Friday, November 26, 2010

Life Lines 51


Here are some questions rarely asked in presidential debates. Unlike questions about being a Mormon, a pot smoker, a cold woman, a Creationist, a philanderer, and other mud-slinging questions both the press and the candidates themselves resort to, my questions are about issues that touch our lives in fundamental ways. They are also unlikely to be answered in 30-second responses or smaller sound bites on the evening news. OK candidates; let’s hear your reasoned replies:

1. What is your timetable for the consequences of climate change? Are you thinking five, ten, twenty, or one hundred years down the road? What is your evidence for your timetable of concern? If you doubt there is such a problem, what are your scientific sources of your doubts?
2. How would you go about fixing or preventing the deterioration of the infrastructure of our roads, ports, airports, bridges, and dams? How would you assess our needs? What would you regulate? What would you allocate? Who would supervise the assessment and response and assure compliance?
3. What would you do to encourage, subsidize, or promote non-carbon, renewable energy sources over the next generation—especially geothermal, tidal, solar, and wind energy sources? What incentives would you give carbon-based energy companies to shift to these other forms of energy production?
4. How would you bring about health coverage for all Americans? Are you willing to abandon the uncovered children and the poor, the underinsured middle class whose employers have ended or cut back their insurance for employees? If not, how will you fund a program that assures a minimum adequate coverage?
5. How aggressively will you press industrial polluters to clean up their own messes and regulate industries that dump wastes in rivers, lakes, or oceans or ship them to poor countries willing to trade health for money? If you believe waste is not an individual’s nor an industry’s financial responsibility, are you willing to have the government pay for its proper disposal?
6. How should the public health be protected from hazardous contamination of foods, toys, and other commodities brought in from other countries? Should US inspectors sent abroad do this or should products be quarantined until shown to be safe? Or should the US work with International Agencies to set up standards and see that they are enforced? Who should pay for this?
7. What steps should we take to assure our population that new diseases arising anyplace in the world do not overwhelm our own population? Is our present reliance on the Center for Disease Control adequate? Should we subsidize non-profitable drugs for rare diseases or for worldwide major diseases (like malaria) that are not common in the United States?
8. How willing are you to prevent religious views of some religions about science from being national, state, or local policy for all other religions or for scientists themselves? Would you speak out against breaches of the “wall of separation” between politics and religion that Thomas Jefferson urged as national policy?

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