25
Feb
11

Disclosure About This Blog

To the adoring fans that follow this blog like the passages from the good Book according to John, the last few posts have been of questionable quality for a particular reason: I was practicing for the essay portion of the FSOT, which I took two weeks ago. This was for but a short time only and I will be returning to the normal, thoroughly thought-out entries of yesteryear.

17
Feb
11

Alice in America

Dear America, GO ON A ROAD TRIP! An undeniable piece of Americana. It’s an incredibly beneficial to both mind and body. A variety of unkowns, the essence of adventure, await the brash traveler who decides to break free from a routine to become witness to the glory of this mother/fatherland. After being dragged through the rigours of  getting lost, finding yourself in intolerable conditions, and dealing with unfriendly (or, perhaps, too friendly) characters along the way, you could wind up being a much cooler person than you were before beginning the trip.

I am personally planning for a trip of my own. Midway through April, I will be folding up the kick stand of a touring bicycle and pedaling roughly 3,600 miles of asphalt. This is something I have been waiting to do since approximately August, when I started having fantasies of taking a wrong turn on my way to work, down a road I didn’t recognize, and continuing to travel without a particular destination. After a year of working in a relatively stuffy environment not particularly supportive of my breed of man, I quit my job a few weeks ago and have since lived day to day as I see fit. I regularly entertain my desires around a loosely built schedule of goals and appointments. But, for the most part, I am training for trip of a lifetime.

I am sure there will be a variety of uknown obstacles for which I will encounter. There will be times when I get lost or tired and perhaps even injured. There may be times when I become inconsolably lonely and cry like I’ve been stood up at my own prom. But, this will be the desireable essence of the Great Undertaking, this wonder of what  I cannot control and do not know.

Stay tuned for my supplementary blog to this adventure, staring in April.

Bicycle Across America

My bicycle of choice?

14
Feb
11

How To Handle Free Speach

Free Speech

"Free speech ought to be as free as possible"

 

 

 

The right to express oneself freely without fear of persecution or retaliation is among the most important rights of the American people and should be preserved to the fullest extent possible. The only rules that should be allowed to govern the use of this right should be those that detail and regulate offensive expression, prevent speech from being used to explicitly orchestrate destruction or carnage, and oversee the honesty of commercial activity or news organizations. Though there could be many finer details to govern the use of freedom of expression, these are the major ones. Due to the extreme importance of preserving this revered freedom, it should be dealt with solely on the federal level and the U.S. should do its best to impose as few limits on it as possible.

Though it is most important to preserve as much freedom for speech as possible, it should be expected that there should be certain well defined rules imposing a certain degree of civility on it use. There are certain components of speech that are considered offensive by the majority of U.S. citizens. Because the majority of Americans would like control over their exposure to such expression, laws should be in place to prevent it from being displayed in public places or through public mediums, such as public radio or television programming. Expression through the use of obscene words or gestures as well as nudity should simply be restricted to display in private settings, such as within the home or within a personal social circle.

Limitations should exist in order to regulate the expression and speech of commercial entities and news organizations. Such groups are in positions of power to greatly influence the general population through their use of claims and information in public mediums such as newspaper, internet, television, and radio. By choosing to operate publicly, they must adhere to strict standards of honesty in their reporting. Whether they are making claims about a product’s capability or providing accounts of events in the world, the actions of players, such as these, that are in the public eye must be required to provide substantial evidence for their statements and assertions.

Speech that is explicitly being used to orchestrate carnage (bloodshed) should have a special set of rules governing its use. The use of language in a public setting that completely and clearly calls for killing and harm to other human beings should be illegal. Those that are found out to have been speaking of such things should be investigated in order to determine whether definite steps were being taken to carry out any plans to commit bloodshed. However, even during times of war, no one should be lawfully allowed the ability to monitor private communications made by telephone, email, or mail, without the use of a warrant. Those that have been found to be worthy of investigation should have there private correspondence monitored in order to determine the threat they may or may not pose to others. However, the majority of American citizens, who have provided no reason for such a high degree of suspicion, should not be subject to such a violation of rights. Guidelines such as these should remain constant and unchanging, especially in times of war, when fear and other strong emotions can interfere with sound reasoning and decision making. Any expansion of abilities of a centralized organization, such as the government, to invade the private communications of everyday Americans represents a powerful opportunity for which an individual or group can utilize for sel

