Public Policy

  • Vaccine bottles and a syringe

    Pick Your Poison: Ignoring Science at Our Own Peril

    Throughout human history, our progress has been intimately linked to advances in science. Even in the so-called “dark ages,” the light of learning was turned on the natural world.  From those efforts came Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Galileo.  New understandings of the universe based on observation with new instruments challenged world-views, and the Pope, in one of the great refutations of science in recorded history, forced Galileo to recant his … Read More

  • close up of the capitol building on a United States bank note

    Follow the Money

    In a conversation about campaign finance reform years ago, a friend and former colleague told me that he believed “money is a form of speech.”  The same argument underpinned the majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United and poses a fundamental threat to our democracy. Any question about the corrosive and dangerous effects of money in our electoral system can be resolved with a quick look at … Read More

  • Who Are We As a People?

    Poverty in the United States is destroying lives and making this great nation weaker. In Maryland this past week, Rodney Todd, a single, working-father of seven died, along with all of his children, from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in their home.  Investigators found a generator in the kitchen that was out of gas.  Several days earlier, the local utility had disconnected power to the home because a stolen electric meter … Read More

  • Panelists Discuss the Public’s Perception of Science

    The Pell Center’s presentation earlier this month, “Science Under Attack: Politics, Policy, and Science in America” discussed the public’s perception of science, and focused mainly on global warming.  The presentation featured Suzanne Shaw, director of communications at the Union of Concerned Scientists and Todd Anthony Bianco, principal policy associate at the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. Shaw started off by discussing the public’s beliefs and mentioned that most Americans trust … Read More

  • War and Peace: Iran and Eastern Europe

    Barack Obama ran for president in 2008 on the promise that he would end America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and change the tone of American foreign policy.  He was motivated by a belief that Iraq was misguided and that the country was weary of war.  In addition, many Americans believed that the perception of American belligerence in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, contributed to insecurity around the world.  … Read More

  • Tax Cuts and the Economy

    Like other elections before, the 2016 presidential campaign will feature the pros and cons of tax cuts. An article in the Washington Post this week discusses Republican hopeful Marco Rubio’s newly unveiled tax plan, which offers significant cuts to corporations and wealthy individuals, while also increasing tax credits that go to middle class families with children. The Post piece focuses on the political calculus behind the plan – e.g. it … Read More

  • People Power

    It has been easy, in recent months, to focus on what’s going wrong in the world.  Wars, terrorism, and disease compete for our attention each week.  None of them are hopeful.  But this week, events on two sides of the Atlantic give us hope. This past week, more than 1000 Muslims formed a ring of peace around a synagogue in Oslo.  They stood hand in hand with Jews to protect … Read More

  • White Pell Center logo with blue background.

    If the Supreme Court Rules Against the Affordable Care Act…

    A commentary on Bloomberg.com this week points out that the U.S. may be headed towards significant economic challenges, as a Supreme Court case threatens to eliminate the subsidies that help millions of Americans afford health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (so-called “Obamacare”). As the Bloomberg piece’s author puts it: “The immediate effect of a ruling against the ACA would be to hurl the political system, and no small part … Read More

  • Upcoming Panel Discussion | Science Under Attack: Politics, Policy, and Science in America

    On Wednesday, Mar. 4, the Pell Center will host a panel of speakers to address questions about the role of science in public decision-making in the United States. The panel discussion will be held at 7:00 p.m. in Bazarsky Lecture Hall in O’Hare Academic Center. Historically, the U.S. has been on the cutting edge of science – a practical society that leads the world in innovation and technology development. But while … Read More

  • Picks of the Week | U.S. and Ukraine; Scientists vs. the Public; Trans-Pacific Partnership

    American Arms and the War in Ukraine U.S. Considers Supplying Arms to Ukraine Forces, Officials Say | The New York Times The Escalation Advocates are Wrong on Ukraine | War on the Rocks Russian engagement in Eastern Ukraine is deepening, and fears are rising that when the conflict will grow in the coming months.  In the United States, an influential Washington think-tank issued a report, calling for the provision of … Read More