THE HORACE MANN
Volume XXII - Issue 1
SUMMER 2012 FEATURED
London School of Economics Assistant Professor Keyu Jin â€˜00
The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
Review THE HORACE MANN
Letter From the Editor For this issue of The Review, the first of Volume XXII and the 2012-13 school year, we asked a number of our past editors, as well as a collection of our current editors, to write about their views on current events issues of particular interest or significance to them. The magazine which resulted – the one which you are now reading – is an ideal example of everything The Review has stood for over the twenty-two years of its existence: thoughtful and rational discourse; the sharing of a broad range of stimulating and original ideas; a spirit of cooperation amongst writers and editors; and a common recognition of the importance of speaking out and becoming involved in the issues that shape the world we live in. Over the years, our editors have shown The Review tremendous support as it has developed, and they have been proud to watch as each successive generation of the magazine’s leaders has built upon the foundations that they themselves worked hard to construct. The warm response of our past editors to the concept of this first issue illustrates vividly the significance The Review has held in each and every one of their lives. To each and every student who chooses to become involved, The Review offers a chance to grow as a writer, as a thinker, as a teacher, and as a leader – skills that continue to serve our past editors well beyond their high school and even college years. To our past editors, The Review remains one of the great bright moments of their Horace Mann education. The changes contributed by each group of editors, the unshakeable interest our past editors have shown in the magazine’s progress, and the constant improvement of quality both in content and design prove that The Review as an idea remains very much a work in progress – one which each successive group of students at the school has an opportunity to shape and develop in its own vision. Just as each individual issue is the product of a long and rewarding process, so too is the whole Review the product of a process that has been going on for twenty-two years. It is important that I take this opportunity, as we begin the 2012-13 year, to thank several people in particular for making all of this possible. First and foremost, I wish to thank Mr. Donadio, our faculty advisor, who has dedicated a huge amount of time and commitment to the students involved and has remained The Review’s strongest advocate and greatest leader for many years. I would also like to acknowledge the great help and support provided by the administration and faculty, particularly Dr. Kelly, Dr. Schiller, and Dr. Delanty. I am greatly appreciative of the huge amount of effort already displayed by this year’s editorial staff and writers; it is clear that we have a great year ahead of us and that they will continue to lead the magazine down the right road in the future. Finally, I would like to thank Rebecca Segall, the Editor-in-Chief of our 2011-12 volume, for the incredible amount of dedication she invested in the magazine last year and for being a great mentor to everyone on the Review staff. You can find an article by Rebecca in this issue, as well as an article written by another past Editor-in-Chief, Deependra Mookim (’11), who likewise led The Review with great enthusiasm and grace. Enjoy the issue.
Daniel Elkind Editor-in-Chief Volume XXII
Daniel Elkind Editor-in-Chief
Spencer Cohen Executive Editor
Jacob Gladysz-Morawski Alex Posner Nicholas McCombe Stephen Paduano Managing Editors - Design
Managing Editors - Content
Head of Middle Division
Senior Editor - Features
Treshauxn Dennis-Brown Senior Editor - Domestic
Senior Editor - International
Senior Editor - Economics
Senior Editor - Science and Technology
Maurice Farber Philip Perl Sam Rahmin Senior Contibuter
Will Ellison Catherine Engelmann Ben Greene David Hackel Sam Henick Jennifer Heon Caroline Kuritzkes Isaiah Newman Sahej Suri Jonah Wexler Junior Editors
Daniel Baudoin Hannah Davidoff Mihika Kapoor Mohit Mookim Kelvin Rhee Associate Editors
Jacob Haberman Hana Krijestorac Henry Luo Namit Satara Jacob Zurita Junior Contibutors
Gregory Donadio Faculty Advisor
The Horace Mann Review is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the American Scholastic Press Association, and the National Scholastic Press Association. Opinions expressed in articles or illustrations are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board or of the Horace Mann School. Please contact The Review for information at email@example.com.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Domestic Sam Rahmin Nathan Raab Namit Satara
Come on, Media! 4 Learning to Love Corporate Speech 6 A Cruel Summer: Gun Control 10
International Rebecca Segall ‘12 Alex Posner Sahej Suri
A Reason to Hope: Southeast Asia 12 A Period of Progress in the Middle East 16 Reconstructing Afghanistan 18
Features Dr. Keyu Jin ‘00
An Issue of Credit
The Failed Republican Tax Plan
Economics Daniel Elkind
Science and Technology Deependra Mookim ‘11 A Free Market in Organs 30 Isaiah Newman The Curiosity Rover 34 3
Come on Media, Report on the Election! Why the coverage of the Presidential election has been a failure By Sam Rahmin
t seems so logical: in order to campaign for the oval office, the candidates explain their stance on the issues and why they are best fit for the job. As expected, when I turn on my television or open a newspaper, I am bombarded by announcements sponsored by candidates. Now, since both parties understand the value of social media, facebook and twitter messages are fair game for the campaign trail. Yet, unfortunately, I have come to expect that in order to hear anything significant about the candidates, I must seep through posters, commercials, tweets, and even newspaper articles. The candidates fight unfairly, twisting already unreliable information. The media plays along. The problem? Most Americans don’t filter through countless articles to read about the issues that are occasionally brought up in the election. More significantly, it has been four years since anyone has joked about the media’s dirty mistress… President Obama. Yet, President Obama still
makes news reporters swoon and citizens don’t realize how much favor he is getting in this circus of an election. In three months, Americans will have elected a new president. A new president with the power to serve as commander and chief of the army, make foreign treaties, and appoint justices to the Supreme Court. Yet, neither of the candidates whom we will have entrusted to lead our country is behaving as leaders should. Both candidates are at fault for attempting to lie to the public by manipulating the citizenry. For example, earlier in the week, I turned on my television to hear Senator Mitt Romney trying to claim that President Obama is in fact lying to the public. Now, I feel that this point is moot, because in order to make his case, Mitt Romney must use and incredibly deceptive commercial. But, unpacking this commercial see where its information comes from to check its reliability is quite a feat. Six seconds in, Romney quotes a cynical fact-checking The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
column in the Washington Post. This fact checking article was dubious of Obama because of one of his accusations on Romney. He questioned decisions Romney made while working at Bain capital, calling Romney an “outsourcer-in-chief.” Romney was clearly not over the month old dig, so he had to mention it in the infomercial. The infomercial ends with a throwback to 2008, with Hillary Clinton raging against then Senator Obama. (Because clearly, Mrs. Clinton’s thought that President Obama falsely categorized her opinion on trade in 2007 is relevant now?) These sound bites Mitt Romney used in what should have been a Pro-Romney ad, but turned into an anti- Obama ad, show what a skewed perspective an average citizen can get on the candidates. Unfortunately, our current commander-in-chief is just at talented at falsifying information. An Obama sponsored Yahoo! Article that recently popped up on my newsfeed attempted to accuse Senator Romney of killing
The Media's Dirty Mistress - The news media has favored President Obama overwhelmingly in the last two Presidential elections. PHOTOS (L-R): obamaballotchallenge. com, 1.bp.blogspot.com; PHOTOS OPPOSITE PAGE: www.namedevelopment.com, www.vacationrentalmarketingblog.com, zazenlife.com
a woman. A minute long commercial featured Joe Soptic, one of Mitt Romney’s former steelworkers from his plant in Kansas City. Romney’s Bain Capital made a decision in the best interest of the business to close that GST Steel plant in 2001. With the closing of the plant, Mr. Soptic was laid off and he lost his health benefits. (Seems to make sense considering the plant no longer employed him…) Yet, somehow, Romney is painted as a monster that robbed Mr. Soptic of health insurance. Apparently, he is the singular cause of Mrs. Soptic died of cancer. These campaign stories are growing more vulgar and absurd with every election. Thus, Americans cannot rely on a lot of information put out directly from campaigns. So where can we get reliable information? Unfortunately, we cannot trust the media. It is simple to see that reporters prefer to focus on off topic statements, usually ones that were taken out of context. For example, the British had a field day discussing Romney’s many political gaffes. Romney, a man who served as chief executive of the successful Salt Lake City winter Olympics in 2002 and knows about the difficulty in running the Olympic games, questioned if London took the proper precautions preparing for the big event. This probably innocent political gaffe quickly spread through the media. Later in the day, Romney addressed Mr. Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, as Mr. Leader. Britain assumed Romney forgot his name. Rom-
It has been four years since anyone has joked about the media’s dirty mistress... President Obama. President Obama still makes news reporters swoon, and citizens don’t realize how much favor he is getting in this circus of an election. ney also made the mistake of publicly announcing that he was briefing with John Sawers, the head of MI6. The UK media attacked him for publicizing the secret meeting, when I think citizens should be praising him for being candid about his whereabouts. In the mind of Great Britain and the media, these few gaffes add to the fact that Romney should not be president. While these Romney gaffes were widespread in the media, coverage on Obama’s gaffes was shanty. Does everyone know about the time that Obama was signing a document in Westminster Abbey, forgot the year, and signed 2008 instead of 2011? How about that Obama’s first official gift to the queen was an ipod filled of his own speeches? Or that his first gift to the Prime Minister was a few DVDs… that won’t play in British DVD players? How about that First Lady Michelle broke protocol by touching the Queen in an official visit? Or that a member of Obama’s administration even dismissed the Brits, telling that they were not “special” compared to every other delegation? Of course, none of these gaffes were given nearly as much covThe Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
erage by the media. Significantly, Mitt Romney is rich. I don’t see how he can be faulted for his status at birth; I do not think he should be faulted for building his own business. Yet time and time again, I hear it being reported- Mitt Romney is rich. When he mentions his childhood, reporters jump to point out that he grew up in a wealthy small town. When he went to a Nascar game, he accused of wearing a helmet that was too fancy. Somehow, reporters must stop picking on Mr. Mitt Romney and begin reporting the news. Ironically, the media’s love affair with Obama is one sided. He deserted the media in sports radio interview. When asked to compare his job to a sports game, President Obama stated, “It also turns out that political reporters are a lot like sports reporters. They’ve all got opinions, even if they didn’t play.” If even the president, who must stay on top of the news cannot see the media’s bias, there is no hope for the average citizen. My only suggestion as to getting trustworthy information is to rummage around for a diamond in the rough- a reliable source.
