Thursday, February 20, 2014

Precaution is a strategy that must be used with prevention in order for either strategy to succeed properly. When properly enacted, precaution is a way of using a collection of facts and partial truths about a process or idea that we have enough evidence for to form a conclusion, even if it cannot be fully proven, on how to act in the future. As a way of preventing disaster, precautionary systems exist everywhere in modern society. In areas such as the banking industry, nuclear politics and the environment some type of system exists to prevent disasters that could happen somewhat easily if no one was trying to prevent them. However in many cases regulations put on by bodies such as the Federal Reserve are used as guide lines on how to game the system to the point where many banks find creative ways to ignore the spirit of the regulations without violating the letter of it.
In his essay "Six Reasons Why We Need Prevention"  Peter Montague argues that precaution, especially in actions that effect the environment, should be a strategy employed by all people no matter their political opinions. This is extrapolated from the idea that everyone on this planet is in it together so protecting the environment and the resources it offers to us should be a priority for everyone so as to leave the Earth a better place for its future inhabitants. Because it is human nature to want to leave your children with a life no harder than your own it is a strong argument made by Montague that wanting a good life for your children should be all that you need to justify almost any environmental precaution. In an ideal world these concepts would be second nature to those the people that are in charge of making decisions that could have negative impacts on the environment to value the greater good over anything else. However in the real world this is not the case, and many of the people that run the world value the profit of their companies and what's good for themselves over the greater good of what would best benefit society the most in the long haul. This can be seen recently in the sub prime mortgage crisis that caused the current recession. When big banks were able to get the Glass Steagall Act revoked in 2001 it allowed them to start issue sub prime mortgages again to people with poor credit. A very profitable and risky strategy that had been made illegal as it had left a large portion of the population in a great deal of debt around the time of the Great Recession.
We do not live in an ideal World, and because of this letting individuals and corporations choose whether precaution is necessary and how it should be enacted is not a feasible strategy. This is a job for governments who value what is good for their people in a non-bias fashion. The author argues that such a strategy is possible and that governments should be pushed to switch into a precautionary and preventative stance that will allow them to not only protect its people and its land from the most harm but to set it in a path that leads to greater improvement for all. These steps could be taken slowly in order to make the transition from the governments current stance of simply setting limits to becoming a precautionary organization that is much more involved in all aspects of life. In this way we will be able to best protect the people of this planet.

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