HURJ Fall 2007 Issue 7
Table of Contents spring 2007 focus: American Civics 10
Darwin in Reverse: How the Disability Rights Movement is Changing America David weinstein
Alternative Energy Awaits Gandhi Vallarapu
Dealing with Split-Ends: The Weakness of Hispanic-Interest Lobbying Isabel Perera
The Effect of Illegal Immigration on the US Healthcare System Mehdi Draoua
Two Sides to Every Coin: Bridging the Gap in America Nancy Tray
Get out the vote: Grassroots efforts to revitalize American democracy Stephen Berger
Road Trip: Technology and Industry across America ... A Rock-and-Roll
Retelling of the Faust Legend... Sketch of a Johns Hopkins Circadian Biologist ... Neural Circuitry Associations
research reports: engineering 30
Transformational Networks in Simple Recurrent Networks
research reports: sciences 34
Bruised and Beaten Down: Conceptualizing the Combined Effects of Poverty and Depression in Families
What gets you high: A tale of natural rewards and what we can do to get away from the chemical alternatives
research reports: humanities 42
Origins of Health Policy in the United States and Great Britain: Influence of Public Preferences & Political Culture
Yoko Tawada’s Self-Invention: The Legend of a Japanese-German Woman Author
A Moral Mentality: The “Suddenly Sexy” Debate over International Debt
Letter from the editors
HURJ 2006-2007 Editorial Board: Editor-in-Chief of Operations ....................... Priya Puri
Editor-in-Chief of Content
....................... Sadajyot Brar
Editor-in-Chief of Layout
....................... Bryce Olenczak
....................... Jason Liebowitz
Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal Johns Hopkins University Mattin Center, Suite 210 3400 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD 21218
....................... Daria Nikolaeva
....................... Defne Arslan
....................... Manuel Datiles IV
HURJ Nicole Angeli Stephen Berger Adam Canver Mehdi Draoua Ebonye Gussine Miyako Hayakawa
Niklas Krumm Michelle Melton Isabel Perera Christian Recca??? Divya Sambandan Nancy Tray
Gandhi Vallarapu Desirae Vasquez David Weinstein Julia Zhou
About HURJ: The Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal provides undergraduates with a valuable resource to learn about research being done by their peers and interesting current issues. The journal is comprised of three sections- original research, a current focus topic, and student and faculty spotlights. Students are encouraged to contribute their work either by submitting their research, or by writing for our focus or spotlight sections. The tremendous interest in our focus section has necessitated the use of an application process for our writers, while our research and spotlight sections are open for all to contribute to.
research spotlights Road Trip: Technology and Industry across America Jason Liebowitz/ HURJ Staff Writer Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road chronicles the story of a group of friends traveling across the nation, encountering new experiences and reflecting on life. The trials and tribulations of the Beat Generation are drawn out through stream-of-consciousness writing as Kerouac and his compatriots journey onwards in the most liberating of technologies: the automobile. By utilizing the works of Kerouac and other pieces of classic road literature and film, Dr. Bill Leslie of the Department of the History of Science and Technology has been able to create a course entitled “On the Road” that encourages students to consider the role automobiles have played and continue to play within American society. Each week, students analyze the lyrics of any car-related song they choose and, over the course of the semester, they must interview a family member about a road trip in which he/ she participated. The ultimate goal is to document the journey and to create an “auto” biography that considers the function of the car in the road trip and meditates on both the physical and symbolic aspects of automobiles. Beyond simply teaching about road trips, Dr. Leslie is using his background in the history of science and technology to plan his own cross-country voyage in order to examine the history of industrial America from Lowell, Massachusetts, to San Jose, California. By collaborating with Scott Knowles, a former Hopkins graduate student now teaching at Drexel University, Dr. Leslie will trace the path of manufacturing in the U.S. from the early 19th to the late 20th century and research what becomes of small
industrial cities once the plants close down or relocate to other areas. Dr. Leslie has been able to write and teach on a wide variety of topics ever since he arrived at the university in 1981. Although originally hired to help expand humanities courses that catered to engineering students, Dr. Leslie has broadened the scope of the History of Science and Technology department and, in so doing, has attracted students from all disciplines. The “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” course intertwines the history of technology and art in a modern context, while Homewood House’s new exhibit “The Pet in Early Maryland” was entirely created by the students taking “Introduction to Material Culture,” a class taught by Leslie and Homewood House curator Catherine Arthur. As for other research projects, Dr. Leslie is in the process of examining how laboratory architecture constrains innovation and networking. Separately, Dr. Leslie is exploring the idiosyncrasies of corporate headquarters that showcase the company’s product in the building’s architecture, such as is the case with Alcoa Aluminum and U.S. Steel. By offering such a diverse array of courses that mix science and the liberal arts, Dr. Leslie and his department have created a valuable academic niche for the university that attracts engineers, pre-meds, and students from every other background. As for Dr. Leslie himself, when it comes time to write another book, he will undoubtedly be found on the road again.
A Rock-and-Roll Retelling of the Faust Legend Christian Recca???/ HURJ Staff Writer Christian Recca (English, â€˜07) has spent the last four years in and out of the recording studio, working on his Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, Devils in the Details, a rock-and-roll retelling of the Faust story. The Faust legend is a tale of the man who sells his soul to the devil. Both Marlowe and Goethe have written literary versions of the story. They imagined the story as emblematic of the Elizabethan and Romantic times in which they lived. Recca has updated the story for modern times. In his version, the devil is an abstract force willing his hero, the hermetic Foxman, to sin. Almost out of inertia, the Foxman falls into the snare of drugs and loose women, emerging with a bitter outlook. He wonders, since the world is so bad, why should he be good? The Foxman finds a reason in Margarita, with whom he falls in love. But Margarita cheats on the Foxman, prompting his murderous rage. Eventually, the Foxman is able to come to peace with himself and abandon the life of sin. This album is currently being mixed down at Axis Sound studios in New York City. Recca composed the lyrics; his brother, Adrian, wrote the music. The album was produced by Jeff Peretz and engineered by Steve Rossitter. After recording the preliminary tracks with various New York-area musicians, the Recca brothers layered on extra guitar parts and harmonies. Recca, himself, plays bass and sings. The point of the album is that evil today comes in attractive, subtle forms. Society pressures man to sin, deeming him uncool and dull if he chooses another path. Recca hopes that the album will be received well on campus and beyond. Perhaps listeners will see something of themselves in the Foxman. Recca would like to thank everyone who has lent their support throughout this long process.
that sees images normally but has problems with its sleep wake cycle and learning and memory abilities because it is unable to
Sketch of a Johns Hopkins Circadian Biologist Neural Circuitry
Dr. Samer Hattar is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Johns Hopkins University. Recipient of many prestigious awards, including the David and Lucille Packard Fellowship and Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, Dr. Hattar is a truly accomplished researcher. His laboratory has identified melanopsin-containing photoreceptors in the retina of mice that are important in non-image-forming functions. When the melanopsin gene was knocked out in these retinal ganglion cells, the cells lost their inherent photosensitivity. These melanopsin-containing cells make up a very small portion of the eye, yet they are imperative for various behaviors including pupil constriction and regulation of the sleep wake cycle. Currently, Dr. Hattar’s studies focus on the effects of light on learing, memory, and behavioral functions such as the sleep wake cycle. His lab has recently found an animal
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Divya Sambandan / HURJ Staff Writer
sense the presence of light. Additionally, he is studying how the melanopsin photoreceptor cells develop, which regions of the brain are innervated by these cells, and when the melanopsin protein is first expressed. Dr. Hattar first became inter-
ested in this field of study when he trained as a circadian biologist at the University of Houston. He later became involved with the melanopsin photoreceptors when he came to the Johns Hopkins Medical School to study as a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Hattar is a strong advocate of scientific research. He believes that students should conduct research with the intent of enjoying it so they have the opportunity to experience the personal satisfaction of solving a problem and overcoming a challenge. He asserts his gratitude for living in a time when scientific advances have rapidly taken place and allowed him to progress as he has. Dr. Hattar’s enthusiasm and love for research is truly inspiring. He says, “It’s like a puzzle. You have to find the right question. Give yourself the chance to go into a lab, to appreciate the scientific discovery and questioning.”
Nicole Angeli / HURJ Staff Writer Every day graduate student Jean-Marie Maddux has decisions to make in her life. Besides deciding whether to wear rainbow socks or socks with pigs on them, each morning Jean-Marie must decide whether to call one of two equally pleasant graduate students to secure half a sandwich. The graduate students, anonymously ‘M’ and ‘C’, make, respectively, peanut butter or tuna fish sandwiches. One Friday before a laboratory meeting, Jean-Marie calls ‘C’, who normally prepares excellent tuna fish sandwiches. JeanMarie then continues to the lab meeting, where she is unaware that they will be serving tuna fish on crackers. She eats two plates of tuna fish on crackers. At this
point, Jean-Marie cannot possibly eat anymore tuna fish and leaves ‘C’s sandwich on the plate. This scenario repeats each time there is a laboratory meeting. Jean-Marie stops rotating between calling ‘C’ and ‘M’ for sandwiches on lab meeting days. She only calls ‘M’ for his peanut butter sandwich, as she is satiated with tuna fish by the time the lab meeting is over. Why have I constructed a fairly elaborate scenario involving rainbow socks and tuna fish sandwiches? Jean-Marie Maddux, a Psychological and Brain Sciences graduate student in the Holland lab, constructs similar scenarios and tests rats in these paradigms, looking at the neural circuitry needed to form an asso-
ciation between, say, a tuna fish sandwich and a person. Do rats form causal representations, and where in the brain do these representations form? Jean-Marie asks these questions to understand how the brain encodes and organizes the associations between different events, particularly in a region called the anterior cingulate cortex, anatomically shown to be connected to parts of the amygdala and thalamus, a circuit known to help encode associated events. Experiences form the core of our existence, and graduate students like Jean-Marie Maddux help us to better understand our brains, and ourselves.
DARWIN IN REVERSE How the Disability Rights Movement is Changing America Disability only becomes a tragedy for me when society fails to provide the things we need to lead our lives—job opportunities or barrier-free buildings, for example. It is not a tragedy to me that I’m living in a wheelchair. Judith E. Heumann, disability rights activist
David Weinstein / HURJ Staff Writer Nearly 200 years ago, a distinguished French physician named Jean-Marc Itard was asked to evaluate the strange behavior of a young French noblewoman, the Marquise de Dampierre. Her symptoms included bizarre body movements, involuntary outbursts of profanity, and the vocalization of sounds such as barks, screams, and high-pitched cries. Though Itard, in 1825, published an account of the woman’s condition that would inspire future studies, he failed to make significant progress in treating her. Turned into a subject of media gossip, the unfortunate woman was forced by her family to isolate herself from
The years following the Enlightenment ushered in a number of trends regarding PWD. Some of these were positive, such as the development of Humanism, which led to increased social concern for the handicapped. At the same time, however, industrialization furthered negative perceptions of those with disabilities. The philosophy of Utilitarianism, in which social worth is measured based on usefulness, led some societies to consider PWD as burdens. In the 19th century, as Social Darwinism came into existence, PWD were considered to have inferior genes and were similarly oppressed. The eugenics movement, an early
Hospitals and other institutions began to “warehouse” many of those with disabilities, causing them to become increasingly marginalized and segregated from society.
society. Her symptoms persisted, and she lived in seclusion until her death in 1885. The case of the Marquise de Dampierre is only one of countless instances throughout history in which people with disabling physical or mental conditions have been turned into objects of derision, mockery, and scorn. Her condition was an unusual one, due to her elevated social status and the unusual nature of her symptoms, but the isolation and ridicule she was forced to endure has continued to modern times. In general, the history of people with disabilities (PWD) has been one of persecution. With some exceptions, ancient societies often mistreated—and sometimes killed—those born with physical or developmental disabilities, alternatively considering them to be subhuman, evil, useless, or entertaining. Greek culture, which emphasized bodily perfection, was particularly influential in stigmatizing PWD, as it held that one with a defective body must have a deviant mind as well. The rise of Christianity gave birth to two divergent viewpoints concerning those with disabilities. One opinion held that such people are innocent victims of misfortune and called for them to be treated with compassion. The other view, however, was that disability is punishment for sin; under this belief, PWD were often treated harshly and used as scapegoats for societal ills.
1900’s byproduct of Social Darwinism, led to the enactment of laws permitting forced sterilization of those with disabilities. The scientific revolution led to vastly improved standards of care for PWD, and gradually discredited many of the popular theories attributing disability to supernatural (and shameful) causes. As new technology was invented and medical journals came to be widely disseminated, the causes of individual disabilities were identified and various treatments were developed. In 1885, with an article named “Study of a Nervous Affliction”, a young French neurologist named Giles de la Tourette exposed the aforementioned behavior of the Marquise de Dampierre as symptomatic of a neurological disorder; the condition was later named “Tourette’s Syndrome”. In a notable example, stuttering—once considered a result of circumstances such as the presence of the devil in the throat—has become known as a physiological disorder following years of research. Yet the advances that have taken place have also posed further problems for people with disabilities. As treatments improved, hospitals and other institutions began to “warehouse” many of those with disabilities, causing them to become increasingly marginalized and segregated from society. Some facilities even went so far as to abuse their residents. As the second half of the 20th century
neared, people with disabilities—though no longer viewed as having inexplicable illnesses—found themselves subject to stereotypes, possessing few legal protections, and often confined to medical facilities. On May 29th, 1935, six people with various physical impairments launched a sit-in protest at a government building in New York City, occupying the office of Emergency Relief Bureau director Oswald W. Knauth. These individuals—in perhaps the first instance of civil disobedience pertaining to disability rights—had banded together to fight existing standards that classified those with disabilities as “physically handicapped” and hampered their efforts to find employment. The demonstrators grew in number on the following day, and attracted a large
ganizations for PWD, such as the American Foundation for the Blind. However, most early efforts to change the prevailing conditions faced by PWD were largely unsuccessful, as they simply failed to resonate or gain legitimacy among most Americans. In a remarkable irony, the government that—according to the protesters—was discriminating against those with disabilities was headed by wheelchair user Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a polio survivor. As evidenced by the conduct of President Roosevelt, who went to great lengths to hide the extent of his condition, having a disability was still a source of stigmatization and social handicap during that time. According to Barnartt and Scotch, it would take the emergence of the civil rights movement, years later, to provide a frame of reference through which PWD
We all felt beautiful. We all felt powerful. It didn’t matter if you were mentally retarded, blind, or deaf. Everybody who came out felt, We are beautiful, we are powerful, we are strong, we are important.
amount of media coverage before they ended their protest on June 6th. The resulting publicity helped the demonstrators rent office space, elect officers, and formally unite under the name “League of the Physically Handicapped”. According to sociologists Sharon Barnartt and Richard Scotch, the formation of the LPH was just one of numerous events during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s that laid the necessary groundwork for more extensive future protests. Barnartt and Scotch discuss the emergence of a “collective consciousness” among some people with disabilities that took place over this period, representing their increased sense of a shared identity as well as a heightened awareness of discrimination aimed at them. The World Wars, Barnartt and Scotch claim, contributed notably to this development by vastly increasing the ranks of the disabled (due to the return of wounded veterans) and heightening feelings of deprivation among those with disabilities. Many PWD experienced the frustration of employment discrimination firsthand, as they were asked to work during the wars due to the need for labor, only to lose these jobs once the fighting had ceased. In addition to the LPH, these years witnessed the founding and development of numerous other or-
could gain public acceptance of their actions. In the fall semester of 1962, a quadriplegic polio survivor named Ed Roberts enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley. Roberts had been a healthy child until the disease left him unable to walk and dependent on an iron lung. At first he felt helpless and ashamed, but after months of treatment, he obtained his high school diploma and decided to seek a political science degree. Encouraged by his activist mother and a sympathetic adviser, Roberts chose Berkeley, a school with a top program in the field. Though the school initially refused to take Roberts due to his condition, it ultimately backed down, leaving it up to him to make arrangements for himself. The campus was filled with rooms inaccessible to wheelchair users, and since Roberts’ iron lung was too heavy to be placed in a dormitory, he was forced to live in the university’s hospital. Still, Roberts thrived, and as word got out, other students with severe disabilities joined him. Encouraged by the civil rights and antiwar protests that were taking place, Roberts and other disabled students formed a political group called the Rolling Quads. Anxious to end his hospital confinement, Roberts flew to D.C. to lobby for students with disabilities,
and he soon obtained funds for a new initiative, the Physically Disabled Students’ Program. The PDSP, which began in 1970, revolutionized the treatment of students with disabilities at Berkeley, letting them get accessible housing, set up a “wheelchair workshop”, and engage in general advocacy for treatment and funding. According to writer Shapiro, Roberts “redefined independence as the control a disabled person had over his life” rather than the medical model of the ability to perform tasks such as walking. In 1972, inspired by the success of the student program, Roberts and others opened the Berkeley Center for Independent Living (CIL), which was designed to help all capable people with disabilities live on their own and integrate into society. In 1975, Roberts was appointed director of the state’s Department of Rehabilitation and he promptly set about expanding the concept of independent living; as the initiative gained popularity, other programs resembling Berkeley’s CIL were founded across the country. While the CIL gained influence in Berkeley, protests and political activities by people with disabilities were picking up steam elsewhere. In 1970, 22 year-old New York resident Judith E. Heumann— another quadriplegic polio survivor—founded Disabled in Action (DIA), a political protest group. After studying speech therapy, Heumann had been ruled ineligible for a teaching certificate due to her condition. She sued the state Board of Education, went to the media, and ultimately reached a settlement that included her certification. Heumann’s DIA launched several high-profile demonstrations in the early 1970’s, including a trip to the Lincoln Memorial and a sit-in on Madison Avenue in New York City. In 1973, Heumann moved to Berkeley to join Roberts at the CIL. The Rehabilitation Act, signed into law on September 26, 1973, contained the first United States federal civil rights laws pertaining to people with disabilities. Ironically, Section 504—the most important part of the legislation—was not included as a direct result of protests or lobbying. Much of disability rights activity prior to 1973 had focused on government spending, and the original purpose of the Rehabilitation Act had been to provide federal funds for PWD. According to sociologist Scotch, Sections 501-504—pertaining to civil rights of people with disabilities—were inserted seemingly as a random afterthought. Some members of Congress may not even have been aware of these portions of
the act, or may have considered them a sympathetic but meaningless gesture. The wording of Section 504 was adapted from Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and makes it illegal for any institution receiving federal funding to discriminate against PWD “solely by reason of…handicap”. Activists had not expected this addition, but they soon became aware of its significance. Following a lawsuit, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) drafted 185 pages of regulations to be issued that would mandate the enforcement of Section 504. However, fearing the costs these regulations would incur, HEW stalled their release for the next several years—even after the 1976 election of Jimmy Carter, who had promised to implement them. On April 5, 1977, disability rights activists loosely organized by the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities—a new organization founded in 1975 by Heumann and others with disabilities to operate on a national level—launched large-scale protests in Washington, D.C. and at eight regional offices of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. In Washington, 300 demonstrators took over the offices of Carter’s new HEW secretary, Joseph Califano, with 40 remaining inside for 28 hours despite refusal by the secretary to allow them food or telephone access. In New York City, eight leaders of local disability rights organizations arrived at the area HEW office, staying for 33 hours and giving updates to media organizations. In the most significant protest, San Francisco demonstrators led by Heumann and Roberts occupied the sixth floor of the regional HEW office for 25 days. According to Shapiro, the San Francisco action “marked the political coming of age of the disability rights movement”, as it represented a nationwide unification of people with a wide spectrum of disabilities under the banner of civil disobedience. He quotes one demonstrator as stating that “We all felt beautiful. We all felt powerful. It didn’t matter if you were mentally retarded, blind, or deaf. Everybody who came out felt, We are beautiful, we are powerful, we are strong, we are important.” Finally, on April 28th, 1977, Califano capitulated, agreeing to sign the Section 504 documents. Though this was a major victory for activists, the struggle would continue. Following the introduction of the Section 504 regulations, the disability rights movement began to face public criticism. For the first time, institu-
tions receiving federal funding would have to install ramps, build wider toilet stalls, and make other changes; as these measures could prove costly and tiresome, some organizations were reluctant to fully comply. Several U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1980s limited the power of the new regulations, and momentum from the San Francisco protest continued to evaporate during the first years of the business-friendly Reagan Administration. In this difficult political climate, disability rights activists mobilized to support Section 504. Numerous legal organizations—including groups sponsored by Heumann’s DIA and Roberts’ CIL—were formed to take the new legislation to court. On the street, the demonstrations continued, at times adopting a militant tone. In 1983, Wade Blank—a Denver minister and independent living activist—founded American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit (ADAPT). Over the next eight years, the group would take on the American Public Transit Association (APTA), which had stopped making its vehicles wheelchairaccessible following a 1981 court ruling. Using civil disobedience techniques, ADAPT attempted every year to disrupt the annual APTA conference, quickly becoming the most confrontational disability rights organization in the field. Though ADAPT’s protests were highly visible, most mainstream activists dismissed it as overly radical. In early March of 1988, the board of trustees at Gallaudet University—the most famous institution of higher learning for deaf students in America— went against the wishes of students, faculty, and alumni and attempted to appoint a non-deaf president to head the university. Over the next week, in what historian Shapiro describes as “the closest the [disability rights] movement has come to having a touchstone event”, students engaged in a massive campaign of protest marches, civil disobedience, and political action, shouting slogans and barricading the campus. One week after the protests began, the board of trustees agreed to name I. King Jordan as the school’s first deaf president. Two months later—with images of the protests fresh in their minds—lawmakers of the 100th Congress began work on the first version of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Though the disability rights movement had chalked up a number of successes in Congress, the proposed regulations went much further than any other civil rights legislation since the 1960s. The original draft called for all businesses to accommodate PWD (except in cases
where this would cause bankruptcy) and included a provision allowing punitive damages in discrimination lawsuits—essentially extending Section 504 to all organizations, regardless of whether they receive federal funding. The proposed bill was developed primarily by two members of the National Council on the Handicapped (NCH), a federal committee appointed by President Reagan: Robert Burgdorf, the council’s lawyer and research specialist, and Justin Dart, a veteran activist whom many consider the “father” of the ADA. Years earlier, 20 year-old Burgdorf—a polio survivor—had been denied entry to a summer internship program due to his paralyzed right arm; he went on to specialize in disability rights law and ultimately join the NCH. Dart, the son of a powerful businessman, had grown up in relative comfort, despite losing his legs to polio as a teenager. Following a business trip to Saigon during the Vietnam War, during which he witnessed mistreatment of poliostricken children firsthand, Dart decided to devote his life to helping other disabled individuals; he engaged in vigorous political efforts and joined committees like the NCH. The first version of the ADA was rejected by the 100th Congress in the face of opposition by businesses and various other groups. However, with the help of Berkeley-based lobbyist Patrisha Wright, new legislation was reintroduced into the 101st Congress a year later. Though the second draft was more conservative than the first—omitting the punitive damages provision and reducing the scope of the accommodations to be required—it managed to gain bipartisan support as the legislative process proceeded. In March 1990, ADAPT launched its “Wheels of Justice March”, a series of demonstrations in D.C. that included a March 12 “crawl-up” staged by wheelchair users on the stairs of the Capitol building and a takeover of the Capitol rotunda the following day. Unlike other events related to the ADA, these protests gained public attention, providing the legislation with momentum as it moved through Congress. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in the House on July 12, 1990 by a vote of 377-28, and by the Senate a day later, 91-6. President George Bush signed the bill into law on July 26, 1990, and proclaimed, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down”. Seventeen years later, the ultimate impact of the ADA remains unclear. A series of recent court judg-
ments—in particular, a precedent-setting 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in the 2000 case University of Alabama v. Garrett—has curtailed some of the power of the legislation. Despite these setbacks, the disability rights movement has clearly made significant gains in both the legal and public spheres; a comprehensive Harris poll in 1999 indicated that an overwhelming majority of Americans views the ADA positively and supports providing accommodations for people with disabilities. Perhaps the most pressing issue, Shapiro says, is to overcome two traditional and widely-held stereotypes affecting people with disabilities: the opposing archetypes of the “Tiny Tim” and the “supercrip”. The first portrays individuals with disabilities as suffering and miserable figures who must be pitied. The second is that of the disabled achiever who valiantly overcomes his disability— the “super cripple”. Shapiro claims that both images demean PWD by promoting the claim that there is something inherently wrong with having a disability. He argues that most disabled individuals want neither to be pitied nor to be revered, but rather to simply be treated and accepted as normal people. According to Shapiro, the power of the disability rights movement lies in its vast numbers: almost every American either has some kind of disability or knows someone else who has one. At
first, this phenomenon weakened the campaign by causing activism to take place in a “splintered universe” in which people with different disabilities focused on diverse issues and failed to cooperate, even finding themselves at odds on occasion. (In one example, Shapiro notes how wheelchair users pushed for curb-cuts, while blind people, who often use raised curbs to guide themselves, opposed them.) Yet in recent years, as broad disability rights measures have brought activists together, a “hidden army” of people touched by disability has emerged to push legislation forward. Shapiro counts as part of this army many key senators, congressmen, and advisers who either suffered from disabilities themselves or were close to disabled individuals. Also included is the former President Bush, whose son, Neil, has a learning disability. In a broad sense, the disability rights movement is a defiant response to social Darwinism. In a cruel world driven only by survival of the fittest, people with disabilities are gradually eliminated from the population due to the severe hardships they face. However, in a world governed by equal opportunities, these same people can become productive members of society. The disability rights movement, then, is an attempt to create such a world of equality. It is an attempt to turn the unthinkable into day-to-day reality.
