Friday, December 10, 2010

The Index of Economic Freedom

            For the past fifteen years, The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have computed the Index of Economic Freedom. This index measures and ranks the economic freedom of countries around the world. It does so by measuring 10 broad economic factors:
  1. Business Freedom
  2. Trade Freedom
  3. Monetary Freedom
  4. Government Size
  5. Fiscal Freedom
  6. Property Rights
  7. Investment Freedom
  8. Financial Freedom
  9. Freedom from Corruption
  10. and Labor Freedom
Each of these factors are weighted equally and measured on a 0-100 scale where 0 represent no freedom and 100 represents absolute freedom.

The Benefits Economic Freedom
            The main assumption in the index is that economic freedom is a positive cultural and societal influence. It is geared towards the idea that the ideal economy to be a capitalistic system. Honorable Elaine L. Chao, 24th United States Secretary of Labor, said of economic freedom:
“History has proven that trade freedom is the best economic strategy for all of the world’s peoples. History has also shown that we are prone to ignore history.
Since 1979, the value of world exports has risen by an average of 7.1 percent annually. During that same period, world income has skyrocketed. Gross domestic product (GDP) for the world as a whole, measured in constant 2000 U.S. dollars, has risen from $17.5 trillion in 1979 to $40.3 trillion in 2008. Even on a per capita basis, GDP growth has been impressive, jumping from $4,002 to $6,023...
Few would doubt the relationship between increased trade flows and the rapid worldwide economic growth at the end of the 20th century…”
(Terry Miller and Kim R. Holmes. 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. New York: Wall Street Journal, 2010. PG 13.)

While it is true that most would agree that economic freedom is good, individuals such as Jeffrey Sachs, an American economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, contest that economic openness... in his book The End of Poverty in which Sachs' argues that poor countries are stuck in poverty which there is no escape except by significant contributions of foreign aid. 
Although the benefits of economic freedom could be contended it is said by one of his students that Sachs admitted that “the path to long-term development would only be achieved through private sector involvement and free market solutions". Although the degree to which economic freedom provides utility may be disputed, it is a general consensus that economic freedom is a good thing and an economical beneficial system.

The Factors of the Index

The ten factors that constitute the Index of Economic Freedom are defined as follows (as is described by the organization itself):

Business Freedom
Business freedom is a quantitative measure of the ability to start, operate, and close a business that represents the overall burden of regulation as well as the efficiency of government in the regulatory process. The business freedom score for each country is a number between 0 and 100, with 100 equaling the freest business environment. The score is based on 10 factors, all weighted equally, using data from the World Bank’s Doing Business study… Each of these raw factors is converted to a scale of 0 to 100, after which the average of the converted values is computed.

Trade Freedom
Trade freedom is a composite measure of the absence of tariff and non-tariff barriers that affect imports and exports of goods and services. The trade freedom score is based on two inputs: The trade-weighted average tariff rate and Non-tariff barriers (NTBs).
Different imports entering a country can, and often do, face different tariffs. The weighted average tariff uses weights for each tariff based on the share of imports for each good. Weighted average tariffs are a purely quantitative measure and account for the basic calculation of the score using the following equation:

Fiscal Freedom
Fiscal freedom is a measure of the tax burden imposed by government. It includes both the direct tax burden in terms of the top tax rates on individual and corporate incomes and the overall amount of tax revenue as a percentage of GDP. Thus, the fiscal freedom component is composed of three quantitative factors: The top tax rate on individual income, The top tax rate on corporate income, and Total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP.
In scoring the fiscal freedom component, each of these numerical variables is weighted equally as one-third of the factor.

Government Spending
 No attempt has been made to identify an ideal level of government expenditures. The ideal level will vary from country to country, depending on factors ranging from culture to geography to level of development. The methodology treats zero government spending as the benchmark, and underdeveloped countries with little government capacity may receive artificially high scores as a result. However, such governments, which can provide few if any public goods, will be penalized by lower scores on some of the other components of economic freedom (such as property rights and financial freedom).
The scale for scoring government spending is non-linear, which means that government spending that is close to zero is lightly penalized, while levels of government spending that exceed 30 percent of GDP receive much worse scores in a quadratic fashion (e.g., doubling spending yields four times less freedom), so that only really large governments receive very low scores.