Learning to Love Corporate Speech By Nathan Raab
y opening the door for corporations to spend unlimited sums in election the Supreme Court has made a campaign finance system that was already flooded with money much worse.” The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC has wrongly allowed corporations to “pour millions of dollars into the political system,” giving conservative candidates an unfair advantage and ensuring that “elections are bought by the biggest check writers.” Americans need to “take back their democracy” – and fast, before “the corporate interest in America… stop[s] citizen democracy in this country,” permanently. It’s a great story. It fires up the Democratic Party base. It would be nice if it were true. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Citizens United is a tweak, at most, to the American system of campaign finance, and a beneficial tweak at that. That system as
a whole is hard to fix without imposing costly restrictions on free speech for questionable material or ethical benefits. In short, it’s time for Democrats – and with them, the nation – to rethink their approach to campaign finance, and, by implication, Citizens United. SORTING OUT FACT FROM FICTION
Critics of Citizens United tend to paint the decision as a sweeping revision of American laws on campaign spending. President Obama’s remarks during his 2010 State of the Union Address are typical: the decision, he claimed, would “open the floodgates for special interests…to spend without limits in our elections.” Two not terribly complicated tests demonstrate that this claim is flatout wrong. The first test is empirical. If, as President Obama states, Citizens United opened any kind of floodgate, then we The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
can expect to see a change in the amount of money spent during presidential campaigns. More precisely, we should expect to see a change in the rate of change of the amount of money spent during presidential campaigns. After all, there are other political trends, like (hypothetically) increases in the price of television advertising, which began before Citizens United, continued after it, and also would increase the amount of money spent in politics. Only if Citizens United “bends the trend-line” would it have had an impact on campaign spending. Matt Bai of the New York Times has already crunched these numbers. His findings? Increases in presidential election spending slowed after Citizens United, with an increase in spending of 136 percent between 2008 and 2012 following on the heels of a 168 percent increase between 2004 and 2008. An analysis of midterm spending from Middlebury College concluded the same
Citizens United is a tweak, at most, to the American system of campaign finance, and a beneficial tweak at that. thing; spending in 2010 remained roughly constant, adjusted for inflation, as compared to spending in 2006. Citizens United has produced no change in overall political spending. But, you object, there must be something wrong! Maybe weak economic growth has acted as a brake on campaign spending in 2010 and the years following. Maybe liberal hatred of George Bush was so intense that it prompted more spending than usual in 2006 and 2008. Surely, Citizens United, at the very least, has changed campaign finance law so that it is easier for an outsider to spend large amounts of money in the political arena. The answer is yes, but barely. We’ll start with individuals because individuals, according to First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, continue to dominate campaign spending: in this year’s Republican primaries, according to Abrams, 86 percent of contributions came from individuals. Only one percent came from publicly traded corporations, and none came from large, Fortune 100 companies. Corporations generally resist spending in elections, explains Eugene Volokh, because they fear alienating potential customers. Before Citizens United, a wealthy individual who wanted to influence an election had two major options. If so inclined, she could spend the money herself, a right given by a 1976 Supreme Court Case called Buckley v. Valeo which struck down limits on individual expenditures as unconstitutional. Disclosure rules, however, would require that she publicly announce her sponsorship of the message. This obviously deters some individual expenditure. It is one thing to pay for a campaign advertisement endorsing a candidate, or a policy, and quite another to announce to one’s friends, colleagues, and neighbors one’s endorsement. For the sake of argument, assume that our individual craves anonymity. If so, she could donate to a so-called 527 group, a corporation dedicated to political advocacy whose donors may remain anonymous under federal law. Under FEC rules, 527s could not endorse particular candidates, but the practical consequences of this rule were minimal. In the 2004 election, for example, Benjamin Feuer notes that the liberal 527 group MoveOn was able to run television advertisements in key swing states telling voters that George Bush had outsourced American jobs and otherwise “misled” the American public. While the advertisement did not exhort viewers to “vote against George Bush,” no reasonable person would consider the advertisement anything but advocacy against a Presidential candidate. After Citizens United, our fictitious donor had the same options. The only difference was that she could also donate to a socalled “Super-PAC,” which was a legal vehicle by which donors could pool funds almost exactly like a 527. Super-PACs are distinThe Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
1910: Federal Corrupt Practices Act: Regulates contributions to House and Senate campaigns 1971: Federal Election Campaign Act: Demands contributor disclosure and puts in place contribution limits
1907: The Tilman Act: Prevents corporations from donating to political campaigns
guishable from 527s solely by their ability to explicitly endorse candidates. In an attack advertisement, how important is the final exhortation to “vote against Barack Obama?” Citizens United did grant corporations additional speech rights, but few corporations, per Mr. Adams’ statistics, have taken advantage of those new rights. Moreover, as we’ll discuss next, denying corporations those rights poses severe problems for the freedom of speech. CORPORATIONS AND FREE SPEECH
In a free society, speakers do not have to justify their speech before they speak it. Unless opponents of a particular type of speech give a convincing argument for why that speech should be barred, we ought to permit that speech. Arguments to bar corporate spending in elections are not sufficiently convincing to surmount this burden of proof, as we’ll see in a moment. “Money isn’t speech.” In a literal sense, this is true: money is money, and speech is speech. But this distinction quickly falls apart. The government cannot bar me from publishing this article. Could it prohibit me from spending money on a pen which I might use to write an initial draft, or from spending to print copies of the finished product? If I wrote this article on someone else’s behalf, can the government bar her from paying me? The First Amendment
would be an empty promise if it could. Money that enables speech must logically deserve the same protection as the speech itself. “Corporations aren’t people.” This is also true in a literal sense. In fact, corporations aren’t anything but groups of people protected by a certain set of laws. It is impossible to separate a corporation from those who manage it; there are no recorded cases of corporations breaking loose from the chains of their human masters and rampaging, Godzilla-like, through major metropolitan areas. If a group of friends and I decide to start a newspaper, whether we organize as a corporation, a partnership, or a trust – or whether we choose not to formally organize at all – will have no bearing on anything beyond how we file our tax returns and what would happen if we were sued. Neither our tax returns nor our status as defendant impacts the quality or quantity of our speech, so it would be odd to discriminate towards or against us on the basis of our corporate status or lack thereof. “Corporate spending creates the appearance of corruption.” But the ‘appearance of corruption’ is not a sufficient interest to justify any speech restriction, no matter how narrow. If an appearance of corruption is not worth investigating, it is not worth censoring speech. If an appearance of corruption is worth investigating, it should be investigated. Should evidence of corruption exist, the law provides an adequate remedy: quid The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
pro quo corruption is illegal. Should evidence of corruption not exist after a long and careful search, the appearance of corruption has disappeared. The problem is solved without restricting speech. Some corporations happen to be very wealthy, and some people justify restrictions on corporate speech on those grounds. Corporations, the logic goes, are creatures of the state which, by virtue of their corporate status, accumulate great influence and power. Such influence and power, even when expressed in pure speech, distorts our democracy. Therefore, the state can legitimately regulate corporate speech. This argument seems quite popular and is superficially persuasive. As such, I’ll spend some time on it. We’ll start with the idea that a corporation is a creature of the state. A corporation is no more a creature of the state than any accumulation of wealth is a creature of the state. My assets are protected by state and federal laws against theft, assault and battery; I would not have this computer, for example, were its theft not contrary to law. (Certainly I would not be able to keep it were I obliged to resort to physical force to protect it.) Such a situation is entirely due to state action or lack thereof. Can the state limit my freedom of expression on the basis that my assets are protected by the state’s laws? I certainly hope not. Moreover, regulating corporate action on the basis that some corporations have great power is both over and under
1976: Buckley vs. Valeo: Upholds contribution limits but rules that campaign spending is a form of 1st Ammendment Speech 2010: Citizens United vs FEC: Allows for unlimited corporate spending through “Super-Pacs”
broad. Some ninety percent of corporations have net assets of under a million dollars, while plenty of natural citizens have many millions, even billions, of dollars counted as part of their net worth. If we can regulate corporations because they are wealthy, we can regulate wealthy individuals as well. On the other side of the coin, a complete bar on expenditures from wealthy corporations is like prohibiting wealthy individuals from speaking at all. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a bad idea – maybe all accumulated wealth which generates speech distorts democracy. But the “distortion of democracy” rationale is fundamentally flawed, if democracy is distorted when some citizens have more power over the outcome of democratic processes than others. Plenty of things distort democracy: some speakers are smarter, or more personable, or have greater standing in the community than others. The fact that my speech is more influential than yours might be does not mean that you can bar me from speaking. Advocates for speech restrictions might argue that money, unlike IQ or personality, only affects the distribution of a message; speech cannot be regulated, in other words, but the relative “volumes” of different speakers can be. This argument fails when we realize that volume is entirely determined by the interaction of the content of the message and the speaker. Repetition does not make speech more persuasive. “Win-
ning in the marketplace of ideas,” as Justice Thomas terms it, is a function of the persuasive quality of the message, not of the number of times the message was repeated on television. Empirical evidence bears this out. One analysis – by economist Stephen Leavitt, of Freakonomics fame – found that a candidate would have to double his or her election spending to gain an extra one percent of the popular vote. Another analysis of spending on campaign advertisements, the most common form of candidate speech, found that most advertisements help candidates “very little or not at all.” Corporate money, in other words, isn’t “buying” voters in any meaningful sense. Quality rhetoric has the same impact no matter how much or little money is behind it. LEARNING TO LOVE CORPORATE SPEECH
But corporate speech isn’t just “not bad,” it’s as worthy of First Amendment protection as any other kind of speech. Amnesty International is a corporation. So is the ACLU. So, for that matter, is the New York Times. All of these organizations benefit American political discourse precisely because they are corporations. For better or worse, the average American does not have the time, energy, or money to get an editorial published in a newspaper or appear on television. Advocacy corporations such as these allow the otherwise voiceThe Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
less to spend time and money to ensure their beliefs are heard. Both times the Citizens United case came to argument in front of the Supreme Court, the lawyers for the government were forced to admit that a bar against corporate speech would permit the government to ban books or pamphlets, what now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan called “core political speech,” purely on the basis of their authorship. A free state does not do such a thing. Whether or not the author is trustworthy or makes what other people think a valid contribution to public discourse is not relevant. Speech is speech is speech. If the average American voter cannot put two and two together on the topic of authorship – if he cannot guess that an advertisement from Exxon might exhibit a slant towards gasoline products, or that “Americans for a Better Tomorrow” might not actually be just a group of Americans who support a better tomorrow – we have bigger problems than those involving campaign finance law. Whoever wins the election in November will not have won because corporations skewed the outcome. They will have won because they earned a mandate from the American people. American democracy, if it is to survive, depends on a faith that the American people – not corporations or any other shadowy, disliked group – remain in charge of the U.S. government.
