Banning Private Taxi Services


Student Soluprob by Grace Grammello

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Presumed Problem

Using private taxi services (e.g., Uber, Lyft) is believed to be less safe than using public taxi services, as the drivers and organizational regulations of private taxi services result in crime and harm of clients more often than public taxi services, and therefore should not be trusted. There is allegedly a bigger risk to personal and financial safety when using private taxi services over public taxi services, along with the risk of personal information theft due to taxi privatization often being based through online applications.


Proposed Solution

The proposed solution is to ban private taxi services, and return to carpooling with known individuals or using publicly-regulated taxi services. Discouraging the use of private taxi services and restricting the connected applications that go along with the services would also curb the private taxi industry. If nothing else, the private taxi services should be regulated under national or state law to ensure the safety of the clients.


Evidence the Problem Doesn’t Exist

Uber claims to screen their drivers through “county, federal, and multi-state criminal background checks—and these checks typically go back seven years” (Hyde, 2015). Their background checks may exceed local taxi companies, and drivers are vetted through three private background-check firms (Hyde, 2015). Beyond this, most safety issues relating to taxis are homicides—and these are often results of cash transactions, which private companies often avoid and public companies employ. Also, private drivers have application access to passenger information, which may reduce passenger-to-driver attacks (Sobczak, 2016). In 2012, ridesharing policies began to correlate with installed government-regulated policies. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission required services such as Lyft and Uber to attain licensure from them and conduct criminal background checks, along with having a driver training program and a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol. They also must “maintain at least a $1 million per incident insurance coverage” (Rayle et. Al, 2014). The private taxi industry is adhering to the same guidelines that the public industry is, so if safety of private taxis is a concern, so should the safety of all taxi companies. For the most part, people are afraid that their private taxi drivers aren’t trustworthy or properly supervised, resulting in a lack of safety. Yet private taxi companies “use customer reviews to reflect a driver’s quality”, which works as a customer input and accountability method—and if the drivers don’t meet outlined conditions, they can be “deactivated” (Ross, 2015). A study commissioned by the City of Seattle resulted in public taxi services receiving 102 out of 105 negative comments in an industry-wide taxi poll (Ross, 2015). Perhaps public taxis are the less reliable, less safe option.


Background Narrative

The taxi industry was first subjected to regulation back in the Great Depression, when there was a call for regulation of taxi amounts and a concern of cash-based rides which “encouraged inexperienced operators to neglect good maintenance” (Posen, 2015). Recently, Private taxi services have undergone similar criticism from their public counterparts and government since their appearance around 2010, including lawsuits and arguments against their “lesser” regulations (Dong et al, 2014). Taxi lobbyists also argue that private services increase unfair competition (Posen, 2015). Though public drivers’ services undergo regulatory checks, lobbyists nitpick on the smallest background check details like “fingerprinting” in an attempt to strengthen the public taxi industry’s position (Ansari et al, 2015). Specific cases such as three rape cases in India, Chicago, and Boston, along with a San Francisco case in which a distracted Uber driver hit and killed a 6-year-old girl have been illuminated to harm private services’ reputations and raise concerns about the safety of private taxi services. In response, companies like Uber have established stronger regulations and checklists to ensure driver and rider safety. Also, insurance coverage discrepancies have been a large criticism of ridesharing; however, companies like Geico have been offering private ridesharing packages recently (Ansari et al, 2015). Furthermore, most of the proposed changes in regulation for private taxi companies center more around dispatch licensing and minimum fee charges than safety concerns, which are raised less (Posen, 2015).


Negative Consequences of the Solution

With rides being limited to public taxi services, there will be a decrease in the availability of transportation services and thus a longer wait time in large cities. Also, the healthy competition private services bring to public transportation increases the progress towards stronger safety regulations for both industries, decreases ride rates, and boosts awareness of public safety. Banning private taxi services may also increase client fear and dissatisfaction—a majority of private rideshare users report fear of alcohol use and physical harm in public taxi rides (Rayle et al, 2014). Conclusively, banning ridesharing could cost the general population time, money, and safety.



Ansari, N., Weber, L., Hood, S., Otto, C. and Sawayda, J. (2015). Uber Technologies Inc.:

Managing Opportunities and Challenges. [ebook] New Mexico: Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative, pp.1-12. Available at:

Dong, J., Filipovic, C., Leis, J., Petersen, E., Shrikhande, A. and Sudarshan, R. (2014). Uber:

Driving Change in Transportation. [ebook] Tufts University, pp.1-14. Available at:

Hyde, R. (2015, October 28). Uber – Safer Than a Regular Taxi? Retrieved October 25, 2017,


Posen, H.A. (2015). Ridesharing in the sharing eocnomy: Should regulators impose uber

regulations on uber? Iowa Law Review, 101(1), 405-433. Retrieved from

Rayle, L., Shaheen, S., Chan, N., Dai, D. and Cervero, R. (2014). App-Based, On-Demand Ride

Services: Comparing Taxi and Ridesourcing Trips and User Characteristics in San Francisco. [ebook] Berkeley, CA: University of California Transportation Center, pp.1-21. Available at:


TECHNOLOGIES, INC. AND THE VIABILITY OF UBER’S LABOR MODEL IN WASHINGTON. Washington Law Review, 90(3), 1431-1469. Retrieved from

Sobczak, D. (2016). Taxis versus Uber: The Regulations, the People, the Money and the Future.

