Author Archive

Tort system isn’t pushing medical costs

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Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, along with others, criticized healthcare reform in 2009 for not dealing with malpractice claims.  Steele and others see the tort system as a significant factor in rising healthcare costs, including malpractice insurance premiums. To be complete, they contend that healthcare reform must include tort reform.

It’s an attractive argument but without supporting evidence. A Government Accountability Office study completed in June 2003 concluded that, while increased losses paid by insurers appeared to be ...

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Electing judges often results in political taint

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Two events in2009 illustrates what happens when money and politics are involved with the selection of judges. The first is a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that mimics John Grisham’s novel, The Appeal, and the other is Gov. Ted Strickland’s appointment of two judges last week.

The reality version of The Appeal concerns Don Blankenship, chief executive officer of A.T. Massey Coal Co., who almost single-handedly changed the composition of the West Virginia Supreme Court by supporting Brent Benjamin against incumbent ...

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There’s a better way to get better judges

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In an op-ed piece published in May, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor concluded that, based on a poll, “there is widespread agreement that we should elect our judges.” Believing it futile to advocate merit appointment but seeing some change as necessary, she has proposed eight changes to the judicial election system. In a piece published on July 13, 2013, attorney Bret A. Adams bitterly criticized judicial elections for producing incompetent judges.

So, what’s really going on?  First, let’s look ...

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Torture leads us back to Vietnam

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When the U.S. government acknowledged in 2009 that enemy combatants captured in Iraq and Afghanistan were tortured, two questions arose.  Was torture justified, and should we punish those responsible for approving torture?

The first question is difficult to answer, for the evidence is inconclusive as to whether torture has produced much information of any worth.  Some maintain we gained valuable information through torture.  Others contend that the information obtained by torture might have been procured through other means.

So, if the answer to the ...

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Limit corruption by limiting money

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Congressional Republicans tell us we need a constitutional amendment that requires a balanced budget. They’re right about the need for an amendment but wrong about the subject. We need an amendment that limits campaign contributions. Only then will sanity and adult discussions return to Congress.

The problem starts with the role of money within the parties. To rise in stature, legislators have to support their party, both by vote and with fundraising. Loyalty to the party means appointment to key committees, ...

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Zero-tolerance policies bleed education

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In addition to the problems listed on the national report card it received in 2012, Ohio’s education system must face the consequences of zero tolerance policies: discrimination and higher incarceration rates.  Zero tolerance came about in 1998, when all boards of education were required to adopt “a policy of zero tolerance for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior.”

The broad mandate of zero tolerance and the failure of some administrators to employ critical thinking in applying it have resulted in some absurd results. ...

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Ohio lawmakers must remain vigilant over fracking

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“All that glitters is not gold.” Shakespeare’s warning in The Merchant of Venice may apply to fracking, where large quantities of high-pr essured fluids are discharged underground in order to dislodge natural gas. Fracking’s glitter is the promise of bountiful energy and jobs.  So seductive is this promise that people can easily be persuaded to rationalize the significant environmental risks that the drilling companies will always minimize.

The two most significant risks appear to be contamination ...

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The NRA suppresses studies on gun violence

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Ever wonder why we study highway collisions, smoking and HIV/AIDS for the purpose of reducing risk but don’t do the same for gun-related fatalities? It’s because the National Rifle Association purposefully works to suppress such research. The NRA will likely lobby against the $10 million proposed by President Barack Obama in his 2014 budget to study gun violence prevention.

The NRA’s battle against research began when the New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 1993 about guns in the ...

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NRA has lost its way

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What do the Great Oz and the National Rifle Association have in common? Both make a lot of noise and try to intimidate anybody who questions them, but unlike the Great Oz, the NRA has real power.

State Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, articulated the NRA’s position in June 2012: “Our Second Amendment rights have been infringed countless times in the past. If we let someone come and take one right away from us … we diminish what it means ...

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Do people have the right to own any semiautomatic rifle, magazine size? Maybe not

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Are gun advocates right when they say they have a constitutional right to carry assault weapons such as the AR-15 and large capacity clips? Recent court decisions suggest not.

Until the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed in 2008 a handgun ban in District of Columbia v. Heller, it was unclear whether the Second Amendment was a collective or personal right.

The court’s holding that the amendment conveys a personal right to own handguns was significant, but so too was how Justice Antonin Scalia ...

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