AR-15, a semi automatic gun, famously used by James Holmes (right) in the Colorado Shooting. Thankfully, his gun was reported to have jammed before harming other people
A Cruel Summer By Namit Satara
ooking back on this summer, I’m sure a lot of us can speak of fond memories, whether it was from following the Olympics or watching numerous movies. However, what stands out for a lot of us is that this was a summer of chaos, slaughter, and death. Three major shootings occurred this summer in the United States: one at the midnight filming of the Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, the second at the Sikh Gurudwara (temple) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and the last outside the Empire State Building. As a result of these mass murders, the ongoing debate of gun control has resurfaced, and now more than ever, we all have questions regarding guns that need to be answered. Should guns be banned? Is too much gun control harmful? What are ways to prevent future shootings? Evidence from our history tells us that simply outlawing a substance won’t erase its existence, but will increase illegal activity pertaining to the matter. Banning firearms will make for
an environment with closeted bootlegging and private black-markets, as was done with alcohol during the Prohibition Era in the 1920’s. Therefore, banning firearms isn’t the route to take, but making them harder to access is. Those against increasing gun-control laws have argued that taking limiting gun freedoms will only hurt the American community more, as lawabiding citizens will be those who are disarmed. Regardless, criminals will go out of their way to access firearms, and this just results in an unarmed, vulnerable public. The duty of protecting this country falls on the police, but federal authorities can’t be crawling up and down every square foot of this nation. We were lucky that the last shooting took place outside the secured landmark of the Empire State Building that only one man was killed in such a densely populated area. Unfortunately, banning guns isn’t an option for our country, as owning them is a “right”, as stated by the Second Amendment of The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
the Constitution of the United States of America. Also, many questions would exist if our government takes that route. What happens to all the guns owned by 3 in every 10 men in our country? How will hunting, one of our country’s pastime, be affected? This issue of gun control is one that has split our country, and a radical decision like banning firearms cannot and will never pass. As proponents of lowering gun control laws would argue, restrictions on firearm access only lead to more violence. However, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center has found substantial evidence that more guns lead to greater homicide rates. Statistics from our country also show that there is a correlation between stricter firearm laws and fewer deaths related to guns. States like New York and California, who have placed several laws limited access to guns, had fewer than 5 deaths per 100,000 people. On the other hand, Arizona and Alaska, both of which didn’t have a single firearm law de-
signed to protect its citizens, had over 20 deaths each. What has changed in our government’s law enforcement since this summer that lets us feel safe everyday when we walk outside into the public. If those three shootings could occur in a span of one month, what’s keeping us protected? What’s different for us that
1968: Congress passes the Gun Control Act. The law calls for better control of interstate traffic of firearms. Lee Harvey Oswald used a mail-order gun to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. 1791: The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified. The amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
1871: The National Rifle Association was formed by Union Army veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate.
toledoblade.com Wade Madison Page: attributed to the shooting of a Sikh Temple
James Holmes: attributed to the Colorado Shooting
Jeffrey Jonhson: attributed to the recent Empire State Builging Shooting
wasn’t for the 19 murdered victims these past months. America has to up its security measure, and it has to do it now. How can we as a nation prevent future massacres? One idea is to increase the presence of federal authorities, but that eventually leads to higher taxes, which is another topic that would stir up great debate. Whatever our solution is, the
A History of Gun Laws Source:npr.org
1934: The National Firearms Act passes in response to gangster culture during Prohibition. The law implements a tax on the making and transfer of automatic-fire guns, shotguns and rifles.
government has to work quickly in finding it. Gun sales have jumped 20% since this summer in fear of stricter gun control laws. One of those customers could be the next James Holmes, Wade Michael Page, or Jeffrey Johnson, and we as a nation need assurance that our protection is a high priority on government’s list.
1993: Congress passes the The Brady Handgun Violence Act, establishing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System gun dealers are to use before selling a gun. The law is named after former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot in the head during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
1986: The Firearm Owner’s Protection Act is approved by Congress. The law prohibits felons from owning or possessing guns or ammunition. The Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act is also passed. It prohibits the manufacturing, importing and selling of ammunition that can penetrate a bulletproof vest.
1939: Supreme Court upholds a federal ban on sawed-off shotguns, implying that the Founding Fathers adopted the amendment to ensure the then-new federal government could not disarm state militias.
2007: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules in favor of Dick Anthony Heller, 66, an armed security guard who sues the district after it rejects his application to keep a handgun at his home in Capitol Hill. District appeals to Supreme Court.
1994: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act becomes law. The law banned the manufacture, use, possession and import of 19 types of assault weapons, including AK-47s and Uzis. The law expired in 2004.
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June 2008: The Supreme Court upholds the lower court ruling, striking down D.C. handgun ban as unconstitutional.
A REASON TO HOPE Why the nations of Southeast Asia are growing increasingly sensitive to human rights
By Rebecca Segall â€˜12
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Rights abuses and widespread suffering have been plagued Myanmar, but we are starting to see hope and improvement. PHOTOS: (BL) www.mcmpovos.com.br, (TR) www.un.org, (BR) www.globalpost.com, (TL) www.unmultimedia.org
or as long as we have held a global definition of human rights—a conversation on the individual’s unalienable standard of living spanning the greater half of the last century— they have needed special protection in certain corners of the world. It’s 2012 and the battle for human rights in southeast Asia seems perpetual. Differences in both policy and mentality towards torture, free speech, and liberty at large stratify developed and developing countries on a moral level. While the narrative of the dissident rotting in a jail cell in Malaysia, Myanmar, or China after challenging his or her government continues to unfold, however, there is reason to hope. Political opposition, new leadership, and increasing pressure from the citizens are slowly changing attitudes and laws governing freedom of opinion in southeast Asia. The most convincing explanation for increasingly human rights-conscious policy in the region,
though, lies not in internal change but in the growing connectedness of nations. Foreign political pressure and improved diplomatic relations pushes all countries to set a higher standard for the good of the global community. Take Malaysia, a notorious abuser of human rights. While activists continue to face charges of sedition from a government desperate to maintain control, this spring and summer’s political conversation seems to be a prelude to positive change. Prime Minister Najib Razak is galvanized to act in response to waning support for the ruling government coalition in power since the country’s 1957 independence. He is setting out to make good on his promise to “strengthen civil liberties,” according to the New York Times, by undertaking a drastic reevaluation of legislation regarding the detention of political prisoners. Najib has described the nation’s Sedition Act, an obvious vestige of colonial The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
The most convincing explanation for increasingly human rights-conscious policy in the region, though, lies not in internal change but in the growing connectedness of nations. Foreign political pressure and improved diplomatic relations pushes all countries to set a higher standard for the good of the global community.
