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 Do you trust everyone the same way? Probably not. For example, would you trust a three-year-old the same way you would trust a mature adult? Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper? Do you believe everything you find on the internet? What about TV news?
My guess is that you have a LOT more problems with trust these days than you had when you were in high school. I know I sure have a lot of problems with believing anything I am told. Everything goes through my own personal truth detector filters, and I decide who to believe, what to believe and when.
Call me a skeptic, but I do not believe in Santa Claus. I do not believe there is a fountain of youth. I do not believe there is a way to restore my once plentiful and dark hair.
Based on the number of spam emails I get every single day, I
By John Jacobi
am cynical. There are people out there that ARE out to “get” me any way they can.
That brings me to something called “situational ethics.”
Joseph Fletcher (1905-1991) developed a model asserting that decision-making should be based upon the circumstances of
a particular situation, and not upon fixed law. His premise
was that “As long as Love is your intention, the end justifies
the means. Justice is not in the letter of the Law, it is in the distribution of Love.” My problem with that philosophy is that I do not believe in free love. Love almost always has a price. An act of love to one person may be an act of hate to another. Can you say “war”?
As an engineer, I studied physics. Last time I checked, physics is a science. Newton’s third law can be stated simply: For every action, there is an equal, but opposite, reaction. Newton’s
third appears to apply in today’s society. One political
party does something, and another political party reacts in
the opposite direction. That is what is called a “zero-sum” equation. One party cannot “win” unless the other party “loses.” Unfortunately, everyone loses because so much energy is invested in posturing. There has to be a better way. The problem with situational ethics (“The end justifies the means.”) is that unintended consequences all too often outweigh the so-called benefits.
True science (including physics) is objective and unlike Justice, the laws of physics and the laws of science apply equally to EVERYONE!! If you don’t do something you should (like call before you dig) or if you do something you should not (like
not waiting for underground utilities to be marked in a non- emergency situation or simply ignoring the marks), sooner or later Mother Nature or Murphy’s Law will make you pay!
Call before you dig. Use the appropriate PPE. If something does not seem right, STOP and figure it out before something bad happens. Be safe out there!!
Update: In a previous column, I mentioned that by law dated December 23, 2022, PHMSA was required by Congress to
issue a final rule on automatic and remote-controlled shut-
off valves no later than April 22, 2023, or get docked $5,000
per day. May 18, 2023, PHMSA posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (88 FR 31890). June 30, 2023, PHMSA extended the Public Comment Period to August 16, 2023 (88 FR 42284). As a practical matter, it will most likely be at least 2024 before the rule goes final. That is only $1.8 million per year out of the current $29 million budget. It’s only money.
John Jacobi retired from PHMSA. For questions or comments, email:
Who Do YOU Trust?
 20 • Alabama 811
2023, Issue 3

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