Category Archives: Environment

Ethics Questions And Answers Regarding The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

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First, a background question: What is the Flint water crisis?

Here is what has happened so far:

1. In March of 2013, the Flint City Council voted to leave the Detroit water system and join a new pipeline project that would deliver water to the city from Lake Huron. The state agreed that it was a good idea, since it would save the financially strapped Flint 19 million dollars over 8 years. [ Addendum: The news media and progressive spin is that the cruel state unilaterally imposed this decision on Flint. That’s not true, and don’t trust any source that claims it is. Here’s one such hack, who states “In 2013, the Emergency Manager for Flint, Ed Kurtz, signed the order that Flint would stop relying upon Detroit for water and, instead, switch to a the Karegnondi Water Authority run out of Lake Huron.” The Flint City Council voted 7-1 to take this course prior to the sign-off. It was approved by Kurtz, but this blogger’s statement that the crisis “is a direct result of reckless cost-cutting by the unelected bureaucrat who Governor Snyder appointed to run the city under the state’s controversial “Emergency Financial Manager” law” is deceptive and false.]

2. Detroit retaliated by announcing that it would cut off Flint’s water supply. Since the new pipeline wouldn’t be ready for three years, Flint had to find a temporary supplier of its water needs. It then spent millions upgrading its water processing plant.

3. The months leading up to the Detroit shut-off deadline generated many meetings with the state and regulatory bodies. Mayor Dayne Walling, a Democrat, announced that the temporary supply would come from the Flint River. The plan for the switch was implement by state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Early. The system went into operation in April of 2014.

4. Immediately, residents started complaining about the water’s taste and appearance. Early (the state) and Mayor Walling (the city) insisted that it was safe to drink. Four months later, there was a fecal content alert, meaning that the water wasn’t being sufficiently purified. In October of 2014, General Motors said that the water seemed to be corrosive, and it would no longer use it in its plant.

5.  In January of 2015, Flint told its residents that the water wasn’t safe because of chemical contamination that could cause serious health problems. Detroit offered to go back to the old arrangement. Flint declined. Erin Brockovich (yes, that Erin Brockovich)  publicly argued that there was a water safety  crisis in Flint. The Mayor asked the state for assistance, and was assured that they were “working on it.”

6.  Activists said that the water was dangerous and the city should go back to its old arrangement with Detroit. The city hired an expert who claimed the water was safe. More work was done to fix the problem, but the City Council voted to re-connect to the Detroit system, and Lake Huron water. However, the vote had to be approved by the State’s emergency manager for the city. He didn’t approve it. The advocates for going back to Detroit water sued in Federal court, and lost.

7.  This mess  dragged into last fall. In September of 2015, researchers from Virginia Tech University reported online that their testing of Flint’s water found it “very corrosive” and that it was “causing lead contamination in homes.”  “On a scientific basis, Flint River water leaches more lead from plumbing than does Detroit water,” the report concluded. “This is creating a public health threat in some Flint homes that have lead pipe or lead solder.” The very same day, Michigan told Flint that the earlier chemical contamination had fallen within acceptable levels due to improved treatment methods, and the water was officially compliant with all standards, and safe.

8. Later that month, however, testing showed frightening levels of lead in the blood of Flint infants and children. A new lead warning was sent to Flint residents.

9. In October, 2015, the County issued a warning that Flint’s water was dangerous, and asked the Governor to declare a State of Emergency. The next day, Governor Rick Snyder announced various measures to address the problem.

10. Again, the city, this time through a special advisory committee, recommended that Flint switch back to the Detroit supply. On October 8, Snyder announced a multi-million dollar plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit’s water.  A week later, the Michigan Legislature and Snyder approved  $9.4 million in aid to Flint, including $6 million to  switch its drinking water back to Detroit.

11. Thanks to the water problem, Walling was defeated in his race to be re-elected as mayor  by Karen Weaver. The switch didn’t stop the lead problem, because the corrosive water had prompted a deterioration in Flint’s lead pipes. It took a the entire holiday period for this to become sufficiently obvious, for some reason, as many residents drank lead-contaminated water they had been told was now safe.

12. Shortly after Christmas, Snyder fired Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and apologized for what was happening in Flint. He declared a state of emergency.

13. On January 13, Governor Snyder activated the Michigan National Guard to  distribute bottled water and filters in Flint, and asked the federal government for assistance.  The same day, Michigan health officials reported an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases during periods over the past two years in Flint and the surrounding county. Snyder requested a major disaster declaration from President Obama, and more federal aid. Obama signed an emergency declaration last week, ordering federal aid for Flint and authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts.