rule, as “[representing] a bygone era in our country.” The 1948 piece of legislation will soon be replaced with the National Harmony Act. The law will attempt to strike a 21st century balance between defending freedom of speech and preventing the propagation of ethnic or religious hatred, a conflict that plagues all nations with diverse populations. Najib’s apparent commitment to slowly liberalizing freedom of expression thus seems to be an attempt to meet the demands of an increasingly politically involved public and maintain the political comparative advantage over opponents. Karpal Singh, chairman of the Democratic Action Party, the political opposition, has critiqued the outdated Sedition Act as broadly worded, in order to act as a malleable political weapon, as well as selectively enforced to target the ruling party’s political targets. A victim of the act himself, Karpal was charged with sedition after
In Myanmar, President Thein Sein (R) has instituted a series of reforms that promise to elevate human rights, and the government’s decision to free opposition party leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has transformed the nation’s image. PHOTOS: (R) www. plaidavenger.com, (L) asiasociety.org, FACING PAGE: tribune.com.pk
allegedly insulting a local sultan. Foreign and domestic outrage at Karpal’s treatment served as a warning sign that such politically paranoid policy would not be tolerated for long. A recent update in legislation regarding prisoners of conscience, for instance, limits the amount of time a suspect of subversive acts can be detained without trial. In another example of political mobilization spurring conversation over free speech, tens of thousands of Malaysian citizens demanded electoral reform in an April demonstration in Kuala Lumpur. While 400 protestors were arrested in violation of the Peaceful Assembly Act for not notifying authorities in advance of a demonstration, political pressure from voters and powerful advocates for change are forcing a gradual governmental reevaluation of policy towards organizing protests. Similarly, though Irene Fernandez, a voice for migrant workers suffering human rights abuse in Malaysia, was met with charges of falsehoods in her reports on the workers’ lack of safety, international attention from agents such as the United Nations and human
In addition to the political incentive of greater acceptance in the international community, the economic and cultural benefits of widespread improvement in human rights policy suggest change for Myanmar. rights organizations seems to be making an impact. Though defensive of its policies towards migrant workers, the government has commenced work with Fernandez’ agency to address the perennial issue of human trafficking. Human rights critics are withholding judgment of Najib’s reform until their effects fully manifest. But the catalyzing of dialogue over the individual’s and the group’s right to express challenging opinions itself inspires faith in The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
the effectiveness of advocacy and open political discourse in traditionally rigid systems. In Myanmar as well, it seems foreign political pressure along with the promise of improved relations with other countries is galvanizing change. After nearly 50 years of repressive military rule, President Thein Sein has initiated a series of reforms to elevate human rights. He has eased censorship laws and freed hundreds of political prisoners. Most notably, the government’s freeing opposition party leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has transformed the nation’s image. A celebrity in the world of human rights, Suu Kyi symbolized the government’s outdated and authoritarian approach towards political dissent; her freedom and subsequent rise to a seat in parliament represents the most direct effect of international attention and pressure on government action. While former U.S. President George W. Bush had frozen assets and imposed harsher political restrictions on then-general Sein, President Obama has eased sanctions and fostered greater dialogue
International since Sein’s becoming head of state, correlating directly to the Burmese leader’s opening up of the political system. Interaction with the outside world, from foreign heads of state to human rights watchdog organizations such as Amnesty International to other international bodies has enabled Sein to feel the benefits of protecting his people’s rights. For instance, conflict between ethnic Bhuddist Burmese and the Muslim Rohingya minority in the northern Arakan State acted as a red flag for political factions in other parts of the world. A Taliban branch in Pakistan has threatened its government to place political sanctions on Myanmar out of concern for Muslims abroad, demonstrating the process of international attention and pressure as a motivator for improvement. The formation of a peace committee in Myanmar, working in tandem with opposition parties and members of parliament, has been able to coordinate cease-fires and temporary settlements with various ethnic groups in fringe minorities, an accomplishment widely perceived as a major step towards the end of sectarian violence and insurgency in the nation. In addition to the political incentive of greater acceptance in the international community, the economic and cultural benefits of widespread improvement in human rights policy suggest change for Myanmar. For instance, any form of political liberalization invariably attracts foreign direct investment in developing countries. Productive economic relationships with other nations symbolizes international faith in Myanmar’s cultural development and provides opportunity for upward social mobility and improved standards of living for Burmese citizens. For instance, since Sein’s innovative reforms, Myanmar has seen a dramatic rise in tourism rates, which benefits local industries, including agriculture, a major source of income for rural Malaysians. Travel also draws the nation in to the global community, indirectly influencing attitudes towards
human rights and standard of living through foreign perspectives. The government has opened previously restricted tourist sites to the public; the home of General Suu Kyi, Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, once closed to visitors out of political defense, has been converted to a museum, bringing revenue into a region of abject poverty and publicly recognizing a dark piece of the country’s past. Though Aung San Suu Kyi vocally discouraged all forms of tourism to Myanmar over a decade ago, her party now publically urges individual tourists to visit, in order to “promote the welfare of the common people and the conservation of the environment.” Democracy advocate U Ba Dhat Aung explained to the New York Times, “It’s good that foreigners connect with this country, spread their knowledge, assist the economy and observe what is happening inside
Liberalization of cultural exchange exposes individuals to different opinions, enabling a general atmosphere of democracy and diversity of thought. In Myanmar, there have been undeniable improvements in the way of free speech.
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Myanmar.” Liberalization of cultural exchange exposes individuals to different opinions, enabling a general atmosphere of democracy and diversity of thought. Though watchdog organizations continue to hold Myanmar accountable for many violations of international human rights law, including detaining political prisoners without fair trial, coordination between different political parties and cooperation with other nations have yielded undeniable improvements in the way of free speech. Change is gradual, and no country in a globalized world can do it alone. Authoritarian and socially rigid systems will never be safe for political dissidents; internet censorship, arrests without due process of law, and intimidation tactics to silence political opposition are symptomatic of a greater social issue that will have to shift in the 21st century. Three journalists illegally detained in Vietnam exceed the nation’s legal limit of jail time without a trial; as their story begins to capture international attention, how will the government continue to seek a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council? And how will China respond to the international arbiters of justice to which South Korea is taking its case of Chinese illegal migration and torture practices? A nation does not fundamentally change its perspective in a vacuum; we must trust that the global structures we have in place to hold nations together—the international justice system, the free market, journalism, tourism, and global culture—can maintain checks and balances. If they cannot protect individuals’ basic safety and freedom, we must strengthen them. As some developing countries send athletes to the summer Olympics for the first time in history, we watch as this millennia-old tradition of cooperation and global interaction unites the world on a cultural level. In the arena of global politics, it seems this same spirit of interconnectedness offers hope for a more humane world.
A PERIOD OF PROGRESS How the Obama Administration has brought hope and change to the Middle East
n recent weeks, criticism of the United States’ support for the Arab Spring revolutions has reached an all-time high. Pundits, mostly conservative, have continued to point to the tragic death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood as evidence of the democracy movement’s inevitable and destructive decline. They have dismissed the wave of Middle Eastern revolutionary fervor as nothing more than a transitory phenomenon and have asserted that the changes of the past two years run sharply counter to the interests of the United States. This narrative, while compelling, is fundamentally flawed. It is true that the Arab Spring has faced a series of setbacks in recent weeks. The death of Ambassador Stevens was devastating and tragic; the conduct of his attackers was utterly abhorrent, and the assault on the U.S. embassy will forever stain
By Alex Posner the books of history. In addition, the now-infamous YouTube video made to mock the prophet Mohammad— while crude and offensive—was not grounds for violent protests. The public reaction was inexcusable, and so too was the U.S.’s inability to generate universal condemnation of such violent conduct, including from political and religious leaders in the region. These events, however, do not provide the whole picture. What conservative pundits fail to mention is that these few setbacks pale in comparison to the important and historic gains of the past two years. When analyzing the Arab Spring and its implications for the United States, it is best to look at these protests not in isolation, but in context. Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, is arguably the movement’s greatest success to date. When Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian fruit cart vendor, set himself on fire to protest The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
what he saw as a culture of pervasive government corruption, few could have predicted the shock-waves that would be sent pulsating through the Middle East. In a matter of weeks, the nation was consumed by protests and the old guard—President Ben Ali—was no more. In October of 2011, Tunisia held its first round of democratic elections. They were strikingly successful. In the words of the Atlantic Council, “The elections met international standards for election transparency, voter turnout, and international oversight.” A new constitution has been drafted, and the ruling party—a moderate Islamist party known as Ennahda—has so far succeeded in resisting the influence of the hard-line Islamists. The government is fiscally solvent, the Tunisian economy has stabilized, and the tourist industry has been revived. The future for Tunisia provides a basis for hope.
International In Egypt, things have been more chaotic, which is not surprising given the country’s political, social, and economic history. Nonetheless, the political changes have resulted in unquestionable progress. Hosni Mubarak has been deposed, democratic elections have taken place, and a new president and government have been instated. In addition, in August, President Morsi ended the military council’s grip on power by forcing the retirement of Field Marshall Mohammad Tawtawi. This was a moment of great upheaval and symbolism because for the first time the elected civilian government successfully asserted power over the military leadership. The council, a vestige from the time of Mubarak, had led the country during the political transition, and was seen by many to be an anachronistic entity standing in the way of true political reform. President Morsi’s stand against the military was bold, and it embodied the populist spirit that is at the ideological core of the Arab Spring. It is this same spirit that will hopefully define the tenor of Middle Eastern politics for years to come. Many critics of the Arab Spring’s effect on Egypt point to the election of a Muslim Brotherhood majority in the now suspended parliament and the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Morsi as evidence of a US foreign policy failure. While these pundits assert that virtually every member of the Muslim Brotherhood is fiercely anti-Israel and anti-US, the evidence does not bear this out. President Morsi has pledged to preserve the EgyptianIsraeli peace treaty, and so far he has honored this claim. This does not mean that EgyptianIsraeli relations are strong and secure. There are many in the Arab world, including political leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood, who continue to be extremely hostile to Israel. There are countless others who are less extreme, but who still view Israel as a threat to Arab political interests. While we need to be attentive to these attitudes, the
Progress will happen, and it will come in a way that benefits the Middle East, the United States, and the world. reality is that we have relatively limited power to temper these anti-Israeli sentiments or dictate how people think. If we champion the cause of democracy, we cannot at the same time demand that certain leaders be elected or that those who are elected reflect our interests and perspectives. That is not how democracy works. The years ahead in the Arab world will certainty be messy. Democracy promotion is not easy and the building of a democratic state is never a linear process. In fact, our own pursuit of independence and democracy was not without its fair share of trials and tribulations. The Continental Army battled the British in a war that lasted over eight years and that came at the expense of more than 25,000 American lives. Even then, it took another five years to draft and ratify the U.S. Constitution. This success only came after we first experimented with a governmental model established by the Articles of Confederation. Like the Arab people, we did not get it right on our first try. Progress will happen, and it will come in a way that benefits the Middle East, the United States, and the world. While the elected leaders of the Arab community may not always see eye to eye with the leaders of this country, we can rest assured that the calls for dignity and greater economic and political freedom are louder than ever. As history has proven true, democracies do not go to war with one another; the democratic peace theory is one that has withstood the test of time. If the people of the Middle East hold their nerve and work to achieve sustainable democracy, accompanied by economic liberalism The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
and global trade, a new era of stability and peace will be ushered in. Wars will become less frequent, oil prices will stabilize, and respect for human rights will increasingly take center stage. We will all stand to gain if these objectives are realized. But, we must be clear-eyed in recognizing that the achievement of these objectives is still many years away. As David Sanger, Chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, put it best when describing the situation in Egypt, “The next few years will be a constant tug of war between fundamentalists and democracy-builders. The old guard will be pitted against the Islamist parties, with aspirations of changing the nature of the state and against those who led the revolution in the square. No doubt Americans will recoil at some of the laws passed, as Egyptians weave conspiracy theories about how Americans are seeking to meddle. But even among the ranks of leadership, there seem to be more Egyptians who want to build a real democracy than join a cause.” This perspective should guide our foreign policy in the coming years, and we should redouble our support for genuine democrats in each of these countries. Sanger’s analysis applies to virtually every country in the Middle East. The wheels of change are moving, and while there will be many bumps along the way, there is an historic opportunity for us to help build stable democracies in the Middle East and Northern Africa. It is imperative for us to stand with the democratic forces in the region and help them seize this moment.
