Values and Ethics in Public Administration essay

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The Haitians who flocked West Chiefland after the 2011 earthquake brought with them their traditional rituals, some of which have not found favor in the eyes of many locals. The ritual of animal sacrifice is particularly controversial, and members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have even gone to court over the issue. The Haitians have proved to make a significant input to the economy of this town, offering cheap labor and working hard  to develop the economy of West Chiefland. Faced with the difficult decision between ordering the Haitians to stop their practices and, therefore, pushing them away from the town, and ignoring the hue and cry of the residents, the city management has turned to a review of the values and ethics in public administration in order to make a wise choice.

It is obvious that the decision at hand is a tough one. There is a number of issues to be considered before making a choice. First of all, it should be understood that all the decisions made in public service are supposed to  solve peoples' problems and meet the mission. Secondly, it is important to observe democracy, professionalism, integrity and ethics in the course of the decision-making process (Lewis & Gilman, 2012). This is a tough matter because it has already been decided by the courts. Therefore, the decision that the city management makes must be informed and prudent.

It is important to scrutinize the problem with a neutral lens first. The problem is that there is a group of foreigners who are exercising certain rituals which cmany residents find distasteful and repugnant. However,  these foreigners, apart from their rituals, have proved to be quite useful to the economy of the town, which makes the matter more complicated. This, therefore, begs the question: should these foreigners be stopped from exercising their rituals in the interests of some of the locals? If so, the Haitians might relocate to a place where they will be allowed to continue exercising their religious rituals. However,his would have a negative impact on the economy of the town. On the other hand, if they are allowed to continue their rituals without any intervention, the  city management will be the ones to blame. This would imply that the city management has failed to take care of the interests of the city residents, and the city residents might lose their faith in the management. The city management is, therefore, walking a tightrope.

While making such a decision one has to be guided by the principles of democracy. Democracy is a practical reality that is calling a value of human dignity. Democracy must strike a delicate balance between the interests of the majority and the rule of law, between the rights of individuals and public interests (Rosenfeld & Sajó, 2012). When public servants are elected to the office, they swear to uphold the law and ensure that their electorates can trust them (Lewis & Gilman, 2005). Therefore, it is expected of the city management that it will make decisions that reflect this faith of the public.

There is yet another ramification that introduces a twist to this entire situation, which is a  clash between legality and morality. While there is a chance  that dismissing this case, as the courts did , is legal, it remains a question whether such a decision would be considered moral. It should be assumed that legality takes care of morality, but according to the theory of legal positivism, it is essential to separate human-made law and morality, and this creates the possibility of a clash between the two (Lewis & Gilman, 2005).

This matter should have been settled while being resolved in court. According to its decision, the Haitian people have been absolved of any indictments. They have been deemed to only exercise their right to free religion. However, as things stand, there is  room to believe that the decision, although legal, still leaves a lot to be desired. Indeed, as Lewis and Gillman state, it is possible for a narrow legalistic perspective to pervert rather than implement the law. However, when it comes to decision-making in the public service sector, additional ethical questions should arise only after the legality of the matter has been resolved. Bearing this in mind, it should be stated that the legality of the issue had already been settled. The Haitians were acting very much within the confines of the law, and there was no reason to banish them from the town or stop them from exercising their rituals.

In making a decision of such a magnitude, it is, therefore, necessary to ask three questions. Firstly, is the decision legal? Secondly, is it ethical? Lastly, is it effective? Well, these questions will be answered in sequence as the answer gets revealed.

Final Decision

The final decision is that the Haitians should be allowed to continue with their rituals of animal sacrifice, but  they should relocate the venue to a different area. It seems that the residents of West Chiefland are unhappy with the practice, but the venue makes it even more irksome. A different venue should be discussed and decided upon. This may put an end to the problem in an amicable way. All the three requirements for decision making in public service will have been taken care of. Is the decision legal? Yes, indeed. It has been taken care of by the court. Is the decision ethical? Certainly! It has been made in good faith for both the locals and the Haitians. Moreover, the decision will favor the locals who rely on the labor that is provided by the Haitians. And the decision upholds the letter and spirit of the law. Finally, is the decision effective? Hopefully, it is and the decision will cool down the disgruntled natives and provide a chance for the Haitians to continue exercising their religious practices. Moreover, the decision will encourage the tapping of the  cheap labor provided by the  Haitians.

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