Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Businesses Government United States News

Paper Companies' Windfall of Unintended Consequences 284

Posted by kdawson
from the pulp-nonfiction dept.
Jamie found a post on ScienceBlogs that serves as a stark example of the law of unintended consequences, as well as the ability of private industry to game a system of laws to their advantage. It seems that large paper companies stand to reap as much as $8 billion this year by doing the opposite of what an alternative-fuel bill intended. Here is the article from The Nation with more details and a mild reaction from a Congressional staffer. "[T]he United States government stands to pay out as much as $8 billion this year to the ten largest paper companies.... even though the money comes from a transportation bill whose manifest intent was to reduce dependence on fossil fuel, paper mills are adding diesel fuel to a process that requires none in order to qualify for the tax credit. In other words, we are paying the industry — handsomely — to use more fossil fuel. 'Which is,' as a Goldman Sachs report archly noted, the 'opposite of what lawmakers likely had in mind when the tax credit was established.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Paper Companies' Windfall of Unintended Consequences

Comments Filter:
  • lawmakers (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @04:39AM (#27547275)
    Incompetent lawmakers are incompetent.
    • Re:lawmakers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RichardJenkins (1362463) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @04:45AM (#27547295)

      Precisely. We live in a society where 'corporate selection' fosters public companies who mindlessly take the action which most increases value for their shareholders. If a law is written such that it can be gamed - it will be.

      Lawmakers should take that into account and legislate around it; cause they sure ain't gonna change Corporate American Culture any time soon.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Corporations in any country will do the same thing, those that do not will die. There are countries where they're legislated out of existence or they become the welfare provider for the state and never really do much good.

        Since /. going farther and farther left this is AC signing off.

      • Re:lawmakers (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mrcaseyj (902945) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:01AM (#27547343)

        In the short term the solution for this is for the president to order the IRS to withhold these payouts until congress can close the loophole. If the paper companies sue, they would get laughed at or scolded by the judges as this is an obvious and evil perversion of the intent of the law.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by cwilli01 (950229)
          It's not perverted; nor is it malfeasant. If you had a more fuel efficient form of transportation, say a bike or motorcycle, or your feet, and bought a new car eligible for a tax credit, and accepted the tax credit, you'd be doing the same thing. I'd be less interested in this and more interested in illuminating the *intended* tax breaks that we perceive as unethical. Congress needs some sunlight (and a good disinfectant).
          • Re:lawmakers (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Volante3192 (953645) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:27AM (#27548097)

            Except in our case, the cost of getting the car would exceed the benefit of getting the credit.

            What the paper companies have is a benefit of the credit outweighing the initial cost to pull it off.

        • Re:lawmakers (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:11AM (#27548357)

          In the short term the solution for this is for the president to order the IRS to withhold these payouts until congress can close the loophole. If the paper companies sue, they would get laughed at or scolded by the judges as this is an obvious and evil perversion of the intent of the law.

          Alas, we live in a nation where rule of law is paramount.

          The letter of the law is what the law is, not the "intent" of the law.

          Which means it would be illegal to withhold payments specified by law, and any lawsuit challenging such an act would likely succeed, with penalties.

          In other words, you're stuck with the law as written until someone changes it. The government trying to game the law by not obeying it is, if anything, worse than some corporation gaming it by taking advantage of something not foreseen by the lawmakers.

          After all, if the government can choose to not obey this law that you dislike, what's to prevent them from disobeying a law you like?

        • by sycodon (149926)

          "until congress can pass another ex post facto law"

          Fixed.

        • Re:lawmakers (Score:4, Informative)

          by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Sunday April 12, 2009 @11:22AM (#27549133) Homepage

          This "loophole" has existed and been blatantly abused for many, many years. These paper mills are not even close to the worse abusers. The worst one I heard about, and this was years ago, was factories that sprayed a light mist of diesel on coal to claim this tax credit.

          This tax credit should just be ended, not fixed.

          • by SEE (7681)

            Actually, that was a different tax credit, the synfuels tax credit passed in the 1970s, not the new mixed-fuels tax credit.