[ebook] Dallas, TX: National Center for Policy Analysis, pp.1-8. Available at:

The Beauty Industry: Makeup

Srivastava, S. (2015, September 02). Hitting Back At Makeup Shamers With Half-Face Makeup Selfies. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from

Student submission by Jamie Berends

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Presumed Problem

There is a widespread belief in American society that a woman cannot be beautiful unless she possesses certain features, such as longer and fuller eyelashes, prominent cheek bones, rosy cheeks, full lips, blemish free skin, and fuller well-maintained eyebrows. Women who do not meet these standards can be defined as ‘unconventional’ and be looked at as less beautiful as compared to their fellow counterparts.


Create makeup brands to help accentuate certain features and hide blemishes. Promote makeup on media through the use of models with makeup done by professionals paired with photoshop.


Makeup can be dated back to the times of the Egyptians. During that period, Egyptian women dolled themselves up to impress the Gods as their appearance was directly related to their spiritual worth. However, in modern society makeup is used to impress others and hide certain features, which in turn can accentuate others. Now, makeup application is a daily ritual that many women cannot leave the house without first ‘performing’. This application of makeup goes beyond just special occasions, it has gotten to the point where some women put a whole face on before even going to the gym, or just apply it to take photos while they have a ‘lazy day’ at home.

Today beauty revolves around make-up, skin care, and hair care. On average, the entirety of the cosmetic industry generates about 62.46 billion dollars (as of 2016) in the US alone.

Backlash at the cosmetics industry is becoming more widespread as society begins to realize that true beauty is what lies inside and is not completely based upon looks. As media continues to create more unrealistic notions of beauty that make it hard for the average person to recreate, psychological problems begin to rise in the psyche of the public.

Was the Problem Real?

Beauty standards are defined by the media, such as television, as well as peers, such as coworkers. While some may view makeup as a necessity to look more professional or groomed, in all realities makeup should not be an everyday standard. When applying for jobs and positions, those of whom who wear makeup are deemed as higher in the social anarchy because they attract more admiration from those around them. Thus, making appearances go a long way. Whereas those who do not wear makeup, to an interview for example, are viewed as less ‘put together’ than those who do, and tend to attract less positive attention.

In short, appearances in the modern world are what many base their first opinions from. Therefore, the way someone looks has become more meaningful than personality; makeup is no longer used for self-satisfaction but instead is used to seek the approval of those around them.

It is clear that in today’s society we need less makeup because the appreciation of true beauty is beginning to go less noticed. Beauty is without parameters, and allowing it to be contained to one’s outward appearance is a step in the wrong direction that society needs to go in.

Negative Consequences

Overall, there are many negative consequences associated with makeup use and the standards that society enforces unto women. By creating unrealistic standards and images of what beauty should be, women have developed psychological problems as well as unhappiness with their natural appearances.

Women now have issues with anxiety, low self-esteem, and low self-confidence. Those of whom who wear more makeup are shown to have higher levels of anxiety and low self-esteems and confidence. This is because they perceive themselves as less beautiful than others, and so they try to hide their insecurities with makeup. However, there are correlations between people and what they perceive as beauty; this is because everyone’s standard of beauty differs. Women tend to feel less valuable when they are not wearing makeup; instead of focusing on what is going on around them they are more focused on if the person next to them notices that their face might have large pores or is flushed.

Today makeup is viewed as a temporary fix to image issues resulting from societal beauty ‘norms’ that are placed upon women. A temporary fix never truly works because only more anxiety results in order to meet the beauty standards that have gotten out of hand with numerous products being sold to only further women’s insecurities.


Britton, Ann Marie, The Beauty Industry’s Influence on Women in Society (2012) Honors Theses and Capstones. 86. Received from:

Scott, Sarah, Influence of Cosmetics on the Confidence of College Women: An Exploratory Study (n.d.) Hanover College. Received from:

Silverio, Lauren, Makeup’s Effects on Self-Perception (2010).OTS Master’s Level Projects & Papers. 49. Received from:

Brinegar, K. & Weddle, E., The Correlation Between Makeup Useage and Self-Esteem. (2014) Hanover College. Received from:

Jones, AL. Facial Cosmetics and Attractiveness: Comparing the Effect Sizes of Professionally-Applied Cosmetics and Identity. (2016) Kramer RSS. Received from:

Narang, Devina, The Psychological Factors that Affect Makeup Usage and the Perception of Makeup in Different Situations (2013) Virginia Commonwealth University. Received from: file:///C:/Users/jamie/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/666-3495-1-PB.pdf

Korichi, R., Pelle-de-Queral, D., Gazona, G., Aubert, A. Why women use makeup: implication of psychological traits in makeup functions. (2008) PubMed. Received from:



Ban Transgendered Military Personnel

Student Presenter:
Jessica L. Embrey, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

A Presumed Problem:
People worry that allowing transgender people to serve in the military would cause tremendous medical bills for the government. There is also the fear that people who are transgender are not mentally competent and cannot be in charge of making decisions. A smaller problem is that serving and living with transgender individuals will make people uncomfortable and cause a disruption.