Monetary Freedom
Monetary freedom combines a measure of price stability with an assessment of price controls. Both inflation and price controls distort market activity. Price stability without microeconomic intervention is the ideal state for the free market. The score for the monetary freedom factor is based on two factors: The weighted average inflation rate for the most recent three years and price controls.

Investment Freedom
 In an economically free country, there would be no constraints on the flow of investment capital. Individuals and firms would be allowed to move their resources into and out of specific activities both internally and across the country’s borders without restriction. Such an ideal country would receive a score of 100 on the investment freedom component of the Index of Economic Freedom.

Financial Freedom
 Financial freedom is a measure of banking security as well as a measure of independence from government control. State ownership of banks and other financial institutions such as insurers and capital markets reduces competition and generally lowers the level of available services.
The Index scores this component by determining the extent of government regulation of financial services; the extent of state intervention in banks and other financial services; the difficulty of opening and operating financial services firms (for both domestic and foreign individuals); and government influence on the allocation of credit. This analysis is used to develop a description of the country’s financial climate and assign an overall score on a scale of 0 to 100 through a comparison of standards.

Property Freedom
The property rights component is an assessment of the ability of individuals to accumulate private property, secured by clear laws that are fully enforced by the state. It measures the degree to which a country’s laws protect private property rights and the degree to which its government enforces those laws. It also assesses the likelihood that private property will be expropriated and analyzes the independence of the judiciary, the existence of corruption within the judiciary, and the ability of individuals and businesses to enforce contracts. The more certain the legal protection of property, the higher a country’s score; similarly, the greater the chances of government expropriation of property, the lower a country’s score.

Freedom from Corruption
Corruption erodes economic freedom by introducing insecurity and uncertainty into economic relationships. The score for this component is derived primarily from Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2008, which measures the level of corruption in 180 countries.
The CPI is based on a 10-point scale in which a score of 10 indicates very little corruption and a score of 0 indicates a very corrupt government. In scoring freedom from corruption, the Index converts the raw CPI data to a scale of 0 to 100 by multiplying the CPI score by 10
For countries that are not covered in the CPI, the freedom from corruption score is determined by using the qualitative information from internationally recognized and reliable sources. This procedure considers the extent to which corruption prevails in a country.

Labor Freedom
The labor freedom component is a quantitative measure that looks into various aspects of the legal and regulatory framework of a country's labor market. It provides cross-country data on regulations concerning minimum wages; laws inhibiting layoffs; severance requirements; and measurable regulatory burdens on hiring, hours, and so on.
Six quantitative factors are equally weighted, with each counted as one-sixth of the labor freedom component: Ratio of minimum wage to the average value added per worker, Hindrance to hiring additional workers, Rigidity of hours, Difficulty of firing redundant employees, Legally mandated notice period, and Mandatory severance pay.

Average Score Out of 179 Countries
Overall Freedom
     Business Freedom
     Trade Freedom
     Fiscal Freedom
     Government Freedom
     Monetary Freedom
     Investment Freedom
     Financial Freedom
     Property Rights
     Freedom from Corruption
     Labor Freedom

The Results
            Overall, there are 179 countries measure and ranked.  For a full list of rankings and score please see the full list on their website at Here I will only list the top ten economically free countries, as well as a few other countries of personal interest to me. Folloing is the map of economic freedom published by the society as well as the top ten free economic nation for the 2010 study:

(Click to Enlarge)

Top 10 Countries of 2010
(Click to enlarge)
It is interesting to note that Hong Kong is, and has been, the top leader in Economic Freedom since the study was inarguated in 1995.  Looking at Hong Kong, it is inescapable to juxtapose it with China, which is ranked 140th (see Countries of Interest Table). Hong Kong has been extremely economically stable and productive. In 2009, Hong Kong netted 2.3 trillion dollars in initial public offering (IPO), which constitutes 22 percent of the entirety of worldwide initial public offerings (whereas Hong Kong only constitutes .13 percent of the population)
 This makes Hong Kong the largest IPO contributer of the world. The comparison between Hong Kong and mainland China is an excellent example of the benefits of laissez-faire capitalism. In comparison, the People's Republic of China is significantly less economically prosperous (Hong Kong GDP PPP - $42,653, Peoples Republic of China - GDP PPP - $6,778), China's efforts to integrate the best practices of private industry. 