References: 1] 2] 3] 4] 5] ] 7] 8] 9] 10]
Barnartt, Sharon and Richard Scotch. Disability Protests: Contentious Politics 1970-1999. 2001. Gallaudet University Press. Washington, DC 20002. Bobrick, Benson. Knotted Tongues: Stuttering in History and the Quest for a Cure. 1995. Simon and Schuster. 1230 Avenue of the Americas. New York, NY 10020. Covey, Herbert. Social Perceptions of People with Disabilities in History. 1998. Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Ltd. Springfield, IL, 62794. Fleischer, Doris Zames and Frieda Zames. The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. 2001. Temple University Press. Philadelphia, PA 19122. Landau, Elaine. Tourette Syndrome. Franklin Watts, a Division of Grolier Publishing. Sherman Turnpike. Danbury, CT 06813. Moe, Barbara. Coping With Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders. 2000. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. 29 East 21st Street. New York, NY 10010. Kushner, Howard I. A Cursing Brain? The Histories of Tourette Syndrome. 1999. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts. London, England. Shapiro, Joseph P. No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement. 1993. Random House. New York, Toronto. Switzer, Jacqueline V. Disabled Rights: American Disability Policy and the Fight for Equality. 2003. Georgetown University Press. Washington, D.C. Waltz, Mitzi. Tourette’s Syndrome: Finding Answers and Getting Help. 2001. O’Reilly & Associates, Inc. Sebastopol, CA 95472.
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Alternative Energy Gandhi Vallarapu / HURJ Staff Writer
While ever increasing gas prices seem to burden the average American consumer, the root of this phenomenon is vastly more detrimental. Admonitions from scientific authorities have largely been ignored until recently, but the fundamental lack of alternative energy sources is not an easily amenable problem. Fortunately, multiple environmentally conscious parties are responding to this crisis, with the goal of eliminating the need for outdated, harmful fossil fuels. There are even initiatives at the collegiate level, such as MIT’s Energy “Manhatten Project,” organized by its Energy Research Council. With collaborate civil effort, America will soon lose its fossil fuel addiction to the benefit of individuals and perhaps more importantly the environment. The government would be the primary beneficiary with a switch to alternative forms of energy. Fossil fuels necessitate a dangerous tie to Middle Eastern countries with questionable foreign policy. In addition, the sooner the US moves away from fossil fuels, the sooner it can free itself from the fluctuating gas
prices that often dominate the news. The government should further fund research in various new forms of energy such as hydrogen fuel cells. These new forms not only produce fewer pollutants, but are also more efficient. The modern internal combustion engine has efficiencies that “range between 20 and 25 percent,” (Encarta), while hydrogen has a theoretical efficiency of up to 80 percent. Though the government could be doing more to promote drastic reforms in energy policy, officials are successfully providing tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid vehicles. Hybrid vehicles, such as Toyota’s Prius, provide a bridge between old fossil fuels and new electric energy sources. By utilizing electricity generated from braking, hybrids can supplement the power obtained from burning gas. Providing a tax incentive persuades American consumers to purchase these vehicles, which emit fewer pollutants and use less gas. Despite all these suggestions, the US government must also enable the financial success of the current oil industry; so, it might be beneficial to provide more federal monetary incentives
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Awaits for encouraging the oil industry to gradually switch to the new fuel sources. The oil industry must come to terms with the reality that fossil fuels are a nonrenewable energy source and will eventually be depleted. The government could help ease the transition to alternate fuel sources. Not only will the change benefit the oil companies, but alternative fuel sources would tremendously cripple the damage current hydrocarbons inflict. The most egregious damages caused by current fossil fuels are well documented. They include acid rain and global warming. “These acid-containing water vapors […] enter the water cycle and can subsequently harm the biological quality of forests, soils, lakes, and streams” (Encarta). Current films, most notably, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” forewarn about the impending trouble due to global warming. These effects include melting of the polar ice caps and the destruction of the ozone. The sooner that the US’s dependence of fossil fuels is eliminated, the sooner the damage caused by these detriments
can be curtailed. Leading the way with a civil effort are America’s colleges. One of the most ambitious and innovative initiatives is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Energy “Manhattan Project.” While not specifically targeting fossil fuels, MIT looks at obtaining energy from unusual sources. Energy companies should look to MIT for inspiration. For example, MIT is attempting to create organic solar cells from spinach. Most notably: “[…] efficiency could outstrip the best silicon photovoltaic arrays today” (Wired). To improve car fuel efficiency, MIT is attempting to generate “[…] a car’s electricity photoelectrically (using a gas-powered light and a small, specially designed solar panel) rather than mechanically (using an alternator), substantially increasing
fuel efficiency.” Hopefully, more colleges will follow MIT’s example, and lead America to use more diverse sources for energy. Contributing differently in the ongoing effort of energy conservation is the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Recently, the university’s campus security has a novel method of travel. Initiated in the beginning of the 2006 school year, campus security officers travel not solely by gas guzzling motor vehicles, but using electric powered Segways. They provide an efficient short distance traveling vehicle for the officers and do not produce any harmful effects on the environment. Segways are a forerunner of future vehicles that will gradually be less dependent on oil for fuel. To achieve the goal of complete fossil fuel independence, many civic groups in California have proceeded to convert hybrid vehicles into plug-in hybrid vehicles. Current hybrids lack the ability to charge utilizing a plug into the electrical grid. Instead, they rely on braking for frictional energy, and many car companies are concerned consumers will find plugin hybrids cumbersome. These plug-in hybrids have vastly improved fuel efficiency. “Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries” (Wired). An engineering professor at UC Davis has built his own plug-in hybrid that gets 250 miles per gallon, and he believes that companies like Toyota can implement these technologies for as little as $6,000 per vehicle. If Toyota subsidized consumers for buying a fuel efficient hybrid, then consumers would be more willing to purchase one. With the results of these successes, groups like Set America Free want “ the government
+ References: 1] Wired 2] Encarta
to spend $12 billion over four years on plug-in hybrids, alternative fuels and other measures to reduce foreign oil dependence“ (Wired). Set America Free has created a blueprint for energy security which allocates money to various key members in the energy field to establish better fuel standards, such as cleaner and mixed fuel blends. By joining initiatives like MIT’s project, encouraging car companies to develop plug-in hybrids for greater fuel economy, and showing support through purchases of hybrid vehicles, the average American can be part of a collaborate effort to improve America’s future. Americans can help preserve what little fossil fuel remains by carpooling and trying to use public transportation. However, these are temporary solutions, and the public should push the government to fund for a permanent, long term solution that will be beneficial to all members involved as exemplified by Set America Free. Most importantly, we want to preserve the one nonrenewable resource that we will be leaving to future generations: the earth. In order to do so, we must promote alternative fuel sources similar to the current grassroots organizations. While it will not be easy or rapid, alternative fuel will eventually be developed, but time is not expendable. As time progresses, fossil fuels will decrease in availability, demand will surge, prices will inevitably surge, and gas companies will face a life-threatening dilemma, all while the earth is affected by pollution. America needs to be forward in thinking so as to prevent this impending emergency, and the first step must be taken by the individual.
Isabel Perera / HURJ Staff Writer
Wit h the ongoing immigration debate, Hispanic American citizens and non citizens alike are becoming a formidable presence in contemporary North American society. Moreover, this presence has translated into both a socio-cultural as well as a political-economic, and often bipartisan, voice in the United States. The debate over the socio-cultural Hispanic identity has erupted over the inability to define an overarching Hispanic personality in the United States. Coupled with this confusion is the developing strength of this identity in American legislative activities. Growing numbers of Hispanics in Congress find themselves questioning their ability to represent Hispanic interests. Similarly, Hispanic-interest lobbying groups are highly subject to criticism and condemnation as they often fail to wholly represent Hispanic Americans. Today, the socio-cultural identity of Hispanic Americans (or lack thereof) is hardly a monoculture. The term “Hispanic” was born out of the government’s need to categorize national census results in the 1970s. According to Princeton University’s Marta Tienda and the National Research Council’s Faith Mitchell, the term “encompasses both the descendants of early Spanish settlers in what are now the United States and immigrants and their offspring from Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.” 19
Given the overwhelming diversity of the Hispanic population, this elusive identity has faced even greater debate over points of potential political agreement, and, therefore, congressional power. In particular, lobbying groups represent a broad variety of nationalities and interests, eliminating the possibility of representing all Hispanic American interests under a single organization. However, UC Irvine’s Louis DeSipio realizes that “over the past 20 years, Hispanic elites, particularly non-Cuban Hispanic elites, have organized primarily as Hispanics and not around their national-origin identities.”. At the same time, these pan-ethnic groups can still sometimes emerge as small, specificinterest groups on Capitol Hill. Hence two types of Hispanic lobbying groups have emerged. Currently, there remain several umbrella organizations which represent general Hispanic interests by splitting specific interests into different interest sections. These smaller, sub-umbrella lobbyists receive most of their generous funding from their mother organization. At the same time, the growing strength of independent, specificinterest, independently-funded groups demonstrate a clear division of means. The two pathways of Hispanic activism, sub-umbrella group lobbying and independent lobbying, have manifested themselves in almost all areas of Hispanic civic concerns ranging from immigration and work permission rights to equal health care distribution. One of the most important issues, though, remains education. While groups of the former construct find themselves surrounded with powerful political allies and grander aims, they seem too often overshadowed by their sister agendas. Such is the case of the Hispanic Education Coalition (HEC), a sub-party of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Though the NCLR has attempted to represent Hispanic interests as a whole, it has also seen the obvious need to create smaller interest groups within its overall goal of representing every Hispanic interest. Unfortunately, even under the auspice of well-publicized support, it finds itself dealing with the burden of multiple issues. The following is an excerpt from the NCLR’s HEC’s mission statement: “NCLR’s education policy work, housed in the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, strives to ensure that Hispanic students, including immigrant and English language learners, enter school ready to learn and graduate from high school with a meaningful diploma at the same rate as their peers. NCLR’s advocacy in early childhood education and high school reform, which is focused principally at the federal level, includes policies and programs such as Head Start, the No Child Left Behind Act, the DREAM Act, and funding for key federal education programs.” The careful wording of the group’s broad mission statement can be sharply contrasted with the frankness of one of its smallest activist affiliates: the National Association of
Bilingual Education (NABE). A much smaller group, the NABE is hardly publicized, yet its goals are well-defined and easily understood: “We have worked actively to promote educational excellence and equity for this long-underserved group. In concrete terms, this has meant:
“Advocacy for federal and state legislation to address the unique needs of English language learners. “Advocacy for adequate funding, well trained teachers, appropriate assessments, and other resources for English learner programs. “Advocacy for equal educational opportunity, including strong civil-rights policies and aggressive enforcement of the Lau v. Nichols decision. “Advocacy against political attacks on language-minority communities, such as the English Only movement and antibilingual-education initiatives. “Despite political resistance, we have seen significant progress in all these areas over the years. Recently, however, the school reform landscape has changed, with the advent of the standards-and-goals movement, high-stakes testing, and allout attacks on public education. In particular, the Bilingual Education Act was repealed and replaced by the No Child Left Behind Act.” The frankness of NABE’s writing reveals the powerful tool of small-level Hispanic lobbying. Here, the group introduces itself and its sharp goals simply, unlike the overarching aims of the large NCLR’s HEC. It seems that the debate concerning the social and cultural definitions of Hispanics in America has spilled over to the political and legal arena through the structural evolution of Hispanic-interest lobbying groups. More often, Hispanic-interest lobbying groups have found that the larger, umbrella organizations have yet to satisfy their specific, independent needs as they cannot be coupled with general interests. Often claiming that general Hispanic interests are nonexistent due to the diversity within the Hispanic population, specific groups, such as the NABE, real-
ize and attain a smaller spectrum of activism. Oftentimes it is the sheer strength of conviction of such groups which attracts supporters. For example, the NABE receives a large portion of its support from its even smaller state-level counterparts. Approximately 25 American states have state bilingual education activism movements. These states range from the Hispanic-heavy New Mexico and California to the Hispanic-light Alaska and Idaho. The true question, though, lies not within the identity and manifested interests of the groups, but rather within the effectiveness of smaller, independent interest groups over the branches of larger umbrella lobbying groups. NABE is more directly controversial, whereas NCLR has a broader appeal, and a bigger name. Unlike the NABE, the NCLR is always registered under activist databases. It is therefore the publicity and brand-recognition attributed to the largest activist groups that maintains its reputation and support. The NABE hardly receives as much publicity. Though both types of groups have contributed to change on the Congressional floors, each has developed both structural positives and structural negatives. General Hispanic groups are larger and more forceful but must divide their efforts among many topics and are not always holistically representative of the interests of the entire Hispanic community. On the other hand, smaller, more specific-interest groups have less issues to address and therefore can manage to forcefully focus their efforts on precise needs but have a tougher time finding funds. The crisis has led to further confusion and debate around the Hispanic identity and ultimately the growing assimilation of the ethnic group into American socio-political culture.
References: 1] 2] 3] 4]
Hispanics and the future of America, chapter 1, pg. 1 Hispanics and the future of America, chapter 11, pg. 448 http://www.nclr.org/content/topics/detail/499/ http://www.nabe.org
ing the Gap in A mer ica
Nancy Tray / HURJ Staff Writer If you ask William, he will tell you the economy is booming. When he is raking in a salary of $18.5 million, why wouldnâ€™t he? But if you ask Kate, she will tell you a different story â€“ one about declining wages and the growth of poverty. Of course, she is working full-time and earning $11,000 a year. The truth is, the economy is booming, but benefits are weighted heavily towards the upper income of America and not to the lower income families. It says a lot when the 13,000 richest families have as much income as the 20 million poorest.1 In this modern era, it is easy to see that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. This pressing issue has social, psychological, and medical repercussions. Fortunately, this
crisis has caught the attention of many individuals and grassroots organizations, which have sprung up to fight for economic equality. Not only are jobs harder to find, wages harder to gratify, and a secure retirement harder to guarantee, but many researchers in both the sciences and humanities have noted other consequences of growing inequality. Take, for example, the impact of the field of public health. Researchers have linked the widening gap to eroding health conditions, in which soaring costs have prevented millions of families from acquiring the most basic health insurance. Some researchers have even revealed that when comparing states or countries, those with smaller income disparities have lower mor-
tality rates.2 Another repercussion involves psychological effects, as lowered wages cause workers to reduce their productivity and efficiency. Others have associated inequality to a growth of corruption. As the rich get richer, they gain more political power, allowing them to back policies such as large tax cuts for the wealthy.3 Clearly, this would further increase their wealth. One thing is for sure: this problem will spiral out of control unless something is done. There are increasing numbers of grassroots organizations fighting for economic equality. One such association, The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), represents over 10 million workers and strives to strengthen their po-
litical voice through unions. Presently, the AFL-CIO is pushing Congress to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. As of February 1st, this minimum wage reform bill passed in both the House and the Senate. The AFL-CIO is also trying to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would restore the worker’s freedom to form unions and effectively strengthen the middle class. They are also struggling to abolish the ban forbidding Medicare from bargaining with companies for more affordable prescription drugs.4 Like the AFL-CIO, the United for a Fair Economy is another grassroots organization contesting the increasing inequality issues. Its main objectives are to raise
awareness by holding educational workshops and distributing information through the media, research publications and books. Through such efforts, they have triumphed in preventing the permanent repeal of the Federal estate tax thus far.5 Demos, an advocacy and research organization that works at the state and national levels, focuses on democratic reform including the reduction of economic disparity. In order to raise awareness, Demos has three specific initiatives. One is called the “Debt and Assets Project,” which discusses the impact public policies have on lower class families’ debt. Here, individuals educate legislators and the public. “Growing and Protecting the Middle Class” discusses the disappearing middle class, and different ways to tackle this problem. For example, this could be alleviated by investments in higher education, owning a home, and overall income growth. The third program, titled “Around the
Kitchen Table E-Journal,” is a monthly e-journal that informs the public of links between debt, education and income.6 Their first priority is to educate the public about the crisis before proposing ways to combat it, as AFL-CIO does. AFL-CIO, United For a Fair Economy, and Demos make up only a fraction of the spectrum of grassroots organizations available. With so many individuals and groups working towards reform, some progress has been made against economic inequality. In the recent 2006 elections, voters shot down the president’s policies and fought for what they wanted – higher wages, the ability to form unions, and affordable prescription drugs. However, there is much more to be accomplished. The rich are still getting richer, and the poor are still getting poorer. Until more progress is made, it looks like William will still be cashing in the green while Kate will still be struggling to support her family.
References: 1] Lewis, Tom. “The Growing Gap between Rich and Poor.” Socialist Worker Online 1 August 2003, 24 February 2007 (http://www.socialistworker.org/20032/462/462_06_RichPoor.shtml) 2] Trafford, Abigail. “Advantage: The Brits.” The Washington Post 6 June 2006, 24 February 2007 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/05/ AR2006060500824.html) 3] Bernasek, Anna. “Income Equality, and Its Cost.” The New York Times 25 June 2006, 23 February 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/business/yourmoney/25view. html?ex=1308888000&en=4e082ad29dfa1537&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss) 4] No author. AFL-CIO: Issues [online]. United States, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, 2007. Available on the World Wide Web: (http://www.aflcio.org) 5] No author. UFE: Our Strategies [online]. United States, United for a Fair Economy, 2007. Available on the World Wide Web: (http://www.faireconomy.org) ] No author. Demos: Expanding Economic Opportunity [online]. United States, Demos, 2007. Available on the World Wide Web: (http://www.demos.org)
Grassroots efforts to
revitalize American democracy
THE VOTE Stephen Berger / HURJ Staff Writer It is one of the greatest paradoxes of the modern era: Americans are proud to live in a democracy, but the number of people actually voting has decreased steadily for decades. For example, the three presidential elections of the 1960’s each saw voter turnout above 60% of eligible voters. That figure declined to below 50% in the presidential elections of 1996 and 2000 (Pintor). Voter turnout rates are even lower for congressional and local elections than for presidential elections; the drop in turnout between presidential and midterm elections has routinely been between 10% and 15% over the last 50 years. Although the numbers have improved somewhat in the elections of 2004 and 2006, it is more likely that these inflated figures represent vigorous public debate about an unpopular war, rather than a genuine reawakening of a democratic spirit amongst the people. Democracy is entirely dependent on an informed and active electorate. Although politicians constantly exhort voters to go to the polls, it seems they have been mostly unsuccessful in galvanizing participation in the electoral process. As a result, a variety of grassroots efforts have sprung up in recent years to address the problem. These groups are dedicated to registering voters and, perhaps more importantly, convincing those already registered to take some time each year to make an informed decision and cast a ballot. The most well known campaign for members of the MTV generation is “Rock the Vote!”, but a variety of other organizations are active to encourage participation at all levels of government. Unlike special interest groups that mobilize voters to act only on single issues, these groups serve mainly to inspire citizens, especially young voters, to let their voice be heard.
Why the silence?
The declining level of voter turnout is perhaps the single most studied issue in American political science today. As a
matter of fact, the problem is not limited exclusively to the United States: voter turnout and voter registration levels have declined in almost every country across the globe, although few democracies have rates as low as the US (Pintor). Because the decline has been apparent for several decades, it is unlikely to be linked to any one particular issue, politician, or party. A general post-World War II torpor among the American electorate has often been cited as a reason, although this statement seems to define rather than explain the decline. A variety of more comprehensive reasons for the decline have been proposed by scholars and pundits over the last few years. Elections in the United States have been less and less competitive since World War II (Franklin). High incumbency rates, the gridlock of divided government, and the general inability of the two political parties to reach a compromise on the major issues of the day have caused many Americans to feel as though their votes will do little to change the entrenchments of the system (Hill). Psychologists and political scientists talk about “voter efficacy,” or the extent to which people feel as though their vote actually makes a difference. As the electoral system has gotten more complicated and more expensive, voter efficacy seems to have declined. Interestingly, this psychology seems especially to affect younger voters who are entering into a system that seems already to be set in stone, a fact that was exacerbated when the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 in 1971. The demographic gap in voting behavior continues to grow: older, well-educated, and more financially well-off Americans are more likely to vote than are younger, less-educated, and poorer citizens (Teixera). These facts are especially troubling because these latter of three groups are often most in need of representation. Beyond the facts of declining voter efficacy and a growing demographic gap, however, lies a deeper truth: disenfranchisement continues to be a major problem in this 25
country. But unlike an earlier era, in which more than half the American population was prevented from voting by the laws of the land, today’s disenfranchisement is largely self-imposed.
Into this discouraging fray enter a large number of groups whose sole mission is to get people off the couch and back into democracy. To be sure, politicians have attempted to change the system from within to make it more exciting and responsive to voters. Campaign finance reform, oversight of voting machines, and the periodic debate about the electoral college may ultimately motivate more Americans to go to the ballot box (Patterson), but grassroots citizen groups will ultimately have even more power to shape the mentality of the citizenry on a daily basis. Most of these groups seek to influence Americans between the ages of 18 and 25, as this group has historically been one of the least likely to participate in the democratic process. “Rock the Vote!” is one of the largest and most successful of these organizations. Founded in 1990, Rock the Vote uses celebrity starpower – the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, P. Diddy, and Madonna – along with popular corporate sponsors like 7Up and Ben & Jerry’s to spread a message that government and citizenship can be “cool.” The group is non-partisan, but it offers information on issues pertinent to the interests of a younger generation, including college loans and the economy. The spirit of the organization is best captured by an MTV-sponsored rally in 1994, when a member of the audience famously asked President Clinton, “boxers or briefs?” This kind of message-heavy but laid-back attitude seems to work; hundreds of thousands of college-age people have been registered by the organization over the last fifteen years. Every organization has a different constituency and a different approach to the problem. Groups such as the League of Women Voters attempt to inform and mobilize a constituency to become active in local, state, and federal government. They do so in a generally non-partisan manner, without taking positions on specific issues or backing specific candidates, although their neutrality is sometimes disputed. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) promotes reforms for the working poor at all levels of society, but especially focuses on getting its members to vote and run for office, particularly in local elections. Countless organizations
follow these models on a much smaller, more local scale.
