a milestone that went unnoticed
by Ken Peters
The US Supreme Court ruled yesterday concerning a thirty-year long challenge of the Clean Air Act by a broad coalition of business interests. A lower court had ruled Congress acted unconstitutionally in assigning regulatory powers to the EPA. The Supreme Court rejected that argument and thus preserved not only the Clean Air regulations but literally millions of agency-generated parameters for life in a modern society. Everything from auto safety rules to telecommunications standards are set by faceless bureaucrats and I for one think that makes good sense. One of the major issues we face everyday in a technically advanced nation is the balance
between freedom and responsibility. Personal freedom for too long has been assigned by default to corporate entities. Free speech for IBM is considered a justification for soft money in political campaigns. Thoreau has been cited by polluters as justification for their "freedom" to poison the rest of us in pursuit of profits. Hopefully the Supreme Court decision will help us more clearly see that a group of investors cannot and must not accrue the same freedoms that are the inalienable rights of people. Our responsibility as stewards of the planet demands we consider carefully how our freedom to act must be tempered by a sensitivity to the results of any action. The balance changes when we consider the results of corporate action. No freedom to act should be afforded to a corporate entity without absolute assurance that no harm is done to innocent victims half a world away and no damage is done to the delicate web of life that supports us all. Celebrate the Supreme Court decision. It means a better life for all of us.