diesel, and jet fuel are basically interchangeable in any motor supporting one of them. the liability becomes lubrications in the fuel.

avgas is only popular in the US and Canada.

jet a is universally cheaper

avgas engines can be overhauled at the end of their life, which saves money.

diesel engines are basically thrown away and you buy a new one, which negates the cost savings of jet fuel over avgas


> diesel engines are basically thrown away

Because they're "genuinely" absolutely broken, or "just" because of high aviation safety standards? That is, do they really have to be "thrown away" -- or could you buy one, refurbish it, and run it in your light truck, accepting a slight risk of breaking down on the highway in exchange for getting the engine really cheap?


This summer a company well known for GA engine mods actually completed FAA approval for a 'drop in' unleaded avgas replacement: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2021/july/27/ga...

It's limited to a subset of the GA engine fleet initially, but the plan is to broaden over the next year or so.


Don't forget UL94 as well. You can already buy it at select airfields.

Interesting, I had assumed they just didn’t know that lead was bad back then. What’s even weirder is how there are still people today who insist that banning leaded gasoline was an key example of government overreach.

Someone once was arguing this point to me and I just had to drop the topic because it was such a baffling stance.


America has two radically different concepts of freedom that travel under the same name. Both start with "I should be free to do as I want". One ends with "as long as I don't harm others". The other ends with "regardless of harm to others". You were dealing with the latter.

It of course sounds insane when you say it baldly like this, which is why it rarely gets stated openly. But a lot of traditional societal structures depend on harm to others, so there's a big constituency for the suffering of others when it benefits the speaker.


To make things more complex, some (small) harms are legitimate: If you open a new store you "harm" other store owners because they have less customers. When you build/repair your home there is some noises and dusts that can annoy other people but it's considered as a legitimate temporary problem. So the question is more where is the limit ?

There’s the conundrum for society, especially American society. When there are a million rules covering every minute operation of society, it feels a lot like living in a benevolent dictatorship. And that is very near the best outcome to hope for.

But to not have those rules ultimately invites leaded gasoline 2.0 as technology progresses.


There isn't a global limit where you can draw a line and say "good things are on one side of the line and bad things are on the other side of the line" - not when it comes to things like this. It's too bad we like to act differently.

There's also an entire spectrum of what constitutes "enough" harm to others to be limited (in addition to how direct the harm is).

Sure, but that comes later. All serious discussions about rights involve balancing the practical consequences of different rights. But the two concepts of freedom are still quite distinct.

I don't think it does come later.

I don't think there is anyone who actually thinks of these things in terms of "regardless of the harm it causes others". Ok, this being the internet, we can probably find one, but I don't think there's any significant portion of the population. That position is basically a strawman.

I do think, however, that there's people who draw the lines in very different places, or put different weight on different categories of harm.

As an example, physical or financial harm are very easy to verify. There's not a lot of debate about if they qualify. Mental or emotional harm, on the other hand, is very hard to verify. This presents a significant problem for anyone who is worried about the system being abused. These groups will draw lines at very different places around any claim of harm within those categories.

The end result is that you'll end up with one group being labeled as grifters who want to fleece the system, and the other as being completely insensitive to human suffering (sound familiar?)

That's not even to get into the debate of what constitutes harm. For example, is not helping someone harming them? Is ceasing help once you've started helping someone harming them? These are too big of questions for the post, but I imagine you get the idea.


I don't think they talk about it in those terms. But that is absolutely the behavior.

A clear historical example is America's conflict around slavery. The primary southern justification for creating the Confederacy was freedom. That continued after the Civil War; see the UDC catechisms for example. "States' rights" they'll shout, meaning the right of the white people in power to treat black people like livestock and keeping that in that condition through systematic violent abuse. And you'll still find people today arguing the point.

A modern example is public health. Everything from preventing toxic waste dumping to COVID mask mandates is met with cries of "FREEDOM!" Right now there is a large constituency in the US for the right to do whatever they please even if that means they will kill people by giving them a disease.

I agree that what constitutes "harm" can be a tricky question for some issues. But I think we can agree that death qualifies. And that people who have never left the house unclothed having to wear another half-ounce of fabric in public is not.


> A modern example is public health.

I think this is an excellent example of what I meant about "how direct the harm is" mattering.

Imagine, if you will, a continuum ranging from absolutely direct harm to absolutely indirect harm.

On the absolute left, imagine person A stabbing person B. That's about as direct as you can get, right? And I also think there's not a ton of people who would disagree that stabbing someone should be banned (let's ignore self defense arguments).

On the absolute right, imagine person A moves a chair. Someone trips over this chair. That person ends up in a foul mood and cuts someone off in traffic. This causes a traffic jam. In this traffic jam, a refrigerated truck breaks down and a bunch of food is ruined. More food is ordered, which takes up space in a shipping container that would have gone to medicine, had the food not been ordered. Person B dies because of a lack of medicine that would have been there had person A not moved the chair.

This was about as indirect of series of events as I could come up with, but I think you get my point here. There's a direct causal chain between person A's actions and person B's death in both scenarios, but I can't imagine very many people really condemning person A in the second one. In fact I think someone trying to ban moving chairs because of this incident would be soundly ridiculed.

So where does going outside without a mask during a pandemic sit on this continuum? Well, going outside without a mask, if you have a high viral load, and someone comes close to you, there's definitely a chance they could die. That's definitely not nearly as direct of harm as stabbing someone. It's also clearly not nearly as indirect as that tortured example I came up with in the second one.

Personal opinion? It's definitely farther to the left than the right. Say, somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 of the way to the left. Maybe somewhere around 2/3 of the way there.

Someone's opinion on something such as a mask mandate, is going to depend on if they view that as direct enough harm for the government to have a legitimate interest in regulating.


The complexity is in proving what harm is being done and to whom.

Not generally. It mainly gets complex when the latter side wants to deny the harm. Then it's an ocean of motivated reasoning and endless arguments. We still have people arguing today that American slavery was good for the slaves.

Excellent! Together we can ban fast food and sugar consumption for the greater good. Heart disease and diabetes from the scourge of empty calories finally eliminated. Hundreds of thousands saved each year from poor choices. Up next: sedentary lifestyle enablers :).

It’s such a rabbit hole, who should know best?


In my country drinks with added sugar are taxed extra. So, for example, all the no sugar Coke or Pepsi variants are one price, but "classic" Coke or Pepsi with sugar in it are more expensive in the same quantities. A small nudge. And I already noticed it impacts bars and restaurants. If you're only going to bother stocking one cola beverage, why carry the one with sugar, which costs extra, when a customer asks for "A Coke" it's no harder to train staff to say "Pepsi Max OK?" than "Pepsi OK?".

As to "Who should know best?" that's exactly what we're paying our politicians to be on top of.


I am for personal freedom as long as it doesn't harm others. So if people want to make a batch of cookies, I think that's a reasonable personal choice. But it's not as clear to me that junk food companies have an absolute right to hook others on harmful, addictive products. Especially given that addiction, by undermining choice, necessarily harms a person's freedom.

Are you saying it's not worthy of deeper inspection? I mean you kind of make an excellent point, the fast food and processed foods industries create a lot of waste selling an unhealthy product while paying unlivable wages. Their product increases healthcare costs while enabling a sedentary and stressful commuter lifestyle.

> Up next: sedentary lifestyle enablers

We can start with the internet! :)


You can harm yourself with junk food and lack of exercise all you want, it doesn't affect others the same way pouring poison into our shared environment does. What you're doing is called whataboutism. Trying to muddy clear waters by bringing in muddy issues that aren't directly related, just for the sake of muddying.

All of these increase healthcare costs for everyone involved.

And you commuting increases congestion for everyone else. And you buying food makes food more expensive for everyone else. So what. You honestly can't distinguish between this and pouring lead into the atmosphere? This seems like some demagoguery fetish at best.

> And you buying food makes food more expensive for everyone else.

Not true. You raising the demand of a good enables the producers to employ economies of scale thus making food less expensive for all.


Are there any freedoms fought over in America that truly do no harm to others? Most discussions revolve around tradeoffs between harm and benefit.

It seems like "as long as I don't harm others" means "I consider the small harm to others worthwhile for the benefits". And "regardless of harm to others" is using the same approach to come to a conclusion you disagree with.

There's a lot of different ways to approach freedom, but I don't think "I don't care about others" and "I would never inconvenience others" is an accurate binary taxonomy.


> Are there any freedoms fought over in America that truly do no harm to others?

One that comes to mind is gay marriage.


For sure. And there are plenty more. Freedom to vote, freedom of religious belief, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of thought. And then a bunch of freedom from. Freedom from slavery, from torture, from violence, from workplace exploitation, from domestic abuse.

Mind you, leaded gasoline was (AFAIK) approved everywhere else too, so this isn't just a story about US attitudes, specifically.

It was all licensed from GM.

You can’t reap the rewards of invention without the accountability that comes with it.


That's a strawman. There's literally no-one on earth saying "I should be free to do as I want regardless of harm to others".

They don't say it out loud. But they act based on that principal.

> They don't say it out loud. But they act based on that principal.

No they don't. That's not how people think, at all. People who do horrible things are very good at rationalizing that they are actually the good guys. This is a well studied phenomenon.


Exactly. I once saw a quote from an accountant: "Don't tell me your priorities. Show me your budget and I'll tell you your priorities."

