Why Does America Have to Lead?

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on March 25, 2012

Because we still have free speech at the moment.

People complain that our manufacturing jobs are going overseas because it’s cheaper to do dirty jobs elsewhere, when places like China don’t have an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or any way for the people to speak up against big companies that pollute in their neighborhoods. Environmental protection efforts are slow, plodding, and ineffective. (See http://www.epa.gov/ogc/china/cooperation.htm – toolsnovember2011)

So are we supposed to reduce our expectations of the manufacturers here, or increase our expectations of manufacturers there?

A lot of people here don’t care if the manufacturing in China poisons its people, but I do. I care that cancer rates are going up in China, that cancer is the number one killer in China, and that the rural people have no voice. Because if we keep condoning that behavior, if we keep complicitly purchasing products that have a waste stream that contaminates, it’s only a matter of time before we’re living in that filth ourselves.

We have to stand up for the Chinese who don’t have free speech because we have it, at least for now, and we have to lead the rest of the world because of that free speech.

When Love Canal happened in the US, people were up in arms about it. They protested, they complained, they spoke out, until the government passed a Superfund act called the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to clean it up.

Now, because of people like George Bush Jr., our EPA has been so eroded, the teeth taken out of it so badly, that it’s not able to function properly. We let companies on our own soil pollute, and we look the other way? I don’t know who wants our children to inherit this kind of manufacturer-rules-all world, but my message is this: if they have to raise their prices so they can clean up their pollution while still paying their wealthy executives the big bucks, let’s pay that price because otherwise, what kind of planet are we leaving our children?

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