Barry Commoner coined the phrase ‘linguistic detoxification’ decades
ago, to describe that bureaucratic propensity to declare messes cleaned
up, rather than actually clean them up.

I used it in Natural Logic’s  autumn newsletter, posted a couple
of days ago. Now (in another bizarre example of life imitating art),
the US EPA is proposing to weaken reporting requirements under the
Toxic Release Inventory
. TRI requires public reporting of toxic
emissions exceeding 500 pounds per year; EPA is proposing to raise the
limit to 5,000 pounds.

The official reason is to reduce paperwork
burdens on small companies — always worthy. But I somehow doubt that’s
the only motive, since this administation has a history of attempts,
overt and covert, to reduce the information flows that enable
intelligent decision making. (As Adam Smith noted, nearly 230 years
ago, perfect market require perfect information.  You’d think
‘conservatives’ would understand that.)

And then there’s the question of private property rights, also
commonly turned on its head by these corporatist ‘conservatives.’ As I
wrote three years ago in Patent Drift and Property Rights,

The courts have yet to deal with the concept of ‘biochemical privacy’
articulated by the late Dr Robert van den Bosch, but eventually they
will. When they do, they’ll recognize pollution as a violation of
fundamental property rights: no one has any business forcing their
chemistry into anyone else’s property — biological or physical —
without permission.

You just can’t have a free market if you let the market lie. And withholding
the truth is equivalent to lying. Don’t believe me? Go ask the SEC.

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