            So, pick your scenario:

            1) The Congressmen who passed this new credit were ignorant of how the similar synfuels credit was exploited earlier this decade, despite broad publicity of the abuse (in, for example Time [time.com] .
            2) The Congressmen who passed this new credit were aware of how it could be abused, but were too incompetent to put in safeguards against abuse.
            3) The Congressmen who passed t

        • Re:lawmakers (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jc42 (318812) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @12:03PM (#27549353) Homepage Journal

          If the paper companies sue, they would get laughed at or scolded by the judges as this is an obvious and evil perversion of the intent of the law.

          Quite possibly it was written with exactly that intent. We've been often reminded by nearly everyone studying Congress that most proposed laws aren't written by the legislators at all; they're usually written by "consultants" who are part of the lobbying setup and are paid by the corporations interested in the laws. It has come out repeatedly that most members of Congress haven't even read the laws that they vote on. They usually have only read the summaries, which are written for public PR.

          So it's quite likely that whoever worked out the exact wording of the law was in the pay of one or more companies who wanted exactly what the story is about. They probably discussed it behind the scenes, until they were fairly sure that the wording would allow their employers to take advantage of the law in this fashion.

          It's how things are done. And it's hardly any secret. It's been written about more times than we can probably count.

          (Actually, none of this precludes the possibility of a Congressman understanding the issue. The point is that usually they don't bother themselves over such details. That's for their underlings to handle.)

      • by Danathar (267989)

        I started to read your comment and was impressed until you got to the "Lawmakers" part.

        Dude, what makes you think the lawmakers are not PART of the "Corporate American Culture"? It was probably lawmakers at the suggestion of said same "outside consultants" who gave the idea to the paper companies to put the loophole in the law to begin with.

        Government is NOT the solution to this problem.

      • by digitig (1056110)

        Precisely. We live in a society where 'corporate selection' fosters public companies who mindlessly take the action which most increases value for their shareholders.

        Are they not legally obliged to do so?

      • by khallow (566160)

        Precisely. We live in a society where 'corporate selection' fosters public companies who mindlessly take the action which most increases value for their shareholders. If a law is written such that it can be gamed - it will be.

        Lawmakers should take that into account and legislate around it; cause they sure ain't gonna change Corporate American Culture any time soon.

        "Mindlessly" eh? How can you not understand the motives and cunning of "public companies"? Here's my take. These types of laws go well beyond any reasonable task of the US government. Further, without some sort of corrective force, there's no incentive for anyone in government to act differently. Hence, it is to our collective advantage for someone to ruthlessly exploit these laws.

      • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

        We live in a society where 'life' fosters people who mindlessly take the action which most increases value of their assets. If a law is written such that it can be gamed - it will be.

        Lawmakers should take that into account and legislate around it; cause they sure ain't gonna change Global Human Behavior any time soon.

    • Re:lawmakers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:13AM (#27547379) Journal
      You appear to be making the mistake of thinking that this was an accident. It may not be. The "gaming of the system" may actually be by the lawmaker.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)

        Yet too many idiots are trying to turn that into an argument for more legislation. I mean, you'd think they'd learn ...

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by rohan972 (880586)

          Yet too many idiots are trying to turn that into an argument for more legislation. I mean, you'd think they'd learn ...

          No, they want to be looked after, including having their thinking done for them.

      • Only 8 billion? Oh come on. That's peanuts.

        You have the oil industry being subsidised by half a trillion annually through the US military budget. You have the banks taking to the outright looting of the US treasury.

        I mean... Wow.
         

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by HangingChad (677530)

      Incompetent lawmakers are incompetent.

      As someone who has been a regulator, that attitude is, quite frankly, ignorant. Lawmakers are politicians, with that associated baggage, but in most case are neither incompetent nor ignorant. And most of the time, surprisingly, they come out with well-intended and thoughtful legislation. Not always, but much of the time. What they can get past industry lobbyists trying to help write the legislation.

      Once they cross that hurdle the laws go to the appropriate regu

  • is all over this!
  • Law from 2005 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @04:53AM (#27547313)

    It wasn't mentioned in the summary, but the tax credit was passed in 2005. So no one thinks the $8 billion is related to stimulus packages passed more recently.

    No, those will cost us a lot more when companies figure out how to fraud them.