Even utter sociopaths know not to talk like they don't give a shit about anybody else. The social consequences for that are too high. So if we want to understand what people care about, we can't just go with their claims about their motivations. We have to look at where they put in the work.


You seem to be really going overboard with the strawman arguments here.

> So if we want to understand what people care about, we can't just go with their claims about their motivations.

I never claimed we should do that. Nobody else claimed such a thing either.

Also, I take it as concession that you were unable to provide a single example to support your claim.


You were focused on what people say. In particular "literally no-one on earth saying". I'm saying that asking them isn't sufficient to understand their priorities. People lie, Virginia.

I have provided examples elsewhere. But if they aren't sufficient for you, take it as anything you like. I long ago stopped caring that every internet on the random understood my point, especially the ones working hard to not get what I'm saying.


> You were focused on what people say [...] People lie

Not true. You're strawmanning again. I already addressed this distinction between "say" versus "think" in the sibling comment, which I'm sure you've read. To refresh your memory, I said: "That's not how people think, at all. People who do horrible things are very good at rationalizing that they are actually the good guys. This is a well studied phenomenon."

> I have provided examples elsewhere.

Ok, I searched the thread and now found your examples. Let's address one of them:

> A modern example is public health. Everything from preventing toxic waste dumping to COVID mask mandates is met with cries of "FREEDOM!" Right now there is a large constituency in the US for the right to do whatever they please even if that means they will kill people by giving them a disease.

If you actually engage with these people, you will find that these people don't believe that they are causing significant harm to others. You're comparing their actions to literally killing people, as if going to the grocery store without a mask (as a person who has no symptoms and may even be vaccinated) is placing the public to a risk that is comparable to literally homicide. You're trying too hard to rationalize your belief that republicans are evil. They're not. They're normal people like you and I. Most of them care about their fellow humans, even if they see different risk/benefit tradeoffs to decisions than you do.


I am not straw manning.

I have read oceans of anti-masker afguments. Some claim they don't believe they are harming people, and some of those may actually believe it. But the question is whether they have a justified, true belief. They don't. They are all clearly aware of the potential of harm, and the science is pretty clear. Even for the ones who truly believe it, they have to admit that they could be wrong and are going ahead anyhow, so we are back in the "regardless of harm to others" bucket.

And that's not even counting the large number of people who are aware of the possibility of death and are perfectly fine with it. You could look at the Texas Governor speaking proudly about it's ok to sacrifice some old people as long as we're preserving American freedom. Or the Florida governor who banned mask mandates saying, "That’s ultimately an individual's choice to be able to do [vaccines]... And so, I think the question is, we can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state. And I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state."

And masking is just the most dramatic recent example. The history of slavery is super clear. Ditto the history of workplace safety. Or we could look at the societal shifts against drunk driving and secondhand smoke. Both of those were indulged for decades despite high body counts. The shift for each took decades and was fought all the way by people who valued their freedom to do whatever they wanted without regard to harm to others. Including by executives and lobbyists who were well placed to be informed about the actual harm but still worked to keep the laws in their favor without regard to body count.

I agree that all of these people care about some of their fellow humans. They're not monsters. But what they do have is a (learned and often cultivated) lack of empathy for people seen as "other". Which is why we are slowly seeing mask and vaccine resistance decline, along with plenty of deathbed pleas to get the vaccine and for others to get the vaccine.


I agree with you on some topics, disagree with you on others.

I agree that slavery, drunk driving and secondhand smoke are very bad. I agree that people who've committed such acts likely have less empathy towards other people.

I disagree with the sentiment you expressed about "mask freedom" and "vaccination freedom". I think vaccinations are great and masks are somewhat useful, but I think the tradeoff of sacrificing freedoms is not worth it to force this stuff on people by government mandate. So I guess I fall in the category that you defined as "aware of the possibility of death and perfectly fine with it". Be that as it may, I certainly don't have the mindset that anything goes, regardless of harm to others. I think there's tradeoffs to be made and I think reasonable people can disagree about those tradeoffs. I'm sure if we went through a variety of different topics (like personal cars) we would find several topics where you're also willing to make tradeoffs "aware of the possibility of death and perfectly fine with it".


You seem to have this notion that empathy is a 0-to-100 dial, with each person getting a fixed setting that is used on all people they encounter.

This model is incorrect. Many slaveholders were perfectly nice people to family members, for example. And of course to other rich white men. Empathy is reserved to specific groups, and lacking/discouraged/repressed for the rest. This is a learned, societally mediated behavior. You can read Kendi's "Stamped from the Beginning" if you'd like to see how that works in detail. Mills's "The Racial Contract" is a good philosophical examination, and Loewen's "Sundown Towns" looks at related aspects via data and history.

So we see early on in the pandemic that a lot of white conservatives were perfectly fine with the disease spreading in major cities where people were concentrated. Some were gleeful. Now it's mainly a red state phenomenon and people are still resisting basic public health measures. I think that's still rooted in contempt for the lessers. E.g. https://twitter.com/jacobtwop/status/1436383225451094019

Or you might also read Serwer on "the cruelty is the point".

But all of this is pretty far afield from my actual point, which is that there are two concepts of freedom in American discourse. One admits of nuance and balance; the other is "I do what I want and fuck you". Different people may use one or the other at a particular moment. But the concepts are rhetorically very distinct.


“I should be free to profit regardless of harm to others.”

Better?


How is that better? Can you point to a single example where a person made such a claim? Just a single example. Go ahead, I'll wait.

They don't have to make the claim in words. They do it with their behavior.

If people see their freedom as reasonably limited when it harms others, then if that harm is pointed out to them, they'll immediately apologize and stop. The more energy people put into persisting despite that, the clearer it is they don't actually care.

You can look at the history of pretty much any piece of extant consumer or worker protection to find examples of this. Go read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", for example, which painted a portrait of large companies abusing both. It kicked off a long struggle that ended up with substantial shifts in the law. Or you could look at the long history of workplace safety in coal mines. The coal barons clearly saw workers as expendable and any encroachment on their freedoms as intolerable.


Smoking in public? Fracking?

> Smoking in public? Fracking?

Are you saying that people who smoke openly state that they "should be free to profit regardless of harm to others"? Who said that? Where? I already asked you to point to a single example to support this claim that certain people think this way, and you couldn't do that. That's because there's literally no people who think like that.


Of course people don’t say those words exactly. But pushing for the ability to smoke indoors for example is basically saying my right to smoke should trump your right to have smoke free air. Ditto for fracking. My ability to profit off the oil I get trumps your right to have clean environment. I don’t really understand how these can not be seen as “I should be free to profit regardless of harm to others.”

The act of smoking is the statement.

And so is your insistence on pretending not to understand that. Not a pretty one.


> The act of smoking is the statement. And so is your insistence on pretending not to understand that. Not a pretty one.

You're the one pretending. There's a difference between these 2 things:

1) Taking actions (like smoking) that put others at some level of risk

2) Thinking that placing any level of harm onto others is justifiable as long as it's profitable

You know very well there's a difference between those things, and yet you're pretending to not understand, while claiming that I'm "pretending not to understand".

Or are you claiming that the average smoker cares so little about fellow humans that they'd be willing to push a person over a cliff ("any level of harm") in order to steal a half-empty beer can from them ("a profit")? Even if we assume a situation where they would be guaranteed to profit the half-empty beer can, I think it's safe to say almost no-one would think this level of harm would justify this level of profit.

Yes, a smoker will put your life at risk by smoking near you. In related news, a driver will put your life at risk by driving near you. Doesn't mean that smokers or drivers will do literally any level of harm to humans in order to gain the tiniest of profit to themselves.


I really don’t understand your insistence here. Firstly the original claim isn’t “regardless of any level of harm”, and I’ve already given examples of profiting despite harm to others. Secondly even if you insist on an extreme level of harm there are still examples. We can use any of a number of dictators that are literally willing to kill millions to stay in power.

Do they actually say out loud “I am willing to profit regardless of how much I harm others”? No, probably not. But actions speak louder than words here.


> Firstly the original claim isn’t “regardless of any level of harm”

Yes it is. Here is the full statement copypasted without modifications:

> America has two radically different concepts of freedom that travel under the same name. Both start with "I should be free to do as I want". One ends with "as long as I don't harm others". The other ends with "regardless of harm to others". You were dealing with the latter.

According to the original claim, there are two groups in America. One group (hint: democrats) can not justify any level of harm in exchange for their freedoms, while another group (hint: republicans) will justify any level of harm in exchange for their freedoms. The original claim paints these 2 groups as polar opposites, while in reality both groups are willing to accept various levels of harm in exchange for various levels of freedom. They merely disagree about some tradeoffs.

> Secondly even if you insist on an extreme level of harm there are still examples. We can use any of a number of dictators that are literally willing to kill millions to stay in power.

Sure, I accept this example. Yes, there are some rare individuals who truely are monsters and are willing to cause extreme levels of harm in exchange for their own personal benefit. I don't think half of America is like that, though.


> > Firstly the original claim isn’t “regardless of any level of harm”

> Yes it is. Here is the full statement copypasted without modifications:

> > America has two radically different concepts of freedom that travel under the same name. Both start with "I should be free to do as I want". One ends with "as long as I don't harm others". The other ends with "regardless of harm to others". You were dealing with the latter.

No it isn't. "Regardless of harm to others" is not the same as "regardless of any level of harm". Just bloody look at them: Is there any mention of levels in the first? No, there isn't.

Now please do us all a favour and stop this -- we're all too excrutiatingly embarrassed on your behalf just from seeing you make such a spectacle of yourself.


