Do The Research

In two recent online conversations, I have had people make absolute, declamatory statements contrary to my own beliefs, and then inform me that their positions were not arguable, because they had “done the research.” If I didn’t agree, then all I needed to do was “do the research,” and then I would have no choice but to cede my position and accept theirs. Such is the power of “doing the research,” apparently.

The problem is, though, that in neither case did “the research” in any way, shape or form adhere to the standards to which I myself have been held as a student, or to which, as a University administrator, I would hold students  before I let them make absolute, declamatory statements at me.

So what is “research,” really?

To me, “research” is the word that we use to define a set of tools and protocols designed to help people turn subjective assumptions into objective conclusions. It can take many forms, but its fundamental requirements include:

  • Intellectual rigor in seeking out credible sources, records and documents beyond those easily available in the public domain;
  • A willingness to seek out and fairly consider documents and records supporting views in opposition to those of the researcher;
  • An ability and willingness to compile qualitative or quantitative data using generally accepted statistical and scientific methods;
  • A method for testing those data against a hypothesis, followed by an ability to have the results of those tests stand up to independent re-testing;
  • An affirmation of the research data and conclusions by a body of experts in the field of research; and
  • A recognition of the utility of the data compiled and conclusions drawn, as evidenced by cites and references from other researchers in the field of study.

That may be a bit academic and arcane, so perhaps a better way to frame this post would be to flip the question and ask: So, what isn’t research, really? To which I would reply:

  • Using Google, Wikipedia or Youtube as the primary search engines for source documents, since none of those portals have filters for accurately assessing the credibility of sources, and none of them index the countless proprietary scholarly, academic or scientific journals and resources that require proper library assistance to access;
  • Throwing out entire sectors of the printed and online media worlds because they are “mainstream” and do not cover certain topics in the way that the researcher may wish to see them covered;
  • Working in a vacuum, without the intellectual testing that comes from the healthy give-and-take of collegial debate and discourse;
  • Reaching conclusions that are only cited or referenced by other individuals who enter the realm of research with the same viewpoint as the researcher;
  • Promoting positions without having ever actually compiled, analyzed, or tested data independently, but instead relying solely on data developed by others, oftentimes without appropriate scientific or statistical rigor; and
  • Using shock tactics or logical fallacies to make points in the absence of said data.

I’ve spent more time in and around classrooms over the past decade as a College and University employee and as a “non-traditional” (which means “old”) student than most folks my age have, so let me cite one personal example of what I consider to be an acceptable level of documentation and work such that, if necessary, I could go online and say “I did the research,” and have it mean something.

My Masters Paper in Public Affairs and Policy was called “Where the Air is Sweet? A Policy Evaluation of Public Broadcasting in the United States.” What went into the research behind this paper? I never tallied the total hours, but it was an immense amount of time, and it took about nine months from inception to completion of the research project, the summary of which was a 60 page, 14,000 word document with 52 end-notes and 42 specific works cited. The conclusions reached were based on two massive databases that I developed myself, one related to a large, random sample of quantitative financial information regarding the nation’s public radio and television stations, and one related to coded qualitative data related to the programming offered by the same stations over the course of a month. I also conducted extensive interviews, spent extensive amount of time wading through proprietary scholarly literature not available to public search engines like Google, and had an academic advisor and an independent reader read, review, and challenge my results and conclusions, which then had to be presented to a board of faculty members at the college for acceptance.Perhaps most noteworthy, after conducting my research, I reached conclusions that were different from the assumptions I made going into the project, rather than discarding information that didn’t support my preconceived notions in the field.

So if you and I entered into a conversation about public broadcasting in the United States today, I would feel reasonably confident about making some absolute, declamatory statements, and telling you “I did the research,” because I actually did. There are very few other areas, though, where I feel that I could ever take such a position of authority, with the facts and data available to back up my positions.

If you haven’t done a comparable level of work to that described above, then you really have no right to dismiss my positions or those of others who may disagree with you by saying “These are the facts, because I did the research.” That’s insulting to people who have actually conducted real research, and it undermines your arguments, because you can’t really defend them with any objective, testable data or facts.