    • They did already. From what I heard from internal sources, as much as possible of that stimulus package, goes into parties, sex, drugs, and hookers of the big bosses of all banking companies. Then into big houses and other material wealth. And so on. Unfortunately, with that much money, you can party a loooong time. So I guess it goes like the board game Go For Broke [boardgamegeek.com]. ;)

  • Well, folks... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by u38cg (607297)
    ...this is why centrally planned aconomies don't work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by moosesocks (264553)

      Care to offer any solutions that haven't already been tried?

      • Re:Well, folks... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ashriel (1457949) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:09AM (#27547789)

        Capitalism seemed to work pretty well until we gave up on it early last century (it was just too damn hard for large companies to compete in an open market). We could always try that again.

        • by Scrameustache (459504) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:27AM (#27548453) Homepage Journal

          Capitalism seemed to work pretty well until we gave up on it early last century

          Children worked 18 hours a day in coal mines and the liked it!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by slashqwerty (1099091)

          it was just too damn hard for large companies to compete in an open market

          Competition is the grand savior of capitalism. In an unregulated market large companies band together and form monopolies, eliminating competition altogether.

          Capitalism also makes the assumption that the consumer knows everything and consequently they can buy from companies that are good for the environment, treat their employees well, use non-toxic materials, etc. In reality, private companies are constantly covering up the shen

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tmosley (996283)
            I think you are making a big mistake by saying that capitalism fosters those types of practices. You fail to take into account the legal system that exists in any developing democracy. Slavery is illegal, pollution is directly punishable by lawsuit (many polluters have been successfully punished this way), and toxic materials in products will bring similar lawsuits.

            There aren't any problems with capitalism. It is the most efficient, kindest, and most progressive economic system possible. Every singe
    • by glgraca (105308)

      In a centrally planned economy, the factories would be under direct orders from the central authority and would not be able to abuse the legislation in this manner. In fact, you wouldn't need legislation, an administrative order would suffice.

      If I am not mistaken (IANAL), you cannot do something a law does not forbid if you go against the law's intent (at least in my country - Brazil - that's the way it works). So this practice would actually be illegal here, because the law was written to reduce fossil fue

      • by pimpimpim (811140)
        I also wonder where grandparent has been hiding the last few months/years. We all have seen how much fun and profit the deregulation of the banking market has brought us.
        • Deregulation (Score:3, Informative)

          by qbzzt (11136)

          You mean the kind of deregulation where a central entity whose management is appointed by the president determines the money supply and a lot of the interest rates?

          We haven't had deregulated banking since 1913 [wikipedia.org]. All we did was change one regulatory regime to another, which arguably allowed more abuse.

      • If I am not mistaken (IANAL), you cannot do something a law does not forbid if you go against the law's intent (at least in my country - Brazil - that's the way it works).

        In the US it is the wording that counts. The intent is even easier for a court to manipulate than the interpretation of the wording.

        If the government does not explicitly forbid something, it is permitted.

    • Re:Well, folks... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blahplusplus (757119) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:13AM (#27548037)

      This has nothing to do with central planning, this is clearly a case of abusing the law for gain.

      The two are NOT the same.

      Nor does is it evidence of your implied counterpoint that in a decentralized economy stupid economic or environmental decisions would not get made, they certainly would.

      There's a reason why we have laws in the first place, some days I wonder if anyone certain people on slashdot has read the history of corporate America and the things they used to get away with in a more decentralized economy because there was no authority whatsoever.

  • I'm just waiting to see how long it takes the banking industry to hop on board once they realize how much money they can make by producing all their sub-prime lending bailout paperwork on in-house paper with alternative fuel tax credits. Your tax dollars at work.
  • by corsec67 (627446) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @04:57AM (#27547331) Homepage Journal

    This is another example where the intention of the law doesn't mean anything, what is actually written and what that can be stretched to mean does.

    If a law is supposed to have a specific intention, then it should be written just for that.

    • by cjfs (1253208) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:08AM (#27547353) Homepage Journal

      This is another example where the intention of the law doesn't mean anything, what is actually written and what that can be stretched to mean does.

      This is rather troublesome. If these situations continue our representatives may be forced to actually read the legislation they're passing.

      • by amrik98 (1214484) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:38AM (#27547441)

        This is another example where the intention of the law doesn't mean anything, what is actually written and what that can be stretched to mean does.

