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Tag Archives: supreme-court
Posted: January 10, 2017 at 2:58 am
Income inequality in the United States has increased significantly since the 1970s after several decades of stability, meaning the share of the nation’s income received by higher income households has increased. This trend is evident with income measured both before taxes (market income) as well as after taxes and transfer payments. Income inequality has fluctuated considerably since measurements began around 1915, moving in an arc between peaks in the 1920s and 2000s, with a 30-year period of relatively lower inequality between 19501980.
Measured for all households, U.S. income inequality is comparable to other developed countries before taxes and transfers, but is among the highest after taxes and transfers, meaning the U.S. shifts relatively less income from higher income households to lower income households. Measured for working-age households, market income inequality is comparatively high (rather than moderate) and the level of redistribution is moderate (not low). These comparisons indicate Americans shift from reliance on market income to reliance on income transfers later in life and less than households in other developed countries do.
The U.S. ranks around the 30th percentile in income inequality globally, meaning 70% of countries have a more equal income distribution. U.S. federal tax and transfer policies are progressive and therefore reduce income inequality measured after taxes and transfers. Tax and transfer policies together reduced income inequality slightly more in 2011 than in 1979.
While there is strong evidence that it has increased since the 1970s, there is active debate in the United States regarding the appropriate measurement, causes, effects and solutions to income inequality. The two major political parties have different approaches to the issue, with Democrats historically emphasizing that economic growth should result in shared prosperity (i.e., a pro-labor argument advocating income redistribution), while Republicans tend to downplay the validity or feasibility of positively influencing the issue (i.e., a pro-capital argument against redistribution).
U.S. income inequality has grown significantly since the early 1970s, after several decades of stability, and has been the subject of study of many scholars and institutions. The U.S. consistently exhibits higher rates of income inequality than most developed nations due to the nation’s enhanced support of free market capitalism and less progressive spending on social services.
The top 1% of income earners received approximately 20% of the pre-tax income in 2013, versus approximately 10% from 1950 to 1980. The top 1% is not homogeneous, with the very top income households pulling away from others in the top 1%. For example, the top 0.1% of households received approximately 10% of the pre-tax income in 2013, versus approximately 34% between 19511981. According to IRS data, adjusted gross income (AGI) of approximately $430,000 was required to be in the top 1% in 2013.
Most of the growth in income inequality has been between the middle class and top earners, with the disparity widening the further one goes up in the income distribution. The bottom 50% earned 20% of the nation’s pre-tax income in 1979; this fell steadily to 14% by 2007 and 13% by 2014. Income for the middle 40% group, a proxy for the middle class, fell from 45% in 1979 to 41% in both 2007 and 2014.
To put this change into perspective, if the US had the same income distribution it had in 1979, each family in the bottom 80% of the income distribution would have $11,000 more per year in income on average, or $916 per month. Half of the U.S. population lives in poverty or is low-income, according to U.S. Census data.
The trend of rising income inequality is also apparent after taxes and transfers. A 2011 study by the CBO found that the top earning 1 percent of households increased their income by about 275% after federal taxes and income transfers over a period between 1979 and 2007, compared to a gain of just under 40% for the 60 percent in the middle of America’s income distribution. U.S. federal tax and transfer policies are progressive and therefore substantially reduce income inequality measured after taxes and transfers. They became moderately less progressive between 1979 and 2007 but slightly more progressive measured between 1979 and 2011. Income transfers had a greater impact on reducing inequality than taxes from 1979 to 2011.
Americans are not generally aware of the extent of inequality or recent trends. There is a direct relationship between actual income inequality and the public’s views about the need to address the issue in most developed countries, but not in the U.S., where income inequality is worse but the concern is lower. The U.S. was ranked the 6th worst among 173 countries (4th percentile) on income equality measured by the Gini index.
There is significant and ongoing debate as to the causes, economic effects, and solutions regarding income inequality. While before-tax income inequality is subject to market factors (e.g., globalization, trade policy, labor policy, and international competition), after-tax income inequality can be directly affected by tax and transfer policy. U.S. income inequality is comparable to other developed nations before taxes and transfers, but is among the worst after taxes and transfers. Income inequality may contribute to slower economic growth, reduced income mobility, higher levels of household debt, and greater risk of financial crises and deflation.
Labor (workers) and capital (owners) have always battled over the share of the economic pie each obtains. The influence of the labor movement has waned in the U.S. since the 1960s along with union participation and more pro-capital laws. The share of total worker compensation has declined from 58% of national income (GDP) in 1970 to nearly 53% in 2013, contributing to income inequality. This has led to concerns that the economy has shifted too far in favor of capital, via a form of corporatism, corpocracy or neoliberalism.
Although some have spoken out in favor of moderate inequality as a form of incentive, others have warned against the current high levels of inequality, including Yale Nobel prize for economics winner Robert J. Shiller, (who called rising economic inequality “the most important problem that we are facing now today”), former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, (“This is not the type of thing which a democratic society a capitalist democratic society can really accept without addressing”), and President Barack Obama (who referred to the widening income gap as the “defining challenge of our time”).
The level of concentration of income in the United States has fluctuated throughout its history. Going back to the early 20th Century, when income statistics started to become available, there has been a “great economic arc” from high inequality “to relative equality and back again,” in the words of Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman. In 1915, an era in which the Rockefellers and Carnegies dominated American industry, the richest 1% of Americans earned roughly 18% of all income. By 2007, the top 1 percent account for 24% of all income. In between, their share fell below 10% for three decades.
The first era of inequality lasted roughly from the post-civil war era (“the Gilded Age”) to sometime around 1937. But from about 1937 to 1947 a period that has been dubbed the “Great Compression” income inequality in the United States fell dramatically. Highly progressive New Deal taxation, the strengthening of unions, and regulation of the National War Labor Board during World War II raised the income of the poor and working class and lowered that of top earners. This “middle class society” of relatively low level of inequality remained fairly steady for about three decades ending in early 1970s, the product of relatively high wages for the US working class and political support for income leveling government policies.
Wages remained relatively high because of lack of foreign competition for American manufacturing, and strong trade unions. By 1947 more than a third of non-farm workers were union members, and unions both raised average wages for their membership, and indirectly, and to a lesser extent, raised wages for workers in similar occupations not represented by unions. Scholars believe political support for equalizing government policies was provided by high voter turnout from union voting drives, the support of the otherwise conservative South for the New Deal, and prestige that the massive mobilization and victory of World War II had given the government.
The return to high inequality or to what Krugman and journalist Timothy Noah have referred as the “Great Divergence”, began in the 1970s. Studies have found income grew more unequal almost continuously except during the economic recessions in 199091, 2001 (Dot-com bubble), and 2007 sub-prime bust.
The Great Divergence differs in some ways from the pre-Depression era inequality. Before 1937, a larger share of top earners income came from capital (interest, dividends, income from rent, capital gains). After 1970, income of high-income taxpayers comes predominantly from labor: employment compensation.
Until 2011, the Great Divergence had not been a major political issue in America, but stagnation of middle-class income was. In 2009 the Barack Obama administration White House Middle Class Working Families Task Force convened to focus on economic issues specifically affecting middle-income Americans. In 2011, the Occupy movement drew considerable attention to income inequality in the country.
CBO reported that for the 1979-2007 period, after-tax income of households in the top 1 percent of earners grew by 275%, compared to 65% for the next 19%, just under 40% for the next 60%, 18% for the bottom fifth of households. “As a result of that uneven income growth,” the report noted, “the share of total after-tax income received by the 1 percent of the population in households with the highest income more than doubled between 1979 and 2007, whereas the share received by low- and middle-income households declined…. The share of income received by the top 1 percent grew from about 8% in 1979 to over 17% in 2007. The share received by the other 19 percent of households in the highest income quintile (one fifth of the population as divided by income) was fairly flat over the same period, edging up from 35% to 36%.”
According to the CBO, the major reason for observed rise in unequal distribution of after-tax income was an increase in market income, that is household income before taxes and transfers. Market income for a household is a combination of labor income (such as cash wages, employer-paid benefits, and employer-paid payroll taxes), business income (such as income from businesses and farms operated solely by their owners), capital gains (profits realized from the sale of assets and stock options), capital income (such as interest from deposits, dividends, and rental income), and other income. Of them, capital gains accounted for 80% of the increase in market income for the households in top 20%, in the 20002007 period. Even over the 19912000 period, according to the CBO, capital gains accounted for 45% of the market income for the top 20% households.
In a July 2015 op-ed article, Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, stated that the CBO found that from 1980 to 2010 real median household income rose by 15%. However, when the definition of income was expanded to include benefits and subtracted taxes, the CBO found that the median household’s real income rose by 45%. Adjusting for household size, the gain increased to 53%.
Just as higher-income groups are more likely to enjoy financial gains when economic times are good, they are also likely to suffer more significant income losses during economic downturns and recessions when they are compared to lower income groups. Higher-income groups tend to derive relatively more of their income from more volatile sources related to capital income (business income, capital gains, and dividends), as opposed to labor income (wages and salaries). For example, in 2011 the top 1% of income earners derived 37% of their income from labor income, versus 62% for the middle quintile. On the other hand, the top 1% derived 58% of their income from capital as opposed to 4% for the middle quintile. Government transfers represented only 1% of the income of the top 1% but 25% for the middle quintile; the dollar amounts of these transfers tend to rise in recessions.
This effect occurred during the Great Recession of 20072009, when total income going to the bottom 99 percent of Americans declined by 11.6%, but fell by 36.3% for the top 1%. Declines were especially steep for capital gains, which fell by 75% in real (inflation-adjusted) terms between 2007 and 2009. Other sources of capital income also fell: interest income by 40% and dividend income by 33%. Wages, the largest source of income, fell by a more modest 6%.
The share of pretax income received by the top 1% fell from 18.7% in 2007 to 16.0% in 2008 and 13.4% in 2009, while the bottom four quintiles all had their share of pretax income increase from 2007 to 2009. The share of aftertax income received by the top 1% income group fell from 16.7%, in 2007, to 11.5%, in 2009.
The distribution of household incomes has become more unequal during the post-2008 economic recovery as the effects of the recession reversed. CBO reported in November 2014 that the share of pre-tax income received by the top 1% had risen from 13.3% in 2009 to 14.6% in 2011. During 2012 alone, incomes of the wealthiest 1 percent rose nearly 20%, whereas the income of the remaining 99 percent rose 1% in comparison.
If the United States had the same income distribution it had in 1979, the bottom 80 percent of the population would have $1 trillion or $11,000 per family more. The top 1 percent would have $1 trillion or $750,000 less. Larry Summers
According to an article in The New Yorker, by 2012, the share of pre-tax income received by the top 1% had returned to its pre-crisis peak, at around 23% of the pre-tax income. This is based on widely cited data from economist Emmanuel Saez, which uses “market income” and relies primarily on IRS data. The CBO uses both IRS data and Census data in its computations and reports a lower pre-tax figure for the top 1%. The two series were approximately 5 percentage points apart in 2011 (Saez at about 19.7% versus CBO at 14.6%), which would imply a CBO figure of about 18% in 2012 if that relationship holds, a significant increase versus the 14.6% CBO reported for 2011. The share of after-tax income received by the top 1% rose from 11.5% in 2009 to 12.6% in 2011.
Inflation-adjusted pre-tax income for the bottom 90% of American families fell between 2010 and 2013, with the middle income groups dropping the most, about 6% for the 40th-60th percentiles and 7% for the 20th-40th percentiles. Incomes in the top decile rose 2%.
The top 1% captured 91% of the real income growth per family during the 2009-2012 recovery period, with their pre-tax incomes growing 34.7% adjusted for inflation while the pre-tax incomes of the bottom 99% grew 0.8%. Measured from 20092015, the top 1% captured 52% of the total real income growth per family, indicating the recovery was becoming less “lopsided” in favor of higher income families. By 2015, the top 10% (top decile) had a 50.5% share of the pre-tax income, close its highest all-time level.
Tax increases on higher income earners were implemented in 2013 due to the Affordable Care Act and American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. CBO estimated that “average federal tax rates under 2013 law would be higher relative to tax rates in 2011 across the income spectrum. The estimated rates under 2013 law would still be well below the average rates from 1979 through 2011 for the bottom four income quintiles, slightly below the average rate over that period for households in the 81st through 99th percentiles, and well above the average rate over that period for households in the top 1 percent of the income distribution.” In 2016, the economists Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson contended that inequality is the highest it has been since the nation’s founding. French economist Thomas Piketty attributed the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, which he characterizes as an “electoral upset,” to “the explosion in economic and geographic inequality in the United States over several decades and the inability of successive governments to deal with this.”
U.S. income inequality is comparable to other developed countries measured before taxes and transfers, but is among the worst after taxes and transfers.
According to the CBO and others, “the precise reasons for the
Paul Krugman put several of these factors into context in January 2015: “Competition from emerging-economy exports has surely been a factor depressing wages in wealthier nations, although probably not the dominant force. More important, soaring incomes at the top were achieved, in large part, by squeezing those below: by cutting wages, slashing benefits, crushing unions, and diverting a rising share of national resources to financial wheeling and dealing…Perhaps more important still, the wealthy exert a vastly disproportionate effect on policy. And elite priorities obsessive concern with budget deficits, with the supposed need to slash social programs have done a lot to deepen [wage stagnation and income inequality].”
There is an ongoing debate as to the economic effects of income inequality. For example, Alan B. Krueger, President Obama’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, summarized the conclusions of several research studies in a 2012 speech. In general, as income inequality worsens:
Among economists and related experts, many believe that America’s growing income inequality is “deeply worrying”, unjust, a danger to democracy/social stability, or a sign of national decline. Yale professor Robert Shiller, who was among three Americans who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2013, said after receiving the award, “The most important problem that we are facing now today, I think, is rising inequality in the United States and elsewhere in the world.” Economist Thomas Piketty, who has spent nearly 20 years studying inequality primarily in the US, warns that “The egalitarian pioneer ideal has faded into oblivion, and the New World may be on the verge of becoming the Old Europe of the twenty-first century’s globalized economy.”
On the other side of the issue are those who have claimed that the increase is not significant, that it doesn’t matter because America’s economic growth and/or equality of opportunity are what’s important, that it is a global phenomenon which would be foolish to try to change through US domestic policy, that it “has many economic benefits and is the result of … a well-functioning economy”, and has or may become an excuse for “class-warfare rhetoric”, and may lead to policies that “reduce the well-being of wealthier individuals”.
Economist Alan B. Krueger wrote in 2012: “The rise in inequality in the United States over the last three decades has reached the point that inequality in incomes is causing an unhealthy division in opportunities, and is a threat to our economic growth. Restoring a greater degree of fairness to the U.S. job market would be good for businesses, good for the economy, and good for the country.” Krueger wrote that the significant shift in the share of income accruing to the top 1% over the 1979 to 2007 period represented nearly $1.1 trillion in annual income. Since the wealthy tend to save nearly 50% of their marginal income while the remainder of the population saves roughly 10%, other things equal this would reduce annual consumption (the largest component of GDP) by as much as 5%. Krueger wrote that borrowing likely helped many households make up for this shift, which became more difficult in the wake of the 20072009 recession.
Inequality in land and income ownership is negatively correlated with subsequent economic growth. A strong demand for redistribution will occur in societies where a large section of the population does not have access to the productive resources of the economy. Rational voters must internalize such issues. High unemployment rates have a significant negative effect when interacting with increases in inequality. Increasing inequality harms growth in countries with high levels of urbanization. High and persistent unemployment also has a negative effect on subsequent long-run economic growth. Unemployment may seriously harm growth because it is a waste of resources, because it generates redistributive pressures and distortions, because it depreciates existing human capital and deters its accumulation, because it drives people to poverty, because it results in liquidity constraints that limit labor mobility, and because it erodes individual self-esteem and promotes social dislocation, unrest and conflict. Policies to control unemployment and reduce its inequality-associated effects can strengthen long-run growth.
Concern extends even to such supporters (or former supporters) of laissez-faire economics and private sector financiers. Former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, has stated reference to growing inequality: “This is not the type of thing which a democratic society a capitalist democratic society can really accept without addressing.” Some economists (David Moss, Paul Krugman, Raghuram Rajan) believe the “Great Divergence” may be connected to the financial crisis of 2008. Money manager William H. Gross, former managing director of PIMCO, criticized the shift in distribution of income from labor to capital that underlies some of the growth in inequality as unsustainable, saying:
Even conservatives must acknowledge that return on capital investment, and the liquid stocks and bonds that mimic it, are ultimately dependent on returns to labor in the form of jobs and real wage gains. If Main Street is unemployed and undercompensated, capital can only travel so far down Prosperity Road.
He concluded: “Investors/policymakers of the world wake up you’re killing the proletariat goose that lays your golden eggs.”
Among economists and reports that find inequality harming economic growth are a December 2013 Associated Press survey of three dozen economists’, a 2014 report by Standard and Poor’s, economists Gar Alperovitz, Robert Reich, Joseph Stiglitz, and Branko Milanovic.
A December 2013 Associated Press survey of three dozen economists found that the majority believe that widening income disparity is harming the US economy. They argue that wealthy Americans are receiving higher pay, but they spend less per dollar earned than middle class consumers, the majority of the population, whose incomes have largely stagnated.
A 2014 report by Standard and Poor’s concluded that diverging income inequality has slowed the economic recovery and could contribute to boom-and-bust cycles in the future as more and more Americans take on debt in order to consume. Higher levels of income inequality increase political pressures, discouraging trade, investment, hiring, and social mobility according to the report.
Economists Gar Alperovitz and Robert Reich argue that too much concentration of wealth prevents there being sufficient purchasing power to make the rest of the economy function effectively.
Joseph Stiglitz argues that concentration of wealth and income leads the politically powerful economic elite seek to protect themselves from redistributive policies by weakening the state, and this leads to less public investments by the state roads, technology, education, etc. that are essential for economic growth.
According to economist Branko Milanovic, while traditionally economists thought inequality was good for growth, “The view that income inequality harms growth or that improved equality can help sustain growth has become more widely held in recent years. The main reason for this shift is the increasing importance of human capital in development. When physical capital mattered most, savings and investments were key. Then it was important to have a large contingent of rich people who could save a greater proportion of their income than the poor and invest it in physical capital. But now that human capital is scarcer than machines, widespread education has become the secret to growth.” He continued that “Broadly accessible education” is both difficult to achieve when income distribution is uneven and tends to reduce “income gaps between skilled and unskilled labor.”
Robert Gordon wrote that such issues as ‘rising inequality; factor price equalization stemming from the interplay between globalization and the Internet; the twin educational problems of cost inflation in higher education and poor secondary student performance; the consequences of environmental regulations and taxes…” make economic growth harder to achieve than in the past.
In response to the Occupy movement Richard A. Epstein defended inequality in a free market society, maintaining that “taxing the top one percent even more means less wealth and fewer jobs for the rest of us.” According to Epstein, “the inequalities in wealth … pay for themselves by the vast increases in wealth”, while “forced transfers of wealth through taxation … will destroy the pools of wealth that are needed to generate new ventures. Some researchers have found a connection between lowering high marginal tax rates on high income earners (high marginal tax rates on high income being a common measure to fight inequality), and higher rates of employment growth. Government significant free market strategy affects too. the reason is there is a failure in the US political system to counterbalance the rise in unequal distribution of income amongst the citizens.
Economic sociologist Lane Kenworthy has found no correlation between levels of inequality and economic growth among developed countries, among states of the US, or in the US over the years from 1947 to 2005.Jared Bernstein found a nuanced relation he summed up as follows: “In sum, I’d consider the question of the extent to which higher inequality lowers growth to be an open one, worthy of much deeper research”.Tim Worstall commented that capitalism would not seem to contribute to an inherited-wealth stagnation and consolidation, but instead appears to promote the opposite, a vigorous, ongoing turnover and creation of new wealth.