Getting them to the polls
Most of these groups, both local and national in scope, are non-profit organizations that operate under a particular set of legal guidelines (Troyer). These laws exert their power through the tax code: non-partisan voter registration groups are usually tax-exempt but must follow certain regulations in exchange. They are legally forbidden to endorse candidates or political parties or to contribute to their campaigns, a restriction that is actually fairly helpful in the drive to register and motivate voters: most people may need a little help to get to the polls, but do not want to be told who to vote for. In contrast to many political operations, most of these organizations operate year-round, not only around election time. Anecdotal and empirical evidence support the idea that the single best way to motivate people to participate in the democratic process is not just to encourage them to vote, but rather to increase their feelings of voter efficacy, to make them feel as though they can have an impact on the political process. When people feel like they have a stake in the system, when they feel like citizens instead of just voters, they are more likely to be active in the electoral system. This is best achieved by encouraging active year-round participation: calling congressman, signing petitions, and getting involved in citizenship organizations. Voter registration, while important, is only half the process. These groups, both local and national in scope, are beginning to exert some effects on the entrenched and embattled mentality of the average American voter. By canvassing doorto-door and exploiting modern technologies (at least one service helps people register to vote by cell phone text messaging), these groups are reaching out to each citizen, one at a time (Green). Voter turnout rates were up slightly in 2004 and 2006, and the presidential election of 2008 is projected to have the highest voter turnout of any election in years, largely because it is viewed at this point to be much more open and competitive than any election of the past half-century. The challenge is ongoing, however: those young voters who were mobilized in 2000 and 2004 are now approaching their 30s, and a new group of less-motivated voters are taking their place. But it seems possible that the US is entering a new era of heightened civic activism, driven in large part by a slow but sure grassroots increase in voter participation.
References: 1] 2] 3] 4] 5] ]
Pintor, Rafael López and Maria Gratschew. “Voter turnout since 1945: a global report.” The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Stockholm, Sweden; 2002. Franklin, Mark N. Voter Turnout and the Dynamics of Electoral Competition in Established Democracies Since 1945. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Hill, David. American Voter Turnout: An Institutional Perspective. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Westview Press, 2006. Teixera, Ruy A. Why Americans Don’t Vote: Turnout Decline in the United States, 1960-1984. New York, New York: Greenwood Press, 1987. Patterson, Thomas A. The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty. New York, New York: Vintage Books, 2003. Troyer, Thomas A. et al. “Playing by the rules: Handbook on voter participation and education work for 501(c)(3) organizations.” Caplin & Drysdale. Washington, DC: Independent Sector, 1998. 7] Green, Donald P. and Alan S. Gerber. Get Out the Vote! How to Increase Voter Turnout. Brookins Institution. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2004.
The Effect of Illegal Immigration on the US Healthcare System Mehdi Draoua / HURJ Staff Writer The United States of America has always been a nation built by immigrants, for immigrants. With the Statue of Liberty standing proudly in the New York City harbor, incoming people from all over the world felt welcome and excited to finally get a piece of their own “American Dream.” However, what happens when the United States replaces the welcome sign to say “No Vacancy” for some? This particular message is being issued to the newest large-scale immigrant wave of Mexicans and Latin Americans. However, being in close proximity to the southern states, this new group does not seem to heed the laws of immigration and instead develops large scale illegal migration upwards from the Mexican border. Aggravating numerous religious, political, and law enforcement groups, these new illegal immigrants landed themselves in a firestorm of criticism as the US economy began to deteriorate after 2001. This illegal immigration affects many aspects of American life and wounds the healthcare system in a unique and very powerful sense in the newly changing landscape of the 21st century America. In a fairly repetitive pattern, one can observe that even though a new wave of immigration is crucial to the survival of America, the native population views it as intrusive and unproductive. Many Mexicans, mostly in southern states such as Texas, New Mexico, and California, are having the same problems as Italian or Irish immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. Looking for work not available in their own nation, Mexicans have begun to use illegal means 27
American and Mexican citizens have made the illegal immigration issue one of the hottest political points of the decade.
of crossing the southern border to get into the US and try to make a living not only for themselves but for their families, as well. Illegal immigration, while not a new thing, has become a very noticeable nuisance for communities, especially in the border states where the problem is easily seen. Movement into the US was mainly overlooked by many Americans a few years ago due to great economic stability left by President Clinton. Illegal migrants proved to be a good source of cheap labor for menial jobs which Americans would not take at such low wages, such as fruit picking and even general construction. However, as the economic situation for many Americans, especially the middle class, deteriorated after 2001, criticism has erupted against the new immigrants in areas such as jobs and public school education. Not as highly advertised however is the fight from hospitals and healthcare providers which see illegal immigration not only as a strain for their business but also as a crippling disease on the US healthcare system as a whole. Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1985 (EMTALA), all American hospitals must provide emergency medical treatment to any who may come to their facility (Cosman). This includes those who are uninsured, are 28
not citizens, and cannot pay. While the government obliges the hospitals to treat these patients, no refunding of their unpaid services must ever occur under the bill’s duties. In other words, hospitals must give unpaid services to their communities, without any guarantee of repayment by a government facility that made it do so. Although a very sensible idea (it is unethical for hospitals to deny care to an uninsured gunshot victim), certain areas of the nation have become overwhelmed by an abuse of this system. As a prime example, between 1993 and present day, over 60 hospitals have closed down in the state of California due to the surge in critical care given to those without insurance, mainly illegal immigrants (WND). While some may blame this simply on business fluctuations, since hospitals are usually run by private firms, one cannot deny a problem in the system when many of these closed hospitals reported no payment for over 50% of their services. To combat this, the US government gave California emergency hospitals approximately $72 million annually to care for illegal immigrants, for which many have praised the system (Darmiento). However, when one looks at the number of hospitals the $72 million suddenly does not become nearly as much as it may seem in the beginning since it is for all California hospitals, and not only one. The figure goes down even further when it is estimated that illegal immigrants cost the state of California approximately $10.5 billion every year (Longley). As was mentioned earlier though, emergency medical services cannot be denied under any circumstance under penalty of stiff fines from the federal government for breaking EMTALA ground rules. With approximately 10,000 immigrants crossing over to the US each day, one can now observe how easily hospitals in border states can be sunk into debt due to not being paid for medical services. After observing the losses that American hospitals are taking, one can see why many are choosing to raise prices of their services to those who are able to pay i.e. legal US residents. Surveys have given a $1.1 billion figure to what American citizens have to pay for the care of illegal immigrants in the nation (Larubia). However, legal residence soon becomes a problem when nativity to American soil comes into question. By this it is meant that a growing trend of immigration before delivering a baby which automatically becomes a citizen through the 14th amendment. Commonly referred to as an “anchor” child, the newborn citizen allows the rest of the illegal family to stay in the US and thereby receive healthcare benefits usually left to those who were legally supposed to receive them (i.e. American taxpayers). Another issue that many have given light to is the fact that illegal immigrants bring with them diseases which have been relatively wiped out by the American healthcare system. Strains of tuberculosis and malaria, which have been
controlled well inside the borders of the US have now spiked up again in southern states due to illegal immigrants bringing them along anywhere from Mexico to Argentina. Because of this, millions must be poured into helping cure these uninsured individuals from diseases which are normally taken care of when they are young children or infants. This sense of disease hysteria is being used by many interest groups on Capital hill to press for further regulation of healthcare given to those without proper documentation and eventual deportation. There is very little that can be done in terms of denying healthcare to illegal immigrants. Foreign policy towards Mexico has created an atmosphere in which those who want to get to the US badly enough must find some way across the desert. This circumstance is especially true due to recent financial constrictions on the Southwest border fences that were built earlier this year. Once the issue of illegal immigration is settled, one will observe the popularity of mandatory healthcare. It is easier and much less costly to prevent diseases through immunization when the child is young than it is to treat full-blown illness. Not having health insurance would cause physical damage to the individual and put financial stress on the American public (i.e. cheap inoculations as a baby are favorable over allowing the child to get sick so that he/she has to stay in a hospital for much time to recover). In the same spirit, one has to give illegal immigrant women the right to proper facilities and services when delivering a baby in order to prevent complications associated with a home birth, which many would resort to if hospitals would not take them. The overall trend, once again, seems to lean towards preventing disease at a young age since the children of illegal immigrants will become the taxpayers who eventually help the future American economy. When protests turn to arguments about diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, the reality is that hospitals must care for all. The government cannot simply allow these individuals to suffer and die on the streets of Texas or California. Illegal immigrants, especially those with diseases, have the potential to create epidemics from diseases which know no class or economic boundary across the US. All could, and would, become victim to the disease that initiated from those who were refused healthcare. From a public health standpoint, illegal immigrants must be treated and
aided in order to, once again, prevent much larger and costly problems down the line. Motivated by a variety of sources, American and Mexican citizens have made the illegal immigration issue one of the hottest political points of the decade. On the Southern front of states such as Texas and Arizona, concerned Americans who seem to feel that not enough is done to stop the illegal immigrant threat into their “backyard” have done everything from passing stricter social reforms to creating local militias that aide in protecting against illegal crossers with deadly force. On the other hand, groups such as those started on (www.immigrationinsanity.com) seem to believe that more humane cooperation with the Mexican government and a more open border policy would work better than armed civilian warriors shooting at what may or may not be illegal immigrants. In partisan battle, both Democrats and Republicans seem to be unwilling to forget about the ever growing matter of illegal immigration into the US. Both parties seem to also have different ways of fixing the problem. Variations in general amnesty to work-citizen programs have proved to be touchy subjects for Americans, many of whom are immigrants themselves, and see these plans as nothing more than burying the healthcare problems of gross immigration under the public rug. After observing different angles of argument from natives to the illegal immigrants themselves, it can be seen that the American healthcare system is quite distinct from other issues such as job security and education, yet at the same time it is connected to the larger goal of all three. Unless politics can change the constitution or even build a permanent fence across the southern border, healthcare providers will have to work with or without funds to care for the future of this country by helping all citizens and non-citizens within the American borders. As they following medical protocol to improve the life and wellbeing of those that come into their doors, hospitals must be supported in their quest to aide this new wave of immigration. In the spirit of how this nation was formed, a small sacrifice now will hopefully work to pave the way for a new generation of immigrant children who are legal American residents and who pay taxes to help make their new nation grow and prosper even more.
References: 1] Larrubia, Evelyn. Illegal immigrants’ healthcare bill is tallied LAtimes November 15, 2006 (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-health15nov15,1,5989087.story?coll=laheadlines-california) 2] Darmiento, Laurence Hospitals fear ‘chilling effect’ of immigration questions LA Buisiness Journal August 9th, 2004 (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m5072/is_32_26/ ai_n6179918) 3] Stelzer, Irwin Immigration, Iraq and oil:a bitter brew for Bush The Spectator, May 6th 2006 (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3724/is_200605/ai_n16523285) 4] Longley, Robert. Illegal Immigration Costs California .5 Billion Annually Dateline December 2004 (http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/immigrationnaturalizatio/a/caillegals.htm) 5] Cosman, Madeleine Pelner. Illegal Aliens and American Medicine. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (http://www.jpands.org/vol10no1/cosman.pdf) ] http://www.alipac.us/article370.html (HOSPITAL TO THE WORLD WELCOMES ILLEGALS & CONTAGIOUS DISEASES) 7] World Net Daily. Illegal aliens threaten U.S. medical system March 13, 2005 (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43275) 8] Said, Carolyn. The Immigration Debate May 21st, 2005 (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/05/21/MNGFQIVN991.DTL&type=politics) 9] Stelzer, Irwin Four Problems; . . . and a funeral for the Republican Congress? The Weekly Standard, April 17, 2006 ( http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0RMQ/is_2006_ April_17/ai_n16346429) 10] Kirsch, John Some candidates seize upon immigration worries. Fort Worth Star Telegram, February 2006 (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_km4467/is_200602/ai_ n16297704) 11] Guzzardi, Joe Illegal Aliens: The Health Cost Dimension January 23, 2003 (http://www.vdare.com/guzzardi/health_care.htm)
Transformational Networks in Simple Recurrent Networks Ebonye Gussine Introduction
Transformations can be considered as a variation of an original sequence (e.g. a string) that has the same elements as the original, but in a different order. A string is a sequence of elements; usually words, but sometimes can be a sequence of characters such as letters or numbers. One example of a transformation on a string is reversal, where the manipulation of the resulting string, is the original string printed backwards. Transformations in strings are linguistically relevant, because they are used cross-linguistically all the time in sentence formation. One linguistically common example of a transformation on a string is question formation. In question formation, a sentence is converted from a declarative form into an interrogative form, with respect to the inversion of the main auxiliary to the beginning of the sentence. For example, consider the following. a) The boy is happy. b) Is the boy happy? c) The boy who is smiling is happy. d) Is the boy who is smiling happy? e) * Is the boy who smiling is happy? With examples such as (a) and (b) this transformational role applies without any problem. With examples (c) and (d), there are two auxiliaries, but the rule does not specify which one should be inverted. Factually, there are two auxiliaries here and it is not the linearly first â€œisâ€? that gets inverted, but the one in the main clause. Given examples (a) and (b), it is not implausible that a child would learn to invert the linearly first auxiliary in the sentence. However, children never make this mistake, which is realized in example (e). The fact that children never make this error is strong evidence for the Standard Poverty of the Stimulus argument. There are theories suggesting how the structural dependencies on the elements in the strings may be learned. One classically popular argument is the Poverty of the Stimulus, set forth
by Chomsky (1975). In the Standard Poverty of the Stimulus argument (henceforth Standard POS) some declarations are commonly used in arguing for linguistic nativism. These declarations consist of: a) the correct set of principles neednâ€™t be more simple or more natural than the alternatives, b) the data needed for choosing the correct principles may not be the data that is available, and c) empirically, children should not be able to arrive at the correct answer, given the data that they are exposed to (Laurence, Margolis, 2001). But children do come to the correct conclusions on how these transformations are executed with little relevant input, which is strong evidence for this argument. The Standard POS argument tells us not how children may learn transformations such as auxiliary inversion, but have some sort of innate bias to choose the correct answer. However, it does not tell us what the form of this bias is, or whether computational model such as a simple recurrent network (henceforth SRN) may accomplish this transformational task (Lewis & Elman, 2001). One way that SRNs have been applied to solve the auxiliary inversion problem is via word prediction. The word prediction task can be solved by the use of bigram probabilities. A bigram probability model takes two consecutive elements (referred to here as a bigram) in a structure (in this case a sentence), and assigns a probability to each bigram based on how many times it appears in the data set (Kam Et. al 2005). The SRN model that has been proposed will be able to predict which element will come next in the sentence based on what the last element was. For example, after an SRN is trained on many examples such as (c), the model could predict the next potential element in the structure using the probability of the bigrams it has been exposed to, as a guide. Consider the following bigrams in Figure 1. The first row refers to example (d) and the second row refers to example (e).
Figure 1. Bigrams of a Sentence 30
Figure 2. Identical and Transformed Strings
There are six distinct bigrams that exist between the grammatical version of the interrogative sentence and the ungrammatical version of the interrogative sentence. The bigrams being referred to are underlined in Figure 1. Of these six bigrams, “who is” (bolded in Figure 1) has been seen the most often by the model. Therefore it has the highest probability so “is” will be the most likely word to be predicted following “who”. After the bigram “who is” then the bigram “is smiling” has the highest probability and is predictable based on the element that came before it. The process continues in this fashion, so the model produces grammatical sentences because the bigrams that make up the grammatical sentences have a higher probability than the bigrams that make up the ungrammatical sentences. One problem with this model is that the SRN does not learn the actual structural dependencies between the elements in the declarative and interrogative versions of the sentences. The model doesn’t “learn” that the linearly first auxiliary shouldn’t be inverted, because the bigram model it is bound to a representation that fails to capture the structural dependencies. The model only sees what element comes before it and what element comes after it. This is sometimes referred to as the bigram problem. Another problem is that this method does not represent the relationship between the declarative version of the sentence and the interrogative version. Without the preservation of the relationship between the two sentences, then the sentences can be thought of as independent. This is sometimes referred to as the correspondence problem.
In order to really understand SRN’s ability to learn these linguistically relevant types of transformations, we have to understand how transformations in general are handled in SRNs. SRNs are known for being able to represent structure over time (Elman, 1990). SRNs are also known to be able to generalize to more abstractly defined constituents (i.e. predicting that one of many nouns could appear after a determinative article such as “the”) not just a particular word (Elman, 1991). Botvinick and Plaut (2006) studied short-term memory for serial order using a simple recurrent network. It is important to understand if transformations can be handled, how they are handled, and to what extent they are handled by the SRN architecture. By testing some different types of transformations, we can gain insight to help us understand linguistically relevant transformations in SRNs. The work done for this project on transformational networks are a subset of a larger experiment on capturing the structural dependencies observed in question formation. Headed by Dr. Robert Frank of Johns Hopkins University, this project was
presented at the 2006 Annual Conference on Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP). Most of my work on the project was on transformational networks. In a part of the experiment, the SRNs were trained to perform a generation task. The strings were generated using a program, and then were transformed according to a manipulation that was built into the data-generating program. The manipulation that was chosen for my portion of the experiment, was keeping the first and last characters in the string, and reversing everything in between the first and the last characters (See Figure 2). All of the networks were first trained on 300,000 trials and tested. Then all networks were trained for an additional 200,000 trials for a total of 500,000 trials and then retested. The network, after seeing a sequence and a transformation signal was trained to output the transformed sequence. In our experiment we used two types of signals: one to output the original sequence, and one to output a transformed sequence. Botvinick and Plaut (2006) said that for the effect of string length for immediate serial recall, “the proportion of trials recalled perfectly by the model fell with list length.” The lengths of the input strings tested varied from 3 – 8, since 8 was the original length created, so the string-generation program created strings with length 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17. When the length of the string was increased, the strings generated were always double the number, plus one, as shown before. The first half of the generation was the original string, and the second half was the transformed string, as previously specified. All of the simulations were done on a program called LENS developed by Douglas Rohde. The first manipulation that was done for this experiment was the manipulation of string length. The second manipulation was varying the amount of hidden units and context units for the SRNs that the data were trained on. The number of hidden units and the number of context units were equal in each SRN. The original amount of hidden and context units was 100. The networks were then modified to have 50 units and 25 units. The network was tested on strings it had previously been trained on after 300,000 training trials, and then strings it had not seen before. After the additional training, the networks were again tested on strings it had been previously trained on, and strings it had not been previously trained on. To test each simulation, the same data-generation program was used to make a static file of testing strings. An example of the testing strings for the length manipulations are shown in Figure 2. The output criterion is difference between the target output and the actual output before an actual output string can be considered correct (i.e. how far away the actual output is from the target). For this experiment, the output criterion 31
No. of Units
No. of Examples
Output Criterion Reached After 300,000 Trials
Output Criterion Reached After 500,000 Trials
Figure 3. Criterion Reached on Previously Trained Strings
No. of Units
No. of Examples
Output Criterion Reached After 300,000 Trials
Output Criterion Reached After 500,000 Trials
Figure 4. Output Criterion Reached on Novel Strings
No. of Units
No. of Examples
Error per Example after 300,000 Trials
Error per Example after 500,000 Trials
Figure 5. Error Per Example for Previously Trained Strings
No. of Units
No. of Examples
Error per Example after 300,000 Trials
Error per Example after 500,000 Trials
Figure 6. Error Per Example for Novel Strings
was set to 0.5. The amount of testing examples that met the criteria for being correct that the network had been trained on, are shown as percentages in Figure 3. The amount of testing examples that met the criterion for being correct that the network had not been trained on, are shown as percentages in Figure 4. Figure 5 and Figure 6 show the error per sample of the strings previously trained on and not previously trained on respectively.
After training the networks for only 300,000 trials, the error was quite variable across networks. The network performed about the same for networks with hidden units numbering 50 and 25, whether it was tested on previously trained data, or novel data. This was not the case for the architecture with 100 hidden units. It performed significantly better on the novel strings 32
(95.67% of examples correct) while it exhibited disappointing performance for previously seen string at 32.59%, which was due to over-training. However, after a total of 500,000 trials, the networks performed almost equally on both previously seen strings and novel strings (see Figures 5 and 6). For our purposes, the results for the networks of 50 hidden units and 100 hidden can be considered acceptable. There are three reasons for the fact that the networks did not perform perfectly: 1) there may have been a difference in performance if more hidden units were used in the architectures, 2) the networks could have been trained for more trials for improvement in performance (though this runs the risk of over-training), and 3) this type of transformation is unnatural. These could have all had different and significant impacts on the networkâ€™s performance.
The purpose of this experiment was to discover how SRNs could encode transformed strings. Botvinick and Plaut in their experiment did not test this in their experiment, so it was necessary to establish if the SRNs could accomplish this task. If with sufficient training and hidden units, an SRN could encode a linguistically non-plausible transformation, it is an indication that these types of networks could accomplish the linguistically relevant transformations, such as auxiliary inversion in ques tion formation. It was also important that the networks could generalize to new strings made up of the same elements in different orders, because that is essentially how sentences are constructed. Though, these results fail to address important considerations such as semantics and word order, it is still a step in the right direction towards creating computational models that are more relevant to the way humans really use language. The next step would be now to run simulations on linguistically relevant transformations and observe how well the network performs on these tasks.
1] Botvinick, Matthew M., and David C. Plaut. 2006. Short-term memory for serial order: A recurrent neural network model. Psychological Review 113:201–233. 2] Chomsky, Noam. 1975. Reflections on language. New York: Pantheon Books. 3] Kam, Xuân-Nga Cao, Iglika Stoyeshka, Lidiya Tornyova, William Gregory Sakas, and Janet D. Fodor. 2005. Statistics vs. UG in language acquisition: Does a bigram analysis predict auxiliary inversion? In Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Psychocomputational Models of Human Language Acquisition, 69–71. Ann Arbor: Association for Computational Linguistics. 4] Laurence, Stephen, and Eric Margolis. 2001. The Poverty of the Stimulus Argument. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52: 217-276 5] Lewis, John D., and Jeffrey L. Elman. 2001. Learnability and the statistical structure of language: Poverty of stimulus arguments revisited. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. ] Pullum, Geoffrey K., and Barbara C. Scholz. 2002. Empirical assessment of stimulus poverty arguments. The Linguistic Review 19:9–50. 7] Reali, Florencia, and Morten H. Christiansen. 2005. Uncovering the richness of the stimulus: Structure dependence and statistical evidence. Cognitive Science 29:1007–1028.
