Monthly Archives: October 2013

Bringing Lincoln Back From The Dead: Luxury Cars and American Automaking

Today, NPR’s Planet Money podcast reran a story about how Lincoln is attempting to recapture its image as a cool luxury car and the economic implications of a successful re-branding. 

Here is a description of the podcast: 

Lincolns used to be the coolest cars in the world. They used to be driven by kings, moguls and celebrities. Today, Lincolns are driven by the old, the out-of-touch, and the guys hustling you at the airport.

On today’s show: How Lincoln is trying to regain its former glory — and how the story of Lincoln may be the story of the U.S. auto industry, for better or for worse.

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October 30, 2013 · 9:29 pm

“League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis”

Recently, PBS’s Frontline ran a powerful documentary about concussions in the NFL.

The full video is available for free from the Frontline website.

Here is a description of the program:

From PBS and Frontline: The National Football League, a multibillion-dollar commercial juggernaut, presides over America’s indisputable national pastime. But the NFL is under assault as thousands of former players and a host of scientists claim the league has covered up how football inflicted long-term brain injuries on many players. In this special investigation, FRONTLINE and prize-winning journalists Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN reveal the hidden story of the NFL and brain injuries, drawn from their forthcoming book League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth (Crown Archetype, October 2013). What did the NFL know and when did it know it? What’s the truth about the risks to players? What can be done? The FRONTLINE investigation details how, for years, the league denied and worked to refute scientific evidence that the violent collisions at the heart of the game are linked to an alarming incidence of early onset dementia, catastrophic brain damage, death, and other devastating consequences for some of football’s all-time greats.

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October 29, 2013 · 8:03 pm

Should Addicts Be Paid Not To Have Kids?

Several months ago, WNYC’s Radiolab ran a story about Barbara Harris and her daughter Destiny. Barbara Harris is the founder is the founder of a controversial organization, Project Prevention.  Project Prevention pays drugs addicts to be receive vasectomies or tubal ligation.  

Here is a description of the story: 

When Barbara Harris was 37, she started wishing she could have a daughter. It was 1989, and by that time only two of her six sons were still at home. So she filled out all the paperwork, and later that summer got a call about an 8-month-old baby girl. As soon as Barbara met her, she knew that was it — this was her daughter. She named her Destiny Harris. But before she could take her home, the social worker told Barbara that Destiny had tested positive for crack, PCP, and heroin. Her mom was addicted to drugs, and doctors said Destiny was delayed mentally and physically as a result, and always would be.

Producer Pat Walters flew down to North Carolina to meet Barbara and Destiny, who’s now 22 years old. And Barbara tells Pat, a few months after she brought Destiny home, she and her husband got another call. Destiny’s mom had given birth to another boy. They went to the hospital to pick him up, and he was going through withdrawal from heroin. Then Barbara got another call: a little girl. And a year later, another little boy. By 1994 she’d adopted four kids from the same woman. And she was feeling angry — how could this be allowed to happen? She decided to take a stand by trying to get a law passed for longterm birth control. And when that failed, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She founded an organization called Project Prevention, and began paying women with drug addiction to get IUDs, or get sterilized.

Lynn Paltrow, the Executive Director and founder of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, argues that Project Prevention is misguided and harmful, and articulates many of the objections raised by Barbara’s critics.

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October 28, 2013 · 9:36 pm

Sunday Funday: Halloween Costumes and the Objectification of Women

Admittedly, this edition of Sunday Funday’s link to public policy may be a bit tenuous; however, the video above from The Daily Show discusses the objectification of women in the context of “sexy” Halloween costumes. Jon Stewart spoke with The Daily Show’s Senior Women’s Issues Correspondent, Kristen Schaal, about this seasonal issue.

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October 27, 2013 · 4:42 pm

Ivory Tower: Are Democrats Serious About Budget Cutting?

This was one of the questions being discussed on WCNY’s The Ivory Tower.

This edition of The Ivory Tower, hosted by David Rubin, Dean of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, featured a powerhouse panel including of Lisa Dolak (Syracuse University College of Law), Bob Spitzer (SUNY Cortland), Bob Greene (Cazenovia College), Tara Ross (Onondaga County Community College), and Kristi Andersen (Syracuse University).

The panel also discussed a program proposed by Governor Cuomo aimed at boosting tourism in Upstate New York with adds in New York City.

Here is a description of the program:

The panelists assess whether Democrats want to strike a budget-cutting bargain with the Republicans. The the panelists provide suggestions to Gov. Cuomo for how to spend tourism money to attract New York City residents Upstate.


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October 26, 2013 · 1:45 pm

Break Up The Big Banks?

That was the proposition being debated on the Intelligence Squared podcast.

Moderated by ABC News’ John Donvan, this debate featured Richard Fisher–President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and Simon Johnson–MIT Professor of Entrepreneurship, who argued for the motion; and Douglas Elliott–Fellow in Economic Studies for the Brookings Institution and Paul Saltzman, President of the Clearing House Association, who argued against the motion.

Here is description of the debate:

To prevent the collapse of the global financial system in 2008, Treasury committed 245 billion in taxpayer dollars to stabilize America’s banking institutions. Today, banks that were once “too big to fail” have only grown bigger, with JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs holding assets equal to over 50% of the U.S. economy. Were size and complexity at the root of the financial crisis, or do calls to break up the big banks ignore real benefits that only economies of scale can pass on to customers and investors?

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October 25, 2013 · 7:42 pm

The Problem with Possibly Postponing the ACA’s Insurance Mandate

Yesterday, NPR’s Story of the Day podcast replayed a story from All Things Considered which discusses the problems created by the glitches in the governments Affordable Care Act (ACA) website. Some critics of the ACA are calling for a delay in the implementation of the insurance mandate.  If people cannot sign up for insurance with the government, how can the government penalize people for not having insurance?  As the story explains, the seemingly simple fix of delaying the insurance mandate is complicated. 

Here is are excerpts from the story: 

One of the big questions now circulating concerns what will happen if the website can’t be fixed soon. Will the government really penalize people for not having insurance if they can’t realistically buy it?

Technically, people are supposed to have coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014. But there’s a 90-day grace period, meaning you actually have until the end of March, which is also when the current open enrollment period ends. . . .

Even the administration says it wants to fix this. At a briefing Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “In terms of the Feb. 15 date that you just mentioned, there’s no question that there’s a disconnect between open enrollment and the individual responsibility time frames in the first year only. And those are going to be addressed.”

And if that mismatch does get changed, it would give people an additional month and a half to sign up without risking a penalty — and without extending the existing open enrollment date.

But what about the possibility of extending the enrollment period, which even some Democratsare now calling for if the website isn’t fixed soon? Or of waiving the penalty for the first year?

That’s where you start to run into big issues with the insurance companies that are offering these products in the exchanges. They set their premiums based on the rules as they’re written — that healthy young people would be strongly encouraged to sign up by the prospect of a penalty, and that they would be encouraged to sign up within this six-month window.

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October 24, 2013 · 3:02 pm