2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 6


These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the fourth of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.

I posted the responses to the first question (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.

The responses to the second question (concerning research) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2″.

The responses to the third question (concerning climate change) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 3″.

The responses to the fourth question (concerning biodiversity) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 4″.

The responses to the fifth question (concerning the Internet) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 5″.

I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts.  My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.

  • Mental Health

Mental illness is among the most painful and stigmatized diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates it costs America more than $300 billion per year. What will you do to reduce the human and economic costs of mental illness?

Hillary Clinton (D)

Nearly a fifth of all adults in the United States, more than 40 million people, are coping with a mental health issue. Close to 14 million people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Moreover, many of these individuals have additional complicating life circumstances, such as drug or alcohol addiction, homelessness, or involvement with the criminal justice system. Veterans are in acute need of mental health care, with close to 20 percent of those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experiencing post-traumatic stress or depression. And the problem is not limited to adults: an estimated 17 million children in the United States experience mental health issues, as do one in four college students. Too many Americans are being left to face mental health issues on their own, and too many individuals are dying prematurely from associated health conditions. We must do better.

That’s why I recently released a comprehensive and detailed plan to address this important issue that impacts so many American families. Under my plan, we’ll promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention. We’ll integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” and significantly enhance community-based treatment opportunities. We’ll improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for low-level, non-violent offenders. We’ll enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law. We’ll improve access to housing and job opportunities. And we’ll invest in brain and behavioral research and developing safe and effective treatments.

I’m proud of my record of advocating for greater protections and expanded access to treatment for people with mental health conditions, including co-sponsoring the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. My goal is that within my time in office as president, Americans will no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment. The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma, or barriers to seeking out care.

Donald Trump (R)

This is one of the great unfolding tragedies in America today. States are reducing their commitments to mental health treatment and our jails are filled with those who need mental health care. Any mental health reforms must be included in our efforts to reform healthcare in general in the country. We must make the investment in treating our fellow citizens who suffer from severe mental illness. This includes making sure that we allow family members to be more involved in the total care of those who are severely mentally ill. We must ensure that the national government provides the support to state and local governments to bring mental health care to the people at the local level. This entire field of interest must be examined and a comprehensive solution set must be developed so that we can keep people safe and productive.

Jill Stein (G)

As part of a Medicare for All universal health care system we need a mental health care system that safeguards human dignity, respects individual autonomy, and protects informed consent. In addition to full funding for mental health care, this means making it easier for the chronically mentally ill to apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income, and funding programs to increase public awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of the mentally ill and differently abled.

We must ensure that the government takes all steps necessary to fully diagnose and treat the mental health conditions resulting from service in combat zones, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

We will also release prisoners with diagnosed mental disorders to secure mental health treatment centers, and ensure psychological and medical care and rehabilitation services for mentally ill prisoners.

My Thoughts

Again, Clinton’s answer is a little more in depth than either that of Stein or Trump.  Interestingly enough, I think Trump’s answer is surprisingly lucid and coherent (somewhat sarcastically, I don’t think he wrote this as much as I think he might have written his earlier answers).

Trump’s answer also runs counter to current Republican thoughts about health care.

Both Clinton and Stein recognize the need for increased mental health support for veterans, which is probably woefully underfunded at the moment.  They both also understand that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Of the six questions asked so far, this is the only one in which all three candidates show agreement.

2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 5


These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the fourth of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.

I posted the responses to the first question (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.

The responses to the second question (concerning research) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2″.

The responses to the third question (concerning climate change) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 3″.

The responses to the fourth question (concerning biodiversity) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 4″.

I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts.  My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.

  • The Internet

The Internet has become a foundation of economic, social, law enforcement, and military activity. What steps will you take to protect vulnerable infrastructure and institutions from cyberattack, and to provide for national security while protecting personal privacy on electronic devices and the internet?

Hillary Clinton (D)

As President, I will fight to ensure that the Internet remains a space for free exchange, providing all people equal access to knowledge and ideas. While we must protect this exchange and the privacy of individuals, we must also invest in cybersecurity, which is not only essential to our national and economic security, but will become increasingly important as devices across sectors are networked.

