Hard Choices

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

syringe (Johnny Klemme/flickr)

Dr. Paul A. Offit offers medical arguments against the anti-vaccine movement, and why he thinks it threatens us all. Then, Amy Chua talks about the pros and cons of raising her children the Chinese way—and why she thinks Chinese women make “superior mothers.” Also we look at the problem of self-control in an age of excess. And our latest Backstory segment explores the history of the Second Amendment. Plus our latest Underreported segment looks at the collapse of dairy prices and at efforts to pass price fixing legislation in Congress.

The Anti-Vaccine Movement

Dr. Paul A. Offit, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a founding advisory board member of the Autism Science Foundation, discusses the debate over vaccines and why the link between autism and vaccines has been discredited. His book Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All explains the origins of the anti-vaccine movement and how it has affected public health.

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Amy Chua on Raising Her Kids the Chinese Way

Amy Chua talks about raising her children the Chinese way, and explains how it’s different—and why she thinks it’s better—than the American way. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother explores the differences in Eastern and Western parenting, and is a chronicle about raising her daughters the Chinese way—no play dates, no school plays, the expectation that they get straight As and that they play the piano or violin.

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Self-Control in an Age of Excess

Daniel Akst discusses why a lack of self-control is a central problem of our time—temptations have multiplied and social constraints have eroded. In We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess he shows the ways freedom can be dangerous: Half of all deaths in America are due to overeating, smoking, drinking too much, failing to exercise, and other bad habits. He also looks at ways to save ourselves from overindulgence.

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Backstory: The Second Amendment

The shooting in Arizona that resulted in the death of 6 people and the injury of 14 others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, has prompted a new round of soul-searching about one of the most contentious topics in American politics: gun-control. Both Representative Peter King (R-NY) and Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) have announced intentions to introduce new gun control legislation in Congress, but many the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby maintains that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Bill of Rights and should not to be changed. Harvard University History Professor and New Yorker contributor Jill Lepore explains that the 2nd amendment was not always interpreted as the right to bear arms in the literal sense. She'll trace the history of this contentious amendment through its drafting to the present--and, along the way, will explain how the right to bear arms is inextricably linked with the unique way in which murders have been carried out on American soil.

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Underreported: The Plight of the American Dairy Farmer

In 1970, there were nearly 650,000 dairy farms in the United States. Today, there are only 54,000 farms—many of them run by large operators who dominate the industry. As milk prices have fallen—fetching half as much in 2009 per gallon as they did in 2008—small dairy farmers have taken a huge hit. Barry Estabrook explains the crisis facing small dairy farmers in the United States and efforts to pass a price-fixing agreement in Congress. Barry Estabrook’s article, "A Tale of Two Dairies," appears in Gastronomica.

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Web Extras: A Map of Dairy Farms in New York

On today’s Underreported, Leonard and Barry Estabrook examine the current state of dairy farming in the United States—and efforts to pass a new price stabilization program in Congress.

Below, you can check out a map of the current concentration of dairy farms in New York. The image is taken from a website called Factory Farm Map, which promotes sustainable farming practices and a bias against larger farms. Although the website is partisan, the data upon which this map is based is not: it comes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture, which is a five-year survey of America’s farms. (It last happened in 2007.) For more on the map and the methodology, you can go here.

Overall, the majority of dairy farms are located in California and Idaho, but New York is still one of the highest producers of dairy in the U.S., coming in at 6th overall. Within New York, Wyoming County and Cayuga County—both located in the western part of the state—are the largest producers of milk, with over 28,000 and 22,000 cows respectively.

Are you a dairy farmer in New York? Or have you visited a dairy farm recently? Let us know in the comments!

Dairy farms in New York

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