A Solution to the Presumed Problem:
President Trump has placed a ban stating the any transgender persons are not allowed to serve in the military. They have also given the responsibility to Defense Secretary James Mattis the power to decide what will happen to those who are currently serving on a case by case basis.

Background Narrative/ Evidence that the problem does not exist:
Discussions and decisions on LGBTQ military personnel began back in the early 1990’s when there was a report put out by the General Accounting Office reporting the cost of banning LGBTQ members in the Military. After this report, President Clinton announced the don’t ask don’t tell policy. This policy, as many probably know, allowed members of the LGBT community to serve in the military as long as they didn’t tell their sexual orientation. It was officially signed into law in 1993. (Belkin, 2015) In 2008, there was a study conducted by the Palm Center of the University of California Santa Barbara. In this study, the researchers’ survey identified 827 transgender current and former transgender service members. (Kerrigan, 2012) It was noted that many transgender persons were extremely private about their experiences. The research also showed that out of the 827 individuals surveyed 660 of them Identified as transsexual. The majority of them transitioning after they left active duty. (Kerrigan, 2012)

During the Obama administration, don’t ask don’t tell was repealed. This repeal allows service men and women to be open with who they are. This did not come without backlash. Many people were very against it for varying reasons. The most popular was the cost of medical treatment, including gender reassignment surgeries. There are currently around 12,0000-15,0000 transgender people currently serving in the military. (Belkin, 2015) With that being said, the actual cost is projected to be much lower than predicted. Gender reassignment costs would only be about 22 cents per transgender member a month, this adds up to about $5.6 million annually. That hardly dents the $47.8 billion annual military health-care budget. (Belkin, 2015) Paying for transition-related care in the long run can actually save the military money. By paying for transitioning, this can reduce the costs from depression and suicide. In other words, by not paying for transition cost they could potentially spend more money on medical and psychological needs. (Belkin, 2015) Some also believe that transgender people are not capable of making life and death decisions. They feel that if they are wanting to completely change their gender they should not be considered mentally competent. (Levy, Parco, & Spears, 2015) I have found no evidence to support these fears, however.

Possible Negative Consequences to the “Solution”:
The ban on transgender individuals denies them equal opportunity in the military and in life. Just because someone feels that they were born the wrong gender does not mean they cannot perform to the same standards as other non-transgender individuals. I do believe that they should be held to the same standards of the gender that they believe they are (i.e., If they feel they are male then they need to be able to perform to the same standards as their male counterparts). You are also setting the precedent that transgender people do not have the same rights as everyone else and should be treated differently. The sets a bad example to many people who may be considering transitioning. There were so many steps in a positive direction and now it seems like we are reverting back to discrimination and separation. They cannot be as open as they used to be without being punished and/or hurt.

Belkin, A. (2015). Caring for Our Transgender Troops: The Negligible Cost of Transition-Related Care. The New England Journal of Medicine, 373(12), 1089-1092. Retrieved from
Kerrigan, M. F. (2012). Transgender Discrimination in the Military: The New Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 18(3), 500-518. Retrieved from
Levy, D. A., Parco, J. E., & Spears, S. R. (2015). Purple in a Black & White World: Self- Determination Theory and Transgender Militray Service. Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences, 11, 359-369.

SoluProb™: Salem Witch Trials

SoluProb® Status

It has been awhile since I posted a new soluprob® on this website. Instead, my energy has been directed to writing a book expanding on the subject. That book will cover the examples presented on this website and many more. At this point, I wanted to share some of the additional examples that have caught my attention. Since full examinations of all soluprobs® will soon be available in the book, I plan to present abbreviated previews here on the website.

As before, I welcome your suggestions of new candidates for inclusion. You can contact me directly at

Presumed Problem: Witches were causing all kinds of problems in colonial Salem, Massachusetts: bewitching the children, causing illness, and ruining the crops. Solution: identify the witches and punish them.

Suspected witches (mostly women) per put on trial and ultimately 20 people were executed or died in prison. The Salem witch trials sometimes employed an ironic test of witchdom: the dunking chair. The suspect would be tied into a chair that was attached to the end of a long pole and suspended over a body of water. The suspect and chair were submerged for a number of minutes and then brought back up out of the water. If the victim survived, that was proof she was a witch and called for execution. If the victim died of drowning, she was vindicated. She was adjudged innocent–though dead, all the same.

This was not the first time in history that witches had been blamed when things went wrong. During the Black Death in Europe during the 14th Century, witches and their cats were blamed for bringing on the plague that killed as much as one-third of the European population. Both witches and their cats were killed, which was good news for the rats, whose fleas were actually the carriers of the plague.

In both of these cases, there were real problems: crop failures, illness, plague. However, defining these as the work of witches qualifies them as solutions without problems. And great suffering was caused by those “solutions.”


© Earl Babbie 2017, all rights reserved  Terms of Service/Privacy

SoluProb™: A Partisan Issue?

