The New York Times recently published an opinion piece (“A Bad Move That Exposes Kids to Chemicals“) that tells us why the Administration’s recent move to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) “Office of Children’s Health Protection” is very worrisome, and likely to have profoundly negative effects upon the health of our nation’s children.
If, as I expect, the ultimate reason for this possible torpedoing of yet another important and productive EPA program is because it is “hurting the profitability of American companies”, then one must consider what that long-held gospel of the GOP really means.
After all, when you think about it, the one of the major functions of the EPA is to ensure that businesses do not unfairly shift their costs of doing business onto others. The goal is not to increase business costs, but to make sure that businesses don’t get to ignore (or escape responsibility for) the messes they create.
When a company is allowed to dump toxins in a river, or into the air, or into their products – all in the name of profits – then they are being allowed to shift the cost of the messes they are creating off of their own corporate balance sheet and into the laps of others. People are being – often unknowingly – forced to pay a big bill that the company by rights should be paying. And, the bill they pay is often many, many times larger than it would have been if the problem had been dealt with at the source.
Yes, a company deserves to be allowed to be profitable. And yes, the EPA’s regulations can radically increase the cost of business for a company. And yes, such companies have often relocated to countries that are “more friendly” to business as a result of what they see as “over-regulation.”
And yes, it is not right, nor fair, nor good policy, to force domestic companies to radically increase their costs in the name of being environmentally responsible when their foreign competitors can avoid those same costs. It is bad, very bad, for business – and for those employed by businesses facing foreign competition.
But, the answer is NOT to pretend that there is no problem and simply jettison anything (such as the EPA) that stands in the way of profitability. Doing so is the current administration’s (and GOP’s) simplistic approach. It is an “easy way out”, but ultimately costs us far more – as a society – than we will save on corporate balance sheets.
In the highly interconnected world that we live in, simple brute force solutions rarely work well, or as intended – and the New York Times article is lays out yet another case – of thousands of cases – as to why this simple solutions are simply bad.
The problem of of controlling environmental contamination vs. corporate profitability is complex. Therefore, the solution is complex. It took years to get into this state, it will take years to fix it.
Making us pay the price for a quick fix, and especially making our children pay through moves like the recent sidelining of the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health, is simply not a solution. Undermining reasonable environmental regulations is contrary to Jesus’ command that we “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” and also flies in the face of the scriptural mandate that we are to be caretakers of God’s Creation.
– Pastor Allen
Copyright (c) 2018, Allen Vander Meulen III.
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