Research Papers In Computer Science Topics 2012 Presidential Candidates

The networked nature of social media allows users to link their pre-existing connections and develop new types of online relationships. This study aimed to examine the relationships between candidates' camps and ‘netizens' during the 2012 Taiwan presidential election. To benefit from the rapid growth of social networking, political candidates have used social media as an election campaign tool. However, the strategic approach of these candidates seems to contradict the networked nature of social media, especially in terms of friendship. Through in-depth interviews with campaign staff, journalists and scholars, this research found that a new concept – strategic network campaigning (SNC) – can be proposed. Combining ‘two-step flow’ communication, para-social relationships and network society theory, SNC explains how election camps mimic Facebook's networked nature by placing staff in the network to influence netizens. Through SNC, campaign staff develop hubs that they can control, establish friend-like relationships with netizens, and influence perceptions of candidates.

Two weeks ago, Scientific Americanasked for your help in grading the presidential candidates on their answers to 20 questions about various aspects of scientific endeavor. The questions were refined by a group of scientific institutions representing more than 10 million scientists and engineers, with nonprofit organization ScienceDebate.org as the facilitator. 

We received nearly two dozen responses from readers, most of whom not only evaluated the candidates’ responses but provided detailed explanations for their ratings. Overall, Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton scored highest in our readers’ estimation, as well as our own, followed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Republican Party candidate Donald Trump came in last on all counts. One PhD in biology wrote, "Trump's answers demonstrate an almost complete ignorance of science or the importance of these imposing problems facing us in maintaining a livable world for everyone." A clinical microbiologist with 25 years of experience added, "[Trump’s] answers show how uninformed he is on the issues."  Although Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson’s responses arrived too late for reader evaluations, we have included our assessment of his responses below. 

One researcher performed a "qualitative analysis" of the answers, saying that Clinton always starts "with a synthetic review of present data" and builds from there—whereas "Trump never does." A food policy analyst failed Clinton on the food question for being too narrow in her responses, failed Trump for "partisan rhetoric," and gave Stein a grade "between pass and fail" for being "clearer on issues pertaining to negative externalities of food production," but failing "to mention issues of food equity and proper resource management." A few readers found some of the questions too vague (particularly number 1 on innovation and number 13 on the global economy), and thus too easy to answer with generalities.

What follows are all 20 questions, followed by evaluations of the candidates’ responses (along with some of the more salient points from our readers), and the candidates’ answers in full. We used the same 0–5 point scale (with 5 being the best score possible) that we developed in evaluating candidate responses in 2012.

1. Innovation

Science and engineering have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII. But some reports question America’s continued leadership in these areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation? 

Clinton says she would "ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation" with "universal preschool," "debt-free college and support for high-quality apprenticeships and training programs." She promises to "ensure that government funding of research is sufficient to allow for multiyear planning" and "exploration of emerging research areas." One Iowa reader says of Clinton’s answer that it "sounded positive but I got bored" and "stopped reading." Clinton loses a point for failing to indicate how much these initiatives would cost or how to pay for them, giving her the same score as Mitt Romney and Barack Obama on this question four years ago. Grade: 4/5

Trump states that "the government should do all it can to reduce barriers to entry into markets and should work at creating a business environment where fair trade is as important as free trade." He highlights "space exploration" and acknowledges the importance of investing in "science, engineering, health care and other areas" that would "make Americans safer and more prosperous." His answer to this question contradicts responses to three other questions in the survey, however, in which he references "limited" financial resources, which would presumably prevent following through on any of these ideas. Grade: 1/5

Johnson argues that "the most important policies for science and engineering are those that reduce the burdens on the economy of deficit spending and debt." His limited, utilitarian view of science would raise concerns that global leadership in innovation will pass to other countries. Grade: 2/5

Stein offers a "climate action plan," "free public education and cancellation of student debt proposals," and "Medicare for All," which she expects to pay for with "reduced Pentagon spending." One reader thought Stein’s response was "almost as good as Clinton’s." Stein loses points on feasibility for failing to acknowledge the political headwinds likely to oppose such efforts. Grade: 3/5

Full Answers to Question 1

Hillary Clinton (D)

Since World War II, America’s leadership in science- and engineering-based innovation has provided economic benefits along with major advances in health, safety, security, and quality of life. Education, research, and commercialization are all key to America’s success.  As President, I will work to strengthen each of these core elements of the ecosystem and facilitate public-private partnerships between them to ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation.

Advances in science and engineering start with education. We need universal preschool, to get our kids off to a good start; good K-12 schools and teachers in every ZIP code; and to put higher education in reach for everyone with debt-free college and support for high-quality apprenticeships and training programs. We need strong STEM programming in every school, and we need to provide every public school student with access to education in computer science.

Both basic and applied research are major drivers of innovation. As President, I will work with Congress to ensure that government funding of research is sufficient to allow for multi-year planning, exploration of emerging research areas, and inflation-adjusted costs. Funding is needed not only for the basic science research agencies and the large science and engineering mission agencies but also for the broader universe of agencies that are increasingly dependent on STEM for their missions.