Bruised and Beaten Down: Conceptualizing the Combined Effects of Poverty and Depression in Families Desirae Vasquez American society is unfortunately not a stranger to the presence of depression in the lives of its members, nor the detrimental effects that depressive disorders have on the day-to-day activities that shape those lives. However, in the contextual realm of the social sciences, distinguishing between the dynamic effects a disease has on a person’s environment and the way in which the environment might feed into the disease course of an individual is a bit harder to grasp. What social scientists then try to do is to dissect how the both cognitive and environmental factors play into one another, and how the influence of these life and disease factors might flux across individuals or particular populations. A particularly meaningful population to study in regard to disease outcomes is the underprivileged poor, and a particularly useful unit in which to study such a population is the mother-child dyad. Both common sense and research findings tells us that underserved minorities, single parents, immigrant populations, and the poor have greater vulnerabilities to mental illness and less ability to seek support for their disease within their neighborhoods and communities. Further, one may reason that underprivileged mothers with depression, as the primary caretakers of young children, are especially influential in their children’s lives, and that by studying these pairs in the context of poor minority neighborhoods, one should be able to get a better sense of how the transmission of depression consequences in our societies most needy might occur. Unfortunately, as with much of the medical and public health done in past years, what knowledge exists about mental health states and consequences of mothers has been collected with samples from a majority Caucasian population, and it may very well say little about the factors which most effect poor moms and their children. This work instead seeks to go beyond the majority data, and to begin demystifying the transmission of depression outcomes, particularly violent outcomes, from poor minority mothers with depression to their children. What research has been done concerning the dual topic of maternal depression and the parenting of young children points to an overall what many would term as poor parenting practices. Such detriments in parenting include the loss of disciplinary consistency, the increase of reliance on aggressive tactics, and the presence of low parenting self-efficacy when a mother is depressed. The external factors that commingle with maternal depression may simultaneously compound detrimental effects on parenting attributable firstly to depression. These 34
factors, like social support, monetary resources, or community setting, even in non-depressed mothers, create environments that can either help or hinder parenting. Ecological contexts of financial strain, low social support, and violent, urban settings that one may find when assessing the environments of poor minority mothers and their children have all been linked empirically to less effective parenting outcomes as described by the above characteristics.1 While these limited findings pave the way for assumptions about how poverty and a lack of support might make it harder for a depressed mom to parent well, they do nothing to distinguish the directionality of influences that contribute to poor parenting once a poverty-stricken mother is depressed. One cannot tell, for instance, whether or not a mother is depressed due to life circumstances, or whether her depression status has gravely impacted her and her child’s life circumstances. This ambiguity leaves the question of whether it is depression or poverty to blame for the deficient parenting practices of these moms wide-open for interpretation. In order to clarify this broad question, we first must break down the definitions of depression, parenting, and underprivileged environment and then look, with this knowledge in hand, at the parenting skills of poor mothers with depression in order to evaluate from where the causes and consequences may actually come. So this is where we begin.
Defining the Constructs: Depression, Parenting, and Environment What do we know about Depression?
Depression is a mental illness characterized by low affect, which is another term for a persistently sad or pessimistic mood, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, a lack of energy, a lack of zeal for normally enjoyable life activities, and in certain cases, suicidal thoughts, intentions and actions. Depression can appear to have an external cause such as the death of a loved one, or may not appear to have any outside antecedent, and as much may be assumed to be biologically influenced. Major depression is the most common psychiatric disorder referred to by the term “depression,” and it is further characterized by long bouts of severe depressive symptomology which may continue throughout the life course. Depression is an increasingly prevalent disorder in our soci-
Maternal Depression Status
ety, with its most common sufferers being women of childbearing age.2,3 Mothers with depression are then a major concern for the health and well-being of their children, because, beyond the speculated genetic heritability of the disorder, the parenting of depressed moms may be negatively influenced by the effects their disease. Both the disorder itself and the residual consequences of depression in other realms of functioning undoubtedly have a grave impact when endured and expressed by women responsible for the care of young and impressionable children. Looking to the future lives of children with depressed mothers, maternal depression has been linked to poor childhood outcomes including mental, emotional, social and physical health indicators, like low-academic achievement, the presence of depression or conduct disorders, and low levels of coping ability.4,5,6,7 In short, kids with depressed moms are, by this characteristic alone, at a developmental disadvantage. In particular, maternal depression is associated with poor parenting practices described as inept, hostile, and psychologically and physically coercive.8,9,10,11 These parenting practices, which range from how a mom children teaches, disciplines, or simply relates to her child, all shape a child’s vision of the world, and if skewed by depression, may become distort the child’s emotions or thoughts as well. These practices by depressed mothers correlate with the negative outcomes previously described even after controlling for other potential contributors such as parent race and ethnicity, family income, and family environment.12,13, 14, 15
What do we know about Parenting?
Constructs of parenting initially were illustrated by social scientists as unidirectional patterns moving from mother to child. Baumrind’s classical typology defines three parenting constructs, the authoritarian, the authoritative, and the permissive style of parenting, that differ in their levels of demandingness and responsiveness towards children and that have been extensively studied.16 Authoritarian parents, by convention, demand much of their children without much explanation of these demands or an allowance for compromise between parties. Authoritative parents are demanding of children, yet they are willing to talk demands over with offspring and will facilitate an exchange of ideas and feelings between themselves and their children on such matters. Permissive parents do not demand much of their children, nor do they facilitate any exchange of values. These concepts of parenting styles and tactics
of discipline have been explored and enumerated as associations in which a parent influences her child by both modeling and direct interactions with her offspring. More recently, parenting has been examined by sociologists and community-oriented psychologists seeking to describe its practices and outcomes within a broad environmental context. Children in these studies have been given a role in their own parenting. For instance, a child who appears reserved from birth may be coaxed or coddled by a parent, whereas an outgoing child might be given more discipline. Much debate has occurred over how to characterize specific parenting types. Physical discipline or punishment has been characterized classically as authoritarian. Corporal punishment, in particular, has been scrupulously evaluated, and it has come to be generally regarded as a negative form of control thought to illicit poor emotional and behavioral outcomes in children.17 However, there is a lack of agreement among researchers as to how child characteristics, be they age, intelligence, gender, or temperament, may factor into the effectiveness of corporal punishment as a disciplinary tactic.18,19 In addition, in a society where mild and infrequent use of corporal punishment has traditionally been accepted, it is difficult to establish when corporal punishment crosses a line from tolerable to abusive, both in terms of the frequency and severity of its use. Another negatively regarded concept of parenting, though not as thoroughly studied as corporal punishment, is the use of psychologically aggressive tactics as a disciplinary technique. Such tactics may be used in authoritarian parenting practices or permissive parenting practices, but they are not likely to be utilized by authoritative parents, who seek compromise and an interchange of ideas with their children. Described as tactics of psychological control like verbal abuse, symbolic aggression like the slamming of doors, and coercive parenting such as making threats and inflicting guilt, psychologically aggressive methods of discipline have been called into question by numerous theorists. Though the absence of gruesome physical evidence may make the psychological domination of children less taboo, the tactic nevertheless yields grim results. Through the manipulation of the parent-child love relationship, psychological control destabilizes the child’s sense of security within the parent-child relationship.13 Parents prevent the mental autonomy of the child as a means of gaining submission and control. Child outcomes from such treatment have been noted by researchers to lead to behaviors linked to the physical discipline of children, like depression and conduct disorders, but also to 35
the impaired development of the child’s overall independence from the parent.8 This developmental impediment creates the potential for further problems in the child’s social adaptation and other competencies, such as school-related performance.8 Studies in childhood resilience, however, have opened up a debate as to how innate personality traits in children that foster esteem and self-efficacy, such as intelligence and an easygoing nature, may negate some of the dangers of psychological discipline tactics.3 Commonly linked in theory to the authoritative parenting style, disciplinary tactics described as ‘supportive’ and ‘nonviolent’ have been regarded as positive techniques for parenting as compared to psychologically and physically aggressive forms. This is especially so when non-violent discipline is used consistently as the primary source of parenting.3 Child development researchers and others in the field discern that nonviolent tactics, which may include open parent-child discussions about rules and consequences, parental enforcement of a child’s responsibility for his or her own actions, and fostering of perspective-taking on the part of both the parent and the child, can help build a child’s social and emotional maturity.10,14 Supportive parenting tactics may contribute to the provision of children’s competence within relationships, their sense of selfworth and esteem, and a skill set of their own problem solving tactics independent of their parent’s control. The propensity to be a supportive parent, however, is influenced by the environmental context. In high-crime neighborhoods, parents may be likely to use violent versus non-violent disciplinary tactics in order to maximize control of their child’s safety in situations that demand an immediate response from the child. As parenting practices and consequences have come to be defined, so have researchers worked to describe characteristics of parents that influences their approach to discipline. Maternal depression, as a targeted factor in this area, has been found to influence to disciplinary tactics through a number of avenues. In general, maternal depression impairs the individual’s coping and social problem solving abilities.6 In addition, a depressed mother’s parenting is both influenced by and influential to her given family and community environment.19,20 When contextual vulnerabilities to poor parenting, such as stress and trauma created by domestic or community violence, present themselves in tandem with depression’s affective challenges, the risk of aggressive parenting is likely to increase.21 With these findings and others that directly observe the parenting of depressed mothers, maternal depression has been found to be a significant contributor to negative, inconsistent, and ineffectual disciplinary practices.9
What do we know about the Environment?
When discussing the environment in the study of a social science problem, there should always been the clarification that an environment is much more than the physical. In addition to the buildings that house a population of interest, there are social and cultural factors that contribute to a family’s environmental setting, the most prominent of those being race, ethnicity, community resources, and community risk, such as the availability of health care, fluency in English, and crimerates in a neighborhood. Recognizing the implications of race and ethnicity within our society, many studies gauging parental disciplinary behaviors as well as those looking more directly 36
at maternal depression’s impact on children have attempted to capture differences by racial and cultural status.22,23 Other studies have undertaken an exploration of depression status and parenting techniques among underprivileged minorities living in high-risk, low-resource environments.21 Race is a long-held but scientifically vague construct, which has debatably more to do with ethnic commonalities in geography, beliefs, and lifestyle than it does with shared genetics or phenotypes. The medical and scientific community, especially in the public health arena, increasingly conceptualizes race as a more complex and tenuous distinction than previously understood. While the differences between races due to selfidentified cultural norms and those due to social and economic circumstance may be challenging to ferret out, researchers have already suggested that differences in acculturation, support networks, and access to mental health resources all affect both minority approaches to depression treatment and race-related parenting styles.21 Such research, when careful to maintain that cultural links to health are descriptive of group differences and not explanatory of minority deficits, increases the awareness and sensitivity of social scientists to any racial or ethnic characteristics associated with depression and parenting. An increased risk of poor parenting is also associated with elements of the environment such as a low level of acculturation for immigrant mothers, low educational attainment, and pertinently stressful environments such as crime-laden neighborhoods and households with high levels of marital and family conflict.1,19,20,21,24,25 As these perspectives may enhance the ability to provide a clearer idea of how the poor minority mother interacts and influences her children, this study examines racial and cultural influences in the environment where it is feasible and ethical to do so.
Real Depression in Real World Families: The WE Care and We Care for Kids studies
The Georgetown University and The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health worked have worked on conjoined projects in recent years in an effort to understand the process of and outcomes of maternal depression and child outcomes. In the WE Care study, researchers at Georgetown University Medical School assembled a group of 267 being seen at health clinics in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.26,27 Women served in these clinics were overwhelming minorities, and the women eventually used in the study were all African American citizens and non-citizen Hispanic and Latina women. Women were identified as being poor through their receipt of food stamps and other government subsidies and identified as living in a high-risk environment by the urban location of their healthcare clinics. In addition, characteristics of the women studied included high rates of single-parenthood, low rates of high school graduation, and high rates of abuse and trauma experiences, meaning that in the study, all women were more likely to be included in these categories than not. All 267 women in the study rated sufficiently high on the PRIME-MD depression inventory scale to be labeled as having a depressive disorder. While the purpose of the WE Care study was to address whether or not poor minority women reacted similarly to de-
pression treatments as their majority counterparts, the study was extended by Dr. Anne Riley in the Bloomberg School of Public Health to assess the effects of depression status on the children of mothers in the We Care Fro Kids study. Dr. Riley recruited mothers in the WE Care study, in addition to those mothers not used in the original study as they were found to be non-depressed when screened. She then compared the results of assessments measuring the child wellbeing of both depressed and non-depressed mothers, while considering environmental factors like income and social support in her evaluation as well. What Dr. Riley found was that children of depressed parents fare worse than children of non-depressed moms, even after depressed mothers have benefited from depression treatment. In terms of parenting, Dr. Riley saw that the poor parenting habits established during a mother’s struggle with depression were likely to remain after the remission of the disease, which constituted the need to educate mothers before, during, and after periods of depression on how the disease affects parenting, and to support depressed moms throughout the disease with parenting tactics and reinforcement. In addition, it signaled that the environmental factors necessary to ensure the improvement of a depressed mom’s parenting, namely the ability live in an area sufficiently safe enough for them to non-violently discipline, the fostering of communication from mom’s to healthcare providers through the use of common language and jargon, and the financial resources to pay for expanded depression treatment, were most likely lacking in the lives of these families. Dr. Riley’s study of child wellbeing included a scale of parenting known as the CTS-PC II, or the revised Conflict Tactics Scale-Parent Child version.28 This scale measured, by both parent and child report on a series of Likert Scale questions, the extent to which depressed and non-depressed mothers employed physically violent, psychologically violent, and nonviolent tactics of parenting and discipline. Using both mothers and children as raters, it was found that, depressed mothers in the study were more likely to use physically and psychologically coercive tactics in order to parent their children. After review of the literature and the data presented in both the WE Care and the We Care for Kids studies, a conceptual model for the transmission of maternal depression affects on children through mothers’ parenting was established (see Fig. 1). The model seeks to initiate a tentative answer to the question: Why are poverty and depression related, and how, when a depressed individual happens to be a mother, does the affect of depression influence her children? From the model, one can see that race, as an inherent factor in all persons’ identities, unlike geographic location or monetary status, may factor into the environment in which one lives. Race may contribute to self-identity, whether or not one feels accepted by members of her neighborhood and the community at large, and it may carry along within ethnic or cultural values, beliefs, and traditional lifestyle choices. In its innateness, race may affect all other constructs of the model. Environment, however, is likely only marginally defined by one’s own race. Other environmental factors already discussed are hypothesized to influence the parenting behavior and the depression status of mothers. Likewise, the research has given cause to suggest that depression status may influence the environment, perhaps by alienating a mother from her social support sys-
tems or disabling her to work. Both the environment partially influenced by depression status and the depression status of the mother itself factor into the mother’s parenting style and ability at any given time. Mothers who are irritable or melancholic, for example, might be more prone to threaten or hit a child, while mothers who are fearful for their child’s safety might be less prone to compromise the strict demands they place upon their children and that they feel ensure their offspring’s security. In this way, discipline of the child is a clear component of a mother’s overall parenting practice. Parenting again, as stated by past findings, is thought to be influenced in some ways by the child’s characteristics, namely personality, intelligence, gender, and health. Finally, it is important to note that the childhood outcomes of maternal depression and discipline practices by depressed mothers must be mediated through the child himself. The child is the recipient of the parenting and so any outcomes related to environment, maternal depression, and parenting will surface only after the child has internalized them and the child’s characteristics themselves have been brought to bear against influences external to himself. Tentative answers to the above question, upon review of the model constructed from the WE Care and We Care for Kids studies, are numerous. Poverty, as a part of the mother and child’s environment, directly affects both the mother and the child. If a mother is depressed, the environment of poverty, which is likely to include factors like crime, family violence, and poor educational and work opportunities, may exacerbate the effects of depression on both the woman and her relation to her child through parenting and discipline practices. If a mother is depressed, her depression may also worsen the environmental conditions in which her child is living and which affect her parenting. Once the environment and the parenting of depressed mothers suffer in relation to her disorder, children’s characteristics are likely to be less beneficial in mitigating the detrimental effects of poor parenting and more likely to be negatively effected, resulting in the emotional, behavioral, and other unfortunate outcomes previously illustrated. While there is much more ground work to be covered, the studies and Georgetown and Johns Hopkins are among very few that truly tackle the interdisciplinary contexts in which families dealing with the effects of depression are likely to exist. They involve a low-income, minority sample, whose representation of a greater vulnerable population is crucial to advance the study of mental health outcomes in the underserved. In addition, the studies use a range of reliable and valid measures and control groups without depression which seek to sufficiently bridge the gap between knowledge about parenting in the well versus the disordered. Based on the background of the field and the given assessments being utilized, we know that discipline is directed towards the child, thus interacting with the child characteristics that ultimately create emotional and behavioral outcomes. Influential to discipline is the environmental context of the child’s neighborhood and family, the maternal depression status of the child’s mother, and the interaction of these two factors with each other. Also, given the makeup of our study sample, we feel the psychosocial model of maternal aggression in discipline can be informed by the race and ethnicity of mother’s in their connection to environmental settings. While it is important to note that there are likely to be exceptions to the probabilistic outcomes the study has hypoth37
esized occur and the ways in which such outcomes are created, the WE Care and We Care for Kids studies have set a foundation for which maternal depression’s effect on children can be constructed, explained, and utilized for the improvement of parenting strategies and the overall wellbeing of children and families at risk. Such progress signals the welcome chance for needy families dealing with depression to rise above circumstance and beat the odds.
The author would like to thank Dr. Anne Riley, Associate Professor and researcher at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for her mentorship and continual guidance in this body of work. The author also extends gratitude to Ms. Carrie Mills, Project Coordinator for Dr. Riley and an indispensable editor of the text. Finally, the author is indebted to The Johns Hopkins University Second Decade Society for the provision of a summer research grant to fulfill the terms of this study.
1] Conger, R.D., Ge, X., Glen, H., Lorenz, F.O., and R.L. Simons (1994) Economic stress, coercive family process, and developmental problems of adolescents. Child Development, 65(2): 541. 2] Kessler, R.C., Berglund, P.A., Foster, C.L., Saunders, W.B., Stang, P.E. and E.E. Walters (1997) Social consequences of psychiatric disorders: II. Teenage parenthood. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154: 1405. 3] Debaryshe, B.D., Patterson, G.R., and D.M. Capaldi (1993) A performance model for academic achievement in early adolescent boys. Developmental Psychology, 29(5): 795. 4] Dodge, K.A (1990) Developmental psychopathology in children of depressed mothers. Developmental Psychology, 26(1): 3. 5] Downey, G., and J.C. Coyne (1990) Children of depressed parents: An integrative review. Psychological Bulletin, 108(1): 50. ] Brennan, P.A., Hammen, C., Andersen, M.J., Bor, W., Najman, J.M. and G.M. Williams (2000) Chronicity, severity, and timing of maternal depressive symptoms: Relationships with child outcomes at age 5. Developmental Psychology, 36(6): 759. 7] Hammen, C., Shih, J.H., and P.A. Brennan (2004) Intergenerational transmission of depression: Test of an interpersonal stress model in a community sample. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(3): 511. 8] Patterson, G.R., Debaryshe, B.D., and E. Ramsey (1989) A developmental perspective on antisocial behavior. American Psychologist, 44(2): 329. 9] Harnish, J.D., Dodge, K.A., and E. Valente (1995) Mother-child interaction quality as a partial mediator of the roles of maternal depressive symptomatology and socioeconomic status in the development of child behavior problems. Child Development, 66(3): 739. 10] Pettit, G.S., Bates, J.E., and K.A. Dodge (1997) Supportive parenting, ecological context, and children’s adjustment: A seven-year longitudinal study. Child Development, 68(5): 908. 11] Hammen, C., and P.A. Brennan (2001) Depressed adolescents of depressed and nondepressed mothers : Tests of an interpersonal impairment hypothesis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69(2): 284. 12] Dishion, T.J., Patterson G.R., Stoolmiller, M. and M.L. Skinner
(1991) Family, school, and behavioral antecedents to involvement with antisocial peers. Developmental Psychology, 27(1): 172. 13] Barber, B.K. (1996) Parental psychological control: Revisiting a neglected construct. Child Development, 67(6): 3296. 14] Smith, A.B. (2005) Is physical punishment a mental health risk for children? Presentation at the Child and Adolescent Health Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand. 15] Synder, J., Cramer, A., Afrank, J., and G.R. Patterson (2005) The contributions of inaffective discipline and parental hostile attributions of child misbehavior to the development of conduct problems at home and school. Developmental Psychology, 41(1): 30. 1] Baumrind, D (1993) The average expectable environment is not good enough: A response to Scarr. Child Development, 64(5): 1299. 17] Dietz, T.L. (2000) Disciplining children: Characteristics associated with the use of corporal punishment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 24(12): 1529. 18] Gershoff, E.T. (2002) Corporal punishment, physical abuse, and the burden of proof: Reply to Baumrind, Larzelere, and Cowan (2002), Holden (2002), and Parke (2002). Psychological Bulletin, 28(4): 602. 19] Masten, A.S. and D.J. Coatsworth (1998) The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from Research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53(2): 205. 20] Buckner, J.C., Beardslee, W.R. and E.L. Bassuk (2004) Exposure to violence and low-income children’s mental health: direct, moderated, and mediated relations. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 74(4). 413. 21] Pachter, L.M., Auinger, P., Palmer, R., and M. Weitzman (2006) Do parenting and the home environment, maternal depression, neighborhood, and chronic poverty affect child behavioral problems differently in different racial-ethnic groups? Pediatrics, 117(4): 1329. 22] Dumka, L.E., Roosa, M.W., and K.M. Jackson (1997) Risk, conflict, mothers’ parenting, and children’s adjustment in low-income, Mexican immigrant, and Mexican American families. Journal of Marriage & the Family, 59(2): 309. 23] Ferrari, A.M. (2002) The impact of culture upon child rearing practices and definitions of maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26(8): 793. 24] Kalmuss, D. (1984) The intergenerational transmission of marital aggression. Journal of Marriage and Family, 46(1): 11. 25] Hammen, C., Henry, R., and S.E Daley (2000) Depression and sensitization to stressors among young women as a function of childhood adversity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(5): 782. 2] Miranda, J., Chung, J.Y., Green, B.L., Krupnick, J., Siddique, J., Revicki, D.A., and T. Belin (2003) Treating depression in predominantly low-income young minority women: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 290(1): 57. 27] Riley, A.W., Coiro, M.J., Broitman, M., Bandeen-Roche, K., Robertson, J.A., and K/ Hurley (Submitted) Influences on the functioning of low-income children of depressed mothers: Parenting, family environment, and rater perspectives. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology, Submitted. 28] Straus, M.A., Hamby, S.L., Finkelhor, D., Moore, D.W., and D. Runyan (1998) Identification of child maltreatment with the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scales: Development and psychometric data for a national sample of American parents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 22(11):1177.
What gets you high: A tale of natural rewards and what we can do to get away from the chemical alternatives Nicole Angeli What gets you high? Sex. Sleep. Chocolate. Family. Sports. Cocaine. Morphine. Heroin. Really, most people would only state sleep, sugar, sports and family in polite conversation. However, the aforementioned, as well as many other types of natural and chemical highs, have been hypothesized to activate the brain in functionally similar ways. Addressing addiction is often done on the neurochemical level by looking at neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, but behavioral neuroscientists look at the relationship between a brain area and behaviors. Behavioral analysis and physiological connections, or neuroanatomy, are used to categorize the function of different brain areas in a complex game of connect-the-dots which will hopefully reveal a picture of addiction unlike any other. Behavioral neuroscientists interested in addiction look at neural circuitry in combination with manifested behaviors, so that the involvement of a particular brain area can be identified, as in the analogous game of connect-the-dots. Comparative research uses animal models to help understand different phenomena. Three steps are taken in comparative brain research. The first step is to choose one of many techniques to isolate groups of neurons (brain areas). Second, by constructing different research paradigms, or scenarios, neuroscientists can determine the function of different areas of the brain. The third and most important step is to analyze all the data that has been collected, with a view towards real-world and clinical implications.
Getting down to the details
A technique many neuroscientists use is a lesion study, which effectively disintegrates a brain area, such as the amygdala or hippocampus. Creating a lesion disconnects the channels of communication between neurons in different brain regions. Although it sounds crude, a lesion is created by the physical act of passing an electrical current or dripping an acid (a neurotoxin) into a brain region to rid neuronal cells from the area. A rat that cannot physically allow different neurons to â€˜talkâ€™ to each other will not be able to complete the circuit of communication, so that if the behavior depends upon that circuit, the rat will be unable to demonstrate the behavior. Using different behavioral paradigms, the behavior of animals with lesions is compared to normal animals, in the hopes of gaining insight to the behavioral manifestations of disconnected neural circuitry.
In this way, the particular function(s) of a certain brain region can be identified to the extent a research paradigm will illuminate the behavior. One method of studying drug addiction is to look at the actual consumption behavior. Cocaine injections are often paired with a preceding food cue, such as 5 minutes of access to a sweet solution, in this experiment, using a non-caloric sugar substitute called saccharin. During the first pairing, rats consume as many as 9-10 milliliters of the sweet saccharin solution in the time allotment. As rats become conditioned to the saccharin-cocaine pairings, they stop drinking the saccharin solution that precedes the cocaine pairing. Rats that receive a neutral injection, like saline, do not stop drinking the solution. They continue to respond by consuming the tasty saccharin solution. Behavioral studies in animal research often try to tease out whether lesioned rats can make these causal associations.
