Monday, June 6, 2011

But the question is "what can you do for your country?"

A few days ago one of our guest blogger, Leontiy Korolev, posted a short comparison of laws that shapes domestic and international efforts in sustainability. There was a very interesting comment posted on facebook about this post:

"That dances around a core concept that is never mentioned, but is at the hub of all the spokes: you don't achieve scientific advances by reward/punishment of citizens by government mandates/fines/regulations. You achieve advancement and breakthroughs by letting experiments happen and fail. Through mistakes we learn, and try a different material/procedure/condition of the experiment."
I share this reader's sentiment. I think it's not really the govt's responsibility to make things happen so I think our frustrations with the govt may be misdirected at times. I believe govt (federal or local) sets the minimum standards to ensure a level of performance and private sector should pick up slack to make meaningful progress. Success or failure happens as natural course of development to distill the best practices.

Although govt regulations does play a critical role, if private sector don't voluntarily comply with higher standards to drive for advancements, we would be trading our freedom for what someone else would say is best for us. But part of our problem in the past is that we have focused on some of the wrong things or wrong practices (like profit and not human health and welfare). We saw some of the consequences through a series of economic scandals, a few housing bubbles, a national healthcare crisis, etc.

I remember from a class 10 years back when economists seriously debated that economics is wholly independent of other disciplines.

How do they account for the tragedy of commons or our nation's deteriorating health problem associated with an increasingly complicated health care system is beyond me. Then again, I'd like to be an optimist and think we are on the right track to making good things happen...

In a society such as ours, we would need a robust and independent education system to enhance the participation of both politics and economic policies. That means everyone should strive for at least a college reading and comprehension level with basic knowledge of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights... I always though "leaving no child behind" is a rather sad motto... it's should be joining the move forward. Looking at the way education is organized these days, it's a challenge to remain an optimist.

On a different note about leaving governments doing their bare minimum, I think we ought to take up our responsibilities and do the maximum. That is why I get excited about programs like LEED.

LEED it's a voluntary program but the required floor is set by federal and local codes. For example, 2009 LEED v3.0 included Indoor Air Quality so if your building wish to be certified, you have to meet some CAA guidelines.

There are six major categories for new constructions, major renovations, core and shells (building for future tenants) and schools: site selection, water and environment, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, waste management, innovation and design, and regional priorities (RP is new for v3.0)

In any case, LEED adds incentives to real estate development, adds value and increase productivity and performance of structural renovations.

A friend recently asked me what would make LEED worth while for a new practicing lawyer. I''d say there is very little interest if you are thinking about potential litigation. But if you are thinking development (infrastructural or business) this is a very important program: LEED takes practical approach encompassing EPA regulations and other federal and local laws. LEED takes a totality approach and involve Owners, Various Engineers, Architects, and Approving Agencies, so it is also best vested to develop synergies when thinking about future developments...

My hope is to somehow find someone who is willing to experiment with LEED cert with product design and packaging... I think that would be a valuable set of knowledge for developing countries like China.

At the end of the day, I am more interested in what I can do as opposed to what I am suppose to do. There are a lot of laws and things I am required to perform that I do not agree with. I think over the years, our constitutional mandate for a federalism has gone away. We are left with a rather unique monarchy with distributed lords and ladies performing Agency duties as appointed by their King. Personally, I don't care if you call him a President or a King, he does not speak for me nor does he mandate what I ought to do to help make a difference. The true meaning of a free country reside in its people, NOT ITS KING.

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