RECONSTRUCTING AFGHANISTAN HOW TO GUARANTEE THE SECURITY AND STABILITY OF AFGHANISTAN, POST TROOP WITHDRAWL
By Sahej Suri
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The rubble of a village in Afghanistan PHOTO: (Above) wikimedia.org, (Opposite Page) dn.theatlantic.com
he disintegration of law and order in Afghanistan can trace its origins back to the invasion of the White Huns in the 5th century C.E., the more recent invasions of the Mongols, Macedonians, Persians, British, Soviets, and finally the Americans. The nation has survived through centuries of upheaval but has remained relatively obdurate to change. However, it is does not necessarily follow for history to repeat itself after the occupation of United States troops in Afghanistan. The American Foreign Service, other U.S. agencies, and allied nations are in the process of strengthening the Afghani infrastructure by “nation building”; ostensibly, Afghanistan may finally be able to break the ancient bonds held by warlords and the Taliban. On June 22nd, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that by 2014, 30,000 United States combat troops will have been withdrawn from Afghanistan. A core of trainers and other troops, however, will remain. The President remarked, “…thanks to our intelligence professionals and special forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11.” The expectation is that the country will have been stabilized, keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks. Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan paves a clear field for the stabilization and subsequent reconstruction of the nation. The responsibility for this lies on the shoulders of the American Foreign Service as well as on other United States peacekeeping agencies. Through the Foreign Service, the United States continues to maintain its goals of procuring a lasting political relationship through dialogue, diplomacy, and multi-faceted efforts to stem terrorism, create stability in Afghanistan, and guarantee a safer United States. One facet in the effort to strengthen Afghanistan at its grassroots level is the reconstruction of its the economy. Herding and farming constitutes the livelihood of about 80 percent of Afghans living in rural areas. Unfortunately, a major prolific agribusiness cash crop in the past has been opium. In 2007, Afghanistan was providing 92% of the world’s illegal opium; 70% of its revenue went through the govern-
The skies of Afghanistan are spotted with helicopters, the ground with troops. PHOTOS: (Above) dn.theatlantic.com (Opp. page T) cdn8.wn.com (Opp. page B) 4gwar.files.wordpress.com
ment of Afghanistan. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, stated, “I urge the friends of Afghanistan to recognize that, to a large extent, these uncomfortable truths may be the result of benign neglect”. Since farmers who comprise major a vital sector of the economy provide the nation with most of its food supply and since food supply is not commensurate with the demand, it is nationally imperative that the growing of opium be eliminated or, at the very minimum, curtailed in favor of the growing of more food crops. In conjunction with the Afghan government, USAID and the Foreign Service are subsidizing the cost of growing alternate crops, providing Afghan citizens with a means of living through initiating agricultural reconstruction. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other USG agencies are presently collaborating with the Karzai government to encourage farmers to increase productivity of
Troop withdrawl from Afghanistan paves a clear field for the stabilization and subsequent reconstruction of the nation, and the responsibility for this change lies on the shoulders of the American Foreign Service and other American peacekeeping agencies. foodstuffs by providing up-to-date agricultural technology as well as effective agricultural techniques. Improvement of the infrastructure is being addressed in various regions by overhauling transThe Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
portation systems such as railroads, airfields, and roads that are more accessible facilitating farmers in getting their product to market. The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) in coordination with Foreign Service officers are creating a viable system of credit availability in order to encourage the improvement of watersheds and promote research projects, promote government incentives, and strengthen a myriad of systems critical for long-term development. An additional step towards improving the infrastructure of Afghanistan is through rebuilding its education system. Of the 7 million children in Afghanistan, the literacy rate in 2008 was approximately 28.1 percent greatly due to war and turmoil over the past 3 decades. However, as a result of the efforts of USAID, as of June 2011, the furthering of education has become a primary goal of USAID. Since Afghanistan’s population is greatly comprised of children, the Foreign Service
International is concentrating its efforts on that sector. Specifically, USAID has supported community-based education (CBE), providing the much-needed recovery of lost years of formal education by delivering 12 million textbooks yearly as well as accelerated and remedial education programs. Several million children are now benefitting from 630 newly built or renovated schools and additional 53,000 teachers within the provinces. USAID is currently collaborating with the Afghan National Development Strategy, the Ministry of Higher Education, and university advisors. The result is an improvement in the number of students graduating with doctorate and master’s degrees, better qualified educators at all levels, and modernization of curriculum to compete in the international markets of labor. Additionally, the Foreign Service encourages education specific to increasing farming efficiency. Sources for these types of projects come from microfinance as well as international aid in order to accelerate economic development for the future. By encouraging and supporting the attainment of a higher quality of education along with multi-faceted programs in technical and vocational training, the Afghan government, in cooperation with USAID, is slowly but steadily improving Afghan economic development and obtaining an overall higher quality of life for its people. The substandard state of health of Afghani citizens is another area of primary concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the condition of health in Afghanistan is 3 to 5 times worse than its surrounding countries, again, greatly the result of decades of the devastation of war. Female Afghanis have a particularly high early mortality rate. “Afghan women have less contact with health workers,” Daniel Toole, UNICEF’s South Asia director said, “Many health workers are men and, traditionally, women are not allowed to have contact with men who are not family”. As a result, they are denied much-needed healthcare.
Toole further believes that the healthcare field needs to increase its number of qualified female professionals in order to offset traditional stigmas. An Afghan woman dies during childbirth every thirty minutes according to the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN); children who have survived birth still must survive exposure to numerous debilitating and/or deadly diseases. There is a high risk of contracting diseases from food and waterborne diseases such as bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever thrive in Afghanistan. In addition, there is an increase in the number of cases of HIV/AIDS as the result of an upsurge of drug usage. Fifty-nine percent of Afghanistan’s children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition which leads to developmental problems and often results in premature deaths. USAID, in concert with the Ministry of Public Health, is in the process of ameliorating the antiquated and inadequate state of medical care which exists throughout 13 of the 34 provinces. The MoPH provides healthcare workers and supplies to over 870,000 patients monthly, and USAID trains volunteer community healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and midwives. A healthier population is a major building block to a stronger Afghanistan. Perhaps the course of Afghanistan’s dismal history of foreign invasion is on its way to reversal. United States military presence has lessened the threat of terrorism and begun to restore the principle of national sovereignty through assuring military and civilian security. The Foreign Service has established a framework within which Afghans are becoming enabled to pursue personal as well as national advancement. Hopefully, the United States’ occupation in Afghanistan is writing a new page in history President Obama expressed his intent in this statement: “It’s important for us to make sure we get out in a responsible way, so that we don’t end up having to go back in”. The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan Troops converse with local Afghan citizens
Perhaps the course of Afghanistan’s dismal history of foreign invasion is on its way to reversal. The U.S. has lessened the threat of terror and begun to restore civilian security. 21
AN ISSUE OF CREDIT Household Credit Constraints as an Explanation to Some Prevailing Puzzles in the Global Economy
By Dr. Keyu Jin â€˜00 Assistant Professor at the London School of Economics
wo of the most important developments in the global economy of the recent decades are the integration of emerging markets into world capital markets and their rapid growth, particularly in certain parts of Asia. Alongside these events are three striking and unprecedented trends: (1) a large and persistent increase in the private saving rate in emerging Asia against a steady decline in the private saving rate in advanced economies; (2) the emergence of global imbalances with developing countries running a large current account surplus and advanced economies a current account deficit; (3) a sustained fall in the world long-term interest rate.
These patterns constitute an empirical riddle to mainstream economic theory, which predicts just the opposite. Standard open-macroeconomic framework (one which is used to study interactions of nations with open capital flows and trade) tells us that in a fast growing economy---such as Asia---the saving rate should fall rather than rise, as agents borrow against their higher future income to increase consumption and investment. The world interest rate, rather than falling, should be rising, as a result of Asia being more productive (and the rate of return as a reflection of its productivity). Also, in face of high domestic investment needs, Asia should become a net capital importer
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Features HouseholdsSavingsRate 30
Figure 1(a) Note: Private Saving Rate between 1980-2007. Aggregate saving rate (shown for Emerging Asia) is the sum of private and public (government) saving as a share of GDP. Private saving includes household saving (graph below) and corporate saving.
0 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Figure 1(b) Note: Household Saving Rate between 1981-2007. Household saving rate is measured as household saving divided by disposable income.
