Posted on | July 29, 2011 | No Comments
Externalise costs, internalise benefits. This mantra is often repeated by investors who couldn’t care less about the impact of their activities on society, the environment, communities and so on. For unscrupulous companies it is a way to push your product without caring about the side effects of production or consumption. After all, government is there clean things up!
Unfortunately for the adepts of this philosophy (and fortunately for everyone else) this kind of thinking has been spurned by Canadian magistrates. The tobacco industry learned it at its expense today when the Supreme Court ruled that government did not share joint liability with cigarettes manufacturers for the costs link to tobacco use.
Under attack in court from every side, the manufacturers tried to shift part of the blame for consumer’s addiction on Ottawa. The argument petered out and was quickly swept aside. Still the case is not over: the on-going trial, suspended until the Supreme Court cleared this particular obstacle aside, will now resume.
I can hardly imagine neoconservative economists complaining about that: after all our various governments only used the same logic: externalise costs. If the criminal responsibility of tobacco product manufacturers can be clearly established, society as a whole will breathe a bit easier.
We can only impatiently await the unfolding course of events, but some are already happily envisioning lawsuits against companies exploiting tar sands, oil companies, etc. Greed may not be such a good choice in the long run…