> No it isn't. "Regardless of harm to others" is not the same as "regardless of any level of harm". Just bloody look at them: Is there any mention of levels in the first? No, there isn't.

Definition of "regardless" is "without regard or consideration for". If there is no consideration for harm, then it does not matter what the level of harm is. Therefore, "regardless of harm to others" means exactly the same thing as "regardless of any level of harm".

Even if you are using your own dictionary to invent new meanings for words to win imaginary arguments inside your own head, it's not exactly clear to me how you interpret this original quote in a manner that doesn't paint democrats and republicans as polar opposites:

> > America has two radically different concepts of freedom that travel under the same name. Both start with "I should be free to do as I want". One ends with "as long as I don't harm others". The other ends with "regardless of harm to others".


> Definition of "regardless" is "without regard or consideration for". If there is no consideration for harm, then it does not matter what the level of harm is.

So I take it you work with computers...? Natural languages like English don't work the exact same way as programming languages like C.

> Therefore, "regardless of harm to others" means exactly the same thing as "regardless of any level of harm".

No it doesn't: Most people, not being monsters, wouldn't inflict immediate, grievous harm on others just because it's easier on themselves. They wouldn't, for instance, walk around with the lid off a container of nerve gas just because they can't be bothered to put it on, immediately killing all who come near. They realise and accept that they can't be free to do whatever they want regardless of any level of harm to others.

Many of those same non-monster people are smokers. And many -- at a guess, a majority -- of those, in turn, being a bit of an arsehole like we all can be, do gladly put their own convenience and immediate gratification above their consideration for you and your lungs: They know the dangers of second-hand smoke, but some unknown level of possible breathing disorders at some unknown point in other people's future, and some small amount of shortening of these other people's lifespan... That doesn't count the same to them as carrying a lidless bucket of sarin gas: They'll blow smoke in your face (or at least exhale it in your vicinity, where it will sooner rather than later find its way into your lungs). So they obviously do think they should be free to do what they want regardless of some level of harm to others.

What you've been saying boils down to "You're wrong in claiming that everyone would gladly nerve-gas everyone around them!". But nobody ever claimed that. The original contention was just "people do shit like smoking regardless of the harm it does to those around them".

I can't even grasp how you couldn't see this. (Nor can I tell which would be the more charitable way to react to your behavior, to take it as genuine or fake. AFAICS, neither alternative is possible to interpret particularly charitably.)


> What you've been saying boils down to "You're wrong in claiming that everyone would gladly nerve-gas everyone around them!"

That's literally the opposite of what I've been saying. That "everyone" in that sentence, man, do you not listen at all? I've explained to you multiple times that the topic of contention is not "degree of evil that everyone has" - the topic of contention is whether people are grouped into 1 group or 2 groups in this context. What I found offensive in the original post is that it grouped people into 2 groups instead of 1 group. And yet you're here pretending that I'm upset that someone grouped people into 1 group. No, that would have been fine, but they didn't do that. If the original post had grouped people into 1 group, like if it had claimed "everyone is an arsehole", that would've been fine by me, as I've explained to you multiple times. My issue was with a description that divided people up by party lines and described one group as saints and the other group as evil.

> The original contention was just "people do shit like smoking regardless of the harm it does to those around them".

No it wasn't. The sentiment in your statement is that "people are similar in this way", whereas the sentiment in the original post was "people are not similar - there are 2 groups of people, one of these is good and the other is evil". For reference, here's that original post again, which VERY OBVIOUSLY describes the existence of 2 groups which are different from each other:

> > America has two radically different concepts of freedom that travel under the same name. Both start with "I should be free to do as I want". One ends with "as long as I don't harm others". The other ends with "regardless of harm to others".

I'm arguing that "two radically different" groups don't exist; that people are similar in this manner, not too different from one another. You've already conceded multiple times that you agree with this point. If you want to argue that the original post (which I copypasted above) is also saying that "two radically different groups" don't exist, PLEASE, go ahead, let's see that magic how you will twist those words into the opposite of what they actually meant. Go ahead, I'll wait.


Please do not perpetuate flamewars on HN. You've broken the site guidelines egregiously in this thread, and we ban such accounts.

I don't want to ban you, so if you'd please review the site guidelines at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to them in the future, we'd appreciate it.


[flagged]


Please do not perpetuate flamewars on HN. You've broken the site guidelines egregiously in this thread, and we ban such accounts.

I don't want to ban you, so if you'd please review the site guidelines at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to them in the future, we'd appreciate it.

Edit: please see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28579169 also. That's already a pattern—please reverse it!


Yeah, sure, I'll try my best.

Appreciated!

Exactly, and well put. My point was about rhetoric. There are tribal differences in frequency and manner of use of that rhetoric. But we all start out as perfectly self-centered, and although most of us work our way out, we never lose it entirely.

> Doesn't mean that smokers or drivers will do literally any level of harm to humans in order to gain the tiniest of profit to themselves.

For a guy who is very eager to accuse others of straw manning, you seem to be working very hard to invent things so that you can dismiss them.


The original quote from you was "I should be free to do as I want, regardless of harm to others". That paints a picture of people as monsters. As you later acknowledged, people are not monsters. Everyone is willing to cause some harm/risk to others in order to gain something for themselves, but you would be hard pressed to find people who are willing to place extreme levels of harm/risk onto others in exchange for a tiny gain. I used an extreme example to demonstrate this very obvious point.

> The original quote from you was "I should be free to do as I want, regardless of harm to others". That paints a picture of people as monsters. As you later acknowledged, people are not monsters.

People may not be monsters, but quite a lot of them are just ordinary arseholes. You know, the kind of ordinary arsehole people who would thoughtlessly -- or, if they happened to come to think of it, wilfully -- do as they want, regardless of harm to others... As people so often do. Because, while they may not be monsters, many of them -- of us -- are certainly arseholes.

One gets the feeling someone has just realised this, and is on a desparate quest to convince themselves they aren't actually an arsehole... By convincing everybody else that no such arseholes exist. This is doomed to fail, because everybody knows they do.

> Everyone is willing to cause some harm/risk to others in order to gain something for themselves

Yup. Which makes us all more or less arseholes, because "some" harm/risk to others still is harm/risk to others.

And which was also all that was claimed to begin with -- there never was any original claim of "any level of harm"; that was always a windmill your fevered mind conjured up all on its own. So, how foolish do you feel now that it (and with it, your attempt at convincing yourself) has gone up in a puff of smoke?


>> Everyone is willing to cause some harm/risk to others in order to gain something for themselves

> Yup. Which makes us all more or less arseholes, because "some" harm/risk to others still is harm/risk to others. And which was also all that was claimed to begin with

This was not "all that was claimed to begin with" - in fact the opposite of such was claimed. The original claim paints a very clear picture of 2 groups as polar opposites in their regard for harming other humans. This is in stark contrast to my claim (which you conceded to above) that most of us are similar (not polar opposites) in regard to harm. For reference, here's that claim again:

>> America has two radically different concepts of freedom that travel under the same name. Both start with "I should be free to do as I want". One ends with "as long as I don't harm others". The other ends with "regardless of harm to others".

Continuing on:

> One gets the feeling someone has just realised this, and is on a desparate quest to convince themselves they aren't actually an arsehole... By convincing everybody else that no such arseholes exist. This is doomed to fail, because everybody knows they do.

Yeah no, I don't care about that. If you want to say "all of us are more or less aresholes", instead of saying "all of us are more or less empathetic", that's fine. Both of those statements are true. I'm also somewhat of an arsehole by risking other peoples' lives by actions such as driving a car, sure, fine. That's not the point. My point was: people are mostly similar in their relation to harm, as opposed to being polar opposites. You have already conceded to this, and now you're just trying to reframe the original argument as somehow meaning the same thing, when in fact it meant the opposite.

> there never was any original claim of "any level of harm"; that was always a windmill your fevered mind conjured up all on its own. So, how foolish do you feel now that it (and with it, your attempt at convincing yourself) has gone up in a puff of smoke?

I'm not sure what exactly you think has gone up in a puff of smoke. Definitions for well-established English words still exist, they haven't gone up in smoke. This includes the definition for the word "regardless", which doesn't change at your whim. For example, here's the Cambridge dictionary definition for it: "despite; not being affected by something". If my decision to do something is "not affected by harm/risk to others", then clearly the level of said harm has no bearing on my decision. Thus, the words "regardless of harm", and "regardless of any level of harm" mean the same thing. You're trying to make a big deal out of me using slightly different words in reference to the original claim, even though those words mean exactly the same thing.

Furthermore, even if we don't get stuck on definitions of individual words, but instead look at the general sentiment expressed in the claim, it's very clear that the claim is painting these 2 groups as polar opposites, and I'm painting them as similar to each other (and you have already conceded that the groups are similar, in your message where you said that all of us are "more or less arseholes").


Two beliefs became entrenched:

1. that lead is natural to the human body, and

2. that a poisoning threshold for lead existed

Robert Kehoe, working for GM, was the chief advocate for leaded gasoline, and really the only person/lab doing research on lead until Clair Patterson stumbled into it while measuring the age of the earth. [0,1]

A modern equivalent might be if Facebook was the only organization researching social media's impact on society, while being able to set the paradigm/assumptions about said safety for half a century.

So even when Patterson's research was published in 1965, it took time to change the paradigm, and more time to phase out lead's use.

