Hot Topics: Politics

Blog Posts (147)

December 18, 2017

"It's a beautiful thing: The destruction of words"

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well…”

My first career out of college was as a writer.…

December 12, 2017

Tax Acts of 2017: Big Changes to Health Care and Education May Be Coming

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

As you may be aware, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are in conference over a major tax bill.…

December 8, 2017

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: December 8, 2017

Technology Ethics Artificial Intelligence Seeks An Ethical Conscience “Leading artificial intelligence researchers gathered this week for the prestigious Neural Information Processing Systems conference have a new topic on their agenda. Alongside the usual cutting-edge research, panel discussions, and socializing: concern about AI’s power. Four ethical priorities for neurotechnologies and AI “Artificial intelligence and brain–computer interfaces must … More Ethics & Society Newsfeed: December 8, 2017
November 10, 2017

Can we talk about gun violence in America?

A report in the New York Times shows the connection between the prevalence of guns in the United States and mass shootings. No country in the world can match the United States in the total number of guns owned by citizens. To put this in context, “Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns.” There are about 270 million guns in circulation in the United States and between 1966 to 2012 there were 90 mass shooters, no other country in the world has more than 48, million guns in circulation or 18 mass shooters. In short, the problem of mass shootings is basically an American problem because we have so many guns available for some people to use in very harmful ways.

Critics may cite other variables that could explain the inordinately high rate of mass shootings in the United States. Trump recently said of the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas:

“Mental health is your problem here. This was a very, based on preliminary reports, this was a very deranged individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries."

As is often the case with his statements, the facts do not support it. About 18% of the population have mental health problems and the vast majority are not violent and are not involved in mass shoots, though a few are. Other possible variables, such as time spent playing video games, the level of racial diversity, immigration, and even crime rate, also can be ruled out statistically as being a significant factor in mass shootings—there is no statistical evidence that any of these variables account for the high prevalence of mass shootings, as well as homicides, in the United States. For example, we learn that a New Yorker is as likely as a Londoner to be robbed, but a New Yorker is over 50 times likely to be killed in the process.

There simply are no other variables other than the number of guns in circulation that would account for the uniquely high frequency of these horrific mass shootings, with which we have become all too familiar. As the report from the New York Times states:

“More gun ownership corresponds with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed countries, among American states, among American towns and cities and when controlling for crime rates.”

If it is the case that is there is a correlation between the number of guns available to citizens in a society and the number of mass shootings that injure and kill innocent people every year, as a matter of common sense, it seems to follow that the solution would be to reduce the number of guns in circulation. In fact this common sense perspective has been borne out by empirical research as stated in the New York Times report:

…(G)un control legislation tends to reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

 The facts seem relatively clear both about the root cause of the problem and how to ameliorate it. So why aren’t people—including citizen voters and politicians—paying attention and responding? This question gets us into a whole other topic, which I don’t want to explore in any depth now. But I will say it seems clear that since the 1980s a powerful gun culture in America cultivated primarily by the zealotry, funds, and organization, of the National Rifle Association (NRA). This culture has been successful in inspiring its followers to take an expansive view of the 2nd Amendment, to see the government as a potential threat to its fundamental right of gun ownership, and live in perpetual fear that politicians will take away their guns and their right to own them. Because of the intense advocacy that puts critical pressure on key politicians, in America the NRA gun culture representing a minority view can bully its way to keeping in place laws that ensure easy access to guns, including deadly assault weapons and large clip magazines.

The fact that most Americans, including many members of the NRA, are thwarted in their desire to see sensible solutions to gun regulation is what is most concerning. According to a Pew Research report, 89% of both gun and non-gun owners favor the mentally ill from purchasing guns—which makes Trump’s repeal of a rule that blocks gun sales to certain mentally ill people, especially in light of his recent statements, all the more troublesome. Moreover, even on issues like barring gun purchases for people on no-fly or watch lists, creating a federal data base to track gun sales, banning assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines, receive two-thirds support from the public. Sadly, in America currently majority views about this and other vitally important public policy issues don’t translate into change in policy.

What is the solution? It seems evident that the majority of people in America with sensible views that are not being heard must take to necessary measures to make themselves heard. Given the trajectory of violence from mass shootings and the urgency of protecting innocent lives, it’s time for new culture of resistance to the NRA and the politicians that support them to find reasonable ways to regulate guns in America.

 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.  

 

 

 

 

November 10, 2017

Can we talk about gun violence in America?