In the top ten there are some large(relative) jumps in percentages. Hong Kong is a full 3.6 percent higher than Singapore, which in turn is 3.5 percent higher than the next highest country Australia making Hong Kong a full 8.4 percent higher than the third place Australia. The other big jump in the top ten is the 2.4 percent jump from position seven Canada and position eight the United States of America. 

Another interesting point to examine are the progress of the countries economic freedom from the previous years. This following year there were a two significant changes in the top ten free countries of 2010. The first and largest is the United States with one of the largest changes in the index this year with a decease of 2.7 percent. As can be seen in the graph below the United states has stayed for the most part stable on the high end of the chart but for the last four years the United States has been slowly decreasing in economic freedom with this year being the largest jump yet. The other significant change this year is Denmark (not shown in below graph) which decreased 1.7 percent. Denmark has only recently made it to this hight of economic freedom. In the early 2000's Denmark was scoring in the high 60's but last year scored a rounded 80 and has unfortunately decreased significantly this year.

  Examining the long term change shows interesting trend especially in a few of the below countries. Canada in particular has a very impressive increase in economic freedom showing relatively low rates in the mid 1990's but pulling out and ending up on a very impressive slope leading to where it is now. Also very impressive is Australia, New Zealand who shows persistent increase over time even when they have impressive above average scores. Mexico shows very rapid progress over the past few years. Somewhat troubling are the graphs for the United States and the United Kingdom who both had slow progress cumulating in 2006 but since has declined steadily for the past four year with this year being the most significant decrease. This could be attributed to the effects and measures taken during and after the financial crisis of 2007. 

Countries of Interest
Following are some countries' statistics of economic freedom that might be on interest to others, for a full list of rankings and score please see the full list on their website at . 

Economic freedom is the road to freedom and prosperity. As we continue to seek to promote personal freedom we help each other to create quality affordable products to aid us in our everyday lifestyle. We help progress technology by promoting worthwhile products and ideas. As we petition for greater economic freedom we can hope to see a better world for us and for our children.  

UPDATE 20011
Top Ten of 2011
1  - Hong Kong    (previously #1, 0.0)
2  - Singapore      (previously #2,    +1.1)
3  - Australia        (previously #3,     -0.1)
4  - New Zealand (previously #4,    +0.2)
5  - Switzerland    (previously #6,    +0.8)
6  - Canada          (previously #7,     +0.4)
7  - Ireland           (previously #5,     -2.6)
8  - Denmark        (previously #9,    +0.7)
9  - United States  (previously #8,     -0.2)
10- Bahrain          (previously #>10, +1.4)

We see that Ireland took a dive(-2.6) giving place for a steadily increasing Switzerland(+0.8) and Canada(+.04). It is cited that "its score has decreased... particularly for government spending and financial freedom...". America has also dropped a slot from last year with a net lost of 0.2 allowing denmark to take its place. Bahrain makes it into the top ten displacing Chile to the 11th position which actually increased by 0.2 from last year. Bahrain is the leader in economic freedom in the Middle East/Northern Africa area.

 The overall trend mentioned in the comparative graph above remains generally true: Canada and New Zealand(+0.2) has continued  to increase. Australia had a slight decline (-0.1) which may be ominous as the score seems to have somewhat platoued over the past several years hopefully it has not topped out. Both the United States and the United Kingdom continue their descent downward. The United Kingdom dropped 2 full points this past year due mainly to Government Spending and Fiscal Freedom.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Song - Crackhead

This song is an original that I composed a short while ago.  The original idea for the song came from a diddy that I had recorded on my GNX4 (Personal Review of the GNX4) several months previous. I took this idea and developed it with the help my close friends and siblings who played the constructed pieces with me. Early in the creation process I transferred the music as best I could onto Guitar Pro 5, a program where you can create, share and listen to music. As of yet I have not recorded a full audio version of this song and that which I did record was lost in a disastrous external hard drive meltdown.  Luckily I had the Guitar Pro version on my computer.