Should anyone want to read a narrative about the intertwined lives of Midgley, Patterson, Kehoe and lead, then this Mental Floss article is a good read. [2]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Kehoe

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clair_Cameron_Patterson#Campai...

[2] https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/94569/clair-patterson-sc...


Neil deGrasse Tyson said in an episode of Cosmos that even the Romans understood lead was dangerous, but it was a convenient metal to work with, so they used it anyway

More than just dangerous, it was a known death sentence to be working in lead mining/smelting and a common poison [https://archive.epa.gov/epa/aboutepa/lead-poisoning-historic...].

Like you note, it was also extremely convenient and relatively cheap. Pretty sure at least some of the chemicals we’re using now in soaps or for food processing will have something nasty associated with them once time has passed.



It's already been phased out

And not just and convenient metal, but a preferred food and wine sweetener. For real!

Also an important pigment (white lead), which was not only widely used in paints until the 20th century (though the US amongst others still hasn't signed the 1923 white lead convention), but also hugely popular cosmetics (skin whiteners): lead powder, lead paints, lead/mercury, lead/vinegar (venetian ceruse).

They should have used diethylene glycol, like the Austrians:

https://www.thewinestalker.net/2015/04/austria.html

I wonder which tastes better?


Roman's also knew asbestos was bad. It was well documented that sending a slave to work in asbestos mines meant they would get lung sickness, and some slaves tried using masks made of pig bladder when mining.

Citation needed. Seems that the few available Roman primary sources do not support it: Rachel Maines "Asbestos and Fire" pp. 27-28 https://books.google.com/books?id=5r2jEGLvxP4C&pg=PA28

AFAIK work in any Roman mine was considered a death sentence in the long run.


Is nuclear energy "bad"? You'll find people arguing both sides of the issue today, but nobody argues that it is 100% safe. Sure, lead was a poison, but that didn't mean that its inhaled long term effects were known, and to say it was obvious in hindsight demonstrates a lack of empathy due to the curse of knowledge.

> Someone once was arguing this point to me and I just had to drop the topic because it was such a baffling stance.

It is also possible that two of you were arguing about different things despite seemingly talking about the same one. For example, you could be arguing that preventing people poisoning by lead is good, where the other person were arguing that people should bear more responsibility instead of pushing it on the third-party.

I.e. I don't think the person you were arguing with was thinking "yeah, breathing lead is a good idea, let's fill the air with lead!". Perhaps I am too naive...


That would be a generous interpretation.

Overly generous. Much if not most of the damage of lead was done to unrelated third parties who did not necessarily have any relationship with those responsible for the use of lead. The person who makes that argument is telling those unrelated people, "wear hazmat gear 24/7 because somebody, somewhere may be killing you."

The remainder of the damage from lead was done to employees, where the advice boils down to "don't work because your employer may be killing you."


Just for a second try to consider that you can not have the full mental picture of another person (simply because it would at the very least require brain at least twice as big as you have right now). So yes, in general, one should be very generous.

Let's take someone with anarcho-capitalism views - the typical answer by an ancap to the lead poisoning problem will be - suing for damages. It is not that ancaps want everyone to get poisoned, they simply do not want to give so much power to a single entity to decide for them. In their opinion, the danger of tyranny is a greater threat to the people than lead poisoning.

Or someone who is not necessary a proponent of free-market and such, but still sees a great danger to all the people of letting one entity to define rules. Not because they see that one particular entity as an evil (although trump's election could be such an example), but rather because that single entity is a single point of failure and when it fail - the whole nation fails. And in that mental model the danger of existence of such single point of failure is greater than danger of lead pollution.

(Similarly, someone who is in favor of regulations is doing so not necessarily because they are trying to build some type of bad `X-ism`, but because they see a great danger if lead poisoning not stopped right away. And that danger in their opinion is greater than the danger of whatever that may come with regulations).

I still believe that the majority of human beings are not evil and most of them would rather not harm someone. But I also realize that most humans will have slightly different priorities. When arguing, I think it is very important to argue about the same thing, otherwise agreement can not be achieved ever.


> The most compelling option was actually ethanol.

But from the perspective of GM, Kitman wrote, ethanol wasn’t an option. It couldn’t be patented and GM couldn’t control its production. And oil companies like Du Pont "hated it," he wrote, perceiving it to be a threat to their control of the internal combustion engine.

I'm generally an avid beliver in free markets as an agent for positive change, so these types of "revelations" are really disheartening. What are the solutions to this? What governing system would have mass produced ethenol as the best antiknocker with no regard to the interests of top players?

Perhaps the government should open companies that are meant to lose money and are tax supported (for-loss conpanies) that compete with the industry with solutions that are good for the people but bad for business?


TEL (tetraethyl lead) had and has other advantages over ethanol beyond patentability -

Unlike TEL, ethanol is hydrophilic, which makes gasoline blended with it more apt to be contaminated with water, and other water containing contaminants, this is particularly relevant for aviation uses and also reducing incidences of vapor lock.

TEL is also (more) rubber and seal friendly, other than the (very) high risk of lead toxicity, TEL blended gasoline is easier to work with and process than Ethanol blended gasoline.

TEL also acts as a natural lubricant of its own, the lead acting as lubricant, particularly on valve and other top end engine components.

This isn't really a defense of TEL - particularly not in road gas, while it was understood that exposure to large quantities of lead was toxic, toxicity of low dose exposure to environmental lead wasn't really fully understood until the 50's/60's, we also didn't really understood how long environmental lead lingered around until the 60's. Modern technologies have overcome much of the issues from ethanol in road gas, but there are reasons TEL is still used in AvGas.

TEL in AvGas was vital in reaching higher octane, and Ethanol is contraindicated in AvGas (at the last I looked into the topic) because of its hydrophilic nature - our ability (the allies) to produce high octane AvGas is one of the factors that won WW2, and use of TEL was a deciding factor in that.


Those problems were solved for cars, they can be solved for planes. We shouldn't use it. Bioaccumulation of heavy metals was understood very early. Everything has a cost, spraying lead everywhere should be higher than what we are willing to pay.

I am guessing it's still allowed because people who fly planes can afford to lobby.

I was astounded to find TEL was still allowed in aviation fuels. Rates of cancers etc are higher near military bases due to fuel handling incidents.


> Rates of cancers etc are higher near military bases due to fuel handling incidents.

Avgas is only used in piston engines, and the military mostly flies turbines, which use ordinary jet fuel (which does not contain lead). They have some, but I think if you told the military "jets and turboprops only" it wouldn't be a big problem. (Not sure how they would train new pilots, however.)

If you're looking for disease/damage from lead in avgas, you want to find a little airport in the middle of nowhere that has a really good restaurant on the field ;)

https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/avgas

> I am guessing it's still allowed because people who fly planes can afford to lobby.

People that fly piston engines do not have any money to lobby.

To me it feels very similar to why software engineers pay so much tax -- we get paid just enough to be dinged by things like the AMT, but not enough to afford lobbyists.


Jet fuel is carcinogenic and causes other problems, I didn't say this was just about lead.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/973128/ as an example.


I find the T-53A, a trainer version of the Cirrus SR20, which is piston-engine propeller aircraft:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_United_States_m...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirrus_SR20

There might be some piston-based helicopters (too many to check), or drones.

Otherwise, yes, bangers are out.


Politically the rationale is likely that this constituency is small and so forcing them will have a relatively small benefit compared to the main policy goal; but they really care. If you fly a piston prop, you likely don't have $1M spare (you could use that to trade your piston plane for a small jet) for Washington lobbyists, but you do have a vote and you care about banning the only fuel you are authorised to use enough that you're going to use that vote and you're going to be loud about it.

A previous article about Leaded Petrol caused me to read how the UK exempted some very old cars which could not be effectively modified. There's actually a waiver so that, in theory, every fuel station in the country can do paperwork to get a small amount of leaded gasoline (a tiny fraction of their total fuel sales) and sell it for this purpose. The politicians were thus able to tell their constituents we did not screw you, just ask your local supplier to set aside fuel for you.

But economics does the rest, at first those retailers see sales of leaded fuel are very low. Those who love classics maybe decide to set aside the option for a year or two and see how it goes, everybody else stops selling leaded fuel. The wholesalers now see that sales of leaded fuel are tiny, so they don't bother making it, it becomes a special order, which then further increases the pressure not to bother stocking it. Today enthusiasts will just mail order the lead additive and pour it into their tank after a refill or they use a substitute additive which these days works well enough, the politicians didn't have to lift a finger.


It’s finally over.

> After more than three decades of research and development, general aviation finally has an approved unleaded 100-octane fuel.

https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/gami-awarded-long-awaite...


It will be over, but it’s not over yet. Your link says that it will both take a while for it to come to market and also be more expensive to produce…an expense that will likely be balked at by the airlines until forced to use it at which point it will be the customers that pay.

Airlines (outside of bush planes) are not using AvGas in any substantive quantity, and have not been since the early 60's. The amount of AvGas used a year is dwarfed (several times over) by the amount of Jet Fuel (Jet A does not have TEL in it).

AvGas (which uses TEL) is used by general aviation exclusively.


I would guess one thing that confuses non-pilots is that while say an A320 or a 747 looks like it has jet engines, lots of small regional aircraft (e.g. a Dash-8) visibly have propellers, and so it's natural for lay people to assume that's basically the same idea as on a Cessna 172 or a Spitfire scaled up.