A report in the New York Times shows the connection between the prevalence of guns in the United States and mass shootings. No country in the world can match the United States in the total number of guns owned by citizens. To put this in context, “Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns.” There are about 270 million guns in circulation in the United States and between 1966 to 2012 there were 90 mass shooters, no other country in the world has more than 48, million guns in circulation or 18 mass shooters. In short, the problem of mass shootings is basically an American problem because we have so many guns available for some people to use in very harmful ways.

Critics may cite other variables that could explain the inordinately high rate of mass shootings in the United States. Trump recently said of the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas:

“Mental health is your problem here. This was a very, based on preliminary reports, this was a very deranged individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries."

As is often the case with his statements, the facts do not support it. About 18% of the population have mental health problems and the vast majority are not violent and are not involved in mass shoots, though a few are. Other possible variables, such as time spent playing video games, the level of racial diversity, immigration, and even crime rate, also can be ruled out statistically as being a significant factor in mass shootings—there is no statistical evidence that any of these variables account for the high prevalence of mass shootings, as well as homicides, in the United States. For example, we learn that a New Yorker is as likely as a Londoner to be robbed, but a New Yorker is over 50 times likely to be killed in the process.

There simply are no other variables other than the number of guns in circulation that would account for the uniquely high frequency of these horrific mass shootings, with which we have become all too familiar. As the report from the New York Times states:

“More gun ownership corresponds with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed countries, among American states, among American towns and cities and when controlling for crime rates.”

If it is the case that is there is a correlation between the number of guns available to citizens in a society and the number of mass shootings that injure and kill innocent people every year, as a matter of common sense, it seems to follow that the solution would be to reduce the number of guns in circulation. In fact this common sense perspective has been borne out by empirical research as stated in the New York Times report:

…(G)un control legislation tends to reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

 The facts seem relatively clear both about the root cause of the problem and how to ameliorate it. So why aren’t people—including citizen voters and politicians—paying attention and responding? This question gets us into a whole other topic, which I don’t want to explore in any depth now. But I will say it seems clear that since the 1980s a powerful gun culture in America cultivated primarily by the zealotry, funds, and organization, of the National Rifle Association (NRA). This culture has been successful in inspiring its followers to take an expansive view of the 2nd Amendment, to see the government as a potential threat to its fundamental right of gun ownership, and live in perpetual fear that politicians will take away their guns and their right to own them. Because of the intense advocacy that puts critical pressure on key politicians, in America the NRA gun culture representing a minority view can bully its way to keeping in place laws that ensure easy access to guns, including deadly assault weapons and large clip magazines.

The fact that most Americans, including many members of the NRA, are thwarted in their desire to see sensible solutions to gun regulation is what is most concerning. According to a Pew Research report, 89% of both gun and non-gun owners favor the mentally ill from purchasing guns—which makes Trump’s repeal of a rule that blocks gun sales to certain mentally ill people, especially in light of his recent statements, all the more troublesome. Moreover, even on issues like barring gun purchases for people on no-fly or watch lists, creating a federal data base to track gun sales, banning assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines, receive two-thirds support from the public. Sadly, in America currently majority views about this and other vitally important public policy issues don’t translate into change in policy.

What is the solution? It seems evident that the majority of people in America with sensible views that are not being heard must take to necessary measures to make themselves heard. Given the trajectory of violence from mass shootings and the urgency of protecting innocent lives, it’s time for new culture of resistance to the NRA and the politicians that support them to find reasonable ways to regulate guns in America.

 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.  

 

 

 

 

November 9, 2017

To Whom Do Children Belong?

This post also appears in the November 2017 issue of the American Journal of Bioethics. 

by John Lantos, Ph.D.

In this issue of AJOB, Navin and Wasserman (2017) argue that parents should have more discretion in clinical decision making than they currently do.…

November 1, 2017

Rand Paul is About to Legislate Peer-Review: Scientists Need Not Apply

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Senator and former Presidential candidate Rand Paul introduced S. 1973, a bill that would change how scientific grant proposals are reviewed.…

October 12, 2017

The Rescinding of DACA: What Should Healthcare Professionals and Academics Do? (And Why?)

by Mark G. Kuczewski, Ph.D. Danish Zaidi, MTS, MBE

Imagine that the 14th Amendment is repealed. Suddenly, birthright citizenship is no longer the accepted law of the United States.…

October 6, 2017

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: October 6, 2017

B0ioethics/Medical Ethics Pope denounces technologies that help people change gender “Pope Francis denounce Thursday how new technologies are making it easier for people to change their genders, saying this ‘utopia of the neutral’ jeopardizes the creation of new life.” KAST calls for loosening up of law on bioethics“ The Korean Academy of Science and Technology … More Ethics & Society Newsfeed: October 6, 2017
September 28, 2017