Throughout the world history, many positive changes have occurred due to people exercising this fundamental right to express themselves freely. It is through the use of this right that people are able to gain support for a cause, represent the interests of a group, and obtain/preserve rights. It is the most fundamental and important privilege because it allows for the citizens of a nation to represent themselves and is the right from which all other rights stem from. It is due to the sanctity of this right and the fact that it is protected by the 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights, that it management should only be dealt with on a federal level. The government should take more of a role as its protector in order to  defend it from any attempts to erode the extent of its power.

Due to the importance of the right to free speech, relatively little rules should govern its use. However, like all rights, there must be rules that ensure that it will be used in a civil manner so that it will not interfere with the rights of others. Governing the freedom for expression should be guidelines for offensive or indecent expression, honesty in communication of commercial and news organizations, and expression that clearly and intentionally promotes the harming of other people. Beyond this, freedom for expression should be preserved and protected as it is the most important right of the American people

08
Feb
11

Give Me the ARTS!

The government should continue to support the arts, but should have a set of basic rules governing which art is suitable for public funding. First and foremost, all public funding for the arts should be spent in the best interests of the citizens of the United States so that the art displayed somehow satisfies a desire or want of society. Secondly, there should be rules put in place that provide guidelines as to what sort of contents and subjects are appropriate to allocated public funding towards. Lastly, the U.S. should continue to support the arts because they are creatively stimulating to the general population and promote the distribution of wealth and ideas throughout society.

 

Government funding is made possible through the taxation of the American people, therefore, the government should utilize these funds in a manner that is in society’s best interest. Since art is something that is something that can be appreciated by nearly all people, the government should ensure that its monetary funding is being directed towards promoting art that in some way satisfies a large portion of the country’s citizens and groups. For instance, the US should not fund art of low quality or art that is generally accepted as being of poor taste.

 

There should rules that act as guideline as to what sort of art the government should be allowed to provide support for. Just as the FCC provide guidelines that bar the use of offensive and obscene language, so should the government adhere to similar rules when choosing the artwork for government funding. There are certain subjects and topics that are generally considered very distasteful to the American public and, therefore, should not receive funding. The argument could be made that meaningful messages are often presented in offensive artwork, however, it is quite possible for message of a similar quality of meaning to be made in acceptable ways. Offensive art should be only allowed private funding.

 

Lastly. Government funding for artwork should continue due to the very beneficial effects it has on society. The presence and promotion of art stimulates creativity among the people. This, in turn, contributes to a society that is more visionary and, therefore, more in a position of leadership in the world economy. The presence of art also can attract wealth to depressed regions of the country. It is a common economic concept that flourishing art cultures often attract the congregation and investment of the wealthy. By promoting art in poorer areas of the U.S., the government can help to combat depressed areas.

 

In summary, the government should continue to fund art throughout the country because it is important part of a society. However, since the funding is provided by the American people themselves, it is important that the funding goes towards art that is in peoples’ best interest. Also, certain guidelines governing what sort of art the government can support should be put in place so that artwork that is generally considered obscene or offensive does not receive funding. Given the importance of art, the government should continue to support the creative arts forever.

 

04
Feb
11

Business Standards While Abroad

Adherence to federal regulations by U.S. companies while operating abroad poses the difficult task of maintaining a competitive edge within an industry while still trying to operate within their domestic moral obligations. In such cases, the primary concern of the U.S. government should be in furthering national interests by ensuring a more economically prosperous future for their own people by helping those companies to succeed overseas. In order for a business to remain competitive, there could very well be situations (India, China, etc.) in which they will need to be made exempt from federal regulations. Without such exceptions, the lack of competitive edge by the U.S. may result in decreased GNP and lessened economic standing in the long run. However, despite discrepancies between domestic and foreign regulations, it seems that certain rules and standards in regards to safety could be met by U.S. companies while abroad.

