Notes on things under discussion
United Methodist Book of Discipline.
UMC Peace with Justice series. UMC Justice Paper. Wikipedia.
Topic: Food Justice
Deaths from Nutritional Deficiency.
Calories per person.
U.S. total food expenditure share of disposable personal income, 1929-2013. Daily per capita food supply. Daily calories per capita v GDP. Daily per capita Protein vs GDP
ChatGPT provided these sources for information on food waste:
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): UNEP is a UN agency that focuses on environmental issues, including food waste. They have published several reports on global and regional food waste, which can be found on their website: https://www.unep.org/foodwasteindex but that link wasn’t right. here is the right one: https://www.unep.org/resources/report/unep-food-waste-index-report-2021
- Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP): WRAP is a UK-based NGO that works to reduce waste and promote sustainability. They have conducted research on food waste in the UK and other countries, and their reports can be found on their website: https://wrap.org.uk/
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): FAO is a UN agency that works on issues related to food and agriculture. They have published reports on food waste in various countries and regions, which can be found on their website: http://www.fao.org/food-loss-and-food-waste/en/
- European Commission: The European Commission has published several reports on food waste in the European Union, which can be found on their website: https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food_waste_en
- ReFED: ReFED is a US-based NGO that focuses on food waste reduction. They have conducted research on food waste in the US and published reports, which can be found on their website: https://refed.com/
Alcohol and Other Drugs
Out of curiosity, I set up an account at OpenAI’s ChatGPT (https://chat.openai.com/chat), an artificial intelligence engine that is getting a lot of press. I asked it some questions about our topic for tomorrow, here are the questions and it’s answers.
Question: How big a problem is alcohol consumption in the United States?
ChatGPT: Alcohol consumption is a significant problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use is responsible for approximately 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and is a leading cause of preventable death. It is also a significant contributor to a variety of health problems, including liver disease, certain cancers, and injuries from car accidents and other incidents. In addition, alcohol misuse can have social and economic consequences, such as strained relationships, lost productivity, and increased healthcare costs.
Question: How big a problem is illegal drug use in the United States?
ChatGPT: Illegal drug use is a significant problem in the United States. Substance abuse, including illegal drugs, is a leading cause of preventable death and a major contributor to a wide range of health problems. It also has serious social and economic consequences, including strained relationships, lost productivity, and increased healthcare costs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the misuse of drugs, including prescription drugs and illicit substances, is a major public health challenge that affects millions of people in the U.S. The opioid epidemic, which involves the misuse of prescription and illicit opioids, is one of the biggest drug crisis in the country, causing a significant number of overdoses and deaths. The use of other illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, also remains a significant problem in the U.S.
Question: Should illegal drugs be legalized?
ChatGPT: The legalization of illegal drugs is a complex and controversial issue that elicits strong opinions from many different perspectives.
Proponents of legalization argue that it would reduce the harm associated with drug use by bringing the market out of the hands of criminal organizations and into a regulated, taxable system. This, they argue, would reduce drug-related crime and improve public health by allowing for the safe distribution of drugs and increased access to addiction treatment.
Opponents of legalization argue that it would lead to increased drug use and related problems, including addiction, overdose, and impaired driving. They also argue that legalization would send a message to young people that drug use is acceptable, and that it would undermine the efforts of law enforcement to combat drug trafficking and drug-related crime.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to legalize illegal drugs is a political and policy question that must be decided by society as a whole. It is important for policy makers to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of legalization and to consider the best available evidence in making their decisions.
Question: In which states is marijuana legal in the United States?
ChatGPT: As of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, marijuana is legal for recreational use in several states in the United States, including:
- New Jersey
Marijuana is also legal for medicinal use in many other states, although the specific laws and regulations governing its use vary by state. It is important to note that marijuana remains illegal under federal law in the U.S., although the federal government has generally taken a hands-off approach to enforcement in states where it has been legalized.
Question: Which drugs are illegal in the United States?
ChatGPT: In the United States, the manufacture, sale, and possession of certain controlled substances is illegal under federal law, as established by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA classifies controlled substances into five “schedules” based on their medical use, potential for abuse, and safety or dependence liability.
Some of the most commonly known illegal drugs in the U.S. include:
- Schedule I drugs: These are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use, and include substances such as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and marijuana (in the eyes of the federal government).
- Schedule II drugs: These have a high potential for abuse and a currently accepted medical use, with severe restrictions, and include substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and oxycodone.
- Schedule III, IV, and V drugs: These have a lower potential for abuse relative to Schedule I and II drugs and have a currently accepted medical use, and include substances such as ketamine, anabolic steroids, and Xanax.
It is important to note that some states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, even though it remains illegal under federal law. Additionally, the enforcement of drug laws and the specific penalties for drug offenses can vary widely from state to state.
Question: What argument would a libertarian use to argue for legalizing drugs? (The arguments in the 3rd paragraph are not likely to be made by libertarians in my opinion.)