Which is not to say, of course, that you can’t offer your subjective positions so that we can debate them. I welcome that! I love to argue! The world is a mushy place, and most of the interesting stuff that engages us on a daily basis is unquestionably subjective and subject to debate. Easily 98%+ of everything I ever write or say is subjective, and open to discussion, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. Engage me! I like that! But if you disagree with me, I promise I won’t slam the door in your face and dismiss your position, citing “research” that I didn’t actually conduct.

Please extend me the same courtesy when we have conversations in virtual or real space, okay?

On Socialized Education

In such economically tough and politically charged times as these, imagine the hue and cry that would erupt if the Federal government enacted a program where every tax-paying citizen in the land was levied a fee, so that a very small number of young people could receive a 100% free education at one of the Nation’s most elite colleges, including tuition, room, board, healthcare costs and a clothing allowance. The taxpayers would have no direct say in who received such an educational opportunity, with that decision being left instead to incumbent members of Congress and unelected representatives of several Executive agencies, each of whom would receive an annual number of chits to dispense as they wished to students they found worthy. Some of the chits might be used to send underprivileged young people to the free college, perhaps using racial quotas to create an ethnically diverse student body. Other chits might be used to reward the children of high-powered campaign donors.

Now, let’s take this scenario even further into the realm of the politically offensive. Imagine if, upon graduating from this hypothetical elite college, the selected few students would be guaranteed immediate employment via appointments to management positions within large, national organizations, supervising men and women who may be twice or three times their age, and who have spent their entire professional careers within their organization. The chosen ones would have their salaries, room, board and healthcare costs paid and guaranteed for a minimum of five years, all on the taxpayers’ dime, because the Government would declare it to be in the best interest of everyone in the Nation to have these selected few elites educated and employed at Federal expense. And if these entitled few managed to perform even adequately in their taxpayer subsidized jobs, they could continue to rise up the management ladder for twenty years, at which point they would be able to retire with full pensions and lifetime healthcare benefits, all on the Government’s tab, happily living off other taxpayers’ sweat equity for the remaining 40 or so years of their naturally forecasted lifespans.

Would you consider that to be a “socialized” education and job-subsidy program of the most heinous variety? Would it make your hackles rise to ponder such an unjust reallocation of the taxpayers’ hard-earned incomes to support such a parasitic elite? Would you curse the government that dreamed up such an entitlement program? Would you support candidates who would pledge to rescind such programs as soon as they were elected?

This is more than an academic question to me, since the hypothetical scenario described above is actually exactly how I received my own college education at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis a quarter-century ago. It’s the model under which Navy, West Point and the Air Force Academy operated long before I entered the service, and continue to operate all these years since I left it. And I don’t consider that to be “socialism” in the way that word is widely bandied about today. I see it, instead, as a function of policy decisions made by our duly elected officials, under the rule of law, to consider the education of the Nation’s military officer corps to be of benefit to the Nation as a whole, and a recognition that it could not effectively be paid for individually by all of its participants.

I trained in airplanes, submarines, tanks, helicopters and surface ships during my time at Annapolis. I couldn’t have afforded any of them without taxpayer subsidy, nor could anybody else. If the Nation benefited from me (and others) having the chance to undergo that training, then the citizens of the Nation can and should reasonably be expected to pay for it, one way or the other. That’s not “socialism” to me. That’s a tangible manifestation of the basic social contract that is required when we, as a people, assent to have an organized government lead us under the rule of law. In order to consent to be governed as a group, we must cede some individual rights and resources to the government, or else we really have no government, and are, instead, merely a collection of individuals who happen to live together, lawlessly, in the same geographic space. In such circumstances, might generally makes right, and the weak suffer and perish. View any number of failed states around the world today (e.g. Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc.) for a demonstration of where that approach gets you.

Much of the burning political debate today hinges on how far the social contract that binds us should extend. Let’s consider hot-button item number one: healthcare. In the same way that I couldn’t afford my own airplanes and ships, most citizens in the United States today also couldn’t afford their own dialysis machines, electroencephalograms, heart-lung machines, prosthetic limbs or magnetic resonance imaging machines. The questions before us, ultimately, are whether the taxpayers who don’t need such equipment, and the physical and human infrastructure that supports it, have an obligation to contribute to those costs as part of the Nation’s social contract, and, if they do, in what way should those costs be collected and allocated? Those are tough questions, sure, but they are answerable through open-minded debate, discussion and dialog, and with a reasonable recognition that the answers achieved will not please all of the Nation’s citizens.