This blog site went public the end of April, 2016, with an examination of VoterID laws as a solution without a problem. Since then, I’ve posted 25 additional examples. From time to time, I’ve mentioned the possibility of political partisanship at work. More bluntly, there is evidence in some cases that those pushing a particular “solution” didn’t necessarily believe the “problem” was real. The presumed problem was simply a justification for the “solution” that would bring political advantage to those pushing it. Voter ID laws, for example, have caused millions of eligible voters to be turned away from the polls–and that disenfranchisement has favored the Republican Party, which has been the sole proponent of such laws. And we’ve seen public pronouncements from Republican officials bragging that the passage of VoterID laws would bring them victory at the polls. It takes an open mind the size of the Grand Canyon to think they really believed there was a problem of impersonation at the polls.

In the case of the long string of Congressional hearings on Benghazi, once again, Republicans bragged they had achieved their purpose of bringing down Hillary Clinton’s popularity. Given the far worse record of attacks on foreign service facilities in previous administrations, it strains credulity to imagine the investigators truly believed there had been any punishable wrong-doing by Secretary Clinton. However, Benghazi eventually morphed into her email server, just as Whitewater morphed into Monica Lewinsky a couple of decades earlier.

As I have analyzed and presented the 26 soluprobs™ thus far, I have made a conscious effort to avoid the assumption of cynical motives by those pushing for solutions to bogus problems. This is not to say that media campaigns can’t convince a substantial portion of the American public that the “problem” is real, but I’ve grown less trusting in the honesty of the sponsors of the “solutions.”

At the same time, I want to acknowledge that most of the recent soluprobs™ have been perpetuated by members of the Republican Party. At first, I worried that I might be biased by my own, generally progressive, political orientations, and I strained to find examples that could be laid at the Democratic door. LBJ requested the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, but with broad, bipartisan support. James Madison was a member of the Democratic-Republican Party when he started the War of 1812, but it’s a stretch to blame either contemporary party for that boner. A number of the examples–dealing with abortion, drugs, gays, for example–have been dealt with as problems by members of both parties, but the Republican Party has maintained the resistance as Democrats have tended to move on.

So I pose this question to you: are solutions without problems an exclusively Republican strategy? Put somewhat differently, are there examples of Democrats committing this offense that I have overlooked. Please know these are not rhetorical questions. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter, either in the Comment section below or in an email to me.

I think this is a serious question as we approach January 20th and the prospect of a Republican-controlled Congress, a Republican-dominated Supreme Court, and an arguably Republican President. Can we expect a flood of solutions without problems?

SoluProb™: Trump Wall


Student Author

Natalie Gallardo, Chapman University

NOTE: Student submissions of soluprobs are welcomed at

The Problem

During his presidential announcement speech, Donald Trump claimed that Mexicans are “…bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Furthermore, Trump has argued that American citizens have lost their lives due to the criminal activities of immigrants who cross the border illegally. Through numerous campaign speeches as well as his official position on immigration, Trump describes illegal immigrants as lower-skilled, less educated people who are a threat to American job security (Immigration 2016).

The Solution

As part of his platform, Trump has presented the idea of an enhanced wall between the Southwestern United States and Mexico border. The wall is intended to prevent migration from Mexico, and has been met with considerable support from individuals who express similar concerns about Mexican immigrants.  Listed on Trump’s website is a 10-point plan to limit immigration into the U.S. Main points of his vision is the prioritization of jobs and security for Americans, as well as immigration controls that would prevent uncontrolled foreign worker admissions.  The first point in his plan is to work on an “Impenetrable” wall on the border that Mexico would pay for and would be implemented on the first day of his presidency. His tenth point calls for immigration reform that would keep immigration levels “within historic norms” (Immigration 2016).


The Problem That Does Not Exist

Results from a Pew Research Center Report from November of 2015 have concluded that more Mexicans are leaving the United States than are entering.  The study utilized census data from both Mexico and the United States from 2009 to 2014 and showed that more than a million Mexicans and their families left the United States while only 870, 000 entered. In 2014, the number of illegal crossings caught dropped to the lowest since 1971. While previous research has shown that border enforcement enacted in 1986 has not been successful (Cooper and O’Neil 2005), factors within the United States have been the cause for the decrease of immigration into the United States. Economic issues, specifically the 2008 recession, caused many Mexicans to lose jobs in lower paying markets such as construction and leave the country. More restrictive border control under President Obama as well has tremendously helped minimize illegal immigration from Mexico (Preston 2015).

These Mexican immigrants and immigrants as a whole are not more inclined to commit crimes than a natural born citizen (Becerra, et al. 115), contrary to Trump’s remarks that portray a majority of Mexican immigrants as criminals.