The song is made for a four piece band. There one Acoustic Guitar(rhythm guitar), one electric guitar (Lead Guitar), one bass guitar, and one drummer.

For anyone who is familiar with the MIDI format -- or for that matter anyone who remembers the soundtracks to most video games in the 80's or early 90's -- you know that the sound quality, dynamics, and effects are non existent.  That being said the below audio version of the song lacks much of the character and passion which I hope would have been demonstrated in this recording. Currently my power plug for my GNX4 is being shipped here to Idaho from Canada so once I receive it I hope to post more songs and ideas hopefully including a version of this song.

Thank you all for your help and inspiration, please give me feedback. I hope you enjoy!


Audio (MIDI) (Also available for download)
Sheet Music (PDF)
Guitar Pro 5 Format (GP5)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Philosophical View of Speaker for the Dead

Introduction and Synopses
            Orson Scott Card is an author best known for his works in Science Fiction. His most recognized contributions to the Science Fiction genre are two books: Ender’s Game (1985) and its sequel Speaker for the Dead (1986), both of which won the Hugo and Nebula science fiction awards. Subsequently, he has written several sequels and prequels to these original works. The series currently has eleven books with a twelfth forthcoming. 
           Having read several of his books, primarily in relation to the Ender’s game Series. I noticed his books deeply embedded with explicit and implicit philosophical themes that range from genocide, protecting nature, to human behavior. I have decided to focus in on of Card's works and analyze the core philosophies and morals that are addressed directly and indirectly in Speaker for the Dead, Card’s second written book in the Ender’s Game Series
          The protagonist isAndrew Wiggin, commonly known as “Ender” or “Ender Wiggin”. The book takes place around 5270 AD, in an unknown part of the universe. A this point, humanity is continuing to expand into the universe colonizing habitable worlds.
Ender was born some 3,000 years ago on earth, before the colonization efforts had begun. Ender was recruited at the age of six to go to battle school; a military training base in outer space. In as few short years Ender, still a young child, played the leading role as a military strategist and commander in the defeat and xenocide, or extermination, of an apparent hostile alien race known by the humans as “Buggers”. Ender was viewed as a hero; a savior from the threat of the alien species.
 Shortly after the Buggers were eliminated, Ender and his sister Valentine, left the earth and the rest of humanity behind to go with the first colonization group to the Buggers home world. Ender travels at faster-than-light speeds and thus due to relativistic space travel by the time he gets to the Buggers home world all those that he knew back on earth were long dead while he had aged a relatively small amount. On this planet Ender found a message preserved for him from the Buggers. It turned out the Buggers were not the threat that everyone had assumed them to be. The Buggers had preserved an egg and psychically led Ender to it in hopes that he would take it another world and be able to perpetuate the Bugger race. 
The Bugger’s home world was not suitable to hatch the egg, so Ender once again took to the stars traveling at faster than light speeds searching for a suitable location. During this time, he wrote a book called The Hive Queen, an autobiography of the buggers' including the good the bad and the ugly.  He sent this to earth under the pseudonym “speaker for the dead” where it became classic literature. Since that time is has become a custom among some to have a “speaker” speak in behalf of the dead, telling their full story rather than the sanitized version that is so often spoken at funerals. Since the publication and acceptance of this book Speaker for the Dead, Ender became increasingly unpopular, he is viewed as the monster that had destroyed the only other sentient life that had been discovered.
Ender, now in his 30’s, identified as the planet Lusitania as the only known habitable planet for the buggers. Lusitania had already been colonized by humans for several years. However, Lusitania was already inhabited by Sentient creature called Pequeninos, commonly referred to as Piggies. As Ender, going by his given name of Andrew Wiggin, lands on the planet, he enters under the pretense of being a Speaker for the Dead. However, he secretly is there to introduce yet another sentient life form on the planet--the Buggers.
There are strong parallels to how humanity viewed the buggers 3,000 of years ago. The humans on Lusitania feared the piggies and many held animosity and even hostility towards them. While technologically the Piggies were several thousand years behind them, piggies learned quickly despite the human's best efforts to protect their technology. Further, the Piggies carry a virus that is lethal to most life including humans; which if they were to achieve space travel could effectively work as a terraforming agent for any plant they would inhabit.  To further strain the relationship, through a misunderstanding, the Piggies killed a few of the human residents on Lusitania. In response, humans on a neighboring world sent a strike force to Lusitania to eliminate all life on Lusitania including the Piggies, the humans, and the yet-undiscovered recuperating Buggers.
This xenocidal act was philosophically justified by giving ultimate value to human benefit. Any non-human was ranked lower on the importance hierarch, which degrades the value of their ambitions, pleasures, pains, and thoughts. Non-humans were place on the Hierarchy of Foreignness, which essesnsially is a heuristic that can be used to justify ultimate self-interest, ethnocentrism, and non-human manipulation for human benefit. On his website Orson Scott Card discusses different classifications on the Hierarchy of Foreignness:
By definition a varelse is someone so alien and dangerous that you can't know them and can't reach an understanding with them; but that inability to know them makes it quite possible that they are potentially raman [on the same level as human] after all, but you have no way of discovering it… Once having admitted the possibility that, to defend your own community, you might have to obliterate another, do you then find yourself leaping to the conclusion that any degree of strangeness is enough to make aliens worthy of treatment as varelse?
The Piggies are seen as less-than-human and feared because of the sentience they have and the potential competition for resources, planets, and dominance. The humans thus feel justified in eliminating all the Piggies in an effort to make human life most pleasurable at the sacrifice of other “less valuable” life. This justification seeks to employ a method of Utilitarianism; that the most happiness in the long run would come from the elimination of the Piggies and all those on Lusitania. While this is a version of Utilitarianism,  it does not harmonize with classical views of Utilitarianism, as constructed by Jeremy Bentham or John Mill.