Income inequality was cited as one of the causes of the Great Depression by Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis in 1933. In his dissent in the Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee (288 U.S. 517) case, he wrote: “Other writers have shown that, coincident with the growth of these giant corporations, there has occurred a marked concentration of individual wealth; and that the resulting disparity in incomes is a major cause of the existing depression.”
Central Banking economist Raghuram Rajan argues that “systematic economic inequalities, within the United States and around the world, have created deep financial ‘fault lines’ that have made [financial] crises more likely to happen than in the past” the Financial crisis of 200708 being the most recent example. To compensate for stagnating and declining purchasing power, political pressure has developed to extend easier credit to the lower and middle income earners particularly to buy homes and easier credit in general to keep unemployment rates low. This has given the American economy a tendency to go “from bubble to bubble” fueled by unsustainable monetary stimulation.
Greater income inequality can lead to monopolization of the labor force, resulting in fewer employers requiring fewer workers. Remaining employers can consolidate and take advantage of the relative lack of competition, leading to less consumer choice, market abuses, and relatively higher prices.
Income inequality lowers aggregate demand, leading to increasingly large segments of formerly middle class consumers unable to afford as many luxury and essential goods and services. This pushes production and overall employment down.
Deep debt may lead to bankruptcy and researchers Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi found a fivefold increase in the number of families filing for bankruptcy between 1980 and 2005. The bankruptcies came not from increased spending “on luxuries”, but from an “increased spending on housing, largely driven by competition to get into good school districts.” Intensifying inequality may mean a dwindling number of ever more expensive school districts that compel middle class or would-be middle class to “buy houses they can’t really afford, taking on more mortgage debt than they can safely handle”.
The ability to move from one income group into another (income mobility) is a means of measuring economic opportunity. A higher probability of upward income mobility theoretically would help mitigate higher income inequality, as each generation has a better chance of achieving higher income groups. Conservatives and libertarians such as economist Thomas Sowell, and Congressman Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) argue that more important than the level of equality of results is America’s equality of opportunity, especially relative to other developed countries such as western Europe.
Nonetheless, results from various studies reflect the fact that endogenous regulations and other different rules yield distinct effects on income inequality. A study examines the effects of institutional change on age-based labor market inequalities in Europe. There is a focus on wage-setting institutions on the adult male population and the rate of their unequal income distribution. According to the study, there is evidence that unemployment protection and temporary work regulation affect the dynamics of age-based inequality with positive employment effects of all individuals by the strength of unions. Even though the European Union is within a favorable economic context with perspectives of growth and development, it is also very fragile. 
However, several studies have indicated that higher income inequality corresponds with lower income mobility. In other words, income brackets tend to be increasingly “sticky” as income inequality increases. This is described by a concept called the Great Gatsby curve. In the words of journalist Timothy Noah, “you can’t really experience ever-growing income inequality without experiencing a decline in Horatio Alger-style upward mobility because (to use a frequently-employed metaphor) it’s harder to climb a ladder when the rungs are farther apart.”
The centrist Brookings Institution said in March 2013 that income inequality was increasing and becoming permanent, sharply reducing social mobility in the US. A 2007 study (by Kopczuk, Saez and Song in 2007) found the top population in the United States “very stable” and that income mobility had “not mitigated the dramatic increase in annual earnings concentration since the 1970s.”
Economist Paul Krugman, attacks conservatives for resorting to “extraordinary series of attempts at statistical distortion”. He argues that while in any given year, some of the people with low incomes will be “workers on temporary layoff, small businessmen taking writeoffs, farmers hit by bad weather” the rise in their income in succeeding years is not the same ‘mobility’ as poor people rising to middle class or middle income rising to wealth. It’s the mobility of “the guy who works in the college bookstore and has a real job by his early thirties.”
Studies by the Urban Institute and the US Treasury have both found that about half of the families who start in either the top or the bottom quintile of the income distribution are still there after a decade, and that only 3 to 6% rise from bottom to top or fall from top to bottom.
On the issue of whether most Americans do not stay put in any one income bracket, Krugman quotes from 2011 CBO distribution of income study
Household income measured over a multi-year period is more equally distributed than income measured over one year, although only modestly so. Given the fairly substantial movement of households across income groups over time, it might seem that income measured over a number of years should be significantly more equally distributed than income measured over one year. However, much of the movement of households involves changes in income that are large enough to push households into different income groups but not large enough to greatly affect the overall distribution of income. Multi-year income measures also show the same pattern of increasing inequality over time as is observed in annual measures.
In other words, “many people who have incomes greater than $1 million one year fall out of the category the next year but that’s typically because their income fell from, say, $1.05 million to 0.95 million, not because they went back to being middle class.”
Several studies have found the ability of children from poor or middle-class families to rise to upper income known as “upward relative intergenerational mobility” is lower in the US than in other developed countries and at least two economists have found lower mobility linked to income inequality.
In their Great Gatsby curve,White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan B. Krueger and labor economist Miles Corak show a negative correlation between inequality and social mobility. The curve plotted “intergenerational income elasticity” i.e. the likelihood that someone will inherit their parents’ relative position of income level and inequality for a number of countries.
Aside from the proverbial distant rungs, the connection between income inequality and low mobility can be explained by the lack of access for un-affluent children to better (more expensive) schools and preparation for schools crucial to finding high-paying jobs; the lack of health care that may lead to obesity and diabetes and limit education and employment.
Krueger estimates that “the persistence in the advantages and disadvantages of income passed from parents to the children” will “rise by about a quarter for the next generation as a result of the rise in inequality that the U.S. has seen in the last 25 years.”
Greater income inequality can increase the poverty rate, as more income shifts away from lower income brackets to upper income brackets. Jared Bernstein wrote: “If less of the economy’s market-generated growth i.e., before taxes and transfers kick in ends up in the lower reaches of the income scale, either there will be more poverty for any given level of GDP growth, or there will have to be a lot more transfers to offset inequality’s poverty-inducing impact.” The Economic Policy Institute estimated that greater income inequality would have added 5.5% to the poverty rate between 1979 and 2007, other factors equal. Income inequality was the largest driver of the change in the poverty rate, with economic growth, family structure, education and race other important factors. An estimated 16% of Americans lived in poverty in 2012, versus 26% in 1967.
A rise in income disparities weakens skills development among people with a poor educational background in term of the quantity and quality of education attained. Those with a low level of expertise will always consider themselves unworthy of any high position and pay
Lisa Shalett, chief investment officer at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management noted that, “for the last two decades and especially in the current period, … productivity soared … [but] U.S. real average hourly earnings are essentially flat to down, with today’s inflation-adjusted wage equating to about the same level as that attained by workers in 1970. … So where have the benefits of technology-driven productivity cycle gone? Almost exclusively to corporations and their very top executives.” In addition to the technological side of it, the affected functionality emanates from the perceived unfairness and the reduced trust of people towards the state. The study by Kristal and Cohen showed that rising wage inequality has brought about an unhealthy competition between institutions and technology. The technological changes, with computerization of the workplace, seem to give an upper hand to the high-skilled workers as the primary cause of inequality in America. The qualified will always be considered to be in a better position as compared to those dealing with hand work leading to replacements and unequal distribution of resources.
Economist Timothy Smeeding summed up the current trend:
Americans have the highest income inequality in the rich world and over the past 2030 years Americans have also experienced the greatest increase in income inequality among rich nations. The more detailed the data we can use to observe this change, the more skewed the change appears to be … the majority of large gains are indeed at the top of the distribution.
According to Janet L. Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve,
…from 1973 to 2005, real hourly wages of those in the 90th percentile where most people have college or advanced degrees rose by 30% or more… among this top 10 percent, the growth was heavily concentrated at the very tip of the top, that is, the top 1 percent. This includes the people who earn the very highest salaries in the U.S. economy, like sports and entertainment stars, investment bankers and venture capitalists, corporate attorneys, and CEOs. In contrast, at the 50th percentile and below where many people have at most a high school diploma real wages rose by only 5 to 10% 
Economists Jared Bernstein and Paul Krugman have attacked the concentration of income as variously “unsustainable” and “incompatible” with real democracy. American political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson quote a warning by Greek-Roman historian Plutarch: “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Some academic researchers have written that the US political system risks drifting towards a form of oligarchy, through the influence of corporations, the wealthy, and other special interest groups.
Rising income inequality has been linked to the political polarization in Washington DC. According to a 2013 study published in the Political Research Quarterly, elected officials tend to be more responsive to the upper income bracket and ignore lower income groups.
Paul Krugman wrote in November 2014 that: “The basic story of political polarization over the past few decades is that, as a wealthy minority has pulled away economically from the rest of the country, it has pulled one major party along with it…Any policy that benefits lower- and middle-income Americans at the expense of the elite like health reform, which guarantees insurance to all and pays for that guarantee in part with taxes on higher incomes will face bitter Republican opposition.” He used environmental protection as another example, which was not a partisan issue in the 1990s but has since become one.
As income inequality has increased, the degree of House of Representatives polarization measured by voting record has also increased. The voting is mostly by the rich and for the rich making it hard to achieve equal income and resource distribution for the average population (Bonica et al., 2013). There is a little number of people who turn to government insurance with the rising wealth and real income since they consider inequality within the different government sectors. Additionally, there has been an increased influence by the rich on the regulatory, legislative and electoral processes within the country that has led to improved employment standards for the bureaucrats and politicians. Professors McCarty, Pool and Rosenthal wrote in 2007 that polarization and income inequality fell in tandem from 1913 to 1957 and rose together dramatically from 1977 on. They show that Republicans have moved politically to the right, away from redistributive policies that would reduce income inequality. Polarization thus creates a feedback loop, worsening inequality.
Several economists and political scientists have argued that economic inequality translates into political inequality, particularly in situations where politicians have financial incentives to respond to special interest groups and lobbyists. Researchers such as Larry Bartels of Vanderbilt University have shown that politicians are significantly more responsive to the political opinions of the wealthy, even when controlling for a range of variables including educational attainment and political knowledge.
Historically, discussions of income inequality and capital vs. labor debates have sometimes included the language of class warfare, from President Theodore Roosevelt (referring to the leaders of big corporations as “malefactors of great wealth”), to President Franklin Roosevelt (“economic royalists…are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred”), to more the recent “1% versus the 99%” issue and the question of which political party better represents the interests of the middle class.
Investor Warren Buffett said in 2006 that: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” He advocated much higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans, who pay lower effective tax rates than many middle-class persons.
Two journalists concerned about social separation in the US are economist Robert Frank, who notes that: “Today’s rich had formed their own virtual country .. [T]hey had built a self-contained world unto themselves, complete with their own health-care system (concierge doctors), travel network (Net jets, destination clubs), separate economy…The rich weren’t just getting richer; they were becoming financial foreigners, creating their own country within a country, their own society within a society, and their economy within an economy.
George Packer wrote that “Inequality hardens society into a class system … Inequality divides us from one another in schools, in neighborhoods, at work, on airplanes, in hospitals, in what we eat, in the condition of our bodies, in what we think, in our children’s futures, in how we die. Inequality makes it harder to imagine the lives of others.
Even these class levels can affect the politics in certain ways. There has been an increased influence by the rich on the regulatory, legislative and electoral processes within the country that has led to improved employment standards for the bureaucrats and politicians. They have a greater influence through their lobbying and contributions that give them an opportunity to immerse wealth for themselves.
Loss of income by the middle class relative to the top-earning 1% and 0.1% is both a cause and effect of political change, according to journalist Hedrick Smith. In the decade starting around 2000, business groups employed 30 times as many Washington lobbyists as trade unions and 16 times as many lobbyists as labor, consumer, and public interest lobbyists combined.
From 1998 through 2010 business interests and trade groups spent $28.6 billion on lobbying compared with $492 million for labor, nearly a 60-to-1 business advantage.
The result, according to Smith, is a political landscape dominated in the 1990s and 2000s by business groups, specifically “political insiders” former members of Congress and government officials with an inside track working for “Wall Street banks, the oil, defense, and pharmaceutical industries; and business trade associations.” In the decade or so prior to the Great Divergence, middle-class-dominated reformist grassroots efforts such as civil rights movement, environmental movement, consumer movement, labor movement had considerable political impact.
“We haven’t achieved the minimalist state that libertarians advocate. What we’ve achieved is a state too constrained to provide the public goods investments in infrastructure, technology, and education that would make for a vibrant economy and too weak to engage in the redistribution that is needed to create a fair society. But we have a state that is still large enough and distorted enough that it can provide a bounty of gifts to the wealthy.”
Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that hyper-inequality may explain political questions such as why America’s infrastructure (and other public investments) are deteriorating, or the country’s recent relative lack of reluctance to engage in military conflicts such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Top-earning families, wealthy enough to buy their own education, medical care, personal security, and parks, have little interest in helping pay for such things for the rest of society, and the political influence to make sure they don’t have to. So too, the lack of personal or family sacrifice involved for top earners in the military intervention of their country their children being few and far between in the relatively low-paying all-volunteer military may mean more willingness by influential wealthy to see its government wage war.
Economist Branko Milanovic argued that globalization and the related competition with cheaper labor from Asia and immigrants have caused U.S. middle-class wages to stagnate, fueling the rise of populist political candidates such as Donald Trump.
The relatively high rates of health and social problems, (obesity, mental illness, homicides, teenage births, incarceration, child conflict, drug use) and lower rates of social goods (life expectancy, educational performance, trust among strangers, women’s status, social mobility, even numbers of patents issued per capita), in the US compared to other developed countries may be related to its high income inequality. Using statistics from 23 developed countries and the 50 states of the US, British researchers Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have found such a correlation which remains after accounting for ethnicity, national culture, and occupational classes or education levels. Their findings, based on UN Human Development Reports and other sources, locate the United States at the top of the list in regards to inequality and various social and health problems among developed countries. The authors argue inequality creates psychosocial stress and status anxiety that lead to social ills. A 2009 study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and published in the British Medical Journal attribute one in three deaths in the United States to high levels of inequality. According to The Earth Institute, life satisfaction in the US has been declining over the last several decades, which has been attributed to soaring inequality, lack of social trust and loss of faith in government.
It is claimed in a 2015 study by Princeton University researchers Angus Deaton and Anne Case that income inequality could be a driving factor in a marked increase in deaths among white males between the ages of 45 to 54 in the period 1999 to 2013.
Paul Krugman argues that the much lamented long-term funding problems of Social Security and Medicare can be blamed in part on the growth in inequality as well as the usual culprits like longer life expectancies. The traditional source of funding for these social welfare programs payroll taxes is inadequate because it does not capture income from capital, and income above the payroll tax cap, which make up a larger and larger share of national income as inequality increases.
Upward redistribution of income is responsible for about 43% of the projected Social Security shortfall over the next 75 years.
Disagreeing with this focus on the top-earning 1%, and urging attention to the economic and social pathologies of lower-income/lower education Americans, is conservative journalist David Brooks. Whereas in the 1970s, high school and college graduates had “very similar family structures”, today, high school grads are much less likely to get married and be active in their communities, and much more likely to smoke, be obese, get divorced, or have “a child out of wedlock.”
The zooming wealth of the top one percent is a problem, but it’s not nearly as big a problem as the tens of millions of Americans who have dropped out of high school or college. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the 40 percent of children who are born out of wedlock. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the nation’s stagnant human capital, its stagnant social mobility and the disorganized social fabric for the bottom 50 percent.
Contradicting most of these arguments, classical liberals such as Friedrich Hayek have maintained that because individuals are diverse and different, state intervention to redistribute income is inevitably arbitrary and incompatible with the concept of general rules of law, and that “what is called ‘social’ or distributive’ justice is indeed meaningless within a spontaneous order”. Those who would use the state to redistribute, “take freedom for granted and ignore the preconditions necessary for its survival.”
The growth of inequality has provoked a political protest movement the Occupy movement starting in Wall Street and spreading to 600 communities across the United States in 2011. Its main political slogan “We are the 99%” references its dissatisfaction with the concentration of income in the top 1%.
Posted: January 6, 2017 at 11:07 pm
The Turks and Caicos Islands ( and / / ), or TCI for short, are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago of the Atlantic Ocean and northern West Indies.
They are known primarily for tourism and as an offshore financial centre. The resident population is 31,458 as of 2012[update] of whom 23,769 live on Providenciales in the Caicos Islands.
The Turks and Caicos Islands lie southeast of Mayaguana in the Bahamas island chain and north of the island of Hispaniola and the other Antilles archipelago islands. Cockburn Town, the capital since 1766, is situated on Grand Turk Island about 1,042 kilometres (647mi) east-southeast of Miami, United States. The islands have a total land area of 430 square kilometres (170sqmi).[b]
The first recorded European sighting of the islands now known as the Turks and Caicos occurred in 1512. In the subsequent centuries, the islands were claimed by several European powers with the British Empire eventually gaining control. For many years the islands were governed indirectly through Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. When the Bahamas gained independence in 1973, the islands received their own governor, and have remained a separate autonomous British Overseas Territory since. In August 2009, the United Kingdom suspended the Turks and Caicos Islands’ self-government after allegations of ministerial corruption. Home rule was restored in the islands after the November 2012 elections.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are named after the Turk’s cap cactus (Melocactus intortus), and the Lucayan term caya hico, meaning ‘string of islands’.
The first inhabitants of the islands were Arawakan-speaking Tano people, who crossed over from Hispaniola sometime from AD 500 to 800. Together with Taino who migrated from Cuba to the southern Bahamas around the same time, these people developed as the Lucayan. Around 1200, the Turks and Caicos Islands were resettled by Classical Tanos from Hispaniola.
Soon after the Spanish arrived in the islands in 1512, they began capturing the Tano of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Lucayan as slaves (technically, as workers in the encomienda system) to replace the largely depleted native population of Hispaniola. The southern Bahama Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands were completely depopulated by about 1513, and remained so until the 17th century.
The first European documented to sight the islands was Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Len, who did so in 1512. During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, the islands passed from Spanish, to French, to British control, but none of the three powers ever established any settlements.
Bermudian salt collectors settled the Turks Islands around 1680. For several decades around the turn of the 18th century, the islands became popular pirate hideouts. From 17651783, the islands were under French occupation, and again after the French captured the archipelago in 1783.
After the American War of Independence (17751783), many Loyalists fled to British Caribbean colonies; in 1783, they were the first settlers on the Caicos Islands. They developed cotton as an important cash crop, but it was superseded by the development of the salt industry.
In 1799, both the Turks and the Caicos island groups were annexed by Britain as part of the Bahamas. The processing of sea salt was developed as a highly important export product from the West Indies, with the labour done by African slaves. Salt continued to be a major export product into the nineteenth century.
In 1807, Britain prohibited the slave trade and, in 1833, abolished slavery in its colonies. British ships sometimes intercepted slave traders in the Caribbean, and some ships were wrecked off the coast of these islands. In 1837, the Esperanza, a Portuguese slaver, was wrecked off East Caicos, one of the larger islands. While the crew and 220 captive Africans survived the shipwreck, 18 Africans died before the survivors were taken to Nassau. Africans from this ship may have been among the 189 liberated Africans whom the British colonists settled in the Turks and Caicos from 1833 to 1840.
In 1841, the Trouvadore, an illegal Spanish slave ship, was wrecked off the coast of East Caicos. All the 20-man crew and 192 captive Africans survived the sinking. Officials freed the Africans and arranged for 168 persons to be apprenticed to island proprietors on Grand Turk Island for one year. They increased the small population of the colony by seven percent. Numerous descendants have come from those free Africans. The remaining 24 were resettled in Nassau. The Spanish crew were also taken there, to be turned over to the custody of the Cuban consul and taken to Cuba for prosecution. An 1878 letter documents the “Trouvadore Africans” and their descendants as constituting an essential part of the “labouring population” on the islands.