The innovation payoff comes from the commercialization of research results. The first step is what universities call “technology transfer” and the medical community calls “translation”—demonstrating the use of research results in practice and sharing the knowledge with the business community. The government has a critical role to play at this stage by opening access to and sharing government-funded research results. I will support the development of collaborative consortia that accelerate the creation of new industries while providing valuable feedback to researchers. As part of my plan to create more good-paying jobs, I will also invest in “Make it in America” partnerships that will make America the first choice for manufacturing by harnessing regional strengths, supporting manufacturers up and down the supply chain, and ensuring international competitiveness by improving industrial energy efficiency by one-third within a decade. 

Donald Trump (R)

Innovation has always been one of the great by-products of free market systems.  Entrepreneurs have always found entries into markets by giving consumers more options for the products they desire.  The government should do all it can to reduce barriers to entry into markets and should work at creating a business environment where fair trade is as important as free trade.  Similarly, the federal government should encourage innovation in the areas of space exploration and investment in research and development across the broad landscape of academia.  Though there are increasing demands to curtail spending and to balance the federal budget, we must make the commitment to invest in science, engineering, healthcare and other areas that will make the lives of Americans better, safer and more prosperous. 

Gary Johnson (L)

First, true leadership in science and engineering cannot happen without a robust economy that allows the private sector to invest and innovate. Conversely, in times of slow or nonexistent growth and economic uncertainty, basic research and higher-risk development are among the first items to be cut. Thus, the most important policies for science and engineering are those that reduce the burdens on the economy of deficit spending and debt, and which reduce a tax burden that siphons dollars away from investment and into government coffers.

Likewise, government has an important role to play in creating a level playing field. Innovation works best when government doesn’t pick winners and losers. Manufacturers and consumers best understand the necessary applications required, not government funding offices. Innovation happens when the prevailing narratives and paradigms are questioned—not when government imposes political priorities on the scientific, engineering, business, and hobbyist communities.

Our administration will also seek real reforms in the granting process. First, we will work to reform granting agencies so that more initiative comes from ground level scientists, not the technocracy. Requests for Application, or RFAs, drive research towards wherever the money is. If alcohol addiction studies are fashionable in a given year, and the flu isn’t, tough luck for epidemiologists—no matter the relative risk of each malady, and no matter how well designed the studies. RFAs skew science away from groundbreaking work and towards that which attracts the most funding. Science and academic achievement shouldn’t be measured in terms of how many government dollars it secures.

We also expect to reform the relationship between hiring and granting systems. Currently we incentivize universities to hire scientists and researchers who are funded via grants, because they don’t actually pay the investigator salaries. Universities have little skin in the game, and too often end up misusing resources by overhiring and collecting the overhead from taxpayers and private grants.

Jill Stein (G)

Virtually every component of our 2016 Platform contains elements likely to have positive effects on innovation. These include our climate action plan, our free public education and cancellation of student debt proposals, and our Medicare for All plank. Vast resources will be freed for investment in public R&D by reduced Pentagon spending. Millions of people currently hobbled by poverty and underperforming schools will be able for the first time in American history to bring their talents to bear on the problems of the 21st century. A just economy, with living wages and paid sick leave, can be far more innovative than one where innovation is determined by a relative handful of corporate executives and Pentagon planners.

2. Research

Many scientific advances require long-term investment to fund research over a period of longer than the two, four, or six year terms that govern political cycles. In the current climate of budgetary constraints, what are your science and engineering research priorities and how will you balance short-term versus long-term funding?

Clinton acknowledges that federally funded research, often "without a particular application in mind," has yielded "breakthrough discoveries." She thinks the U.S. should "strengthen our research capacity" by "funding talented young investigators," prioritizing "'high-risk, high-reward' projects" and "enhancing partnerships between government, universities, and the private sector." She loses points for not explaining how she would balance long- and short-term funding, and where she outlines specific priorities. Grade: 2/5

Trump’s answers contradict some of his previous statements. He prioritizes "programs such as a viable space program and institutional research that serve as incubators to innovation," and says that conserving "resources and finding ways to feed the world beg our strong commitment." An earlier remark that potholes are more important than space and that privatizing space is "great" stand in contrast with some of his statements here. Grade: 1/5

Johnson says he hopes to reduce federal spending and will "plan to subject every program to close and fresh scrutiny." He will prioritize "basic science" over "applied science" and believes that "science is best regulated by scientists, not regulators." He thinks that private companies should be "encouraged" to invest in science. Any government funding should have "as few strings as possible," or "have the costs as transparent as possible." Johnson's statements disregard some of the major issues associated with private companies investing in science, such as a recent study showing that private companies had funded research that suppressed results linking sugar to coronary heart disease. His party’s proposal to require a balanced federal budget would likely decimate science funding. Grade: 2/5

Stein says that the "greatest challenge currently before us is climate change," and that innovation in this field would be "at the very top of our research priorities." She adds that she hopes to put mechanisms in place that are "more responsive" to the "preferences and needs of average citizens," which raises some concern because it could be a recipe for allowing anti-scientific beliefs to influence science policy. Grade: 2/5

Full Answers to Question 2

Hillary Clinton (D)

Science and engineering not only provide the devices and services we enjoy and use on a daily basis—they also help defend against disease, security threats, unmet energy needs, the impacts of climate change, environmental degradation, and many other challenging issues with national and global reach. Advancing science and technology will be among my highest priorities as President.

