Wycliffe Grafton Jr. – A Divided Nation

Both the media and academic scholars have stated their views on how the United States government has split the country up into two separate forces, those who support the Democrats and those who support the Republicans.

One academic that came forth and recognized the issue of polarized politics was S. C. Stokes and the journal he wrote for the 1999 Annual Review of Political Science. In his journal entry, Stokes makes multiple references to E. E. Schattschneider’s view on politics and Schattschneider’s theory of politics which is that because political parties, democracy came about and so without political parties there would be no democracy and no America. Stokes does not fully agree with Schattschneider’s statement and throughout his journal he cites studies conducted by other political scientists, Linz & Stepan 1996, Vincent 1966, Cox 1987, and multiple of others. Using the research and studies conduct by other political scientists, Stokes demonstrated how the world changed and how political parties played a role in history of other countries besides the United States. In Stokes’ Journal, it can be seen how events occurring during a certain time period led to the formation of different parties especially in Europe; events like the Reformation, industrial revolution, and the construction of nation-states (Stokes, 271). Other studies conducted also showed how great of an impact religion had on the formation of certain parties. Throughout Stokes’ journal, he describes how a political party works and even gives equations on how parties make predictions on voters.

Even though Stokes does describe how political parties have been an asset to countries, he brings up points on how political parties are divided and that is why political parties are causing issues. Forms of how a party is divided are Overlapping Generations, Incumbent Hegemony, and Curvilinear Disparity (Stokes 253-256).  In the second to last section of his journal, Evaluating Models of Political Parties, Stokes presents a table of how each issue in a party would approach a question about the party. The table (Stokes, 259) shows how the issues/problems have different responses and could lead to disharmony in a political party. At the end of his journal Stokes’ states,”It is clear that parties are here to stay, an unavoidable part of democracy.” (Stokes, 263), showing that even those who have done their research and have evaluated other studies, see political parties as an issue and a problem for the United States of America. Stokes does not propose a solution to the problems occurring within political parties, but states at the end of his journal that to fully know whether or not political parties are a benefit or harm, more research has to be conducted (Stokes 264).

Another scholar that sees that issues with political parties are causing a problem the United States and its government is Professor Richard H. Pildes of New York University. Pildes voices his view of the problems with politics in an article he wrote for the Washington Post,” How to fix our polarized politics? Strengthen political parties.” He also has the same views of Stokes of how political parties and the polarization of those parties are going to stay. Pildes’ reason is history and how politicians were different sides on allowing African-Americans and poor whites to vote. Pildes also sees the main issue with political polarization to be the issues that a political party has within its own party. Pildes calls the issue “Political Fragmentation”, and it is basically that the power is being taken away from a party’s leadership and is being transferred to other members. Pildes uses Senators Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren as examples of “Political Fragmentation”. In the rest of his article, Pildes talks about how great the changes are to the political parties and how the fragmentation has made running a successful party more difficult. Pildes proposal is that the only way to fix polarized politics is to fix the internal issues within the parties and that is by using the law to give the party leaders the power again to control their parties and to stop party members from creating separate divisions of a party.

One media outlet adds more fuel to the flames of the polarized politics, and that is National Journal. The NJ (National Journal) has two articles that oppose each other on how Americans view each of the political parties. One article, “Opinion: Women, Minorities, and Millennials Will Determine America’s Next Civic Ethos”, uses a national survey conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates to show the shifts in political views of different demographics and how the Republican party trailing behind the Democratic party. The article aims to show that the main demographics of the Democratic Party, women, minorities, and Millennials, are expressing their views of how the government should be ran than the main demographics that support the Republican Party, men, whites, and seniors. The Magid survey shows that 55% of women, 59% of minorities, and 55% of Millennials, support government intervention, which is a big Democratic belief, while 50% of men, 50% of whites, and 48% of seniors support the Republican belief of limited government intervention. The article continues to use the data founded by the Magid survey to show how the demographics that mainly make up the Democratic Party, ally themselves with the belief of their party on foreign policy and economics. In contrast the Magid survey shows that the main demographics that make up the Republican Party are not agreeing with wait the party is deciding on foreign policy and economics. Overall the article makes it seem as though the Republican Party is beginning to fail and that the Democratic Party is doing better off.

