I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

· To post questions or comments;

· To follow up on class discussions;

· To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

The syllabus is at http://www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/JPitney/gov106-fall15.html


Monday, December 3, 2012


From: http://www.aoa.gov/aoaroot/aging_statistics/future_growth/future_growth.aspx

From: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/aarp_report_final_pdf_3_29_11.pdf

Workers per social security beneficiary
 From: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/tr/2012/tr2012.pdf

People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It's a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Previous generations got a much better bargain, mainly because payroll taxes were very low when Social Security was enacted in the 1930s and remained so for decades.

"For the early generations, it was an incredibly good deal," said Andrew Biggs, a former deputy Social Security commissioner who is now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "The government gave you free money and getting free money is popular."

If you retired in 1960, you could expect to get back seven times more in benefits than you paid in Social Security taxes, and more if you were a low-income worker, as long you made it to age 78 for men and 81 for women.

As recently as 1985, workers at every income level could retire and expect to get more in benefits than they paid in Social Security taxes, though they didn't do quite as well as their parents and grandparents.

Not anymore

From: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/07/new-retirees-receiving-less-in-social-security-than-paid-in-marking-historic/

From: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2011/08/26-census-race-frey

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Interest Group Politics of Autism

Autism illustrates three major points about interest group politics:
  1. Changes in the perceived extent of a problem lead to changes in interest group activity.
  2. Interest group activity on one issue may foster activity on related issues.  In this case, the civil rights movement spawned the disability rights movement, which spawned the autism rights movement.
  3. Interest group activity on any issue is often full of factionalism and conflict among groups.  In the case of autism, the conflict includes death threats.
 The "Early History" of Autism
  • 1943:  American psychiatrist Leo Kanner publishes “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact(Nervous Child 2 (1943): 217-250), identifying autism as a childhood psychiatric disorder.
  • 1948:  In another article, Kanner says that autistic children “were kept neatly in refrigerators which did not defrost.”  Time popularizes the idea in an article titled "Frosted Children."
  • 1959:  Bruno Bettelheim publishes “Joey: A Mechanical Boy,” in Scientific American  200 (March 1959): 117-126.  A condensed version reaches a larger audience through Reader's Digest.  The article gains even more attention for the "refrigerator mother" theory.
  • 1960:  Armstrong Circle Theater presents “The HiddenWorld,” a highly favorable dramatization of Bettelheim's work, with actor Peter von Zerneck portraying Bettelheim.
  • 1964:  Bernard Rimland publishes Infantile Autism, a book summarizing current research and refuting the "refrigerator mother" theory.
  • 1965: Psychologist Ole Ivar Lovaas develops the Applied Behavior Analysis.  The May 7 issue of Life gives it national publicity in “Screams, Slaps, and Love:  A Surprising,Shocking Treatment Helps Far-Gone Mental Cripples.”
  • 1965:  Rimland and 60 others form the National Society for Autistic Children (NSAC), later the Autism Society of America.
  • 1967:  Bettelheim publishes The Empty Fortress, a book expanding on his theory and criticizing Rimland.  Bettelheim is a celebrity who gets many more readers.
The Disability Rights Movement and the Law
  • 1973:  Congress passes the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112). Section 504 forbids discrimination against the handicapped "under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” See chapter 4 of Fleischer and Zames.
  • 1975: Congress passes the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) requiring free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive setting.  The law later gets the more familiar name of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  See chapter 11 of Flesicher and Zames.
  • 1975: The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (P.L. 94-103) creates a "bill of rights" for persons with developmental disabilities, funds services, and establishes protection and advocacy organizations in each state.  Because of lobbying by NSAC, it includes autism .
  • 1982: The Rowley case (458 U. S. 176) narrows the scope of EAHCA. See p. 189 of Fleischer and Zames. 
  • 1987: Lovaas publishes a study reporting a 47 percent recovery rate with ABA. 
  • 1988: Rain Man introduces autism to millions of moviegoers.
  • 1990:  President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act (P.L. 101-336). mandates that local, state and federal governments and programs be accessible, that businesses with more than 15 employees make "reasonable accommodations" for disabled workers, that public accommodations  make "reasonable modifications.” See chapter 6 of Fleischer and Zames.
  • 1990: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments (IDEA) (P.L. 101-476) renames the Education of the Handicapped Act and reauthorizes programs under the Act to improve support services. Autism becomes a separate category in IDEA for special education.
  • 1994:  The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) expands the definition of autism.
  • 1998:  Dr. Andrew Wakefield and others publish a controversial study in the Lancet about MMR vaccinated children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
  • 2000:  President Clinton signs the Children's Health Act, founding an autism research coordinating committee.
  • 2002: Wakefield tells the House Government Reform and Oversight committee that there is “compelling evidence” of a link between vaccines and autism, even though studies have already discredited his research.
Autism Takes Off

Children 3 to 21 years old with autism served under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B (numbers in thousands)  Source: Digest of Education Statistics, various years.

The Interest Group Universe

Peak Associations
Anti-Vaccine Activists
Pro-Science Groups
Professional Organizations

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lobbying Clips

The American League of Lobbyists describes what its members do:


"Thank You for Smoking" took a different perspective:


 A 60 Minutes interview with Jack Abramoff:


 How the Medicare prescription drug bill passed:


 Penn State lobbying:


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Penn State Lobbying

MPAA and the GOP Platform

Hollywood may be known as a Democratic stronghold, but the movie industry’s lead trade organization on Wednesday came out strongly in support of a plank in the Republican party platform supporting the need to protect intellectual property from Internet pirates.
Chris Dodd, the former Democratic Senator who is now Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement that he “wholeheartedly” agrees with his “friends in the Republican party” that it is important to protect the free flow of information but it is also important to protect American innovation by making sure that copyrighted material is not stolen by cyber pirates.
The text of the statement:
The Republican Party platform language strikes a very smart balance: it emphasizes the importance of us doing more as a nation to protect our intellectual property from online theft while underscoring the critical importance of protecting internet freedom.
As the party points out, the internet has been for its entire existence a source of innovation, and it is intellectual property that helps drive that innovation. Copyright is the cornerstone of innovation; it allows creators to benefit from what they create.
As Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – herself once a Republican elected official – wrote, ‘[I]t should not be forgotten that the Framers intended copyright itself to be the engine of free expression. By establishing a marketable right to the use of one's expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas.’
I agree wholeheartedly with my friends in the Republican Party that we must protect the free flow of information on the internet while also protecting American innovators. It is imperative to our national economy and our national identity that we protect an internet that works for everyone.