Historically, federally funded basic research–often done without a particular application in mind and intrinsically long term–has yielded breakthrough discoveries of new knowledge and technologies. This knowledge and these technologies have, through the power of innovation, transformed entire sectors of industry, fueled economic growth, and created high-paying jobs.

I share the concerns of the science and technology community, including many in the industry, that the United States is underinvesting in research. Federal funding of basic research amounts to less than one percent of annual federal spending, yet it is an investment that pays big dividends. I believe it is essential that we strengthen our research capacity, by funding talented young investigators, looking for ways to prioritize “high-risk, high-reward” projects that have the potential to transform entire fields, and enhancing partnerships between government, universities, and the private sector. 

Donald Trump (R)

The premise of this question is exactly correct—scientific advances do require long term investment.  This is why we must have programs such as a viable space program and institutional research that serve as incubators to innovation and the advancement of science and engineering in a number of fields.  We should also bring together stakeholders and examine what the priorities ought to be for the nation.  Conservation of resources and finding ways to feed the world beg our strong commitment as do dedicated investment in making the world a healthier place.  The nation is best served by a President and administration that have a vision for a greater, better America.  

Gary Johnson (L)

We have made clear our commitment to reducing federal spending significantly. To do so, we plan to subject every program to close and fresh scrutiny. Our basic priorities will bend towards funding for basic science and limiting funding for applied science to that which has clear public benefit, but isn’t feasible in the private sector. The Johnson-Weld administration defines basic science as research that works towards understanding of fundamental issues at the core of scientific disciplines. We believe that in the case where applied science can produce a profit, the best thing that government can do is get out of the way, while providing safety regulations that cannot be covered by the investigating organizations’ Institutional Review Boards, Ethical Review Boards, or Research Ethics Boards. We believe that science is best regulated by scientists, not regulators.

With regard to basic science, private companies are often willing to invest funds, and that should be encouraged—not discouraged. And when the government gets involved, the scientific discourse can be squelched. Frequently, public scientific funding has the effect of quashing private investment in certain research. Why would a private company invest in research, either basic or applied, if the government will do that for them?

A Johnson-Weld administration will try to ensure that generosity does not work against innovation, but it will also actively encourage private investment in science. We do not view profit and patents as social evils. Rather, we view intellectual property and profit as valuable incentives for private innovation, research and development.

Private companies also see significant costs of dealing with the government itself, costing a substantial portion of the profit incentive to produce many promising drugs and applications. That needs to change, without abandoning fundamental obligations to protect the public. The federal government needs to remain focused on its role to prevent harm, and not be in the business of deciding efficacy. The marketplace will do that much more effectively.

A Johnson-Weld administration would also investigate ways to lower the overhead costs collected by universities (and in some cases, researchers).

And to the extent funding is provided, it should come with as few strings as possible, or at least have the costs as transparent as possible, so agencies can trace where waste is occurring.

Jill Stein (G)

The greatest challenge currently before us is climate change. We will place innovative breakthroughs in the science and technology associated with mitigation of greenhouse gases and the building of a resilient society that can withstand current and future climate change at the very top of our research priorities. 

Presidents are able to affect long term R&D priorities by creating institutions focused on research like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health that are to some extent insulated from short-term political cycles. We will revisit these institutions—their charge, focus, and operations—to ensure that they’re performing as expected. We will look for opportunities and mechanisms whereby science policy can be made more democratic, and more responsive to the preferences and needs of average citizens.

3. Climate Change

The Earth’s climate is changing and political discussion has become divided over both the science and the best response. What are your views on climate change, and how would your administration act on those views?

Clinton acknowledges that "climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time." She outlines a plan "to generate half of our electricity from clean sources," to cut "energy waste" by a third and to "reduce American oil consumption by a third" over the next 10 years. To achieve these goals she plans to "implement and build on" current "pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives." Clinton loses a point for not saying where she will find the money to pay for such initiatives. Grade: 4/5

Trump refers to "climate change" in quotation marks, apparently to signal that he still believes—as he has asserted in the past—that human-caused global warming is a hoax. Then he suggests that "our limited financial resources" are best spent on things such as clean water and anti-malaria efforts, without acknowledging the argument that the success of such efforts could be largely influenced by how climate change is addressed. Grade: 0/5

Johnson accepts that "climate change is occurring, and that human activity is contributing to it, including through greenhouse gases." But he plans to rely on the "marketplace" to "facilitate the free exchange of new, efficient, carbon-friendly processes and technologies." However, as Naomi Oreskes wrote in Scientific American in 2015, the marketplace alone cannot solve the climate change problem because the marketplace will not put a tangible cost on carbon without government intervention. Grade: 2/5