Negative Consequences of the Solution

A Bernstein Research report conducted earlier this year concluded that the wall could range anywhere from 15 to 25 billion dollars; higher than Trump’s estimate of 10 billion dollars. The southwestern border across the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas spans about 1,989 miles, but natural borders such as the Rio Grande provide less of a physical border to construct, and a 1,000 mile border was used to calculate curved-big-wallcosts of the Trump Wall. Costs of maintaining and protecting the wall are unknown. Donald Trump has also claimed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall, in which the Mexican president has replied that they will not. In result, payment of such a wall is unknown and is essentially left up in the air to figure out after Trump is inaugurated. (The Data Team 2016)

Trump’s wall would be disastrous economically and socially. Financial costs of immigration policies and unnecessary walls put a strain on financial resources while socially creating a hostile environment for Mexicans. The real problem about the Trump wall is the social repercussions and negative rhetoric regarding Mexicans that makes them seem like harmful people. Trumps proposal of said wall is destructive because it perpetuates the idea that there is an issue regarding migration into the United States while recent patterns of migration prove otherwise. Building this wall would cause far more issues than it was intended to solve.

Works Cited 

Becerra, David, David K. Androff, Cecilia Ayon, and Jason T. Castillo. “Fear vs. Facts:Examining the Economic Impact of Undocumented Immigrants in the U.S.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare XXXIX.4 (2012): 113.

Cooper, Betsy, and Kevin O’Neil. “Lessons From The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.” Migration Policy Institute 3 (2005):8.

“Immigration.” N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2016. <>

Preston, Julia. “More Mexican Immigrants Leaving U.S. Than Entering, Report Finds.” The New   York Times. The New York Times Newspaper, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. <>.

The Data Team. “The Economics of Donald Trump’s Wall.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 26 July 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016. <>.


SoluProb™: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell


Student Author

Kunal Sharma, Chapman University

NOTE: Student submissions of soluprobs are welcomed at

The Presumed Problem

This paper will examine the fundamental reasoning of opposition many Americans and legislators had towards gays serving in the military, and whether those notions had any basis whatsoever. While one can simply guess whether personal ideals or even political affiliation plays a role in one’s opinions towards the issue, the official reasoning according to Title 10 of the United States Code (which has since been repealed) concluded that homosexuals “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability”.

Solution to the Presumed Problem

Many times taxpayer money has been wasted funding policy proposals that claim to “fix” a supposed but nonexistent problem. Many times these solutions have done more damage than good. In an effort to block homosexuals from assimilating into our armed forces, the Clinton gay-guys-loveAdministration enacted the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which mandated that openly homosexual citizens were barred from enlisting while those who remained closeted were able to serve contingent that they keep their orientation private. Reasoning behind this inequitable act included undocumented perceptions on gays lacking the ability to work and interact productively with others (straight or gay) in the military. Relying on analyses from multiple scholarly journals, this paper aims to scrutinize original research prompting the policy, as well as any ramifications resulting from it. Granted while President Bill Clinton expressed the DADT as a “major step forward” from previous enlistment requirements, the corollary that followed 1994 could have been avoided if the initial presumed perceptions of homosexuals had been debunked.

Evidence the Problem Doesn’t Exist

But do homosexuals provide an “unacceptable risk” to our armed forces?

According to the American Psychological Association, they do not. The organization’s official stance on the policy was that: “Empirical evidence fails to show that sexual orientation is germane to any aspect of military effectiveness including unit cohesion, morale, recruitment and retention.” soldiersFurthermore, revoking the right to be honest of one’s sexual orientation can actually foster harmful results as there are many proven benefits from disclosing this information (Kavanagh, 1995). The military had expressed concerns of “unit cohesion”, implying that heterosexuals will find difficulty integrating with open homosexuals, and may even refuse to work with them. However, one in three American adults know an uncloseted homosexual, and those with continuing relationships with gays tend to express positive attitudes towards gay people as a group (Herek, 1988). In his research, Dr. Gregory Herek also concluded that “ongoing interpersonal contact in a supportive environment where common goals are emphasized and prejudice is clearly unacceptable is likely to foster positive feelings toward gay men and lesbians.”

The policy also fails to be representative of public opinion, with polls showing almost 8/10 Americans supporting openly gay citizens to serve in the military (CNN, 2010). Public polls conducted from more conservative outlets produced similar results, with over 60% in favor of openly gay people enlisting in the armed forces (Fox, 2003). In addition, maintaining a favorable public opinion of military is vital for recruitment and public backing behind critical and controversial operations. By integrating open homosexuals into the military, public opinion of our armed forces does not decline in the slightest way (Belkin, 2007). Many misconceptions surrounding homosexuality have dominated outlooks towards their community. Contrary to (some) popular beliefs, there is no evidence to support claims that homosexuals are less able to control their sexual desires and inhibit higher frequencies of sexual activity. In fact, homosexual men and their heterosexual counterparts have virtually identical sexual patterns in regards to regularity of sexual activity (National Defense Research Institute, 1993).

Consequences of the Solution

Implementation of the policy overwhelmingly fostered more unfavorable moneyconsequences than good. Externalities such as higher military costs, lower retention rates, less favorable opinions on the military, etc. all played a role in Congress’ decision to repeal the DADT in 2010.

Shortages in enlistment is no new phenomenon, but following the DADT’s implementation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported spending over $95.1 million in attempts to train replacements for discharged soldiers from 1994-2003. Recruiting costs also exceeded over $95.4 million during this period. Yet, the United States Military Academy (USMA) and University of California Blue Ribbon Commission concluded these numbers were extremely conservative of the actual repercussions. The true estimates of departure costs following the DADT exceeded over $363 million, which includes recruiting, separation, and training costs (USATODAY, 2016).