Since my time in the Senate, I have worked across the aisle to improve our nation’s cyber-security. Internet freedom and security were at the forefront of my work as Secretary of State, and we must ensure this effort continues into the next administration. I supported the USA Freedom Act enacted in 2015. I also support the bipartisan effort led by Sen. Warner and Rep. McCaul, to create a national commission on digital security and encryption to help show the way forward.

This is an issue that spans both the public and private sector. I will build on the Obama Administration’s Cyber-security National Action Plan, modernizing our government-wide cyber-security and federal IT and empowering a federal Chief Information Security Officer. I also support public-private collaboration on cyber-security innovation, along with implementing the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber-security Framework. The next President will be confronted with these challenges, and will need common sense approaches to balance cyber-security with personal privacy. The next president must be able to thoughtfully address these nuanced issues.

As president I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses and we will invest in protecting our governmental networks and national infrastructure. I believe the United States should lead the world in setting the rules of cyberspace. If America doesn’t, others will.

Donald Trump (R)

The United States government should not spy on its own citizens. That will not happen in a Trump administration. As for protecting the Internet, any attack on the Internet should be considered a provocative act that requires the utmost in protection and, at a minimum, a proportional response that identifies and then eliminates threats to our Internet infrastructure.

Jill Stein (G)

The Internet and the access to information it provides is an extremely important resource for the entire world. Here is how we will protect and improve the Internet:

  • Protect the free Internet. Oppose the Online Piracy Act and all other legislation that would undermine freedom and equality on the Internet.
  • Vigorously defend net neutrality.
  • Support public broadband Internet.
  • Negotiate international treaty banning cyber-warfare; create a new UN agency tasked with identifying the sources of cyberattacks.

My Thoughts

These were the shortest answers to date.  Trump’s answer was very much a Trump answer.  His first sentence has nothing to do with the Internet, per se, and his statement that a provocative act requires a proportional response is as bombastic as much of his campaign rhetoric.  And has been the case, he doesn’t answer the question.

Clinton’s answer begins with the realization the Internet can have a dramatic impact on the economy and innovation.  But she doesn’t do more with that thought.  Stein recognizes the need for net neutrality and she recognized that Internet access is quickly become an equality issue (something that neither Clinton nor Trump discussed).  There is a need to ensure that everyone has access to some sort of public broadband and not be burdened by excessive access fees.  However, her last point (about treaties banning cyber-warfare and creating a UN task force) misses the point.  Treaties have never banned warfare and we already have groups capable of identifying the source of cyberattacks.

Granted the question was phrased in terms of security but seeing the Internet only in terms of security misses the point.  I am not discounting the need for cyber-security but seeing the Internet only in terms of national security misses the point.  Right now, we are using the Internet in ways that could not have been imagined even ten years ago and we need to make sure that we are developing individuals who can keep that advancement going.  It should be noted that there is quite of bit of our country’s infrastructure which can be remotely accessed; this is a problem that was not addressed by any of the candidates.

This will require an extensive educational effort but one benefit of this is producing individuals who are ahead of the curve when it comes to defending against malicious code.  Right now, we only have the ability to respond to an attack and we need to be able to predict such attacks or at least determine areas that need to be protected.

2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 4


These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the fourth of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.

I posted the responses to the first question (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.

The responses to the second question (concerning research) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2″.

The responses to the third question (concerning climate change) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 3″.

I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts.  My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.

  • Biodiversity

Biological diversity provides food, fiber, medicines, clean water and many other products and services on which we depend every day. Scientists are finding that the variety and variability of life is diminishing at an alarming rate as a result of human activity. What steps will you take to protect biological diversity?

Hillary Clinton (D)

Conserving biodiversity is essential to maintaining our quality of life. Healthy soils provide the foundation for agricultural productivity and help absorb carbon; wetlands soak up floodwaters and pollutants and protect our communities; forests filter our water and keep it clean; bees and other pollinators are essential to our food supply; and coral reefs and coastal marshes are nurseries for our fisheries. Although we have made considerable progress protecting our environment and conserving our natural resources, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, unsustainable management practices, introduction of invasive species and other forces pose serious threats to biodiversity and our way of life.