But it isn't. Those planes aren't aren't fuelled by AvGas. Their engines use JetA (basically kerosene) because they've got a turbine inside like those turbofan engines which look so visibly different, however their turbine powers the propeller rather than a set of fans to drive more air through the engine and produce thrust that way.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turboprop


For people not familiar with terminology, “general aviation” does not mean “regular airplanes”, but, to a first approximation, “small piston-engined airplanes”, operated by hobbyists or small charter operations.

I don't think most "small charter operations" would be General Aviation (unless I understand what's being chartered here?) and although most GA planes are pistons that's not part of the definition. What matters is why you're flying, not what you fly.

The categories (for non-military use) are generally Scheduled or Air Transport (any time you buy tickets for a flight, that's the category, you don't know or care who is flying, you paid for the journey between a specific origin and destination at a specific time; a FedEx plane is also Transport), then Commercial (not Transport but somebody is getting paid to fly aircraft, maybe it's crop spraying, TV news copter, police, or just another TV priest being flown around in his private jet), and only if nobody was getting paid is it General Aviation.

If your cosmetic dentist can afford a brand new Vision Jet so that he can live 100 miles away and fly in to do $5000 appointments without sitting in traffic, that's General Aviation. The authorities don't care that he's getting paid to be a dentist, he's not getting paid to fly his plane.

If your airline uses a relatively tiny PA-42 to get customers to an obscure but important airstrip with maybe 3-4 passengers per day that's still Air Transport.

On the other hand if some oil sheik owns their own A320 with their own custom decor and has a team of pilots to fly it wherever they want, that's still only Commercial, not Air Transport because nobody is buying tickets, it just goes wherever he wants.


GA is non-commercial, non-military, non-aerial-work (application, survey, etc). The pilots can be paid employees and have it still be GA. (Your sheik A320 example would be considered GA, not commercial, as would business operators, fractional operators, and of course private operations.)

Don’t confuse the commercial certificate[“license”](which is required to be paid for flying) with commercial operations (typically holding out to the public for air transport).


>AvGas (which uses TEL) is used by general aviation exclusively.

And by people who don't want to ever have to clean or rebuild a carburetor in their small motors. It's been an exceptional motor-life-extender to my chainsaws specifically.


That doesn't make jet fuel any better. Just search for 'Toxicologic assessment' or 'profile of jet fuel' and focus on the 'A1',

which is the one used for commercial aviation.

Then there is the elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about, the military which is using the 'JP-X' variants all over the world,

some of them even for their cars and trucks, because, hey, it's just better Diesel, why would we stock different fuels if we don't have to?

What a logistic nightmare!1!!


Organic compounds burn up, lead just accumulates.

You're free to inhale as much as you want to.

It's just something I won't do.


For what it's worth, unleaded avgas is already available at some of the Bay Area airports as of recent, and it's currently priced cheaper than traditional leaded avgas.

Do you specifically mean the new 100 octane unleaded mentioned in the article the parent linked to?

If not, it could be some lower octane unleaded formulation. There are a couple of standards for these, but they have never caught on.


It’s UL94, so lower octane (94 octane, as the name suggests). However, this is still fine for lower performance aircraft that make up the majority of the GA fleet.

There’s been a lot of interest in it, especially in light of the recent discussions to close RHV in San Jose. I know one of the flight schools here just switched all their aircraft over to UL94.

Higher performance aircraft will need UL100, which is still not available, but is expected soon. There’s been significant progress in getting it approved over the last year.

Swift Fuels sells the supplemental type certificate aircraft owners need to use UL94. They are offering a free upgrade to the UL100 STC once it’s offered, so aircraft owners don’t have to pay twice to start using UL94 today.


> It’s UL94, so lower octane (94 octane, as the name suggests). However, this is still fine for lower performance aircraft that make up the majority of the GA fleet.

The standard story seems to be that 20% of the planes burn 80% of the fuel, and need all the octane in 100LL. And GA is such a small market that airfields can't justify having multiple fuel grades available, so 100LL everywhere it is.

But yes, nice to hear that UL94 is nonetheless available in some places.


The amount of TEL used in AvGas is infinitesimally small, its only used in Aviation Gasoline, which is only used in older piston engined craft, the military flies none of these as far as I know.

Military planes just kerosene/JP-8 which contains no lead as far as I know.

The fuel itself is toxic to the environment and animals. The fuels can have really harsh things in them like benzene, iirc.

Not too different from ordinary gasoline.

Which is complete bonkers.

We fill our cars every week and when you stand there thinking "damn I love this smell" yet when there's 1ppm of benzene in sun cream people scream "caaaancer"...


Kerosene/JP-8 is great in a jet but it's not going to get you very far in a piston prop.

There is no particular reason why you can't put a diesel engine in a plane and indeed there are a number of diesel engines certified for just that.

There are few technical reasons, to be sure, but there are plenty of economic and business reasons. The most popular engines in general aviation are Continental/Lycoming ones, and these are based on what, 50+ years old basic designs? Automotive industry have developed significantly better piston engines in last few decades, in terms of power to weight ratio, fuel efficiency, MTBF and service interval. However, the nature of the field, its relative niche quality, and regulatory framework make it difficult to adapt and adopt them in general aviation. There has been recent attempt to do it, with diesel engines from German automotive industry, but they are facing a lot of very real problems, for example, lack of maintenance infrastructure.

> but they are facing a lot of very real problems, for example, lack of maintenance infrastructure.

Comprehensive government regulation would create such an infrastructure. When the government says "in 5 years we will disallow creation of new airframes that use leaded gas, and in 10 years there will be no more leaded gas sold, and in 15 years additives will be illegal", everyone knows what's on the horizon - and you can bet that there will be engine vendors selling modification kits and maintenance infrastructure, since now everyone knows that there will be a massive market coming up as everyone has to adapt to the new rules if they want to keep flying!


> Comprehensive government regulation would create such an infrastructure.

Or, it would destroy small engine general aviation.

> and you can bet that there will be engine vendors selling modification kits and maintenance infrastructure, since now everyone knows that there will be a massive market coming up as everyone has to adapt to the new rules if they want to keep flying!

What if, you know, people can't adapt? What if people can't afford to replace their 40 years old aircrafts with sparkling new ones, costing 5-10 times much? Sure, some of them will, but there are many hobbyists who can afford loan payments and insurance on a plane worth $100k, but couldn't do the same on one worth $500k.

Yes, this would stop emissions of TEL, sure, but at tremendous cost. Is that cost worth it? To our (and FAA, and EPA) best knowledge, probably not, as lead emissions from GA have much different characteristic than the ones from cars.


> TEL also acts as a natural lubricant of its own, the lead acting as lubricant, particularly on valve and other top end engine components.

This is a myth. TEL has no lubricative properties in engines. The reality is opposite; lead deposits are corrosive. From https://www.shell.com/business-customers/aviation/aeroshell/...:

"The temperature for Lead deposits to form tend to be favourable around the spark plugs (as the whole mixture is quite cool before the flame starts to propagate) and on the exhaust valve stem (as the mixture cools after combustion). The problem is that the deposits are electrically conductive, which shorts out the spark plug - and corrosive, which can start to attack the metal of the valve stems."


TEL before combustion does have lubricative qualities, much in the way phosphorus does in oil or sulfur does in diesel fuel.

After combustion, its like any heavy metal being burned, it turns into an oxide, which has a variety of characteristics.


It's the supposed benefits of the post-combustion lead oxide deposits that defenders of leaded gas cite. I have never heard anyone cite the lubricity of TEL itself.

The most popular theory is that the lead oxide fouling reduces the occurence or effects of micro-welds between valve and seat surfaces, which otherwise produce abrasive particles that contribute to valve seat recession. While this theory is plausible, it has not been shown to occur under normal operating conditions in automotive engines, nor in aviation engines as far as I know.

The final report from the EPA's Valve Seat Recession Working Group found no evidence that leaded gas reduces engine wear under any but the most extreme operating conditions:

https://archive.epa.gov/international/air/web/pdf/vsr-finald...

"In real world conditions, virtually no evidence of excessive valve wear has been found in vehicle or engine operation in normal everyday use, and several studies that monitored vehicles in actual daily service in countries that eliminated lead found no excessive valve wear."


"Dry gas" which is used to correct moisture problems in cars' fuel systems is alcohol: Ethanol, methanol, etc. and it takes advantage of alcohol being hydrophilic.

Ethanol has requirements for hoses and seals that might otherwise be degraded by alcohol. But this is not an ongoing issue in modern vehicles.


The same property, increased ability to absorb water, both helps to remove excess of water and can cause a problem in the longer-term.

It's like using a towel to dry your shower tray: in the short run it's helpful but if you leave it there all the time you'll end up with a permanently soggy towel keeping everything damp.

EDIT: Some empirical evidence for the doubters- https://youtu.be/UvS_D4_lF5U


>Perhaps the government should open companies that are meant to lose money and are tax supported (for-loss conpanies) that compete with the industry with solutions that are good for the people but bad for business?

Many government owned companies actually make a profit until private industry lobbies them into ineffectiveness. The US Post Office was profitable until a change lobbied by Fed-Ex and UPS forced them to keep 100% of their pensions available at all times.

Various crown corp electric companies were profitable in Canada and SaskTel, a crown corp telecommunications company is the last bastion of non-insane cell phone plans though I'm sure Rogers and Bell are working on it.

People just hate seeing the government make money. They see that things are good, say "hey, why should the government get this money" and then shut down the system that's working and complain when everything costs more because private industry is trying to squeeze every last cent out of them.


