Monthly Archives: January 2016

Treating Drug Addiction as a Health Issue, Not a Crime

An average of 125 people die a day from drug overdoses, primarily driven by prescription painkillers and heroin. That is more than car accidents. Overdoses have increased in nearly every county in the U.S. between 2002 and 2014. Heroin used to be primarily used by inner-city young men, but today suburban areas and the White […]

The Public Health Disaster in Flint

In 2011 the city of Flint decided to begin sourcing its water from Lake Huron, ending a purchasing arrangement it had with the city of Detroit. In the interim, it began drawing water from the Flint River. This switch was expected to save the city $5 million over two years. However, the city failed to […]

Cognitive Habits and Public Health

When people make decisions about health—their own or the public’s—they’re not thinking rationally, and that’s a very good thing. The standard model of decision-making in economics and elsewhere claims that people have stable preferences and perfect information about the world, and that they rationally choose actions that maximize the match between the world and their […]

Preventing Conflict Starts in the Classroom

Read any news story today and you’ll likely get the sense that we are a nation becoming increasingly divided along political, racial, religious, and income lines. Perhaps related, many of our large cities are experiencing a recent increase in violence. In Milwaukee the number of murders increased by 76% between 2014 and 2015. The most […]

Time for a floor price on gasoline

Electric cars charging.

On Streetsblog, Charles Komanoff makes a number of great points about the low price of gasoline driving more C02 emissions, and endorses Congressional proposals for a carbon tax on the order of $100/ton, which would raise gasoline prices by about $1.00/gallon.   Elsewhere Komanoff says, “the climate problem cannot be solved without carbon emission fees,” by which […]

The poisoned carrot of climate policy

Gas prices are down to around $3 a gallon and that’s a disaster. But worse is yet to come.   In the US there is no way to get to meaningful reductions without changing the transportation sector, which accounts for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions.   Strategies to combat climate change can be thought of […]

Public Health Letter Grades

restaurant grade

Grades work.   Under the leadership of then-Director Jonathan Fielding, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health pioneered a letter-grade system for restaurant sanitation.  The program has been a tremendous success, imitated throughout the country and now to Europe.  Following the introduction of restaurant letter grades, restaurant hygiene increased dramatically and the incidence of food-borne illness […]

Tracking Deaths by Law Enforcement Necessary to Public Health

High-profile shootings by law enforcement in the last year have brought attention to the decades-long debate about lethal force used by police in the U.S. Many protests, particularly by civil rights groups and the growing Black Lives Matter campaign, believe officers are intentionally and disproportionately targeting people of color, particularly young men. However, other conservative […]

The Benefits of Car-free Days

Los Angeles has a solid reputation for its traffic. People complain of long commutes, air pollution, common traffic collisions and delays. And Los Angeles certainly isn’t the only city with these problems.   Santa Monica Planning Commissioner, Richard McKinnon proposed closing off a portion of the city to vehicles for a few hours one Sunday […]