We need to collaborate across all sectors and at all levels to conserve our natural resources and maintain the viability of our ecosystems. I believe, for example, that we should be doing more to slow and reverse the decline of at-risk wildlife species before they reach the brink of extinction. That is why I will work to double the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to help states, tribal nations, and local communities act earlier to conserve wildlife before they become threatened or endangered.

The 100th anniversary of our national park system is also an opportunity to re-energize America’s proud land and wildlife conservation traditions. I will establish an American Parks Trust Fund to scale up and modernize how we protect and enhance our natural treasures, and to better protect wildlife habitat across the country.

Internationally, we need greater cooperation to address declining biodiversity. My Administration will work collaboratively with other nations to advance biodiversity science, further our understanding of the causes of biodiversity loss, and take action to diminish them. We will share information about our conservation successes, including our national parks, fish and wildlife refuge systems, and marine reserves to aid other nations working to protect their natural resources and conserve biodiversity. And we will work collaboratively to end trafficking in wildlife and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing that threatens our oceans.

Donald Trump (R)

For too long, Presidents and the executive branch of our federal government have continued to expand their reach and impact. Today, we have agencies filled with unelected officials who have been writing rules and regulations that cater to special interests and that undermine the foundational notion of our government that should be responsive to the people. Our elected representatives have done little to uphold their oaths of office and have abrogated their responsibilities. When these circumstances occur, there is an imbalance that rewards special interests and punishes the people who should benefit the most from the protection of species and habitat in the United States. In a Trump administration, there will be shared governance of our public lands and we will empower state and local governments to protect our wildlife and fisheries. Laws that tilt the scales toward special interests must be modified to balance the needs of society with the preservation of our valuable living resources. My administration will strike that balance by bringing all stakeholders to the table to determine the best approach to seeking and setting that balance.

Jill Stein (G)

Protecting biodiversity is an extremely important and often overlooked priority. Here is how we will act to protect biodiversity:

  • Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
  • Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on new GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.
  • Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.
  • Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.
  • Invest in clean air, water, food and soil for everyone.
  • Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and other negative environmental and health effects.
  • Support conversion to sustainable, nontoxic materials and the use of closed-loop, zero waste processes.

My Thoughts

First, Trump again gives a non-answer answer.  He really doesn’t address the issue, saying that he will bring people together to create a solution.  Leadership is more than bringing people to the table; it is about creating a solution when all the parties are there.

It would seem that his primary argument is the need to eliminate executive action but such action takes place because Congress allows special interest to dictate what is being done (at least, he says he will counter the special interests in this regard, even though the special interests would want him in the White House).

Stein’s answer, while in depth, tends to go away from the issue at hand (continuing a trend exhibited in earlier answers).  Her early answers show an understanding of the problem but I feel that her later answers are more political in nature and not related to the topic at hand.  I am not disagreeing with her but it has seemed as if she moves back to an unstated agenda in her answers.

I believe someone once wrote that Hillary Clinton was a policy wonk and her answers to the first four questions point this out.  It will probably drive some of conspiracy theorists crazy that she is suggesting an international approach to this issue but that is a very important part of the problem.  One nation cannot make decisions about biodiversity without consultation and agreement with other nations, for the acts of one nation can impede or counter the actions of another.

In the end, there has to be a realization that we all live on this one planet and the actions of one group will impact on other groups that share this planet.  I know that is a bit of a cliché but it is true.  Decisions must be made on a broad base, not a limited one.

2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 3


These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the third of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.

I posted the responses to the first question (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.

The responses to the second question (concerning research) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2″.

I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts.  My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.

  • Climate Change

The Earth’s climate is changing and political discussion has become divided over both the science and the best response. What are your views on climate change, and how would your administration act on those views?

Hillary Clinton (D)

When it comes to climate change, the science is crystal clear. Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time and its impacts are already being felt at home and around the world. That’s why as President, I will work both domestically and internationally to ensure that we build on recent progress and continue to slash greenhouse gas pollution over the coming years as the science clearly tells us we must.