Jeremy Bentham’s view of Utilitarianism was revolutionary to philosophy. Bentham asserted life should not be measured by how well one reasons, but rather their ability to suffer or feel pleasure. While humans may be able to reason better than piggies or non-humans, that does not mean human's are more acutely aware of pain or pleasure. As Bentham explained in his book, Introduction to the Principle of Moral and Legislation:
The day has been, I am sad to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing, as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still… The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognised that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog, is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
            In the book Speaker for the Dead, humanity has not progressed as Bentham has seen or hoped for. Rather, humanity had digressed to inflicting pain on sentient being simply because they view them less-than-human whose pleasure or pain is less valuable than humans. They have reasoned and found it best to destroy an entire species for human primacy.
            Similarly, John Mill defended animal rights proclaiming:
It is "to most persons" in the Slave States of America not a tolerable doctrine that we may sacrifice any portion of the happiness of white men for the sake of a greater amount of happiness to black men. It would have been intolerable five centuries ago "to most persons" among the feudal nobility, to hear it asserted that the greatest pleasure or pain of a hundred serfs ought not to give way to the smallest of a nobleman… Nothing is more natural to human beings, nor, up to a certain point in cultivation, more universal, than to estimate the pleasures and pains of others as deserving of regard exactly in proportion to their likeness to ourselves. These superstitions of selfishness had the characteristics by which Dr. Whewell recognizes his moral rules; and his opinion on the rights of animals shows that in this case at least he is consistent. We are perfectly willing to stake the whole question on this one issue. Granted that any practice causes more pain to animals than it gives pleasure to man; is that practice moral or immoral? And if, exactly in proportion as human beings raise their heads out of the slough of selfishness, they do not with one voice answer "immoral," let the morality of the principle of utility be for ever condemned.
           Jeremy Bentham developed the felicific calculus to be able to calculate how to achieve the most pleasure and least pleasure for all involved.  A leading argument against equality asserts there is significant uncertainty in the levels of pain or pleasure a non-human experiences. However, recent philosophy and science has shown that in most cases the majority of these assertions against equality are false. Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher and a prevalent voice on the animal rights issues, said the following in regards to sensational equality of animals and humans:
[E]very particle of factual evidence supports the contention that the higher mammalian vertebrates experience pain sensations at least as acute as our own. To say that they feel less because they are lower animals is an absurdity; it can easily be shown that many of their senses are far more acute than ours.
            As we examine Speaker for the Dead we see that it does not discusses animals with lower level reasoning and unintelligible communication but rather a highly rational species that learns, adapts, communicates and can express themselves equally as capable as humans.  The human's responses demonstrates a degradation of human philosophy reverting to the shared foundations to racism and illogical bias.
            One of Card’s predominate themes in this book is equality, honestly, and fairness; we need to question all out beliefs in honest light and see the world as it really is. As it says in Speaker for the Dead describing the philosophy of a speaker for the dead:
No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one's life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.
For Card, a speaker for the dead is the ideal philosopher. A speaker for the dead is impartial, deals unbiasedly with the facts, and reveals the person in all honesty. They holding everyone equal as individuals and everyone with inherent worth.
This is a theme in many of his books and a primary theme of this one.  Who are we to judge if a species, if a person, or if an animal feels any differently about painful experiences, or joyful experiences than ourselves? We have been egocentric as a species, we prone to assume that we are the most important.  Egocentrism and selfishness is biologically bound to us individually, societally, and interspecifically. No one can feel the pain of others, and thus we deem that it worse for us to feel pain than for others. However, for the best society for everyone , for the greatest happiness for all, we need to follow the golden rule, perhaps best known from Jesus Christ when he said “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