In 2004, marine archaeologists affiliated with the Turks and Caicos National Museum discovered a wreck, called the “Black Rock Ship”, that subsequent research has suggested may be that of the Trouvadore. In November 2008, a cooperative marine archaeology expedition, funded by the United States NOAA, confirmed that the wreck has artefacts whose style and date of manufacture link them to the Trouvadore.
In 1848, Britain designated the Turks and Caicos as a separate colony under a council president. In 1873, the islands were made part of the Jamaica colony; in 1894, the chief colonial official was restyled commissioner. In 1917, Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden suggested that the Turks and Caicos join Canada, but this suggestion was rejected by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. The islands remained a dependency of Jamaica into 1959.
On 4 July 1959, the islands were again designated as a separate colony, the last commissioner being restyled administrator. The governor of Jamaica also continued as the governor of the islands. When Jamaica was granted independence from Britain in August 1962, the Turks and Caicos Islands became a Crown colony. From 1965, the governor of the Bahamas also was governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands and oversaw affairs for the islands.
When the Bahamas gained independence in 1973, the Turks and Caicos received their own governor (the last administrator was restyled). In 1974, Canadian New Democratic Party MP Max Saltsman tried to use his Private Member’s Bill for legislation to annex the islands to Canada, but it did not pass in the Canadian House of Commons.
Since August 1976, the islands have had their own government headed by a chief minister, the first of whom was James Alexander George Smith McCartney.
The islands’ political troubles in the early 21st century resulted in a rewritten constitution promulgated in 2006. The UK took over direction of the government in 2009.
In 2013 and 2014, interest in annexing Turks and Caicos to Canada was renewed as Edmonton East MP Peter Goldring met with the Turks and Caicos’ premier Rufus Ewing in a reception at Torontos Westin Harbour Castle hotel.
The two island groups are in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Bahamas, northwest of Puerto Rico, north of Hispaniola, and about 1,000 kilometres (620mi) from Miami in the United States, at 2145N 7135W / 21.750N 71.583W / 21.750; -71.583Coordinates: 2145N 7135W / 21.750N 71.583W / 21.750; -71.583. The territory is geographically contiguous to the Bahamas, both comprising the Lucayan Archipelago, but is politically a separate entity. The Caicos Islands are separated by the Caicos Passage from the closest Bahamian islands, Mayaguana and Great Inagua.
The eight main islands and more than 299 smaller islands have a total land area of 616.3 square kilometres (238.0 square miles),[b] consisting primarily of low, flat limestone with extensive marshes and mangrove swamps and 332 square kilometres (128sqmi) of beach front. The weather is usually sunny (it is generally regarded that the islands receive 350 days of sun each year) and relatively dry, but suffers frequent hurricanes. The islands have limited natural fresh water resources; private cisterns collect rainwater for drinking. The primary natural resources are spiny lobster, conch, and other shellfish.
The two distinct island groups are separated by the Turks Islands Passage.
The Turks Islands are separated from the Caicos Islands by Turks Island Passage, which is more than 2,200m or 7,200ft deep, The islands form a chain that stretches northsouth. The 2012 Census population was 4,939 on the two main islands, the only inhabited islands of the group:
Together with nearby islands, all on Turks Bank, those two main islands form the two of the six administrative districts of the territory that fall within the Turks Islands. Turks Bank, which is smaller than Caicos Bank, has a total area of about 324km2 (125sqmi).
25 kilometres (16mi) east of the Turks Islands and separated from them by Mouchoir Passage is the Mouchoir Bank. Although it has no emergent cays or islets, some parts are very shallow and the water breaks on them. Mouchoir Bank is part of the Turks and Caicos Islands and falls within its Exclusive Economic Zone. It measures 960 square kilometres (370sqmi) in area. Two banks further east, Silver Bank and Navidad Bank, are geographically a continuation, but belong politically to the Dominican Republic.
The largest island in the Caicos archipelago is the sparsely-inhabited Middle Caicos, which measures 144 square kilometres (56sqmi) in area, but has a population of only 168 at the 2012 Census. The most populated island is Providenciales, with 23,769 inhabitants in 2012, and an area of 122 square kilometres (47sqmi). North Caicos (116 square kilometres (45sqmi) in area) had 1,312 inhabitants. South Caicos (21 square kilometres (8.1sqmi) in area) had 1,139 inhabitants, and Parrot Cay (6 square kilometres (2.3sqmi) in area) had 131 inhabitants. East Caicos (which is administered as part of South Caicos District) is uninhabited, while the only permanent inhabitants of West Caicos (administered as part of Providenciales District) are resort staff.
The Turks and Caicos Islands feature a relatively dry and sunny marine tropical climate with relatively consistent temperatures throughout the course of the year. Summertime temperatures rarely exceed 33C (91F) and winter nighttime temperatures rarely fall below 18C (64F).
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory. As a British territory, its sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, represented by a governor appointed by the monarch, on the advice of the Foreign Office. The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization includes the territory on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
With the election of the territory’s first Chief Minister, J.A.G.S. McCartney, the islands adopted a constitution on 30 August 1976, which is Constitution Day, the national holiday.
The constitution was suspended in 1986, but restored and revised 5 March 1988. In the interim two Advisory Councils took over with members from the Progressive National Party (PNP), People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which was a splinter group from the PNP:
A new constitution came into force on 9 August 2006, but was in parts suspended and amended in 2009. The territory’s legal system is based on English common law, with a small number of laws adopted from Jamaica and the Bahamas. Suffrage is universal for those over 18 years of age. English is the official language. Grand Turk is the administrative and political capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Cockburn Town has been the seat of government since 1766.
Under the suspended 2006 constitution, the head of government was the premier, filled by the leader of the elected party. The cabinet consisted of three ex officio members and five appointed by the governor from among the members of the House of Assembly. The unicameral House of Assembly consisted of 21 seats, of which 15 were popularly elected; members serve four-year terms. Elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands were held on 24 April 2003 and again on 9 February 2007. The Progressive National Party, led by Michael Misick, held thirteen seats, and the People’s Democratic Movement, led by Floyd Seymour, held two seats.
Under the new constitution that came into effect in October 2012, legislative power is held by a unicameral House of Assembly, consisting of 19 seats, 15 elected and 4 appointed by the governor; of elected members, five are elected at large and 10 from single member districts for four-year terms. After the 2012 elections, Rufus Ewing of the Progressive National Party won a narrow majority of the elected seats and was appointed premier.
The Turks and Caicos Islands participates in the Caribbean Development Bank, is an associate in CARICOM, member of the Universal Postal Union and maintains an Interpol sub-bureau. Defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom.
The winning party of Turks and Caicos’ first general election in 1976, the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) under “Jags” McCartney, sought to establish a framework and accompanying infrastructure in the pursuit of an eventual policy of full independence for the islands. However, with the early death of McCartney, confidence in the country’s leadership waned. In 1980, the PDM agreed with the British government that independence would be granted in 1982 if the PDM was re-elected in the elections of that year. That election was effectively a referendum on the independence issue and was won by the pro-dependency Progressive National Party (PNP), which claimed victory again four years later. With these developments, the independence issue largely faded from the political scene.
However, in the mid-2000s, the issue of independence for the islands was again raised. In April 2006, PNP Premier Michael Misick reaffirmed that his party saw independence from Britain as the “ultimate goal” for the islands, but not at the present time.
In 2008, opponents of Misick accused him of moving toward independence for the islands to dodge a commission of inquiry, which examined reports of corruption by the Misick Administration.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are divided into six administrative districts (two in the Turks Islands and four in the Caicos Islands), headed by district commissioners. For the House of Assembly, the Turks and Caicos Islands are divided into 15 electoral districts (four in the Turks Islands and eleven in the Caicos Islands).
A great number of tourists who visit the Turks and Caicos Islands are Canadian. In 2011 arrivals from Canada were about 42,000 out of a total from all countries of about 354,000. Owing to this, the islands’ status as a British colony, and historical trade links, some politicians in Canada and the Turks and Caicos have suggested some form of union between Canada and the British territory. In 1917, Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden attempted to persuade the British government to annex the islands, and the idea has been discussed several times over the last century. In 1974, the government of the islands sent Canada a “serious offer” to join the country, however at the time the Canadian government was focusing on their free trade agreement with the United States.
In 2013, Rufus Ewing, the Premier of the islands, rejected the idea of the islands joining Canada, however the following year he stated that he wasn’t “closing the door completely” on the possibility.
In April 2016, it was reported that the New Democratic Party, one of the three major political parties in Canada, was considering a resolution at an upcoming national convention to discuss the possibility of working with lawmakers and citizens of Turks and Caicos Islands to have it join Canada as the eleventh Canadian province.
In 2008, after members of the British parliament conducting a routine review of the administration received several reports of high-level official corruption in the Turks and Caicos, then-Governor Richard Tauwhare announced the appointment of a Commission of Enquiry into corruption. The same year, Premier Michael Misick himself became the focus of a criminal investigation after a woman identified by news outlets as an American citizen residing in Puerto Rico accused him of sexually assaulting her, although he strongly denies the charge.
On Monday, 16 March 2009, the UK threatened to suspend self-government in the islands and transfer power to the new governor, Gordon Wetherell, over systemic corruption.
On 18 March 2009, on the advice of her UK ministers, Queen Elizabeth II issued an Order in Council giving the Governor the power to suspend those parts of the 2006 Constitution that deal with ministerial government and the House of Assembly, and to exercise the powers of government himself. The order, which would also establish an Advisory Council and Consultative Forum in place of the House of Assembly, would come into force on a date to be announced by the governor, and remain in force for two years unless extended or revoked.
On 23 March 2009, after the enquiry found evidence of “high probability of systemic corruption or other serious dishonesty”, Misick resigned as Premier to make way for a new, unified government. Politicians were accused of selling crown land for personal gain and misusing public funds. The following day, Galmo Williams was sworn in as his replacement. Misick denied all charges, and referred to the British government’s debate on whether to remove the territory’s sovereignty as “tantamount to being re-colonised. It is a backwards step completely contrary to the whole movement of history.”
On 14 August 2009 after Misick’s last appeals failed, the Governor, on the instructions of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, imposed direct rule on the Turks and Caicos Islands by authority of the 18 March 2009 Order in Council issued by the Queen. The islands’ administration was suspended for up to two years, with possible extensions, and power was transferred to the Governor, with the United Kingdom also stationing a supply vessel in between Turks and Caicos. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Chris Bryant said of the decision to impose rule, “This is a serious constitutional step which the UK Government has not taken lightly but these measures are essential in order to restore good governance and sound financial management.”
The move was met with vehement opposition by the former Turks and Caicos government, with Misick’s successor Williams calling it a “coup”, and stating that, “Our country is being invaded and re-colonised by the United Kingdom, dismantling a duly elected government and legislature and replacing it with a one-man dictatorship, akin to that of the old Red China, all in the name of good governance.” Despite this, the civilian populace was reported to be largely welcoming of the enforced rule. The British government stated that they intended to keep true to their word that the country would regain home rule in two years or less, and Foreign Office Minister Chris Bryant said that elections would be held in 2011, “or sooner”. Governor Wetherell stated that he would aim to “make a clean break from the mistakes of the past” and create “a durable path towards good governance, sound financial management and sustainable development”. Wetherell added: “In the meantime we must all learn to foster a quality of public spirit, listen to all those who have the long-term interests of these islands at heart, and safeguard the fundamental assets of the Territory for future generations… Our guiding principles will be those of transparency, accountability and responsibility. I believe that most people in the Turks and Caicos will welcome these changes.”
On 12 June 2012 British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that fresh elections would be held in November 2012, stating that there had been “significant progress with an ambitious reform programme” and that there had been “sufficient progress, on the milestones and on putting in place robust financial controls” A new constitution was approved on 15 October 2012. The terms of the election are specified in the constitution.
The judicial branch of government is headed by a Supreme Court; appeals are heard by the Court of Appeal and final appeals by the United Kingdom’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. There are three justices of the Supreme Court, a Chief Justice and two others. The Court of Appeal consists of a president and at least two justices of appeal.
Magistrates’ Courts are the lower courts and appeals from Magistrates’ Courts are sent to the Supreme Court.
As of September 2014, the Chief Justice is Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale.
Eight of the thirty islands in the territory are inhabited, with a total population estimated from preliminary results of the census of 25 January 2012 (released on 12 August 2012) of 31,458 inhabitants, an increase of 58.2% from the population of 19,886 reported in the 2001 census. One-third of the population is under 15 years old, and only 4% are 65 or older. In 2000 the population was growing at a rate of 3.55% per year. The infant mortality rate was 18.66 deaths per 1,000 live births and the life expectancy at birth was 73.28 years (71.15 years for males, 75.51 years for females). The total fertility rate was 3.25 children born per woman. The annual population growth rate is 2.82%.
The adult population is composed of 57.5% immigrants (“non-belongers”). The CIA World Factbook describes the islanders’ ethnicity as African 87%, European 7.9%, Mixed 2.5.%, East Indian 1.3% and Other 0.7% 
Vital statistics related to the population are:
The official language of the islands is English and the population also speaks Turks and Caicos Islands Creole which is similar to Bahamian Creole. Due to its close proximity to Cuba and Hispaniola, large Haitian Creole and Spanish-speaking communities have developed in the territory due to immigration, both legal and illegal, from Creole-speaking Haiti and from Spanish-speaking Cuba and Dominican Republic.
72.8% of the population of Turks and Caicos are Christian (Baptists 35.8%, Church of God 11.7%, Roman Catholics 11.4%, Anglicans 10%, Methodists 9.3%, Seventh-Day Adventists 6%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.8% and Others 14%).
Catholics are served by the Mission “Sui Iuris” for Turks and Caicos, which was erected in 1984 with territory taken from the then Diocese of Nassau.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are most well known for ripsaw music. The islands are known for their annual Music and Cultural Festival showcasing many local talents and other dynamic performances by many music celebrities from around the Caribbean and United States.
Women continue traditional crafts of using straw to make baskets and hats on the larger Caicos islands. It is possible that this continued tradition is related to the liberated Africans who joined the population directly from Africa in the 1830s and 1841 from shipwrecked slavers; they brought cultural craft skills with them.
The island’s most popular sports are fishing, sailing, football (soccer) and cricket (which is the national sport).
Turks and Caicos cuisine is based primarily around seafood, especially conch. Two common dishes, whilst not traditionally ‘local’, are conch fritters and conch salad.
Because the Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory and not an independent country, they, at one time, could not confer citizenship. Instead, people with close ties to Britain’s Overseas Territories all held the same nationality: British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC) as defined by the British Nationality Act 1981 and subsequent amendments. BOTC, however, does not confer any right to live in any British Overseas Territory, including the territory from which it is derived. Instead, the rights normally associated with citizenship derive from what is called Belonger status and island natives or descendants from natives are said to be Belongers.
In 2002, the British Overseas Territories Act restored full British citizenship status to all citizens of British Overseas Territories, including the Turks and Caicos. See British Overseas Territories citizen#Access to British citizenship.
Public Education is supported by taxation, and is mandatory for children aged five to sixteen. Primary education lasts for six years and secondary education lasts for five years. In the 1990s, the island nation launched the Primary In-Service Teacher Education Project (PINSTEP) in an effort to increase the skills of its primary school teachers, nearly one-quarter of whom were unqualified. Turks and Caicos also worked to refurbish its primary schools, reduce textbook costs, and increase equipment and supplies given to schools. For example, in September 1993, each primary school was given enough books to allow teachers to establish in-class libraries. In 2001, the studentteacher ratio at the primary level was roughly 15:1. The Turks and Caicos Islands Community College offers free higher education to students who have successfully completed their secondary education. The community college also oversees an adult literacy program. The Ministry of Health, Education, Youth, Sports, and Women’s Affairs oversees education in Turks and Caicos. Once a student completes their education at The Turks and Caicos Islands Community College, they are allowed to further their education at a university in The United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom for free. They have to commit to working in The Turks and Caicos Islands for four years to receive this additional education.
The Turks and Caicos established a National Health System in 2010. Residents contribute to a National Health Insurance Plan through salary deduction and nominal user fees. Majority of care is provided by the private-public-partnership hospitals in Providenciales and Grand Turk. In addition there are a number of government clinics and private clinics. The hospital opened in 2010 is administered by Interhealth Canada and has been accredited by Accreditation Canada in 2012 and 2015.
In 2009, GDP contributions were as follows: Hotels & Restaurants 34.67%, Financial Services 13.12%, Construction 7.83%, Transport, Storage & Communication 9.90%, and Real Estate, Renting & Business Activities 9.56%.[clarification needed] Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported.
In 2010/2011, major sources of government revenue included Import Duties (43.31%), Stamp Duty on Land Transaction (8.82%), Work Permits and Residency Fees (10.03%) and Accommodation Tax (24.95%). The territory’s gross domestic product as of late 2009 is approximately US$795 million (per capita $24,273).
The labour force totalled 27,595 workers in 2008. The labour force distribution in 2006 is as follows:
The unemployment rate in 2008 was 8.3%. In 20072008, the territory took in revenues of $206.79 million against expenditures of $235.85 million. In 1995, the island received economic aid worth $5.7 million. The territory’s currency is the United States dollar, with a few government fines (such as airport infractions) being payable in pounds sterling. Most commemorative coin issues are denominated in crowns.
The primary agricultural products include limited amounts of maize, beans, cassava (tapioca) and citrus fruits. Fish and conch are the only significant export, with some $169.2 million of lobster, dried and fresh conch, and conch shells exported in 2000, primarily to the United Kingdom and the United States. In recent years, however, the catch has been declining. The territory used to be an important trans-shipment point for South American narcotics destined for the United States, but due to the ongoing pressure of a combined American, Bahamian and Turks and Caicos effort this trade has been greatly reduced.
The islands import food and beverages, tobacco, clothing, manufacture and construction materials, primarily from the United States and the United Kingdom. Imports totalled $581 million in 2007.
The islands produce and consume about 5 GWh of electricity, per year, all of which comes from fossil fuels.
The United States was the leading source of tourists in 1996, accounting for more than half of the 87,000 visitors; another major source of tourists is Canada. Tourist arrivals had risen to 264,887 in 2007 and to 351,498 by 2009. In 2010, a total of 245 cruise ships arrived at the Grand Turk Cruise Terminal, carrying a total of 617,863 visitors.
The government is pursuing a two-pronged strategy to increase tourism. Upscale resorts are aimed at the wealthy, while a large new cruise ship port and recreation centre has been built for the masses visiting Grand Turk. Turks and Caicos Islands has one of the longest coral reefs in the world and the world’s only conch farm.
The French vacation village company of Club Mediterannee (Club Med) has an all-inclusive adult resort called ‘Turkoise’ on one of the main islands.
Several Hollywood stars have built homes in the Turks and Caicos, including Dick Clark and Bruce Willis. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner married on Parrot Cay in 2005. Actress Eva Longoria and her ex-husband Tony Parker went to the islands for their honeymoon in July 2007 and High School Musical actors Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens went for a vacation there. In 2013 Hollywood writer/director Rob Margolies and actress Kristen Ruhlin vacationed here. Musician Nile Rodgers has a vacation home on the island.
To boost tourism during the Caribbean low season of late summer, since 2003 the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board have organised and hosted an annual series of concerts during this season called the Turks & Caicos Music and Cultural Festival. Held in a temporary bandshell at The Turtle Cove Marina in The Bight on Providenciales, this festival lasts about a week and has featured several notable international recording artists, such as Lionel Richie, LL Cool J, Anita Baker, Billy Ocean, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Kenny Rogers, Michael Bolton, Ludacris, Chaka Khan, and Boyz II Men. More than 10,000 people attend annually.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a biodiversity hotspot. The islands have many endemic species and others of international importance, due to the conditions created by the oldest established salt-pan development in the Caribbean. The variety of species includes a number of endemic species of lizards, snakes, insects and plants, and marine organisms; in addition to being an important breeding area for seabirds.
