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Readers: Missouri Should Join States, Like Oregon, Allowing Physician-Assisted Suicide For The Terminally Ill

September 23, 2015 Missouri, Politics/Policy 1 Comment

In the last year the issue of physician-assisted suicide has been in news again, prompted by the following video by Brittany Maynard.

After moving from California to Oregon, she ended her life on November 1, 2014. Her husband returned to California and pushed for legislation, which passed earlier this month:

The California Senate approved a controversial bill Friday that would legalize physician-prescribed life-ending medication for terminally ill patients. The focus now moves to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has yet to indicate where he stands on the issue. (Time)

I’ve supported right-to-die since the issue came into the public arena in the late 90s with Jack Kevorkian. While I don’t understand religious objections, I get other reasons:

Disability rights advocates and oncologists opposed the legislation, saying it takes advantage of the poor and vulnerable. (San Jose Mercury News)

I can see how someone wouldn’t want to be a burden on their family, not a good reason to die. On the other hand, we don’t know the pain & suffering they endure. Who are we to tell them they must continue suffering rather than dying in a more dignified manner?

Here are the results from the Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree? Missouri should join states, like Oregon, allowing physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

  1. Strongly agree 20 [47.62%]
  2. Agree 11 [26.19%]
  3. Strongly disagree 6 [14.29%]
  4. Somewhat agree 3 [7.14%]
  5. TIE  1 [2.38%]
    1. Somewhat disagree
    2. Disagree
  6. TIE: 0 [0%]
    1. Neutral
    2. Unsure/No Answer

Those voting on the agree side accounted for over 80% of the votes in the non-scientific poll. Strong support, but I don’t see this getting anywhere in Missouri.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Left Turn On Red Not Allowed In Missouri

June 23, 2015 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Transportation Comments Off on Left Turn On Red Not Allowed In Missouri

People do it daily in downtown St. Louis — make a left turn on red from one one-way street onto another one-way street.

Driver makes a left onto 10th from Locust despite having a red light.
Driver makes a left onto 10th from Locust despite having a red light.

Missouri is actually one of a handful of states that doesn’t allow a left turn on red!  From Wikipedia:

In the U.S., 38 states and Puerto Rico allow left turns on red only if both the origin and destination streets are one way. (See South Carolina law Section 56-5-970 C3,[20] for example.)

Five other states, namely Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon and Washington, allow left turns on red onto a one-way street even from a two-way street.[21][22][23][24][25]

The following states and territories ban left turns on red: South Dakota (unless permitted by local ordinance), Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, and Guam.[citation needed] New York City also prohibits left turn on red lights, unless a sign indicates otherwise.[citation needed]

In Canada, left turn on red light from a one-way road into a one-way road is permitted except in some areas of Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island. Left turn on red light from a two-way road into a one-way road is permitted in British Columbia[26] but only if the driver turns onto the closest lane and yields to pedestrians and cross traffic.

Missouri law doesn’t ban the left turn on red — it just isn’t allowed the way a right turn is:

(3) Steady red indication 

(a) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal alone shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subdivision; 

(b) The driver of a vehicle which is stopped as close as practicable at the entrance to the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then at the entrance to the intersection in obedience to a red signal, may cautiously enter the intersection to make a right turn but shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding as directed by the signal at the intersection, except that the state highways and transportation commission with reference to an intersection involving a state highway, and local authorities with reference to an intersection involving other highways under their jurisdiction, may prohibit any such right turn against a red signal at any intersection where safety conditions so require, said prohibition shall be effective when a sign is erected at such intersection giving notice thereof; 

(c) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in section 300.160, pedestrians facing a steady red signal alone shall not enter the roadway. 

(4) In the event an official traffic control signal is erected and maintained at a place other than an intersection, the provisions of this section shall be applicable except as to those provisions which by their nature can have no application. Any stop required shall be made at a sign or marking on the pavement indicating where the stop shall be made, but in the absence of any such sign or marking the stop shall be made at the signal. (Missouri Revised Statutes)

No mention of a left turn, only right turns are allowed under current Missouri law.

Twenty minutes later, at the same intersection as above, I see another driver turn left on red:

leftonred03I’m not suggesting we begin enforcing the law and give these drivers citations. No, I think we need to amend our state statutes to allow it. Even better, return these streets to two-way traffic.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Readers: Missouri Should Follow Nebraska In Repealing The Death Penalty

St. Louis Police Headquarters, 2011 Photo
St. Louis Police Headquarters, 2011 Photo

When I posted the Sunday Poll I wasn’t sure what the final tally would be, I was pleasantly surprised by the results:

Q: Should Missouri follow Nebraska and abolish the death penalty?