So injecting the fraught word “socialism” over and over again in the midst of such dialog isn’t really helpful, ultimately, just as claiming an infallible position based on spurious research isn’t helpful, and dismissing people who disagree with you as having “drunk the Kool Aid” isn’t helpful. As I have written before, for my own small part, and in my own small way, I would encourage people to embrace our better angels as we wrestle through such divisive times as these, and seek conversation over confrontation, and reasoned language over inflammatory sloganeering and veiled insults.

That’s an approach I learned as a result of my “socialized” education. Thank you all for paying for it.

Understanding Immigration: A Primer

Immigration policy in the United States has always hinged on two key questions: who is allowed to enter the country and, once here, who is then accorded the rights of citizenship?

Today, immigration falls under Title 8 of the US Code. It’s volatility over the years is notable in that chapters 1-5 and 7-10 of Title 8 have been repealed or transferred over the years, while only Chapters 6 and 11-14 still govern.

From 1870 to 2003, immigration policy was administered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which at different times in its history was part of the Departments of Treasury, Commerce and Justice. Most of its functions were subsumed into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, where it is now known as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Questions about citizenship and immigration were pressing even at the dawn of the Republic; the United States Constitution (1787), Article One, Section Eight states “Congress shall have the right . . . to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” The Naturalization Law of 1790 responded to Article One, Section Eight by allowing naturalization of “free white persons” “of good moral character” who had been in the country for two years and in their claimed state of residence for a year. While it was racially restrictive, it was considered radical in its day for its inclusion of people of all religious faiths.

The residency time limits for citizens were expanded by the Naturalization Laws of 1795 and 1798 (the latter, one of John Adams’ infamous Alien and Sedition Acts, was later over-turned); today the time limits are generally five years, (three years if married to a U.S. Citizen).

In the Supreme Court case Dred Scott vs. Sandford (1857), Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote a decision ruling, among other things, that slaves and their descendents could never become citizens of the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution (1868) over-turned the Dred Scott decision, making former slaves born in the United States citizens, and guaranteeing equal protection under the law for all persons.

Since the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment, immigration policy has tended to be cyclical; during periods of economic prosperity requiring an expansion of the labor force, policies tend to reduce barriers to immigration; during periods of economic malaise when labor forces contract, xenophobic reactions tend to fester, and pressures for more restrictive policies increase.

Take for example the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which suspended immigration from China, after large numbers of Chinese laborers and their families has come to the United States to work in the California gold fields and on the Transcontinental Railroad. This act was not repealed until 1943.

European immigration rose in the years that followed, which, again, resulted in restrictive legislation once the economic situation led to rising unemployment among native-born citizens and the resultant xenophobia that followed it; The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and Immigration Act of 1924 established quotas for numbers of immigrants from selected nations, typically Asian, African, and Southern/Eastern European ones.

The quotas were reaffirmed by McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, but were finally abolished by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which was both an attempt to right past wrongs (paired with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights of 1965), and an attempt to curry favor in the Third World and among the “Non-Aligned Nations” during the peak years of the Cold War; the provisions of this act are still largely in effect, though numbers of visas issued, etc., have changed.

Key immigration legislation since then has included:

  • Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986): Made it a crime to knowingly hire illegal aliens, while providing amnesty to those already here.
  • The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (1996): Significantly tightened processes for prosecuting and deporting illegal aliens.

Today, the primary issues associated with immigration have to do with the differences between immigrants who entered and remain in the country legally, and those who either entered legally, but remained past the expiration of their visas, or those who entered the country illegally and still remain.  The Center for Immigration Studies notes that immigrant population in the U.S. (legal and illegal) reached an all-time high of 37.9 million in 2007. Immigrants tend to be less educated, are younger, have larger families, and earn less than native-born citizens also per Center for Immigration Studies research.

Pew Hispanic Center estimates there are about 12 million illegal aliens (nearly 1/3 of all immigrants) currently in the United States, a number supported by independent GAO analysis. Of these, 57% are from Mexico, 24% are from Central America, and the remaining 19% are from the rest of the world.