Stein hopes to "create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030" through her "Green New Deal." The plan includes providing incomes to transitioning workers "displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels," "redirecting research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation" and phasing out "all fossil fuel power plants" and nuclear power plants. Realistically speaking, however, nuclear power will remain for some time the most common carbon-free energy source. Stein loses points for her inflexible anti-nuclear stance and for not detailing the cost of her proposals. Grade: 3/5

Full Answers to Question 3

Hillary Clinton (D)

When it comes to climate change, the science is crystal clear. Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time and its impacts are already being felt at home and around the world. That’s why as President, I will work both domestically and internationally to ensure that we build on recent progress and continue to slash greenhouse gas pollution over the coming years as the science clearly tells us we must.

I will set three goals that we will achieve within ten years of taking office and which will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century:

  • Generate half of our electricity from clean sources, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of my first term.
  • Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
  • Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.

To get there, my administration will implement and build on the range of pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives that have made the United States a global leader in the battle against climate change. These standards are also essential for protecting the health of our children, saving American households and businesses billions of dollars in energy costs, and creating thousands of good paying jobs. 

These standards set the floor, not the ceiling. As President, I will launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with those states, cities, and rural communities across the country that are ready to take the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed. 

Donald Trump (R)

There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.”  Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water.  Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria.  Perhaps we should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population.  Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels.  We must decide on how best to proceed so that we can make lives better, safer and more prosperous.

Gary Johnson (L)

We accept that climate change is occurring, and that human activity is contributing to it, including through greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately for policymakers—the very activities that appear to contribute to climate change also contribute to mankind’s health and prosperity, so we view with a skeptical eye any attempts to curtail economic activity. We believe that a motivated and informed market will demand efficiency and reduced greenhouse gases, mitigating at least some of mankind’s effects. It is a virtual certainty that consumer demands and the marketplace will produce tangible benefits. It is not, however, certain that unilateral regulatory approaches by the U.S. will, in fact, produce benefits that are proportionate to costs. Nor is it certain that international treaties will produce benefits as developing nations have the most at stake to continue industrialization.

As other countries industrialize, as they have the right to do, we recognize that environmental trade-offs are inevitable.. As extreme poverty wanes in places like India and China, the poor will stop burning excrement or wood. And that will reduce certain types of pollution, while certain greenhouse gases may temporarily increase. But as countries become more developed, industrialized and automated, we believe the marketplace will facilitate the free exchange of new, efficient, carbon-friendly processes and technologies. And a Johnson-Weld administration will facilitate as much knowledge sharing as possible to speed and spread sustainable, cleaner technology as nations develop.

Jill Stein (G)

Climate change is the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced. Here is how we will act to address it:

Enact an emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete. Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems.

• Implement a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.

• Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.

Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, energy.

• End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.

• Support a strong enforceable global climate treaty that limits global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and provides just financial compensation to developing countries.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted.

4. Biodiversity

Biological diversity provides food, fiber, medicines, clean water and many other products and services on which we depend every day. Scientists are finding that the variety and variability of life is diminishing at an alarming rate as a result of human activity. What steps will you take to protect biological diversity? 

Clinton says "climate change, pollution, habitat destruction," and other forces "pose serious threats to biodiversity and our way of life." She mentions plans "to double the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants" to help communities and tribal nations conserve various types of wildlife "before they become threatened or endangered." She also wants to "establish an American Parks Trust Fund" to "modernize how we protect and enhance our natural treasures." Clinton loses points for not discussing the funding or execution of these plans. Grade: 3/5

Trump blames "agencies filled with unelected officials" for "writing rules and regulations" that "cater to special interests." He says there should be a "shared governance of our public lands" and that "state and local governments" should be empowered to protect "wildlife and fisheries." A healthy ecosystem—crucial to the survival of humans and other species—is not a "special interest." Grade: 0/5

Johnson says he believes that "human innovation" and "the ecosystem’s natural adaptation" will "slow the destruction of biodiversity." He contends that the government's role is to "protect against those who damage and over-consume resources to the harm of others." He hopes increasing private land ownership and "breaking down economic and cultural barriers" that block the "spread of best practices and healthy development" will reduce biodiversity loss. However, he does not put forth any solutions for protecting biological diversity aside from deregulation.  Grade: 2/5

Stein plans to "ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of" bees and other pollinators, to "label GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and put a moratorium on new GMOs," and to "support conversion to sustainable, nontoxic materials." Stein loses points because her stance on GMOs flies in the face of numerous studies that have found they are safe to consume. Grade: 3/5

Full Answers to Question 4

Hillary Clinton (D)

Conserving biodiversity is essential to maintaining our quality of life. Healthy soils provide the foundation for agricultural productivity and help absorb carbon; wetlands soak up floodwaters and pollutants and protect our communities; forests filter our water and keep it clean; bees and other pollinators are essential to our food supply; and coral reefs and coastal marshes are nurseries for our fisheries.  Although we have made considerable progress protecting our environment and conserving our natural resources, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, unsustainable management practices, introduction of invasive species and other forces pose serious threats to biodiversity and our way of life.