  1. Yes 24 [70.59%]
  2. No 8 [23.53%]
  3. TIE 1 [2.94%]
    1. Maybe
    2. Unsure/No Opinion

It seems unlikely we’ll follow Nebraska given our history:

Missouri has executed 56 men since 1997, including 10 in 2014 alone. That tied Missouri with Texas, which has 20 million more people, for the year’s most. (Editorial: Nebraska’s enlightened conservatives abolish the death penalty)

Tied with a state with a substantially greater population for the most executions last year — what an honor.

Interestingly, the debate isn’t over in Nebraska:

Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts says lawmakers’ repeal of the death penalty won’t stop his administration from proceeding with executions of 10 people already sentenced to death.

Ricketts said Friday that he doesn’t plan to cancel a shipment of lethal injection drugs that the state bought earlier this month. (Nebraska’s Governor Vows To Proceed With Executions Despite Death Penalty Repeal)

One thing is certain, there’s no shortage of information online saying the death penalty does or does not deter crime. Still, many of us just don’t think it’s a deterrent:

Wyoming attorney Traci Lacock said she has seen the deterrence question both as an academic, working with Boulder’s Radelet, and as a public defender. For her, deterrence issues became much simpler over time.

Her clients accused of violent crimes were coping with grinding poverty, mental-health issues and other challenges, Lacock said. 

“Are you really going to be asking the question, ‘Does my state have the death penalty or not?’ when you are doing something horrific to another person,” Lacock said. “Just basic common sense says no.” (No credible evidence on whether death penalty deters, experts say)

What about as a form of punishment?  It’s uncivilized, we also know that many have been wrongly convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. If we find out the truth they can be released from prison — we can’t bring someone back to life!

The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States. (National Academy of Sciences: Rate of false conviction of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death)

Four precent would be exonerated! Missouri should follow Nebraska and repeal the death penalty!

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri follow Nebraska and abolish the death penalty?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Last week the conservative legislature in neighboring Nebraska voted to override their governor’s veto of a bill to repeal their death penalty:

Lawmakers in Nebraska overrode Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto of their vote to repeal the death penalty, making it the first Republican-controlled state in the U.S. to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973. The vote was 30-19.

As we reported Tuesday, Ricketts, a Republican, vetoed the legislation flanked by law enforcement personnel, murder victims’ family members and state lawmakers who support capital punishment. Opposition to the death penalty in the conservative state came from Republicans who were against it for religious or fiscal reasons, as well as from Democrats and independents. (NPR)

Of course, just because a neighboring state does something it doesn’t mean we should follow them. Still, this is a good public policy subject for a Sunday Poll.  The poll is at the top of the right sidebar of the desktop layout, it’ll close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Benefit Corporations Make A Difference and a Profit

Business is all about making money, right? Except when money isn’t the only bottom line. This will confuse some of you: not all corporations seek to maximize profits for shareholders! It’s true, Directors must make sound judgment so shareholder value isn’t negatively impacted but there’s no legal obligation to maximize short-term profits — but other goals aren’t considered. Some for-profit corporations, however, have goals beyond profit and shareholder value.

First we need to review some terms:

Triple Bottom Line:

The phrase “the triple bottom line” was first coined in 1994 by John Elkington, the founder of a British consultancy called SustainAbility. His argument was that companies should be preparing three different (and quite separate) bottom lines. One is the traditional measure of corporate profit—the “bottom line” of the profit and loss account. The second is the bottom line of a company’s “people account”—a measure in some shape or form of how socially responsible an organisation has been throughout its operations. The third is the bottom line of the company’s “planet” account—a measure of how environmentally responsible it has been. The triple bottom line (TBL) thus consists of three Ps: profit, people and planet. It aims to measure the financial, social and environmental performance of the corporation over a period of time. Only a company that produces a TBL is taking account of the full cost involved in doing business. (The Economist)

Benefit Corporation:

Incorporating as a benefit corporation legally protects an entrepreneur’s social goals by mandating considerations other than just profit. By giving directors the secured legal protection necessary to consider the interest of all stakeholders, rather than just the shareholders who elected them, benefit corporations can help meet the needs of those interested in having their business help solve social and environmental challenges.

Additionally, the demand for corporate accountability is at an all-time high, with many consumers already aligning their purchases with their values. The benefit corporation status is a great way to differentiate your company from the competition and capitalize on these customers. (Forbes)

St. Louis' only certified B Corp, Microgrid, installed this electric car charging station on Lucas between 6th & 7th
St. Louis’ only certified B Corp, Microgrid Energy, installed this electric car charging station on Lucas between 6th & 7th

Certified B Corporation: 

B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.
B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,000 Certified B Corps from 33 countries and over 60 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business. (B Lab)

 

B Lab, a nonprofit organization, certifies B Corporations, the same way TransFair certifies Fair Trade coffee or USGBC certifies LEED buildings. However, all B Corps meet a wide range of comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards.