Note that illegal immigration from Mexico is not a new issue; in 1954, the INS embarked upon “Operation Wetback,” designed to deport 4 million illegal Mexicans from the country. Ultimately, they deported ~130,000, while another 1.2 million fled the U.S. rather than be deported.

Today, there are two primary fears driving the illegal immigration debate today: (1) post 9/11 fears of terrorists illegally entering the country to cause harm to its citizens, and (2) economic fears about native-born workers losing jobs to illegal immigrants, who also consume an inordinate amount of social service resources.

Interestingly, given the press this issue has received in recent years, the Center for Immigration Studies conducted a survey in 2008 which revealed that most voters in the Presidential elections generally didn’t know what their chosen candidates’ positions on immigration were—and often disagreed with them when they were informed.

The bottom-line fact of the matter today is that it would be physically and economically impossible to deport 12 million illegal aliens; even finding and identifying them would be an immense task. We can close the gates now, but we can’t remove those who have already arrived.

The legal side of the immigration issue also has its share of policy problems today, first and foremost involving the H1B Visa, which is issued to highly skilled immigrants. There are only 85,000 issued per year. Last year, 163,000 applications were received. The USCIS uses a lottery system to decide who gets them, so they are all consumed immediately each year. The most skilled workers often simply lose out to luckier applicants who may not be the best candidates.

Ultimately, the key issue for America’s policymakers is to identify how to incorporate illegal and legal aliens into the fabric of American life in a way that doesn’t cause undue hardship either to the government, the taxpayers, the social service and educational infrastructure or the aliens themselves. We can wall off the border with Mexico to our heart’s content (at absurd expense), but there’s no way a modern “Operation Wetback” is going to reverse sloppy controls of the border over the past quarter-century.

Recommended Further Reading:

  • Urrea, Luis Alberto. The Devil’s Highway, Little Brown and Company, 2004.
  • Higham, John. Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, Rutgers University Press, 2002 (originally published in 1963).
  • Swain, Carol (editor). Debating Immigration, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Tichenor, Daniel J. Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America, Princeton University Press, 2002.
  • Ford, William F. “Immigrationomics,” Economic Education Bulletin, Vol. XLVII, No. 10, American Institute for Economic Research, October 2007.
  • Hing, Bill Ong. Defining American Through Immigration Policy (Mapping Racisms), Temple University Press, 2004.
  • Center for Immigration Studies Website, http://www.cis.org.

Understanding Retirement Policies: A Primer

Most of the significant policy issues associated with retirements and pensions in the United States today hinge on the relative responsibilities of Government, employers and employees in providing for the well-being of workers and their families after they retire. These three interconnected sources of retirement income are all governed by Federal legislation and statutes, each of which offers its own issues, opportunities and challenges. I’ll briefly review each of the three and provide an overview of the policy considerations involved with each.

Government Funded Programs: The Federal Government provides social insurance programs under the Social Security Act of 1935, as amended, and as implemented in Title 42, Chapter 7, of the U.S. Code. These programs originated in the Great Depression, when over 50% of elderly, retired people in the United States lived in poverty.

Title 42, Chapter 7 governs a variety of social insurance programs (including Medicare, Medicaid, TANF, etc.) , though when we use the term “Social Security” we are generally referring only to the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. OASDI provides monthly benefits to retirees, dependants, widows, spouses, divorced spouses and disabled workers. In the United States today, workers contribute via mandatory payroll deductions under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), which are then matched by their employers.

These funds are held in, and dispersed from, the Social Security Trust Fund. OASDI is a “pay as you go” program, meaning that today’s workers pay for today’s retirees, not for their own future retirements. The problem with this approach in the United States today is obviously a demographic one: the ratio of current workers to retirees is decreasing rapidly as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age, and people are living longer as birth rates decline. By most forecasts, if nothing changes, the Social Security Trust Fund will run dry sometime between 2030 and 2040.

None of the policy options available to remedy this situation are likely be popular among voters (e.g. suspend the program, allow private employee-directed investments, reduce benefits, increase minimum retirement age, raise Social Security taxes, borrow to pay OASDI benefits, make riskier investments with the trust fund in the hopes of increasing investment gains, etc.), hence the decisions tend to just keep getting deferred. This is one of the most profound socioeconomic issues facing our country today, especially as other entitlement programs grow and expand.