        This is rather troublesome. If these situations continue our representatives may be forced to actually read the legislation they're passing.

        Instead of thinking of the children?

        • It's thinking about co2 these days. You see otherwise our kids will ... something that's very bad and nobody cares about.

          But co2 legislation lets them pass idiotic laws. How about we tax the countries PROFITING from co2 production, instead of the ones suffering from it ? Tax the oil producing states, leave the rest alone.

          • by couchslug (175151)

            "But co2 legislation lets them pass idiotic laws. How about we tax the countries PROFITING from co2 production, instead of the ones suffering from it ? Tax the oil producing states, leave the rest alone."

            Thus raising the cost of domestic oil which is passed on to the consumer, and making foreign oil more attractive.
            Nice.

    • I could swear Slashdot is becoming sentient. The fortune at the bottom of the page:

      ... Logically incoherent, semantically incomprehensible, and legally ... impeccable!

    • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:59AM (#27547519)

      If a law is supposed to have a specific intention, then it should be written just for that.

      Don't count on that happening any time soon. I've made similar points with my local MP about badly-drafted laws a couple of times - the response is inevitably a "soothing" "I'm sure they won't use it for that".

      There have been cases recently where I have been proved correct. I wonder if I should write to my MP and say "Further to my letter of 1999, I told you so".

    • by Kjella (173770)

      "Just for that" like how? By trying to enumerate and define all the good ways to use alternative fuels? Most likely you'd miss many ways and include many ways that shouldn't be in there as the act balloons to ten times the size. Or you can try to legislate intent, but good luck trying. Unleaded petrol? Well, that's ecofriendly since it's better than leaded petrol, right? And that alternative fuel, it made a few hippies start driving instead of taking the bike so it's ecoUNfriendly right? Things will get cra

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @06:59AM (#27547743)

      The problem has nothing to do with intention. The problem is that the law was very badly written for every purpose. The law gives a $0.50 tax credit for every gallon of diesel mix used but the credit should have been based on some fraction of the price of diesel. The paper makers scam only works because the price of diesel has fallen so much.

      Indeed, if diesel and biofuel prices fell far enough we could all make money simply by burning gallons of it in our back yards: spend $0.40 on a gallon of mix; claim $0.50 from the IRS.

      If the law had been drafted by someone who wasn't retarded this situation would never have arisen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      I think it's a mistake to assume that this law wasn't intended to have this effect. I'm not asserting that it does, but that kind of thinking can make you blind -- the kind where you assume things, I mean, not the paranoid part. The thing about government is that it creates beautiful opportunities to bone the people, so not being paranoid about government is insane.

    • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:51AM (#27548247) Homepage Journal

      The real problem here is that the law is basically an attempt to circumvent the fundamental principals of the Constitution, which was written to limit the powers of the Federal government. The founders didn't trust government, and sought to mitigate the necessary evil of having a government at all by restricting it to some very specific powers.

      The 16th amendment gave the Feds all kinds of new power, so that's what they always use to try things like controlling behavior (a power they really shouldn't have). So whenever they pass a law offering a "tax credit", people sit around going "hmmm... how can we get some of that?" And why not? That's what people do. The more of your money goes to taxes, the greater the motivation to limit your liability or to have some benefit from government giveaways.

      Same thing with all government handouts. About 40% of the budget of Medicaid and Medicare is spent on fraud. 40%. Because if people can get something for free, they will. Some will find legal ways (like these paper companies), and others don't care whether it's legal or not (like people that commit Medicare and welfare fraud).

      So the real problem is $3.8 trillion of government spending. It attracts corruption, fraud, waste, opportunists, and everything else bad that people keep complaining about. And the 535 or so deciding how to spend that money aren't really very interested in being very diligent with it, because it's other people's money - so who cares about a few billion wasted here or there?

      Repeal the 16th amendment, institute very strict term limits, hold the Federal government to the Constitution, and these problems would go away.

    • by mpe (36238)
      This is another example where the intention of the law doesn't mean anything, what is actually written and what that can be stretched to mean does.

      Stretched and reinterpreted by many groups of people...

      If a law is supposed to have a specific intention, then it should be written just for that.