In attempts to recruit, the military also lost over 4,000 LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) members annually following the policy. Furthermore, 19.6% of LGB separations can be attributed to their inability to be open about sexual orientation (Gates, 2007). Loss in personnel had repercussions that weren’t simply costs. The U.S. military’s enlistment of convicted felons approximately doubled from 2004-2006 when the Department of Defense announced their goals to enlist over 92,000 men and women to the armed forces (Boucai, 2007). Lowering their standards was an expected consequence, as with the departure of openly gay soldiers led to shortages in Arabic and Persian speaking departments (which were already shorthanded), as well as the loss of highly trained LGB personnel (Benjamin 2007).

Considering its public presence, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell garnered little to no favorable media exposure and left the military vulnerable to open criticism for following a policy that did not align with commonly held beliefs by the American public (Belkin 2007).

Following the overwhelming literature in favor of overturning the policy, public discussion over the issue grew. President Barack Obama, upon a 65-31 senate vote to repeal DADT, officially signed the repeal into law in late 2010. Finally, after over 15 years of shooting ghosts, our government adhered to documented research to overturn an unjustified law.

© Earl Babbie 2016, all rights reserved  Terms of Service/Privacy


Belkin, A. (2007). ” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Does the Gay Ban Undermine the Military’s Reputation?. Armed Forces & Society.

Benjamin, S. (2007, June 8). Don’t Ask, Don’t Translate – The New York Times.

Boucai, Michael. 2007. ‘Balancing “Your Strengths against Your Felonies”: Considerations for Military Recruitment of Ex-Offenders.’ The Michael D. Palm Center, University of California, Santa Barbara (CNN Poll) (Fox Poll)

Gates, G. J. (2007). Effects of” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Retention Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Military Personnel.

Herek, G. M. (1988). Heterosexuals’ attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: Correlates and gender differences. Journal of Sex Research, 25(4), 451-477.

Kavanagh, K. (1995). Don’t ask, don’t tell: Deception required, disclosure denied. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law1(1), 142.

National Defense Research Institute (US), United States. Department of Defense, & Rand Corporation. (1993). Sexual Orientation and US Military Personnel Policy: Options and Assessment (Vol. 323). Minnesota Historical Society.

USATODAY – Report: ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ costs $363M. (n.d.). February 14, 2006.

SoluProb™: Block Syrian Refugees


Student Author

Annika Ford, Chapman University

NOTE: Student submissions of soluprobs are welcomed at

Presumed Issue:

Granting access to Syrian refugees is a security threat to the United States because terrorists or so-called Islamic militants could gain access to the U.S. by posing as refugees. We do not have enough information about the refugees who are being settled here, and we cannot possibly screen them all.


Allow state officials to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states.


In September 2015, President Obama announced a plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. by September the following year. In August 2016, one month ahead of schedule, the United States welcomed its 10,000th refugee. However, in the months after President Obama’s announcement, governors from 30 states across the U.S. voiced strong objections to Syrian resettlement in their states, stating publicly that they would attempt to halt such actions. Some officials only expressed opposition, while state officials in Texas, Alabama, and Indiana filed lawsuits against the federal government. In Texas, state agencies argued that they had not been adequately consulted about placing refugees in their state. Officials even filed a temporary restraining order to block refugee arrival, though it was quickly overturned. In Indiana Governor Mike Pence filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, and also attempted to hinder resettlement by interfering with federal funds allotted for Syrian refugees in the state. In response, a federal appeals court countered that Governor Pence had broken the law by accepting the federal money and subsequently declining to use it for resettlement purposes.

Although the lawsuits were struck down, they reflect a wider sentiment shared by many since President Obama’s announcement. There is a nationwide feeling that the acceptance of refugees escaping a five-year civil war is “opening the doors” of our country to Islamic militants. Additionally, this narrative has been perpetuated by President-elect Donald Trump, who has described the wave of refugees as a “Trojan Horse,”calling the acceptance of Syrians into the country a potential catastrophe. This characterization is reinforced by fears spurred after recent terrorist attacks in the West, including those in France and Brussels. For example, Governor Pence’s lawyers stated that the Governor was fulfilling his responsibility to protect the safety of Indiana residents. They cited federal officials who have acknowledged that terrorists are trying to infiltrate Western nations.

Is the Problem Real?

            According to Evan Bonsall in the Harvard Political Review, the assumption that Syrian refugee resettlement is a national security threat ignores the facts. Entering the country as a refugee is already a stringent process and one of the hardest ways to enter the United States. Bonsall do-unto-otherscites Jana Mason of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who reported that those attempting to enter the U.S. under refugee status are the single most heavily screened and vetted category of persons. The process requires referrals and background checks by multiple government agencies, including the National Terrorism Center. In addition, Syrian refugees must go through added screening, with face-to-face interviews. All gathered information is extensively fact-checked and privately investigated. The Department of Homeland Security goes through every individual case, and approves or rejects each one accordingly.

