The complexity of life is one of the many features that distinguish the living from the inanimate. Life does not follow a strict written set of rules; personal interpretations do not always coincide even if the interpretations are focused on the same target. The line between right and wrong is an ever-changing measure that adapts itself to the given circumstances that is impossible to fully encapsulate in a formulaic approach. Often, this variability adds value to life; it creates suspense, initiates interest, and embraces diversity. However, there are times that this variability challenges the ability of men to produce positive results. Amidst difficult circumstances when competing interests seem to present equally valid claims, how does one decide where the line between right and wrong falls when there is no formula to substitute in for the variables of the situation? Well, it is amidst these crucial moments that one defines his or her ability to make proper judgments within given constraints. When making important decisions that affect the lives of their constituents, public officials must balance competing claims by evaluating the circumstances from a nonpartisan basis with careful contemplation of both long-term and short-term implications, while maintaining the welfare of their constituents as the guiding principle.
Because the posed question leads into the issue of the current energy crisis, it may be appropriate to continue the exploitation of this problem for elucidation of the key messages of this essay. When confronted by a challenging quest such as deciding the future of energy, an issue of utmost importance, public officials must hold it as the guiding principle to always place the welfare of their immediate and prospective constituents first. In doing so, it forces them to evaluate both the long-term and short-term implications of their decisions in order to ensure stability. It also eliminates the unnecessary bias of political affiliation that often impedes progress and encourages factions and separations instead of unions. With this stated, it is also important to acknowledge the practicality of this virtue. Yes, every public official will state that he or she always holds the people at his or her heart, but how many of these individuals actually do? Greed often blinds officials to make decisions for personal gains instead of communal benefits. To truly evaluate the circumstances without political bias, public officials should review nonpartisan publications of the issues in question to prevent political obstruction of the truth of facts. In doing so, at least the officials will have time to judge the facts for themselves without bias or implantation of pre-conceived interpretations that often darken the reality of the issue to pull the officials to one side of the aisle or the other. In the case of the energy crisis, officials must pay close attention to the undisputed facts of the energy shortage, such as the statistics of current energy consumption, the amount of remaining energy available, and the cost of implementation of alternative energy sources without the interpretations of people attempting to interpret the matter from one angle or another to benefit their interest. With a strong grasp of the basic facts of the situation without intrusion of personal bias, the public officials would be more likely to make the most informed and effective decisions in the end. Then, upon carefully reviewing the facts, the public officials must begin hearing the interpretations from all sides of the issue, bearing in the mind the interest of their constituents. Again, regarding the case of energy alternatives, one side may propose a stop to importing oil that makes the US dependent on foreign oil sources and to commence an alternative energy program that would develop the necessary domestic energy sources for the future. On the other hand, some may encourage the officials to continue the development of foreign trade for oil as it continues to strengthen American relationships with foreign countries based on economic mutuality; they may also oppose the initiation of an alternative energy program because such a development is illogical given the current economic downfall; they may argue that it does not make sense to invest in the future when the present itself is insecure. Now, although all sides may sound equally valid, because the public officials now have sound knowledge of the issue based upon a review of the undisputed facts, they can judge the validity of the arguments. Of course, because all sides will only present the aspects of the issue that benefit their cause, the officials will play the role of mediators whose job it is to absorb the truthful portions of all arguments and discard illogical or irrelevant conclusions. Once a set of proper and truthful interpretations has been deduced by the public officials upon listening to the arguments from both sides, then they would be ready to proceed to the next step of drawing proposals that balance those interpretations, again maintaining the interests of the people at their consciousness at all times.
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To introduce the most effective and robust proposals as resolutions for any problems, public officials must assess both the short-term and long-term benefits for their constituents. Of course, solving an immediate problem that creates more and more future issues is not only irresponsible but is also unethical. Drafting an effective proposal requires the public officials to understand the needs of their people and to predict the implications of their actions. They must ask themselves, “What would happen in the next 10, 20, and 30 years if I put this plan into motion?” They must also inquire, “Can I afford not to take this immediate step to alleviate the suffering of my people?” Planting a seed of a more serious problem in the future for the sake of immediate relief is seldom an acceptable response. For instance, although FDR may not have predicted the calamity of his Social Security plan, the immediate relief from the Great Depression that his social policies provided was later abrogated by the current disaster regarding the funding of Social Security. Yes, perhaps the action that FDR took was most appropriate given the dire and time-sensitive situation of the Great Depression. However, there might have been other alternatives that did not risk the future consequences of Social Security. Getting back to the example of the energy future, when a public official is ready to draft a plan, he or she must face the concern of the continued exploitation of petroleum products. Yes, petroleum products are currently much cheaper than most alternative energy sources, and given the economic sensitivity of the time, the cheapest method to obtain energy for the future seems to make the most economic sense. However, looking a little deeper into the issue, continued exploitation of petroleum products means further degradation of the environment that not only harms the US, but the entire world. If humanity is to maintain high living standards, environmental balance must be addressed at some point, either at a time when damage is reversible or at a time when reversibility is near impossibility. If public officials do not evaluate the consequences of their actions for the future and continue to increase the severity of the damage caused by the continued exploitation of petroleum products, then there will come a time when rectification of environmental damages becomes economically disastrous. The current investment in alternative energy sources to decrease dependence on petroleum products may cost a little more at first, but it will save prospective constituents from another disaster. But then another conundrum arises as to the extent of the compromise between petroleum products and alternative energy sources. This concern must be addressed by public officials with consideration of the current economic state of their constituents and, again, the affordability for future rectifications. Only with the consideration of the short-term and long-term benefits of a solution can an official introduce a poly that adequately meets the needs of the people without impeding the development of the future.
As the public officials attempt to balance opposing claims on important issues like the future of energy production, they must not forget the most important factor of all, the people. Frequently, officials must seek the input from their constituents to review the current state of concern. Only then can they properly introduce proposals that meet the demands of their people. As constituents are the people whom the proposal will serve, they must be part of the equation that leads public officials to the solutions.
Balancing competing claims to derive the best solutions is a difficult task that requires caution, diligence, and patience, and most importantly of all, integrity. Public officials must arrive at these solutions in the best interest of their people in order to introduce the most effective plan that serves the constituents. In the process, the officials must not only consider the immediate relief, but must also evaluate the long-term consequences to prevent the outbreak of more problems. Only in doing so can the most effective and long-lasting plans be drawn.