      Which requires legislators to actually do their jobs. Both reading and critically examining proposed (and existing) laws.
    • by bartok (111886)

      Most of the time, laws are are written that way intently so that those companies that made campaign contribution (To both Democrats and Republican... smart companies give to both to make sure they get contracts and crappy self serving laws like that).

      There are so many things like this one that don't get the spotlight in mainstream media.

  • In general, good intentions are overruled by individual and corporate greed and sneakyness.

    The lawmakers may spend an hour thinking over the consequences of a bill, while the folks affected have all sorts of time and inclination to poke holes in the laws. Guess which side usually wins?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Norsefire (1494323) *
      If the lawmakers find a hole they gain nothing. If they miss a hole they lose nothing.

      If companies miss a hole they gain nothing, if they find a hole they gain $8 billion.

      Guess which side is willing to devote more resources to poke holes in laws?
  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:46AM (#27547479) Homepage Journal

    There is a limit to the amount of profit a car manufacturer on an individual car in the U.S. This only applies to basic passenger cars, not luxury cars or trucks. The answer? This is why the big 3 pushed trucks and SUV's so hard - which granted a large part of their customers wanted, but they largely ignored another large crowd that wanted small U.S. made economy cars. They produced crap instead, so we bought Japanese. Thank you Uncle Sam.

    Some Americans With Disabilities Act rules apply only to companies of certain size, as in number of employees. Compliance is incredibly expensive in many cases. Some companies put the brakes on at a certain number of employees due to the expense of compliance sentencing said companies to stagnate growth at a certain size giving their mega corporation competitors an upper hand. Thank You Uncle Sam. The same can be said of certain FDA regulations and any other regulatory agency you can name.

    My sister works for the Department of Agriculture. She writes checks to farmers to not grow crops.

    Here's an idea:
    KEEP THE FUCKING GOVERNMENT OUT OF IT

    Unless something really needs regulating, leave it the hell alone. Food? Fine we need an FDA to make sure our food isn't nasty and contaminated. They probably overstep their usefulness in some cases, and under step it in others, but that's expected.

    Yes, we do need an agency to keep track of Plutonium and Uranium. Just saying, yeah, track that.

    We need an EPA - but it needs to know it's place.

    ATF? We don't need that. It's a redundant agency originally created for tax purposes, not what they're doing now. It's also limiting freedom.

    No government regulation usually helps huge companies by keeping the small competitors down. Create an agency to regulate an industry, then the companies buy the candidates they want and put them in the regulatory committees. The little guys can't do that.

    • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @06:19AM (#27547589)

      Unless something really needs regulating, leave it the hell alone. Food? Fine we need an FDA to make sure our food isn't nasty and contaminated. They probably overstep their usefulness in some cases, and under step it in others, but that's expected.

      Unfortunately, industry will stick their noses in when regulations are being written. Wonder why the FDA doesn't have many warning about the mercury in Tuna whereas private consumer groups do? [consumerreports.org]

      Let's just say, legally this would be considered hearsay, but it was said that the Tuna industry was literally looking over the FDA'a shoulder when those regs were written.

      So, even then, Government is too easily corrupted. Unfortunately, I don't have a better idea.

      • by mmalove (919245) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:20AM (#27547823)

        "So, even then, Government is too easily corrupted. Unfortunately, I don't have a better idea."

        I do. You have to take the law back to principles, rather than specifics. Here's a few many of you are familiar with:

        THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
        THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.

        Therefore, undisclosed mercury in Tuna and defrauding an energy subsidy as a paper mill would be considered BREAKING THE LAW.

        While we're at it, I have another recommendation. Since waterboarding is simply "enhanced interrigation", I'd suggest it should be a viable questioning technique for these types of white collar crimes. I have a strange belief system where if someone elses' countrymen are trying to kill me, I can at least see they were raised and taught that way. When my OWN countryman are trying to kill me, they should be punished ten times worse.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Marcika (1003625)

          THOU SHALT NOT KILL. THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.

          But you have to think like a lawyer, and ask how somebody could exploit the law. With your very vague laws, a rich bigot with well-paid lawyers could easily set precedent to outlaw abortion for rape victims, or to punish attempted suicide etc etc.