The UK and Turks and Caicos Islands Governments have joint responsibility for the conservation and preservation to meet obligations under international environmental conventions.
Due to this significance, the islands are on the United Kingdom’s tentative list for future UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Providenciales International Airport is the main entry point for the Turks and Caicos Islands. Altogether, there are seven airports, located on each of the inhabited islands. Five have paved runways (three of which are approximately 2,000m (6,600ft) long and one is approximately 1,000m (3,300ft) long), and the remaining two have unpaved runways (one of which is approximately 1,000m (3,300ft)s long and the other is significantly shorter).
The islands have 121 kilometres (75 miles) of highway, 24km (15mi) paved and 97km (60mi) unpaved. Like the United States Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands drive on the left, but use left-hand-drive vehicles that are imported from the United States.
The territory’s main international ports and harbours are on Grand Turk and Providenciales.
The islands have no significant railways. In the early twentieth century East Caicos operated a horse-drawn railway to transport Sisal from the plantation to the port. The 14-kilometre (8.7-mile) route was removed after sisal trading ceased.
There is no postal delivery in the Turks and Caicos; mail is picked up at one of four post offices on each of the major islands. Mail is transported three or seven times a week, depending on the destination. The Post Office is part of the territory’s government and reports to the Minister of Government Support Services.
Mobile phone service is provided by Cable & Wireless Worldwide, using GSM 850 and TDMA, and Digicel, using GSM 900 and 1900 and Islandcom Wireless, using 3G 850. Cable & Wireless provides CDMA mobile phone service in Providenciales and Grand Turk. The system is connected to the mainland by two submarine cables and an Intelsat earth station. There were three AM radio stations (one inactive) and six FM stations (no shortwave) in 1998. The most popular station is Power 92.5 FM which plays Top 100 hits. Over 8000 radio receivers are owned across the territory.
West Indies Video (WIV) has been the sole cable television provider for the Turks and Caicos Islands for over two decades and WIV4 (a subsidiary of WIV) has been the only broadcast station in the islands for over 15 years; broadcasts from the Bahamas can also be received. The territory has two internet service providers and its country code top level domain (ccTLD) is “.tc”. Amateur radio callsigns begin with “VP5” and visiting operators frequently work from the islands.
WIV introduced Channel 4 News in 2002 broadcasting local news and infotainment programs across the country. Channel 4 was re-launched as WIV4 in November 2007 and began providing reliable daily online Turks and Caicos news with the WIV4 News blog, an online forum connecting TCI residents with others interested in the islands, while keeping users updated on the TCI’s daily news.
Since 2013 4NEWS has become the Islands HD Cable News service with Television Studios in Grace Bay, Providenciales. DigicelPlay is the local cable provider.
Turks and Caicos’s newspapers include the Turks and Caicos Weekly News, the Turks and Caicos SUN and the Turks and Caicos Free Press. All three publications are weekly. The Weekly News and the Sun both have supplement magazines. Other local magazines Times of the Islands,s3 Magazine,Real Life Magazine, Baller Magazine, and Unleashed Magazine.
From 1950 to 1981, the United States had a missile tracking station on Grand Turk. In the early days of the American space program, NASA used it. After his three earth orbits in 1962, American astronaut John Glenn successfully landed in the nearby ocean and was brought back ashore to Grand Turk island.
Cricket is the islands’ national sport. The national team takes part in regional tournaments in the ICC Americas Championship, as well as having played one Twenty20 match as part of the 2008 Standford 20/20. Two domestic leagues exist, one on Grand Turk with three teams and another on Providenciales.
As of 4 July 2012, Turks and Caicos Islands’ football team shared the position of the lowest ranking national men’s football team in the world at the rank of 207th.
Because the territory is not recognized by the International Olympic Committee, Turks and Caicos Islanders compete for Great Britain at the Olympic Games.
Articles relating to the Turks and Caicos Islands
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Posted: December 22, 2016 at 1:17 pm
In dealing with an objection to the view of abortion presented in Chapter 6, we have already looked beyond abortion to infanticide. In so doing we will have confirmed the suspicion of supporters of the sanctity of human life that once abortion is accepted, euthanasia lurks around the next comer – and for them, euthanasia is an unequivocal evil. It has, they point out, been rejected by doctors since the fifth century B.C., when physicians first took the Oath of Hippocrates and swore ‘to give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel’. Moreover, they argue, the Nazi extermination programme is a recent and terrible example of what can happen once we give the state the power to MI innocent human beings.
I do not deny that if one accepts abortion on the grounds provided in Chapter 6, the case for killing other human beings, in certain circumstances, is strong. As I shall try to show in this chapter, however, this is not something to be regarded with horror, and the use of the Nazi analogy is utterly misleading. On the contrary, once we abandon those doctrines about the sanctity of human life that – as we saw in Chapter 4 – collapse as soon as they are questioned, it is the refusal to accept killing that, in some cases, is horrific.
‘Euthanasia’ means, according to the dictionary, ‘a gentle and easy death’, but it is now used to refer to the killing of those who are incurably ill and in great pain or distress, for the sake of those killed, and in order to spare them further suffering or distress. This is the main topic of this chapter. I shall also consider, however, some cases in which, though killing is not contrary to the wishes of the human who is killed, it is also not carried out specifically for the sake of that being. As we shall see, some cases involving newborn infants fall into this category. Such cases may not be ‘euthanasia’ within the strict meaning of the term, but they can usefully be included within the same general discussion, as long as we are clear about the relevant differences.
Within the usual definition of euthanasia there are three different types, each of which raises distinctive ethical issues. it will help our discussion if we begin by setting out this threefold distinction and then assess the justifiability of each type.
TYPES OF EUTHANASIA
Most of the groups currently campaigning for changes in the law to allow euthanasia are campaigning for voluntary euthanasia – that is, euthanasia carried out at the request of the person killed.
Sometimes voluntary euthanasia is scarcely distinguishable from assisted suicide. In Jean’s Way, Derek Humphry has told how his wife Jean, when dying of cancer, asked him to provide her with the means to end her life swiftly and without pain. They had seen the situation coming and discussed it beforehand. Derek obtained some tablets and gave them to Jean, who took them and died soon afterwards.
Dr Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan pathologist, went one step further when he built a ‘suicide machine’ to help terminally ill people commit suicide. His machine consisted of a metal pole with three different bottles attached to a tube of the kind used to provide an intravenous drip. The doctor inserts the tube in the patient’s vein, but at this stage only a harmless saline solution can pass through it. The patient may then flip a switch, which will allow a coma-inducing drug to come through the tube; this is automatically followed by a lethal drug contained in the third bottle. Dr Kevorkian announced that he was pre- pared to make the machine available to any terminally ill patient who wished to use it. (Assisting suicide is not against the law in Michigan.) In June 1990, Janet Adkins, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, but still competent to make the decision to end her life, contacted Dr Kevorkian and told him of her wish to die, rather than go through the slow and progressive deterioration that the disease involves. Dr Kevorkian was in attendance while she made use of his machine, and then re- ported Janet Adkins’s death to the police. He was subsequently charged with murder, but the judge refused to allow the charge to proceed to trial, on the grounds that Janet Adkins had caused her own death. The following year Dr Kevorkian made his device available to two other people, who used it in order to end their lives.
In other cases, people wanting to die may be unable to kill themselves. In 1973 George Zygmaniak was injured in a motorcycle accident near his home in New Jersey. He was taken to hospital, where he was found to be totally paralysed from the neck down. He was also in considerable pain. He told his doctor and his brother, Lester, that he did not want to live in this condition. He begged them both to kill him. Lester questioned the doctor and hospital staff about George’s prospects of recovery: he was told that they were nil. He then smuggled a gun into the hospital, and said to his brother: ‘I am here to end your pain, George. Is it all right with you?’ George, who was now unable to speak because of an operation to assist his breathing, nodded affirmatively. Lester shot him through the temple.
The Zygmaniak case appears to be a clear instance of voluntary euthanasia, although without some of the procedural safeguards that advocates of the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia propose. For instance, medical opinions about the patient’s prospects of recovery were obtained only in an informal manner. Nor was there a careful attempt to establish, before independent witnesses, that George’s desire for death was of a fixed and rational kind, based on the best available information about his situation. The killing was not carried out by a doctor. An injection would have been less distressing to others than shooting. But these choices were not open to Lester Zygrnaniak, for the law in New Jersey, as in most other places, regards mercy killing as murder, and if he had made his plans known, he would not have been able to carry them out.
Euthanasia can be voluntary even if a person is not able, as Jean Humphry, Janet Adkins, and George Zygmaniak were able, to indicate the wish to die right up to the moment the tablets are swallowed, the switch thrown, or the trigger pulled. A person may, while in good health, make a written request for euthanasia if, through accident or illness, she should come to be incapable of making or expressing a decision to die, in pain, or without the use of her mental faculties, and there is no reasonable hope of recovery. In killing a person who has made such a request, who has re-affirmed it from time to time, and who is now in one of the states described, one could truly claim to be acting with her consent.
There is now one country in which doctors can openly help their patients to die in a peaceful and dignified way. In the Netherlands, a series of court cases during the 1980s upheld a doctor’s right to assist a patient to die, even if that assistance amounted to giving the patient a lethal injection. Doctors in the Netherlands who comply with certain guidelines (which will be described later in this chapter) can now quite openly carry out euthanasia and can report this on the death certificate with- out fear of prosecution. It has been estimated that about 2,300 deaths each year result from euthanasia carried out in this way.
I shall regard euthanasia as involuntary when the person killed is capable of consenting to her own death, but does not do so, either because she is not asked, or because she is asked and chooses to go on living. Admittedly this definition lumps two different cases under one heading. There is a significant difference between killing someone who chooses to go on living and killing someone who has not consented to being killed, but if asked, would have consented. In practice, though, it is hard to imagine cases in which a person is capable of consenting and would have consented if asked, but was not asked. For why not ask? Only in the most bizarre situations could one conceive of a reason for not obtaining the consent of a person both able and willing to consent.
Killing someone who has not consented to being killed can properly be regarded as euthanasia only when the motive for killing is the desire to prevent unbearable suffering on the part of the person killed. It is, of course, odd that anyone acting from this motive should disregard the wishes of the person for whose sake the action is done. Genuine cases of involuntary euthanasia appear to be very rare.
These two definitions leave room for a third kind of euthanasia. If a human being is not capable of understanding the choice between life and death, euthanasia would be neither voluntary nor involuntary, but non-voluntary. Those unable to give con- sent would include incurably ill or severely disabled infants, and people who through accident, illness, or old age have permanently lost the capacity to understand the issue involved, with- out having previously requested or rejected euthanasia in these circumstances.
Several cases of non-voluntary euthanasia have reached the courts and the popular press. Here is one example. Louis Repouille had a son who was described as ‘incurably imbecile’, had been bed-ridden since infancy and blind for five years. According to Repouille: ‘He was just like dead all the time…. He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t do anything.’ in the end Repouille killed his son with chloroform.
In 1988 a case arose that well illustrates the way in which modern medical technology forces us to make life and death decisions. Samuel Linares, an infant, swallowed a small object that stuck in his windpipe, causing a loss of oxygen to the brain. He was admitted to a Chicago hospital in a coma and placed on a respirator. Eight months later he was still comatose, still on the respirator, and the hospital was planning to move Samuel to a long-term care unit. Shortly before the move, Samuel’s parents visited him in the hospital. His mother left the room, while his father produced a pistol and told the nurse to keep away. He then disconnected Samuel from the respirator, and cradled the baby in his arms until he died. When he was sure Samuel was dead, he gave up his pistol and surrendered to police. He was charged with murder, but the grand jury refused to issue a homicide indictment, and he subsequently received a suspended sentence on a minor charge arising from the use of the pistol. Obviously, such cases raise different issues from those raised by voluntary euthanasia. There is no desire to die on the part of the infant. It may also be questioned whether, in such cases, the death is carried out for the sake of the infant, or for the sake of the family as a whole. If Louis Repouille’s son was ‘just like dead all the time’, then he may have been so profoundly brain- damaged that he was not capable of suffering at all. That is also likely to have been true of the comatose Samuel Linares. In that case, while caring for him would have been a great and no doubt futile burden for the family, and in the Linares case, a drain on the state’s limited medical resources as well, the infants were not suffering, and death could not be said to be in, or contrary to, their interests. It is therefore not euthanasia, strictly speaking, as I have defined the term. it might nevertheless be a justifiable ending of a human life.
Since cases of infanticide and non-voluntary euthanasia are the kind of case most nearly akin to our previous discussions of the status of animals and the human fetus, we shall consider them first.
JUSTIFYING INFANTICIDE AND NON-VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA
As we have seen, euthanasia is non-voluntary when the subject has never had the capacity to choose to live or die. This is the situation of the severely disabled infant or the older human being who has been profoundly intellectually disabled since birth. Euthanasia or other forms of killing are also non- voluntary when the subject is not now but once was capable of making the crucial choice, and did not then express any preference relevant to her present condition.
The case of someone who has never been capable of choosing to live or die is a little more straightforward than that of a person who had, but has now lost, the capacity to make such a decision. We shall, once again, separate the two cases and take the more straightforward one first. For simplicity, I shall concentrate on infants, although everything I say about them would apply to older children or adults whose mental age is and has always been that of an infant.
Life and Death Decisions for Disabled Infants
If we were to approach the issue of life or death for a seriously disabled human infant without any prior discussion of the ethics of killing in general, we might be unable to resolve the conflict between the widely accepted obligation to protect the sanctity of human life, and the goal of reducing suffering. Some say that such decisions are ‘subjective’, or that life and death questions must be left to God and Nature. Our previous discussions have, however, prepared the ground, and the principles established and applied in the preceding three chapters make the issue much less baffling than most take it to be.
In Chapter 4 we saw that the fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings. This conclusion is not limited to infants who, because of irreversible intellectual disabilities, will never be rational, self-conscious beings. We saw in our discussion of abortion that the potential of a fetus to become a rational, self-conscious being cannot count against killing it at a stage when it lacks these characteristics – not, that is, unless we are also prepared to count the value of rational self-conscious life as a reason against contraception and celibacy. No infant – disabled or not – has as strong a claim to life as beings capable of seeing themselves as distinct entities, existing over time.
The difference between killing disabled and normal infants lies not in any supposed right to life that the latter has and the former lacks, but in other considerations about killing. Most obviously there is the difference that often exists in the attitudes of the parents. The birth of a child is usually a happy event for the parents. They have, nowadays, often planned for the child. The mother has carried it for nine months. From birth, a natural affection begins to bind the parents to it. So one important reason why it is normally a terrible thing to kill an infant is the effect the killing will have on its parents.
It is different when the infant is born with a serious disability. Birth abnormalities vary, of course. Some are trivial and have little effect on the child or its parents; but others turn the normally joyful event of birth into a threat to the happiness of the parents, and any other children they may have.
Parents may, with good reason, regret that a disabled child was ever born. In that event the effect that the death of the child will have on its parents can be a reason for, rather than against killing it. Some parents want even the most gravely disabled infant to live as long as possible, and this desire would then be a reason against killing the infant. But what if this is not the case? in the discussion that follows I shall assume that the parents do not want the disabled child to live. I shall also assume that the disability is so serious that – again in contrast to the situation of an unwanted but normal child today – there are no other couples keen to adopt the infant. This is a realistic assumption even in a society in which there is a long waiting- list of couples wishing to adopt normal babies. It is true that from time to time cases of infants who are severely disabled and are being allowed to die have reached the courts in a glare of publicity, and this has led to couples offering to adopt the child. Unfortunately such offers are the product of the highly publicised dramatic life-and-death situation, and do not extend to the less publicised but far more cormnon situations in which parents feel themselves unable to look after a severely disabled child, and the child then languishes in an institution.
Infants are sentient beings who are neither rational nor self- conscious. So if we turn to consider the infants in themselves, independently of the attitudes of their parents, since their species is not relevant to their moral status, the principles that govern the wrongness of killing non-human animals who are sentient but not rational or self-conscious must apply here too. As we saw, the most plausible arguments for attributing a right to life to a being apply only if there is some awareness of oneself as a being existing over time, or as a continuing mental self. Nor can respect for autonomy apply where there is no capacity for autonomy. The remaining principles identified in Chapter 4 are utilitarian. Hence the quality of life that the infant can be expected to have is important.
One relatively common birth disability is a faulty development of the spine known as spina bifida. Its prevalence, varies in different countries, but it can affect as many as one in five hundred live births. In the more severe cases, the child will be permanently paralysed from the waistdown and lack control of bowels or bladder. Often excess fluid accumulates in the brain, a condition known as hydrocephalus, which can result in intellectual disabilities. Though some forms of treatment exist, if the child is badly affected at birth, the paralysis, incontinence, and intellectual disability cannot be overcome.
Some doctors closely connected with children suffering from severe spina bifida believe that the lives of the worst affected children are so miserable that it is wrong to resort to surgery to keep them alive. Published descriptions of the lives of these children support the judgment that these worst affected children will have lives filled with pain and discomfort. They need repeated major surgery to prevent curvature of the spine, due to the paralysis, and to correct other abnormalities. Some children with spina bifida have had forty major operations before they reach their teenage years.
When the life of an infant will be so miserable as not to be worth living, from the internal perspective of the being who will lead that life, both the ‘prior existence’ and the ‘total’ version of utilitarianism entail that, if there are no ‘extrinsic’ reasons for keeping the infant alive – like the feelings of the parents – it is better that the child should be helped to die without further suffering. A more difficult problem arises – and the convergence between the two views ends – when we consider disabilities that make the child’s life prospects significantly less promising than those of a normal child, but not so bleak as to make the child’s life not worth living. Haemophilia is probably in this category. The haemophiliac lacks the element in normal blood that makes it clot and thus risks prolonged bleeding, especially internal bleeding, from the slightest injury. if allowed to continue, this bleeding leads to permanent crippling and eventually death. The bleeding is very painful and although improved treatments have eliminated the need for constant blood transfusions, haemophiliacs still have to spend a lot of time in hospital. They are unable to play most sports and live constantly on the edge of crisis. Nevertheless, haemophiliacs do not appear to spend their time wondering whether to end it all; most find life definitely worth living, despite the difficulties they face.
Given these facts, suppose that a newborn baby is diagnosed as a haemophiliac. The parents, daunted by the prospect of bringing up a child with this condition, are not anxious for him to live. Could euthanasia be defended here? Our first reaction may well be a firm ‘no’, for the infant can be expected to have a life that is worth living, even if not quite as good as that of a normal baby. The ‘prior existence’ version of utilitarianism sup- ports this judgment. The infant exists. His life can be expected to contain a positive balance of happiness over misery. To kill him would deprive him of this positive balance of happiness. Therefore it would be wrong.
On the ‘total’ version of utilitarianism, however, we cannot reach a decision on the basis of this information alone. The total view makes it necessary to ask whether the death of the haemophiliac infant would lead to the creation of another being who would not otherwise have existed. In other words, if the haemophiliac child is killed, will his parents have another child whom they would not have if the haemophiliac child lives? If they would, is the second child likely to have a better life than the one killed?
Often it will be possible to answer both these questions affinnatively. A woman may plan to have two children. If one dies while she is of child-bearing age, she may conceive another in its place. Suppose a woman planning to have two children has one normal child, and then gives birth to a haemophiliac child. The burden of caring for that child may make it impossible for her to cope with a third child; but if the disabled child were to die, she would have another. It is also plausible to suppose that the prospects of a happy life are better for a normal child than for a haemophiliac.
When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if killing the haemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others, it would, according to the total view, be right to kill him.
