Archive for November, 2011

November 30, 2011

The Daily Scoop: We, the People, Can Work It Out

A little bit o’ humor against an otherwise nerve-racking politcal backdrop.

From Time Magazine and Larry Doyle;

All we need to do is sit down together and have a reasonable discussion based on mutual respect and a shared willingness to sacrifice. We are so screwed…
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November 27, 2011

The Daily Scoop: What is the Role of Scientists in American Politics?

 For the most part scientists keep themselves at arms length from the political fray. They present the facts in an objective manner and leave them out there for everyone else’s interpretation. However, this allows others of influence in the political arenas with opportunity to spin those facts into a size and shape to fit into the mold of their political agenda. Scientists rarely step forward to correct the frequent misrepresentation of their research findings. Given the current political environment of “say anything to get elected” and the highly charged debates surrounding climate change and environmental regulation one may ask, is it time for scientists to step forward and defend the facts with as much vigor as politicians and policymakers who seek to discredit them? From the scientists’ perspective there is risk. Taking a position leaves them open to accusations of bias and closed-mindedness which, in the future, may well impact acceptance of their future research. But has the political gamesmanship reached such a point where it is time for scientists to set the record straight by standing firm behind their findings and demand valid, testable evidence from those who seek to counter or discredit the research? In other words is it time to challenge the “just because someone says it [on television, on radio, or on the internet], it must be true” rationale?

Consider these questions while reading the following article and ruminate on role science and scientists should play in today’s political environment.
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November 23, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Costly U.S. health system delivers uneven care: OECD

An illuminating study examining the costs within the US health care system versus the quality of care received. It will be interesting to see how Congress will reconcile this report’s findings with the calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act given the reform’s effort to address those very issues the study finds lacking in the current system.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. healthcare system is more effective at delivering high costs than quality care, according to a new study that found first-rate treatment for cancer but insufficient primary care for other ailments.

The study, released on Wednesday by the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, said Americans pay more than $7,900 per person for healthcare each year — far more than any other OECD country — but still die earlier than their peers in the industrialized world.
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November 21, 2011

Fast Approaching Midnight

 The midnight deadline for the Supercommittee to create a credible debt reduction deal is fast approaching. News articles, political pundits and reports from staffers close to the negotiations  represent the only agreement coming out of Washington, that committee has failed in its mission. Even  some of the committee members have shown clear signs that they have resigned themselves to the inevitable.

November 21, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Five myths about your gasoline taxes

An interesting opinion piece discussing and challenging certain perceptions of what the gas tax is meant for and how it is spent.

(CNN) — A perpetual deadlock in Congress has resulted in eight extensions of the national transportation bill, causing roads to crumble, bridges to fall, and transit to break down.
Come March 2012, politicians will once again enter into a political debate about funding American mobility. Without a fiscal safety net in place, the Highway Trust Fund will go broke.
Read more….

November 18, 2011

The Supreme Court, Public Perception & the Affordable Care Act

AP photo

As many are now, undoubtedly, aware the Supreme Court has committed to hear arguments pertaining to the constitutionality of the President’s Affordable Care Act. This comes along with two conflicting polls riding the coattails of the Court’s announcement. A Gallup poll of 1000 voters favored repeal of the law 47% to 42% while a CNN/ORC International Poll of 1,036 Americans found voters approved of the individual mandate 52% to 47% a change from 44% to 54% in June of this year.

Despite the inconsistencies evident in these polls, many questions will persist until June 2012 when the Court intends to render its decision. The two political sides are weighing in with evidence demanding the recusals of either Justice Kagan or Justice Thomas from the case. Pundits are speculating as to how the judges will vote, some of which are predictable given the ideological divide of the current Court. And strategies are being devised to spin which ever decision is handed down.

November 15, 2011

The Daily Scoop: Congress pushes back on healthier school lunches

One has to ask what the US House is contemplating when an action like this is taken given the growing childhood obesity rate in this country and the disturbing rise in diabetes. What is the chamber’s argument against these standards beyond a goal to reduce government control? When does addressing the long-term health of the nation’s children override pledges to reduce the size of government? When does shortsighted political gamesmanship give way to substantive solutions to national problems? When will that time arrive?

In an effort many 9-year-olds will cheer, Congress wants pizza and french fries to stay on school lunch lines and is fighting the Obama administration’s efforts to take unhealthy foods out of schools.

The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year. These include limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line, putting new restrictions on sodium and boosting the use of whole grains. The legislation would block or delay all of those efforts.
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November 14, 2011

The Daily Scoop: New poll shows majority favor individual mandate

As many have already heard, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from the multiple lawsuits opposing the Affordable Care Act but a recently released CNN/ORC International Poll has received less attention. The poll indicates a significant shift in the public’s perception of the individual mandate showing now a majority now support it.

“According to the poll, 52% of Americans favor mandatory health insurance, up from 44% in June. The survey indicates that 47% oppose the health insurance mandate, down from 54% in early summer.

“The health insurance mandate has gained most support since June among older Americans and among lower-income Americans,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “A majority of independents opposed the measure in June, but 52 percent of them now favor it.””
Read more…

November 13, 2011

The Daily Scoop: George Washington’s Foresight for the Debt Panel

This is an interesting opinion piece discussing how the country’s founders’ foresight is still very applicable to the issues of today. This foresight goes beyond Washington as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and others still have much we can all learn from.

New York (CNN) — The clock is ticking in Washington on the bipartisan super committee, those 12 members of Congress tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving.

More than 140 of their colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, are encouraging them to be bold and go bigger — reaching $4 trillion of deficit reduction in order to put the U.S. on stable long-term fiscal footing and avoid another round of downgrades.

But if their colleagues’ counsel isn’t persuasive, there’s an additional voice the super committee could find inspiration from — the original founding father, George Washington.
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November 11, 2011

The Daily Scoop: The Economist Debates – Subsidies for Renewables?

This is a debate on The Economist website discussing the proposal that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels. Read through both sides of the arguement and vote for which side you view as correct.
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