I will set three goals that we will achieve within ten years of taking office and which will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century:

  • Generate half of our electricity from clean sources, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of my first term.
  • Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
  • Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.

To get there, my administration will implement and build on the range of pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives that have made the United States a global leader in the battle against climate change. These standards are also essential for protecting the health of our children, saving American households and businesses billions of dollars in energy costs, and creating thousands of good paying jobs.

These standards set the floor, not the ceiling. As President, I will launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with those states, cities, and rural communities across the country that are ready to take the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed.

Donald Trump (R)

There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.” Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water. Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria. Perhaps we should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population. Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels. We must decide on how best to proceed so that we can make lives better, safer and more prosperous.

Jill Stein (G)

Climate change is the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced. Here is how we will act to address it:

Enact an emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete. Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems.

  • Implement a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.
  • Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.
  • Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, energy.
  • End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.
  • Support a strong enforceable global climate treaty that limits global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and provides just financial compensation to developing countries.
  • Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.
  • Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted.

My Thoughts

Okay, let’s start with Trump’s answer, or rather his non-answer.  He simply did not answer the question, offering distracters.  Granted each of the distracters is something that must be addressed but you don’t answer a question by giving non-answers.  And considering how much he wants to spend on other issues, stated that we have limited resources is sort of contradictory.  And there is the fact that his answer shows that he doesn’t consider climate change a reality.

The answers by both Clinton and Stein are oriented towards energy policy but you can’t differentiate between the two areas.

Stein’s answer does, I believe, provide a better relationship between energy and climate change.   But neither Clinton nor Stein offer complete answers.

If we remove crude oil from the energy equation, what will we use?  Stein takes nuclear energy out the equation which reduces the capability of producing energy and stresses the other options; interesting enough, she did not appear to push for fusion research.  (And it should be noted that production of alternative energy can be as “dirty” as traditional energy).

Both Clinton and Stein understand the impact of climate change and have offered a solution.  I don’t think that the solutions offered are sufficient but they will work.  In this case, Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue as to what is going on.

2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2


These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the second of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.

I posted the responses to the first question (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.  I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts.  My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.

  • Research

Many scientific advances require long-term investment to fund research over a period of longer than the two, four, or six year terms that govern political cycles. In the current climate of budgetary constraints, what are your science and engineering research priorities and how will you balance short-term versus long-term funding?

Hillary Clinton (D)

Science and engineering not only provide the devices and services we enjoy and use on a daily basis—they also help defend against disease, security threats, unmet energy needs, the impacts of climate change, environmental degradation, and many other challenging issues with national and global reach. Advancing science and technology will be among my highest priorities as President.

Historically, federally funded basic research–often done without a particular application in mind and intrinsically long term–has yielded breakthrough discoveries of new knowledge and technologies. This knowledge and these technologies have, through the power of innovation, transformed entire sectors of industry, fueled economic growth, and created high-paying jobs.

I share the concerns of the science and technology community, including many in the industry, that the United States is underinvesting in research. Federal funding of basic research amounts to less than one percent of annual federal spending, yet it is an investment that pays big dividends. I believe it is essential that we strengthen our research capacity, by funding talented young investigators, looking for ways to prioritize “high-risk, high-reward” projects that have the potential to transform entire fields, and enhancing partnerships between government, universities, and the private sector.

Donald Trump (R)

The premise of this question is exactly correct—scientific advances do require long term investment. This is why we must have programs such as a viable space program and institutional research that serve as incubators to innovation and the advancement of science and engineering in a number of fields. We should also bring together stakeholders and examine what the priorities ought to be for the nation. Conservation of resources and finding ways to feed the world beg our strong commitment as do dedicated investment in making the world a healthier place. The nation is best served by a President and administration that have a vision for a greater, better America.

Jill Stein (G)

The greatest challenge currently before us is climate change. We will place innovative breakthroughs in the science and technology associated with mitigation of greenhouse gases and the building of a resilient society that can withstand current and future climate change at the very top of our research priorities.