We need to collaborate across all sectors and at all levels to conserve our natural resources and maintain the viability of our ecosystems.  I believe, for example, that we should be doing more to slow and reverse the decline of at-risk wildlife species before they reach the brink of extinction. That is why I will work to double the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to help states, tribal nations, and local communities act earlier to conserve wildlife before they become threatened or endangered.

The 100th anniversary of our national park system is also an opportunity to re-energize America’s proud land and wildlife conservation traditions. I will establish an American Parks Trust Fund to scale up and modernize how we protect and enhance our natural treasures, and to better protect wildlife habitat across the country.

Internationally, we need greater cooperation to address declining biodiversity.  My Administration will work collaboratively with other nations to advance biodiversity science, further our understanding of the causes of biodiversity loss, and take action to diminish them.  We will share information about our conservation successes, including our national parks, fish and wildlife refuge systems, and marine reserves to aid other nations working to protect their natural resources and conserve biodiversity.  And we will work collaboratively to end trafficking in wildlife and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing that threatens our oceans.

Donald Trump (R)

For too long, Presidents and the executive branch of our federal government have continued to expand their reach and impact.  Today, we have agencies filled with unelected officials who have been writing rules and regulations that cater to special interests and that undermine the foundational notion of our government that should be responsive to the people.  Our elected representatives have done little to uphold their oaths of office and have abrogated their responsibilities.  When these circumstances occur, there is an imbalance that rewards special interests and punishes the people who should benefit the most from the protection of species and habitat in the United States.  In a Trump administration, there will be shared governance of our public lands and we will empower state and local governments to protect our wildlife and fisheries.  Laws that tilt the scales toward special interests must be modified to balance the needs of society with the preservation of our valuable living resources.  My administration will strike that balance by bringing all stakeholders to the table to determine the best approach to seeking and setting that balance.

Gary Johnson (L)

We believe that two factors will slow destruction of biodiversity: human innovation and the ecosystem’s natural adaptation. Throughout history, Mankind has destroyed habitats—cutting down cloud forests, rain forests, dry forests, and other fragile ecosystems. We depend upon their resources—food, fiber, energy, minerals,—for our own existence, including habitat. Fortunately, ongoing changes in food technology have allowed us to curtail our use of farmland, even as yields have skyrocketed. Likewise, Human habitats will continue to become more efficient and less intrusive, especially in developing nations.

Government’s role is to allow innovation and the efficiencies the marketplace will demand, and, fundamentally, to protect against those who damage and over-consume resources to the harm of others.

Private land ownership can improve good stewardship of the land. When the “public” protects natural resources, the economic “Tragedy of the Commons” can come into play—where individuals using common property compete to take the most resources from that property. In the end, people care for their own property more than they do those owned by “the government”.

The less developed world still continues to use slash-and-burn farming and ranching techniques, another reason the Johnson Weld administration views industrial and economic development as a positive step—better farming and production means more wealth, and more wealth means populations who have both the resources and freedom to improve their own environments.

Finally, to reduce man’s effect on biodiversity, we need to break down economic and cultural barriers that impede the spread of best practices and healthy development. Totalitarian governments frequently do the most damage to their land—while starving their people. Free trade, information and a robust marketplace of ideas will allow people around the globe to achieve better standards of living and the environmental protections they want, but cannot currently afford in their daily struggles to survive.

Jill Stein (G)

Protecting biodiversity is an extremely important and often overlooked priority. Here is how we will act to protect biodiversity:

• Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

• Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on new GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

• Invest in clean air, water, food and soil for everyone. 

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and other negative environmental and health effects.

• Support conversion to sustainable, nontoxic materials and the use of closed-loop, zero waste processes.

5. The Internet

The Internet has become a foundation of economic, social, law enforcement, and military activity. What steps will you take to protect vulnerable infrastructure and institutions from cyber attack, and to provide for national security while protecting personal privacy on electronic devices and the internet? 

Clinton says she will fight to keep the Internet "a space for free exchange," and that she supports efforts to create a "national commission on digital security." She says she "will build on the Obama Administration’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan" to modernize the government’s information technology infrastructure and "empower a Chief Information Security Officer." She proclaims the U.S. "will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack." Clinton loses points for not listing how she would modernize IT infrastructure or what a Chief Information Security Officer would do. Grade: 3/5

Trump says he will not let the U.S. government "spy on its citizens." He argues that "any attack on the Internet" "requires the utmost in protection and, at a minimum, a proportional response" that "identifies" and "eliminates threats." However, his response stands in direct contrast to prior statements in which he mentioned hopes to reinstate surveillance programs such as the Patriot Act; he loses points for this discrepancy. Grade: 1/5