Employer Funded Programs: The traditional employer funded pension was a defined-benefit plan, in which employees, in exchange for set periods of employment, were granted certain payments and benefits for the remainder of their lives after they left the work force.

Defined-benefit plans are rapidly dying out everywhere except for in Government and larger, older, more unionized companies and corporations. They are being replaced with defined-contribution plans, like 401(k)s, where employers, employees or both make contributions that go into individuals’ retirement accounts.

The most important piece of legislation governing employer or employee funded programs is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended. ERISA was designed to protect the interests of pension plan participants by requiring disclosure of information concerning plans and by establishing standards of conduct for plan administrators.

ERISA also established the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), an independent Government agency designed to provide uninterrupted pension benefits in cases where employers can no longer meet their obligations to their retired employees. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 sought to strengthen the PBGC and ERISA in general by eliminating loopholes and penalizing companies that under-fund their pension programs.

Defined-benefit plans are also typically “pay as you go” type arrangements, and they have run against the same sorts of demographic pressures that assail Social Security. From a government policy standpoint, lawmakers must balance provisions that protect employees with realistic assessments of what businesses can bear; if the government mandates pension provisions that bankrupt businesses and cause all of their employees to lose their jobs before they get a chance to retire, has the net utility to society been increased?

Employee Funded Programs: Given the resource pressures noted above, the Government and businesses have a vested interest in encouraging employees to help fund their own retirements.

In addition to ERISA, the Internal Revenue Codes of 1954 and 1986, as amended, are the primary laws influencing employee funded programs, as they provide tax incentives for employees to set aside funding for their retirement; “401(k),” for example, refers to a chapter in the tax code.

Employees may contribute to defined-benefit plans such as 401(k)s that are sponsored by employers, or they may contribute to individual retirement accounts (IRAs); there are several different types of IRAs (Roth, Traditional, SEP, Simple, etc.) that have different tax provisions associated with them.

As originally constituted, IRAs were essentially cash vehicles, but the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 made it easier to use other types of assets to fund retirement accounts.

From a policy-making standpoint, lawmakers must balance a desire to have employees fund their own retirements with a realization that the tax incentives being offered to encourage such investment also results in reduced tax revenues to the federal government; it would be simple to write tax law that would encourage employees to dramatically increase their contributions, but that would dramatically increase the budget deficit by lowering revenues.

Recommended Further Reading:

  • The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America’s Economic Future, by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns, MIT Press, 2005.
  • Coming Up Short: The Challenge of 401(K) Plans, by Annika Sunden and Alicia Haydock Munnell, Brookings Institution Press, 2004.
  • Fundamentals of Private Pensions (Eighth Edition), by Dan McGill, et al., Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • The Economics of an Aging Society, by Robert L. Clark, et al., Wiley-Blackwell, 2004.

A Model for Municipal Management

I wrote this article in 2008 as part of an urban and regional planning seminar. It attempts to provide a modeled framework within which municipal managers may maximize the civic impact of their planning and financial decisions. Click on the link below to open the PDF version of the article.

A MODEL FOR MUNICIPAL MANAGEMENT

A Memorial for Haiti (One Year Later)

I was humbled and honored one year ago today to be asked by the Haitian Students Association (HSA) at the University at Albany to speak at their Memorial Service tonight for victims of the January 12th earthquake. The organization that I head (University Auxiliary Services at Albany) supported HSA and the entire UAlbany community’s response to this humanitarian crisis by matching gifts to the UAlbany Haiti Relief Fund up to $40,000. On the one-year anniversary of this moving event, I provide the text of my remarks below:

I want to speak with you briefly tonight about giving and about stories.

I’ve spent many years in the nonprofit sector, and know that fundraising is an art, a science, and a business. It’s hard work. The people who do it well know how to identify a need, craft a compelling story about that need, broadcast that story widely, find those potential donors whose personal interests resonate with that story, and then convince them to act on that resonance by making a donation to help meet the need.

It takes a lot of planning. It can take a long time. And the success rate can be very low, as people are bombarded from all sides with competing, worthy stories that often cancel each other out.