Presidents are able to affect long term R&D priorities by creating institutions focused on research like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health that are to some extent insulated from short-term political cycles. We will revisit these institutions–their charge, focus, and operations–to ensure that they’re performing as expected. We will look for opportunities and mechanisms whereby science policy can be made more democratic, and more responsive to the preferences and needs of average citizens.

My thoughts

My first comment, before examining the replies of the candidates is that the question was phrased in terms of budgetary constraints.  To me, this presumes that certain items of budget will not be touched and I think that is perhaps morally wrong since the majority of the budget is directed towards items that work against the idea of research.

And we walk a very narrow line when we cast the outcome of our research in terms of defense and security, as noted by the funding for the science and mathematics initiatives of the 1960’s coming in terms of national defense.

Second, we do have to differentiate between basic and applied research.  It may be that applied research is more related to innovation, taking present ideas and moving forward with them.  But we have to understand that there is a need for discovery solely for the sake of discovery.  There has been an historical opposition for doing research that has no apparent outcome and is perhaps the single greatest deterrent to research (the debate on building a particle accelerator to seek the Higgs boson, for example).

To be honest, I don’t think that none of the candidates answered this question.  They all spoke to the need for research within the context of science and engineering but did not address how they would do it.

Clinton’s response, longer than the others, recognized the need for research and the need to find ways to fund research but left it at a need to fund it.

Trump’s comment was, it seemed to me, a throw away answer, acknowledging that there was a thing such as research but implying that it was something to be discussed later.

Stein’s response was more focused on an issue, an important issue to be sure, but one that did not response to the actual question.  Her answer was a response to a policy question and I fear implies the interjection of politics where politics should not go.  She was also wrong in stating that Presidents can create institutions such as the NSF and the NIH (both are historical agencies created by congressional action).

In the end, I think that none of the candidates focused on the idea of research.  This may reflect my own bias on the topic, of course, because it is the heart and soul of what I do.  And it may reflect a view of the world in present times where seeking answers to unknown questions is shunted aside for more “reality” based problems.  This suggests that there needs to be a radical shift in our priorities.

2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1


Back in August, the four primary candidates for President were asked a series of questions concerning science, engineering, technology, health & the environment (see 20 Questions for the Presidential Candidates).  What I propose to do is look at the answers for each of the 20 questions.  This, then, will be the first of 20 posts.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Jill Stein have answered the questions and their answers can be found at “Trump, Clinton, and Stein answer 20 questions on science”.  At the time this was released, Gary Johnson had not returned his answers.

  • Innovation

Science and engineering have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII. But some reports question America’s continued leadership in these areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation?

Hillary Clinton (D)

Since World War II, America’s leadership in science- and engineering-based innovation has provided economic benefits along with major advances in health, safety, security, and quality of life. Education, research, and commercialization are all key to America’s success. As President, I will work to strengthen each of these core elements of the ecosystem and facilitate public-private partnerships between them to ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation.

Advances in science and engineering start with education. We need universal preschool, to get our kids off to a good start; good K-12 schools and teachers in every ZIP code; and to put higher education in reach for everyone with debt-free college and support for high-quality apprenticeships and training programs. We need strong STEM programming in every school, and we need to provide every public school student with access to education in computer science.

Both basic and applied research are major drivers of innovation. As President, I will work with Congress to ensure that government funding of research is sufficient to allow for multi-year planning, exploration of emerging research areas, and inflation-adjusted costs. Funding is needed not only for the basic science research agencies and the large science and engineering mission agencies but also for the broader universe of agencies that are increasingly dependent on STEM for their missions.

The innovation payoff comes from the commercialization of research results. The first step is what universities call “technology transfer” and the medical community calls “translation” – demonstrating the use of research results in practice and sharing the knowledge with the business community. The government has a critical role to play at this stage by opening access to and sharing government-funded research results. I will support the development of collaborative consortia that accelerate the creation of new industries while providing valuable feedback to researchers. As part of my plan to create more good-paying jobs, I will also invest in “Make it in America” partnerships that will make America the first choice for manufacturing by harnessing regional strengths, supporting manufacturers up and down the supply chain, and ensuring international competitiveness by improving industrial energy efficiency by one-third within a decade.

