The Politics of Precaution: Regulating Health, Safety, and Environmental Risks in Europe and the United States

Princeton University Press
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The Politics of Precaution examines the politics of consumer and environmental risk regulation in the United States and Europe over the last five decades, explaining why America and Europe have often regulated a wide range of similar risks differently. It finds that between 1960 and 1990, American health, safety, and environmental regulations were more stringent, risk averse, comprehensive, and innovative than those adopted in Europe. But since around 1990, the book shows, global regulatory leadership has shifted to Europe. What explains this striking reversal?

David Vogel takes an in-depth, comparative look at European and American policies toward a range of consumer and environmental risks, including vehicle air pollution, ozone depletion, climate change, beef and milk hormones, genetically modified agriculture, antibiotics in animal feed, pesticides, cosmetic safety, and hazardous substances in electronic products. He traces how concerns over such risks--and pressure on political leaders to do something about them--have risen among the European public but declined among Americans. Vogel explores how policymakers in Europe have grown supportive of more stringent regulations while those in the United States have become sharply polarized along partisan lines. And as European policymakers have grown more willing to regulate risks on precautionary grounds, increasingly skeptical American policymakers have called for higher levels of scientific certainty before imposing additional regulatory controls on business.

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About the author

David Vogel is professor at the Haas School of Business and in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include The Market for Virtue: The Potential and Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 29, 2012
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781400842568
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / General
History / United States / General
Law / Health
Medical / Health Policy
Political Science / Comparative Politics
Political Science / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
Political Science / Public Policy / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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A New York Times bestseller/Washington Post Notable Book of 2017/NPR Best Books of 2017/Wall Street Journal Best Books of 2017 

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In these troubled times, perhaps no institution has unraveled more quickly and more completely than American medicine. In only a few decades, the medical system has been overrun by organizations seeking to exploit for profit the trust that vulnerable and sick Americans place in their healthcare. Our politicians have proven themselves either unwilling or incapable of reining in the increasingly outrageous costs faced by patients, and market-based solutions only seem to funnel larger and larger sums of our money into the hands of corporations. Impossibly high insurance premiums and inexplicably large bills have become facts of life; fatalism has set in. Very quickly Americans have been made to accept paying more for less. How did things get so bad so fast?

Breaking down this monolithic business into the individual industries—the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers—that together constitute our healthcare system, Rosenthal exposes the recent evolution of American medicine as never before. How did healthcare, the caring endeavor, become healthcare, the highly profitable industry? Hospital systems, which are managed by business executives, behave like predatory lenders, hounding patients and seizing their homes. Research charities are in bed with big pharmaceutical companies, which surreptitiously profit from the donations made by working people. Patients receive bills in code, from entrepreneurial doctors they never even saw. 

The system is in tatters, but we can fight back. Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal doesn't just explain the symptoms, she diagnoses and treats the disease itself. In clear and practical terms, she spells out exactly how to decode medical doublespeak, avoid the pitfalls of the pharmaceuticals racket, and get the care you and your family deserve. She takes you inside the doctor-patient relationship and to hospital C-suites, explaining step-by-step the workings of a system badly lacking transparency. This is about what we can do, as individual patients, both to navigate the maze that is American healthcare and also to demand far-reaching reform. An American Sickness is the frontline defense against a healthcare system that no longer has our well-being at heart.
The principles and practices of corporate social responsibility (CSR) date back more than a century, but the current wave of interest in this topic is unprecedented. This heightened attention is global and is evidenced on every conceivable measure. It is reflected in the growth of social and ethical investment funds, the dramatic increase in voluntary codes of conduct for companies and industries, and the number of companies that issue reports on their social and environmental practices and policies. Similarly, the mobilization of nongovernmental organizations to challenge a wide range of corporate environmental and human rights practices, the frequency of consumer boycotts and protests, and the number of organizations and institutions established to monitor, measure, and report on corporate social and environmental performance all demonstrate deep grassroots interest. In this book, David Vogel provides the first comprehensive, in-depth review of the contemporary CSR movement in both the United States and Europe. He presents a careful and balanced appraisal of the movement’s accomplishments and limitations, including a critical evaluation of the business case for CSR. While acknowledging the movement’s achievements, most notably in improving some labor, human rights, and environmental conditions in developing countries, he also demonstrates that CSR’s potential to bring about a significant change in corporate behavior is exaggerated. The Market for Virtue explores to what extent future improvements in corporate conduct can occur without more extensive or effective government regulation—in the United States, Europe, the Far East, and in the developing countries. In other words, what is the long-term potential of business self-regulation? Vogel concludes that the amount of improvement that can be expected is far more modest than much contemporary writing on corporate responsibility has claimed. There is a market for virtue, but it is limited by the substantial costs of more responsible business behavior.
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From the establishment of Yosemite, America's first protected wilderness, and the prohibition of dumping gold-mining debris in the nineteenth century to sweeping climate- change legislation in the twenty-first, David Vogel traces California's remarkable environmental policy trajectory. He explains that this pathbreaking role developed because California had more to lose from environmental deterioration and more to gain from preserving its stunning natural geography. As a result, citizens and civic groups effectively mobilized to protect and restore their state's natural beauty and, importantly, were often backed both by business interests and bystrong regulatory authorities. Business support for environmental regulation in California reveals that strict standards are not only compatible with economic growth but can also contribute to it. Vogel also examines areas where California has fallen short, particularly in water management and the state's dependence on automobile transportation.

As environmental policy debates continue to grow more heated, California Greenin' demonstrates that the Golden State's impressive record of environmental accomplishments holds lessons not just for the country but for the world.

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