Dec. 18, 2017 by Carl Cranor

Weaponizing Wealth: Unjust Redistribution Upward

Is the current "tax reform" going through Congress just? Justice is important because even if citizens are treated dissimilarly by institutions, if the differences are just, all have reasonable treatment and the institutions are likely to be socially accepted. 

A widely endorsed theory of justice, developed by the philosopher John Rawls nearly 50 years ago, captures how thoroughly unjust the congressional tax plan is. Understanding this and how it weaponizes wealth against most ordinary citizens may explain why so many people oppose it. 

The tax plan will initially reduce taxes on all income groups, with those in the top five percent receiving a higher share of tax reductions. Yet by 2027, 50 percent of middle- and lower-income groups are projected to pay more in taxes than they do now. Will the initial, temporary drop in taxes be enough to persuade those groups to look favorably on the bill, even though their taxes will increase later and they will be harmed in various ways? 

Three major components provide resources to assess the justice of basic institutions. One, largely the legal system, should ensure certain equal rights for all citizens. A second, with implications for health care and education, should ensure fair …

June 8, 2017 by Carl Cranor

This op-ed originally ran in the Los Angeles Times.

Miners carried canaries into coal mines; if the canary died, it was an early warning of the presence of toxic gases that could also asphyxiate humans or explode. The Trump administration has decided to use children and farmworkers as 21st century canaries, continuing their exposure to a pesticide named chlorpyrifos that has been linked to serious health concerns.

The toxicity of this commonly used pesticide was demonstrated in early May when chlorpyrifos sprayed on a Bakersfield orchard drifted into a neighboring cabbage field, sickening a dozen farmworkers. One was hospitalized.

This is the same chemical that Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, refused to ban in March, despite the advice of EPA scientists.

In November 2016, EPA scientists reported that residues of chlorpyrifos on food crops exceed the federal safety standards for pesticides. Their …

July 25, 2011 by Carl Cranor

In Daubert v. Merrell-Dow Pharmaceutical,  General Electric. v. Joiner, and Kumho Tire v. Carmichael the U.S. Supreme Court sought to bring principles for reviewing expert testimony in line with the Federal Rules of Evidence. The opinions sought  to ensure that legal arguments would better comport with the pertinent science needed for the legal cases at issue. To achieve this goal the court gave trial judges a greter duty to review expert testimony for relevance and reliability before plaintiffs could bring their case to a jury. Despite these goals, lower courts have struggled with reviewing scientific testimony and evidence. Some courts so restricted expert testimony and its scientific foundation that scientists found it difficult to present basic scientific evidence about the toxicity of chemicals in a courtroom.

An outstanding decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals this March in Milward v. Acuity Specialty Products (639 F …

July 19, 2011 by Carl Cranor

When you write a book, particularly one that has something to do with matters political, you have to expect criticism. So when I wrote Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants (Harvard, 2011), I fully expected it to take a shot or two – not just from some of my colleagues in academia, but also from allies of the chemical industry.

In fact, since this book isn’t exactly my first rodeo, I’ve grown accustomed to reviewers who sometimes misstate some of the specifics of what I’ve written or mangle an idea or two. But they’re usually mistakes made in good faith, or at least that’s been my impression.

So it came as a surprise to me to read the review of Legally Poisoned written by Henry Miller, M.S., M.D., of the Hoover Institution and adjunct fellow of …

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More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Dec. 18, 2017

Weaponizing Wealth: Unjust Redistribution Upward

June 8, 2017

LA Times Op-Ed: EPA Scientists Said Ban the Pesticide Chlorpyrifos. Scott Pruitt Said No

July 25, 2011

Milward v. Acuity Specialty Products: How the First Circuit Opened Courthouse Doors for Wronged Parties to Present Wider Range of Scientific Evidence

July 19, 2011

How to Diss A Book Without Reading It