Donald Trump (R)

Innovation has always been one of the great by-products of free market systems. Entrepreneurs have always found entries into markets by giving consumers more options for the products they desire. The government should do all it can to reduce barriers to entry into markets and should work at creating a business environment where fair trade is as important as free trade. Similarly, the federal government should encourage innovation in the areas of space exploration and investment in research and development across the broad landscape of academia. Though there are increasing demands to curtail spending and to balance the federal budget, we must make the commitment to invest in science, engineering, healthcare and other areas that will make the lives of Americans better, safer and more prosperous.

Jill Stein (G)

Virtually every component of our 2016 Platform contains elements likely to have positive effects on innovation. These include our climate action plan, our free public education and cancellation of student debt proposals, and our Medicare for All plank. Vast resources will be freed for investment in public R&D by reduced Pentagon spending. Millions of people currently hobbled by poverty and underperforming schools will be able for the first time in American history to bring their talents to bear on the problems of the 21st century. A just economy, with living wages and paid sick leave, can be far more innovative than one where innovation is determined by a relative handful of corporate executives and Pentagon planners.

My Thoughts

Clinton’s response was more extensive than the responses from either Trump or Stein.  This may be indicative of who each person is, though I would have expected a little more depth in Dr. Stein’s response.

Both Clinton and Stein offered a vision of innovation through education.  Trump’s response was a purely, in my mind, business response that ignored how people are prepared for innovation.

Stein’s response assumed that one is familiar with the Green party platform.  Also, there is an assumption in her statement that offers a more draconian view of society than may actually exist.

Neither Clinton nor Trump offered ideas about how they were going to pay for their plans; Stein suggested reduced Pentagon spending.

I truly believe that the key to innovation is an environment that supports the process.  This begins with education.  There must also be processes that allow businesses to be innovative.  I am in agreement with the idea Stein the dominance of the Pentagon in the budget has to end and our budget priorities have to change.

12 Questions For United Methodists


Morgan Guyton recently posted the following questions on his blog as “An Open Letter with 12 Honest Questions for the Wesleyan Covenant Association”.  Now, as a lay person (and as one who would be opposed to the goals of the WCA anyway) I would not get invited to the meeting that is currently being planned.  But I felt that it was important to think about what it means to be a United Methodist.

These are my thoughts on the questions and I welcome your thoughts.

  • How have you benefited from being in community with progressive United Methodists?

This is perhaps a very difficult question for me to answer simply because I think I associate with the progressive United Methodists to begin with.  But to be in community with just one group of people, no matter who they are, leads to a limited view of the world.  And you cannot judge your effectiveness of what you are doing when the only people you are with are the ones who agree with you to begin.

  • Do you think it’s more missionally effective to be in covenant with other Christians who are theological diverse or have a tighter sense of orthodoxy?

While I think that one has to be in community with other United Methodists and people with other denominational backgrounds, I don’t think you can be effective if there are disagreements within that community about what one is going to do.

If the mission is make sure that people have at least one good meal a week (one that is nutritionally sound), then other activities such as Bible reading or worship have to come second.  Even John Wesley recognized that those who were hungry probably were only going to go along with a worship service if that was a necessity to eating.

I am not saying that you can’t have a worship service as part of the meal (which then transform the meal into communion) but attendance at the worship service can’t be a requirement for having the meal.

If there are those who inquire about things because of the worship service, then be prepared to have the appropriate answers.

  • How do you decide what the non-negotiables of orthodoxy are for you?

I believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  I understand and have come to believe that my choice to follow Christ has meaning to me and I cannot force others to make that same choice.   Our destination may be the same but our journeys will take different paths.

I can’t accept the notion that words of the Bible are exact and perfect.  I think that they were written with regards to specific situations and we need to understand how those situations apply in today’s world.

I hold to the notion/idea/concept that all people, no matter who they are or who they may be, are children of God, created in His Image.  You cannot tell by looking at someone who they may or what they may be so let us accept everyone and go from there.

