Alasdair MacIntyre’s “Regulation: A Substitute for Morality” articulates and explores the conflict between what we should do for the greater good of our society and what we should do in terms of protecting individual freedoms. This conflict is central in our political debates—both now and in the past. In his article he writes, “Each of these ways of thinking has deep roots in our political culture: the first in the eighteenth-century ideal of a republican people, a people inspired by a common regard for virtue and community, and ideal that informs much of the founding documents; the second in the individualist vision of society as a device for the protection of individuals, of society as a collection of strangers, each of whom wishes to protect himself or herself and his or her property form government and from each other.”
Currently, this exact conflict is being played out in terms of coal mining and its effect on our environment. There is no doubt that we need to lessen our global dependence on fossil fuels if we want to control climate change. However, our move away from coal-powered energy has a direct, negative effect on the areas of this country—specifically Appalachia—that depend on the coal industry for their livelihood. In many parts of Appalachia, it isn’t easy (or in some cases possible) to find other comparable jobs to replace those lost when coal mines close or lay off a significant number or workers. Look into this issue a bit. Read the article in the LA Times linked below, but also conduct a bit of your own research into this issue and then answer the following questions.
(for global context, read the very recent article from the NY Times titled The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard? Link below)
We know that we need to control climate change in order to insure the continued existence of our planet. That is a crucial problem that cannot go overlooked. However, what responsibility do we have as Americans to financially support those who would lose their livelihoods in the pursuit of environmental protection? For this assignment, answer the following question: Would you vote for a bill that raised all taxes for all Americans if those added tax dollars went directly to a substantial unemployment benefit for people who lost their jobs as a result of environmental regulation?