Why do rat addicts stop drinking sweet drinks?
It certainly isnâ€™t a dieting technique. Historically, as the properties that drugs held began to get classified, researchers believed that rats STOP drinking a natural motivator because they must dislike the cocaine. Thus, cocaine actually holds aversive motivational properties. However, over the years, evidence has accumulated in support of another theory propagated by Sue Grigson at Penn State College of Medicine. The Reward Comparison Hypothesis suggests that cocaine actually holds positive or pleasant motivational properties, so that rats will anticipate the rewarding properties of cocaine once they taste the saccharin solution. Today, many researchers believe that rats stop drinking a natural reward, like a saccharin solution, because the reward value of drug (cocaine, morphine) is far greater than the reward value of a sugar solution. Knowing something far better than saccharin is in the future rats will wait for the cocaine injection rather than consume the less rewarding sweet.4 Conversely, agents that exhibit negative or unpleasant motivational properties will not warrant a healthy subject to stop drinking the same sugar drink shunned in the presence of cocaine. It is important to distinguish positive reinforcing effects exhibited by drugs versus an agent that has negative effects, like lithium chloride which stimulates an onset of nausea. Lithium chloride is a drug widely used to initiate nausea and introduce aversive properties to some event. Rats will reduce consump39
tion when drinking the sugar solution that is paired with a lithium chloride injection.1 However, certain lesion studies, like bilateral lesions of the gustatory thalamus, interfere with reduced sweet consumption in cocaine-sugar pairings but do not interfere with reduced sweet consumption in LiCl-sugar pairing. This infers that the negative properties of LiCl are distinctly different than the positive properties of cocaine, or that cocaine really does not comprise the same type of negative properties that give value to LiCl.
Cocaine: passive administration vs. self-administration
Passive administration is used to see whether the actual chemical make-up of the drug induces changes in the brain, which stimulates behavioral effects. The cocaine solution is made up individually from a stock solution for each rat in mg of cocaine/ kg of body weight. In this experiment, the solution is injected by the experimenter subcutaneously, directly under the skin. Self-administration examines the motivational effects of the drug as well as the physiological changes that occur. Self-administration is usually categorized as operant conditioning, the process where a stimulus cues a physical act which affects an outcome. This is often achieved with the presentation of a light or tone which is conditioned to lever presses or nose pokes which precede an infusion of cocaine through an intravenous catheter. Consistent with the reward comparison hypothesis, self-administrations data shows that as rats consume less sweet, they are active in a greater number of actions leading to an infusion of drug. This is consistent with the view that drug is good, and rats want to self-administer.7 Passive administration was the route we took to study the consummatory responses of the rats to the taste cue following taste-drug pairings. There was no need to look at self-administration induced motivational properties, which are not involved in the communication necessary for consummatory responses.
Gustatory Thalamus and Gustatory Cortex: the stars of the show
Lesion studies offer an opportunity to study consummatory responses associated with a sweet-drug pairing and determine the brain regions involved in this behavior. The taste ‘circuit’ that has been identified starts in the tongue’s taste receptors, embedded in the taste buds. This circuit runs through the nucleus of the solitary tract in the medulla and to the parabrachial nuclei.6 From this point, signals take the high road and the low road, the dorsal and ventral pathways, respectively. The ventral pathway can be thought of as akin to the ‘emotional’ or motivational route for tastes. The present experiment was concerned with the consummatory and sensory aspects of drug pairings and how they become recognized in the brain. Thus, we’ll focus on the groups of nuclei making up the dorsal pathway, the parvicellular region of the ventral posteromedial nucleus(VPMpc), or gustatory thalamus, and the agranular insular cortex, or gustatory cortex. 5 Behavioral data suggest that the gustatory thalamus and gustatory cortex share a behavioral similarity when either the gustatory thalamus or gustatory cortex is lesioned bilateral40
ly. Normal non-lesioned rats will stop consuming a sweet taste paired with cocaine. When lesions of the gustatory thalamus or gustatory cortex are made on both sides of the brain, lesioned rats keep drinking the sugar solution when the saccharin cue is paired with morphine or a sweet solution, but not negatively valued LiCl. 2,3 In jargon, bilateral asymmetric lesions of the gustatory thalamus and gustatory cortex then disrupt suppression of consummatory intake of a taste cue when paired with a reward exhibiting positive characteristics, like drug or sugar. Additionally, it is thought that perhaps it is not the gustatory thalamus or gustatory cortex that controls the association between a taste cue and drug, but rather the communication between the two brain regions. To further study these brain regions from a neuronal communication frame-work, Rastafa Geddes, a graduate student in Dr. Grigson’s lab, hypothesized that asymmetric lesions would disrupt the circuit on both sides of the brain, and behave as bilateral lesions with a sweet-morphine pairing reduce consummatory intake of the sweet. In the experiment at hand, the symmetry of the lesions and type of drug were the factors changed from the previous experiment. This is the first time the role of the thalamocortical circuit has been looked at from the role of communication in cue-consequence associations. Thus, rather than bilateral lesions—the same region disrupted on each side—the experiment was performed with asymmetric lesions in a contrast of looking at a particular region versus communication between regions. Different areas, lesioned on each side of the brain, but within the same circuit, would completely disrupt communication that induces the cocaine suppression as seen in bilateral lesions. Some rats had left gustatory cortex and right gustatory thalamus lesions. Other rats had the opposite lesions, and in the data analysis, both types of lesions were grouped together. Graphically, control rats (with no surgery, sham surgery or ipsilateral lesions) would act as seen in the left side of Fig. 1(control data), while all lesioned rats would intake the same volume of liquid, paired with saline or cocaine. The hypothesized deviation from Figure 1 would show three high intake trend lines, rather than two high and two low (suppressed). This experiment for summer 2006 was planned to determine whether asymmetric lesions in the thalamocotical loop are needed in the consummatory avoidance of a saccharin cue paired with passive administration of cocaine.
How to spend your summer filling water bottles
Before the filling of water bottles commenced, the rats had to become habituated to the researcher and have lesion surgeries. Lesions were made over the course of a month. The surgery phase took an entire month because two brain surgeries were performed on each subject, an electrophysiologically guided thalamus lesion and a stereotaxically guided cortex lesion. The two techniques differ in that the cortex lesion was measured like a map to find its placement, while the thalamus lesion was tested by using a salty solution on the rat’s tongue to measure the activity level of communication in the neurons to find the extent of the region of the gustatory thalamus. The rats were given time for rest and relaxation while they recovered from surgery, then their consummatory intake was manipulated to remain constant by means of water deprivation. Once the rats reached a constant morning water intake, the experiment began. The first concern was the water deprivation
schedule, leaving access to water at certain scheduled times of the day. The water deprivation was to ensure that a rat would not only maintain his weight, but also respond to a taste stimulus, the sugary solution. The preparations for the experiment meant preparing the cocaine solution and a type of sweet stimulus, saccharin. The saccharin was put into a .15% saccharin solution and used as the sweet taste stimulus. The volume of liquid consumed by the rat was measured for each trial. This was the dependent variable. The volume of liquid, as well as the dosage of cocaine injections, was manipulated. The first five trials used a lower dose of cocaine—10 mg/kg, while the last three trials used a high dose of cocaine—20mg/kg. The cocaine solution was administered underneath the skin, subcutaneously. It is important to remember that for the first trial, the rat’s access to the saccharine was without prior experience of any drug or saccharin. For the first trial, all rats drank between 6-7ml (lesioned groups) or 9-10ml (control groups) of saccharin. Within 4 pairings of saccharin, the cocaine injected rats, both control and lesioned, drank under 3ml of saccharin, where initially they had drank between 6-7ml (lesioned groups, or 9-10ml (controls). On average, the saline injection groups, control and lesioned, held to drinking above 6mL of the saccharine solution throughout the study. The results showed that the cocaine suppressed intake of the sweet saccharin cue, and the lesion did not affect this consummatory phenomenon, regardless of lesion status.
that was being looked at in the particular study. A lesion too small may not sufficiently suppress the region’s function. Two different lesions in one brain generates a higher probability that one of the regions will stay intact, and so the rat would behave normally.
Why should work continue?
By understanding neural mechanisms, researchers will be able to target specific brain regions involved in the conditioned responses of an addict. Drugs could be manufactured to disrupt circuits involved in the ‘want’ that a drug addict experiences which often leads to self-administration and relapse. Once a chemical ‘high’ is experienced, that high far exceeds and is often only placated by the chemical substance. Things that sober citizens find exhilarating- family, jogging, 65% cacao dark chocolate- are not even appealing to drug addicts. If this research can bring a day when the influence of drugs is diffused so that full satisfaction is felt by a mother holding her child or a man running a 5K —then drug addiction research is valid, sentimental and life-changing.
I would like to thank Sue Grigson, Rastafa Geddes and all the wonderful people at Penn State College of Medicine who were both teachers and friends while I worked in the Grigson lab, summer 2006. Also, to those who proofread this article so carefully.
The results must mean something
We found that asymmetrical lesions of the gustatory thalamus and gustatory cortex did NOT disrupt suppression of consummatory intake, as hypothesized. There are many factors that need to be looked at considering this finding. The finding could suggest that morphine and cocaine differ,--morphine was used in the bilateral lesion studies where suppressed of the sweet solution was disrupted— but this would seem unlikely because lesions of the thalamus disrupt both morphine and cocaine, as do lesions of the cortex. Another concern is the fact that both control groups reduced responding on the last trial of the higher dose of cocaine. If the experiment had continued, it would be interesting to see if that downward pattern continued. The reasons are unknown, but explanations could include a random disruption in the room where the rats were held, but perhaps other more systematic reasons unknown at the present time. As of publication of this article, only preliminary histology has been done to look at the placement of the lesions made in the test subjects. It is possible and presumed after several lesions have been mapped, that the lesions were incorrectly placed so that the circuit was actually intact. This would explain why the lesioned subjects’ behavior was not significantly different from the control subjects. However, if the thalamus lesions were correctly placed, this would contradict the theory that there is a strong connection between the thalamus and cortex and both are needed in consummatory comparison. Lesions always need to be corroborated by mapping out each individual lesion in each sample of brain tissue. This is done by a process of fixing the brain tissue onto glass slides and looking at the damage inflicted in the brain (see Picture). A lesion too large may disrupt more than just the neurons in the region
1] Geddes RI, Han L, Baldwin AE, Grigson PS. Program No. 119.20 2004 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Washington, DC: Society for Neuroscience, 2004. Online. 2] Geddes RI, Zammit CJ, Han L, Grigson PS. Bilateral lesions of the insular gustatory cortex block the comparison of natural rewards: anticipatory contrast. Program No. 670.12. 2006 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Atlanta, Georgia: Society for Neuroscience, 2006. Online. 3] Grigson PS, Lyuboslavsky P. Tanase D. Bilateral lesions of the gustatory thalamus disrupt morphine- but not LiCl-induced intake suppression in rats: evidence against the conditioned taste aversion hypothesis. 2000 Mar 10. Brain Res. 858(2):327-37. et al, 2000. 4] Grigson PS. Conditioned taste aversions and drugs of abuse: a reinterpretation. 1997 Feb. Behav Neurosci. 111(1):129-36. 5] Kosar E, Grill HJ, and Norgren R. Gustatory cortex in the rat. II. Thalamocortical projections. Brain Res. 379: 342-352, 1986. ] Norgren, R. “Gustatory system”. In: The Rat Nervous System (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic, 1995, p. 751-771. 7] Grigson PS. Twining RC. Cocaine-induced suppression of saccharin intake: a model of drug-induced devaluation of natural rewards. 2002 Apr. Behavioral Neuroscience. 116(2):321-33.
Reference Numbers!!!! Origins of Health Policy in the United States and Great Britain: Influences of Public Preferences and Political Culture Sadajyot Brar Introduction
In The Precepts, Hippocrates stated that “healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Those who practice medicine should reach out to others for when one is sick, whom else does a patient turn to but their physician or another health professional? Yet when individuals are unable to afford medical services, they are thrown at the mercy of the society in which they live. Where will they seek their treatment? Are there charitable organizations? Do enough doctors perform pro bono work? Will the government support the poor? The basic question in health policy is how each society provides for those who cannot provide for themselves. Should the government provide support in the form of governmentrun or sponsored services? Nearly all societies have had to find a solution to this dilemma. Options have included: funding health care completely in a welfare state setting, practicing a laissez-faire approach where government that does not act and lets private organizations offer support, or finding a compromise between the two. Among the more industrialized countries, the US is unique in that it does not offer a full range of health services sponsored by the government in a welfare-based system to the extent that European nations provide. The circumstances of this are deeply rooted at the political behavior of the American people and how the politicians at the time respond to their concerns, which is also true for European countries, such as Great Britain. The UK is a prime example of a welfare state with a great degree of government involvement in health services. Why is it that the US and UK, which are so similar—culturally and in their liberal democratic tradition—have produced health legislation that is so different in terms of its administration and underlying principles? Causes of this difference include: differences in political culture, government responses to public preferences, and government structure. The political behavior behind the introduction of some form of governmentsponsored health insurance in the United States and Great Britain serves as in intriguing comparison.
Background on Culture
The UK and US are different in the factors that determined health care legislation. Health care has poor-relief roots in the UK while in the US it has sprung from entitlement programs like Social Security. Great Britain has had legislation on 42
poor-law relief, from which the British public has become accustomed to state involvement through a welfare system. This led the British public to be accepting of the National Health Service (NHS), as it did not drift away from the values of the British political culture. The United States has not had significant government involvement in welfare issues. This can be attributed, politically, to the deeply rooted Protestant work ethic in American society. This work ethic fuels laissez-faire ideas socially: the notion that with hard work, one be successful. Thus, government support is not necessary. However, after WWII, the government became more involved and aware of the changing preferences of its public in both the UK and US and hence acted accordingly. In a general sense, culture and public preferences are interchangeable. “Culture is equated with an individual’s immediate preferences, and a country’s culture is equated with the pattern produced by aggregating individual responses to polling questions.” The culture of a society defines the values and social norms by which members live; each country has a very unique culture. Therefore, although the United States and Great Britain are very similar in certain respects, some of the values tightly held by American citizens are not found in Britain. Through the Protestant work ethic, which became deeply entrenched in American culture, “fear of public power has been a [dominant] fixture on the American political scene.” Americans favor a more laissez-faire approach with little government involvement as there is “uneasiness about governmental provision of social welfare.” Also, there was poor relief stigma that had poor choose starvation over a “surrender of their respect,” which explains less people asking for help in the United States. This culture and value system forces Americans to fend for themselves. Americans live by the credo that self-reliance is the best way to make it through. If individuals work hard enough, they will gain success because the United States is “the land of opportunity.” Great Britain, however, does not share this value system, which is partly due to a different set of circumstances that determined its policy origins. While early American colonists were forced to work hard just to survive, the British had already been established for centuries. The UK has established traditions and customs for a much longer period of time than the United States. Its poor law system started with the Old Poor Law of 1601 by which local municipalities administered indoor and outdoor relief. Also, understandings of the state influence
were different in both nations. In the US, perceptions of state fiercely focused on liberal, “hands-off ” procedures. In Britain, there was acceptance of state role in social welfare. The public had greater familiarity with poor-law relief in Britain than in America.
Health Policy Theories
There are a variety of theories used to examine health policy, however only the first two mentioned below are applicable to the US and UK. These theories add more dimension to this study of health policy. The first is referred to as “popular choice,” which “traces the international diversity in the funding and organization of health services to the sets of values held by different populations and the choices they make.” Vicente Navarro argues that people who only go by this theory do not offer thorough explanations or account for other influences on health policy: rather, these are neglected. According to him, “values are produced and reproduced within highly controlled political environments by the promotion of values favorable to the powerful and the repression of values perceived to be threatening to them.” So while the will of the people does have a very important effect on how the government reacts, it is not always the most important. In the US and UK, the government is elected by the people, however not always directly, symbolizing that the masses are not always to be trusted with policy-decision making. Even “democracy” in the US is not without limitations. Many American founding fathers believed that the uneducated masses should not influence government policy, as two of them James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, wrote in The Federalist Papers. In order to stop corruption, it was necessary to instill safeguards that kept the mass’ influence on government controlled. However this is not to say that the public is not influential and should be ruled out completely from impacting health policy The second theory is grouped together as the “power group” theories, stating that interest groups drive health politics and that “public policies in the health sector are attributed to the different degrees of power and influence exercised by several power (interest) groups...on the public decision-making process in the health sector.” This theory, however, only credits one group as the driving force of health policy legislation. Lastly, there is the “convergence” theory, which states that Western countries are becoming very similar in their methods of funding and organization of health services through one main commonality: “the more developed the society, the larger are the percentage of elderly people in the population, the more popular is the demand for health services and the amount of resources available to respond to that demand.” This theory does not apply to the others to the origins of initial health policy in the US and the UK.
To understand health policy, it is necessary to research the history of medicine in the US and UK over the past two centuries. In 18th century Great Britain, there were two types of hospitals, private (charitable) and government-sponsored. Hospitals were considered hazardous because they were not clean and so the rich preferred to go to private offices while the majority poor went to community-based clinics. Although
Sidebar: FDR’s Healthcare Proposal - Jason Liebowitz As healthcare reform continues to emerge as the hot button domestic issue for the upcoming 2008 presidential election, it is easy to forget how vehemently contested Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plans for national health insurance were more than seven decades ago. Inspired by systems already functioning in Europe, FDR developed a comprehensive proposal to provide a minimum level of coverage to every American. The idea was very much in line with the progressive ideologies of the New Deal Initiative, which sought to radically transform the role government could play in improving the lives of individual citizens. However, the media immediately derided the plan, not due to particular economic or organizational flaws, but rather because of its perceived socialist underpinnings. The leading news publications of the time, such as The Washington Star and The Boston Evening Transcript, ridiculed FDR’s proposal as farcical and antagonist to the foundations of American society. Within the medical community, health professionals feared that national health insurance would decrease incomes and, more importantly, infringe upon their treatment decisions, thereby threatening the quality of care provided. In the face of such virulent opposition, the viability of the Social Security Act and the success of the New Deal appeared unable to accommodate a radical transformation of healthcare policies. Ultimately, FDR realized that economic revitalization was more important in the wake of the Great Depression than providing for universal health coverage, and, so, the healthcare plan was deleted from the legislation As the U.S. once again finds itself embroiled in debate over healthcare reform, politicians and voters alike can reflect on the discourse of the past and use lessons learned to secure a brighter, and healthier, future. the prevalent view of these clinics and hospitals was negative, they were still a familiar entity amongst the British public. Later, specialists and surgeons started to work mainly in hospitals while general practitioners or apothecaries began to provide community-based care. Around the turn of the 19th century, the public regarded government hospitals more positively due to various improvements in medical care. There was a widening acceptance of state involvement in hospital care. The Metropolitan Poor Act of 1887 established the state with the duty to provide hospitals for the poor. With these two factors combined, the road was paved for the natural progression of government involvement in health care. While in Britain, the public’s long-standing negative perception of hospitals was gradually blunted by a growing appreciation of their curative benefits, in the United States, public hospitals continued to be uniformly dreaded and served as a last resort for those who were isolated and had no family. “Americans associated hospital residency with infection, ex43
perimentation, and the stigma of failure and misery.” A difference between British and American health services was the absence of centralized medical organization in the US system leading to unorthodox medical sects dominating hospital and community-based care. American doctors were unable to organize their practices in the same manner as the British. There was confusion over what made a doctor a doctor. Yet this did not seem a large problem in England due to the natural separation of specialists to hospitals settings and general practitioners to community-based clinic settings. American circumstances of an unorganized medical system which confused the American public prevented government involvement in health care. American perceptions towards hospital and community-based care were not positive. Later when “orthodox medicine” was more established in the US, through the establishment of the AMA and greater standards in medical education, these previously negative associations with medical treatment in hospitals and community-based clinics turned more positive.
Influence of WWII
WWII signaled a change in government concern about public opinion in both countries. “Rational choice practitioners, Max Weber and V. O. Key...[suggest] that the mass public’s influence is in fact limited to the broad boundaries of government decisions; elites are given free rein to determine the details of policy making.” Before WWII, this theory could be considered true for health policy, however in the war’s aftermath, this was not the case. The recoil effect states that when politicians are more sensitive to public thought, they are forced to see that the public does have thoughts; the masses are not fated to a destiny of manipulation by the bureaucracy. During WWII, this effect became more predominant: “the creation of a [public opinion] apparatus had an inward effect on the dispositions of American and British policymakers. In attempting, then to manipulate public opinion, policymakers became more sensitive to popular preferences.” With these changes, it became evident that the public could not be ignored as it played a vital role in the political process. In the US, Franklin Delano Roosevelt used radio, newspapers and films to reach out to the American public due to fear of how the public was stressed by WWII. FDR pushed for intelligence gathering and used pollsters frequently, which was later ignored by Eisenhower and Truman. FDR’s polling centralized White House opinion as it “spoke with one voice.” These efforts created a push for greater government involvement with the daily affairs of the American people. The president reached out to the masses to relieve their worries during WWII’s stresses. With this novel outreach and an increased use of polling, the American public not only became more used to government involvement but began to expect it from the government. Medicare in the United States was not established under the first major “welfare-esque” government program the government sponsored. Polling data that showed that the general public was uneasy with placing health insurance in the Social Security Act of 1965. FDR did not do so after becoming aware of this. Great Britain followed a similar path during WWII and the public relations apparatus became increasingly important. The newly-founded Ministry of Information was in charge of government publicity and the government worked to educate the 44
public and have a better connection with them while increasing centralization. The “Labour government preserved the war’s centralization. It encouraged the departments to see their individual efforts as part of a coherent whole.” This converging created more organized government that was able to respond more efficiently to citizen needs. Also, government branch expansion through the Ministry of Information, allowed the government to better serve citizens and be more aware of their needs.
A Move Towards Legislation
In Great Britain, the public was more positive about hospitals which started to attract more working- and middle-class patients, not just the poor. A Gallup poll conducted in March 1939 showed that 71 percent of those who answered would like to make “hospitals a public service supported by public funds.” Also, “quality of care provided by [general practitioners] … came under increasing attack. Excluded from hospital practice, these doctors failed to keep abreast of the medical advances the public came to expect from modern medicine.” With this dilemma in quality of care and the increased demand for more government influence on the health care sector, the government commissioned the Beveridge report. The report eventually led to the creation of the NHS as it showed that the British public would respond positively government-sponsored health care. WWII had led to increased government influence in the lives of citizens. The British thus responded positively as it created more ease for citizens through regulated health care programs. All this time, welfare did not seem to cause controversy as the government had always been active in poor-law relief for a number of centuries. In the United States, health care legislation was not incorporated into the Social Security Act of 1935 but instead was later included in the Medicare Act of 1965. Following FDR’s death, Presidents Truman and Eisenhower did not focus on polling to nearly the same extent as their predecessor. JFK however used polling and promoted Medicare for his “issue free campaign.” During the JFK and LBJ presidencies, the same amount of time went into preparing public relations material as with preparing documents for Congress indicating an increased emphasis and concern with public preferences. The 1964 elections led to a major Democratic landslide victory; Congress now had a Democratic majority of two-to-one making it much easier for passage of liberal agenda. Separation of powers in the United States forces bills to be passed in both houses of Congress and then be approved by the President by his written signature to pass successful legislation. This makes passage difficult as there are so many hurdles to jump through for a bill to become law. In the area of health care, previous attempts of health care legislation had been unsuccessful. However, with a Democrat majority in Congress and a Democrat in the White House, this issue was less of a concern.
