Big business and science often conflict

I once got into a debate with a number of people about how big business and science conflict. Several individuals were insistent that I was somehow making an economics argument. I still don’t understand how they got to that point. What I was saying was that the truth of science often undermines the goals of business. As a result, big business will do all it can to undermine science. We’ve been seeing it forever now with oil companies and other pollution supporters (*cough*Republicans*cough*) in regards to global warming. And we see it with those awful pro-high fructose corn syrup commercials. But now an old player wants to get back in:

The head of cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. told a cancer nurse Wednesday that while cigarettes are harmful and addictive, it is not that hard to quit.

CEO Louis C. Camilleri’s statement was in response to comments at its annual shareholder meeting in New York. Executives from the seller of Marlboro and other brands overseas spent most of the gathering sparring with members of anti-tobacco and other corporate accountability groups.

The nurse, later identified as Elisabeth Gundersen from the University of California-San Francisco, cited statistics that tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans and 5 million people worldwide each year. She is a member of The Nightingales Nurses, an activist group that works to focus public attention on the tobacco industry.

Gundersen also said a patient told her last week that of all the addictions he’s beaten — crack, cocaine, meth — cigarettes have been the most difficult.

After saying such a dumb thing – to a nurse, no less – surely this guy must have been doing some backtracking soon after, right? Well…

In response, the often-unapologetic Camilleri said: “We take our responsibility very seriously, and I don’t think we get enough recognition for the efforts we make to ensure that there is effective worldwide regulation of a product that is harmful and that is addictive. Nevertheless, whilst it is addictive, it is not that hard to quit. … There are more previous smokers in America today than current smokers.”

There are also more dead previous smokers in the ground than there are living smokers today.

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You mean libertarianism really is just an excuse for greed?

I guess Charles Koch doesn’t really understand libertarianism:

A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting “political economy and free enterprise.”

Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they’ve funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.

A key principle of libertarianism is that liberty must be as unfettered as possible. By attaching strings to this money, Koch is exploiting the liberty of this school. Just imagine this: A man is down on his luck and living out of his car. He needs money, and more immediately, food. So along comes Joe Blow to offer the man a sandwich. The only thing is, in order to get the sandwich, the guy has to hop out of his car and take it up the ass. Hard. He can say no, but libertarian or not, he recognizes that he won’t have any liberty if he’s dead.

While Koch is under no obligation to give away the money he doesn’t need and isn’t using to create any more jobs, when he does give it away with such freedom-violating attachments, he is undermining the liberty of others. He has transgressed his libertarian philosophy at a fundamental level.

Of course, he doesn’t really buy into that, obviously. He’s just a greedy fuck like most libertarians.

Hitchens on losing his voice

Not his metaphorical voice, of course. ‘Just’ the other one:

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

—T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

Like so many of life’s varieties of experience, the novelty of a diagnosis of malignant cancer has a tendency to wear off. The thing begins to pall, even to become banal. One can become quite used to the specter of the eternal Footman, like some lethal old bore lurking in the hallway at the end of the evening, hoping for the chance to have a word. And I don’t so much object to his holding my coat in that marked manner, as if mutely reminding me that it’s time to be on my way. No, it’s the snickering that gets me down.

I don’t think there has been a better writer for or against Christianity in some time.