ChatGPT: A libertarian would argue for the legalization of drugs on the basis of individual freedom and limited government intervention. Libertarians believe that individuals should have the right to make their own choices and engage in activities that do not harm others, as long as they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.
From this perspective, the prohibition of drugs is seen as an unjustified infringement on individual liberty and personal autonomy. Libertarians argue that the criminalization of drug use creates a black market that is controlled by violent criminal organizations and that the enforcement of drug laws often leads to the infringement of civil liberties, such as the right to privacy and due process.
Additionally, libertarians argue that the legalization of drugs would reduce the size and power of the state by eliminating the need for enforcement of drug laws and would free up resources that could be used for other purposes. They also argue that legalization would allow for the regulation and taxation of drugs, which could generate new revenue for the government and reduce the harm associated with drugs by ensuring their quality and safety.
Overall, the libertarian argument for drug legalization is centered around the idea that individuals should have the freedom to make their own choices, as long as they are responsible for the consequences of their actions, and that the government should not interfere in those choices.
National Gambling Impact Study Commission Final Report: https://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/reports/fullrpt.html. Commission created by an act of congress. Report in 1999 on the social and economic impacts of gambling. States that gambling should be tackled on the state and local level.
Reason article on the Supreme Court rule in 2018 that struck down a federal rule that states could not allow sports gambling. It provides a bit of recent history (and is short). “Last year, some 81 million people visited casinos – more than the number who attended Major League Baseball games. About half of American adults say they’ve bought lottery tickets in the past 12 months. Nearly 60 million people in the U.S. and Canada take part in fantasy sports leagues, which often involve money.”
Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy article examines the downsides of states hoping to get revenue from gambling. “44 states and the District of Columbia have state lotteries, and more than half of the states have some form of casino gambling. Many states also allow “pari-mutuel” gaming, wagering on live events such as horse racing and greyhound racing. … gambling may simply shift money from one revenue source to another, limiting the net gain to the state. When consumers spend more money on gambling activities, they will spend less money on other items, such as recreation and even basic needs. Since these other types of purchases are usually subject to state sales taxes, any increase in state gambling revenue usually means a decrease in state sales tax revenue. … leads to the unwholesome sight of state-sponsored advertising that actively encourages its citizens to gamble more.” Earmarked revenue from gambling may lead legislators to shift other funding out of that area leading to no net increase in funding. “Like other “sin taxes,” gambling is not always a truly voluntary tax. Compulsive gambling has been recognized as an addictive disease. Relying on compulsive gamblers to fund public services amounts to taking advantage of these gamblers’ addictions. And because state gambling administrators tend to downplay the poor odds of winning, gamblers are usually given incomplete information about these odds—which means, in a sense, that gamblers are being tricked into these “voluntary” spending decisions.”
Study on the social and economic impacts of gambling from the Canadian Consortium for Gambling Research. March 11, 2011. PDF. Does a pretty thorough of considering all the types of gambling and the various type of positive and negative effects they may have.
“Research confirms that lower income people consistently contribute proportionally more of their income to gambling than do middle and high income groups. (‘socioeconomic inequality’). However, average annual expenditure on gambling still tends to increase as a function of income class. Thus, total gambling revenue is still primarily contributed by middle and higher income groups. The only exception to this finding of regressivity concerns Internet gambling, where the limited existing research indicates it to be less likely to be regressive, as computer savvy Internet gamblers tend to be better educated and have higher incomes.”
This (snippet of an) article summarizes a study in Italy and concludes “gambling taxes are highly regressive”
Topic: Global Health
Life expectancy at birth has gone up a lot.
- In 1950, the average life expectancy at birth was only 48.5 years. In 2019, it was 72.8 years. That’s an increase of 50 percent.
- Out of every 1,000 live births in 1950, 20.6 children died before their fifth birthday. That number was only 2.7 in 2019. That’s a reduction of 87 percent.
Death from unsafe water statistics. Share of population with access to improved drinking water. Maternal mortality in childbirth not much improvement but good improvement in infant mortality.
Topic: Disability Rights
UN-Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Disability, Factsheet on Persons with Disabilities
In countries with life expectancies over 70 years, individuals spend on average about 8 years, or 11.5 per cent of their life span, living with disabilities. (Disabled World)
USDL-BLS, Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics – 2021
–Half of all persons with a disability were age 65 and over, nearly three times larger than the share for those with no disability.
Hate crime statistics. Dept of Justice. and usafacts.org.
World wide. Source: Pew Research Center. “These laws were most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where 18 of the 20 countries (90%) in the region have laws criminalizing blasphemy and 13 of them (65%) outlaw apostasy. In Saudi Arabia, an Indian national was charged with blasphemy in 2019, fined, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for tweeting criticism of Muhammad and Allah, as well as of the Saudi government. … In some countries – such as Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – violations of blasphemy laws can carry the possibility of the death penalty, according to sources used for this analysis.”