Such measures have proved highly effective in regards to blocking potential terrorists from entering the country. In 2015, the Cato Institute released a report stating that of the 859,629 refugees who have been resettled in the U.S. since 2001, three were convicted of planning an attack. In addition,

There are many differences between Europe’s vetting of asylum seekers from Syria and how the United States screens refugees. The geographic distance between the United States and Syria allows our government to better vet those seeking to come here, while large numbers of Syrians who try to go to Europe are less carefully vetted. A lax security situation there does not imply a lax security situation here (Nowrasteh, 2015).

not-criminalsSuch differences are important to note because recent fears of terrorist attacks in the United States have been stirred in large part by attacks that occurred in Europe. The report concludes that in the U.S., the threat of terrorist attacks by way of Syrian refugees is widely over-exaggerated because our vetting system is so thorough.

Negative Consequences

While the use of fear, exaggeration, and misinformation is certainly a negative consequence of the proposals to ban Syrian refugees, worst still is the added fuel to the anti-Muslim hysteria that already plagues this country. Meanwhile, the safety of Muslims who are living this country is increasingly threatened by violence, bigotry, and over-generalizations.


Bonsall, E. (2015). Are Syrian Refugees Really a Security Risk? – Harvard Political Review. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from

Nowrasteh, A. (2015, November 18). Syrian Refugees Don’t Pose a Serious Security Threat. Retrieved from

U.S. Is On Target To Accept And Resettle 10,000 Syrian Refugees. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 2016, from

Federal Court Blocks Gov. Pence’s Attempt To Bar Syrian Refugees From Indiana. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 2016, from

Court Dismisses Texas Lawsuit To Block Syrian Refugees. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 2016, from

Gershman, J. (2016). Appeals Court Skeptical of Pence’s Anti-Syrian Refugee Directive. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from




SoluProb™: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution


Presumed Problem: North Vietnam escalated the war against the United States at the Gulf of Tonkin.

Beginning in 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina, U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 and again in 1962. U.S. involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U.S. destroyer clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft, which was followed by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the U.S. president authorization to increase U.S. military presence. 1

So the American tentative involvement in the North/South civil war in 3-guy-memorialVietnam was radically changed by the events of August 2, 1964, at the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam, near the Chinese border. As reported at the time, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats from the 135th Torpedo Squadron attacked American destroyer, USS Maddox. The Maddox was unharmed, but Navy fighters claimed to have damaged the torpedo boats.

Two days later, it was reported that North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy. As a consequence of the attacks on American naval vessels, the U. S. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized President Johnson “for the use of conventional military force in Southeast Asia.”

In 1964, 23,300 Americans were serving in Vietnam. Following the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, those numbers increased.

1964: > 23,300

1965: > 184,300

1966: > 385,300

1967: > 485,600

1968: > 536,1002

American casualties in Vietnam increased as well, and there are no dependable figures as to the number of Vietnamese military and civilians killed during the escalated war. By the time the war ended, over 57 thousand Americans had given up their lives.

How does this story rate coverage as a SoluProb: a Solution without a Problem? Declassified NSA documents now provide a detailed view of the two attacks in August, 1964, in the Gulf of Tonkin.3



A.M. The President is informed that North Vietnamese PT boats have attacked the destroyer USS Maddox in international waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. 

P.M. The President consults with his advisors, and decides not to retaliate against North Vietnam. He issues instructions:
(l) to prepare a protest note to be sent to the North Vietnamese regime and (2) to strengthen the Tonkin patrol force and to counter attack and destroy any force attempting to repeat the attacks. 4

Here we see a measured response by President Johnson and his advisors. This changed two days later.


9:12 A.M. The President is informed that North Vietnamese PT boats have launched a second attack in the Gulf of Tonkin against the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy.

Noon The President meets with the National Security Council 

1:00 P.M. The’ President has a luncheon meeting with Rusk, McNamara, McCone, Bundy and Vance. The decision is made to retaliate. 

6:15 P.M. The President reviews his decision with the National Security Council. All agree. 

6:45 P.M. The President reviews his decision with the Congressional leadership at a White House meeting. All agree. The President indicated that he will ask the Congress for a Joint Resolution on Southeast Asia.5


The Congress passed the Joint Resolution on August 7th, and the President signed it on August 10th. Thus the die was cast for what would become the longest war in American history—later surpassed in length by American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Having noted that the Tonkin Resolution was not controversial among the general public, Robert Hanyok continues:

However, within the government, the events of 4 August were never that clear. Even as the last flare fizzled in the dark waters of the South China Sea on that August night, there were conflicting narratives and interpretations of what had happened. James Stockdale, then a navy pilot at the scene, who had “the best seat in the house from which to detect boats,” saw nothing. “No boats,” he would later write, “no boat wakes, no ricochets off boats, no boat impacts, no torpedo wakes – nothing but black sea and American fire- power.” 6

The Maddox and Turner Joy crews had been prepared for trouble on August 4th. Marines at Phu Bai sent a warning of pending attack, naming the North Vietnamese vessels that would be involved. But, as Hanyok reports:

Three hours later, at almost the same moment that the American destroyers opened fire on the approaching radar return, Phu Bai issued another report which stated that the specific boats, which had been identified as being readied for an attack, in reality, were to be towed to Haiphong for repairs.