Johnson feels that Internet users "have the right to expect communication free of government spying," unless there's "a court-ordered search warrant." He proposes returning the National Security Agency’s Cyber Command "to its original purpose"—"cyber defenses"—as opposed to offensive strategy. He plans to "educate the most likely security hole in any technology—the people sitting at the keyboards." He loses points for not delineating how "spying" is different from the routine gathering of information such as addresses and telephone numbers. Grade: 3/5

Stein says she plans to "oppose the online piracy act" or anything that would "undermine freedom and equality on the Internet," and she vows to "defend net neutrality," "support public broadband" and "negotiate international treaty banning cyber warfare." Stein loses points for not giving more details or funding sources. Grade: 3/5

Full Answers to Question 5

Hillary Clinton (D)

As President, I will fight to ensure that the Internet remains a space for free exchange, providing all people equal access to knowledge and ideas. While we must protect this exchange and the privacy of individuals, we must also invest in cybersecurity, which is not only essential to our national and economic security, but will become increasingly important as devices across sectors are networked.

Since my time in the Senate, I have worked across the aisle to improve our nation’s cybersecurity. Internet freedom and security were at the forefront of my work as Secretary of State, and we must ensure this effort continues into the next administration. I supported the USA Freedom Act enacted in 2015. I also support the bipartisan effort led by Sen. Warner and Rep. McCaul, to create a national commission on digital security and encryption to help show the way forward.

This is an issue that spans both the public and private sector. I will build on the Obama Administration’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan, modernizing our government-wide cybersecurity and federal IT and empowering a federal Chief Information Security Officer. I also support public-private collaboration on cybersecurity innovation, along with implementing the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework. The next President will be confronted with these challenges, and will need common sense approaches to balance cybersecurity with personal privacy. The next president must be able to thoughtfully address these nuanced issues.

As president I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses and we will invest in protecting our governmental networks and national infrastructure. I believe the United States should lead the world in setting the rules of cyberspace. If America doesn’t, others will. 

Donald Trump (R)

The United States government should not spy on its own citizens.  That will not happen in a Trump administration.  As for protecting the Internet, any attack on the Internet should be considered a provocative act that requires the utmost in protection and, at a minimum, a proportional response that identifies and then eliminates threats to our Internet infrastructure. 

Gary Johnson (L)

Fortunately for the privacy of users, technology moves faster for them than for the government, but the Johnson-Weld administration still worries about their rights. We maintain that users have the right to expect communication free of government spying, except as authorized by a court-ordered search warrant. Further, we maintain that users can request and demand end-to-end encryption to protect their private information without government interference.

Currently, cybersecurity is handled mostly agency-by-agency, with certain government departments and agencies being specifically tasked with overlapping mandates for cybersecurity. Homeland Security has its cybersecurity agency, the NSA has its Cyber Command. Unfortunately the latter has become more and more an offensive tool rather than a defensive tool, often used against citizens of the United States. We propose returning Cyber Command to its original purpose of remaining on the forefront of American cyber defenses.

One of the challenges of an effective cybersecurity program is what’s often referred to as the Red Queen problem. In evolution, organisms evolve to outrace parasites and predators, but parasites and predators similarly evolve to become more dangerous or to outwit defenses. What this means for cybersecurity is that the more the NSA innovates either offensive or defensive capabilities, the more bad actors among foreign powers or cyber criminals will innovate to get around such new technology.

The best way to improve cybersecurity is to educate the most likely security hole in any technology—the people sitting at the keyboards.

Jill Stein (G)

The Internet and the access to information it provides is an extremely important resource for the entire world. Here is how we will protect and improve the Internet:

• Protect the free Internet. Oppose the Online Piracy Act and all other legislation that would undermine freedom and equality on the Internet.

• Vigorously defend net neutrality.

• Support public broadband Internet.

• Negotiate international treaty banning cyber warfare; create a new U.N. agency tasked with identifying the sources of cyber attacks.

6. Mental Health

Mental illness is among the most painful and stigmatized diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates it costs America more than $300 billion per year. What will you do to reduce the human and economic costs of mental illness?

Clinton begins by asserting that nearly a fifth of adults are "coping with a mental health issue" such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, while others deal with addictions or homelessness. She highlights the needs of veterans and children in particular, and says she plans to promote a "national initiative for suicide prevention" and "treatment over jail for low-level, non-violent offenders," among other things. Clinton offers many "whats" but fewer "hows," including funding or which agencies she will call upon. Grade: 3/5

Trump acknowledges that "jails are filled with those who need mental health care" and says the U.S. must invest in "treating those with mental illness." But he offers no specifics, saying "this entire field of interest must be examined and a comprehensive solution must be developed." His complete lack of specifics indicates that he has not given the subject much thought.  Grade: 1/5

Johnson lists "the greatest challenge in mental health treatment" as "getting treatment to those affected." He proposes a "block grant approach" to funding mental health, giving states money to do what they wish. He argues that "decriminalization and legalization can remove enormous barriers to mental health treatment," keeping drug abusers out of jail. He does not discuss how best practices can be shared in a block-grant system such as this—particularly as costs of care can vary widely between states (according to Kaiser Family Foundation data) and grants that do not account for these variables can leave some states foundering as others benefit Grade: 2/5

