Essay: Enemy of the People Character

Pages: 4 (1499 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Multiple and competing demands are the stuff of science and engineering. Funding, governmental initiatives, extant research, the marketplace, and political will all readily impact the course of scientific research and development. It is perhaps more typical that these competing demands would collide, than not. When they do collide, the concept of a perfect frontier -- as in investments where all the market information is available to all the people at the same time -- is moot. The market, in the instance when information is withheld, is neither fair nor reliable. In some instances, pertinent scientific information is not available to decision-makers by omission, sometimes the relevant information is available but is purposefully not disseminated to decision-makers, and sometimes the information is not yet known.

In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart as it was launched for mission 51L. Extensive post-catastrophe analysis revealed that the space engineers had all the relevant information they needed to make the prediction that the Challenger was headed for disaster if launch was scheduled when temperatures were sufficiently low to make the critical O-rings brittle. In fact, the engineers communicated this information to the executive decision-makers a number of times, and in a number of ways. While the engineers may have had the unspoken picture clearly in their minds, the administrators did not -- or would not -- put the pieces of information together into a coherent whole. NASA was under tremendous fiscal and political pressure. It was simply not acceptable that the flight would be delayed -- the public relations wheels were already turning.

In 1991, Erin Brokovich stumbled across some real estate papers in a legal file that sparked her curiosity. Through her diligent and unorthodox efforts, PG&E was found to be knowingly polluting the drinking water of a little California town called Hinkley with hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogenic. In a story so familiar it has become classic, the unassuming heroine takes on a big corporation, and wins. The issue here was that the corporation was deliberately covering up the harm for which they were responsible.

Hydrofracking practices for oil and natural gas drilling have received a considerable amount of attention lately as the ramifications of the approach have been felt by an increasing number of citizens. Ground water -- indeed, drinking water piped into people's homes -- has become contaminated with the chemicals used to foster the hydrofacturing processes. Unsuspecting landowners, who are often struggling ranchers, are offered considerable sums of money for leased drilling rights by the hydrofracking companies. Similar to the PG&E water contamination issues, regulation is scant and laws inadequately address the current problem and the future threat associated with hydrofracking. A fundamental reason for this is that exemptions to seven federal environmental protection acts have been granted to natural gas and oil drilling companies. Issues related to global warming are similarly situated.

The revolving door in Washington, D.C., that lets lobbyists become government officials, and government officials become lobbyists or corporate executives in the same industries over which they previously held regulatory authority creates a mockery of the system of checks and balances, rules and regulations that are intended to protect the citizenry while enabling responsible enterprise. It is readily apparent that honesty and integrity -- and service to the public -- are qualities that are in high demand, but low supply. This is as true of public organizations and government as it is private enterprise. Capitalism can run counter to democratic principles if the dynamic forces are not held in balance.

It is incumbent upon the educational systems in a democracy to ensure that citizens of all classes receive instruction that contributes to the new literacies. Global communication has become predominantly digital -- the new media is fast overtaking traditional media. Yet the proliferation of information does not mean that the quality of information is ensured. Further, and most important, the consumers of the new media must be given an education that is grounded in critical theory in order to actually achieve what may be called the new literacies. While individuals must assume some responsibility in a democratic society for their own education about current and consumer issues, they cannot be expected to know what they do not or cannot know. Educational systems cannot escape some of the socioeconomic forces that cause them to vary from place to place, but these educational systems can exercise critical pedagogy. Indeed, citizens must demand it of them. [END OF PREVIEW]

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Enemy of the People Character.  (2012, March 29).  Retrieved August 23, 2019, from

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"Enemy of the People Character."  29 March 2012.  Web.  23 August 2019. <>.

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"Enemy of the People Character."  March 29, 2012.  Accessed August 23, 2019.