We want less government. We want to lead our own lives with as little as possible government interference. At least until we become aware of social, environmental, and other problems, such as in this particular example the polluted Hudson River.
The polluted Hudson is only one such problem. There are myriad others that regularly place greater demands on our means to solve them than we can possibly meet and satisfy on our own.
So, as in the present instance of the river, as the Times editorial makes clear, we turn to more government, which at best means working right along with national, state, and local authorities to solve the problem. And of course an expanded government role does result.
Those who go on repeating the mantra that government is best that governs least have somehow isolated themselves from the real world, or at least from the pollution in the Hudson River. Yes, the government’s role in the clean-up is large even though it was not primarily at fault in the original pollution.
RECLAIMING A RIVER
A floating dredge lowered a clamshell bucket to the bottom of the Hudson River on Friday and pulled up a load of muck contaminated with PCBs — oily industrial lubricants that General Electric spent decades dumping into the river, and decades more fighting to keep there….
The company had dumped these toxic hydrocarbons in the river for decades, back when that was legal. They were banned in the 1970s, but by then they had worked their way into the food chain, the striped bass in particular. The parts of the river saturated with PCBs were identified as a federal Superfund site, with G.E. held responsible for cleaning them up or at least containing them….
….The government ultimately prevailed. The basic cleanup plan was devised by the Clinton administration and ratified by George W. Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Christine Todd Whitman, who in 2002 ordered G.E. to get on with the job.
…For now, the start of dredging is reason enough to raise a glass of silty Hudson water to toast what we hope will soon be the river’s final break with its toxic past.
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