After the article,” Opinion: Women, Minorities, and Millennials Will Determine America’s Next Civic Ethos” was published, another article was published 18 days later to contradict the views of the article; that article was, “Opinion: A Closer Look at America’s Problems, Solutions, and Political Parties”. The new article was blaming the first article and the Magid survey of being bias towards the Democratic Party. The second article, the new one, saw the first article as “part of the messaging war that the Democrats have been winning for years.” The article expresses how the messaging war has played into the persona that the Republican Party is worse than the Democratic Party and that the “extreme language” used in the first article “contributes to the polarization of our country and also misleads Americans.” Throughout the article, the author contradicts the Magid survey and what is stated in the first article. The article says that Republicans also see that it is important that the government is involved in American life and states that,” We even heard Romney say in the first debate that there should be some regulation and oversight.” The article is organized in the same fashion as the first one, minus the headers, and gives points and examples on how the first article was wrong and bias. The article is clearly trying to show a contrasting view to the first article and each of the points made in the first article.

In the end, both articles show how divided people are and will use any source available to them to defend their case. The first article clearly leaned more towards the Democratic Party and its views; while the second article leaned more towards the Republican Party and its view. The first article was more subtle in its approach to make Republicans look like an incompetent party that does not listen to its own members. The second article is straight forward and clearly blames the Democrats, and their control over messaging war, for giving Republicans a bad name and causing an even greater polarized government.

I am not bias and feel that both parties are at fault for all the troubles that are occurring in today’s politics. Through the research I conducted, I have learned possible problems that are occurring in politics and the reasons why it has been harder for both parties to come to an agreement. I have also seen how the political party system has created divisions between people. There has been research done by none bias associations and it is true that American is almost split right down the middle. Data and research from people-press.org, pewresearch.org, and ropercenter.uconn.edu shows that minorities, women, and Millennials due tend to lean towards being Democrats and whites, men, and seniors (the Silent Generation) tend to lean towards being Republican. It seems that even though there are members of each party trying to evolve the party so they could attract members of all demographics, there are still many in each party who want to keep the party the same. That’s a terrible problem because it will just widen the gap between both parties and will make it even more difficult for the parties to come to an agreement over important laws and bills that need to be passed to help the country develop. I propose that the people of the United States take a stand and make their voice be heard. We the people have the power to change our country and to push for a change in politics. We can all take a stand and make the politicians realize that their constant bickering is causing problems for us, the people, and that they have to realize that no party is more important than the people it is suppose to serve.

Resources:

http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/elections/how_groups_voted/voted_12.html

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/02/most-americans-say-the-political-parties-have-grown-so-far-apart-that-they-cant-agree-on-solutions/

http://www.people-press.org/2011/11/03/the-generation-gap-and-the-2012-election-3/

http://www.u.arizona.edu/~zshipley/pol431/PoliticalParties.pdf

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/02/06/how-to-fix-our-polarized-politics-strengthen-political-parties/

http://www.nationaljournal.com/thenextamerica/politics/opinion-women-minorities-and-millennials-will-determine-america-s-next-civic-ethos-20121001

http://www.nationaljournal.com/thenextamerica/politics/opinion-a-closer-look-at-america-s-problems-solutions-and-political-parties-20121019

Rendy Fernandez: The Consequences of Labeling

Society has created many different labels, for many different reasons, and in actuality, these labels do more harm than good. Labels are everywhere, whether someone is labeled something in school, the workplace, or in the general public, and individual can carry a specific label wherever they go, which ends up having a large impact on his/her life. Although it is nearly impossible for our society to eliminate all the labels that have been created, I feel that as the general public, we should not let the labels placed on someone affect our judgment about a specific individual as much as they have today.