The total view treats infants as replaceable, in much the same way as it treats non-self-conscious animals (as we saw in Chapter 5). Many will think that the replaceability argument cannot be applied to human infants. The direct killing of even the most hopelessly disabled infant is still officially regarded as murder; how then could the killing of infants with far less serious problems, like haernophilia, be accepted? Yet on further reflection, the implications of the replaceability argument do not seem quite so bizarre. For there are disabled members of our species whom we now deal with exactly as the argument suggests we should. These cases closely resemble the ones we have been discussing. There is only one difference, and that is a difference of timing – the timing of the discovery of the problem, and the consequent killing of the disabled being.
Prenatal diagnosis is now a routine procedure for pregnant women. There are various medical techniques for obtaining information about the fetus during the early months of pregnancy. At one stage in the development of these procedures, it was possible to discover the sex of the fetus, but not whether the fetus would suffer from haemophilia. Haemophilia is a sex- linked genetic defect, from which only males suffer; females can carry the gene and pass it on to their male offspring without themselves being affected. So a woman who knew that she carried the gene for haemophilia could, at that stage, avoid giving birth to a haemophiliac child only by finding out the sex of the fetus, and aborting all males fetuses. Statistically, only half of these male children of women who carried the defective gene would have suffered from haernophilia, but there was then no way to find out to which half a particular fetus belonged. Therefore twice as many fetuses were being killed as necessary, in order to avoid the birth of children with haemophilia. This practice was widespread in many countries, and yet did not cause any great outcry. Now that we have techniques for identifying haemophilia before birth, we can be more selective, but the principle is the same: women are offered, and usually accept, abortions in order to avoid giving birth to children with haemophilia.
The same can be said about some other conditions that can be detected before birth. Down’s syndrome, formerly known as mongolism, is one of these. Children with this condition have intellectual disabilities and most will never be able to live in- dependently, but their lives, like those of small children, can be joyful. The risk of having a Down’s syndrome child increases sharply with the age of the mother, and for this reason prenatal diagnosis is routinely offered to pregnant women over 35. Again, undergoing the procedure implies that if the test for Down’s syndrome is positive, the woman will consider aborting the fetus and, if she still wishes to have another child, will start another pregnancy, which has a good chance of being normal.
Prenatal diagnosis, followed by abortion in selected cases, is common practice in countries with liberal abortion laws and advanced medical techniques. I think this is as it should be. As the arguments of Chapter 6 indicate, I believe that abortion can be justified. Note, however, that neither haemophilia nor Down’s syndrome is so crippling as to make life not worth living, from the inner perspective of the person with the condition. To abort a fetus with one of these disabilities, intending to have another child who will not be disabled, is to treat fetuses as interchangeable or replaceable. If the mother has previously decided to have a certain number of children, say two, then what she is doing, in effect, is rejecting one potential child in favour of another. She could, in defence of her actions, say: the loss of life of the aborted fetus is outweighed by the gain of a better life for the normal child who will be conceived only if the disabled one dies.
When death occurs before birth, replaceability does not conflict with generally accepted moral convictions. That a fetus is known to be disabled is widely accepted as a ground for abortion. Yet in discussing abortion, we saw that birth does not mark a morally significant dividing line. I cannot see how one could defend the view that fetuses may be ‘replaced’ before birth, but newborn infants may not be. Nor is there any other point, such as viability, that does a better job of dividing the fetus from the infant. Self-consciousness, which could provide a basis for holding that it is wrong to kill one being and replace it with another, is not to be found in either the fetus or the newborn infant. Neither the fetus nor the newborn infant is an individual capable of regarding itself as a distinct entity with a life of its own to lead, and it is only for newborn infants, or for still earlier stages of human life, that replaceability should be considered to be an ethically acceptable option.
It may still be objected that to replace either a fetus or a newborn infant is wrong because it suggests to disabled people living today that their lives are less worth living than the lives of people who are not disabled. Yet it is surely flying in the face of reality to deny that, on average, this is so. That is the only way to make sense of actions that we all take for granted. Recall thalidomide: this drug, when taken by pregnant women, caused many children to be born without arms or legs. Once the cause of the abnormal births was discovered, the drug was taken off the market, and the company responsible had to pay compensation. If we really believed that there is no reason to think of the life of a disabled person as likely to be any worse than that of a normal person, we would not have regarded this as a tragedy. No compensation would have been sought, or awarded by the courts. The children would merely have been ‘different’. We could even have left the drug on the market, so that women who found it a useful sleeping pill during pregnancy could continue to take it. If this sounds grotesque, that is only because we are all in no doubt at all that it is better to be born with limbs than without them. To believe this involves no disrespect at all for those who are lacking limbs; it simply recognises the reality of the difficulties they face.
In any case, the position taken here does not imply that it would be better that no people born with severe disabilities should survive; it implies only that the parents of such infants should be able to make this decision. Nor does this imply lack of respect or equal consideration for people with disabilities who are now living their own lives in accordance with their own wishes. As we saw at the end of Chapter 2, the principle of equal consideration of interests rejects any discounting of the interests of people on grounds of disability.
Even those who reject abortion and the idea that the fetus is replaceable are likely to regard possible people as replaceable. Recall the second woman in Parfit’s case of the two women, described in Chapter 5. She was told by her doctor that if she went ahead with her plan to become pregnant immediately, her child would have a disability (it could have been haemophilia); but if she waited three months her child would not have the disability. If we think she would do wrong not to wait, it can only be because we are comparing the two possible lives and judging one to have better prospects than the other. Of course, at this stage no life has begun; but the question is, when does a life, in the morally significant sense, really begin? in Chapters 4 and 5 we saw several reasons for saying that life only begins in the morally significant sense when there is awareness of one’s existence over time. The metaphor of life as a journey also provides a reason for holding that in infancy, life’s voyage has scarcely begun.
Regarding newborn infants as replaceable, as we now regard fetuses, would have considerable advantages over prenatal diagnosis followed by abortion. Prenatal diagnosis still cannot detect all major disabilities. Some disabilities, in fact, are not present before birth; they may be the result of extremely pre- mature birth, or of something going wrong in the birth process itself. At present parents can choose to keep or destroy their disabled offspring only if the disability happens to be detected during pregnancy. There is no logical basis for restricting parents’ choice to these particular disabilities. If disabled newborn infants were not regarded as having a right to life until, say, a week or a month after birth it would allow parents, in consultation with their doctors, to choose on the basis of far greater knowledge of the infant’s condition than is possible before birth. All these remarks have been concerned with the wrongness of ending the life of the infant, considered in itself rather than for its effects on others. When we take effects on others into account, the picture may alter. Obviously, to go through the whole of pregnancy and labour, only to give birth to a child who one decides should not live, would be a difficult, perhaps heartbreaking, experience. For this reason many women would prefer prenatal diagnosis and abortion rather than live birth with the possibility of infanticide; but if the latter is not morally worse than the former, this would seem to be a choice that the woman herself should be allowed to make.
Another factor to take into account is the possibility of adoption. When there are more couples wishing to adopt than nor- mal children available for adoption, a childless couple may be prepared to adopt a haemophiliac. This would relieve the mother of the burden of bringing up a haemophiliac child, and enable her to have another child, if she wished. Then the replaceability argument could not justify infanticide, for bringing the other child into existence would not be dependent on the death of the haemophiliac. The death of the haemophiliac would then be a straightforward loss of a life of positive quality, not outweighed by the creation of another being with a better life.
So the issue of ending life for disabled newborn infants is not without complications, which we do not have the space to discuss adequately. Nevertheless the main point is clear: killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all.
Other Non-voluntary Life and Death Decisions
In the preceding section we discussed justifiable killing for beings who have never been capable of choosing to live or die. Ending a life without consent may also be considered in the case of those who were once persons capable of choosing to live or die, but now, through accident or old age, have permanently lost this capacity, and did not, prior to losing it, express any views about whether they wished to go on living in such circumstances. These cases are not rare. Many hospitals care for motor accident victims whose brains have been damaged beyond all possible recovery. They may survive, in a coma, or perhaps barely conscious, for several years. In 1991, the Lancet reported that Rita Greene, a nurse, had been a patient at D.C. General Hospital in Washington for thirty-nine years without knowing it. Now aged sixty-three, she had been in a vegetative state since undergoing open heart surgery in 1952. The report stated that at any given time, between 5,000 and 10,000 Americans are surviving in a vegetative state. In other developed countries, where life-prolonging technology is not used so aggressively, there are far fewer long-term patients in this condition.
In most respects, these human beings do not differ importantly from disabled infants. They are not self-conscious, rational, or autonomous, and so considerations of a right to life or of respecting autonomy do not apply. If they have no experiences at all, and can never have any again, their lives have no intrinsic value. Their life’s journey has come to an end. They are biologically alive, but not biographically. (If this verdict seems harsh, ask yourself whether there is anything to choose between the following options: (a) instant death or (b) instant coma, followed by death, without recovery, in ten years’ time. I can see no advantage in survival in a comatose state, if death without recovery is certain.) The lives of those who are not in a coma and are conscious but not self-conscious have value if such beings experience more pleasure than pain, or have preferences that can be satisfied; but it is difficult to see the point of keeping such human beings alive if their life is, on the whole, miserable.
There is one important respect in which these cases differ from disabled infants. In discussing infanticide in the final section of Chapter 6, 1 cited Bentham’s comment that infanticide need not ‘give the slightest inquietude to the most timid imagination’. This is because those old enough to be aware of the killing of disabled infants are necessarily outside the scope of the policy. This cannot be said of euthanasia applied to those who once were rational and self-conscious. So a possible objection to this form of euthanasia would be that it will lead to insecurity and fear among those who are not now, but might come to be, within its scope. For instance, elderly people, knowing that non-voluntary euthanasia is sometimes applied to senile elderly patients, bedridden, suffering, and lacking the capacity to accept or reject death, might fear that every injection or tablet will be lethal. This fear might be quite irrational, but it would be difficult to convince people of this, particularly if old age really had affected their memory or powers of reasoning.
This objection might be met by a procedure allowing those who do not wish to be subjected to non-voluntary euthanasia under any circumstances to register their refusal. Perhaps this would suffice; but perhaps it would not provide enough reassurance. if not, non-voluntary euthanasia would be justifiable only for those never capable of choosing to live or die.
JUSTIFYING VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA
Under existing laws in most countries, people suffering unrelievable pain or distress from an incurable illness who beg their doctors to end their lives are asking their doctors to risk a murder charge. Although juries are extremely reluctant to convict in cases of this kind the law is clear that neither the request, nor the degree of suffering, nor the incurable condition of the person killed, is a defence to a charge of murder. Advocates of voluntary euthanasia propose that this law be changed so that a doctor could legally act on a patient’s desire to die without further suffering. Doctors have been able to do this quite openly in the Netherlands, as a result of a series of court decisions during the 1980s, as long as they comply with certain conditions. In Ger- many, doctors may provide a patient with the means to end her life, but they may not administer the substance to her.
The case for voluntary euthanasia has some common ground with the case for non-voluntary euthanasia, in that death is a benefit for the one killed. The two kinds of euthanasia differ, however, in that voluntary euthanasia involves the killing of a person, a rational and self-conscious being and not a merely conscious being. (To be strictly accurate it must be said that this is not always so, because although only rational and self-conscious beings can consent to their own deaths, they may not be rational and self-conscious at the time euthanasia is contemplated – the doctor may, for instance, be acting on a prior written request for euthanasia if, through accident or illness, one’s rational faculties should be irretrievably lost. For simplicity we shall, henceforth, disregard this complication.)
We have seen that it is possible to justify ending the life of a human being who lacks the capacity to consent. We must now ask in what way the ethical issues are different when the being is capable of consenting, and does in fact consent.
Let us return to the general principles about killing proposed in Chapter 4. 1 argued there that killing a self-conscious being is a more serious matter than killing a merely conscious being. I gave four distinct grounds on which this could be argued:
1. The classical utilitarian claim that since self-conscious beings are capable of fearing their own death, killing them has worse effects on others. 2. The preference utilitarian calculation that counts the thwarting of the victim’s desire to go on living as an important reason against killing. 3. A theory of rights according to which to have a right one must have the ability to desire that to which one has a right, so that to have a right to life one must be able to desire one’s own continued existence. 4. Respect for the autonomous decisions of rational agents.
Now suppose we have a situation in which a person suffering from a painful and incurable disease wishes to die. if the individual were not a person – not rational or self-conscious – euthanasia would, as I have said, be justifiable. Do any of the four grounds for holding that it is normally worse to kill a person provide reasons against killing when the individual is a person who wants to die?
The classical utilitarian objection does not apply to killing that takes place only with the genuine consent of the person killed. That people are killed under these conditions would have no tendency to spread fear or insecurity, since we have no cause to be fearful of being killed with our own genuine consent. If we do not wish to be killed, we simply do not consent. In fact, the argument from fear points in favour of voluntary euthanasia, for if voluntary euthanasia is not permitted we may, with good cause, be fearful that our deaths will be unnecessarily drawn out and distressing. In the Netherlands, a nationwide study commissioned by the government found that ‘Many patients want an assurance that their doctor will assist them to die should suffering become unbearable.’ Often, having received this assurance, no persistent request for euthanasia eventuated. The availability of euthanasia brought comfort without euthanasia having to be provided.
Preference utilitarianism also points in favour of, not against, voluntary euthanasia. Just as preference utilitarianism must count a desire to go on living as a reason against killing, so it must count a desire to die as a reason for killing.
Next, according to the theory of rights we have considered, it is an essential feature of a right that one can waive one’s rights if one so chooses. I may have a right to privacy; but I can, if I wish, film every detail of my daily life and invite the neighbours to my home movies. Neighbours sufficiently intrigued to accept my invitation could do so without violating my right to privacy, since the right has on this occasion been waived. Similarly, to say that I have a right to life is not to say that it would be wrong for my doctor to end my life, if she does so at my request. In making this request I waive my right to life.
Lastly, the principle of respect for autonomy tells us to allow rational agents to live their own lives according to their own autonomous decisions, free from coercion or interference; but if rational agents should autonomously choose to die, then respect for autonomy will lead us to assist them to do as they choose.
So, although there are reasons for thinking that killing a self-conscious being is normally worse than killing any other kind of being, in the special case of voluntary euthanasia most of these reasons count for euthanasia rather than against. Surprising as this result might at first seem, it really does no more than reflect the fact that what is special about self-conscious beings is that they can know that they exist over time and will, unless they die, continue to exist. Normally this continued existence is fervently desired; when the foreseeable continued existence is dreaded rather than desired however, the desire to die may take the place of the normal desire to live, reversing the reasons against killing based on the desire to live. Thus the case for voluntary euthanasia is arguably much stronger than the case for non-voluntary euthanasia.
Some opponents of the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia might concede that all this follows, if we have a genuinely free and rational decision to die: but, they add, we can never be sure that a request to be killed is the result of a free and rational decision. Will not the sick and elderly be pressured by their relatives to end their lives quickly? Will it not be possible to commit outright murder by pretending that a person has requested euthanasia? And even if there is no pressure of falsification, can anyone who is ill, suffering pain, and very probably in a drugged and confused state of mind, make a rational decision about whether to live or die?
These questions raise technical difficulties for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia, rather than objections to the under- lying ethical principles; but they are serious difficulties nonetheless. The guidelines developed by the courts in the Netherlands have sought to meet them by proposing that euthanasia is acceptable only if
Euthanasia in these circumstances is strongly supported by the Royal Dutch Medical Association, and by the general public in the Netherlands. The guidelines make murder in the guise of euthanasia rather far-fetched, and there is no evidence of an increase in the murder rate in the Netherlands.
It is often said, in debates about euthanasia, that doctors can be mistaken. In rare instances patients diagnosed by two competent doctors as suffering from an incurable condition have survived and enjoyed years of good health. Possibly the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia would, over the years, mean the deaths of a few people who would otherwise have recovered from their immediate illness and lived for some extra years. This is not, however, the knockdown argument against euthanasia that some imagine it to be. Against a very small number of unnecessary deaths that might occur if euthanasia is legalised we must place the very large amount of pain and distress that will be suffered if euthanasia is not legalised, by patients who really are terminally ill. Longer life is not such a supreme good that it outweighs all other considerations. (if it were, there would be many more effective ways of saving life – such as a ban on smoking, or a reduction of speed limits to 40 kilometres per hour – than prohibiting voluntary euthanasia.) The possibility that two doctors may make a mistake means that the person who opts for euthanasia is deciding on the balance of probabilities and giving up a very slight chance of survival in order to avoid suffering that will almost certainly end in death. This may be a perfectly rational choice. Probability is the guide of life, and of death, too. Against this, some will reply that improved care for the terminally ill has eliminated pain and made voluntary euthanasia unnecessary. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, whose On Death and Dying is perhaps the best-known book on care for the dying, has claimed that none of her patients request euthanasia. Given personal attention an the right medication, she says, people come to accept their deaths and die peacefully without pain.
Kubler-Ross may be right. It may be possible, now, to eliminate pain. In almost all cases, it may even be possible to do it in a way that leaves patients in possession of their rational faculties and free from vomiting, nausea, or other distressing side-effects. Unfortunately only a minority of dying patients now receive this kind of care. Nor is physical pain the only problem. There can also be other distressing conditions, like bones so fragile they fracture at sudden movements, uncontrollable nausea and vomiting, slow starvation due to a cancerous growth, inability to control one’s bowels or bladder, difficulty in breathing, and so on.
Dr Timothy Quill, a doctor from Rochester, New York, has described how he prescribed barbiturate sleeping pills for ‘Diane’, a patient with a severe form of leukaemia, knowing that she wanted the tablets in order to be able to end her life. Dr Quill had known Diane for many years, and admired her courage in dealing with previous serious illnesses. in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Quill wrote:
It was extraordinarily important to Diane to maintain control of herself and her own dignity during the time remaining to her. When this was no longer possible, she clearly wanted to die. As a former director of a hospice program, I know how to use pain medicines to keep patients comfortable and lessen suffering. I explained the philosophy of comfort care, which I strongly believe in. Although Diane understood and appreciated this, she had known of people lingering in what was called relative com- fort, and she wanted no part of it. When the time came, she wanted to take her life in the least painful way possible. Knowing of her desire for independence and her decision to stay in control, I thought this request made perfect sense…. In our discussion it became clear that preoccupation with her fear of a lingering death would interfere with Diane’s getting the most out of the time she had left until she found a safe way to ensure her death.
Not all dying patients who wish to die are fortunate enough to have a doctor like Timothy Quill. Betty Rollin has described, in her moving book Last Wish, how her mother developed ovarian cancer that spread to other parts of her body. One morning her mother said to her:
I’ve had a wonderful life, but now it’s over, or it should be. I’m not afraid to die, but I am afraid of this illness, what it’s doing to me…. There’s never any relief from it now. Nothing but nausea and this pain…. There won’t be any more chemotherapy. There’s no treatment anymore. So what happens to me now? I know what happens. I’ll die slowly …. I don’t want that …. Who does it benefit if I die slowly? if it benefits my children I’d be willing. But it’s not going to do you any good …. There’s no point in a slow death, none. I’ve never liked doing things with no point. I’ve got to end this.
Betty Rollin found it very difficult to help her mother to carry out her desire: ‘Physician after physician turned down our pleas for help (How many pills? What kind?).’ After her book about her mother’s death was published, she received hundreds of letters, many from people, or close relatives of people, who had tried to die, failed, and suffered even more. Many of these people were denied help from doctors, because although suicide is legal in most jurisdictions, assisted suicide is not.
Perhaps one day it will be possible to treat all terminally ill and incurable patients in such a way that no one requests euthanasia and the subject becomes a non-issue; but this is now just a utopian ideal, and no reason at all to deny euthanasia to those who must live and die in far less comfortable conditions. It is, in any case, highly paternalistic to tell dying patients that they are now so well looked after that they need not be offered the option of euthanasia. It would be more in keeping with respect for individual freedom and autonomy to legalise euthanasia and let patients decide whether their situation is bearable.