I think this is an overly simplistic (and I've seen this argument on the internet a lot) argument. It's true that there are a lot of people, especially in Anglo countries, who oppose any policy that could allow the State to be enriched. But it's also true that there are many crappy state-owned enterprises. My family came from a developing country that used to have _most_ things run by the state, and there was widespread corruption in the government which kept service bad and prices high.

I do think it would be useful for economists to analyze the conditions under which state-run entities create good outcomes, but in the currently charged political climate, it probably won't happen.


Provision of services is usually corrupt and high cost in less developed countries regardless of who’s providing it: public or private sector. That is my personal experience.

> People just hate seeing the government make money.

No, this is too generic - name the correct groups: Conservatives, neo-liberals and the rich elites hate see "the government" or government-owned/ran entities make money.

Everyone else sees that government-run services usually provide decent service at affordable prices, and that after privatization, service quality goes downhill and the cost keeps rising.


That's incredibly wrong. Nearly every conservative I know feels that government services should be ran like a business, as also profitable like a business (at least self-sustainable). What they disagree with is funding those services with tax money. Which obviously follows.

> What they disagree with is funding those services with tax money.

Without massive governmental subsidies, many services - especially public transport, postal service, libraries - would simply be unaffordable for wide parts of the population.


Intellectual property reform could be a solution. It sounds like they might have gone with ethanol if they weren't motivated by patents so that they could prevent free market competition. We see the same thing with pharmaceuticals and in many other industries. I'm not particularly convinced that intellectual property laws are anywhere close to a net positive for consumers or society at large.

Patents, but also copyright on software. We gain nothing by rewriting the software every time, OSS should be the default. Same for music. It’s more controversial but Spotify is monetizing convenience, not music, which itself is available for free on P2P.

It's not controversial, it's the whole point of capitalism.

I hear this frequently, but I don’t think it will do what many people think it would.

Part of the power of FOSS is that it often leans on copyright to compel sharing. But, in the absence of copyright, why wouldn’t capitalistic powers simply stop sharing their code?


I think the gp post was not suggesting “get rid of copyright and leave oss unprotected” - by “OSS should be the default” i read that it should continue to be protected while copyright is removed. It would not be hard for new laws to enshrine + protect OSS licenses

> it should continue to be protected while copyright is removed. It would not be hard for new laws to enshrine + protect OSS licenses

Those things are logical opposites. If someone has a right to place any conditions at all on the way people copy their software, that is a copyright.

Maybe they meant to suggest copyright reform.

I make this point because people often like that GPL forces republishing of derivative works. This is an exercise of copyright, not a lack of it.


They're only opposite goals in as much as you see copyright and open source licenses as synonymous. I'm not a lawyer, but there are other forms of IP protections that are not copyright (patents, trademarks, etc). Seems like a new form of IP protection could be created to protect open source - i.e. "if someone says you can only modify this code if you re-share it, it is illegal to modify the code without re-sharing".

I understand what you are saying, but that simply is copyright under a different name. You are suggesting that someone should have the rights to control how others may copy their work: copyright.

I’m not sure that removing IP from the equation would have wholly changed the situation. There are other ways to control markets and they likely would have leaned on them instead.

Do you have any examples?

The obvious example in my mind is a control of the means of production. For instance, if they used [x] instead and also happened to own all the [x] mines.

Or using anticompetitive practices to prevent competitors from joining the market.

Or by gaining regulatory capture.


To me this is an example of 3 negative features of free markets, exacerbated by a kyriarchic system, but I think it's fixable with work.

The three issues I see: One, the short-term market incentive was for them to have something patentable and controllable. Two, the money accrued to them but the harms fell to others, creating a huge negative externality. And three, free markets in goods tend to create markets in political power.

This is all exacerbated in a kyriarchic [1] system, one where domination hierarchies are normalized. Negative environmental externalities tend to fall on disfavored groups. The workers getting poisoned with lead were lower class; especially in that era, their deaths were seen as acceptable. Toxic spills don't happen on the Harvard campus or in wealthy suburbs, because however "safe" that stuff is in the official view, it's not so safe that elites will live next to it. Etc, etc.

We could eliminate a lot of this with just by preventing any money flow from business to politics. No donations, no gifts, no ads, no PACs. Perhaps no lobbyists. Politicians live on fixed budgets, any private wealth is put in index funds, and they are restricted after public service in what they can earn. The finances of politicians and former politicians are entirely public. The finances of executives and companies are also entirely public. We have well-funded, independent ethics watchdogs.

Then on top of that we have well-funded public science systems with empowered public health authorities. That definitely exists in the US at least in patches, so I think we could make rapid progress here.

And then I'd want to see strong laws where people making and profiting from harm are always held accountable. If we look at the 2008 financial crisis, nobody went to jail. A lot of people got rich doing dodgy things, and a few of them had to give a fraction of the money back. That did not teach a lot of lessons. One could argue that's ok in finance (although I wouldn't). But when it results in physical harm and death, I think the money and power should not be separable from the consequences. Currently CEOs and execs take paydays and walk away from things where I think negligent homicide charges are merited. Instead of "Gosh, I didn't know" being an acceptable excuse, I think the standard of "knew or should have known" and "could have acted differently" should be sufficient for execs.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyriarchy


> Politicians live on fixed budgets, any private wealth is put in index funds

I like where you are going with all this, but I'll nitpick here that while tying politicians' wealth to the overall stock market in general reduces their incentive to legislate in favor of particular companies, it does provide them incentive to legislate in favor of corporate America in general. We don't need laws that help stock market participants. ~50% of Americans don't hold stock in any form, even through mutual funds or retirement accounts.

I don't know what the solution is. As long as rule making can disproportionately affect the rule maker's own personal wealth and wellbeing, you have a conflict of interest.


> We don't need laws that help stock market participants. ~50% of Americans don't hold stock in any form

But everybody benefits from the wealth of society, which somewhat includes the value of the businesses within the economy.

Care needs to be taken not to kill the golden goose.

The problem I see with the US is the two party political system. I live in New Zealand and while MMP has serious problems, it was a great improvement over FPP.

Note I personally believe in equitable sharing of wealth ("The Scandinavian model"). But as a founder I also believe in the power of the incentives of personal gain from enterprise, which needs to be approximately 10:1 to break even given the risk (see VC).


> 50% of Americans don't hold stock in any form

Maybe we should address that problem -- it's one of the best long term ways for anyone to build wealth. Why aren't we educating people about this in school?


Of that 50%, many have negative wealth due to eg credit card debt, many have zero wealth because they're poor, and many have all of their wealth tied up in houses or cars. It's probably not ignorance so much as lack of savings to invest.

You could buy a cheaper car, or a cheaper house, or cheaper clothes, and put the difference into an IRA.

Yes some people must spend all their income on food and shelter. And government assistance stupidly penalizes people who try to save. But many people, even lower income people, could save a little. I think they have never been shown what the power of compounding can do over time. It is not intuitive, because the gains in early years are small.


It's not really a matter of education, I'm in the bottom 50% and after rent and bills I'm left with very little. It's a highly competitive system, with winners and losers.

Wouldn’t something like requiring their employers to pay into a pension fund that is invested in a safe mix of stocks and other assets allow more of the population to share in corporate profits? (Ignoring social security for the moment, but assuming the policy was implemented as a similar sort of thing; but perhaps not as a deduction from the nominal wage).

I don't think that's a good assumption. What you know is that, at the moment, some kinds of owning stock are effective at building wealth FOR NOW.

It could have inherent failure modes you're not taking into account. For instance, if systemic crashes are built into the model, and 'anyone' as a class is substantially more likely to risk such crashes and lose everything, that changes the calculation.


Good point. I'd be happy with any sort of blind trust where it's reasonably correlated with overall economic health.

I'd like to see a system where, while in office, a representative's income is hard capped at the median income (or some multiplier of median) of the people they represent. This could apply to the president, too.

One could argue that such a policy actually just ends up incentivizing politicians to accept bribes. Then again, it isn't like the current salary of a congressman seems to be preventing that anyway.

Exactly. They should be able to live comfortably, so that they don't have to take bribes to survive. But wealth inequality in the US is so large that we can't pay them enough so they won't feel like they have to keep up with the joneses. If we made the salary, say, $10m/year we'd get the problem of totally unqualified loons pursuing the job and doing anything to keep it just because they wanted the money. So I think N times the median where N is between 1 and 10 is about the best we can do.

>correlated with overall economic health.

How is this measured?


That's the rub, of course. I suspect there's a whole array of valid measures sufficient to blunt incentives. We don't need something perfect, just enough so legislators don't gain so much that their pecuniary motivations override their duty to public service (and their fear of getting caught). Right now they can profit massively from legislation by betting on individual companies. If they're instead looking at a blind trust that contains a mix of index funds, bond funds, etc, then they still are aligned with the wealthy, which is certainly bad, but any gains they can drive for themselves become much smaller.

Add in a requirement for politicians to share wives, and I think you have Plato's philosopher-kings.

> I'm generally an avid beliver in free markets as an agent for positive change, so these types of "revelations" are really disheartening.

There are many such examples. Here’s one from my life: when I was in the pharmaceutical business one of the chemists developed a treatment for a fairly common disease. He and a couple of others tried it on themselves. We could have patented it and run it through clinical trials, but it was something any compounding pharmacist could have whipped up so such a patent would have been worthless. We were a startup so didn’t spend any effort doing a study much less a full program. Instead there are marketed, less effective products on the market.