Works Cited
Bentham, Jeremy, and Laurence J. Lafleur. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation ;.New York: Hafner Pub., 1948. Print.

Card, Orson Scott. Speaker for the Dead. New York, NY: TOR, 1986. Print.

Card, Orson Scott. "Student Research Area - OSC Answers Questions." Hatrack River - The Official Web Site of Orson Scott Card. Web. 18 July 2010. .

King James Bible. [Cambridge, England]: Chadwyck-Healey, 1996. Print.

Mill, John Stuart. Dr. Whewell on Moral Philosophy. [Charlottesville, VA]: InteLex, 200. Print.

Rollin, Bernard E. The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain, and Science. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989. Print.

Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York, NY: New York Review of, 1990. Print.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Secret is How to Die

Dan Brown’s hit book The Lost Symbol opens with the words “The Secret is how to die. Since the beginning of time, the secret has always been how to die” (3). Truly, there are only two guarantees in this life: (1) you will be born, and (2) you will eventually die. As such, birth and death should be of great interest to everyone.

In society, talking about death is taboo. Death is something that is not fully understand. In fact, it is something that many do not wish to contemplate. For those lives that death has touched, it leaves a burning hole, a feeling of loss, often chased by despair and depression. As society politely sweeps the dead under the carpet with as little exposure to the living as possible, the people avert their eyes from the unknown and unknowable. We fear death because we know it not, we cling to life because it offers warm familiarity. Death is no tragedy, death is no sin, it is a step into the dark, a step all must one day take. The secret is how to die.

    In Greek there is a word that is defined as “good death”, this word is Euthanasia. Euthanasia is the practice of allowing one to choose when they wish to end their life.  Euthanasia is most often performed when an individual has decided there is more unavoidable pain and displeasure to come than happiness and they would prefer to end their life prematurely. The choice to be euthanized can extend to the family of the person if the said person is not in a condition to grant consent.   Currently, there are only five countries that legally allow a form euthanasia.

 As one examines the nature decision making, it is a parent that individuals constantly make choices they believe will bring happiness and joy. We weight the possibilities and make an individual choice of which option will afford us the most happiness or the least amount of displeasure. All our rights have been given to us so that we can achieve a greater level of freedom and happiness as individuals and as a society in general. There comes a point where the happiness of the individual and society would be greater if the individual were allowed to end his life.