Like Social Security, Medicare is an entitlement program. The establishment of Social Security “justified” the creation of Medicare. As can be seen from American values, anything other than an entitlement system would not have garnered easy
support from the public. The only welfare program that garnered enough support from the US public was Medicaid, which was for the elderly and children who had no health insurance; these segments of society were considered truly deserving because they were unable to provide for themselves. It can be argued that the “popular choice” theory carries a good deal of weight here. Public support opens a “window of opportunity” that gives politicians the mandate to work in the direction to craft health policy. Differences between resulting American and British health policy legislation lie in the different value systems of British and American societies. Americans have traditionally valued independence and a laissez-faire form of government where the government minimizes the need to interfere in the private lives of its citizens. Through increased polling and responsiveness to public opinion around WWII, politicians began to see that only an entitlement program could work in the US although larger government was seen as necessary. Entitlement programs offered a friendly medium between values American favored and some sort of government-connected health care system. The Social Security system was basically extended to include Medicare in 1965. The foundations of the welfare portion of Medicare, Medicaid, were widely accepted as the elderly and children without health insurance were truly deserving as they could not fend for themselves. Thus government support was truly necessary for them. Britain did not have a similar turn of events. Max Weber’s book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism demonstrates that the Protestant work ethic was never very wellentrenched in England as those who possessed it, such as Calvinists and Puritans, migrated to the United States by the turn of the 17th century due to problems with the more Catholic-oriented Church of England. Ergo, the same feelings and values common to American society were not very prominent in 20th century Britain. The British were also well acclimated to government involvement in the affairs of its citizens. Poor relief laws had been in existence since 1601 familiarizing the British public to welfare-based programs sponsored by the government. Additionally, when the British public sensed a less than up-to-par medical structure during the 1930s, there was increased clamor for government sponsorship of the British health care system. The citizens expected the British government to interfere in the private lives of citizens in an attempt to maintain appropriate medical standards, while in the US this was done privately through the AMA and other bodies that organized medicine. Both countries were affected similarly as WWII increased the government’s role and influence on the daily lives of its citizens. However, American cultural values caused the final Medicare Act to be mostly entitlement-based rather than a completely-welfare based program seen in England. The US political structure made it more difficult to push legislation than England’s unitary parliamentary system. The US political culture and value system seemed to work through the popular choice theory in crafting health policy. The values of the American public severely limited what the government could do and when it would even bother to pursue it. A negative poll from FDR slashed out health care from the Social Security Act. Similarly, polling allowed JFK to successfully use Medicare as an issue in his presidential campaign. LBJ
pushed Medicare through Congress after the JFK’s assassination. In the end, these events and factors caused mainly entitlement-based health policy to develop in the US. The passage of universal, nationalized health care in Great Britain was affected by the popular choice theory; however rational choice continued to play a vital role. The passage of different poor-relief laws since the 17th century allowed citizens to see government intervention and involvement as a social norm. This occurred at a time when elite government had more influence that the masses, as the franchise was not universal. However by the turn of the 20th century, the British government too became sensitive to public opinion. Through polling and intelligence gathering, the government would know when it was best to push for health policy. This led to the formation of a primarily welfare-based health policy.
1] Abel-Smith, Brian. Hospitals, 1800-1948. London: Heinemann, 1964. 2] Cohen, Wilbur. “Communication in a Democratic Society.” In The Voice of Government. New York: Wilbur, 1968. 3] Gallup, George. The Gallup International Public Opinion Polls, Great Britain 1937-75. New York: Random House, 1976. 4] Hacker, Jacob. “The Historical Logic of National Health Insurance Policy: Structure and Sequence in the Development of British, Canadian and US Medical Policy.” In Studies in American Political Development. 12 (Spring 1998) 57-130 5] Hirshfield, Daniel. The Lost Reform: The Campaign for Compulsory Health Insurance in the United States. Boston: Harvard University Press, 1970. ] Honigsbaum, Frank. The Division of British Medicine: A History of the Separation of General Practice from Hospital Care. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1979. 7] Jacobs, Lawrence. The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Marketing of American and British Health Policy. London: Cornel University Press, 1993. 8] Morone, James. The Democratic Wish: Popular Participation and the Limits of American Government. New York: Basic Books, 1990. 9] Marmour, Theodore, Jerry Mashaw, and Philip Harvey. America’s Misunderstood Welfare State: Persistent Myths, Enduring Realities. New York: Basic Books, 1990. 10] Navarro, Vicente. The Politics of Health Policy. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. 11] Starr, Paul. The Social Transformation of American Medicine. New York: Basic Books, 1982. 12] Rosenberg, Charles. “And Heal the Sick.” Journal of Social History 10: 448.
Yoko Tawada’s Self-Invention: The Legend of a Japanese-German Woman Author Miyako Hayakawa Yoko Tawada is an intriguing author among those usually labeled as MigrantenautorInnen. These “Migrant Authors” are authors writing in German whose nationality or first language is not German. Within the context of German studies the treatment of Migrantenliteratur, literature produced by these authors, attracts a variety of discussions. Political issues such as naturalization or assimilation are often debated in tandem with individual authors’ literary achievements. For authors of Turkish heritage, this is particularly the case, as Turkish-Germans are the largest minority group in the country. Such treatment is both necessary and problematic, as social issues are certainly relevant to much of the literary work produced by immigrant authors, yet many writers have described the frustration of being proscribed an identity as an artist and as a member of an ethnic minority group. Feelings of rootlessness and wandering as well as confusion in the face of prejudice are abundant in such literature. Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1960, Tawada first came to Germany when she was 22 years old, settling in Hamburg. For the past two decades she has been prolific in both Japanese and German, earning critical respect for her writing in both languages. At first she wrote only in Japanese, even when she lived in Germany. Her long-time collaborator and translator, Peter Pörtner, discovered her work in Japan and organized to have her published in German translation. Following the success of her first two books, Tawada began to publish original poetry and prose in German. Today, she is one of the few active authors able to produce literature of an extremely high quality in multiple languages. It is possible to describe her as a translingual author, as she moves agilely between Japanese and German. However, Tawada herself would likely object to such a distinctions, precisely because of her fluid concept of language.
The Writing Project: Self-Invention
Tawada’s first-person narrators are almost always unnamed Japanese women living in Germany. For this reason, the reader is quick to assume that the protagonists are Tawada herself. Such an assumption can be dangerous with most authors, but for Tawada this illusion is an integral theme. It is in this way that the reader is disoriented and given an awareness of the distance between any author and his/her subject. Furthermore, Tawada writes her own fictional biography as a translingual woman author, her own legend of sorts. In Tawada’s works, the act of writing is portrayed as the result 46
of over-categorization. Having been forced to play so many different roles, both as a woman and as a person living in a foreign language, her narrators loose their sense of self. They write as instruments of language, history and culture, transcribing and translating the fragments that they encounter. As Tawada’s narrators experience this process, it can be assumed that Tawada does as well. On some level, all who write, not only women migrant authors, undergo this loss of self in the process of writing. Tawada’s first two books to be translated and published in the German language were the collection nur da wo du bist, da ist nichts (only there where you are, there is nothing, 1987) and the short novel, Das Bad (The Bath, 1989). The first story in the book, nur da wo du bist, da ist nichts, is entitled Bilderrätsel ohne Bilder (Picture-Puzzles Without Pictures). This narration is delivered within the frame of a journey. The narrator is traveling by train from the city H to R (possibly Hamburg and Regensburg). Her purpose is to visit an exhibit of children’s books, but the narration begins while she is on the train and does not end until she has visited a marionette theater in R. The story of the trip is woven together with a story from the personal past of the narrator. Both stories have more significance than their content alone would convey. In the city of R the narrator encounters almost all of the motifs found in the chapter in Tawada’s doctoral thesis in which she analyzes Walter Benjamin’s writings on children’s books and dolls. In other words, the narrator’s perusal through the city traces the route of Tawada’s reading of Benjamin. The story within the frame, which recounts the narrator’s experiences with an ex-lover and a mysterious woman, has almost the same plot as Tawada’s short novel, Das Bad. Within her own body of work, Tawada tells variations on the same story, metamorphosing a myth. In this manner, she establishes a legend of a Japanese woman who becomes an author in the German language.
Das Bad: The Loss of Self
This novel follows the mysterious and troubling experiences of the first-person narrator as she undergoes various linguistic and physical transformations. Beginning as a simultaneous translator, she looses her tongue to the ghost of a woman who died in a fire. As she has begun to grow scales on her skin, she seeks employment as a fish-woman in a circus. She eventually winds up as a typist, transcribing words that are dictated to
her by a dead woman and translating from the language of the dead to the language of the living. The demand for her work is so great that she can get no rest. Finally, her boyfriend builds her a coffin in which she can get some sleep. She has lost her tongue, so she cannot work as a translator anymore. She soon also forgets the alphabet and she cannot type. After giving up her cosmetics, she also no longer appears in photographs. At the end of the novel, the narrator herself has become a transparent coffin. The themes of Das Bad include the objectification of the Orient, second language acquisition, loneliness, motherhood and general questions of power and women’s bodies. All of these themes relate to each other within the context of the narrator being overcome by external forces. In order to write, the narrator must not seek empowerment. On the contrary, she must loose all control over her body, particularly over her linguistic facilities. The narrator in Das Bad suffers from the multiplicity of roles that she is forced to assume; in this way, she looses her sense of self-determination. Her boyfriend, Xander, teaches her the German language, thus possessing her tongue as his own. When he photographs her, she does not appear “Asian” enough, so he covers her face in heavy makeup. The narrator visits her mother in Japan, who does not recognize her because she looks too much like a Japanese woman from Western films, that is, she has come to embody too well the Western stereotype of Japanese women. The narrator tries to conform to the ideals of others, but in the end she must give up and transform into a transparent coffin. While any summary of the novel will sound chilling and pessimistic, this is not what is conveyed. To interpret Tawada’s imagery, one can refer to an essay that was published in the collection Talisman (1996). In the essay Erzähler ohne Seelen (Narrator/s without Souls), Tawada argues that the best narrators are the dead. Tawada quotes Walter Benjamin, in saying that the two types of storytellers are those who have undergone a long journey and those who have stayed in one place for a very long time. Tawada points out that the dead are on a very long journey, without ever leaving the place where their body lies. It is a particular gift to be able to hear the dead, to be able to translate, like the narrator in Das Bad, from their language into the language of the living. Within the context of Women’s Studies, the novel’s conclusion is also positive, because the narrator’s creative output consists of bodily communication. Narrating from the body involves the reclaiming of a woman’s body from the projected wishes of men, using it instead as a form of communication. Tawada describes this as a process of listening to her own cells. What is also important to note in the plot of Tawada’s novel is that the force that occupies the narrator is that of a woman. The narrator, earning her living as a simultaneous interpreter by day, sleeping with her photographer/German teacher boyfriend at night and peeling the scales off of her body every morning, was living within the context of a male-dominated society. It was then a dead woman who stole her tongue from her, setting off the course of events that ended in her transformation into a transparent coffin. In this way, the Japanese-German author is distinguished as a woman author, writing from a collectivity of women through her body. In her analysis of the novel, Sabine Fischer sees the fate of
Sidebar: Terminology - Manuel Datiles IV
A polyglot is someone with a high degree of proficiency in several languages. There are several different types of polyglots: a bilingual person can speak two languages fluently, a trilingual three. One who can speak six or more languages fluently is known as a hyperpolyglot.
•Joshua Chamberlain, a celebrated Union Army Officer during the American Civil War, spoke 10 languages •James Joyce, the famous Irish writer, spoke English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Danish, Norwegian, Russian, Latin and classical Greek, as well as Dutch, Slovenian, Croatian and Irish. •Pope John Paul II, former head of the Roman Catholic Church, learned as many as eleven languages during his lifetime, including Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, French, Italian, German, English, Portuguese, his native Polish, and also had some facility with Russian. •Heinrich Schliemann, German archaeologist who discovered the ruins of Troy, was familiar with English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Italian, Greek, Latin, Russian, Arabic and Turkish •J.R.R. Tolkien - British writer and conlanger (inventor of languages), as well as a professor at Oxford. He is known particularly for The Lord of the Rings. He knew some thirteen languages, in addition to his own creations. •Pope Benedict XVI, current head of the Roman Catholic Church, speaks at least ten languages (his native German, Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and ecclesiastical Latin among them). the narrator as the last possibility of escape from the stereotypes and categorizations imposed upon her both as a member of a particular ethnic group and as a woman. However, it is not only the patriarchal society that limits the narrator, but, in Fischer’s opinion, also the Western feminist movements. Fischer points out that many European and American feminists have been quick to label women in other cultures as oppressed and helpless. Within an interpretation of Das Bad, this would mean that the Japanese-German woman writer is both subjected by and indebted to the Western feminist movements. Although these movements worked to increase the presence of women authors in the literary canon, they did so by inventing and propagating the image of a perfectly victimized Oriental woman as a contrast to their own ideals.
At the beginning of an analysis of the narrative Bilderrätsel ohne Bilder, it is important to note that the entire story begins with a displacement: the train ride from H to R. In this way, 47
the narrator simulates her previous immigration to Germany. It is noted in almost every biographical background written on Tawada that her first trip to Europe in 1972 was taken by way of the Trans Siberian Railroad. Considering Tawada’s blurring of the border between fact and fiction, it is interesting to point out that the trip from H to R and the trip from Japan to Europe both involved trains for the narrator/Tawada. In the essay, Erzähler ohne Seelen, Tawada claims to have read that according to a Native American legend, the soul cannot move as quickly as the body can in our contemporary modes of transportation, for instance airplanes and trains. Tawada then muses that she must have lost her soul during her first trip to Europe on the Trans Siberian Railroad. While the loss of a soul is considered to be a terrible experience in the Western tradition, Tawada rejects the idea of a single soul and its necessary habitation within the human body. She asserts that the soul is independent of the person. Elsewhere she writes, “I have many souls and many tongues.” The displacement of the author and either the loss of a soul or the acceptance of a multiplicity of souls becomes a precondition for development as a writer. This, in turn, is best accomplished by traveling. The story recounted within the frame narrative of Bilderrätsel ohne Bilder portrays in flashbacks the narrator’s relations with a man named K and a woman named Eva. A connection can quickly be made between K and the protagonists of Franz Kafka’s three novels, named Josef K., Karl Rossmann and, simply, K. Eva is perhaps in reference to the biblical Eve. There could be multiple reasons for these references. Eva is the parallel figure to the dead woman in Das Bad, in that she overpowers the narrator’s body. Thus a connection with the first woman of history, who convinced Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, is appropriate. Kafka’s protagonists are often exaggeratedly physically affectionate, and it is a lack of physical affection that angers the boyfriend K in Tawada’s story. Additionally, the idea of the author’s body becoming incorporated into the text is important for Kafka. This thread of the story is strung with vivid descriptions of physical movement and contact. In fact, the triggers for the narrator’s flashbacks, within the context of the framing travel-tale, are often the mention of a body part or function: sneezing, ears, thirst and vomiting, or placing a hand on an object. Although the thought of physical contact transports the narrator to the past, the narrator herself describes having had difficulty with K’s physical intimacy. This is related to her love of books, as she explains how her passion is for the surfaces of books rather than their content. She seeks out books in languages that she cannot read in order to enjoy flipping through them. Once she becomes too intimate with the content of a book, it becomes dead to her. For this reason, the narrator buried her books in a park in Tokyo and decided to come to Germany. Her attraction to K. is of a similar nature, partly because the narrator sees similarities between K’s body and books. She feels sorry for K’s ears, observing that they look like wet, open books. The transformation from body into book, the incorporation of the human body into a body of text, is mentioned again later, as the narrator is scolded for touching a book at the exhibition. Upon hearing the admonition, the narrator immediately asks herself when she started to feel uncomfortable being touched. She reacts by identifying her body with the body of the book. 48
K’s body is also a book, but he is upset when the narrator treats his body like she treats books. Reciprocally, the narrator wants K to view her body as a book, but he complains that he can never read what she is thinking. The story begins with the narrator’s relationship with K, but the more important figure in the narrator’s life is Eva. The narrator recounts the three times that Eva touched her: first to help her throw up when she was sick, then to trace the lifeline on her palm, and finally to apply some absurdly colored lipstick onto the narrator’s lips. By being counted, these three intimate touches become heavy with significance, like three questions that must be answered by the rest of the story. The narrator’s final encounter with Eva takes place after the narrator has broken up with K. She calls Eva, but finds herself to be speechless. Eva tells her to go to an antique shop in the street in which they first met. The narrator knows for a fact that there is no antique shop in that street. It becomes clear to her that she needs to go to a nonexistent antique shop in the street, and in the nonexistent shop she meets Eva. Eva tears out the pages of a book, and the pages fall down on the author, causing her no pain but giving her great wounds that knock her to the ground. Eva bends over her, pulls off one of her fingers and bites off her earlobe and frames it on the wall. By possessing her body and making this body into art, Eva has helped the narrator turn into a writer. In this manner, the narrator in Bilderrätsel ohne Bilder undergoes the same transformation as the narrator in Das Bad.
Translation as a Method: The Hopeful Future of Shards
After the narrator has finished viewing the children’s book exhibit she visits a performance in a marionette theater. The story performed is that of a puppet named Annette, who is constructed by a talented watchmaker. Annette becomes a successful businesswoman because she never gets sick and never needs to sleep like regular human beings. Yet her only friend in life is a frog, because she does not know how to love. The narrator leaves the show early because she guesses that the ending will not please her. The play will conclude, she imagines, with a typical fairy tale ending: the puppet will learn how to love, and she will be transformed into a human being. Outside of the theater the narrator sees the puppet being dismantled and the pieces being carried away down the road by a procession of frogs. She imagines that the frogs will deliver the pieces to a gifted clockmaker, who will put the pieces back together as a new puppet. Although the narrator’s version ends in the death of the puppet Annette, it allows for the creation of future stories. Destruction and dispersion occur in order to facilitate future literary construction. On a broader scale, the stories that are told in the narrative Bilderrätsel ohne Bilder can all be seen as pieces of other stories that have been fit together within the context of a journey. As the narrative comes to a close, the stories break apart into shards, with the promise that they will come together again to form other stories in the future. This is similar to the way that Das Bad and Bilderrätsel ohne Bilder have so many common elements. It could almost be said that Das Bad functioned as a prequel to Bilderrätsel ohne Bilder. Tawada uses this technique often, incorporating elements
from her previous work into her newer stories or altering a story significantly in the process of translating from Japanese to German or vice versa. Many of her texts have Partner texts in the other language, with similar elements but differences in length, content or even in genre. The image of scattered shards fitting together is a metaphor used by Walter Benjamin in his essay, Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers (The Task of the Translator). There, Benjamin describes the translator’s role within the context of a broader concept of language. Benjamin asserts that it is not necessarily so important to convey the content of a work in its translation. Rather, a translation should convey something within the work that was not apparent in the language in which it was originally written. Something new should be revealed about a literary work every time it is translated. In this way, through the translation of a work into as many languages as possible, the language of mankind comes closer to expressing what is inexpressible within the literary work. Benjamin calls the expression of this inexpressible reine Sprache (pure language). Through translation, shards of the dispersed languages of the world fit together like the shards of a broken vessel. The complete vessel represents pure language. This phenomenon was precisely what Tawada observed when she collaborated with Peter Pörtner on nur da wo du bist da ist nichts. She has spoken of her exhilaration as she brought each poem to him for translation, eager to see what she would learn from her own work through its translation into German. Tawada’s extensive alterations to her works when she translates them herself or her setting of the same plot in multiple contexts can be seen as an extension of Benjamin’s translation theory. Homage is once again paid to Benjamin’s theories on language and translation in the fact that the book in which Bilder ohne Bilderrätsel is published displays the Japanese and German versions of narratives and poems side by side. This shows a respect for the fact that it is more than content that is conveyed through a translation. Tawada has successfully established the legend of the Japanese-German woman writer in her writing project: the narrating woman travels from Japan to Europe by way of the Trans Siberian Railroad. She settles in Hamburg and learns the German language with the help of a German man, who becomes her lover. Objectified by him, she seeks out powerful female figures, who overpower or cripple her. In this state of powerlessness, she is capable of channeling the languages objects and of the dead. She transforms into a writer. The facts of Tawada’s own life are less important the myth she has created to represent her life. In accomplishing this, Tawada has emphasized aspects of the general condition of all authors and particularly that of MigrantenautorInnen. Her resistance to being labeled is expressed by several of her colleagues and her approach to being a woman author contributes to the general discussion of woman authors in Germany.
Matsunaga, M. (2002) “Schreiben als Übersetzung”. Die Dimension der Übersetzung in den Werken von Yoko Tawada. Zeitschrift für Germanistik, 12(3): 533. 2] Tawada, Y. (1993) Das Bad, Konkursbuchverlag Claudia Gehrke, Tübingen. 3] Tawada, Y. (1996) Talisman, (trans. Peter Pörtner), Konkursbuchverlag Claudia Gehrke, Tübingen, 22. 4] Ibid., 18. 5] Fischer, S. (1997) “Verschwinden ist schön”: Zu Yoko Tawadas Kurzroman Das Bad. Denn du tanzt auf einem Seil: Positionen deutschsprachiger MigrantInnenliteratur, (ed. Moray McGowan), Stauffenburg-Verl., Tübingen, 101-113. ] Tawada, Y. (1996) Talisman, (trans. Peter Pörtner), Konkursbuchverlag Claudia Gehrke, Tübingen, 22. 7] Ibid., 21. 8] Tawada, Y. (2002) Überseezungen, Konkursbuchverlag Claudia Gehrke, Tübingen, 70. 9] Tawada, Y. (1997) nur da wo du bist, da ist nichts, (trans. Peter Pörtner), Konkursbuchverlag Claudia Gehrke, Tübingen, 9/120. 10] Ibid., 21/108. 11] Ibid., 45/84-55/74. 12] Matsunaga, M. (2002) “Schreiben als Übersetzung”. Die Dimension der Übersetzung in den Werken von Yoko Tawada. Zeitschrift für Germanistik, 12(3): 532-546. 13] Benjamin, W. (1992) Sprache und Geschichte: Philosophische Essays, (ed. Rolf Tiedemann), Philipp Reklam, Stuttgart, 50-64. 14] Matsunaga, M. (2002) “Schreiben als Übersetzung”. Die Dimension der Übersetzung in den Werken von Yoko Tawada. Zeitschrift für Germanistik, 12(3): 532-546.