10 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 SavingsinEmergingAsia%ofGDP
(run a current account deficit) rather than a net exporter (run a current account surplus). Finally, what is most interesting and most puzzling is the large divergence in savings rate across nations (fact 1). The standard theory would tell us that in response to common world interest rate movements, savings rate, which responds to interest rate changes, should move in-synch across nations. What explains their diametrically different behaviour? In our recent research, “Credit Constraints and Growth in a Global Economy’’, my coauthors Nicolas Coeurdacier and Stephane Guibaud endeavor to develop a theory that can solve this riddle, at the same time evaluating its empirical validity. This article
explains some of the main theoretical and empirical findings. The striking divergence in saving rates across advanced economies and Emerging Asia is evident in Figure 1. But contrary to popular belief, ‘Asian thriftiness’ was not always present--in fact, differences between the private saving rates of these countries with advanced economies were rather small at the time of their integration around 1990. The pattern is even more obvious when it comes to household saving rates in countries such as the U.S. and China. In 1988, household saving rates were about the same in the two countries---at about 5 percent. By 2007 the household saving rate in China reached almost 30 The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
percent while that of the U.S. declined to a level of about 2.5 percent. The caricature of a `debt ridden’ U.S. put into sharp relief against `thrifty’ Asia reflects this popular curiosity. But if thriftiness cannot be the main explanation for China’s high savings rate, what can? Our answer is household liquidity constraints combined with fast growth in Asian economies. By household liquidity constraints we mean that consumers have a limit to how much they are able to borrow against future income---that amount being often smaller than the amount they would like to borrow (less than optimal). For instance, we can imagine that households can borrow up to only a fraction of their fu-
35-44 US change in savings rate 1988-2008
US change in savings rate 1988-2008
China change in savings rate (1992-2009)
China change in savings rate (1992-2009)
Figure 2 Note - Change in Saving Rate by Age Group in the U.S. and China. This figure shows that the middle-age savings rate increased by more in China than in the U.S., and the young’s savings rate declined by more in the U.S. than in China, over the period 1992-2009.
ture wage income. It may be 30 percent in countries such as the U.S., and it may be 3 percent in countries such as China. The differences are enormous---as partly manifested by the large discrepancy in household debt between the various countries (Figure 2). Although one can argue that some of these differences are demand-driven---for instance, if the Chinese are intrinsically reluctant to borrow---it is hard to argue nevertheless that these vast differences do not at least to some extent reflect institutional differences in credit markets between nations. When a household’s income grows, as was the case in Emerging Asia over the last two decades, the restrictions on borrowing would then lead to a rise in savings rate. Interestingly enough, standard economic theories that do not limit the amount of borrowing would tell us that the large desire to borrow against your future income in order to increase your consumption today would predict a large fall in the savings rate. While high income growth and
household credit constraints may explain the increase in the savings rate of Emerging Asia—and China---the fact that the severity of these constraints may differ across economies can then explain why savings rates responses differ across these countries. Suppose that in an economy, borrowers and savers coexist. One may think of this as an intergenerational phenomenon--where the young have low current income which is rising over time, and the middle-aged have declining income and therefore need to save for retirement. Then, the young are the borrowers (but who are constrained by the amount of borrowing), and the middle-aged the savers in the economy. In a country like China, with severe credit constraints, there is effectively a smaller mass of borrowers and a larger mass of savers compared to a country such as the U.S.—all else equal. Imagine the consequences of a declining world interest rate, a trend that we have observed in the last twenty years or so. The fall in interest rate reduces the cost of borrowing for The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXI
the young (the borrowers), and reduces the interest income for the middle-aged (the savers)---who would then need to save more as they feel poorer (this is the income effect which we assume to dominate the substitution effect that would motivate them to save less). In a country with a large mass of effective borrowers---the U.S.---the borrowing rate would increase as it is cheaper to borrow ---making the savings rate fall. In a country with a large mass of effective savers--- China--- the savings rate would increase. Such is a scenario where the savings rate can respond asymmetrically to the common decline in the world interest rate. What is essential, in this case, is not only that households are credit-constrained, but that the degree of credit constraint is different across these economies. It follows immediately that Asia with a sharp rise in savings rate can see a net capital outflow (defined as savings less investment)---the counterpart of which is a net capital inflow in advanced economies which see a fall in saving
CONTRIBUTION TO the THE change CHANGE in IN aggregate AGGREGATE household HOUSEHOLDsavings SAVINGS Contribution to 7% 6% 5% 4% 3% 2% 1% 0% -1% -2% -3% <25
35-44 US (1988-2008)
Figure 3 Note - Change in Aggregate Saving as a Share of GDP by Age Group in the U.S. and China. This figure shows the contribution of each cohort’s savings on aggregate savings.
rates. And how would this explain the decline in the world interest rate in the first place? The explanation is reminiscent of Bernake’s ‘savings glut’ hypothesis---that emerging markets swamped the world market with a large amount of savings that depressed the interest rate. And yet we provide an explanation for why this savings glut emerged in the first place---fast growth in economies that are heavily credit-constrained. With this realistic assumption, facts (1)(3) can be jointly accounted by only one economic mechanism. Any successful theory is in need of some empirical validation. While we have shown that the aggregate facts (1) –(3) are precisely what our theory predicts--- thereby passing the macroeconomic test---we need to show that our predictions also receive support at the microeconomic level. Our micro agents, the young and the middle-aged, in countries such as China and the U.S. then become the nucleus of our testing ground. If our theory is correct, then two important predictions must hold in the
data. The first is that the saving rate of the young falls by less in China than in the U.S; the saving rate of the middleaged increases by more in China than in the U.S. The second is that the decline in the aggregate savings rate in the U.S. is mostly driven by the young, and the rise in the aggregate savings rate in China is mostly driven by the middle-aged. Working with household data, which itself has posed significant challenges to its measurement and identification, we find that key cohort level evidence lends support to the basic tenets of our theory. Figure 3 compares the change in saving rate by age group across the two economies over the last two decades. Indeed, the saving rate of the young fell by about 10 percentage points more in the U.S. than in China, whereas the saving rate of the middleaged rose by about 17 percentage points more in China than in the U.S.. Moreover, of the total 20.2 percentage point increase in aggregate household savings (as a share of GDP) in China, the middle-aged contributed about 60 perThe Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
cent, and the young about 15 percent. Turning to the U.S., which saw a 1.79 percentage point decline in aggregate savings-to-GDP, the young’s savingsto-GDP declined by 1.24 percentage points, while the middle-aged total savings-to-GDP increased by about 1.51 percentage points. Many more interesting patterns remainx to be uncovered from these comprehensive and rare household-level information, especially difficult to find for China. Perhaps an ongoing thrill for the economic profession lies in understanding the interactions of inherently different industrialized and developing countries as the world becomes more integrated, and the consequences this interaction impinges on the global economy. In this sense, theory has not kept up to pace with the speed of realtime globalization, and more economic theories need to be developed to gain our understanding of the spectacular world events that we have witnessed, and will continue to witness in the foreseeable future.
THE GREAT REPUBLICAN TAX PLAN Why It's the Same Failed Policy of the Past By Daniel Elkind
t a time in our nation’s history when upper class incomes have been increasing for decades but middle and lower class incomes have stagnated, and when Republicans are proposing massive cuts in programs that benefit the middle and lower income classes, Mitt Romney has proposed tax reform that would slash taxes for the rich and almost certainly increase taxes for the middle and lower income classes. The Romney plan shows just how far the Republican Party has come in urging that Americans once again embrace the failed “trickle down” economic policies of the past. Romney has proposed across-theboard cuts of 20% off the Bush-era tax rates and has proposed to pay for those cuts in part by limiting deductions,
exemptions, and tax credits. A recent study by the non-partisan Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, an organization whose director is Donald Marron, a former member of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, looked thoroughly at the Romney plan and concluded that his plan would cut taxes for those earning more than $1 million by up to 4.1% while at the same time increasing taxes on those making less than $200,000 by an average of up to $500. All told, according to the Tax Policy Center, the Romney tax plan could shift as much as $86 billion of the national tax burden away from the wealthy onto lower and middle income taxpayers at a time when it is those lower and middle income Americans who need the money most. The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
How would this happen? The reduction of tax rates which Romney has proposed would result in a huge revenue loss: $360 billion in 2015 alone and $5 trillion over the next decade. To pay for this, Romney proposes to eliminate or limit deductions, exemptions, and tax credits, but he has failed to identify which ones he would eliminate or by how much he would limit them. As the Tax Policy Center found, however, even if the elimination or reduction of deductions, exemptions, and credits were imposed primarily on the wealthy, the result would still be a massive decrease in taxes for the wealthy and an increase for the lower and middle classes. As stated in the report: “Even when we assume that tax breaks – like the charitable deduction, mortgage interest
The Romney plan clearly illustrates just how far the Republican Party has come in urging that Americans once again embrace the failed “trickle-down” economic policies of the past. False Promises Though Romney and Ryan have galvanized a large proportion of the middle class, their tax plan provides huge windfalls to the very wealthiest Americans at the expense of the rest of the nation. PHOTO: upload.wikimedia.org
deduction, and the exclusion for health insurance – are completely eliminated for higher-income households first, and only then reduced as necessary for other households to achieve overall revenue-neutrality– the net effect of the plan would be a tax cut for high-income households coupled with a tax increase for middle-income households.” In his first debate with President Obama, Romney vehemently denied that he would raise taxes on the middle class, and he even suggested that, after the reduction of deductions, his plan would be revenue neutral for the wealthy. However, Romney has failed to show how this could be so, and the Tax Policy Center study clearly shows that even the most favorable assumptions regarding what deductions Rom-
ney would cut would leave the wealthy with a lower tax bill and the middle class with a higher bill. Even more extreme than Romney’s tax proposal is that which was proposed by Paul Ryan, his running mate. Under Ryan’s proposal, widely acclaimed by Republicans, taxes on capital gains, interests, and dividends would be eliminated entirely, and, according to Role Call, a Washington newsletter, Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of only 1% on his tens of millions of dollars of income in 2010. The Obama administration has proposed to leave the Bush tax cuts in place for those earning less than $250,000, and to return tax rates for the top 2% to the tax rates in place under President Clinton. Romney’s tax plan The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
