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The BP spill should have been a wake-up call for elected officials and organizations tasked with responding to this type of disaster, but it seems like those in charge of protecting our waters have learned nothing.
Since Poland was written in 1983, Michener couldn't have been thinking about today's America and its ruling oligarchy. But it sure sounded like that to me. Is this where we are headed as the oligarchs take over America?
Here in the United States our toxic chemical policy is best described as caveat emptor -- let the buyer beware -- and it's making us sick.
You don't have to grow up in a farm town though to understand that clean water is fundamental to our daily lives.
All in all, the assault upon the water 300,000 West Virginians use to -- or used to use to -- drink, prepare food, wash themselves and their belongings may go unpunished.
The crisis of sustainability is a distinctly global crisis, but one that manifests itself in different ways in different places. As we learn more about how to solve problems caused by West Virginia's chemical contamination of its drinking water, we may have lessons to offer local governments in China.
When I tell you that one in five people around the world lacks access to safe drinking water, you're likely to find that unfortunate, but you're not likely to assume that this statistic affects you. So, perhaps I should start over.
While waiting for science to answer questions for 300,000 West Virginians, restaurants, clinics, and other water-based businesses -- those that can afford the cost of bottled water -- will likely outlast this crisis. Some restaurateurs, like Meena Anada, who owns Little India with her husband Harish, may use bottled water forever.
The largest employers in West Virginia may be Wal-Mart and government, the biggest money-makers may still be extractive industries, but a growing faction even here understands the realities of a thriving global innovation economy.
For Freedom Industries, all that matters is the bottom line. Their goal, like that of too many other corporations, is to have as little interference from government as possible so that they can go about their, ahem, business, as they see fit. But it's not just West Virginia where this happens.
Dear Mr. President: I am writing you as a dutiful, concerned, and stressed-out husband and expectant father from Charleston, West Virginia. My first child is due in just three weeks. I don't know how I am going to safely care for my son after he is born when I can't trust my water supply.
Saying "it's your decision" is abdicating government's responsibility to protect us. It's declaring that the chemical industry is in charge, that our only chance for protection is for each and every one of us to become toxicologists and assess risk in our tap water, in the beauty aisle, at the supermarket.
It's past time for the President to make the case for the kind of fundamental safeguards that were so visibly absent in Charleston. Failed government should not be this President's legacy.
Whether or not we say no to industries that operate with impunity all around us is a moral choice. To let our politicians continue to protect companies like Freedom Industries of the Kanawha Valley from any inspections or guidelines whatsoever is profoundly immoral.
Currently, more than 40 million Americans hold student debt. The population with student loans is approximately four times greater than the population of Sweden.