Do these arguments for voluntary euthanasia perhaps give too much weight to individual freedom and autonomy? After all, we do not allow people free choices on matters like, for instance, the taking of heroin. This is a restriction of freedom but, in the view of many, one that can be justified on paternalistic grounds. If preventing people from becoming heroin addicts is justifiable paternalism, why isn’t preventing people from having themselves killed?
The question is a reasonable one, because respect for individual freedom can be carded too far. John Stuart Mill thought that the state should never interfere with the individual except to prevent harm to others. The individual’s own good, Mill thought, is not a proper reason for state intervention. But Mill may have had too high an opinion of the rationality of a human being. It may occasionally be right to prevent people from making choices that are obviously not rationally based and that we can be sure they will later regret. The prohibition of voluntary euthanasia cannot be justified on paternalistic grounds, how- ever, for voluntary euthanasia is an act for which good reasons exist. Voluntary euthanasia occurs only when, to the best of medical knowledge, a person is suffering from an incurable and painful or extremely distressing condition. In these circumstances one cannot say that to choose to die quickly is obviously irrational. The strength of the case for voluntary euthanasia lies in this combination of respect for the preferences, or autonomy, of those who decide for euthanasia; and the clear rational basis of the decision itself.
NOT JUSTIFYING INVOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA
Involuntary euthanasia resembles voluntary euthanasia in that it involves the killing of those capable of consenting to their own death. It differs in that they do not consent. This difference is crucial, as the argument of the preceding section shows. All the four reasons against killing self-conscious beings apply when the person killed does not choose to die.
Would it ever be possible to justify involuntary euthanasia on paternalistic grounds, to save someone extreme agony? It might be possible to imagine a case in which the agony was so great, and so certain, that the weight of utilitarian considerations favouring euthanasia override all four reasons against killing self-conscious beings. Yet to make this decision one would have to be confident that one can judge when a person’s life is so bad as to be not worth living, better than that person can judge herself it is not clear that we are ever justified in having much confidence in our judgments about whether the life of another person is, to that person, worth living. That the other person wishes to go on living is good evidence that her life is worth living. What better evidence could there be?
The only kind of case in which the paternalistic argument is at all plausible is one in which the person to be killed does not realise what agony she will suffer in future, and if she is not killed now she will have to live through to the very end. On these grounds one might kill a person who has – though she does not yet realise it – fallen into the hands of homicidal sadists who will torture her to death. These cases are, fortunately, more commonly encountered in fiction than reality.
If in real life we are unlikely ever to encounter a case of justifiable involuntary euthanasia, then it may be best to dismiss from our minds the fanciful cases in which one might imagine defending it, and treat the rule against involuntary euthanasia as, for all practical purposes, absolute. Here [R. M.] Hare’s distinction between critical and intuitive levels of moral reasoning (see Chapter 4), is again relevant. The case described in the preceding paragraph is one in which, if we were reasoning at the critical level, we might consider involuntary euthanasia justifiable; but at the intuitive level, the level of moral reasoning we apply in our daily lives, we can simply say that euthanasia is only justifiable if those killed either
1. lack the ability to consent to death, because they lack the capacity to understand the choice between their own continued existence or non-existence; or 2. have the capacity to choose between their own continued life or death and to make an informed, voluntary, and settled decision to die.
ACTIVE AND PASSIVE EUTHANASIA
The conclusions we have reached in this chapter will shock a large number of readers, for they violate one of the most fundamental tenets of Western ethics – the wrongness of killing innocent human beings. I have already made one attempt to show that my conclusions are, at least in the area of disabled infants, a less radical departure from existing practice than one might suppose. I pointed out that many societies allow a pregnant woman to Ml a fetus at a late stage of pregnancy if there is a significant risk of it being disabled; and since the line between a developed fetus and a newborn infant is not a crucial moral divide, it is difficult to see why it is worse to kill a newborn infant known to be disabled. In this section I shall argue that there is another area of accepted medical practice that is not intrinsically different from the practices that the arguments of this chapter would allow.
I have already referred to the birth defect known as spina bifida, in which the infant is born with an opening in the back, exposing the spinal cord. Until 1957, most of these infants died young, but in that year doctors began using a new kind of valve, to drain off the excess fluid that otherwise accumulates in the head with this condition. In some hospitals it then became standard practice to make vigorous efforts to save every spina bifida infant. The result was that few such infants died – but of those who survived, many were severely disabled, with gross paralysis, multiple deformities of the legs and spine, and no control of bowel or bladder. Intellectual disabilities were also common. in short, the existence of these children caused great difficulty for their families and was often a misery for the children themselves.
After studying the results of this policy of active treatment a British doctor, John Lorber, proposed that instead of treating all cases of spina bifida, only those who have the defect in a mild form should be selected for treatment. (He proposed that the final decision should be up to the parents, but parents nearly always accept the recommendations of the doctors.) This principle of selective treatment has now been widely accepted in many countries and in Britain has been recognised as legitimate by the Department of Health and Social Security. The result is that fewer spina bifida children survive beyond infancy, but those who do survive are, by and large, the ones whose physical and mental disabilities are relatively minor.
The policy of selection, then, appears to be a desirable one:but what happens to those disabled infants not selected for treatment? Lorber does not disguise the fact that in these cases the hope is that the infant will die soon and without suffering. it is to achieve this objective that surgical operations and other forms of active treatment are not undertaken, although pain and discomfort are as far as possible relieved. If the infant happens to get an infection, the kind of infection that in a normal infant would be swiftly cleared up with antibiotics, no antibiotics are given. Since the survival of the infant is not desired, no steps are taken to prevent a condition, easily curable by ordinary medical techniques, proving fatal.
All this is, as I have said, accepted medical practice. in articles in medical journals, doctors have described cases in which they have allowed infants to die. These cases are not limited to spina bifida, but include, for instance, babies born with Down’s syndome and other complications. In 1982, the ‘Baby Doe’ case brought this practice to the attention of the American public. ‘Baby Doe’ was the legal pseudonym of a baby born in Bloomington, Indiana, with Down’s syndrome and some additional problems. The most serious of these was that the passage from the mouth to the stomach – the oesophagus – was not property formed. This meant that Baby Doe could not receive nourishment by mouth. The problem could have been repaired by surgery – but in this case the parents, after discussing the situation with their obstetrician, refused permission for surgery. Without surgery, Baby Doe would soon die. Baby Doe’s father later said that as a schoolteacher he had worked closely with Down syndrome children, and that he and his wife had decided that it was in the best interests of Baby Doe, and of their family a whole (they had two other children), to refuse consent f the operation. The hospital authorities, uncertain of their leg position, took the matter to court. Both the local county court and the Indiana State Supreme Court upheld the parents’ rig] to refuse consent to surgery. The case attracted national made attention, and an attempt was made to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, but before this could happen, Baby Doe died.
One result of the Baby Doe case was that the U.S. government headed at the time by President Ronald Reagan, who had come, to power with the backing of the right-wing religious ‘Moral Majority’, issued a regulation directing that all infants are to be given necessary life-saving treatment, irrespective of disability. But the new regulations were strongly resisted by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In court hearings on the regulations, even Dr C. Everett Koop, Reagan’s surgeon-general and the driving force behind the attempt to ensure that all infants should be treated, had to admit that there were some cases in which he would not provide life sustaining treatment. Dr Koop mentioned three conditions in which, he said, life-sustaining treatment was not appropriate anencephalic infants (infants born without a brain); infants who had, usually as a result of extreme prematurity, suffered such severe bleeding in the brain that they would never be able to breathe without a respirator and would never be able even to recognise another person; and infants lacking a major part of their digestive tract, who could only be kept alive by means o a drip providing nourishment directly into the bloodstream.
The regulations were eventually accepted only in a watered down form, allowing some flexibility to doctors. Even so, a subsequent survey of American paediatricians specialising in the care of newborn infants showed that 76 percent thought that the regulations were not necessary, 66 percent considered the regulations interfered with parents’ right to determine what course of action was in the best interests of their children, and 60 percent believed that the regulations did not allow adequate consideration of infants’ suffering.
In a series of British cases, the courts have accepted the view that the quality of a child’s life is a relevant consideration in deciding whether life-sustaining treatment should be provided. In a case called In re B, concerning a baby like Baby Doe, with Down’s syndrome and an intestinal obstruction, the court said that surgery should be carried out, because the infant’s life would not be’demonstrably awful’. in another case, Re C, where the baby had a poorly formed brain combined with severe physical handicaps, the court authorised the paediatric team to refrain from giving life-prolonging treatment. This was also the course taken in the case of Re Baby J: this infant was born extremely prematurely, and was blind and deaf and would probably never have been able to speak.
Thus, though many would disagree with Baby Doe’s parents about allowing a Down’s syndrome infant to die (because people with Down’s syndrome can live enjoyable lives and be warm and loving individuals), virtually everyone recognises that in more severe conditions, allowing an infant to die is the only humane and ethically acceptable course to take. The question is: if it is right to allow infants to die, why is it wrong to kill them?
This question has not escaped the notice of the doctors involved. Frequently they answer it by a pious reference to the nineteenth-century poet, Arthur Clough, who wrote:
Thou shalt not kill; but need’st not strive Officiously to keep alive.
Unfortunately for those who appeal to Clough’s immortal lines as an authoritative ethical pronouncement, they come from a biting satire – ‘The Latest Decalogue’ – the intent of which is to mock the attitudes described. The opening lines, for example, are:
Thou shalt have one god only; who Would be at the expense of two. No graven images may be Worshipped except the currency.
So Clough cannot be numbered on the side of those who think it wrong to kill, but right not to try too hard to keep alive. is there, nonetheless, something to be said for this idea? The view that there is something to be said for it is often termed ‘the acts and omissions doctrine’. It holds that there is an important moral distinction between performing an act that has certain consequences – say , the death of a disabled child – and omitting to do something that has the same consequences. if this doctrine is correct, the doctor who gives the child a lethal injection does wrong; the doctor who omits to give the child antibiotics, knowing full well that without antibiotics the child will die, does not.
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Posted: December 11, 2016 at 7:54 am
Liberty, in philosophy, involves free will as contrasted with determinism. In politics, liberty consists of the social and political freedoms to which all community members are entitled. In theology, liberty is freedom from the effects of “sin, spiritual servitude, [or] worldly ties.”
Generally, liberty is distinctly differentiated from freedom in that freedom is primarily, if not exclusively, the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; whereas liberty concerns the absence of arbitrary restraints and takes into account the rights of all involved. As such, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.
Philosophers from earliest times have considered the question of liberty. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121180 AD) wrote of “a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed.” According to Thomas Hobbes (15881679), “a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do” (Leviathan, Part 2, Ch. XXI).
John Locke (16321704) rejected that definition of liberty. While not specifically mentioning Hobbes, he attacks Sir Robert Filmer who had the same definition. According to Locke:
John Stuart Mill (18061873), in his work, On Liberty, was the first to recognize the difference between liberty as the freedom to act and liberty as the absence of coercion. In his book Two Concepts of Liberty, Isaiah Berlin formally framed the differences between these two perspectives as the distinction between two opposite concepts of liberty: positive liberty and negative liberty. The latter designates a negative condition in which an individual is protected from tyranny and the arbitrary exercise of authority, while the former refers to the liberty that comes from self-mastery, the freedom from inner compulsions such as weakness and fear.
The modern concept of political liberty has its origins in the Greek concepts of freedom and slavery. To be free, to the Greeks, was to not have a master, to be independent from a master (to live like one likes). That was the original Greek concept of freedom. It is closely linked with the concept of democracy, as Aristotle put it:
“This, then, is one note of liberty which all democrats affirm to be the principle of their state. Another is that a man should live as he likes. This, they say, is the privilege of a freeman, since, on the other hand, not to live as a man likes is the mark of a slave. This is the second characteristic of democracy, whence has arisen the claim of men to be ruled by none, if possible, or, if this is impossible, to rule and be ruled in turns; and so it contributes to the freedom based upon equality.”
This applied only to free men. In Athens, for instance, women could not vote or hold office and were legally and socially dependent on a male relative.
The populations of the Persian Empire enjoyed some degree of freedom. Citizens of all religions and ethnic groups were given the same rights and had the same freedom of religion, women had the same rights as men, and slavery was abolished (550 BC). All the palaces of the kings of Persia were built by paid workers in an era when slaves typically did such work.
In the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups had some rights to freedom, tolerance, and equality. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka the Great, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. The slaughter or capture of prisoners of war also appears to have been condemned by Ashoka. Slavery also appears to have been non-existent in the Maurya Empire. However, according to Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, “Ashoka’s orders seem to have been resisted right from the beginning.”
Roman law also embraced certain limited forms of liberty, even under the rule of the Roman Emperors. However, these liberties were accorded only to Roman citizens. Many of the liberties enjoyed under Roman law endured through the Middle Ages, but were enjoyed solely by the nobility, rarely by the common man. The idea of inalienable and universal liberties had to wait until the Age of Enlightenment.
The social contract theory, most influentially formulated by Hobbes, John Locke and Rousseau (though first suggested by Plato in The Republic), was among the first to provide a political classification of rights, in particular through the notion of sovereignty and of natural rights. The thinkers of the Enlightenment reasoned that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the king his power, rather than the king’s power giving force to law. This conception of law would find its culmination in the ideas of Montesquieu. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty as a fundamental reality, given by “Nature and Nature’s God,” which, in the ideal state, would be as universal as possible.
In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill sought to define the “…nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual,” and as such, he describes an inherent and continuous antagonism between liberty and authority and thus, the prevailing question becomes “how to make the fitting adjustment between individual independence and social control”.
England and following the Act of Union 1707 Great Britain, laid down the cornerstones to the concept of individual liberty.
In 1166 Henry II of England transformed English law by passing the Assize of Clarendon act. The act, a forerunner to trial by jury, started the abolition of trial by combat and trial by ordeal.
In 1215 the Magna Carta was drawn up, it became the cornerstone of liberty in first England, Great Britain and later, the world.
In 1689 the Bill of Rights grants ‘freedom of speech in Parliament’, which lays out some of the earliest civil rights.
In 1859 an essay by the philosopher John Stuart Mill, entitled On Liberty argues for toleration and individuality. If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.
In 1958 Two Concepts of Liberty, by Isaiah Berlin, determines ‘negative liberty’ as an obstacle, as evident from ‘positive liberty’ which promotes self-mastery and the concepts of freedom.
In 1948 British representatives attempt to and are prevented from adding a legal framework to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (It was not until 1976 that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights came into force, giving a legal status to most of the Declaration.) 
The United States of America was one of the first nations to be founded on principles of freedom and equality, with no king and no hereditary nobility. According to the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, all men have a natural right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. But this declaration of liberty was troubled from the outset by the presence of slavery. Slave owners argued that their liberty was paramount, since it involved property, their slaves, and that the slaves themselves had no rights that any White man was obliged to recognize. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott decision, upheld this principle. It was not until 1866, following the Civil War, that the US constitution was amended to extend these rights to persons of color, and not until 1920 that these rights were extended to women.
By the later half of the 20th century, liberty was expanded further to prohibit government interference with personal choices. In the United States Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice William O. Douglas argued that liberties relating to personal relationships, such as marriage, have a unique primacy of place in the hierarchy of freedoms. Jacob M. Appel has summarized this principle:
I am grateful that I have rights in the proverbial public square but, as a practical matter, my most cherished rights are those that I possess in my bedroom and hospital room and death chamber. Most people are far more concerned that they can control their own bodies than they are about petitioning Congress.
In modern America, various competing ideologies have divergent views about how best to promote liberty. Liberals in the original sense of the word see equality as a necessary component of freedom. Progressives stress freedom from business monopoly as essential. Libertarians disagree, and see economic freedom as best. The Tea Party movement sees big government as the enemy of freedom.
France supported the Americans in their revolt against English rule and, in 1789, overthrew their own monarchy, with the cry of “Libert, galit, fraternit”. The bloodbath that followed, known as the reign of terror, soured many people on the idea of liberty. Edmund Burke, considered one of the fathers of conservatism, wrote “The French had shewn themselves the ablest architects of ruin that had hitherto existed in the world.”
According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, liberalism is “the belief that it is the aim of politics to preserve individual rights and to maximize freedom of choice”. But they point out that there is considerable discussion about how to achieve those goals. Every discussion of freedom depends of three key components: who is free, what are they free to do, and what forces restrict their freedom. John Gray argues that the core belief of liberalism is toleration. Liberals allow others freedom to do what they want, in exchange for having the same freedom in return. This idea of freedom is personal rather than political. William Safire points out that liberalism is attacked by both the Right and the Left: by the Right for defending such practices as abortion, homosexuality, and atheism, by the Left for defending free enterprise and the rights of the individual over the collective.
According to the Encyclopdia Britannica, Libertarians hold liberty as their primary political value. Libertarian philosophers hold that there is no tenable distinction between personal and economic liberty that they are, indeed, one and the same, to be protected (or opposed) together. In the context of U.S. constitutional law, for example, they point out that the constitution twice lists “life, liberty, and property” without making any distinctions within that phrase. Their approach to implementing liberty involves opposing any governmental coercion, aside from that which is necessary to prevent individuals from coercing each other. This is known as the non-aggression principle.
According to republican theorists of freedom, like the historian Quentin Skinner or the philosopher Philip Pettit, one’s liberty should not be viewed as the absence of interference in one’s actions, but as non-domination. According to this view, which originates in the Roman Digest, to be a liber homo, a free man, means not being subject to another’s arbitrary will, that is to say, dominated by another. They also cite Machiavelli who asserted that you must be a member of a free self-governing civil association, a republic, if you are to enjoy individual liberty.
The predominance of this view of liberty among parliamentarians during the English Civil War resulted in the creation of the liberal concept of freedom as non-interference in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.
Socialists view freedom as a concrete situation as opposed to a purely abstract ideal. Freedom involves agency to pursue one’s creative interests unhindered by coercive social relationships that one is forced to engage in in order to survive under a given social system. From this perspective, freedom requires both the material economic conditions that make freedom possible alongside the social relationships and institutions conducive to freedom. As such, the socialist concept of freedom is held in contrast to the liberal concept of freedom.
The socialist conception of freedom is closely related to the socialist view of creativity and individuality. Influenced by Karl Marx’s concept of alienated labor, socialists understand freedom to be the ability for an individual to engage in creative work in the absence of alienation, where alienated labor refers to work people are forced to perform and un-alienated work refers to individuals pursuing their own creative interests.
For Karl Marx, meaningful freedom is only attainable in a communist society characterized by superabundance and free access, would eliminate the need for alienated labor and enable individuals to pursue their own creative interests, leaving them to develop their full potentialities. This goes alongside Marx’s emphasis on the reduction of the average length of the workday to expand the “realm of freedom” for each person. Marx’s notion of communist society and human freedom is thus radically individualistic.
“This also is remarkable in India, that all Indians are free, and no Indian at all is a slave. In this the Indians agree with the Lacedaemonians. Yet the Lacedaemonians have Helots for slaves, who perform the duties of slaves; but the Indians have no slaves at all, much less is any Indian a slave.”
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Posted: December 7, 2016 at 7:58 am
At a seminar at Harvards Institute of Politics this past week, Corey Lewandowski issued a defense of the several months that he spent as a paid political commentator at CNN while also receiving severance payments from the network campaign. I had the privilege of serving with CNN for about three or four months and providing insight to the Trump campaign, which I think I probably have a comparative advantage over anybody else in the audience other than Kellyanne [Conway], Lewandowski said at the event. I think bringing a perspective of serving 18 months inside a campaign to the viewership of CNN is something thats worthy of the viewership to understand the thought process of how Donald Trump makes decisions. And if you dont think thats service to the viewership of CNN, I think maybe you havent done your homework.
