Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The people versus Nanotechnology

The DeLeonists have discovered nanotechnology -

From the latest issue of the SLP's The People

Nanotech Workers Endangered
By Emerging Technology

Something new and unsavory is in the air, and workers are breathing it. Consider precision-engineered carbon buckyballs, products configured in napkin-thin wafers that can pack the power of a car battery but are infinitesimally small, say one-ten-thousandth the size of a pinhead. Consider the health of workers who have been ingesting a mist of this imperceptible material while engaged in building an industry that promises its owners, financers and stockholders trillions of dollars by 2014.

The infant nanotech industry, devoted to the construction of microscopic components for new products, currently employs an estimated 210,000 workers. Not all are engaged in actual production, of course, but the industry is growing at a rapid pace. Lux Research, according to The Washington Post, estimates that eight years from now the value of goods made with nanotechnologies will be $2.6 trillion—200 times as much as in 2004. (April 8) Lux, according to its website,provides market intelligence and strategic advice on nanotechnology and the physical sciences. We help our clients make better decisions to profit from cutting-edge technologies.... Lux is not the nanotechnology industry’s only enthusiast.The U.S. Commerce department has gleefully trumpeted its emergence as the foundation for the next industrial revolution. However, the growth of this rapidly developing industry has some onerous implications for theincreased number of workers expected to be employed in making the initial products. They will be exposed to the free-floating motes directly, before they are integrated into the finished products, the Post reported.

Indeed, no government studies have been made regarding the risks of nanomaterials although, according to the Post, many laboratory and animal studies have shown that nano-sized particles—those on the order of a millionth of a millimeter—spur peculiar biological reactions and can be far more toxic than larger granules of the
same chemicals.
However, Dr. John Balbus, health program director for environmental Defense and author of Life Support:The Environment and Human Health, believes that three weeks’ of workplace exposure to engineered nanospecks would be equivalent to the exposure that caused animals to choke to death in 2004.

Capitalist government, being the obsequious handmaid to private industry, is loath to require such experiments to protect workers, for profits come first. This is attested by the fact that a mere two-tenths of one percent of the federal government’s 2007 nanotech initiative of $1.2 billion is earmarked to study workplace safety issues. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is not agonizing over the issue either.This politically manipulated bureaucracy, established to protect capitalists from lawsuits and minimize court dockets, does have a nuisance standard that is of little relevance when confronting airborne nanomaterials, according to Dr. Balbus.

Charles Geraci, health branch chief of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), also expressed concern for workers’ health while touring Altair Nanotechnologies Inc.recently. We don’t want to be sitting around 20
years from now saying, ‘Gee, I wish we had looked into this.’
His remarks were in reference to some outstanding examples of past capitalist negligence when it comes to workers’ safety, such as in the notorious case of asbestos or paint overspray or innumerable other industrial hazards that have afflicted workers on the industrial battlefield.

In a cover thy rear end feign,CEO Alan Gotcher of Altair invited scientists from NIOSH to test his premises for nanoparticles. His actions represented a minimal outlay reduction from the surplus value he otherwise extracts from workers.

Such expenses are good insurance against potential court costs brought by health-affected workers, so why not test?

Nanotechnology is another of those emerging mind-boggling developments ironically produced entirely by the talent and ingenuity of the working class that under the present system of private ownership in the means of production and distribution
brings forth compounding threats to them regardless of what socially beneficial virtues it may promise.

The rise of this technology provides yet another demonstration of how capitalists, impelled by the profit motive and the fear that competitors will trump them, recklessly barrel down a well-worn primrose path to confront society with unknown hazards. Indeed, contemporary society is immersed in monumental environmental hazards resulting from a long, long bill of such particulars.

The rational society of socialism, based upon democracy in industry and production for use, will function in an entirely different way.Gone will be the compulsion to develop new technologies at all costs. Enthroned with production for use will be its corollary that nothing will be manufactured that endangers society itself. Only when exhaustive tests have been made and safeguards established will production proceed.Workers will make those decisions.


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