One of the labels that has the largest impact, in my opinion, is that of being labeled an ethnic minority of some sort. This puts these individuals at a disadvantage in the long run because they already see themselves as being the weaker ones, or the less intelligent, and will make them less motivated to try and have a very successful future. Based on many different sociological studies, it was proven that minorities tend to do worse in school because they cannot see their situation getting any better. Functionalists would state that it is mostly because these people are too lazy, or not smart enough or worthy of being successful, but I disagree, I feel that it is the label that makes them feel as if trying to get success is pointless.

Some might argue that labels can be positive, but they seem to forget about the consequences of these so called “positive” labels. For example, someone could be labeled as being intelligent, or seen as being very strong academically. This may seem to be something that is good for that individual, but personally, I feel that it just places more pressure on that individual to maintain that “image” in a social setting. Individuals that are classified as being smart would have to deal with the pressure of trying to stay smart in order to prevent being seen as deviant in society.

Although it may seem crazy to eliminate labeling, perhaps it is something that is necessary to reduce things like racism and peer pressure. However, there is not necessarily a perfect way to solve this problem, because even the socialists, like Marxists would place labels on the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, which would still have an impact on how certain individuals are judged in the context of their society. With more labels constantly being made in our society, I feel like there is no way to mend this ongoing dilemma, but the consequences should be accounted for, because after a while, the labels really start to take a toll on the individuals being labeled.

Underage Drinking – Kaylee Bement

Underage alcohol consumption is a serious problem, perhaps more serious than most consider. Alcohol is more commonly abused among youth than any other drug; 11% of alcohol in the United States is consumed by underage drinkers – and this is the reported statistic. Since underage drinking is illegal, there are probably those who lie in surveys about these issues, therefore I think it is safe to assume that the statistic is higher.

A survey taken in 2011 stated that 39% of high schoolers drank alcohol in the past month that the survey was taken; 22% binge drank and 8% drove after drinking. So not only were they illegally drinking, they decided to risk the lives of everyone on the road by driving under the influence. However, a majority of underage drinking takes place in a college setting, where people ages 18-20 are exposed to people ages 21+ on a regular basis. According to a 2005 survey done by Core Institute, the average male college freshman consumes 7.39 drinks per week, while the average female college freshman consumes 3.86. For males, that is more than one drink per day.

So far this post has only discussed the frequency of drinking with negative connotation. Underage drinkers may be thinking, “I only drink a few times a week for fun – what is the big deal?” Alcohol has many negative side effects – especially for young people. Underage drinking increases risk of unwanted/unprotected/unintended sexual behavior, causes hangovers and alcohol poisoning, causes alterations in brain development (which is still growing in your early twenties), causes reckless behavior, impairs judgment, increases risk of becoming an alcoholic when older, encourages abuse of other drugs, impairs memory, and decreases academic success. In the same college survey mentioned earlier, 31% of students missed a class due to substance abuse (recall that alcohol is the most commonly abused substance). Though many claim that alcohol has no influence on their sexuality, alcohol is involved of 90% of campus rapes, and 70% of college kids say they have had unplanned sex due to alcohol consumption.

In efforts to have a fun social life, many people under 21 drink alcohol, which could negatively affect their present and future. The negative effects caused by underage drinking are not worth the benefits of a “crazy night out” that probably won’t even be remembered. Young people need to be aware of the consequences of drinking before they partake in such a risky, illegal activity. Influenced by the pressures of media and the slightly older, legal people in their lives; teens are misinformed by the romanticized idea of alcohol consumption, which is unfair and unsafe.

Resources

“Consequences_of_Underage_Drinking.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. N.p., 2007. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

“SADD Statistics.” SADD Statistics. N.p., Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

“Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.                      Burrell, Jackie.

“College Drinking Statistics.” About.com Young Adults. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Capital Punishment by Alexandra Konikow

There have been many cases of innocent people being put on death row and ultimately dying that way. Over 140 people have been released from death row in 26 states since 1973 due to them being innocent. This fact alone leads me to believe the death penalty should be a social problem that people need to be concerned about. Not only is the system unjust, it is very unfair and a waste of taxpayers’ money. This form of punishment has been proven to be considered the worst form of punishment when trying to deter crime. Being sentence to execution can also be determined by your wealth, skill of their attorney, and race. Along with it also being proven that the states with the death penalty have the highest murder rate.

