Reflections on Ethical Dilemmas, Part II

After reading Thomas King’s book, Our Protected Heritage, I am more convinced than ever that I do not want to work for the federal government. Although I have a passion for public lands, and I understand the need to promote awareness and stewardship of these lands, I have no desire to seek out a career that is so laden with problems and self-induced headaches. King points out that the policies that are in place (NHPA and NEPA) developed with the hopes of protecting “our national and cultural heritage in the environment – the places and things that we citizens cherish” (King, 13). However, King argues that “we’ve drifted away from the intent of the laws, making them more and more pointless, less and less useful in protecting anything, except the profit margins of some companies and the jobs of some government employees.” While I can understand King’s frustrations with the outcomes of these laws, I do hope that he has realized that these are not the only policies that resulted in less-than-desired outcomes. Most of the laws and policy that Congress created did not workout the way they were supposed to. The 1942 Migrant Worker Legislation and the 1965 Immigration Legislation are prime examples of this. The 1942 legislation created the Bracero Program, a migrant guest worker program with Mexico, however, this program created significantly more problems than it ever intended to solve. Similarly, the 1965 legislation attempted to undo the discriminatory quota system that the government used to regulate immigration since 1924. However, this law also led to unforeseen consequences and even further complicated the immigration process. These are just two of many examples of problems that federal policies have created. And yet, King seems to think that the environmental policies the only policies that have been unsuccessful. What is even more infuriating, however, it that King thinks he can determinately point the blame for these failures on development companies hoping to seek a profit (King, 14). Not only is King’s attack on business narrow-minded, (and rather liberally biased) but I find it extremely difficult to think that the possible destruction that cultural and historic sites currently face is the result of the greed of one single stake-holder. Although I agree with King that our cultural heritage is in danger, I can hardly agree that business alone is the reason for this predicament.



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