So, there it is on the record Lewandowski holds himself out as a guy who channels the thinking inside Trumps meeting rooms.
At the same conference, this clued-in Trumpite asserted that the executive editor of the New York Times, Dean Baquet, belonged in jail. Baquets offense? A New York Times story that contained key parts of Donald Trumps income-tax returns from 1995. The documents showed that Trump could have sidestepped taxes for 18 years. Confronted later about his taxes, Trump bragged that not paying them qualifies him as smart.
Weeks before signing off on the tax story, Baquet himself told attendees at (another) Harvard conference that hed risk jail time to publish Trumps tax returns. That sentiment carried over into this weeks Harvard session, in which Lewandowski said: We had one of the top people at the New York Times come to Harvard University and say, Im willing to go to jail to get a copy of Donald Trumps taxes so I can publish them. Dean Baquet came here and offered to go to jail. Youre telling me hes willing to commit a felony on a private citizen to post his taxes, and there isnt enough scrutiny on the Trump campaign and his business dealings and his taxes?
Its egregious, Lewandowski continued. He should be in jail.
That statement arose from a typical Trumpite melange disrespect for the Constitution combined with a failure to grasp the facts. Theres no felony that attaches to publishing true facts that are in the public interest, as the New York Times did with the tax story. The reference to law-breaking in Lewandowskis outburst may relate to a federal statute on disclosing another persons tax information, but as many have noted, that doesnt apply to the situation at hand. Presumably like his boss, Lewandowski just wants to punish a critic.
Asked about Lewandowskis remark, Baquet emailed the Erik Wemple Blog, Im actually on vacation. But happy to recommend a good book on the first amendment since he clearly needs to understand the role of the independent press.
Would that Lewandowski had set the weeks only three-alarm First Amendment fire. But the president-elect may have outdone him with his tweet from earlier in the week:
As this blog noted, CNN spilled about 20,000 words of punditry straightening out the constitutional and factual lapses in that small and extraordinarily ignorant assemblage of words. The most telling stretch of coverage took place when CNN host Chris Cuomo asked Jason Miller, the spokesman for Trumps transition team, whether hed concede that flag-burning was legal. But Chris, its completely ridiculous its terrible and its despicable, replied Miller. Pressed again on the question, Miller said, No, we can completely disagree that this issue. absolutely should be illegal.
Here’s what you should know about President-elect Donald Trump’s Nov. 29 tweet calling for a ban on burning the U.S. flag. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)
With his pushback, Miller was failing Free Speech 101, which holds that the First Amendment protects expression that others and perhaps most members of society find repulsive. Or, as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes more memorably put it, If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate. The case that yielded those words bears some relevance to the public-square discussions of the Trump era. It concerned whether the courts could deny U.S. citizenship to one Rosika Schwimmer, a Hungarian-born woman, because of her pacifist views. The majority in the 1929 case U.S. v. Schwimmer argued that it could do so, but Holmes dissented.
Have a look at how Justice Pierce Butler framed the issue in his majority opinion: Taken as a whole, [the record] shows that [Rosika Schwimmers] objection to military service rests on reasons other than mere inability because of her sex and age personally to bear arms. The fact that she is an uncompromising pacifist, with no sense of nationalism, but only a cosmic sense of belonging to the human family, justifies belief that she may be opposed to the use of military force as contemplated by our Constitution and laws. And her testimony clearly suggests that she is disposed to exert her power to influence others to such opposition. We cannot have dissent in this country!
Its no wonder that Holmess thoughts won the history contest. Anyone who knows anything about the First Amendment knows that its not there to protect people singing the national anthem with their hands on their heart or professing their reverence for the Founding Fathers.
Thus far the Trump people havent proven themselves among that lot. The reigning view of free expression continues to be that of a business mogul. As head of a sprawling profit-seeking organization, Trump hasnt been an agent of the First Amendment, which applies to government-led abridgment of free expression. Business owners are free to shoehorn their employees into non-disclosure agreements; use libel law to stifle opponents; and otherwise strong-arm their way toward good PR.
Trump has done all those things and more, as the Erik Wemple Blog and many others have documented. Even as he campaigned for president, Trump has threatened legal action against the Associated Press and the New York Times. He has stiff-armed media organizations on credentials, vowed to loosen libel law to make it easier for guys like him to sue media outlets, ridiculed media outlets and individual reporters at rallies, and much more.
Asked in a recent New York Times interview whether hed make good on his threat on libel laws, Trump answered, I think youll be happy.
On the one hand, we have a passel of documented affronts to the First Amendment; on the other, we have (another) vague assurance that alls well. Time to pray for the First Amendment.
Posted: at 7:58 am
Jeff Bewkes. Screenshot/Business Insider
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes told Business Insider’s Henry Blodget on Tuesday that the “real threat” to the First Amendment did not come from President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, but rather from the Democratic Party.
Bewkes was speaking at Business Insider’s annual IGNITION conference, during which he was asked about Trump’s frequent campaign threats to open up libel laws.
Trump has also set his sights on Bewkes’ own media property, CNN, which he consistently ridiculed along the campaign trail and even after Election Day.
“Do you worry about that at all?” Blodget asked.
Bewkes said he didn’t “think that’s a serious thing,” adding that “we should all worry” if someone were seeking to change the First Amendment. He suggested that came from the Democratic Party, which “had a campaign plank to change the First Amendment, and they were doing it in the guise of campaign finance reform.”
“And that was worrying me more,” Bewkes said. “The press tends to miss that because they tend to lean that way, and therefore they were supporting what they were viewing I think overly charitably as something in cleaning up money in politics when in fact what it would do is restrain multiple voices.”
Democrats, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, vowed to engage in campaign finance reform following the election a cause that has been bolstered in recent years by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The 2010 ruling deemed that corporations and labor unions were people who could flex First Amendment rights in contributing to campaigns, and it led to the advent of so-called super PACs.
“So I thought the real threat to the First Amendment came from the Democrats’ side more,” Bewkes said. “There’s not going to be a serious effort on the Republican side.”
Watch the whole Bewkes interview right here, scroll to 1:05:45.
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Jeff Bewkes: ‘Real threat’ to First Amendment from Democrats …
Posted: November 23, 2016 at 10:05 pm
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Posted: at 10:05 pm
Voluntary euthanasia is the practice of ending a life in a painless manner. Voluntary euthanasia (VE) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) have been the focus of great controversy in recent years.
As of 2009, some forms of voluntary euthanasia are legal in Belgium,Luxembourg, the Netherlands,Switzerland, and Canada.
Voluntary refusal of food and fluids (VRFF) or Patient Refusal of Nutrition and Hydration (PRNH) is bordering on euthanasia. Some authors classify it as a form of passive euthanasia, while others treat it separately because it is treated differently from legal point of view and often perceived as a more ethical option. VRFF is sometimes suggested as a legal alternative to euthanasia in jurisdictions disallowing euthanasia.
Assisted suicide is a practice in which a person receives assistance in bringing about their death, typically people suffering from a severe physical illness, in which the final step in the process is actively performed by the person concerned. In physician-assisted suicide (also called physician aid-in-dying or PAD) a physician knowingly provides a competent but suffering patient, upon the patient’s request, with the means by which the patient intends to end his or her own life. Assisted suicide is contrasted with “active euthanasia” when the difference between providing the means and actively administering lethal medicine is considered important. For example, Swiss law allows assisted suicide while all forms of active euthanasia (like lethal injection) remain prohibited.
The term euthanasia comes from the Greek words “eu”-meaning good and “thanatos”-meaning death, which combined means well-death or “dying well”. Hippocrates mentions euthanasia in the Hippocratic Oath, which was written between 400 and 300 BC The original Oath states: To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death. Despite this, the ancient Greeks and Romans generally did not believe that life needed to be preserved at any cost and were, in consequence, tolerant of suicide in cases where no relief could be offered to the dying or, in the case of the Stoics and Epicureans, where a person no longer cared for his life.
English Common Law from the 14th century until the middle of the last century made suicide a criminal act in England and Wales. Assisting others to kill themselves remains illegal in that jurisdiction. However, in the 16th century, Thomas More, considered a saint by Roman Catholics, described a utopian community and envisaged such a community as one that would facilitate the death of those whose lives had become burdensome as a result of “torturing and lingering pain”, see The meaning of the work.
Since the 19th century, euthanasia has sparked intermittent debates and activism in North America and Europe. According to medical historian Ezekiel Emanuel, it was the availability of anesthesia that ushered in the modern era of euthanasia. In 1828, the first known anti-euthanasia law in the United States was passed in the state of New York, with many other localities and states following suit over a period of several years. After the Civil War, voluntary euthanasia was promoted by advocates, including some doctors. Support peaked around the start of the 20th century in the US and then grew again in the 1930s.
In an article in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Brown University historian Jacob M. Appel documented extensive political debate over legislation to legalize physician-assisted suicide in both Iowa and Ohio in 1906. Appel indicates social activist Anna S. Hall was the driving force behind this movement. According to historian Ian Dowbiggin, leading public figures, including Clarence Darrow and Jack London, advocated for the legalization of euthanasia.
Euthanasia societies[which?] were formed in England in 1935 and in the USA in 1938 to promote euthanasia. Although euthanasia legislation did not pass in the USA or England, in 1937, doctor-assisted euthanasia was declared legal in Switzerland as long as the doctor ending the life had nothing to gain. During this same era, US courts tackled cases involving critically ill people who requested physician assistance in dying as well as mercy killings, such as by parents of their severely disabled children.
During the post-war period, prominent proponents of euthanasia included Glanville Williams (The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law) and clergyman Joseph Fletcher (“Morals and medicine”). By the 1960s, advocacy for a right-to-die approach to voluntary euthanasia increased.
In 1996, the world’s first euthanasia legislation, the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1996, was passed in the Northern Territory of Australia. Four patients died through assisted suicide under the Act, using a device designed by Dr Philip Nitschke. The legislation was overturned by Australias Federal Parliament in 1997. In response to the overturning of the Act, Nitschke founded EXIT International. In 2009, an Australian quadriplegic was granted the right to refuse sustenance and be allowed to die. The Supreme Court of Western Australia ruled that it was up to Christian Rossiter, aged 49, to decide if he was to continue to receive medical care (tube feeding) and that his carers had to abide by his wishes. Chief Justice Wayne Martin also stipulated that his carers, Brightwater Care, would not be held criminally responsible for following his instructions. Rossiter died on 21 September 2009 following a chest infection.
In 1957 in Britain, Judge Devlin ruled in the trial of Dr John Bodkin Adams that causing death through the administration of lethal drugs to a patient, if the intention is solely to alleviate pain, is not considered murder even if death is a potential or even likely outcome. In 1993, the Netherlands decriminalized doctor-assisted suicide, and in 2002, restrictions were loosened. During that year, physician-assisted suicide was approved in Belgium. Belgium’s at the time most famous author Hugo Claus, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, was among those that asked for euthanasia. He died in March 2008, assisted by an Antwerp doctor.
A key turning point in the debate over voluntary euthanasia (and physician assisted dying), at least in the United States, was the public furor over the Karen Ann Quinlan case. The Quinlan case paved the way for legal protection of voluntary passive euthanasia. In 1977, California legalized living wills and other states soon followed suit.
In 1980 the Hemlock Society USA was founded in Santa Monica by Derek Humphry. It was the first group in America to provide information to the terminally ill in case they wanted a hastened death. Hemlock also campaigned and partially financed drives to reform the law. In 2003 Hemlock was merged with End of Life Choices, which changed its name to Compassion and Choices.
In 1990, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan physician, became famous for educating and assisting people in committing physician-assisted suicide, which resulted in a Michigan law against the practice in 1992. Kevorkian was tried and convicted in 1999 for a murder displayed on television. Also in 1990, the Supreme Court approved the use of non-active euthanasia.
In 1994, Oregon voters approved the Death with Dignity Act, permitting doctors to assist terminal patients with six months or less to live to end their lives. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed such laws in 1997. The Bush administration failed in its attempt to use drug law to stop Oregon in 2001, in the case Gonzales v. Oregon.
In 2005, amid U.S. government roadblocks and controversy, Terri Schiavo, a Floridian who had been in a vegetative state since 1990, had her feeding tube removed. Her husband had won the right to take her off life support, which he claimed she would want but was difficult to confirm as she had no living will and the rest of her family claimed otherwise.
In November 2008, Washington Initiative 1000 made Washington the second U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
Euthanasia is a criminal offense in China. For example, in Shanghai a 67-year-old man was sentenced to 5 years in prison when he euthanized his 92-year-old mother when she emerged from a hospital procedure only able to move one finger and one toe. The sentence was considered lenient, because he had displayed filial piety toward his mother.
While active euthanasia remains illegal in China, it is gaining increasing acceptance among doctors and the general populace.
In Hong Kong, support for euthanasia among the general public is higher among those who put less importance on religious belief, those who are non-Christian, those who have higher family incomes, those who have more experience in taking care of terminally ill family members, and those who are older.
Since World War II, the debate over euthanasia in Western countries has centered on voluntary euthanasia within regulated health care systems. In some cases, judicial decisions, legislation, and regulations have made voluntary euthanasia an explicit option for patients and their guardians. Proponents and critics of such voluntary euthanasia policies offer the following reasons for and against official voluntary euthanasia policies:
Proponents of voluntary euthanasia emphasize that choice is a fundamental principle for liberal democracies and free market systems.
The pain and suffering a person feels during a disease, even with pain relievers, can be incomprehensible to a person who has not gone through it. Even without considering the physical pain, it is often difficult for patients to overcome the emotional pain of losing their independence.
Those who witness others die are “particularly convinced” that the law should be changed to allow assisted death.
Today in many countries there is a shortage of hospital space. Medical personnel and hospital beds could be used for people whose lives could be saved instead of continuing the lives of those who want to die, thus increasing the general quality of care and shortening hospital waiting lists. It is a burden to keep people alive past the point they can contribute to society, especially if the resources used could be spent on a curable ailment.
Critics argue that voluntary euthanasia could unduly compromise the professional roles of health care employees, especially doctors. They point out that European physicians of previous centuries traditionally swore some variation of the Hippocratic Oath, which in its ancient form excluded euthanasia: “To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death..” However, since the 1970s, this oath has largely fallen out of use.
Some people, including many Christians, consider euthanasia of some or all types to be morally unacceptable. This view usually treats euthanasia to be a type of murder and voluntary euthanasia as a type of suicide, the morality of which is the subject of active debate.
If there is some reason to believe the cause of a patient’s illness or suffering is or will soon be curable, the correct action is sometimes considered to attempt to bring about a cure or engage in palliative care.
Feasibility of implementation: Euthanasia can only be considered “voluntary” if a patient is mentally competent to make the decision, i.e., has a rational understanding of options and consequences. Competence can be difficult to determine or even define.
Consent under pressure: Given the economic grounds for voluntary euthanasia, critics of voluntary euthanasia are concerned that patients may experience psychological pressure to consent to voluntary euthanasia rather than be a financial burden on their families. Even where health costs are mostly covered by public money, as in most developed countries, voluntary euthanasia critics are concerned that hospital personnel would have an economic incentive to advise or pressure people toward euthanasia consent.
Non-voluntary euthanasia is sometimes cited as one of the possible outcomes of the slippery slope argument, in which it is claimed that permitting voluntary euthanasia to occur will lead to the support and legalization of non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia.
The right to life movement opposes voluntary euthanasia.
Euthanasia brings about many ethical issues regarding a patients death. Some physicians say euthanasia is a rational choice for competent patients who wish to die to escape unbearable suffering.
Physicians who are in favor of euthanasia state that to keep euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS) illegal is a violation of patient freedoms. They believe that any competent terminally-ill patient should have the right to choose death or refuse life-saving treatment. Suicide and assistance from their physician is seen as the only option those patients have. With the suffering and the knowledge from the doctor, this may also suggest that PAS is a humane answer to the excruciating pain.
An argument against PAS is the violation of the Hippocratic oath that some doctors take. The Hippocratic oath states “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan”.
Another reason for prohibiting PAS and euthanasia is the option of abusing PAS if it were to become legal. Poor or uninsured patients may not have the money or no access to proper care will have limited options, and they could be pressured towards assisted death.
During the 20th century, efforts to change government policies on euthanasia have met limited success in Western countries. Euthanasia policies have also been developed by a variety of NGOs, most notably medical associations and advocacy organizations.
There are many different religious views among on the issue of voluntary euthanasia, although many moral theologians are critical of the procedure.
Euthanasia can be accomplished either through an oral, intravenous, or intramuscular administration of drugs, or by oxygen deprivation (anoxia), as in some euthanasia machines. In individuals who are incapable of swallowing lethal doses of medication, an intravenous route is preferred. The following is a Dutch protocol for parenteral (intravenous) administration to obtain euthanasia:
Intravenous administration is the most reliable and rapid way to accomplish euthanasia. A coma is first induced by intravenous administration of 20mg/kg sodium thiopental (Nesdonal) in a small volume (10 ml physiological saline). Then a triple intravenous dose of a non-depolarizing neuromuscular muscle relaxant is given, such as 20mg pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) or 20mg vecuronium bromide (Norcuron). The muscle relaxant should preferably be given intravenously, in order to ensure optimal availability. Only for pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) are there substantial indications that the agent may also be given intramuscularly in a dosage of 40mg.
With regards to voluntary euthanasia, many people argue that ‘equal access’ should apply to access to suicide as well, so therefore disabled people who cannot kill themselves should have access to voluntary euthanasia.
Apart from The Old Law, a 17th-century tragicomedy written by Thomas Middleton, William Rowley, and Philip Massinger, one of the early books to deal with euthanasia in a fictional context is Anthony Trollope’s 1882 dystopian novel, The Fixed Period. Ricarda Huch’s novel The Deruga Case (1917) is about a physician who is acquitted after performing euthanasia on his dying ex-wife.
“Quality of Mercy” in The Prosecution Rests is a fable exploring the facets of aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and euthanasia. The story line makes no judgement but frees the reader to decide.
The plot of Christopher Buckley’s 2007 novel Boomsday involves the use of ‘Voluntary euthanasia’ of seniors as a political ploy to stave of the insolvency of social security as more and more of the aging US population reaches retirement age.
The films Children of Men and Soylent Green depict instances of government-sponsored euthanasia in order to strengthen their dystopian themes. The protagonist of the film Johnny Got His Gun is a brutally mutilated war veteran whose request for euthanasia furthers the work’s anti-war message. The recent films Mar Adentro and Million Dollar Baby argue more directly in favor of euthanasia by illustrating the suffering of their protagonists. These films have provoked debate and controversy in their home countries of Spain and the United States respectively.
In March 2010, the PBS Frontline TV program in the United States showed a documentary called “The Suicide Tourist” which told the story of Professor Craig Ewert, his family, and the Swiss group Dignitas, and their decision to commit assisted suicide in Switzerland after he was diagnosed and suffering with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Thrash metal band Megadeth’s 1994 album Youthanasia (the title is a pun on euthanasia) implies that society is euthanizing its youth.
The documentary film How to Die in Oregon follows the lives of select terminally ill individuals who weigh the options of continuing to live and euthanasia. This film employs emotional appeal to the audience on the controversial topic of voluntary euthanasia.
Go here to see the original:
Posted: November 10, 2016 at 5:32 pm
The MSPCAbelieves scientists ability to clone animals, to alter the genetic makeup of an animal, and to transfer pieces of genetic material from one species to another raises serious concerns for animals and humans alike.
This pagewill explore issues related to genetic engineering, transgenic animals, and cloned animals. It will examine the implications of genetic engineering on human and animal welfare and will touch on some related moral and ethical concerns that our society has so far failed to completely address.