does just the opposite; it takes Republican “trickle-down” economic theory to an extreme by out-doing Bush with further tax cuts for the wealthy at a time when hundreds of billions of dollars must be cut from programs primarily benefitting the middle and lower income groups. Republicans argue that tax benefits for the wealthy will “trickle down” to the average American, will lead to increased hiring by small business, and will resuscitate our economy. These are the same arguments that Republicans have made for more than a hundred years. They have no more legitimacy today than they had in the past. The first argument that the Republicans make is that the wealthy are the “job creators” and that giving
It Failed Then, It Will Fail Now - Trickle-Down Economics
The great culprits of "trickle-down" From top to bottom, Calvin Coolidge, Warren G. Harding, and Herbert Hoover -- all three were Republicans in the tradition of laissezfaire, favor-the-rich economic policies. The prosperity of the so-called “Roaring ‘20s” was heavily weighted towards the rich, and recent historical scholarship has indicated that the poor stagnated during the period. PHOTOS: (L) gregteach.net, (T-B) upload.wikimedia.org
more money to the “job creators” will increase employment of the poor and middle class. The problem with this argument is vividly illustrated by our situation today; although corporations and businesses are currently sitting on record amounts of cash, they still aren’t hiring. The problem with our economy is not that companies do not have the money to hire people, but that there remains no demand. After all, the lower and middle income segments of society do not have money to spend. To get the economy moving again, money must be put in the hands of consumers. In the 1920s, Republicans slashed taxes for the wealthy and for corporations but did nothing to help the average American. The result was a huge increase of income and wealth for the upper class, stagnant wages for the middle class, and a sharp contraction in demand because the average American did not have the money to spend. Before the market crashed in 1929, factories began to go idle because lower and middle class Americans could not afford to buy the goods produced in the factories. No matter how much money
companies have, they will not hire unless people are buying their products, and the problem today is a lack of demand, not a lack of money in the hands of the “job creators.” Republicans are also off base in arguing that reducing individual tax rates on the wealthy is necessary to benefit “small business.” When President Clinton raised taxes in 1993, Republicans claimed that the increases would hurt small business. But, as statistics from the Small Business Administration show, job growth of small business under Clinton was 2.3 times the job growth of small business under Bush, who sharply lowered taxes on upper income groups. It is true that many small and medium sized businesses such as partnerships and “subchapter S” corporations pay taxes at the individual tax rates of their owners. However, a recent study by the Treasury Department showed that only 2.5% of “small businesses” earn more than $250,000, and President Obama has proposed to lower taxes for those making less than that amount. Republicans argue that nearly The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
50% of the income of small businesses is generated by small businesses making more than $250,000. But to reach that conclusion, Republicans include as a “small business” anyone who receives income from an entity such as a partnership or “subchapter S” corporation for which taxes are paid by the individual owners. The Republicans include as a “small business” law firms, accounting firms, investment partnerships, and anyone who invests in an investment partnership or “subchapter S” corporation for which the taxes are paid by the individual owners. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has pointed out, the Republican definition of a “small business” would include wealthy investors and is even broad enough to include President Obama and Mitt Romney as “small businesses” because President Obama had income from book sales and Romney had income from investment partnerships. In fact, the Republican definition of a “small businesses” would include 237 of the 400 wealthiest people in America, as well as the partners of law and accounting firms, investors on Wall Street, and
The Reagan Years Though Republicans cite the Reagan years as an example of “trickle-down’s” success, the story is more complicated. As the result of Reagan’s tax cuts, budget deficits soared. While incomes of the top 1% rose by 80%, the incomes of the bottom 20%of Americans fell by nearly 3%, and there was a massive shift in wealth from the lower and middle classes to the top 1% of Americans. PHOTO: www. bayshoreteaparty.org
The Bush Tax Cuts President George W. Bush provided enormous tax breaks to the wealthy on the theory that prosperity would somehow find its way down to the middle and lower income classes as a result; what actually occured was a huge concentration of wealth in the hands of the very wealthiest Americans, at the expense of the rest of the country. PHOTOS: (T) www. gannett-cdn.com, (L) upload.wikimedia.org
individuals who do no more than cash checks from their investment partnerships. But if there were any question about whether “trickle-down” economics works, it should be disproven by history. When President Clinton raised tax rates in 1993, Republicans screamed that his tax increases would drive the country into recession. Instead, the Clinton Presidency produced more than 20 million new jobs and four years of balanced budgets. In contrast, President Bush slashed tax rates, and brought the nation huge budget deficits, a doubling of our national debt, a huge concentration of wealth for the wealthy, and an economy which produced only 3 million new jobs and the Great Crash of 2008. In the 1920s, under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, Republicans also slashed taxes on corporations and the wealthy. In fact, they invented the concept of “trickle down” economics. Again, the result was a huge concentration of wealth among the upper income segment, and virtually no income growth for the middle or lower
class. Between 1923 and 1929, incomes for the wealthiest 1% jumped by 75%, while the average income for the remaining 99% rose by an average of only 1-1.5% per year. By 1929, the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans controlled as much wealth as the poorest 42%. The 1920s progressed with a middle class that could not afford to buy consumer goods, resulting in massive overproduction that was one of the major contributing factors to the Great Depression. Republicans often cite the Reagan years as evidence of that “trickle-down” economics works. But the Reagan years do not bear that out. During the first years of the Reagan Presidency, the nation was in recession due to the fact that the Federal Reserve raised interest rates as high as 20% in order to combat skyrocketing inflation resulting from the oil shock. Although Reagan cut tax rates in 1981, the nation only emerged from recession in 1983, after the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates. Between 1982 and 1986, Congress actually raised taxes 11 times with no harmful effect upon the economy. Even after the The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
further tax cut in 1986, tax rates under Reagan were substantially above the level to which they were reduced by the Bush-era tax cuts. Moreover, Reagan’s tax cuts did not produce the rosy results for all that Republicans claim. As the result of Reagan’s tax cuts, the nation’s budget deficits soared, the national debt tripled. While incomes of the top 1% rose by approximately 80%, the income of the bottom 20% of Americans actually fell by nearly 3%, and there was a massive shift in wealth from the lower and middle classes to the top 1% of Americans.
If there were any question about whether “trickle-down” economics works, it should be disproven by history. 29
Science and Technology
A Change of Heart Why It’s Time for a Free Market in Organs
By Deependra Mookim ‘11
n average of 750 people in the US receive organ transplants every day. This is great news in itself, but the problem arises from the fact that we are adding 130 Americans to the organ waiting list in the same period of time. More than 115,000 patients are currently on this waiting list, with an average of 18 deaths every day due to the shortage of organs. These deaths may seem inevitable due to a chronic supply and demand mismatch: the number of Americans in need of organs has always exceeded the sum of deceased donors and live donors. However, this critical and persistent shortage is in fact preventable if our policy framework is overhauled and a multi-pronged approach to liberalizing reforms is adopted. Since America’s organ shortage stems from the system in place, it is necessary to understand what the legal regime in force entails. Deceased
115,890 The number of Americans currently needing organ transplants. Each year, around thirty thousand Americans recieve such transplants.
donors make up 79% of total US organ transplants, and the US has an opt-in system for these donors, meaning organs by default cannot be used upon death unless otherwise specified. Car accidents result in a substantial number of deceased donors, since organ donation can only happen after brain death but before cardiac death. More
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generally, storing organs upon removal is only possible for short periods of time, further constraining the possible supply. An average of 3.3 organs are removed from deceased donors, and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is responsible for maintaining a waiting list of those in need of transplantation. The UNOS is a private, non-profit organization with a federal contract for maintaining the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), a national database that centralizes the waiting list. The law that led to the creation of OPTN, the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, also bans the sale of human organs. The rationale for the law is not dissimilar from laws prohibiting prostitution: people would take on risks they don’t understand, unscrupulous opportunists might abuse the system, and Americans in desperation would “sell” their bodies. As a
Science and Technolgy result of this legislation, legal live donations typically occur within family members and, to a much smaller extent, through organ swap programs or acts of kindness. There are only two ways to close the organ shortage: decrease the demand for organs or increase supply. Decreasing demand is not a viable solution since organs have no good substitutes. When there are substitutes–as in the case of kidney dialysis versus transplant–the alternative to transplant is typically inferior in health terms or more expensive. As the population grows and the average lifespan rises, it is fair to assume demand for organs will continue rising–with deaths on the waiting list rising hand in hand if the status quo is not challenged. The only way to tackle the organ shortage is to increase the supply of organs from deceased and live donors. Instead of an opt-in system for deceased donors, the US should adopt a system of presumed consent. Under this arrangement, Americans filling out a driver license application, for example, would automatically be organ donors unless they check a box stipulating otherwise. Having citizens consciously opt-out as organ donors shifts the frame of reference for decision-making and has shown to have a positive correlation with participation rates in the numerous countries that have similar rules. Another incentive that tests well for increasing organ donor registration: give priority on the waiting list to individuals who were previously registered as organ donors. These small behavioral nudges retain the individual right to forego organ donation yet have the potential to save many lives. There are many ideas in the same vein, but Americans must first suspend their gut reactions against reform. Enacting reforms to increase organs from deceased donors is a step in the right direction but an optimal solution includes policy changes for live donors, who are capable of do-
nating much-needed kidneys and parts of the pancreas, lung, liver, and intestine. Traffic fatalities are in secular decline–obviously a favorable trend but one that lowers the potential supply of organs from deceased donors. Organs from live donors are also typically better for recipients
6,205 The number of Americans each year who die waiting for organ transplants.