Stein says her "Medicare for All" system would offer "full funding for mental health care," making it "easier" for "chronically mentally ill" patients to receive "Supplemental Security income." She also highlights veterans and PTSD-related mental illness, and prisoners with mental disorders. The answer does not indicate how a "Medicare for All" program would be funded or how the U.S. would make the radical transition to such a program. Grade: 3/5

Full Answers to Question 6

Hillary Clinton (D)

Nearly a fifth of all adults in the United States, more than 40 million people, are coping with a mental health issue. Close to 14 million people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Moreover, many of these individuals have additional complicating life circumstances, such as drug or alcohol addiction, homelessness, or involvement with the criminal justice system. Veterans are in acute need of mental health care, with close to 20 percent of those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experiencing post-traumatic stress or depression. And the problem is not limited to adults: an estimated 17 million children in the United States experience mental health issues, as do one in four college students. Too many Americans are being left to face mental health issues on their own, and too many individuals are dying prematurely from associated health conditions. We must do better. 

That’s why I recently released a comprehensive and detailed plan to address this important issue that impacts so many American families. Under my plan, we’ll promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention. We’ll integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” and significantly enhance community-based treatment opportunities. We’ll improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for low-level, non-violent offenders. We’ll enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law. We’ll improve access to housing and job opportunities. And we’ll invest in brain and behavioral research and developing safe and effective treatments.

I’m proud of my record of advocating for greater protections and expanded access to treatment for people with mental health conditions, including co-sponsoring the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. My goal is that within my time in office as president, Americans will no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment. The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma, or barriers to seeking out care.

Donald Trump (R)

This is one of the great unfolding tragedies in America today.  States are reducing their commitments to mental health treatment and our jails are filled with those who need mental health care.  Any mental health reforms must be included in our efforts to reform healthcare in general in the country.  We must make the investment in treating our fellow citizens who suffer from severe mental illness.  This includes making sure that we allow family members to be more involved in the total care of those who are severely mentally ill.  We must ensure that the national government provides the support to state and local governments to bring mental health care to the people at the local level.  This entire field of interest must be examined and a comprehensive solution set must be developed so that we can keep people safe and productive.

Gary Johnson (L)

The greatest challenge in mental health treatment is actually getting treatment to those affected. We believe that federal, one-size-fits-all solutions are doomed to failure, or at best, inefficiency. As former Governors, both Bill Weld and I have seen first-hand that states are better-equipped to fashion programs that will help connect those who need help with those who can provide it. That is why we favor a block grant approach to federal funding for health care, including mental health treatment. Let the states innovate, and the result will be best practices.

Mental illness is often related to drug abuse—both temporary and permanent. We have made the drug abuse problem worse through the drug war. By treating users as criminals instead of patients, we have driven a new population of vulnerable individuals underground. By instilling fear, the drug war prevents treatment—and decriminalization and legalization can remove enormous barriers to mental health treatment.

Jill Stein (G)

As part of a Medicare for All universal health care system we need a mental health care system that safeguards human dignity, respects individual autonomy, and protects informed consent. In addition to full funding for mental health care, this means making it easier for the chronically mentally ill to apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income, and funding programs to increase public awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of the mentally ill and differently abled.

We must ensure that the government takes all steps necessary to fully diagnose and treat the mental health conditions resulting from service in combat zones, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

We will also release prisoners with diagnosed mental disorders to secure mental health treatment centers, and ensure psychological and medical care and rehabilitation services for mentally ill prisoners.

7. Energy

Strategic management of the US energy portfolio can have powerful economic, environmental, and foreign policy impacts. How do you see the energy landscape evolving over the next 4 to 8 years, and, as President, what will your energy strategy be? 

Clinton "rejects the notion that we as a country are forced to choose between our economy, our environment, and our security." She hopes to "generate half of our electricity from clean sources" and install "half a billion solar panels" by the end of her first term. In addition, she plans to "cut energy waste" in homes, hospitals and schools, and "reduce American oil consumption by a third." She plans to "launch a $60 billion clean energy challenge," "invest in clean energy infrastructure" and "cut methane emissions." Her detailed plan includes specific funds required and how she will work alongside climate change deniers. Grade: 5/5

Trump says Americans should "achieve energy independence as soon as possible," and that "a thriving market system" will allow for a consumers to pick "the best sources of energy for future consumption." Scientific American has previously reported on why the free market alone cannot stop climate change and has characterized the goal of "energy independence" as a bipartisan pipe dream. Trump fails to provide any details for his energy policy. Grade: 0/5

Johnson thinks "no source of energy is categorically wrong or right." He calls for "reasonable regulation" of hydraulic fracturing or fracking after "appropriate research," and says that "nuclear power generation has been underused." He thinks that the market should "dictate" which sources—including nuclear, wind or solar—are used and in what amounts. Scientific American has previously reported on why reliance on the market alone for adopting renewables will not do enough to stop climate change in time to avoid planetary catastrophe. Johnson’s answer does not address how the U.S. will phase out fossil fuels. He loses points for feasibility, sustainability and effect on the environment. Grade: 2/5