          Your second law could easily be used to jail copyright infringers... or those who aid and abet... etc etc... The law has become very specific -- especially criminal law -- in order to remove these ambiguities.

    • by glgraca (105308) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @06:54AM (#27547715)

      I have a better ideia: keep the private sector out of government.

      If you look closer, you'll find it's the agricultural lobbies that have gotten these absurd incentives, not the government that decided out of thin air to grant them.

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        Yin Yang

        The cause is the effect, the effect is the cause. It's going to take an outside force to break the two apart.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by downix (84795)
      Alright, let's get the government out of it.  Oh hey, that reminds me, be careful what you eat, because now there's no limit on the amount of rat feces that a company can put inside of your food.  And, with no government involvement, no way to find out either. Have a nice day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pecosdave (536896) *

        You didn't actually read my post did you?

        • by khallow (566160)
          Heh. If you limit the number of warm bodies sucking at the government teat, you're like, poisoning kids or something.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by downix (84795)
          I did, I intentionally pushed to the logical conclusion of "where do you draw the line". You want food regulated, but what about silverware? Got to make sure we don't see a return to mercury/lead for those, or the use of toxic plastics, but then we have plates, which leads us to..... you see the pattern?

          Now, I am with you in some respects, that the regulations are custom tailored to the corporate giants as/is, and that needs to stop. I miss the days of the trust-busting, breaking up big bu
          • by pecosdave (536896) *

            I consider Roosevelt was a horrible thing to happen. He received fan mail from Hitler and Benito Mussolini before the war. They all three had more or less the same goals, until Hitler decided to go on a Jew killing rampage and Mussolini went into Africa. Look into the Blue Eagle and the NRA thugs (not the rifle association) to see why I feel this way, he was going for all out socialism.

            I'm of the Libertarian persuasion, "do no harm". If what you're selling, no matter what it is, endangers people in ways

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by rohan972 (880586)

            I did, I intentionally pushed to the logical conclusion of "where do you draw the line". You want food regulated, but what about silverware? Got to make sure we don't see a return to mercury/lead for those, or the use of toxic plastics, but then we have plates, which leads us to..... you see the pattern?

            That's not necessarily the logical conclusion though. Free market theories require an informed customer. Requiring accurate and complete product information is a basic requirement of a free market, though more obvious now than when Adam Smith was around. Want to sell cans of Rat Faeces Stew? No problem, so long as you label it honestly. I don't anticipate a big market for it, but go for your life trying. Sell it labelled as beef, go to prison. Existing laws against fraud etc are enough for that situation if

  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:58AM (#27547515) Journal

    ... call DOT and tell them to fill it with paper.....

  • by dcmoebius (1527443) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @06:24AM (#27547611)
    Does anyone else feel like this is an episode of "The Office"?
    • by Epistax (544591)
      Nah. This isn't funny.

      Oh wait I guess this does remind me of The Office.


      /I keeeed
  • Laws have bugs just like software. We don't stop writing useful software just because it may fail, we use bug tracking, debuggers, and bug fix releases. So, it's neither surprising nor avoidable that laws like this have unintended consequences. Lawmakers should simply have better turnaround times for fixing bugs in laws.

  • Shenanigans! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Brickwall (985910) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:47AM (#27548225)
    From TFA: "In developed nations, paper is the third-largest industrial greenhouse gas emitter, behind the steel and chemical industries."

    Oh, really? Not according to the US government. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html [epa.gov] Paper doesn't even show up, and all of the "industrial" processes (as opposed to home heating, electricity generation, and transportation) make up less than 7% of US emissions, so paper-making is barely a roundoff error. I'm not arguing that the paper companies aren't taking advantage of a loophole, but to suggest that this is having any meaningful impact on emissions one way or the other is ludicrous.

  • by frdmfghtr (603968) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:14AM (#27548381)

    This page [ipaper.com] is International Paper's feedback form. Tell them how you feel about this.

    In addition to that, let your Congressional representation know too--OK it's Congress, but it might help anyway.

  • This is not the first time this law has run into such usage.
    Some people did try to get that changed but there was too much interest in keeping it that way, from the companies doing it and from the various environmental group who want to stop petroleum usage.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

Working...