Over the years, there has evolved a near consensus that the North Vietnamese “attack” was actually sonar blips misidentified as torpedoes, an explanation confirmed by Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense at the time of the attack. As an alternative explanation, Robert Hanyok quotes President Johnson as saying, ”Hell, those damn, stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish.”

Thus the escalation of the American war effort in Vietnam was the “solution” to the “problem” of North Vietnam escalating the conflict. Except that escalation had not occurred.


In terms of lives lost, money spent, and America’s international reputation tarnished, this was a very expensive solution without a problem.




3 Mr. Marshall Wright and Mr. Sven F. Kraemer, “PRESIDENTIAL DECISIONS

THE GULF OF TONKIN ATTACKS OF AUGUST 1964,” Vietnam Information Group November I, 1968,

4 Ibid

5 Ibid

6 Robert J.Hanyok, “Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds, and the Flying Fish: The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2-4 August 1964,” a declassified top secret article from Cryptologic Quarterly,

SoluProb™: Abortion Counseling


Presumed Problem

Women seeking an abortion don’t know what they are getting into.


Drawn-out abortion counseling and waiting periods prior to being allowed to have an abortion.


Various state laws require women desiring an abortion to submit to pre-abortion counseling. In some cases, the laws specify that the physician-counsellors give misleading or even inaccurate information crafted to dissuade the women from going through with an abortion. The “problem’ cited concerns the welfare of the women.

A common feature of laws relating to pre-abortion counseling is a waiting period between being counseled by a physician and actually having an abortion. In May, 2016, for example, Louisiana extended such a waiting period from 24 to 72 hours. A 72-hour waiting period was already in effect for Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah.

The National Partnership for Women and Families, examined a variety of anti-abortion restrictions and reported their findings in Bad Medicine: How a Political Agenda is Undermining Women’s Health Care. Here is a summary of what they found:

⦿ Requiring a health care provider to give — and a patient to receive — tests or procedures that are not supported by evidence, the provider’s medical judgment or the patient’s wishes.
⦿ Dictating the information that a health care provider must or must not
give to a patient, including requirements to provide biased or medically inaccurate information.

⦿ Forcing a health care provider to delay time-sensitive care regardless of the provider’s medical judgment or the patient’s needs.

⦿ Prohibiting a health care provider from prescribing medication using the best and most current evidence, medical protocols and methods.

⦿ Requiring a health care provider and/or medical facility to conform to burdensome licensing restrictions that are not based on scientific evidence and are contrary to modern medical practice.


Along the same lines, Alex Zeilinski reviewed what she regarded as the worst attempts to restrict abortions during 2015. In addition to “pretending women don’t think over their decision to have an abortion”—hence the extended waiting periods, here are some of the other techniques she highlighted:

  • Forcing abortion providers to try and change women’s minds
  • Telling women that abortion is dangerous and might send them to the hospital
  • Assuming women are getting tricked into having abortions

In relation to the last of these, Zeilinski reports that some abortion clinics are forced to display signage “No one can make you have an abortion against your will,” and women may be forced to sign a form asserting they were not coerced into getting an abortion.

In South Carolina, in April 2016, Democratic State Representative Mia McLeod sought to dramatize what she considered the inappropriate restrictions on women seeking abortion by introducing a “Viagra Bill,” described by The State thusly:

The legislation would restrict access to medicines to treat erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra, by requiring:

▪  A sworn affidavit from a sexual partner detailing an incident of erectile dysfunction in the previous 90 days

▪  A report from a sexual therapist ruling out psychological conditions as the cause of the erectile dysfunction, and

▪  A cardiac stress test and report indicating the patient’s heart can handle sex.

The prescribing doctor also would have to provide a written statement explaining why the drug is necessary and notify the patient in writing about the risks of taking erectile dysfunction drugs.

Men also would have to wait 24 hours to get the drugs, just as women seeking an abortion must receive information and wait 24 hours to have the procedure.

The Viagra Bill was not expected to pass. Nor has it caused lawmakers to eliminate pre-abortion counseling measures.



Was the Problem Real?

Was the “problem” real? Every now and then we may hear anecdotal reports of women haunted by regret at having gotten an abortion. Given  anti-abortion-protestthe common experience of women entering or exiting family planning clinics, being called “baby killers” and accused of murdering their child, there are no doubt cases of subsequent regret. However, there is no evidence that women seeking an abortion are uninformed about what they are doing.

Negative Consequences

There have been numerous real problems caused by these “solutions.” Restrictive requirements for pre-abortion counseling is made more
difficult by efforts to close abortion clinics—to be discussed in the next chapter. With few clinics available in a state, women will be required to make a lengthy drive twice to obtain one procedure. This is a special hardship for single mothers of modest means. They may be working a couple of jobs to support their existing families. Ironically, those women least able to afford another mouth to feed are the least capable of jumping through additional bureaucratic hoops to avoid adding another baby.

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