California alone has spent over $4 billion on capital punishment since the reinstatement in 1978. With this being said, it is far more cost effective keeping someone in prison for life without parole along with the trials being shorter and less expensive. California now spends around $184 million a year on the death penalty. In Kansas, a death penalty trial costs about $400,000 per case while a case seeking a lesser punishment costs about $100,000 per case. It is costing Florida $51 million more to seek the death penalty than it would to seek life in prison. That’s about $24 million per execution since 1976. These statistics show just a few examples of how costly the death penalty can really be.

Race plays a major role in whether someone is going to be sentenced to death. In 1990 a report from the General Accounting Office concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks.” Not only does the race of the defendant matter but also the race of the victim. In Louisiana, someone who’s victim was white was 97% more likely to receive the death penalty than those whose victim was black.

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Rendy Fernandez: Obamacare is MORE than Necessary

Altogether, people that are uninsured spend about $2.64 billion out of the pocket each year, even though they spend less than the insured people do. Women are the biggest percentage of the people that are uninsured. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps all these women, and it also eliminates gender rating, which is when women are charged more simply because they are women. It was predicted that if the ACA was rejected, rates for women would have risen. The ACA was declared constitutional in 2012 by the Supreme Court after it raised controversy with its Republican opponents. The law says consumers’ out-of-pocket costs generally cannot exceed $6,350 for a single person or $12,700 for a family in a year. The law says nearly every legal U.S. resident must get health coverage or pay a tax penalty to make sure fewer people have to get care at hospitals that is not paid for or results in big debts. The penalty will start out at $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is higher. The penalty starts rising in 2015 and 2016, ending up at $695 or 2.5 percent of income. The law itself does not create a government-run system. In other words, it will not take away your doctor and choose one for you.

Universal healthcare is something that is essential for countries that plan to present themselves as “world powers.” Regardless of whether or not the healthcare plan is seen as “unconstitutional” there should still be a push for healthcare for each citizen. For the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) raised controversy because it was seen as something that was not voluntary, thus, making it unconstitutional. However, why should it matter if the plan was constitutional? All the other successful nations have universal healthcare, so shouldn’t one of the most successful nations in the world have it as well? There are also the people who believe that just because a Democratic president proposed the act, it is wrong and is going to be based on the government running the entire health system. However, all these fears could be easily disproven if people actually took the time to read the law, and to understand what it was stating. I believe that having a law like the ACA will help our country, because it will give those who do not have healthcare a way to get cheap and resourceful healthcare that would be funded by taxation of other US citizens.

Some people may argue that this would be something that is forced, or it will raise the debt ceiling that is already very high. However, the act is, once again, just to make sure that an individual does not fall into a big debt by providing them with healthcare that is affordable, and worthwhile. The debt ceiling argument is irrelevant because the taxes on citizens will prevent raising the debt in a sense. The national government has to make sure that individuals are cared for, and if hospitals are turning people away because they do not have coverage, the government is not doing its job. This act does not mean that the government will be running the system, in fact, it promotes and expands business for private insurance, because they gain new customers. Also the fact that this law eliminates gender rating is reason enough to accept it as it is. Can it not be considered “unconstitutional” to charge women higher rates for health insurance? Or is that something that is overlooked because it is not seen as an important issue, even though a majority of the uninsured population is composed of women.

Many people also argue that the ACA will destroy the amount of jobs that our country has, thus destroying our economy. This is also not necessarily true, because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated that the loss would be minimal. The CBO also states that the loss would be mainly because people would chose to work fewer hours if they received subsidiaries to help them buy their insurance, or the people that are close to retiring end up retiring early because they are sure they can buy insurance on their own without aid. If people were retiring early, it allows job positions to open up for the younger generations that are searching for jobs, which refutes the claim that this law would “kill” jobs. Many members of the Republican parties would use this argument to try and gain support from people who were not as educated about the ACA, and would easily convince them that this law would have a negative impact on our country. This is also what they did when they claimed it was “unconstitutional,” even though the Supreme Court declared that the law and its accompanying taxes were constitutional in 2012. It is very ironic that it is currently 2013, and people are still using that as an argument, even though the ruling was a year ago. This is why the United States needs this universal healthcare act implemented, so people could judge it while it is actually happening, not before anything has even happened.