Have you written about this anywhere? I'm curious what common disease could be cured in the manner you described. It seems like the low-hanging fruit is already picked clean in the pharma industry.

It was using urea to fight topical fungal infections (anti fungal drugs are typically quite toxic). The mechanism of action has been well known for decades; what the folks came us with was a formulation that got the dosage high enough without causing damage. It was easily whipped up in the lab but I don’t remember the details. Any notes from this would be long gone as this was over a decade ago and the company has been sold and surely any paper lab notebooks are buried and forgotten.

So the chemist and his friend had the exact same disease and it was successfully treated and they wouldn't release it because it could be made by someone else? Uh a recipe can be patented and that protects it from being sold. Compounding pharmacies can't magically ignore those patents if they don't want to get sued into oblivion or lose their license. I'm kind of skeptical of your story, sorry.

It’s not really practical to sue a thousand small businesses — you might not even hear about them. And anyway it’s better to go after a product with a protected high margin than try to fight where somebody else can attack your margin.

BTW it wasn’t “the chemist and his friend” — that would have been a crime. It was a few chemists in the company dosing themselves — also technically illegal but done all the time and generally excused if it’s a trivial scale and disclosed in your filings.

Feel free to be skeptical but those are the business issues.


>> I'm generally an avid beliver in free markets as an agent for positive change, so these types of "revelations" are really disheartening. >There are many such examples... one of the chemists developed a treatment for a fairly common disease... We were a startup so didn’t spend any effort doing a study much less a full program.

It's understandable that a startup could not invest further in something they can't sell. The problem seems therefor deeper than a general invocation of 'free markets'.

Perhaps the real problem is that apparently there was no way or perhaps incentive to publish the result without an expensive full study. Had the idea been published perhaps someone else would have picked it up. Would the recent fashion of preprints have helped?

Or maybe the problem is that pharmaceutical business/research income depends on patents alone, and we should have some form of public investment which guaranteed profits for development of treatments regardless of patents?


> Perhaps the government should open companies that are meant to lose money

Canada used to have crown corporations (until conservative governments sold them off to do a one time balancing of the budget).

When done well the crown Corp. serves a valuable purpose. The government no longer needs to rely on industry to tell them what is needed.

Eg. In this scenario the crown Corp. refinery would have their own scientists doing research to stop the engine knock and those scientists would have the expertise to know of safer alternatives and would use those as additives. Creating a more competitive environment.

The government can also use those industry experts to get honest answers on what the industry needs. Eg. “Mr. lobbyist, If these safety standards increase your industry’s costs too much then how come our own government plant is seeing net cost savings due to lower worker injuries?”

It’s a crime that in short term interests crown corps have largely stopped being a thing.


There are nearly 50 Canadian crown corporations, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), and the Bank of Canada. There was even a new one created recently. The government created the Trans Mountain Corporation when they nationalized the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

> Perhaps the government should open companies [...] that are good for the people but bad for business?

Perhaps the government should close companies that are good for business but bad for the people instead.

In France after WW2, the companies that had participated in the German war effort, or to collaborate were simply confistated. When I see this kind of revelation, which show a complete breakage of corporate oversight and an evaporation of personal responsibility, I wonder whether the easiest solution may be to void existing stocks, have the government take over the board and re-auction the company once the management structure has been cleared.


>I wonder whether the easiest solution may be to void existing stocks, have the government take over the board and re-auction the company once the management structure has been cleared.

That's precisely what Norway did in its own financial crisis:

>In the last years of the 1980s, there was a major financial crisis in Norway and by 1991 the bank had used up all capital. To save the bank, the Government of Norway took over the bank and gave it new capital, rescuing it from bankruptcy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christiania_Bank

It's a good idea: the shareholders, who boast that their returns come from the risk they're taking, should bear that risk. If the business is too big to fail, well, then it should just be brought under government control when it would otherwise fail.


Public opinion is the weak point in many systems that are supposed to converge to an optimal socially-beneficial equilibrium.

The way competition and free markets are supposed to work, someone else would've introduced ethanol as an anti-knock additive, sold gasoline cheaper (and healthier!), and everyone would've benefitted. But Kettering & Midgley went on an extensive PR campaign after their invention to convince the public leaded gasoline was safe, and they had GM and Dupont's full advertising budgets at their disposal. The public wouldn't know any better, so they believe what they're told and leaded gasoline becomes the standard.

You can hear echoes of that with many Facebook advertising & misinformation campaigns today.

This also causes stock market bubbles & crashes. People are supposed to independently value securities, and then their errors cancel out and you get a very good statistical approximation of true value. Instead, they invest in what everyone else invests in in, until prices have been bid up to insane levels, then run out of gullible buyers and the price crashes.

And brand-based monopoly. Instead of judging product quality for themselves, they buy products that all their friends are buying, "trusted brands", and this creates a barrier to entry that new entrants have a very hard time surmounting.

Democracy is affected too. In theory, the best candidate should win. In practice, the candidate with the most money to buy ads wins. People's opinions are mutable; they don't rationally seek out information independently and make an informed, self-interested choice. They tend to trust what they hear a lot, which creates a market for influencing people's opinions.

I can't think of a way to solve this, though. The "solution" would be to go from a high-trust society to a low-trust society, where everybody basically assumes that whatever they're told is a lie and ignores it. Societies like this have much higher transaction costs, much lower rates of innovation, and much higher rates of violence, which is not an improvement.


I've always argued that modern (late-stage?) capitalism and state socialism have similar failure modes. In state socialism, the Politburo controlled economic distribution and used their power to enrich themselves and their buddies. In many modern capitalist systems politicians are captured by economic interests and so large corporations play the same role that the Politburo played in state socialist systems.

The failure modes always center around the capture of popular opinion, whether through explicit buy-in from the state or through aggressive PR campaigns.


If ethanol was so effective as an anti-knocking agent why didn’t gas stations just mix ethanol with petrol and sold that fuel with profit? Ethanol is cheaper and much safer to manufacture then tetraethyllead. But they didn’t…

I am not an expert on combustion engines but the biggest problem with ethanol in the early days was it polluted the engine with water that it absorbed as a water soluble organic compound. Those days engines were not made from Aluminium but iron so it destroyed motors over time due to the formation of rust. Furthermore, production of tetraethyllead got much cheaper once its synthesis was automated. Knocking itself is bad for motors so people actually wanted to use anti-knocking additives to improve the longevity of their cars (aside of better fuel economy).

So in the end tetraethyllead prevailed as an anti-knocking agent because of its technical and economical advantages and not because of a conspiracy of oil companies as the article suggests.


Actually mixing ethanol with petrol is a pretty common thing...

The main issue stations won't do it unless compelled is that it will reduce gas mileage slightly. You don't want to be the company selling gas that has a lower mileage. If they could sell it at a lower price that would be something.

The thing is that you need a lot more ethanol than tetraethyllead, so it actually does end up being more expensive, for the same energy.

And actually cast iron blocks are still being used nowadays.


Ethanol also sucks in water from the atmosphere which causes big problems if not adequately managed. Especially ‘back in the day’, the technology to do so was very poor - even keeping a gas tank somewhat sealed against rain was difficult and often didn’t happen well.

Modern plastics, better valves, better treatment chemicals all mean it’s less of a problem now - but it is still a major problem and kills a lot of small engines in particular in states where all gas is some kind of ethanol blend.


We did have the tech in the 1960s to make gas tanks that were sealed against the rain, actually.

While yes ethanol is hygroscopic, 10% ethanol won't cause issues even in old vehicles (see people with old motorcycles) unless you keep it in for a long time without use.


Against the rain is not sufficient - it has to be sealed against atmospheric moisture at higher concentrations. 10% ethanol isn’t terrible at this - but the discussion was running on ethanol vs gas right?

If running ‘pure’ ethanol, it’s still really hard to not have engines die or fuel handling not contaminate it. It’s not an easy thing to keep pure enough, and is even a bit corrosive compared to gasoline.


No, the discussion isn't about ethanol vs gas. It's about adding some ethanol to gas in order to reduce knocking. That means 10-15% ethanol.

I agree that 100% ethanol would require hermetic seals, but this is about ethanol as an additive.

GM were considering using ethanol as an additive, not 100% ethanol fuel. That would require massively changing up the engine anyways and wouldn't be compatible with straight gas.


And at least in small engines, it's common to have an aluminum block with cast iron sleeves, so the combustion chamber is still walled with rustable metal.

Read more on how hard and long GM tried to suppress opposition to leaded gas, it was no conspiracy.

It was a conspiracy... by GM.

Conspiracy: n. An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.

The word conspiracy doesn't mean the same as "conspiracy theory" and even that doesn't necessarily imply something wacky like reptilian aliens secretly controlling the government.


> perceiving it to be a threat to their control of the internal combustion engine

Absolutely. In my country, the engines of nearly all cars run on any mix of gasoline and ethanol. I always have the option to choose. I've even seen cars running on natural gas, seems to be the only thing keeping things profitable for Uber drivers these days.

Corporations should have no control over anything to begin with. Monopolists ruin everything. The damage they've done to the western world cannot be calculated.

> What governing system would have mass produced ethenol as the best antiknocker with no regard to the interests of top players?

My country did that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil


All we needed was strong environmental protection at the time. It's a natural commons, ripe for protection and regulation. But "The Environment" wasn't a common concept at the time.