Problems related to the physical and psychological well-being of cloned and transgenic animals, significant ethical concerns about the direct manipulation of genetic material, and questions about the value of life itself must all be carefully weighed against the potential benefits of genetic engineering for disease research, agricultural purposes, vaccine development, pharmaceutical products, and organ transplants.
Genetic engineering is, as yet, an imperfect science that yields imperfect results.
Changes in animal growth and development brought about by genetic engineering and cloning are less predictable, more rapid, and often more debilitating than changes brought about through the traditional process of selective breeding.
This is especially apparent with cloning. Success rates are incredibly low; on average, less than 5% of cloned embryos are born and survive.
Clones are created at a great cost to animals. The clones that are successful, as well as those that do not survive and the surrogates who carry them, suffer greatly.Many of the cloned animals that do survive are plagued by severe health problems.
Offspring suffer from severe birth defects such as Large Offspring Syndrome (LOS), in which the cloned offspring are significantly larger than normal fetuses; hydrops, a typically fatal condition in which the mother or the fetus swells with fluid; respiratory distress; developmental problems; malformed organs; musculoskeletal deformities; or weakened immune systems, to name only a few.
Additionally, surrogates are subjected to repeated invasive procedures to harvest their eggs, implant embryos, or due to the offsprings birth defects surgical intervention to deliver their offspring. All of these problems occur at much higher rates than for offspring produced via traditional breeding methods.
Cloning increases existing animal welfare and environmental concerns related to animal agriculture.
In 1996, the birth of the ewe, Dolly, marked the first successful cloning of a mammal from adult cells. At the time of her birth, the researchers who created Dolly acknowledged the inefficiency of the new technology: it took 277 attempts to create this one sheep, and of these, only 29 early embryos developed, and an even smaller number of these developed into live fetuses. In the end, Dolly was the sole surviving clone. She was euthanized in 2003 at just 6 years of age, about half as old as sheep are expected to live, and with health problems more common in older sheep.
Since Dollys creation, the process of cloning has not demonstrated great improvement in efficiency or rates of success. A 2003 review of cloning in cattle found that less than 5% of cloned embryos transferred into surrogate cows survived; a 2016 study showedno noticeable increase in efficiency, with the success rate being about 1%.
Currently, research is focused on cloning for agricultural purposes. Used alone, or in concert with genetic engineering, the objective is to clone the best stock to reproduce whole herds or flocks with desired uniform characteristics of a specific trait, such as fast growth, leaner meat, or higher milk production. Cloning is often pursued to produce animals that grow faster so they can be slaughtered sooner and to raise more animals in a smaller space.
For example, transgenic fish are engineered to grow larger at a faster rate and cows injected with genetically engineered products to increase their productivity. Another example of this is the use of the genetically engineered drug, bovine growth hormone (BGH or BST) to increase milk production in dairy cows. This has also been associated with increased cases of udder disease, spontaneous abortion, lameness, and shortened lifespan. The use of BGH is controversial; many countries (such as Canada, Japan, Australia, and countries in the EU) do not allow it, and many consumers try to avoid it.A rise in transgenic animals used for agriculture will only exacerbate current animal welfare and environmental concerns with existing intensive farming operations.(For more information on farming and animal welfare, visit the MSPCAs Farm Animal Welfare page.)
Much remains unknown about thepotential environmental impacts of widespread cloning of animals. The creation of genetically identical animals leads to concerns about limited agricultural animal gene pools. The effects of creating uniform herds of animals and the resulting loss of biodiversity, have significant implications for the environment and for the ability of cloned herds to withstand diseases. This could make an impact on the entireagriculture industry and human food chain.
These issues became especiallyconcerning when, in 2008, the Federal Drug Administration not only approved the sale of meat from the offspring of cloned animals, but also did not require that it be labeled as such. There have been few published studies that examine the composition of milk, meat, or eggs from cloned animals or their progeny, including the safety of eating those products. The health problems associated with cloned animals, particularly those that appear healthy but have concealed illnesses or problems that appear unexpectedly later in life, could potentially pose risks to the safety of the food products derived from those animals.
Genetically Engineered Pets
Companion animals have also been cloned. The first cloned cat, CC, was created in 2001. CCs creation marked the beginning of the pet cloning industry, in which pet owners could pay to bank DNA from their companion dogs and cats to be cloned in the future. In 2005, the first cloned dog was created; later, the first commercially cloned dog followed at a cost of $50,000. Many consumers assume that cloning will produce a carbon copy of their beloved pet, but this is not the case. Even though the animals are genetically identical, they often do not resemble each other physically or behaviorally.
To date, the pet cloning industry has not been largely successful. However, efforts to make cloning a successful commercial venture are still being put forth.RBio (formerly RNL Bio), a Korean biotechnology company, planned to create a research center that would produce 1,000 cloned dogs annually by 2013. However, RBio, considered a black market cloner, failed to make any significant strides in itscloning endeavors and seems to have been replaced by other companies, such as South Korean-based Sooam Biotech, now the worlds leader in commercial pet cloning. Since 2006, Sooam has cloned over 800 dogs, in addition to other animals, such as cattle and pigs, for breed preservation and medical research.
While South Korean animal cloning expands, the interest in companion animal cloning in the United States continues to remain low. In 2009, the American company BioArts ceased its dog cloning services and ended its partnership with Sooam, stating in a press release that cloning procedures were still underdeveloped and that the cloning market itself was weak and unethical. Companion animal cloning causes concern not only because of the welfare issues inherent in the cloning process, but also because of its potential to contribute to pet overpopulation problem in the US, as millions of animals in shelters wait for homes.
Cloning and Medical Research
Cloning is also used to produce copies of transgenic animals that have been created to mimic certain human diseases. The transgenic animals are created, then cloned, producing a supply of animals for biomedical testing.
A 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision to permit the patenting of a microorganism that could digest crude oil had a great impact on animal welfare and genetic engineering. Until that time, the U.S. Patent Office had prohibited the patenting of living organisms. However, following the Supreme Court decision, the Patent Office interpreted this ruling to extend to the patenting of all higher life forms, paving the way for a tremendous explosion of corporate investment in genetic engineering research.
In 1988, the first animal patent was issued to Harvard University for the Oncomouse, a transgenic mouse genetically modified to be more prone to develop cancers mimicking human disease. Since then, millions of transgenic mice have been produced. Transgenic rats, rabbits, monkeys, fish, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, cows, horses, cats, dogs, and other animals have also been created.
Both expected and unexpected results occur in the process of inserting new genetic material into an egg cell. Defective offspring can suffer from chromosomal abnormalities that can cause cancer, fatal bleeding disorders, inability to reproduce, early uterine death, lack of ability to nurse, and such diseases as arthritis, diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease.
The production of transgenic animals is of concern because genetic engineering is often used to create animals with diseases that cause intense suffering. Among the diseases that can be produced in genetically engineered research mice are diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, Huntingtons disease, Alzheimers disease, and a rare but severe neurological condition called Lesch-Nyhansyndromethat causes the sufferer to self-mutilate. Animals carrying the genes for these diseases can suffer for long periods of time, both in the laboratory and while they are kept on the shelf by laboratory animal suppliers.
Another reason for the production of transgenic animals is pharming, in which sheep and goats are modified to produce pharmaceuticals in their milk. In 2009, the first drug produced by genetically engineered animals was approved by the FDA. The drug ATryn, used to prevent fatal blood clots in humans, is derived from goats into which a segment of human DNA has been inserted, causing them to produce an anticoagulant protein in their milk. This marks the first time a drug has been manufactured from a herd of animals created specifically to produce a pharmaceutical.
A company has also manufactured a drug produced in the milk of transgenic rabbits to treat a dangerous tissue swelling caused by a human protein deficiency. Yet another pharmaceutical manufacturer, PharmAnthene, was funded by the US Department of Defense to develop genetically engineered goats whose milk produces proteins used in a drug to treat nerve gas poisoning. The FDA also approved a drug whose primary proteins are also found in the milk of genetically engineered goats, who are kept at a farm in Framingham, Massachusetts. Additionally, a herd of cattle was recently developed that produces milk containing proteins that help to treat human emphysema. These animals are essentially used as pharmaceutical-production machines to manufacture only those substances they were genetically modified to produce; they are not used as part of the normal food supply chain for items such as meat or milk.
The transfer of animal tissues from one species to another raises potentially serious health issues for animals and humans alike.
Some animals are also genetically modified to produce tissues and organs to be used for human transplant purposes (xenotransplantation). Much effort is being focused in this area as the demand for human organs for transplantation far exceeds the supply, with pigs the current focus of this research. While efforts to date have been hampered by a pig protein that can cause organ rejection by the recipients immune system, efforts are underway to develop genetically modified swine with a human protein that would mitigate the chance of organ rejection.
Little is known about the ways in which diseases can be spread from one species to another, raising concerns for both animals and people, and calling into question the safety of using transgenic pigs to supply organs for human transplant purposes. Scientists have identified various viruses common in the heart, spleen, and kidneys of pigs that could infect human cells. In addition, new research is shedding light on particles called prions that, along with viruses and bacteria, may transmit fatal diseases between animals and from animals to humans.
Acknowledging the potential for transmission of viruses from animals to humans, the National Institutes of Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,issued a moratorium in 2015 onxenotransplantation until the risks are better understood, ceasing funding until more research has been carried out. With the science of genetic engineering, the possibilities are endless, but so too are the risks and concerns.
Genetic engineering research has broad ethical and moral ramifications with few established societal guidelines.
While biotechnology has been quietly revolutionizing the science for decades, public debate in the United Statesover the moral, ethical, and physical effects of this research has been insufficient. To quote Colorado State University Philosopher Bernard Rollin, We cannot control technology if we do not understand it, and we cannot understand it without a careful discussion of the moral questions to which it gives rise.
Research into non-animal methods of achieving some of the same goals looks promising.
Researchers in the U.S. and elsewhere have found ways togenetically engineer cereal grains to produce human proteins. One example of this, developed in the early 2000s, is a strain of rice that can produce a human protein used to treat cystic fibrosis. Wheat, corn, and barley may also be able to be used in similar ways at dramatically lower financial and ethical costs than genetically engineering animals for this purpose.
Originally posted here:
Genetic Engineering | MSPCA-Angell
Posted: October 15, 2016 at 5:23 am
To begin, I am greatly happy that you, Mdal, joined my debate. It appears that your arguments appeals to logic, which is, in my opinion the most persuasive type of argument. I will primarily be appealing to logic, however will also touch on the ideals of value, as it is one of the main moral reasons I support this idea. I have also adapted the format of my arguments to suit your style.
Voltaire, an enlightenment thinker, regarded with as intuitive and influential a mind as Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Locke. All influential people who host beliefs that influenced the framers of the Constitution, and all of which created ideals that support, and influence my own belief on restricting the rights of the first amendment to hate group’s gathering in public areas.
I agree with your definition of what the constitution is advancing us towards, “a stable, liberty driven, peaceful, prosperous state” and would in turn like to define hate groups as any groups that gather with the intentions of breeding fear, terror, hate, or violence towards any particular group of people (defined as a group of similar races, religion, or belief [such as sexual orientation].) More specifically, I will be focusing on, and discussing the two groups you mentioned, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Aryan Brotherhood.
Now, before I begin my own arguments, I will answer your question: “who gets to say what is ok and what isn’t?”
I have long meditated in search of a proper way for our nation to adapt to such a monumental change as I have proposed. The only way that I could think of was to add a fourth branch to our current system of checks and balances. This branch would be in charge of adapting the constitution to better suit the nation as it evolves (including any exceptions the members of this branch deem necessary to create.) They would have equal power to the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and would their adjustments would be checked by both the legislative branch (requiring a majority vote as opposed to the current two thirds vote necessary to create an amendment) and the judicial branch to make sure that any and all changes and exceptions created by this new branch follow the main ideals that are upheld within our nation, and do not violate the main intentions of the framers ideals. I realize that this is also a very controversial topic, and would love to hear any and all concerns you have regarding this issue; however, I do not want this to distract us from the main topic of our debate.
Rebuttal #1: In response to the “slippery-slope” argument Logic: The system of checks and balances was created in order to stop one particular group from gaining power. Adapting this system by creating another branch should quite any worries you had about the “slippery-slope” that may occur, as the extent of the branches power will be modified by two other branches, the Legislative and the Judicial. Therefore, the new branch will not be able to abuse this power, and they, because of these restrictions, would not be able to quiet the entire, “market place of ideas.”
Rebuttal #2: In response to the argument that this will limit the market place of ideas Logic: You brought up the argument that if we allow bad ideas to mix with good ideas, then the good ideas will “rise to the top.” In response to this, I would like to bring up the case of Osama Bin Laden, a terrorist who has, what are commonly assumed to be “bad ideas.” Because of Bin Laden’s influential abilities, his bad ideas were able to rise above the good ideas, and eventually led to a great influx of new members into terrorist beliefs, and further led to the tragic destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001.
I am in no way saying that the KKK or the Aryan Brotherhood has equal power to Terrorists, but I am instead proposing that they have similar bad ideas focused on fear and hatred towards a group of people. If the KKK were to gain an influential leader (horrendous, but influential none-the-less) as Osama Bin Laden, who’s to say whether or not our current small national terrorist group the KKK would turn into a world-wide terrorist organization such as that created by Osama Bin Laden?
It is better to regulate the public meetings of these organizations now, as opposed to later when their power may exceed that of the government they are encompassed by.
Rebuttal #3: In response to the argument that Free speech keeps our government accountable. Logic: As the government is not a group of people regulated by race, religion, or belief (refer to definition of groups of people). And the branch will only have the power to regulate hate groups from publicly discussing (note I am not restricting their right to gather in privacy, purely in public) their ideas, the proposition will have no effect on those who wish to speak out against the government.
Now onto my main argument:
Argument: We are currently not fully acknowledging people’s natural rights Logic: According to the natural rights originally proposed, and supported by enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau all people are born with the right to live his/her life any way he/she likes without causing physical harm to another individual, directly or indirectly.
What I question within this right is the restriction, “without causing physical harm to another individual, directly or indirectly.” I concede that I am working under the assumption that hate groups gather with a common goal to assert their superiority (through violence or terror) over a different group of people. I also concede that I work under the assumption that mental harm can become so intense that it can eventually harm a person physically (I only state this because this was not common knowledge around the time of the enlightenment, and therefore was not included in their right.) I believe that these are fairly common assumptions, and therefore will continue with my argument. If we allow groups that have a goal of asserting superiority over a specific group of people, whether they currently act upon this goal, or whether they plan on accomplishing this goal in the future, they either directly or indirectly threaten the safety of others.
I also could go on, however do not wish to state all of my arguments in the first round of our five round discussion.
Thank you again for accepting this debate, so far it proves to be quite promising.
I will first respond to tsmart’s rebuttals to my 3 opening arguments, from there I will counter tsmart’s single argument, finally I must respond to the possible creation of a 4th branch of government as the actor created by tsmart in this case. Though I too do not want this debate dramatically side tracked by a debate about the actor who will create the proposed new laws set forth by tsmart. However as he uses this new 4th branch as an answer to my 3rd argument it has become very important to the core of this debate and will thus be discussed when answering Tsmart’s first rebuttal.
With this signposting finished, lets get to some arguments.
Rebuttal #1: Tsmart’s Rebuttal assures us that through the creation of the 4th branch of government who’s sole job is two interpret freedom of speech, and decide what is and what is not allowable under our new laws which limit certain types of speech. Tsmart’s exact quote of what the 4th branch of government would be is: “This branch would be in charge of adapting the constitution to better suit the nation as it evolves (including any exceptions the members of this branch deem necessary to create.) They would have equal power to the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and would their adjustments would be checked by both the legislative branch (requiring a majority vote as opposed to the current two thirds vote necessary to create an amendment) and the judicial branch to make sure that any and all changes and exceptions created by this new branch follow the main ideals that are upheld within our nation, and do not violate the main intentions of the framers ideals.”
My response: Whooooooo eeee! Where to start on this one?
To begin with it seems at first blush that the 4th branch is going to usurp what has been the power of the Supreme Court, namely interpreting the constitution. However upon closer examination it seems that Tsmart actually has created a body whose job is much more than merely interpreting the constitution, it is actually a body whose job is to CHANGE the constitution. So basically this new body is invented to abridge and thus destroy the power of the 1st amendment (one of the most important amendments in our constitution, one who has been upheld through countless court cases) take the power of the states and congress (the governmental structures who usually keep all of the checks and balances on the creation of new amendments)and given it all to this new 4th branch. Basically we have reorganized the very makeup of American government for the express reason of censoring people. *****In a cost benefit analysis the cost of destabilizing the government by shifting around the powers set in our government by our founding fathers to a new, strange, and untested power structure for the possibly non-existent benefit of censoring hate groups seems dramatically unbalanced. Under this cost benefit analysis it seems as if any marginal benefits we might get from censorship are DRAMATICALLY outweighed by the dangers of the radical upsetting of our governmental structure and thus shows that the CON’s proposed solutions just aren’t worth the trouble.
Rebuttal #2: In response to my argument for an open Market Place of Ideas (something we have now but will lose if we lose Freedom of Speech) Tsmart brings up the example of Osoma Bin Laden and how his ideas have risen to the top in some places and beat out better ideas, so we should instead keep these sort of ideas out of the public’s purview.
My Response: Tsmart actually just proved my point by using the example of Osoma Bin Laden, tell me readers (and Tsmart) have you been convinced by listening to Bin Laden on our television? It wasn’t hidden from us. Everyone in the US is allowed to listen to what Bin Laden has to say, yet HERE in the US where the market place of ideas flourishes Bin Laden’s brand of extremism hasn’t gained a foothold. The places where he is much more popular don’t have the myriad of view points like we have the capacity of getting here in the States, instead in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations in the Middle East we find a correlation between the free-er the speech, the less extremist the views in the country. This is because when the market place of ideas is allowed to work, people are able to make well informed decisions and that usually leads them away from extremist views and towards the center ground when considering an issue. Thus we can see how Tsmart’s example just proves exactly how important the market place of ideas really is and how important it is to keep from abridging the first amendment which is SO key to keeping the market place of ideas viable.
Rebuttal #3: I stated that freedom of speech is a huge check on the government. Tsmart says: “…the branch will only have the power to regulate hate groups from publicly discussing (note I am not restricting their right to gather in privacy, purely in public) their ideas, the proposition will have no effect on those who wish to speak out against the government.” My Response: What about the hate groups Tsmart? What happens if an incredibly racist, cruel, mean, hate filled Neo Nazi has a well conceived critique of the the government, but wants to express this brilliant critique in hate filled language? His speech, though offensive to you and me, will also give a benefit to the society because he will point out something about the government which needs to be looked at. Re-reading your quote you say that the hate group will be unable to discuss their ideas in public, what if their ideas have to do with the government? Is this a new exception? Are Hate groups allowed to talk about the government? You see how restricting even a small part of Freedom of Speech has huge ramifications for everyone in our society? Rather than risk the benefit of one of the best checks on our government (freedom of speech) we should play it safe and not try to silence people we don’t agree with.
On to Tsmart’s argument of expanded natural rights, His claim is that if people are railed against in public by hate groups they may be harmed mentally and that may eventually lead to physical harm. Thus we should protect these minorities and targeted groups from the hate groups.
Response to Tsmart’s Argument: Tsmart, it seems as though you have come to an overreaching understanding of what the government is supposed to do in situations like this. Your solution is to take preemptive action by taking away freedoms from people who might threaten others. However it seems as though the goal you are trying to accomplish is to make certain that the targeted minority groups ARE safe as well as help them FEEL safe. This goal can be met much better by an investment in anti-hate laws which will increase the punishment for hate crimes, or better yet you could increase the capabilities of the police and thus keep extremist groups like the hate organizations in line. However abridging freedom of speech is not the best, or even a decent, way of defending targeted minority groups.
Debate: Freedom of Speech | Debate.org