Category Archives: Health and Medicine

Robert Samuelson And Social Security’s Pro-Rich Bias

A typical nuanced view of the problem...

                                    A typical nuanced view of the problem…

My father was in the private pension business before he died, and the idiocy of how Social Security was set up drove him to distraction. I’m pretty sure he voted for Ross Perot in 1992 because Perot argued that it made no sense not to means test the program. I’m tempted to take a copy of Robert J. Samuelson’s op-ed last week to Arlington National Cemetery and leave it on his gravestone.

Samuelson is reliably one of the most rational, thoughtful and probing of all the op-ed columnists. Last week he wrote about how the life-expectancy gap between the wealthier segments of U.S. society and the poorer ones made Social Security as it is currently constituted a significant contributor to the income gap that progressives desperately want to make a key issue in the 2016 election, because dividing the nation by class (and race, ethnicity, religion and gender) is a big part of their playbook.

He wrote…

“The figures come from a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which estimated life expectancies for workers born in 1930 (now 85) and 1960 (now 55) at age 50. The findings are stark. For the richest fifth of men, there was a 7.1-year increase in life expectancy, from 81.7 for those born in 1930 to 88.8 years for those born in 1960. Meanwhile, for the poorest fifth of men, life expectancy fell slightly, from 76.6 years for those born in 1930 to 76.1 for those born in 1960. The changes for the remaining men also parallel income: For the second richest fifth, the increase was 8 years to 87.8 years; for the third richest, 5.3 years to 83.4 years; and for the fourth richest, 1.1 years to 78.3 years.”

Nobody should be surprised that wealth equals health. It is difficult to pinpoint why the gap is so large, but should we have to? It seems intuitively obvious. Many  disadvantages–race, upbringing, family stability, good roles models, education, character, intelligence, opportunities, culture, neighborhoods—that undermine quality of life simultaneously or in combination with each other handicap earning ability  and health before we even get to the question of medical care.

Samuelson goes on… Continue reading


Filed under U.S. Society, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Health and Medicine, Finance

Let Us All Bow In Gratitude To Colorado For Generously Sacrificing Its Children And The Safety And Welfare of Its Citizens To Prove What Responsible People Knew Already: Pot Should Stay Illegal

Hey, Que pasa! You idiot...

Hey, Que pasa! You idiot…

I’m probably going to stray a bit from strictly professional rhetoric here, but this really makes me angry.

According to a report released this month by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, there has been a 29% increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits and a 38 % increase in pot-related hospitalizations during retail marijuana’s first year in Colorado.

[ NOTE: This is a correction. The original version of the post gave the wrong impression that hospitalizations were up: this was not my intent. Thanks to Humble Talent for being persistent. Ethics Alarms apologizes for the error. We’ll try to do better.]

Now 11% of Colorado’s 12 to 17 year-olds use pot,  56% higher than the national average.There has also been a 40% increase in drug-related suspensions and expulsions in school, primarily from marijuana.

Mercy, what a surprise! Who could have predicted that? Well me, for one, as well as others neither dedicated to getting their periodic recreational buzz nor addled by moldy Sixties cant.

Of course making pot legal and widely available for adults would cause an epidemic of use by kids, who, the evidence increasingly shows, may suffer long term adverse effectsOf course it is causing accidents. Of course adding a third harmful legal drug to the devastating and deadly duo of alcohol and tobacco is going to make society dumber, less safe and less productive. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

Did You Enjoy Your Pro Football Today? Here’s What You Were Cheering For…


From “Frontline”:

Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified the degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 96 percent of NFL players that they’ve examined and in 79 percent of all football players. The disease is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and can lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia.

In total, the lab has found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

Any other non-essential industry that carried this much risk of crippling injury and death for its employees would be immediately the object of public protests, activist action, new government regulation and major fines and sanctions. Because of all the money involved and because of an ongoing effort by the NFL to deflect attention from its unconscionable business (there was more uproar over Tom Brady’s suspension than there has been over the concussion scandal), players are still getting brain-injured every Sunday, Monday and Thursday while the crowds cheer, the beer flows and the networks cash in. Parents still steer their kids into playing tackle football, and the carnage continues.

Yes, pro football is an exciting game. Too bad that keeping it exciting kills people, but it does. The game isn’t worth it.

No game is.

I wonder how long it will take for that to sink in?


Filed under Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Sports, Workplace

NPR Was Going On Today About The Terrible Scourge Of Sex-Selection Abortion In India, And How Girls In India, “Have To Fight For Their Rights Before They’re Even Born”…Wait, WHAT???

You're exaggerating: they were just potential baby girls...