Social Justice Trumps Fancy Tech In This Week’s Bioethics News

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Some weeks when I think about what my blog will be about, there are very few relevant items in the news.…

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Published Articles (27)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 11 - Nov 2017

The Rescinding of DACA: What Should Healthcare Professionals and Academics Do? (and Why?) Mark G. Kuczewski & Danish Zaidi

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 10 - Oct 2017

Saving Life, Limb, and Eyesight: Assessing the Medical Rules of Eligibility During Armed Conflict Michael L. Gross

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 7 - Jul 2017

Rethinking the Belmont Report? Phoebe Friesen, Lisa Kearns, Barbara Redman & Arthur L. Caplan

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 7 - Jul 2017

A Proposed Process for Reliably Updating the Common Rule Benjamin E. Berkman, David Wendler, Haley K. Sullivan & Christine Grady

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 7 - Jul 2017

At Last! Aye, and There's the Rub Alexander M. Capron

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 7 - Jul 2017

Modernizing Research Regulations Is Not Enough: It's Time to Think Outside the Regulatory Box Suzanne M. Rivera, Kyle B. Brothers, R. Jean Cadigan, Heather L. Harrell, Mark A. Rothstein, Richard R. Sharp & Aaron J. Goldenberg

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 5 - May 2017

Ethics, Refugees, and the President's Executive Order Nancy E. Kass

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 5 - May 2017

Genetic Fingerprints and National Security Beau P. Sperry, Megan Allyse & Richard R. Sharp

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 6 - Jun 2015

U.S. Complicity and Japan's Wartime Medical Atrocities: Time for a Response Katrien Devolder

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 2 - Feb 2015

Ritual Male Infant Circumcision and Human Rights Allan J. Jacobs & Kavita Shah Arora

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News (486)

January 11, 2018 9:00 am

With nuclear codes in hands, why doesn't the president get a thorough mental check? (CNN)

With a tell-all book raising concerns about US President Trump’s mental stability, there is a renewed question asking why the most powerful man in the world is not required to pass a thorough mental health exam.

December 18, 2017 9:00 am

Researchers win some, lose some in final U.S. tax bill (Science)

The U.S. research community experienced both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in lobbying congressional Republicans as they wrapped up a major overhaul of the nation’s tax code.

November 28, 2017 9:00 am

Director of HHS scientific fraud office is out after stormy 2-year tenure (Science)

The controversial director of the office that polices research fraud in U.S.-funded biomedical labs is temporarily moving to another agency. Kathy Partin has been removed after nearly 2 years as director of the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in Rockville, Maryland.

November 10, 2017 9:00 am

Former GSK boss to lead new UK accelerated drug access scheme (Reuters)

Former GlaxoSmithKline boss Andrew Witty is to lead a new British scheme to accelerate access to ground-breaking medicines for conditions such as cancer, dementia and diabetes from April 2018.

November 8, 2017 9:00 am

White House opioid commission calls for wide-ranging changes to anti-drug policies (Washington Post)

President Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis called Wednesday for a nationwide system of drug courts and easier access to alternatives to opioids for people in pain, part of a wide-ranging menu of improvements it said are needed to curb the opioid epidemic.

October 24, 2017 9:00 am

‘Let us do our job’: Anger erupts over EPA’s apparent muzzling of scientists (Washington Post)

The Trump administration’s decision to prevent government scientists from presenting climate change-related research at a conference in Rhode Island on Monday gave the event a suddenly high profile, with protesters outside, media inside and angry lawmakers and academics criticizing the move.

October 23, 2017 9:00 am

Rand Paul takes a poke at U.S. peer-review panels (Science)

New legislation introduced this week by Senator Rand Paul (R–KY) would fundamentally alter how grant proposals are reviewed at every federal agency by adding public members with no expertise in the research being vetted.

October 17, 2017 9:00 am

Trump’s UNESCO exit draws critics, but will have little immediate impact (Science)

To the dismay of many researchers, the U.S. government announced last week that it would formally withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) based in Paris.

October 12, 2017 9:00 am

Birth control: Trump expands opt-out for workplace insurance (Washington Post)

President Donald Trump is allowing more employers to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections, issuing new rules Friday that take another step in rolling back the Obama health care law.

September 21, 2017 9:00 am

As Federal Government Cuts Obamacare Ads, Private Insurer Steps Up (NPR)

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act insurance doesn’t start for another six weeks. But the quirky insurance startup Oscar Health is launching an ad campaign Monday aimed at getting young people to enroll.

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