  • Can Wesleyan theology expand and evolve or does it need to conform permanently to John Wesley’s 18th century context?

If we are to conform permanently to John Wesley’s 18th century context, we shall surely die.  As the Preacher wrote so many years ago, “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”  The Preacher understood that things change and we need to adapt with the times.  The basic ideas stated in the Bible will always remain the same; it is up to us to find ways to make them work in today’s society and times.

  • Do you think our world is biologically or socially corrupted by original sin?

Someone once pointed out that if we did not know what sin was, we would not need Christ to save us from our sins.

In that moment of evolution when we became human, we begin to differentiate between good and evil.  We needed to know why death was a part of our life and why things change in the world.  But even as we have a better understanding of why we die, we still do understand why there is good and evil in this world.  And we may never know why but, if nothing else, this gives us the opportunity to seek a better world.

  • How do you understand the nature of Christian salvation?

To be honest, I don’t totally understand the nature of Christian salvation.  At times, I see my life condemned and at other times, I know I have been set free.  I know that God’s grace is freely given but I also think there are times when I abuse that knowledge.

And in the end, this will be one area in which I continually strive to better understand.

  • Do you think God can justify and sanctify people “accidentally” who don’t explicitly identify Jesus as their savior?

We start with the statement that there is only one God.  And we know that many, if not all, faiths have that basic idea (or at least that is what I think).

I understand that I have chosen to follow Jesus.  I understand that others may choose to follow a different route.  If they are since in what they believe and they live a life that expresses what they believe, then I have to believe they will complete their journey at the same location that I do.

On the other hand, if you choose to follow a path more out of convenience than true belief, you will find yourself lost and need of help.

  • Do you think faithful discipleship depends upon correct doctrine?

To me, correct doctrine is about following a set of rules.  And if we are more concerned about the rules than we are what it is we are doing, then we have a problem.  There is a need for rules because that allows you to do things.  But you cannot let the doctrine be outdated for it then turns into restrictions and not guidelines.  I think that is one of the main things Jesus pointed out during His ministry, how the laws had become restrictions and there was more to life.  The restrictions made it a little harder to lead the life one needed to live.

  • What do you think the purpose of holiness is?

This is another area where I am still learning.  Many years ago it was pointed out that it wasn’t what I had done that granted me access to God’s Table but rather the simple act of God’s grace.  Nothing I said or did was ever going to change that.

It was also pointed out to me that, having accepted Christ as my Savior, then it was incumbent on me to strive for perfection in all that I do, even if I never did reach that level.  If, as Wesley wrote, holiness is the state in which our heart is filled with the love of God and humankind, then that is the state we must strive to reach in our search for perfection.

  • Is gender complementarity essential to human community?

Are we to assume that there are some jobs that one group of people can do and other jobs that only others can do?  As the father of two daughters, I would never say to them that they cannot be what they want to be.

We live in a world where the traditions of society are maintained, no matter why said traditions were that way.

The only limitation that can be place upon a person as the limitations that a person puts on themselves or when circumstances dictate (you cannot have a very tall person working in a very small space).

I think one of the points that Jesus made throughout His ministry was the unlimited nature of the kingdom on earth and each person had all the opportunities they needed.

  • Do you think gay people are able to live holier lives when their identity is socially taboo or socially normalized?

The matter of holiness is not for us to decide.  One cannot tell what is inside a person simply by looking at them so saying that their lives is limited because of who they are comes from us and not from God.

  • How are you investing your resources into promoting celibate singleness as a viable life vocation?

I have a friend who is a Catholic priest.  At the time that I first met him, we were in graduate school and most people did not know his vocation.  When I asked him how he was able to lead the celibate life of a priest, he replied that, in effect, it was in his mind and what he thought.

But by the same token, we cannot expect one group of people lead a celibate lifestyle while others do not.

Our understanding of human sexuality has changed over the years but, sadly, there are many in the church who hold onto thoughts from long ago.

We also cannot maintain the definition of what a family is when what constitutes a family in today’s society is often fluid.