Sometimes, though, stories about need are so compelling that they tell themselves. The Haitian Earthquake of January 2010 is such a story.

I imagine most of us here sat riveted by televisions or computers as the earliest words and pictures began to leak out of a shattered nation in the hours after the earthquake. The sights and sounds we were exposed to, even from 1700 miles away, didn’t require anybody to craft a story and tell it to us.  We got it. We understood.

I know for some here, the most tragic sound they heard in the days after the Earthquake was silence, as they waited for calls or e-mails confirming the health and safety of loved ones in Haiti. I also know for some here, those calls still haven’t come, and they never will.

President Woodrow Wilson said nearly a century ago that “There is no cause half so sacred as the cause of a people, and there is no idea so uplifting as the idea of the service of humanity.”

What was most remarkable to me in the days after the earthquake was watching the UAlbany community, including many of you in the room tonight, take up the cause of the Haitian people, rallying together around this idea of service of humanity.

Even as you grieved for lives lost, you began working to help the survivors look to the future.

Even as you wept at Haiti’s despair, you began working to provide hope.

Even as buildings tumbled and rubble was hauled away, you began working to help Haiti rebuild.

I’m very proud to be a UAlbany alumnus, and honored to work for you at UAS, but never have I been prouder of this University’s students, faculty, administration, alumni and staff as I have been while watching the response to the Haitian crisis over the past two weeks.

You, the University, are UAS’s only customer, and our sole mission is to improve the quality of life that you experience here. And I believe strongly that by supporting the UAlbany Haiti Relief Fund, UAS does improve the quality of life of each and every person associated with this campus. We are all better people for giving our time, treasures, and talents, whatever they may be, to provide such service to humanity.

If the world is truly to be within our reach, then we must willingly assume an obligation of responsibility and a duty of care for that world and its people. So the story I want to craft, and that I want everyone to hear, is the story of how the University at Albany accepted that responsibility and duty without pause or compromise.

The world is a better place in your hands tonight, Albany.

Implementing Idealism: HIV Testing and Confidentiality in New York State

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which renders people vulnerable to life-threatening infections and cancers. In the early 1980s, during the nascent days of the AIDS epidemic, there was significant social stigma and fear associated with AIDS infection, as the disease first manifested itself through outbreaks of rare cancers among young gay men in California and New York. HIV was discovered and identified as the AIDS-causing virus in 1984, and prevention education efforts thereafter have focused on HIV testing as a key tool for enabling individuals to best protect themselves and others from infection or transmission. Given the ongoing social stigma associated with AIDS, however, privacy and confidentiality provisions associated with HIV testing remained paramount, and had to be addressed before testing could become widely useful among populations who were fearful that they could be harmed, persecuted, institutionalized or otherwise discriminated against as a result of a positive HIV test.

New York State enacted a seminal piece of legislation in 1989 as Public Health Law Article 27-F (Pub. Health L. §§ 2780-2787): “HIV Testing and Confidentiality Law.” The initial Article 27-F provisions have been amended since their passage, and were significantly supplemented in 1998 with the passage of New York State Public Health Law Article 21, Title III, (Pub. Health L. §§ 2130-2139): “HIV Reporting and Partner Notification Law,” the provisions of which went into effect in 2000. These laws specifically applied to, and had to be implemented by: physicians and others authorized to order lab tests or make medical diagnoses; persons who receive HIV-related information in the course of providing health or social services; persons who receive HIV-related information pursuant to a release; or health care providers or other medical services plans.

The seemingly simple concepts behind these laws were subject to a great deal of interpretation and ambiguity. While both Article 27-F and Article 21, Title III have been successfully implemented, the machinery required to support their provisions is far more complicated and loophole-ridden than that originally envisioned by the pioneering legal and social activists who first advocated for the confidentiality provisions now embodied in the New York State’s health laws. In the 2007 article connected to the link below, I discuss the challenges, complicating factors, approaches taken in the implementation process, and outcomes associated with applying the noble idealism embodied in Article 27-F in the crucible of the “real world” in which State and nonprofit agencies operate. The article also provided broad lessons learned and strategy recommendations for those tasked with implementing public policy, especially when they will be blazing trails while they do it.

Implementing Idealism: HIV Testing and Confidentiality in New York State

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