A Moral Mentality: The “Suddenly Sexy” Debate over International Debt Michelle Melton A recent editorial in the British journal The Economist quipped that “…advocating debt relief has become the development-policy equivalent of kissing babies. Every politician does it.” Indeed, debt relief—often confusingly called debt forgiveness, debt reduction, and debt cancellation —has become a cause célèbre. It has received a significant amount of media and political attention, and garnered the support, as the media often reminds us, of such considerable figures as the rock star Bono and the late Pope John Paul II. Debt relief has overshadowed a significant part of public discussion on other international development issues. Its advocates claim that it is the necessary first step in the process of economic development. Although often portrayed too simplistically, debt relief is not an uncomplicated issue. Nor is debt relief a new phenomenon. What is new is the tone of the discourse and the immense attention the debate is receiving by the academic world, the Western political world, and the media. Consequently, the seemingly monotonous discourse on debt relief needs unpacking. Debt relief enjoys enormous popular appeal. Politicians in the North fall over themselves to offer it, and it has captivated the attention of not just academia , but the general public as well. What is especially curious about the demand for debt relief is that it is advocated, for the most part, by politicians and international financial institutions such as the World Bank Group (World Bank) and, to a lesser extent, the International Monetary Fund (IMF); it is only partially mobilized by the public. Politicians certainly did not have to acknowledge the validity of debt relief and thrust it into the public arena. But it garners much political support, as it appears to be an example of sincere generosity. But accepting this explanation at face value is misleading. Debt relief was not accepted as prudent economic policy until recently: it has been no more than ten years since the idea of writing off poor countries’ debt, instead of rescheduling, has been seriously considered by politicians and lenders at international institutions. Debt relief was argued for and implemented by powerful institutions and governments who could have easily stifled or ignored appeals for a change in debt policy as they had for several decades prior. Not only has the debt debate been sustained, and not only have politicians engaged the debate, but a general political consensus appears to have been reached. The issue is no longer over whether debt relief is a good idea, but over how to issue its implementation. Debt relief has won its ideological battle: 50
today it is very rare for an academic, much less a politician, to paint debt relief as bad in theory. It is unfashionable to speak poorly of debt relief because it has now become synonymous with helping the poor. Opponents today mostly cite the problems associated with implementing debt relief—i.e., they have problems with debt relief in practice—warning that bad governance and moral hazard may undermine what debt relief seeks to do. This type of argument, though it recognizes flaws in executing debt relief, implicitly condones the ideology behind reforming debt policy. Part of the popularity of debt relief is that it is something everyone understands, as everyone has some form of debt. But certainly, the case could just as easily have been made, and in the same pressing, moral language, for governments to pressure drug companies to end their patents early, providing medication to millions of HIV positive people in impoverished countries. This is no less pressing, and no less moral an issue, than debt relief. It is also a reasonable and frequently employed argument that the HIV epidemic has as large, if not larger, an impact on developing economies as debt relief does. In fact, the case has been, and continues to be, for rich governments to provide cheap and effective medicine to afflicted countries. This plea and has received moderate public attention. But it does not attract the same fierce advocacy by politicians as the issue of debt relief. There is undoubtedly some political opportunism involved in debt relief, but opportunities for opportunism are prevalent in many issues. What is not clear is why specifically debt relief as an issue was taken up.
Moral Language and the Market
Over the past decade, the debate over international debt has changed in meaningful ways. Importantly, debt is no longer discussed as solely an economic issue. Starting in the mid1990’s and continuing today, the discourse on debt employs highly moral rhetoric to make the case for debt forgiveness. I hold that the introduction of moral language into the discourse on debt functions to preserve the integrity of the market. Moral language allows the coexistence of consistently disappointing market outcomes for the South with the North’s insistence on the benefits and advantages of liberal market policies. Jacqueline Best, in her review and analysis of several economic papers that employ moral language to discuss the market, states that “It is only very recently that the Fund’s represen-
tatives, together with the mainstream academic community, have begun to justify its actions in the name of moral authority.” Best argues that the articles she reviews attach morality and ethics to market processes, which reveals that they believe that the market acts morally. In turn, this allows the authors to assure themselves that market processes articulate what should be and what is, more importantly, right. Best describes the strategic intent behind this behavior: There exists a tension between…[a] concern with the limits of the market and [the] desire [on the part of neo-liberal theorists] to nonetheless make the market the final arbiter of economic practice. [Neo-liberals are] ultimately only able to resolve these tensions on a normative level by developing a moral argument for the universal value of the market. They thus stave off the threat of a wider political debate about financial reform by appealing to a universal conception of economic good….
By slightly modifying Best’s argument, it can be applied to the debate surrounding international debt relief. Best is correct when she points out the existence of a tension between the limits of the market and making the market the final arbiter of economic practice. The tension must be rhetorically reconciled, so that the public at large will continue to accept the integrity of the market. But imbuing market decisions with moral authority is not the only way to reconcile this tension. In fact, Best describes the way that those who oppose debt relief choose to resolve it, that is, by invoking the market’s moral authority. When the market fails, politicians step in to assert their own authority. In this way, the validity of the market is safe in its central role in human society; for, even if it fails, morality is reasserted, in this particular case with debt relief. As a result, the question of blame for poor economic outcomes is also complicated. The market has failed to make good on its promises of poverty reduction. The promise of a global economy reducing, much less ending, poverty has proven empty by recent experience. Abundant evidence shows that structural reforms imposed by the IMF and World Bank simply did not work—although, neither the IMF, the World Bank, nor any member of the G-8 would dare publicly admit as much. By speaking moralistically, politicians assure the public that, should the market not produce desirable outcomes, politics will step in to mend the temporary gaffe and the market will then continue to operate unhindered. Wider political debate, as well as questions of legitimacy and financial reform, as Best points out, are then avoided. According to Kai Nielson, moral language “is the language is the language we use in appraising human conduct and in giving advice about courses of action; it is the language we use in ascribing or excusing responsibility; and finally, it is the language we use in committing ourselves to a principle of action. Moral language is a practical kind of discourse that is concerned to answer the questions: ‘what should be done?’” Moral language includes references of rewards and punishments, of innocence and guilt, of responsibility, obligations, duties, norms, and imperatives (anytime should is meant in an ethical sense—when should begs the question ‘why should’ and the answer is implicitly ‘because ethics tells us so’). All of these themes are recurrent in the discourse on international debt.
A Brief History of Debt
Debt has been a significant problem for developing countries since widespread decolonization in the 1960s. Appeals
for debt relief and debt forgiveness have been around since the end of that same decade. Several related and complex factors on both the supply and demand side contributed to the large debts incurred by developing countries. Cold War politics also contributed to imprudent lending policies. Often, money was knowingly lent to corrupt dictators, who accumulated debt and squandered borrowed capital to support extravagant lifestyles and their systems of patronage, while almost none of the money tricked down to the poor. In addition to strategic but negligent lending, the 1970s saw a large jump in external debt. Oil shocks, high interest rates, and a weak demand for exports around the same time also caused an explosion of debt. The second oil shock in 1979-1980, combined with the skyrocketing U.S. interest rates set by Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—which reached 22.36% in July of 1981 and caused the global economy to go into recession—only added to the debt stock. Moreover, money was freely lent in the late 1970s and early 1980s due to a culture of competitive commercial lending. Irresponsible lending was further encouraged by irresponsible and frivolous borrowing. The money quickly dried up following the debt crisis of the 1980s, and little private capital inflow, including to the private sector, continues to be a problem for many developing countries. Debt today differs from debt two decades ago. The debt crisis of the 1980s affected mostly middle-income countries in Latin America who had incurred debt to commercial lenders. The commercial lenders had lent recklessly, borrowers had borrowed recklessly, and the oil shocks, along with a sharp and sudden drop in commodity prices, severely increased these countries’ debt stocks. The crisis of the 1980’s lasted for about a decade, during which time the proposed solutions to the crisis were in the form of debt rescheduling. Debt payments were rescheduled for later dates, while lending was increased to the debtors so that they would be able to pay these debts. Creditor governments played a significant role in ‘resolving’ this crisis, but declined to speak of writing off debts. They proceeded cautiously so as not to disrupt the international financial system. The most influential recovery plan, introduced in 1989 by then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, was designed to enable creditor countries access to new commercial financing. To be eligible for support under the Brady Plan, countries were required to implement comprehensive adjustment programs. Commercial debt was then exchanged for bonds at market rates. The plan reduced commercial debt by approximately forty percent. In the wake of that crisis, official lenders such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the International Development Association (IDA) began to play a much more prominent role in lending to the developing world. These institutions offered loans at interest rates much lower than the market rates, but loans were contingent upon structural reform and economic liberalization of a country’s economy, as dictated by these institutions. Today, most of the debt has been incurred by poorer countries, overwhelmingly in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, most debt is bilateral and multilateral, meaning that most countries owe money to governments or official lending institutions, rather than to commercial banks. After some debt relief, developing countries today owe these institutions, specifically the World Bank, the IMF, and the IDA, approximately fifty billion US dollars net present values. Before any form of debt relief 51
was given, this number was estimated to be US $80 billion net present value. Almost all bilateral debt—that is, debt owed from one country to another—has been cancelled or is in the process of being cancelled by creditor nations. The Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative was launched in 1996 to help the poorest countries achieve debt sustainability. The Initiative was initiated and developed jointly by the World Bank and IMF, with the support of powerful creditor nations. There are currently thirty-eight HIPCs, thirty-two of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, according to statistics from the World Bank, the HIPC Initiative has provided US $54.5 billion in debt relief (this includes bilateral debt). Money for debt relief comes not directly out of the World Bank or IMF, but from the HIPC Trust Fund that was set up by these institutions. The HIPC Trust Fund is supported partially by donations from creditor nations and partially by the World Bank. The HIPC Initiative is a far cry from past debt policy, and from solutions to the debt crisis in the 1980s. The latter included, in addition to the above-mentioned Brady Plan, the Baker Plan and the Bradley Plan. These were proposed, respectively, by then-Treasury Secretary James Baker in 1985 and by Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) in 1989. The former called for increased lending and economic reform, and the latter attempted to reduce debt through increased lending and by reducing interest rates on loans. What is significant about both of these plans is their emphasis on rescheduling debt and increasing lending, rather than actually writing off debt. The HIPC Initiative is a sharp break from this tradition—the World Bank had a “longstanding opposition to writing off multilateral debt”—and was considered controversial when it was first proposed. HIPC continues to gradually expand: the original draft of the Initiative in 1995 was set to write off only eleven billion dollars. Under the original HIPC Initiative, and what remains under effect under the enhanced Initiative, there are several “stages” before a country is eligible to receive full debt relief. When the Initiative was first launched, unsustainable debt was defined by having a debt-export ratio of between 200-250 percent, and a debt-service-export ratio of 20-25 percent. Again under the original Initiative, a country must have established three years of “good performance” before it could be considered for an initial round of debt relief. During this three year period, the debt was rescheduled but not relieved. Once the country had reached this first “decision point,” a country then became eligible for support under the HIPC Initiative. Eligibility at each of these stages still is determined by the IMF and World Bank Boards. After another three year period of recorded good performance under IMF and World Bank-supported programs, a country could have then reached its completion point, at which point deeper debt relief (though not full cancellation) was given. Moreover, to be eligible for HIPC debt relief, a country must still forgo commercial borrowing. Under attack for being slow, inefficient, and too demanding, the IMF and World Bank, supported by the G-8, launched the enhanced HIPC Initiative in 1999. Three main objectives were sought in enhancing HIPC: “deeper and broader relief,” “faster relief,” and a “stronger link between debt relief and poverty reduction.” The enhanced HIPC Initiative defines unsustainable debt more leniently than its predecessor. Debt is considered unsustainable by the IMF if debt-to-export ratios are above 150 52
percent, or if debt-to-government revenues are above 250 percent. Under the enhanced initiative, the main emphasis is on poverty relief. Countries must outline and develop a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Moreover, the time periods between decision points are more flexible. To reach its completion point, a country must “maintain macroeconomic stability…carry out key structural and social reforms as agreed upon at the decision point, and implement a PRSP satisfactorily for one year.” Currently, twenty-seven countries are receiving debt relief under the program (meaning that they have reached their decision points), and fifteen have reached their completion points. As of February 2005, the United States has pledged $750 million to the HIPC Trust Fund since its inception; $600 million was promised by the Clinton Administration, and $150 million by the Bush Administration. The United States has not currently paid any of its contribution since 2002. As a Paris Club creditor, the United States is estimated to owe an unpaid $1.5 billion to pay for the HIPC Initiative; this is less than it will cost France, Germany, and Japan. The United States Congress has appropriated approximately $79 million for bilateral debt relief and the HIPC trust fund in fiscal year 2005, and the Bush Administration has requested a little under $100 million for fiscal year 2006. This marks a sharp decline in funding from fiscal years 2000, 2001, and 2002, when $110 million, $434 million, and $224 million was appropriated, respectively. Even after the enhanced initiative took effect, there continues to be much debate surrounding the HIPC Initiative and its implementation. Critics claim that it is still inefficient, ineffective, and under-funded. Funding for the program does remains a problem. According to the IMF, the “resources in the HIPC Trust Fund are expected to be fully exhausted by end-December 2005.” The IMF has grudgingly sold some of its gold reserves to pay for the program. Whether or not this is a prudent policy remains a highly controversial issue.
The Terms of the Debate: Linking Debt Relief with Poverty Reduction
The discourse on debt has drastically changed since the 1980s and early ’90s. Debt relief is talked about and understood differently than it was less than twenty years ago. Consider the official position of the United States Treasury as an example. In 1983, Under Secretary of State Kenneth Dam, responding to requests for help from debtor countries, stated, “Large, growing, open markets are the main hope of the developing countries for dealing with their debt burdens and growth problems.” In 1988, the Washington Post ran an article that quoted thenTreasury Secretary James Baker as saying “debt forgiveness is a mirage,” and called for support for his plan, which aimed to increase lending. In contrast, Lawrence H. Summers, Secretary of the Treasury under the Clinton administration, called debt relief a “global moral imperative.” Summers, in a 2000 radio interview on NPR, makes his views on debt relief perfectly clear. It is worth quoting at length: SUMMERS: There’s a basic principle here. We are the richest country that there has ever been. We made mistakes in the past of loaning money badly to countries that are desperately poor. Countries where a fifth of the population has AIDS; countries where the average spending per person on health care is less than five dollars; countries where a child born today is more likely to die before the age of five than to go to secondary school.
REHM: I’m not questioning why the loans were made. But now, you have a situation where there seems to be some consensus on loan forgiveness. SUMMERS: Absolutely, Diane. That’s what I was getting to. These loans were mistakes. REHM: How? SUMMERS: To try to collect these loans from countries that are so desperately poor— REHM: Are you saying instead— SUMMERS: Is wrong as morality.
The United States Treasury now has an entire page on its website of Frequently Asked Questions devoted solely to questions pertaining to international debt. One of these questions is: “I am concerned about the burden of debts owed by the world’s poorest countries. What is being done to alleviate this situation?” For the administration to make debt relief a frequentlyasked-question speaks volumes about the change of position the United States government underwent, as well as about what the government considers important public information. Assistant Treasury Secretary Rob Nichols, in a letter to the New York Times in February of 2005, responded to an editorial by ensuring the editor (and readership) that the United States and Britain “are working together to find common approaches to best assist people in poor countries.” Nichols goes on to argue that canceling poor countries’ debts is the right policy to pursue. This is a complete reversal of US debt policy in a relatively short period of time. In the past decade or so, as the Treasury Department example illustrates, debt relief has been cast in increasingly moral terms. Debt relief has become the premiere issue when discussing development in general. In particular, Jubilee 2000, a global debt relief campaign that garnered significant support, vigorously supported complete forgiveness of all debt. Headquartered in Britain, Jubilee 2000 was based on a passage in the Bible (chapter twenty-five of the book of Leviticus) that proclaims the eradication of debt and the “Holy Time of restoration of the just economic order.” Jubilee 2000 cast debt forgiveness as essential to easing global suffering. The campaign, which aimed at complete forgiveness by the year 2000 (and is now called Jubilee USA Network ), was the first major group to employ sensationalist, moralistic rhetoric, and it set the tone of the larger debate about debt. According to the campaign, if debt was forgiven and the saved money put to good use, “the lives of 19,000 children could be saved.” Campaigners also explicitly linked debt relief to slavery, and proclaimed that “…it is our task to liberate [low-income debtor countries] from the chains of debt.” The important change that Jubilee 2000 in part initiated, that has taken place just in the last decade, is the link between debt relief and poverty reduction. This connection has become increasingly explicit, as those pushing debt relief frequently quote statistics about money spent on debt repayments versus money spent on healthcare and education in the most impoverished, indebted countries. As one editorial noted, “All these changes [in debt relief policy] are expensive but sensible investments in the world’s poor.” This connection between relieving debt and relieving poverty is stressed in almost all the current discourse surrounding debt relief. It is important to bear in mind that politicians absolutely did not have to pick up on the debt issue. Expert upon economic expert could have been sent out by various institutions to paint Jubilee 2000 as an out-of-touch Christian group who knew absolutely
nothing about the intricate functioning of the global economy. Yet it must be emphasized that politicians engaged themselves in the debt issue, with virtually no outside pressure, save Jubilee 2000. Politicians choose to ignore certain international economic issues all the time—for example, the WTO and the IMF are contentious political issues and politicians choose, for the most part, not to engage in a wider debate about their legitimacy (at least explicitly and in public). So it is significant, then, that international debt was addressed because it was not inevitable that this issue would be pushed to the forefront of the larger debate surrounding development.
Official Responses: The G-8
For the past decade, debt relief has been explicitly written into the international agenda and promoted by the G-8 (earlier, G-7) , particularly in communiqués published after each official G-8 summit. Prior to 1997, however, the summits also called for debt relief, albeit in less bold and less urgent language. 1997 was an important year for the international financial system, as it saw the largest crisis to date—the East Asian Crisis. I believe that the increase in prominence and moral language post-1997 has much to do with the fear of the instability of the international financial system. Prior to 1997, debt had not yet become a pressing issue in public discourse. The further back in time, the less important the issue of debt is and the further back on the G-8’s agenda. In addition, the further back in time, the less moral debt relief is seen. For example, in 1991, the G-7 states that the problems faced by African governments are important, and that “Progress by African governments towards sound economic policies, democracy and accountability is improving their prospects for growth. This is being helped by our continued support, focused on stimulating development of the private sector, encouraging regional integration, providing concessional flows and reducing debt burdens.” Here, debt relief is imagined in terms of rescheduling, it does not mean canceling debt. This statement does not provide a forum for a discussion on the topic of debt, does not include an active role for the G-7 to play in relieving debt , and seeks no ends—i.e., the G-7 is not concerned with how the money saved will be spent. It is cleansed of any kind of moral appeal, and is polite but distant and cold about the G-7 itself getting involved; the private sector is left to itself, for the most part. In 1990, debt relief is not mentioned in the Summit communiqué. Rather, the G-7 speaks only of re-scheduling debt. Likewise, in 1993, the G-7 states that in order to help reduce poverty, they would pursue a comprehensive approach, covering not only aid but also trade, investment and debt strategy, and a differentiated approach, tailored to the needs and performances of each country at its particular stage of development and taking environmental aspects into account...We confirm the validity of the international debt strategy and invite the Paris Club to continue reviewing the question of debt relief for the poorest highly indebted countries, especially with regard to earlier reductions in the stock of debt on a case by case basis. We welcome the U.S. administration’s decision to join us in debt reduction for these countries.
This is passive and makes clear that while debt relief may be seen as valid to pursue, the G-7 would not actively seek it. Moreover, debt is seen as something that the market needs to 53
solve. While there is a place for government intervention, it is in upholding market authority. There is no mention of the poorest people, only the poorest countries. The distinction is an important one: poor people are rarely considered culpable for their situation; they are, generally, victims. Poor countries, however, may have played a role in their impoverishment. The encouragement of action on debt relief began a trend of supporting further debt relief that has dramatically been played up since the 1999 Summit in Cologne. It was at this summit that the G-8 agreed to enhance the HIPC Initiative. The Summit communiqué for that year states We have decided to give a fresh boost to debt relief to developing countries. In recent years the international creditor community has introduced a number of debt relief measures for the poorest countries…Recent experience suggests that further efforts are needed to achieve a more enduring solution to the problem of unsustainable debt burdens. To this end we welcome the 1999 Köln Debt Initiative…The central objective of this initiative is to provide a greater focus on poverty reduction by releasing resources for investment in health, education, and social needs. In this context we also support good governance and sustainable development.
At the 2004 Summit, the G-8 issued an entire document devoted to the issue of debt sustainability, in which the G-8 affirms its commitment to the HIPC Initiative. In fact, every single summit since 1997 has stressed the need for debt relief, and has couched it in moral language. These documents all emphasize that money spent on debt relief should be spent on healthcare and education. The 2005 Summit’s themes, picked by host country Britain, are “climate change” and “Africa.” Debt relief is mentioned first in discussing what the G-8 has already done for Africa. On the official summit website, Summit Planners emphasis the G-8 commitment to the HIPC Initiative, because the G-8 believes that debt relief will allow the “freeing up resources for spending on poverty reduction.” Clearly, there has been a dramatic shift in the goals sought and the language used in the course of less than a decade. Although not as overtly moral as other accounts of debt relief, the G-8’s new position subtly acknowledges the failure of the market to produce favorable outcomes for developing countries.
The Media: Two Kinds of Liberal Bias
Increasingly, the media has also cast the case for debt relief in moral and ethical terms. Debt is referred to as a “crippling burden” that is preventing the “poorest countries” from spending money on healthcare and education. Of course, debt cancellation, it is stressed by most articles, should be for “countries whose governments are likely to make good use of the money.” It is mostly acknowledged that debt relief by itself is no panacea, only the first step in the development process. Many articles present debtor countries as innocent. The most extreme debt relief advocates, among them Jubilee 2000, call debt “the new form of slavery.” However, most articles take a more moderate, but no less moral, stance. For example, in an article in The Independent (London) “Debt Relief is Far Too Important a Challenge to Be Left to the Bureaucrats,” the author asserts that it would be wrong to pursue policies “that punish the new democrats for the sins of old dictators.” Another recent article from The Economist claims that Nigeria merits debt relief, and utilizes incredibly strong moral language 54
to argue for it. The article claims that it “seems unfair that they should have to repay the loans that foreigners were foolish enough to make to them.” Continuing, the article proclaims that Nigerian reformers need help from foreign creditors because they are noble souls, “fighting a lonely battle against a rich, corrupt, and entrenched political class, braving occasional death threats to try and clean up one of the world’s filthiest polities.” Far from speaking abstractly of economic reasons for forgiveness, the article explicitly links debt relief to helping the poor: “Nigeria may have a lot of oil, but it has a lot of people too.” People are mentioned and portrayed as innocent. This article utilizes highly moral language—of justice, dessert, and character to argue the case for debt relief. The media has not always depicted debt in this way. In stark contrast, a 1988 article does not mention the word “poor” in any form. The need for debt relief is seen as essential for economic growth, and nothing else: “reducing the $420 billion debt and the interest payments had become a ‘matter of urgency’ if economic growth in the region was to resume.” The necessary money for healthcare and education, mentioned so often a decade later, is absent: “financial experts said major debtor nations had been prompted to act…by deepening economic crises…Latin America would make ‘serious and responsible’ proposals,” not for poverty reduction, but for programs “to restructure the region’s economies and improve the climate for business.” Likewise, many articles from the 1980s and early 1990s argue that it is the market which should decide what countries deserve. The market is widely held as moral. Consider this 1987 New York Times editorial written by a banker. He claims that the government is “a poor forum to settle debt questions.” Should the government be allowed to intervene, he argues, the international financial and banking system would be “severely weakened.” It is “utterly necessary” for debtor countries to undergo the process of restructuring. It would be a mistake, economically, to let the government step in. Indeed, “The damage to our entire financial system would be incalculable.” The editorial ends with a forceful, anti-government, pro-market argument virtually absent from later debates: “Let us put an end to political rhetoric that imagines a quick fix to the debt problem. The best role for Government [in dealing with debt problems] is in the background…The process [of debt negotiation and restructuring] may take years. Unfortunately, there is no simpler way home.” This editorial is astonishingly different from the one published in 2004. Although they are defending different sides of the debate, the important difference is not what they are saying, but how they are saying it. The former employs highly moral language and equates relieving debt with poverty reduction. The latter sharply separates the economy from broader, ethical questions and leaves the market to decide what should be. In another article in the New York Times from 1987, morality is markedly absent, and economics is offered up as explanation and solution to problems of developing world debt. The author contends that the solution to the debt crisis “should” be obvious: “It is to ease the cash-flow strain on debtor countries in a context of renewed economic development and continuing stability in financial markets.” The article continues its economic analysis by stating that bankers must see the debt crisis “for what it really is—a long-term dilemma of economic solvency,
not just a short-term liquidity squeeze.” There are no impoverished people, or governments struggling to pay for healthcare and education. Rather, there is an economic crisis which warrants an economic answer. Responsibility, guilt and innocence, and rewards and punishments are absent from this analysis. In contrast, in the mid-1990s the debate surrounding debt shifted tone and no longer considering the market itself a moralizing force. Rather, it became the responsibility of actors in the system—governments, institutions, etc—to correct the market. Market processes, contrary to what was held true in the media in the 1980s, impoverish people and are responsible for unfair outcomes. An exemplar editorial in the New York Times is illustrative of the debate over debt writ large. The author opens with the highly charged claim that “one of the biggest reasons that very poor countries can’t provide decent education and health care is that they are stuck in the cycle of debt…much of it dating to the 1970’s…Everyone agrees this is unjust.” Right from the beginning, debt relief is associated with poverty reduction and with increased spending on education and healthcare. The editorial goes on to explain recent proposals put forward by the United States and Great Britain, maintaining that the G-8 “should endorse this plan.” Poor countries, the editorial argues, “deserve more help.” Clearly, this editorial is saturated with ethical, not just economic, claims. What is not said—arguments about attracting more foreign capital and economic development aside from healthcare and education—is just as important as what is mentioned. This kind of moral language has been in widespread use since around 1996, when the original HIPC Initiative was proposed and when the East Asian Crisis broke out. Another editorial from 1996 uses this moral language, although it only once explicitly links debt relief with poverty reduction. The editorial commends Jacques Chirac for “rightly insisting” that the G-7 meeting “grapple with the troubling problem of third-world debt…so high that [these countries] are shut out of international capital markets and cannot climb out from under repayment burdens.” Closing, the editorial remarks, “the emergency is here…Debt relief tied to stringent economic reform is an idea the industrialized powers should enthusiastically embrace.” In this editorial, there is evidence of the shift in rhetoric taking place. Appeals are made on the basis of immediate suffering— i.e., that governments are facing an ‘emergency,’ and ‘should’ act because debtors ‘cannot climb out from under repayment burdens,’—but not yet has the media connected this relief to relief for identifiable people. It is assumed, but not stated outright, that these debt burdens are wrong; further, it is assumed that the industrialized countries have a duty, though not an imperative, to act. A 1999 article in The Economist takes the next step that the 1996 editorial did not. It illustrates the evermore explicit moral claims attached to debt relief. The author lauds President Clinton’s call for further debt relief, but believes that “debt relief needs to go faster and further than even its proponents envisage.” Here, the duty of debt relief is imperative. It is not just that creditors should relieve debt, but that they need to. Countries that try to repay their debts only “impoverish already destitute people, and blight their hopes of economic take-off.” Real, tangible people, not countries, are stifled and suffering. Thus far, the relief extended by creditors has been “too stingy”—“it is unfair to poor countries that just fail to qualify…more gener-
osity to the deserving—not…continuing to punish the poor for the sins of their undeserving past rulers.” The language of fairness, of rewards and punishments, innocence, and responsibility is all present in this article. The author is making a case explicitly on moral claims.