There are over 1,200 Certified B Corporations in 38 countries across 121 different industries. (MaRS Centre for Impact Investing)

This B Corp video explains:

http://youtu.be/V-VFZUFJwt4

Impact Investing:

And around the world, there are stories of how impact investments are meeting needs in areas as diverse as childhood education, clean technology, and financial services for the poor.

Last year, New York State, Social Finance and Bank of America Merrill Lynch teamed up to launch a “social impact bond” designed to cut New York City’s seemingly insoluble recidivism problem. The $13.5 million raised will extend the proven approach of the Center for Employment Opportunities. If the Center meets targets for reducing recidivism rates, investors stand to earn up to a 12.5% return.

Or take d.light – a company that manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products to those without access to reliable electricity, transforming lives in the developing world.  Over eight years, d.light has reached more than 30 million people worldwide.

Recently, J.P. Morgan and the Global Impact Investing Network studied 125 major fund managers, foundations, and development finance institutions and found $46 billion in sustainable investments under management.  That’s up nearly 20% from last year.

Some estimate that the impact investment market could grow to $3 trillion. And as the more socially conscious millennial generation of entrepreneurs build impact-driven businesses, you can be sure the supply of impact investment opportunities will vastly expand. (Forbes)

All sound too abstract for you? Here are some examples you might be familiar with:

  • Ben and Jerry’s — “Ben and Jerry’s produces a wide variety of super-premium ice cream and ice cream novelties.”
  • Cabot Creamery Cooperative — “Cabot Creamery is a 1,200 farm family dairy cooperative with members in New England and upstate New York”
  • Change.org — “Platform that empowers anyone, anywhere to start, join and win campaigns for social change”
  • Etsy — “We are bringing heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more sustainable, and more fun.”
  • King Arthur Flour Company — “America’s oldest flour company and 100% employee-owned”
  • New Belgium Brewing Co, Inc. — “100% Employee owned brewer of fine Belgian inspired ales”
  • Patagonia, Inc. — “Outdoor clothing, apparel and gear for climbing, hiking, surfing, running, travel”

780 of the 1,179 B Corps are located in the US — at least one in each state! Here are some examples, including both from Missouri:

  • AE Works; Pittsburgh, PA — “AE creates social, environmental, and technical capital as a TBL design firm for the built environment”
  • The Arnold Development Group; Kansas City, MO — “Mixed use real estate development and real estate services”
  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods; Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada — “Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods is the world’s largest vertically integrated hemp foods manufacturer”
  • Microgrid Energy, LLC; St. Louis, MO — “Microgrid Solar is a clean energy company committed to operating on a triple bottom line basis.”
  • The Natural Baby Company; Bozeman, MT — “The Natural Baby Company builds and sells earth-friendly baby brands including GroVia and Ovolo.”
  • Renewal Funds; Vancouver British Columbia Canada — “Social venture fund investing in environmental and social mission businesses in Canada and the USA
  • Telesis Corporation; Washington, D.C. — “Planning, financing and building urban communities that are livable, beautiful, and safe”
  • Union Kitchen; Washington, D.C. —  “Food incubator catalyzing small business growth by lowering barriers to entry for food businesses.”
  • WasteZero, Inc.; Raleigh, NC — “WasteZero works with municipalities to deliver the most effective waste reduction programs in the US.”

You can search certified B Corps here. I can think of a number of St. Louis companies that could likely become certified.

There are now more than a thousand B corps in the U.S., including Patagonia, Etsy, and Seventh Generation. And in the past four years twenty-seven states have passed laws allowing companies to incorporate themselves as “benefit corporations”—which are similar to B corps but not identical. The commitments that these companies are making aren’t just rhetorical. Whereas a regular business can abandon altruistic policies when times get tough, a benefit corporation can’t. Shareholders can sue its directors for not carrying out the company’s social mission, just as they can sue directors of traditional companies for violating their fiduciary duty. (The New Yorker)

Missouri doesn’t yet have a Benefit Corporation provision, existing corporations can still become certified. Three neighboring states, Arkansas, Illinois, & Nebraska have Benefit Corporation legislation; four neighboring states have introduced legislation: Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, & Tennessee. Kansas, like Missouri, doesn’t have benefit corporation legislation or pending bills. For more information on states click here.

If you’re committed to social/environmental change, but also want to make a profit, consider working for, or starting, a benefit corporation.The fact so many people around the world are working for more than to line their own pockets is comforting.

— Steve Patterson

 

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