Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency

In the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) Ruling, number 14-46, Michigan ET AL. v. Environmental Protection Agency ET AL., (2015) Argued on March 25th, 2015 and decided on June 29th, 2015, The almost 3 months of deliberation yielded the following:

It held that the EPA interpeted 7412(n)(1)(A) incorrectly, the law which allows the agency to regulate power plants if it concludes that "regulation is appropriate and necessary" after studying hazards to public health posed by power-plant emissions. "EPA interpreted 7412(n)(1)(A) unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants. Pp. 5-15."

You see, the regulations the EPA attempted to reach for would impose a $9.6 BILLION per year cost, whereas the quantifiable benefits from the resulting reduction in hazardous-air-pollutant emissions would be anywhere from $4 to $6 million a year. I think someone in government allowed their righteous battle against pollution of our atmosphere to get in the way of common sense.

The question I have is - Instead of fighting to ask for a win that would make these cornerstone power generation companies fight for any reasonable way to remain in business, why did then active administrator for the Environment Protection Agency not work more closely with the companies to come up with win-win solutions? What is stopping the current or future administrations from attempting the same?

This decision supports the importance of our power generation utilities in the United States but also underscores the problem with reaching across the aisle to find solutions to these issues without wasting the resources of both the Supreme Court and the Congress of the United States of America on "unreasonable" regulations - their word, not mine.

The Right of All Americans to Marry, Regardless of Sexual Orientation

The 2011 SCOTUS decision on free speech basically states "The First Amendment protects from tort liability a person who speaks about a public issue on a public sidewalk, even if that speech is "outrageous."

This of course protects our free speech as it protected the rights of the Phelps family to spew hate speech that is in poor taste.

It also likely fueled the flames for the protection of all American's right to marriage equality - a decision handed down just this year (2015, and well overdue) protecting the right of all American's to marry regardless of sexual orientation.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Loudspeaker Effect

We know that people are different, they learn in different ways, they act in different ways, they have different motivations for the things they do. This known is an unknown when dwelling on the motives of individuals with extremist viewpoints that might wish harm to others. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" and other sayings exist in our culture because of the loudspeaker effect - the willingness of people to listen to an idea that is being said or communicated just because an individual or group says or communicates said idea. We live in a world where being outspoken is highly valued and admired or hated depending on the message.

When we speak or write about the Loudspeaker Effect and how it impacts the silent majority we can begin to understand how this effect might affect those who are impressionable and just plain angry at the world - for example the school shootings that some of our communities here in the United States have endured. The negativity and Pessimism that is part and parcel of some media outlets and even some extremist religious groups here in the United States could very well be considered capable of turning "normal" people into weapons of extremism.

I feel that it is important that we as a country learn to turn to both our silent majority and our Loudspeaker minority and ask that we begin a culture of inclusion, a culture that seeks out a better understanding of others. A culture more tolerant of opposing viewpoints that isn't afraid of the harder discussions. If we really want to prevent school shootings, we can ban all guns, but growing up where I did, even my high school had it's wayward son. It was no gun that went off in a trash can that came very close to nearly killing or injuring our band leader when I was in high school. It would be my hope that a culture of inclusion would help temper these wayward sons in ways that banning tools that can be used for evil - just will not and cannot do.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Benedict Arnold or American Hero?

It is like the "Crazy Years" that Robert A. Heinlein wrote of are nearly over if we compared those years to now - the question is whether or not we will all get through them together as a country or if we will continue to allow petty differences drive unbreakable wedges between us. I, for one would prefer taking stock of where we are, how we got here - and where we're heading. I don't hold super high hopes for a political speech this late into his presidency, but I hope that President Obama's 2015 State of the Union address can do more to bring people together.

This country must have a time of "Healing" if we expect to move forward together and not divided. In 2001, a sense of Nationalistic Patriotism moved this country, bringing people together in ways that our daily civilian lives just do not. There was no national call for understanding each other - there was this open wound on the country, and we chose war. We chose to do things that may not be considered ethical by standards set forth by World Political Organizations. Bearing my share of that responsibility is difficult enough - and I played no part except to keep an open mind and listen and watch from my home like most of us did. My only regret is that I didn't have any way of stopping it. I for one, am grateful for men like Edward Snowden, who may not have gone about what he did in the proper ways, but had the courage to step forward despite the very real risk to himself. If we look to comparing Snowden to that infamous traitor Benedict Arnold, here are my thoughts on that: Benedict Arnold was a bad man doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons, whereas Snowden was a good man doing what he thought were the right things for the right reasons. Benedict Arnold fought against the very men he once fought with, whereas Edward Snowden blew the whistle on programs that the United States Government feared to let information out on.

I'd say he chose wisely in my humble opinion.