The Affordable Care Act is only the first step the United States could take in order to actually mold the country into something that is not only seen as powerful, but demonstrates how successful it is at being powerful. Having universal healthcare will help the population as a whole be cared for, and also ensure that no one will have an unusually large debt that is made up of medical bills. Of course there will be the people that refuse to go along with this plan, and will stay uninsured due to stubbornness. Unfortunately, that will lead to them paying a fee that will only increase as time goes on. This is not only a penalty for not following the law, but it is a “wake-up call” to that specific person that they could be paying fees that are very low, in order to avoid being in debt for years. Most people see this as being “forced” to buy healthcare, when they do not find healthcare necessary. However, they do not see that this act will benefit them greatly, and it will also benefit the entire country. There are also the people that think paying a tax for people who do not want healthcare or who do not deserve healthcare is pointless. Yet these same people pay taxes for things like public education, and there are plenty of students who find school useless and a waste of their time. So why would it be a problem for people to pay taxes for something that benefits the country they live in when they already pay taxes to send their children away for 7 hours, 5 days a week to learn things that will end up being pointless in their futures?

Ashley Peterson: Prostitution

Prostitution is the business or practice of engaging in sexual relations in exchange for payment or some other benefit. Prostitution is also sometimes described as commercial sex. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country from being permissible but unregulated, to a crime or regulated profession. The annual revenue of prostitution worldwide is to be over $100 billion. In developing African and Asian countries, prostitution has been largely responsible for the spread of AIDS and the orphaning of hundreds of thousands of children.

About 40% of prostitutes are former child prostitutes who were illegally forced into profession through human trafficking or teenage runaways. There is a nationwide trend of increased frequency of child prostitution as a result of runaways. Around 60% of children are reported missing as a result of running away and becoming prostitutes for some period of time in order to survive. Male prostitutes usually start at 14 years of age and they usually do not have pimps , which allows them to leave prostitution more easily at an average of 25 years old. Female prostitutes start at the age of 16 or 17 and is harder to leave prostitution and live shorter lives due to physical abuse from their pimps.

To conclude. Social Awareness states steps that should be taken in order to fight with prostitution. First, formal education should be made available to those victims who are still within the school going age, while non-formal education should be made accessible to adults. Second, The Central and State Governments in partnership with non-governmental organizations should provide gender sensitive market driven vocational training to all those rescued victims who are not interested in education. Lastly,there should be awareness generation and legal literacy on economic rights, particularly for women and adolescent girls should be taken up.

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Ashley Peterson: Teen Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy is when females become pregnant under the age of 20 at the time that the pregnancy ends. A pregnancy can take place in a pubertal female before before menarche (the first menstrual period), which signals the possibility of fertility, but usually occurs after menarche. Pregnant teenagers face many of the same obstetrics issues as adult women. There are many more medical concerns for pregnant teens aged at 15 and under. For mothers aged between 15-19, risks are associated with socioeconomic factors rather than with biological effects on age. Research has shown that some risks that can occur are low birth weight, premature labor, anemia, and pre-eclampsia which are connected to the biological age itself. In developed countries, teenage pregnancies are often related to social issues which include, lower education levels, higher rates of poverty, and other poorer life outcomes in children and teenage mothers. Teenage pregnancy in developed countries is usually outside of marriage and carries social stigma in many communities and cultures. The teenage birth rate in the United States is the highest in the developed world.