Opponents: The Market is Moral
The debate over debt relief is not altogether one-sided. There are many who oppose forgiving debt, elected politicians excluded. Generally, opponents cite moral hazard and bad governance as obstacles to ensuring a reduction in poverty, what they hold (implicitly and explicitly) to be the ultimate end of debt relief. Opponents often use equally strong moral language to argue their case. There are several different tactics taken to dispute the effectiveness of debt relief. An article in The Economist recently made the case that in trying to do the right thing, politicians only end up hurting the overall welfare of their own countries. After laying out the argument that debt relief is financially detrimental—the World Bank and the IMF have “given warning that a 100% write off would ‘imperil’ the bank, ‘impair’ the fund and ‘cripple’ the ADB [African Development Bank]”—the article goes on to state that on top of that, rich countries are already struggling with their own budgets. The article goes on to argue that debt relief has “no obvious connection with development; governments might be tempted to cut other sources of aid money; and airlines are struggling. In their rush to redeem indebted nations, the Europeans may damn some indebted airlines.” Here, business is cast as innocent and the noble attempts of rich nations to help indebted countries are seen as foolish. It is better, the article implies, to leave morality out of the picture, lest we unintentionally harm the economy in the process. The economy is the only moralizing force that can be trusted. The article suggests that interfering is far worse, and with far wider implications, than leaving well enough alone. Another article affirms that what has been done in terms of debt relief has been a “big breakthrough,” but warns that “the pressure for speed will give debt relief to countries with bad economic policies.” Campaigners have done what they should do, the article suggests, and that it “might now be time to make haste more slowly.” “The current vogue for speed could come at the expense of good anti-poverty policy.” Again, the implicit message is that poverty reduction is a commendable goal, but that the market knows best. Trying to override the market is foolish, and will only end up producing outcomes opposite of the desired effect. In this type of argument the burden is placed on debtor nations. The HIPC Initiative, one article asserts, “aims to reduce the debts of the poorest nations to a sustainable level, provided they follow good economics.” This type of argument anticipates than any failure of the Initiative is the fault of the debtor countries, not the market, the creditors, or design flaws in the Initiative itself. An article in the London Guardian, “Count Me Out, Third World Debt Forgiveness Only Benefits Well-Fed Dictators Clambering into Private Jets,” exemplifies another variation of this type of argument. This is perhaps the most widely-used argument against debt relief: it is claimed that debt relief doesn’t actually help the poor because their horrible, corrupt governments will only squander the money and abuse their own people. 55
There are also those who attempt to discredit rich governments’ motivations in offering debt relief. They believe that offers of debt relief often seem more generous than they actually are, because rich nations are just “facing reality” in relieving debt, for the money lent probably (or definitely) won’t ever be paid back anyway, debt relief or not. Much of the money is “hopelessly irretrievable;” and “much of that debt has already been written down on the government’s ledger books, reflecting estimates that the United States was likely to recover only pennies on the dollar.” Furthermore, the HIPC Initiative is not as generous as it appears: it doesn’t do nearly as much as it seems to. Rather, “show-stealing politicians naturally like to talk up the importance of each new step in what has become a lengthy debt-relief process.” In these arguments, the market is less of a savior and more of an inevitability. Finally, there are those who declare that it is unfair that only HIPCs receive debt relief. Why, they ask, should poor countries who have worked hard to maintain sustainable debt not be rewarded? The HIPCs do not include all the poorest countries, only the ones that are both poor and heavily indebted. Debt relief is, in effect, punishing those countries which have worked hard to keep their debt levels sustainable. So, then, why should Uganda receive debt relief but not Bangladesh? Critics of the HIPC Initiative who make these claims are not necessarily against debt relief. However, they believe that some countries have been unfairly rewarded for poor behavior. Other poor countries, more deserving, are implicitly punished by the Initiative. The market, though not necessarily prescribed as a solution, is seen as assessing those countries which are worthy of the reward of debt relief. There is an important theme that runs throughout the discourse. Good governance as essential to permanently resolving debt issues is emphasized over and over again in official documents released by creditor nations and the IMF and World Bank. But what appears to be a debate about governance is actually an extension of the larger question of responsibility: whose fault is it that these poor countries are indebted? Their own, the market’s, or the creditors’? The way that governance is discussed is revealing of where a commentator believes this blame lies.
The Realpolitik of Debt Relief Debt relief is, in part, a rare act of old-fashioned charity in an era when the world mantra is to sink or swim in open markets and trade. It’s also partly a recognition of the cold fact that most of the debt owed by nations like Mali, Bolivia, Ivory Coast and Mozambique is simply unrecoverable.
How politically and economically risky is debt relief? Is this just, as some contend, merely an official recognition on the part of politicians that their loans weren’t going to be repaid? It is true that much of the United States’ bilateral debt had already been guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury. Much of the money owed by debtor nations most likely was not going to be paid off. But this does not imply that creditor countries were obligated to end the charade and relieve the debt. But although relief has been advocated and publicly support by almost all, creditor countries have often failed to live up to their promises. Moreover, there is contention between countries, specifically the United States and Great Britain, over the 56
motivation behind debt relief, and what debt relief is actually for. The IMF, World Bank, and G-8 have made big promises. Are they delivering? Before 2000, only seven countries were eligible for debt relief under the HIPC Initiative, and only one country (Uganda) had reached its completion point and was eligible for full debt relief. The enhanced HIPC Initiative was originally supposed to eliminate $100 billion in debt; clearly the revised figures, which put relief at closer to $55 billion, reflect diminished expectations. The figures are reduced partially because it is still a contentious issue where the money to pay for debt relief is going to come from. As mentioned, not only is the HIPC Trust Fund set to be empty by the end of calendar year 2005, but the G-8 continues to be torn over whether or not to sell IMF gold reserves to finance the plan (see footnote i). The United States remains opposed to the sale of the gold, although this opposition is relatively recent. US Treasury Secretary John Snow was recently quoted as saying “we are not persuaded by arguments for IMF debt relief, and we do not believe market or ‘off market’ gold sales are necessary or warranted.” In 2000, Congress had agreed, at the request of President Clinton, to “authorize U.S. support for the IMF to draw on resources for the Fund and to extend debt relief under HIPC terms.” Support for selling gold has eroded under the Bush administration, and spending on the HIPC Initiative has dropped. What appears to be a generous first term was, in fact, the carry-over from a plan approved under the Clinton Administration. Meanwhile, Britain, led by Gordon Brown, supports the sale of gold. Recently, Brown gave a speech in which he encouraged: We do this alone today, but we urge you to use your moral authority to urge other countries to follow suit so that poor countries can look forward to a future free from the shackles of debt…Because we cannot bury the hopes of half of humanity in the lifeless vaults of gold, the cancellation of debt owed to the I.M.F. should be paid for by the better use of IMF gold.
In April of 2005, the G-8 could not reach a compromise on a deal to forgive forty billion dollars owed by the HIPCs. The United States wants the World Bank and the African Development Bank to finance the relief from their reserves. This means that these institutions would have to personally and permanently write off the debt out of their funds, while the Europeans wish for the money to eventually be replaced. Writing off the debt out of their reserves would most likely be a blow to the World Bank, politically if not economically. As The Economist put it, the failure on the part of the G-8 to reach a compromise was “the latest move in the exasperating charade that is the debt-relief debate.” Canada has recently proposed an alternative plan that challenges the G-7 to fund 100% relief—the most radical plan proposed—and does not include the selling of IMF gold to finance the relief. Canadian finance minister Ralph Goodale recently commented that Canada’s new proposal “is cash on the dash; it’s money on the barrelhead. We put our money where our mouth is and we’re prepared to move and we call on all other countries to be prepared to do the same.” This statement underscores the sense of public competitiveness between the Anglo countries on the debt issue, and can be read as a direct challenge to the United States. Although in practice debt relief is at an impasse due to funding problems, Britain, the United States, and now Canada all appear to be competing with each other in a show
of constant one-upmanship to be seen as “more generous than thou.” So despite that the G-8 all seem to conceptually agree that debt relief is a worthy pursuit, logistical problems repeatedly hinder its implementation.
Bringing Morality Back In
It would be easy to dismiss the political popularity of debt relief as a convenient way for rich countries to acknowledge the extreme poverty of the HIPCs, and to act passively without getting involved in any sticky, on-the-ground reforms where questions of sovereignty are bound to arise. After all, much of the debt of poor countries has already been written off; there were no real expectations that most of the debt would be paid back. Therefore, debt relief is simply a way of making politicians look good. Yet this explanation cannot account for the use of moral language. Surely, if debt relief was only about political posturing, politicians could just as easily state that debt forgiveness is necessary for a healthy global economy. Moreover, this explanation can not illuminate why debt relief was picked up on, versus a whole host of other, equally pressing, international (and national) issues. Instead, by applying the revised Best argument, the huge popularity of debt relief makes sense: morality explains away (at least avoids) problems in the market, and allows, without harming the integrity of the market, for it to not function properly. Debt relief is a way of bringing larger questions of morality back in to discussions about the market. Politicians who discuss debt relief negotiate the failings of the market with the fact that it dominates and organizes social life. Politicians must make this negotiation, however, only because society as a whole has accepted the legitimacy of such a market, but fail to understand why the market does not live up to its promises to raise all boats with the rising tide. Those who oppose debt relief do so in practice, and not in theory. For them, morality is still in the picture, but it is the market which is moral. This is why there is such a large emphasis in so much of the literature on governance. The market makes the decision about when a country is or is not ready to be forgiven. In the words of Best, the person who opposes debt relief in practice “works to save the authority of the market from its own failings by creating a set of institutions that internalizes the market’s own disciplinary logic. Market discipline becomes a form of moral discipline, while international financial institutions are reinvented as moral arbiters of right and wrong economic action.” Those that see the intervention of the IMF and World Bank on the debt issue as an aberration believe precisely this. It is in this context that politicians and activists talk of forgiving debt, not just relieving or canceling it. There is a large literature on the ethics of forgiveness; on what precisely forgiveness is, when it is appropriate, and whether it is a duty. Incorporating forgiveness into debt relief immediately raises all kinds of ethically-charged questions that do not factor into consideration when talking simply of economic relief—questions of integrity, guilt and innocence, freedom, duty, and obligation. The World Bank, the IMF, and many creditor nations are trying to shift a substantial share of the responsibility for poor countries’ debt burdens away from the market and from themselves. As a result, there is a large emphasis on governance by these institutions and in the larger debate. By avoiding placing
responsibility on the market and their own bad lending practices, rich governments have an interest in continuing to promote the market’s legitimacy. Although governance is absolutely an important factor in determining economic outcomes, a focus on governance takes blame away from the market and creditor nations, thus preserving the integrity of both. This allows creditors to refuse to actually address larger structural issues with the international financial system. Questions of free trade, large industrial subsidies, and continued foolish and irrational lending practices can be avoided; that countries continue to be poor theoretically is not the fault of the market, nor the fault of the creditor nations and their questionable practices that countries are poor. Likewise with the emphasis on governance. As long as creditor countries come along and actively work to correct, or balance, these inequalities with their own ethically-driven action, all is well.
Morality, according to philosophers, is a distinctly social phenomenon; it “is irreducibly social…the concept of ‘duty’ is ‘straightforwardly intelligible only in communal life.’” According to Nielson, morality attempts “to harmonize various interests in such a way that there will be no more suffering than is absolutely necessary for there to be social life.” Politicians, economists, columnists who invoke moral language, no matter which side of the debate they are on, are attempting to harmonize their own interests in the defense of the market with the interests of the developing world. Without society—in the case of sovereign external debt, a human society— there would be no duty. But without morality, living together in society would be impossible; interests would never correspond and there would be no way to know which interest should be given preference. “The characteristic functions of moral discourse are to guide conduct and alter behavior so as to achieve the harmonious satisfaction of as many independent desires and wants as possible.” The discourse on debt is functioning just as Nielson states that moral discourse does. Its moral component guides conduct and seeks to alter the behavior of all parties involved—lenders and debtors—in ways that the language of economics cannot. Not only does bringing in morality make the goals of creditors laudable, but it makes it appear that the goals of creditors and borrowers are synchronized. Integrating moral discourse with the debt debate allows creditor countries to accomplish two things—relieve some of the debt burden on impoverished countries and convince the world (and themselves) that the market is the most desirable way to organize social life. Creditor countries are only able to reconcile the market with society by employing moral language, no matter what is made moral. Economic language falls short because mere numbers cannot convince all participants in the market system of taking synchronous route. Whether purposive or not, a significant outcome of employing morality in the debate about debt or economics is that larger structural problems that perpetuate inequalities in the international financial system are overlooked. Although it would be conspiratorial to claim that the use of moral language is deliberate to avoid these problems, the imperfect economic status quo is nevertheless upheld with the help of moral discourse and made to look sufficient in its treatment of all parties involved. The point of subtle irony in the use of moral language for debt relief is an important one 57
to make: though it gives the appearance of lessening financial strains within the system, the moral emphasis on debt relief may side-step the importance of structural improvements within the market, which will only lead to further, and potentially deeper, crises.
1] “Dithering on Debt,” The Economist, April 23rd, 2005. 2] “Third World Drug Aid Failing: Critics.” The Toronto Sun. May 2, 2005; Foley, Stephen. “Glaxo Tells Blair to Press G8 for Patents Reform.” The Independent (London). November 29, 2004; Beattie, Alan. “G8 seeks to inject incentive into search for new vaccines: rich countries plan an advance purchase fund to encourage the biotech industry to find anti-Aids and malaria drugs.” The London Financial Times. March 3, 2005. 3] Best, Jacqueline. “Moralizing Finance: The New Financial Architecture as Ethical Discourse.” Review of International Political Economy, Volume 10, Issue 3. August, 2003: 600. 4] Ibid., 581. 5] See, for example, Schatz, Sayre. “The World Bank’s Fundamental Misconception in Africa.” The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2. 1996, p. 239-247; Crisp, Brian, and Michael Kelly. “The Socioeconomic Impacts of Structural Adjustment.” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 43: 1999, 533-552; Collier, Paul and Jan Gunning. “The IMF’s Role in Structural Adjustment.” The Economic Journal, vol. 109: November 1999, 634651; Summers, Lawrence and Lant Pritchett. “The StructuralAdjustment Debate.” The American Economic Review, Vol. 83, No. 2: May 1993, p. 383-389. ] Nielson, Kai. “The Functions of Moral Discourse.” The Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 7, No. 28, July 1957, 237. http://links. jstor.org/sici?sici=0031-8094%28195707%297%3A28%3C236% 3ATFOMD%3E2.0.CO%3B2-M 7] Rieffel, Lex. Restructuring Sovereign Debt: The Case for Ad Hoc Machinery. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institute Press, 2003, 153-154. 8] Rieffel, 150-151. 9] Dugger, Celia. “Deal to Ease Poor Nations’ Debt Eludes Rich Nations.” April 17, 2005. The New York Times. 10] HIPC Debt Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. Annual Meetings 2004. Online at http://siteresources.worldbank. org/NEWS/Resources/HIPC_glance.pdf. 11] “Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative—Statistical Update.” International Development Association and International Monetary Fund, 27. Online at http://siteresources.worldbank. org/INTDEBTDEPT/ProgressReports/20446696/HIPCStatUpdate200504042.pdf 12] http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTDEBTDEPT/ 13] Holman, Michael. “World Bank plans Dollars 11bn fund for poorest nations: scheme aims to ease burden of dollars 160bn external debt.” The Financial Times (London), September 14, 1995. 14] Boote, Anthony and Kamau Thugge. Debt Relief for Low-Income Countries: The HIPC Initiative. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, 1997, 10. 15] Boote, Anthony and Kamau Thugge. Debt Relief for Low-Income Countries: The HIPC Initiative. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, 1997. 1] Rieffel, 187.
17] HIPC Background, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTDEBTDEPT/ 18] HIPC History: Steps of the HIPC Initiative. Online, http://web. worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTDEBTDEPT/ 19] Ibid. 20] “Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative—Statistical Update,” 22. 21] Ibid., 23. 22] http://www.treas.gov/offices/international-affairs/intl/fy2006/ tab13_hipc_%20initiative.pdf for more statistics as well 23] “Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative—Statistical Update,” 5. 24] Lewis, Paul. “Third World Gets Impatient in its Long Wait for Recovery.” The New York Times. July 10, 1983. 25] Rowan, Hobart. “‘Debt Relief ’ Gains Support,” Washington Post, march 6, 1988. 2] Burgess, John. “Rich Nations Warm to Idea of Debt Relief; Rally to Urge Expansion of $29 Billion Program,” The Washington Post, April 8, 2000. 27] Transcript of a radio interview on The Diane Rehm Show, October 10, 2000 WAMU-FM Washington, D.C. 28] http://www.treas.gov/education/faq/international/hipc.shtml 29] Rob Nichols, “Poor Countries’ Debt” New York Times, February 18, 2005. 30] Dent, Martin and Bill Peters. The Crisis of Poverty and Debt in the Third World. Great Britain: Ashgate, 1999, 16. 31] “Why Drop the Debt?” Jubilee USA Network, Online at http:// www.jubileeusa.org/jubilee.cgi?path=/learn_more&page=why_ drop_the_debt.html (2001). 32] Ibid., 39. 33] “Poor Nations and the Debt Trap,” The New York Times, April 30, 1999. 34] Summit communiqués for the past twenty-five years are available at http://www.g8.utoronto.ca/summit/index.htm 35] G7 Summit: London, July 15-17, 1991. Online at http://www. g8.utoronto.ca/summit/1991london/communique/develope. html 3] G7 Summit: Tokyo, July 6-9, 1993. Online at http://www. g8.utoronto.ca/summit/1993tokyo/communique/develope.html 37] G8 Communiqué Köln 1999. Online at http://www.g8.utoronto. ca/summit/1999koln/finalcom.htm 38] G8 Gleneagles 2005: Policy Issues, Africa. Online at http://www. g8.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/Sho wPage&c=Page&cid=1094235520151 39] “Easing the Scar.” The Economist, March 12, 2005. 40] “Poor Nations Drowning in Debt,” New Straights Times (Malaysia), May 22, 1999. 41] “Debt Relief is Far Too Urgent a Challenge to Be Left to the Bureaucrats” The Independent (London), July 22, 2000. 42] “No Longer Unforgivable” The Economist, March 17, 2005. 43] Riding, Alan. “Latin American Plea for Debt Relief.” The New York Times. December 13, 1988. 44] Beim, David. “Must We Torpedo Our Banks?” The New York Times, May 4, 1987. 45] Cohen, Benjamin. “Third World Debt (Cont’d.)” The New York Times. March 5, 1987. 4] “Ending the Cycle of Debt,” The New York Times, October 1, 2004. 47] “Debt Crisis in the Third World.” The New York Times, June 28, 1996. 48] “For This Relief, Some Thanks,” The Economist, March 18, 1999. 49] “They Have Willed the Ends, but What about the Means?” The Economist, February 10, 2005. 50] “Can Debt Relief Make a Difference?” The Economist, November 16, 2000. 51] “Largesse from Uncle Sam,” The Economist, March 18, 1999.
52] “Count me out; Third World Debt Forgiveness Only Benefits Wellfed Dictators Clambering into Private Jets,” The Guardian, May 15, 1998. 53] “They have willed the ends….. 54] “Clinton Widens Plan for Poor Debtor Nations,” The New York Times, September 30, 1999. 55] “Do You Believe in Fairies?” The Economist, December 23, 1999. 5] Burgess, John. “Rich Nations Warm to Idea of Debt Relief; Rally to Urge Expansion of $29 Billion Program,” The Washington Post, April 8, 2000. 57] Jubilee USA Network Press Release, “G-7 Delays Despite Urgent Need for Full Multilateral Debt Cancellation.” 16 April 2005. http://www.jubileeusa.org/jubilee.cgi?path=/press_ room&page=statement416.html 58]Report on The International Debt Forgiveness and International Financial Institutions Reform Act of 2000, September 28, 2000, 2. 59] Quoted in Cowell, Alan. “Britain Offering to Pay Off 10% of Third World Debt.” The New York Times. September 26, 2004. 0] Dugger, Celia. “Deal to Ease Poor Nations’ Debt Eludes Rich Nations.” The New York Times. April 17, 2005. See also Balls, Andrew and Schehrazade Daneshkhu, “G7 Nations Find Some Common Ground on Debt Relief for Africa,” London Financial Times. April 18, 2005. 1] “Dithering on Debt,” The Economist. April 23, 2005. 2] “Canada Urges Full Debt Relief; But No Plan from G-7.” The Toronto Sun. April 18, 2005. 3] Ibid., 587. 4] See, for example, Lewis, Meirlys. “On Forgiveness.” The Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 30, No. 120: July, 1980, p. 236-245; Downie, R.S. “Forgiveness.” The Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 1, No. 2. June, 1998: 299-315; Rashdall, Hastings. “The Ethics of Forgiveness.” International Journal of Ethics. Vol. 10, No. 2: January, 1900: 193-206; Jacobson, Richard. “The Structures of Forgiveness.” Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature. Vol. 4, No. 2: Autumn, 1992, 243-253; Richards, Norvin. “Forgiveness.” Ethics. Vol. 99, No. 1: October 1988, 77-97. 5] Nielson, 239; italics in original. ] Toulmin quoted in Nielson, 239. 7] Nielson, 240.