That being said the legal acceptance of Euthanasia should be carefully defined and outlined as this concept could introduce several cultural and social issues if improperly applied. Many of us feel at points in our life that we would rather not have to continue living, we may feel that there is nothing worth living for. More often than no we come to realize in retrospection how wrong we truly were. It would be inappropriate and irresponsible for society to allow a healthy sixteen year-old boy to end his life prematurely because of a failed romantic relationship. Although he may wish his life to be over it would be rash and illogical for him to do it on the basis of utilitarianism and on the study of others such experiences.

Despite the potential negative implication of Euthanasia if inappropriately applied, the beneficial qualities far outweigh potential depravities. Let us consider a case wherein Euthanasia would be considered moral by utilitarian standards.

Doris’ husband was 82 years old when he started having serious medical issues. He had specifically placed in his will that “[He] didn't want any extreme measures taken [to preserve his life].” The time came when he was no longer conscious and his life was in question. Doris was influenced by her children to place her husband into a special care facility. She visited him every day that he was in the facility. Doris described it first hand:
     He was in intensive care. Tubes were inserted in his neck, oxygen was given, and he had a tube down his throat. Every day different specialists examined him. He remained unconscious.                       
     After a while, the tube down his throat caused a problem, so it had to be removed and a tracheotomy performed. He had to be suctioned to keep the fluid from filling his lungs. The tubes in his neck area became inflamed, so they were moved to his other side. He was turned constantly to avoid bedsores.
     Every day we were told he was improving in one area but failing in another. The resuscitation cart was always outside his door. The one time he regained consciousness, he started shouting that he wanted to get out of there. The doctors assured me that he didn't know what he was saying.
     This went on for 45 days. Every day I stayed with him, and the family gave me what support they could.

            As we consider the ethical values implicit in the Euthanasia issue we must put ourselves in the plae of Doris and her Husband. What is the ethical thing to do in that situation? Is it ethical to prolong his life indefinitely or would it better to stop his suffering?

            Doris chose, with the affirmation of the doctors, to discontinue further treatment. Her husband was placed on a morphine drip to quell his pain and was taken off of treatment. He died the next day.
This is a day of rights, where all humans are given the ability to choose what they believe to be right. From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Declaration of Independence we have past milestones in obtaining freedom and morality while remaining in civilized society. For one to be restricted on a reasonable medical request to end one’s life is paramount to taking one’s life out of their control. In the afore mentioned Declaration of Independence it states:          

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

            To deny euthanization can be seen as an obstruction to the pursuit of happiness. When the pain and degradation of life, or unavoidable future pan and degradation, outweighs the pleasure and happiness that their life bring the logical course of action in the pursuit of happiness is to end your life. This would beneficial not only the recipient but also society as a whole, as it would allow for better medical attention, less money spent by the family and government, and better peace of mind and closer for the family and friends knowing that the person is no longer in pain.   

            As responsible loving pet owners often we see this issue much clearer.  There comes a time when you can see an animal is in pain, when you see that it hurts every moment of every day. To euthanize it is the responsible thing to do, it is the charitable thing to do, the human thing to do. How are humans different? How much more do humans deserve this treatment when they so ask for it? We deserve to die in dignity in whatever way we see fit, to aid in the reasonable termination of life is not a tragedy, it is not a sin, it is a service. We all must die at some point, when you leave this life do you want to do it in a situation of control or a situation of compulsion? The secret is how to die.

Works Cited 
Brown, Dan. The Lost Symbol. Doubleday, 2009.

Harris, NM. "The Euthanasia Debate". J R Army Med Corps 147 2001: 367-370.

Doris. "DORIS' STORY." Compassion & Choices. Compassion & Choices. Web. 06 July 2010.       .

Jecker, Nancy Ann Silbergeld., Albert R. Jonsen, and Robert A. Pearlman. Bioethics: an Introduction to the History, Methods, and Practice. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett, 2007. Print.

17 USC. Sec. 304. 2000. Print.

Meier, Diane E., Carol-Ann Emmons, Sylvan Wallenstein, Timothy Quill, Sean Morrison, and  Christine K. Cassel. "NEJM -- A National Survey of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the United States." NEJM -- Conflict of Interest in the Debate over Calcium-Channel Antagonists. The New England Journal of Medicine, 23 Apr. 1998. Web. 06 July 2010. .


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