> I'm generally an avid beliver (sic) in free markets as an agent for positive change

That form of belief gets fixed in your mind via a very different method to beliefs such as "what goes up must come down".

It's not a result of distilling evidence.

It's a result of persuasion.


Free markets work as long as there's competition. When companies become so big they can kill any nascent competitor on a whim, that's when it becomes an issue. That's why trust busting and regulations and governments are necessary.


Free markets need not only competition, but also regulation to price in externalities like poisoning the air or causing climate change.

I will agree with this, to me this falls under "regulation from the government"

I've had this argument many times with my friends who are libertarian leaning and they start hand waving when you bring up a 100 different examples of companies being downright evil when they became too large.

I usually go back to the East Indian Tea company and work my way forward. I love my Libertarian friends as far as social and individual rights are concerned (something Republicans seem to have given up on, except for the 2nd amendment) but have lively debates on limits on capitalism, even though I am a capitalist with asterisk marks and think Communism is a terrible form of government.

No, just tax or outlaw this behavior, don't nationalize industries.

There is an intellectual framework in place for making sense of leaded petrol in the context of markets, and that's externalities. It is no different in concept to noise pollution, carbon pollution, or other types of externalities, it is just one that's significantly worse.

Leaded petrol is at best a negative externality which should be taxed, and probably should just be considered physical assault similar to punching someone in the face (the user of the petrol is giving others literal brain damage) and totally banned and criminalized.


So we should just stop using airplanes because their fuel has lead in it? What?

Yes - brought to you by the same people that would stop you from eating beef because cows fart.

From a tech perspective tetraethyl lead also has lubricative properties that add to exhaust valve longevity under high temperature conditions which may be one of the reasons it took so long to disappear.


No, this is a myth. In reality, lead fouling decreases engine performance and longevity. From https://www.shell.com/business-customers/aviation/aeroshell/...:

"The temperature for Lead deposits to form tend to be favourable around the spark plugs (as the whole mixture is quite cool before the flame starts to propagate) and on the exhaust valve stem (as the mixture cools after combustion). The problem is that the deposits are electrically conductive, which shorts out the spark plug - and corrosive, which can start to attack the metal of the valve stems."


Well, those kind of revelations are kind of frequent :-). I think the gov just should rule out lead and let top players decide what to do.

But there was an economic incentive to use TEL, so the free market prioritized profits.


There are a few organisations campaigning for directors and shareholders to take unlimited liability.

I am not sure it should be formulated as market vs. government. The general public can be quite short sighted too. Also, marketing can be used on the general public.

What I think would be improvements are protections to free speech. More specifically, removal of any obstacle to free speech. The next thing, and in line with this is very generous protections to whistle blowing. There could be a yearly award with elections by the public that chooses the whistle blower of the year. The price money should be enough to live on for some tens of years at the least, perhaps even for life. Also, winning the price should make a person immune to lawsuits related to the issue that the whistle blowing was about.


Free markets have zero incentive to correct for negative externalities by themselves. Free markets also want to become non-free through monopolization. These are the two classic cases of market failure, and the reason no actual economist (or, really, anyone who has read and understood an Econ 101 textbook) believes in unregulated free markets.

If I get you right you're disappointed that free markets didn't lead to 100% efficiency. IMO the simple truth is that nothing will be perfect and there's always strange patterns emerging from the chaos. It's almost like entropy to me.

>I'm generally an avid beliver in free markets as an agent for positive change

I'm with you here - especially including the observation that it was the non-free market force ("It couldn’t be patented") that skewed the choice in favor of the inferior, poisonous option.

Side note, besides its anti-knock properties, the lead also had protective effect on the valves - with early metallurgy, the high temperature gasses wore out valves, in particular the exhaust ones; lead partly ameliorated that. It is a concern with older vehicles (aircraft and cars) and they may require leaded gasoline for that particular reason - or at least replacement of relevant engine parts.


> It is a concern with older vehicles

This hasn't been true since about 1970, and even then, it was dubious.


That only applies to car engines; aviation piston engines evolve much slower and commonly required leaded gasoline til recently - specifically for the lead content, beyond the anti-knock properties. Most common avgas is 100LL, with significant (if reduced) lead content.

Cf. >Lycoming provides a list of engines and fuels that are compatible with them. According to their August 2017 chart, a number of their engines are compatible with unleaded fuel.

>However, all of their engines require that an oil additive be used when unleaded fuel is used: "When using the unleaded fuels identified in Table 1, Lycoming oil additive P/N LW-16702, or an equivalent finished product such as Aeroshell 15W-50, must be used."*

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avgas


Aircraft piston engine makers like Lycoming and TCM have never provided any actual evidence that unleaded avgas increases engine wear. Their assertions that leaded gas provides lubrication are anecdotal and borderline superstitious. TCM pretty much admits this in its literature:

"Field experience has determined the use of unleaded automotive gasoline to be the cause of premature cylinder replacement due primarily to rapid and severe valve seat recession." [1]

They don't ever present evidence from controlled testing that backs up their "field experience". And controlled testing of automotive engines has shown that leaded fuels don't provide any significant protection. [2]

Twenty years ago, aviation writer John Deakin issued a challenge for anyone to provide good evidence that leaded avgas prevents engine wear [3]. As far as I know that challenge was never met .

1 - https://web.archive.org/web/20171004135916/https://pceonline...

2 - https://archive.epa.gov/international/air/web/pdf/vsr-finald...

3 - https://www.avweb.com/features/pelicans-perch-55lead-in-the-...


> it was the non-free market force ("It couldn’t be patented") that skewed the choice

Interesting, because my take on patent law is that it exists to encourage capitalism. Specifically, to reward the risk takers that develop novel ideas (leading to positive change?).


> Perhaps the government should open companies that are meant to lose money and are tax supported (for-loss conpanies) that compete with the industry with solutions that are good for the people but bad for business?

These will be derided as loss-makers by a surprisingly large contingent, and they'll defeat the whole purpose (when they can) by changing the approach so it either turns a profit, or fails entirely (see the US Postal Service, which always delivers, including on unprofitable routes)


Removal of the patent system would be the "free market purist" answer to this one. Though ethanol already wasn't patented, hmm.... I can only assume the leaded fuel was cheaper.

I'm not sure what you mean by your reference to a free market. Patents are a government-granted monopoly, violation of which can get you fined or jailed. If a company hurts people because hurting people allows them to make money from a patent, that's not a failure of the free market, it's a failure of government control.

Unless you mean that you're disheartened that the government doesn't allow a free market here, and you wish they would?


... Regulation? Just ban lead in gas and let the free market find the next best solution.

It was banned and has been banned for almost 40 years? Obviously not in plane engines, which were a much smaller % of the pollution. You can't just ban it which in turn bans avgas. That's just dumb, it has to be phased out and alternatives developed. Sounds like those exist currently but aren't being pushed.

"Phasing it out" is the same as banning it some time in the future. Why should alternatives be developed if you can just keep using it indefinitely? R&D is not free.

That's what happened it took decades.

A strong regulatory environment.

We could call it hybrid capitalism, mix the free market vs government run non profit.

> I'm generally an avid beliver in free markets as an agent for positive change, so these types of "revelations" are really disheartening

> What are the solutions to this?

Not believing in propagandist fairy tales? The "free" market is clearly a lie, it's a false front around capitalists seeking to maximize profit based in the regulatory framework(s) that government(s) have stood up. These frameworks aren't respected for their actual spirit either, instead exploited to their literal letter at every moment.

To see someone on a logical forum like HN espouse a childish idea like "the free market will make an efficient solution", with none of the subtext that the solution is exclusively to the problem of making money, just shows how effective that propaganda is.

Instead, acknowledge reality: incentives control actions, and capitalist incentives exclusively are to make money and control markets. Captive markets make more money, so they will work towards aspects of the regulatory frameworks that they can use to keep others out.

There is no goodwill from corporations. There is no environmental concern from corporations. There is no concern on social impact from corporations. There are no morals in corporations. There is profit maximization techniques and nothing else.

The free market has seen capitalists destroy our world with barely an impressive invention along the way.


USSR had the same leaded gas which has eventually lead to a torrent of random street crime known as e.g. "Kazan phenomenon".

So it's not just free markets.


How much money did GM make off of cars versus leaded gasoline. That seems like a silly theory.

Sometimes giving away an invention for free (or finding a non-patentable alternative) makes you more money because it’s not a barrier to adoption.


The problem, in all cases, remains the long standing oligarch families and aristocratically rooted institutions, and their captive “public service” institutions, some of which are global in scope. Not wishing to engender a flaming thread, I will simply state that certain aspects of “institutional capture” are very much du jour topics of global interest and impact.

A global reset of “free markets” via a ‘day zero of capital accumulations’ could provide a solution. Many of the established capital hordes are legacies of activities that are now understood to be anti-social at best, and predatory at the extreme.

Coupled with this, we need pedagogical guidance to inform the new generations who are not to manor born. Almost none of the new blood born to middle or lower classes are educated in the necessities of generational wealth preservation and applications of wealth towards affecting societal outcomes. At best, we have children of Marxists and pseudo-Marxists railing against “Capital” without understanding the dynamics of societal power based on multi-generational societal networks, which transcend mere capital.

Primary sources working against such a program are precisely the “entertainment” complexes owned stock, lock, and barrel by informed and purposive societal networks, which at this point in human history have fully transcended ethnic and national boundaries, and clearly aim for stupefying the masses. There is a reason you have been treated to 2 decades of Marvel comics in films.


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