Noah highlights the disastrous causal effect that lead pollution (lead plumbing, lead paint) has on crime levels, health, IQ, etc.
Note: lead paint was banned in Australia in 1906, in France in 1948. It stayed in use in the US until 1978, thanks to lobbying by the lead industry.
Time and time again in the US, tiny economic interests (on the order of tens/hundreds of millions of $ in revenue) have been able to buy regulations (or more commonly a lack thereof) that caused hundreds of billions of $ of damage over decades and ruined the health of millions.
Lead, coal, tobacco, guns... the asymmetry between the tiny amount of money at stake and the magnitude of the damage caused is staggering. Regulation is critical to the well-being of society, and unfortunately it is extremely cheap to buy (with considerable return on investment).
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