Why doesn’t everybody know about this? Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, Race, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

An Obvious Ethics Note On The State Of The Union Address

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Since President Obama has shown a willingness to lie outright to the American people in order to advance his policy agendas and acquire political advantage, there is no reason why any citizen should have cared what he said in the State of the Union message yesterday. One example should suffice, though there are dozens. As recently as January 7, President Obama pushed his anti-gun agenda by stating that “we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close.”  It’s a lie. It’s a lie because he has said this repeatedly, and repeatedly been told, even by reliable anti-gun sources that it is false. France suffered more deaths and injuries from mass shootings in the past year than the U.S. has during Obama’s eight years in office. That doesn’t diminish the importance of finding, if possible, effective policies to reduce U.S. gun violence. It just means that the President thinks it’s acceptable to lie to us, so he does.

The head-exploding moment in his speech last night (I read the transcript), if it did not come with the cynical and silly announcement of a Sixties space program-type effort to “cure cancer”—since we’ve all been ignoring cancer all these years–with Joe Biden—not Khloe Kardashian, an equally strong choice—at the helm (see, Joe’s son died of cancer, so that qualifies him for leadership in cancer research), came from Obama’s stated regrets for the divided state of the nation’s politics, and his failure to stem them, though Lord knows he tried.

Gee, why didn’t his advisors suggest to him that one way for the President to reduce societal division would to stop actively trying to divide people along class, race, religion, region, gender, generation and ethnicity? Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Environment, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Race, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Message To An Unethical Teacher: Children Are Not Your Guinea Pigs

No LEGOS for YOU!

No LEGOS for YOU!

Fire this teacher now.

Karen Keller, a kindergarten teacher at Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary on Bainbridge Island, Washington, think it is her role to use 5 year olds for her own social science experiment. She’s wrong. But then, she’s wrong about so much, and so arrogant about it. If she is allowed to continue her abusive manipulation of her young charges without being stopped, reprimanded, or given a pink slip, the negligent parents of her victims must carry the blame. Every now and then a teacher will go power mad and run amuck—I had one of those. There is no excuse for not acting quickly before someone gets hurt.

Keller has decided that it is her mission in life to combat what some studies show to be lower spatial and math skills development among girls as a group, as compared to boys. Thus she has decided to forbid boys from playing with LEGOS during the “unstructured play period” of 40 minutes that the kindergarten day includes. Keller told a local paper that it drove her crazy  that the girls wanted to play with dolls while boys flocked to the plastic building system, so she decided to take action to erase those gender-based proclivities. “Until girls get it into their system that building is cool, building is ‘what I want to do’ — I want to protect that.”

Want to fire her yet?

How about this statement…

“I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn’ — and I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over’ in my head,” she said. “I tell them, ‘You’ll have a turn’ because I don’t want them to feel bad.”

Now do you want to fire her? Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Research and Scholarship

The Definition Of Irresponsible Leadership? Obama’s Keystone Pipeline Call

keystone-pipelineI am trying to find another example of a U.S. President taking action that harms the nation and its citizens while admitting that it will have no measurable beneficial effects whatsoever.

I can’t find any. I’d like to know about one, and see how it worked out.

When the Washington Post’s editorial staff essentially calls a Democratic President’s conduct an embarrassment. it really must have been embarrassing…and it was. Obama’s sole explanation for his decision, which he has, as is his style, dithered over for years, was this:

“Ultimately if we’re going to prevent large parts of the Earth from becoming inhospitable or uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them.”

But killing the pipeline will keep no fossil fuels in the ground. So the reason really is this:

“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious actions to fight climate change and, frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”

Ah. So America will show it is serious about climate change by killing a project that all agree will have no tangible, long-term, short-term, measurable effects on climate change at all. This is Obama logic, as we have seen many times: good intentions is enough; results don’t matter. If his decision won’t help reduce the risk of parts of the Earth  becoming “inhospitable or uninhabitable in our lifetimes”—a risk that is also measurable and speculative at best—then the purpose of it isn’t to prove leadership. True, it proves atrocious leadership, but Obama is cynical, not stupid. The decision is political. Its only tangible benefit is to the Democratic Party, which feels the need to make the welfare of the U.S. and its citizens subordinate to the fanaticism of the environmentalist movement. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Science & Technology

KABOOM! “Energyween” On The Energy Dept. Website

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My greatest struggle in writing an ethics blog is to flag unethical conduct without sliding into political commentary. Explaining why Barack Obama is an atrocious and unethical leader need not involve political commentary, but many people assume that any criticism of  political figures or their policies are partisan and political. Now take the Affordable Care Act (Please!)—I have never argued pro or con about its substance. It’s the lousy ethics I care about. I object to the lying, the undemocratic way it was debated and passed, the incompetence of Congress voting for a huge and expensive bill no members read, the dishonesty of the title, the fact that it does not address the unsustainable rise in health care costs, the unethical manner in which the news media lobbied for it, the unconstitutional way that flaws in the law have been “fixed” by executive fiat rather  than by the legislature, the irresponsible debt the program will require, the incompetence of administering it…these are ethical issues, not political. It is the great weakness of party loyalty that these are not recognized as non-partisan issues.  Democrats should be as concerned about lying to get a progressive program passed as a conservative program.