Teen pregnancy facts states many different statistics based on teen pregnancies. Such as, around 85% of teen pregnancies are unplanned and 7.2% of those teens receive no medical care. There is around 700,000 teens between 17-19 that become pregnant each year. Roughly, 40% of females in the United States become pregnant before they reach 20 years of age. Half of these pregnant teens give birth each year, while around 45% have abortions. The pregnancy rate in 18-19 year olds is 86.5 births per 1000 women and among 15-17 year olds, it is 38.7 births per 1000 women. Over 4 of 10 teenage girls experience pregnancy once prior to the age of 20, which turns out to be one million annually and 8 of these 10 pregnancies are accidental. In 1990 there was 117 pregnancies, in 2002 there was 75 pregnancies and in 2005 there was a 3% increase each year.

So teen pregnancies seems to be a social problem, because it causes many medical problems and also many problems for these teenage mothers by not getting medical attention or not getting there schooling and not being able to take care of their child. In order to help prevent so many teen pregnancies we need to help promote teen pregnancies by maybe having groups to talk about teen pregnancy and staying abstinent or at least being safe if your going to be sexually active. So making birth control easier to get and even making condoms easier to get, because being informed and protected is one of the best things to do. image

 

 

Kevin Agredo – (Edison State College)-Tensions in the Ukraine, What Can America do to Help?

There have been suspicions of America’s participation from the Executive Branch, since Obama leaned over to Putin in a meeting in 2012 and said (which was caught on video tape with audio)…”I can’t do anything until I am elected.”

What did that say about systematically giving away America by this administration?

What does “fundamentally change America” actually mean?

The Ukrainian people stood up and, in a coup, took over the leadership of the country.  The elected leadership was grossly corrupt.  In the place of the elected president, an interim president was named.  Russia leadership, from all levels, are taking advantage of the weakness of the Ukrainian people and government.

How does this affect America?  The same thing could happen to us.  There are North Korean warships with medium range nuclear warheads in international waters within missile reach to our shores.  Within the past few weeks a fully functioning Russian Warship has docked in Havana, Cuba.  What is being done with either threat of war?  Nothing.

We owe the Chinese Government a couple of trillion dollars, as we continue to print money to pay our debts without anything to back the money, just our word.  Hillary Clinton was told by the Chinese Prime Minister, “do not insult the Chinese people.”  Clinton guarantees that America would pay the debt.  Our word means nothing since the Obama Presidency started.

So is America a larger target for a military takeover? We need to learn the lessons being played out in the Ukraine.  Without a doubt we are a target.  Both Russia and China will do as they can to take down America.  America become weaker.

 

 

 

Kevin Agredo – (Edison State College)-IRS Scandal and the Bundy Ranch Government Seizure of Cattle

Over the years outcries have arisen to abolish the IRS or to reign in the abilities given to this agency through Congressional Measures, Executive Orders, and Judicial Outreach from the bench.

A platform presented by the Presidential Candidates in 2016, from any party, will result in propelling that candidate to the front, especially if it is concerning the control the IRS has in our lives.

Lois Learner, former head of the IRS, in closed door meetings and private internal emails, has made a determination that the IRS will become a political machine and can reach into the private life of a citizen who opposes what the party in power demands through intimidation or though silencing opposition.  Prior to the last election for President, when individuals would call for help with filling their taxes to the IRS Helpline, those phone calls were used to campaign for Obama.  This is direct intimidation by Federal Employees in a powerful federal agency, paid by the taxpayers to vote for a specific candidate.

Some people propose a flat tax.  You make $25,000 a year, you write on check to the government for $2500.  You make $250,000 a year, you write a check to the government for $25,000.  No lengthy IRS forms to fill out, no confusion on amounts to pay or to refund.  Straight forward, no hassle, reduces the need for the IRS to be intrusive.

Others propose a $.23 federal tax to be added to the state and local tax on every item or good purchased.  Everyone would pay whether the wealthiest of American, a Wall Street Fat Cat, an Oil Tycoon, or a Pimp or Drug Dealer.  Money would be made from every American.  For those who are limited in income a Pay Voucher would be issued that would cover a portion of the Federal Tax.  There would be no need for the IRS.

And then there are those who would continue building the reach into our private lives by the IRS, grow the agency, and grow the suspicions of the American People.