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When Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard of the United States at the end of October 2012, the sheer size and force of the storm had already earned it the name “Superstorm Sandy.” Reaching over 1,100 miles in diameter at its peak, the storm claimed 285 lives in seven countries on its journey from the western Caribbean. On the New Jersey shore, entire towns were wiped out, with houses floating off their foundations into the bay and streets being buried under tons of sand blown in from the beach. It took Brad O’Connell two months to get back to what was left of his house, and another month before it could be repaired enough to be habitable. You can imagine his surprise, then, when he received a letter from his local city council advising him that his property taxes for 2013–2014 would be increasing by 9 percent. When he called the city finance office to complain that his house was now worth less, not more, he was told that the increase was part of a five-year budget plan that included predetermined tax increases.
1. Which ethical theories could be applied here?
2. When Brad took his complaint to the local media, a spokesperson for the city finance office pointed out that the city’s property taxes were paying for the emergency services that were currently working overtime to help everyone impacted by the storm. Is that an ethical argument? Why or why not?
3. If you were in Brad’s situation, how would you react? 4. How would you resolve the situation?
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