Avoiding politics becomes even harder when I am confronted with a mind-blowing*example of ideological insanity like the Energy Department’s Energyween.gov page. It isn’t just that everything about it is ridiculous. The problem is that it is ridiculous, sinister, and exemplifies the left’s accelerating fondness for the methods and attitudes of totalitarian regimes, including the attempted infantilization of citizens, and a fondness for indoctrination. Some forms of government are unethical as well as unwise, among them being totalitarianism and socialism.

On Energyween, the celebration of Halloween, an activity that the government should not have any part in, is transformed into a something resembling an Obama Youth exercise with what is supposed to be a light-hearted tone, perhaps to put readers off the track. It seems to be an attempt to hijack Halloween and make it a political exercise, taking the holiday away from children and exploiting them for a political agenda. The Obama Administration has done this before, with its directive to true believers to use Thanksgiving to push Obamacare. That was despicable. This is much worse. Or perhaps much stupider. It’s hard to tell, as you will see.

Here are suggested designs for pumpkin carving, for example… Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Kaboom!, The Internet, Unethical Websites

Ethics Corrupter Weekend, Part III. Williams College And Open Minds

williams-college_416x416If colleges can’t educate students about core American values and principles like freedom of speech, what good are they? It’s worse than that, though. They appear to be teaching the opposite of those values, corrupting our upcoming generations and through them, poisoning our society.

Author Suzanne Venker, a conservative  social critic who has called herself an anti-feminist, was scheduled to give a lecture at Williams College as part of a student-created “Uncomfortable Learning” series, but the group cancelled her appearance when students complained that her ideas would make them uncomfortable. The leader of the student group that created the series, Zach Wood, was subjected to protests like this:

“When you bring a misogynistic, white supremacist men’s rights activist to campus in the name of ‘dialogue’ and ‘the other side,’ you are not only causing actual mental, social, psychological, and physical harm to students, but you are also—paying—for the continued dispersal of violent ideologies that kill our black and brown (trans) femme sisters. You are giving those who spout violence the money that so desperately needs to be funneled to black and brown (trans) femme communities, to people who are leading the revolution, who are surviving in the streets, who are dying in the streets. Know, you are dipping your hands in their blood, Zach Wood.”

Physical harm! Hearing her speak would actually injure them!

Opined the student newspaper:

While free speech is important and there are problems with deeming speech unacceptable, students must not be unduly exposed to harmful stereotypes in order to live and learn here without suffering emotional injury. It is possible that some speech is too harmful to invite to campus. The College should be a safe space for students, a place where people respect others’ identities. Venker’s appearance would have been an invasion of that space.

Gee, I thought “safe” on campus today meant “safe from sexual relations that you decide after the fact were a bad idea, and that magically become rape after the fact.” My mistake. Apparently it means “Having one’s world view challenged.” Wood capitulated to the mob, demonstrating that Williams had failed to teach him and his group members integrity, the importance of keeping commitments, not to be weenies and to be willing to fight for what’s right, even when it is unpopular. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Rights

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith

Looks thoughtful, sounds thoughtful, isn't thinking...

Looks thoughtful, sounds thoughtful, isn’t thinking…

“I don’t know…I think we are in a weird place in the world when the following things are considered political. Five things, I’m going to tick them off. These are the five things that were on his and our president’s agenda. Caring for the marginalized and the poor — that’s now political. Advancing economic opportunity for all. Political? Serving as good stewards of the environment. Protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom globally. Welcoming [and] integrating immigrants and refugees globally. And that’s political?”

—-Fox News anchor Shep Smith last week, responding to critics of the Pope’s visit to the U.S. and his message, as it was being celebrated by Democrats, Catholics, intellectually dishonest progressives, and, apparently, naive news anchors.

The short answer to Smith’s question is, “Of course it’s political. All of those issues are political.” I would also add, “How can you report political news and not understand that they are political?”

Now I’m going to tick them off:

….”Caring for the marginalized and the poor” requires time, money and personnel, as well as planning and efficiency. All of those in turn require re-allocating resources away from other needs and activities, including important ones that allow people to avoid poverty and marginalization. A society that makes cariung for the non-productive members of society its first priority becomes non-productive itself. So where does “caring for the marginalized and the poor” fit on the priority list? What is the definition of  “the marginalized and the poor”? The Pope doesn’t have to define them, but to seriously create policy that accomplishes the goal of “caring for” them—which also requires a definition—is a political task.
Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Environment, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society