You’re exaggerating: they were just potential baby girls…

Driving from Boston to Providence, I had an opportunity to listen to a Public Radio International report (via Boston’s NPR station, WGBH) about the shortage of women in India as a result of sex-selection abortion. I heard an  interview with an activist in Mumbai who was fighting to get more laws passed to prevent the process as a violation of women’s rights. “The most basic right of all,” intoned a female reporter. “The right to exist.”

Waiiit a minute. As the Robot used to say on “Lost in Space,” “That does not compute.”

This same network routinely features angry, self-righteous and mocking feminists who condemn as the paleolithic enemies of women any one who dares to question the ethics of abortion on demand. The unborn have no right to exist, says NOW, NARAL, Nancy Pelosi, the casual harvesters of little livers at Planned Parenthood, and when they are talking about the U.S., NPR.

In India, however, there is a right to exist, and feminists are fighting for it.

Sorry to be obtuse, and I realize I may be missing something, but what is the outrageous distinction here that makes an Indian mother’s abortion of a healthy, gestating girl because dowries are too expensive and boys are more lucrative a human rights violation, worthy of that special tone of sadness and superiority NPR announcers get, but Laura from Nebraska’s abortion of her healthy, gestating boy because she doesn’t want to interrupt graduate school and isn’t wild about the father a noble expression of modern female power? Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

The Ethics Alarms New NFL Season Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ex-Football Fan Steve Almond


“We know, on some level, that a good many of the players we cheer for each Sunday will be revealed as all too human when they wind up battling dementia. But… fans have a whole suitcase full of rationalizations intended to preserve our right to consume, and thus sponsor, this hyper-violent game. “The players know the risks!” we insist. “They get paid millions!” But ultimately, our most effective dodge resides in our willingness to view the game as one big movie.”

Steve Almond, author of “Against Football, in an essay today for the Washington Post titled “Hollywood’s version of the gridiron is just fantasy football
(It hypes violence for the sake of drama — then reassures us everything is okay)”

Perfect timing for this article, a reminder of what fans are really watching and cheering for during the pro football season, which began today.

No, I won’t be watching.

Her’s another chilling quote from Almond’s article: Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Quotes, Health and Medicine, Popular Culture, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethics Hero: Advice Columnist Carolyn Hax

But it worked for Scarlet!

But it worked for Scarlett!

I’ve made Hax, the Washington Post’s relationship advice columnist, an Ethics Hero before. This time it’s for something more than her usual spot-on instincts about right and wrong, and more about her method of expressing them. You know I am not fond of weasel words, equivocation and gentle rhetoric when emphatic prose is called for, and Hax, though she is more prudent than I, laps her competition when it comes to firing off both barrels when it is called for.

In this response, she was responding to a man whose brother stopped speaking to him after he gently suggested to him that his niece had a huge honker for her face and it might be time to visit the local plastic surgeon. The advice-seeker lives  “in a community where a lot of teenage girls have cosmetic surgery at 16,” he explained, and both his wife and daughter had their noses made button-like. “Was I over the line in making this suggestion in a private setting?” he asked Hax.

Her unrestrained, wise and glorious response: Continue reading


Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Professions

Vox’s Hypocritical Attack On President McKinley

Mckinley ButtonNow we get to it: William McKinley doesn’t “deserve” to have a mountain named after him. That’s the hilarious argument of progressive-mouthpiece Vox, and it really is the height of hypocrisy, naked partyism, and a window into the corrupt and shameless mentality of the liberal pundit establishment.

President McKinley led the nation out of a terrible depression, and Vox explains that he deserves no credit for it at all because he was lucky. Well, in leadership and history, you get credit for luck,  because doing everything brilliantly and still seeing your army, organization or nation go down the tubes isn’t being a great leader no matter how you spin it. This, as I have written before, is the central, operating myth being drummed into Americans’ minds by President Obama’s minions and journalist-enablers: it isn’t what really happens that matters, it’s what the President wanted to happen. It’s not the bad consequences of policies that we should pay attention to, but the good intentions under which they were undertaken.

That is, in a word, batty. But that’s what the echo chamber wants us to believe. It has reached its apotheosis of absurdity with the proposed Iran deal, which is being defended on the grounds that it is aimed at preventing a nuclear armed Iran, even though that is a goal it can’t plausibly achieve. But it is intended to make the world less dangerous, and that’s what matters.

I have tried to assess how many past Presidents would respond to this theory with “What?,” how many with “You must be joking!” and how many with, “Oh, sure, it’s worth a shot.” In the latter category, so far, I have Carter, Pierce, because he’d be drunk, maybe Ford, because he might not understand the question, and perhaps Wilson—certainly after his stroke. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Leadership