in terms of long-term health, and deceased donors by themselves will likely not bridge the organ gap. However, the sale of organs is prohibited in the US, which acts effectively as a price ceiling at zero dollars that eliminates live donations based on monetary incentives. As we know from Prohibition, government bans on mutually beneficial trade can lead to the formation of black markets and illicit compensation agreements. These arrangements end up benefiting middlemen and a small number of agents but hurting everybody else–in this case, healthy people with an organ they could sell and live without as well as unhealthy people who will die without a transplant. The organ shortage problem is global in nature; there is currently only one country in the world with a legal organ market: Iran. While Iran is certainly not a paradigm of excellence in public policy making, the country has eliminated the kidney shortage successfully. The idea of buying and selling organs is so untenable on the surface that it is usually written off as radical and unethical. But the fact of the matter is more people would
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donate organs if compensation were legal and a market of some form existed. The turpitude of a free market in organs makes it unlikely to gain support as a legitimate policy, but a completely free market is a good starting point in the exercise of designing a better system. Why is our government not allowing an individual to be compensated for saving another person’s life? In a free market, individuals would likely not be capable of understanding the health risks of donating organs. A possible scenario: a poor person would sell his organs in desperation at a price that doesn’t compensate for the consequences of donation. Live donation is obviously a risky procedure, but only doctors–not individual donors–are capable of grasping the full extent of the health consequences. In other words, individuals selling their organs would not have enough information to put a price on their organs that would correctly account for health risks. The economic problem present here is a lack of information, and this informational failure discourages market participation from donors and punishes many who do participate. However, if the government and government-supported health institution were required to serve as an intermediary, the health risks could be compensated correctly to address this market failure. In such a system, the government would purchase organs from individuals and set a price that adequately compensates for health risks. A kidney donor with few health complications, for example, would receive less compensation than a patient donating a section of a liver at greater health risk. A common concern of organ donors is insurance coverage post-operation, and the government could allay these fears by building insurance subsidies or coverage into donor compensation. The federal government would work with medical professionals to draft rules for determining compen-
Science and Technology
The Movement for Donations A group campaigns to raise awarness about organ donation, and to encourage donations that will save lives. PHOTO: www.erlanger.org
sation at different risk levels, and the system could retain a certain degree of flexibility for doctors in the case of idiosyncratic patient risks. To avoid conflicts of interest, the doctors vetting the organ transplant are required to be independent from the doctors of patients receiving the organ. In such a system, the government also caps the amount of risk any given patient can accept in order to err to the side of safety, and doctors only accept organs that meet strict quality standards (e.g. no partial liver transplants from alcoholics). In effect, a government-enforced price ceiling remains in place, but it is much closer to the price in a free market. Government purchases of organs would retain the incentives in a free market while patching the market failures of a laissez-faire system. The mechanism for distributing organs in a hypothetical free market would allocate organs to those who most value them in monetary terms. If the first half of this proposal is enacted but a free market is retained for recipients, then the highest bidder on the waiting list would receive the organs from the government. The prospect of the government
purchasing organs from its citizenry–likely poor or middle class–and selling those organs to the highest bidder upsets notions of fairness and social equality. Do the richest amongst us deserve organs and the right to live more than the poorest of society? Due to this unappealing feature of a free market, the government could instead determine recipients based not on ability to pay but on the present criteria in place such as biological match, length of time on the waiting list, degree of medical urgency, and physical proximity. Somebody, of course, has to fund the government purchases from live donors. The government could absorb losses on the purchases and give the organs away for free, with all Americans footing the bill indirectly through federal taxes. A slightly better solution: a mandatory requirement for insurance companies to compensate the government for the organ purchase. Insurance companies would pay the average price of the organ purchased by the government, instead of the price on an individual basis in order to increase cost predictability for the companies. The insurance companies would likely The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXI
pass on this extra cost of compensation to all consumers, resembling what would happen if the government provided organs for “free” as previously described. However, this scheme has the benefits of avoiding distortionary government taxes and maintaining budget-neutrality. The insurance companies would also be a natural check against the government if doctors started accepting riskier donors with higher compensation expenses. The system proposed here can be summarized as the following: A potential donor sees a doctor who tests for health risks and organ viability, and the doctor uses a fairly standardized system to determine the price of the organ. If the donor consents to the procedure, the government will compensate the donor for the quoted price. The government will distribute the organ to a match on the waiting list, which will continue to be run by UNOS and use the same unbiased criteria. The recipient’s insurance company will compensate the government for the average price of the organ being transplanted. This is certainly not the only way to address the organ shortage, but any sort of
Science and Technolgy
The critical and persistent shortage of organs, which results in an average of 18 deaths per day, is in fact preventable if our policy framework is overhauled and a multi-pronged approach to liberalizing reforms is adopted. A completely free market is a good starting point in the exercise of designing a better system.
reform would likely be an improvement over our appallingly inefficient and inhumane system, one that punishes both willing donors and recipients as they face death. If the economics and ethics of this plan do indeed pass muster, the key remaining question: is this proposal politically feasible and will the American people approve of it? The compensation of blood, sperm, and eggs is legally permitted due to the lower health risks; however, by permitting these transactions, we are saying in essence that the human body and its parts do have a price. So why should organs not have a price as well, especially when they are in such dire need? Congress has also recognized to a degree that the lack of compensation is a problem. The National Living Donor Assistance Center picks up the tab for travel and subsistence expenses authorized by the Department of Health and Human Services. While this is a far cry from full payment for live donors, it does indicate recent willingness at the federal level to compensate for the cost of transplants. Furthermore, the idea of compensating donors actually polls decently in the US: an
NPR-Thomson Reuters Health Poll found that 41% of respondents supported cash for organs and 44% approve of some sort of compensation by the federal government. The poll also found that support for compensation was inversely correlated with age; the fact that young people approve of compensation more than old people suggests changing priorities amongst the youth and bodes well for policy changes in the future. While the envisioned reformsâ€“and organ sales in particularâ€“seem taboo, they are not a significant logical leap from entrenched moral presuppositions and ideas already in effect. By disrupting the current system and creating a better one, the US could not only close its organ shortage but also set an example for the rest of the world to follow. A reformed approach to organ collection and distribution would increase the number of deceased donors, support able-bodied live donors and, most importantly, saves the lives of Americans on the waiting list. The price of inaction is too steep to trust vague notions of righteousness over the ethical underpinnings and defensible evidence supporting change. The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
Science & and Technology Technology
CURIOSITY The key to humanity By Isaiah Newman
hroughout the past 55 years, humanity has been constantly exploring the universe beyond this planet. Various governments and groups of scientists have launched and built telescopes, satellites, probes, and rovers. Data has been collected and analyzed about almost every celestial body in the universe that is visible from earth, all in the name of expanding our knowledge of the cosmos and of our place in it.
TThe heH Horace oraceM Mann annR Review eview| |V Vol ol..XXII XXI
Science and Technolgy
The information gathered by Curiosity will help us understand the nature of the universe and of life. In this way, it will further the interests and purposes of scientists everywhere and of humanity in general. The landing of the Mars rover “Curiosity” was a complex piece of choreography, as illustrated by this NASA diagram. PHOTOS: (T) www.startalkradio.net, (L) www.lackuna.com
On November 26, 2011, a group of American scientists working for NASA, under the name of the Mars Science Laboratory, launched yet another attempt at satisfying this boundless human curiosity: a new Mars rover, aptly named “Curiosity”. The rover spent approximately 8 months in transit from Earth to Mars, finally touching down on the red planet on August 6, 2012, in an incredibly impressive and inspiring feat of human engineering. Due to the cosmic distance between Earth and Mars, it takes approximately 7 minutes for a signal sent from Curiosity to reach its controllers here on Earth. Unfortunately, when Curiosity “hit” the Martian atmosphere and began its descent on to Mars, this created a gap in communications between the rover and its controllers, rendering those on Earth unable to control it during the most dangerous part of its trip. In preparation, the scientists and engineers behind Curiosity had to plan thoroughly in advance, writing over 500,000 lines of computer code to direct the rover through its landing, as well as build several automated mechanisms, such as a crane to lower Curiosity onto the surface of Mars, to function to exact specifications in extreme conditions. Somehow, the engineers who worked on the robot managed to pull off the rover’s landing on Mars without a hitch, in a feat that truly shows just what human ingenuity and
pragmatism can be capable of. Although the successful landing of a rover on Mars is neither new nor surprising, Curiosity’s landing remains wholly extraordinary. It demonstrates the precision and ability of humanity to successfully land a large payload on Mars, which will be incredibly useful for future exploration of the planet. Furthermore, it shows that humanity is capable of achieving advanced technological feats on a grand scale. Launching a small metal robot at a red sphere several hundred million miles away sounds like a daunting task, and yet we have done it now 3 times successfully. Curiosity’s mission is itself equally important. The rover has a number of stated goals, but its primary one, according to the mission statement on the Mars Science Laboratory’s website, is to determine whether Mars could ever have supported life. The rover will, for its lifespan on Mars, explore as much of it can of the planet, and use its various instruments and cameras to collect data. While that may not sound particularly exciting, it certainly is significant. The information gathered by Curiosity could be incredibly valuable to future space travel. It could tell us whether or not Mars will be able to support humanity in some form. More importantly, however, it will extend humanity’s knowledge of the universe we live in. It will help us to understand the nature of the universe The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
and of life in general. In this way, it will further the interests and purposes of scientists everywhere, and of humanity in general. While this language may seem excessively grand to some, it remains accurate. Through the information it collects, Curiosity will help to further human desire for information and understanding. While it is possible that Curiosity will not provide as much information as is hoped, it is impossible for the mission to be a failure. Already, its landing on Mars has spurred celebration across the country and the world, and hopefully it will continue to inspire interest in human exploration of the universe. This, in turn, demonstrates the necessity of space exploration in general. Humanity is, by our very nature, a species composed of contemplative and inquisitive individuals, forever wondering at our circumstances and place in the universe. Exploration is a primary means by which we can gratify ourselves in this pursuit of comprehending of the world around us. Fortunately, uncharted areas to discover are not a finite resource: the universe is expanding every day, and there is so much of it about which we know next to nothing. Space exploration and research are not merely scientific pursuits; they are human pursuits, and until we explore every observable object possible, we will be unable to satisfy our curiosity.