Stein hopes to quickly transition to "100 percent clean renewable energy" with her "Green New Deal." She wants to "treat energy as a human right," build a "nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power," dismantle natural gas and fossil fuel infrastructure and phase out nuclear power. However, the scientific consensus is that nuclear power is a proven method to produce electricity without greenhouse gas emissions. She loses points on feasibility as well as her anti-nuclear stance.  Grade: 2/5

Full Answers to Question 7

Hillary Clinton (D)

The next decade is not only critical to meeting the climate challenge, but offers a tremendous opportunity to ensure America becomes a 21st century clean energy superpower. I reject the notion that we as a country are forced to choose between our economy, our environment, and our security. The truth is that with a smart energy policy we can advance all three simultaneously. I will set the following bold, national goals—and get to work on Day 1, implementing my plan to achieve them within ten years of taking office: 

  • Generate half of our electricity from clean sources, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of my first term.
  • Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
  • Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.

My plan will deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference—without relying on climate deniers in Congress to pass new legislation. This includes:

  • Defending, implementing, and extending smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances that are already helping clean our air, save families money, and fight climate change.
  • Launching a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy, including for low-income families. 
  • Investing in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs and careers. 
  • Ensuring the fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible and that areas too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table. 
  • Reforming leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and waters tenfold within a decade.
  • Cutting the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies have enjoyed for too long and invest in clean energy.
  • Cutting methane emissions across the economy and put in place strong standards for reducing leaks from both new and existing sources.
  • Revitalizing coal communities by supporting locally driven priorities and make them an engine of U.S. economic growth in the 21st century, as they have been for generations. 

Donald Trump (R)

It should be the goal of the American people and their government to achieve energy independence as soon as possible.  Energy independence means exploring and developing every possible energy source including wind, solar, nuclear and bio-fuels.  A thriving market system will allow consumers to determine the best sources of energy for future consumption.  Further, with the United States, Canada and Mexico as the key energy producers in the world, we will live in a safer, more productive and more prosperous world.

Gary Johnson (L)

The Johnson Weld administration takes a holistic, market-based approach to energy policy. We believe that no source of energy is categorically wrong or right, but some sources of energy may be procured or used incorrectly or used in the wrong applications, too often as a consequence of government interference and manipulation. Fracking is literally rearranging the global energy marketplace, and should be accompanied by appropriate research into its impacts and the reasonable regulation thereof.

We believe that nuclear power generation has been underused and that unnecessary, outdated government obstacles to its development should be reassessed—without compromising safety. We believe wind and solar are valuable parts of a larger energy portfolio, but should be deployed as the market dictates, not politicians. Carbon capture technology and geothermal generation are only a couple of many other promising energy sources, but again, the market will ultimately dictate their maturation.

Jill Stein (G)

Our Green New Deal plan prioritizes a rapid transition to 100% clean renewable energy. Our energy strategy will also include:

• Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.

• Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled energy.

• End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.

8. Education

American students have fallen in many international rankings of science and math performance, and the public in general is being faced with an expanding array of major policy challenges that are heavily influenced by complex science. How would your administration work to ensure all students including women and minorities are prepared to address 21st century challenges and, further, that the public has an adequate level of STEM literacy in an age dominated by complex science and technology?

Clinton lists statistics including that "less than one in five high school students has ever taken a computer science course." She supports President Barack Obama's existing "Computer Science for All" initiative, and hopes to "train an additional 50,000 [computer science] teachers in the next decade." She mentions plans to support states that develop "innovative schools" and to support diverse institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities. More than one reader wrote to Scientific American criticizing her response for focusing too much on "computer science." Grade: 3/5

Trump says "there are a host of STEM programs already in existence," and wants to focus on "market influences to bring better, higher quality educational circumstances to more children." Yet recent investigations of private education companies such as ITT—not to mention Trump University—for deceptive advertising practices, among other things, make clear that the for-profit education industry is no panacea. Grade: 0/5

Johnson blames the U.S. Department of Education for "stagnating our children's education." He feels education policy should be returned to the states, and that states have "every incentive" to achieve "high levels of educational performance." But states clearly differ in their approaches and ability to ensure students graduate. Additionally, the answer does not address how to approach increasing the number of women or minorities in STEM fields. Grade: 1/5

Stein says she plans to "guarantee tuition-free world class public education," "abolish student debt," "replace common core" with a curriculum "developed by educators" and ensure "racially inclusive, sensitive and relevant curriculums." Her answer does not address STEM or computer science, including issues such as the $15,000 salary gap between men and women in STEM careers or the 84 percent of STEM professionals who are white or Asian males, according to the Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation, respectively. She does not address how her proposed changes will take place, where the funding will come from, or how the changes will be implemented. Grade: 2/5

Full Answers to Question 8

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