Thursday, September 1, 2011

Regulations protect people and environments

The regulations that business operates under is going to be an issue in the upcoming presidential election. Those candidates that are running on the right are saying that we have too many regulations on business and that the result is a loss of jobs.

If jobs are lost who could be against dumping the regulations?

Yes, perhaps, there are too many regulations. But, most regulations are in place for a reason. They protect people and the environment. Without these regulations, we would have to rely on corporations, whose sole legal goal is to create profit, to do the right thing. Many corporations say that their best practices meet or exceed the regulations.

As an example of corporations following their own best practices, there is Shell Oil that has operations in the Niger Delta, Africa. The corporation has established best practices between itself and NNPC, the national oil company of Nigeria. Those practices are to protect the environment, workers and the people living in the delta.

But, there is a serious problem in Africa, where Shell said they followed their best practices and said that the area was “clean”. As reported in The Economist, August 13th-19th, 2011, a United Nations report states that there is a “thick, black carpet of crude” in the Ogoniland. This spill has been estimated to be larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska and covers about 10 square miles. This is the result of an oil spill that Shell first claimed was caused by theft and sabotage, but now has admitted was caused by equipment failure. It appears that their best practices didn’t anticipate the equipment failure and that Shell could blame it on other causes.

Residents of the area are drinking water with 900 times as much benzene, a carcinogen, then is deemed safe by the World Health Organization. The report goes on to say that it could take 30 years and a billion dollars for Shell to clean up an area. This report is published 20 years after Shell left Ogoniland.

Every time a corporation or an industry is threatened with regulations they claim that their best practices will be better and that there will be loss of jobs. But, in thousands of case in our own country and around the world, it isn’t the case.

So, should we skip the regulations so that Shell can hire a few more people? It is the lack of regulations and reliance on corporation’s best practices that have polluted the Ogoniland, a faraway place that is rarely seen by the eyes of American voters.

Let’s keep the regulations that protect people and environments.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Medical marijuana law in Michigan is confusing at best

There is few things clear in politics. But, in the case of the use of marijuana for medical purposes in Michigan, the intent of the voters was very clear. In a decisive vote, the people of Michigan said they wanted people to have access to marijuana if a doctor prescribed it as medication.

So why has it been such trouble to get them the medicine?

Politicians, police agencies and other authoritarian types don’t want them to. They believe that the drug is a great evil. They would ignore the intent of the voters and keep it from those that need it for fear that the state will become the, “drug capital of the world,” as one politician put it.

Two years ago, a citizens initiative passed in Michigan. The initiative said that marijuana should be made available to those that could benefit from the drug. As called for in the initiative, the state legislature acted. But, they created a confusing and vague law. The result has been nothing but confusion about a very clear decision by the voters.

Now a court has ruled, that marijuana dispensaries are illegal according to their interpretation of the confusing law passed by the state. This has forced perhaps hundreds of clinics around the state out of business, leaving those that are in need of the drug searching for another source for their medicine.

Where are these people to go? Shall we send them out on the street to drug dealers?

Most drugs do need to be controlled. The ill effects that the drugs bring on user, their families and communities would be destructive. But, that doesn’t mean that drugs that clearly are needed to ease the pain of an illness, and in some cases, improve the health of people should just be banned and only provided by the local illegal street vendor.

The legislature of the state should act quickly to write a clear law about something the voters clearly want.

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