The primary concern of the United States in the overseas operations of domestic companies should be in helping them to be economically successful. If it is determined that adherence to domestic regulations will significantly hinder their competitiveness, then they should be granted exemption in order to succeed and contribute the U.S. GNP. This priority acts in accordance with what should be the overall primary concern of the U.S. government, advancing the values and goals of its citizens. This aim is partially met by maintaining itself as a strong world player so that its private industry can be in a position to take advantage of economic opportunities abroad. By upholding its economic stability first and foremost, perhaps at the fractional relinquishment of regulations while abroad, the U.S. can continue to be in a position in which it can influence other governments to implement standards similar to their own. It is through its influence on the world stage that the U.S. can hope to raise the operating standards of nations across the world.

It seems that there are likely to be many instances in which U.S. companies would find their ability to compete significantly hindered if federal regulations were to be imposed abroad. Such places as India, China, and certain South American locations act as examples of places in which adherence to the full extent of U.S. rules could prevent them from contending with other companies in those markets.  Though U.S. companies could still compete within the U.S. due to the potential for higher profit margins, it could be entirely possible that the costs incurred by adhering to federal regulations could reduce profit to the point where companies cannot compete with other groups within a foreign market. One possible reason is that these companies are able to operate at much lower costs due to much lower standards, thus allowing them to undercut any company that may be operating at higher costs due to, perhaps, higher standards. If likely scenarios such as this exist, it is warranted that U.S. companies should are not made to adhere to federal regulations while operating abroad.

Though the full breadth of U.S. regulations should not apply to the portions of U.S. businesses in foreign lands, they should still be expected to meet a special set of regulations in regards to basic safety. This is because U.S. business overseas contributes to the image the rest of the world has of the United States. Their actions overseas serve as symbols that can potentially legitimize or undermine certain principles the country stands for, such as human rights. In this regard, it would be beneficial for all foreign-operating U.S. businesses to follow a basic set of regulations. These regulations would be in regards to promoting basic safety, such as acceptable air quality, proper job training, fire prevention, and an overall safe environment. Behaving in accordance to such regulations would pose a manageable task that would not reduce the competitiveness of U.S. companies in foreign markets. Having such regulations made official would reflect positively upon the U.S. while providing insignificant negative effects.

The full breadth of domestic federal regulations should not apply to U.S. businesses abroad as it could significantly reduce their competitiveness in certain markets. There are many instances in which adherence to such regulations would prevent them from succeeding and possibly contribute to forcing them permanently out of an industry in a country. Success of these businesses abroad should take priority over adherence to federal regulations. However, as this can appear quite hypocritical and possibly undermine U.S. principles, it would be both feasible and beneficial to create a special set of regulations that all foreign-operating businesses must follow. In this way, the U.S. can both competitive and sincere in its position.

31
Jan
11

Foreign Aid

Foreign aid benefits both the United States and is helpful to those who receive it. Though the foreign aid being provided may not be as helpful as most people would expect or intend, it still has the potential to be much more positive if administered more effectively. Also, it continues to be a an excellent form of diplomacy as it helps to maintain or improve the country’s image on the world stage while setting a positive example of global responsibility for the rest of the world to follow. Lastly, by continuing in help the world, the United States helps its own people as well by improving conditions in countries that could evolve into potential markets for American private business. Through this economic development, at-risk countries move away from being potential breeding grounds for terrorists.

The foreign aid that the United States has provided, and continues to provide, helps those in need but does retain the potential to be ever more effective. Though the question of whether the people of the recipient countries actually receive the aid has been speculated, it is doubtful to think that the aid has not reached at least some if not the majority of the intended people. In this sense, it is indeed helpful. However, using the same reasoning, it seems likely that a portion of aid from the US does not make it to its intended recipients or, perhaps, may not benefit its recipients meaningfully. This may be due to a variety of factors, including improper logistics, corruption, negligence, etc. Even without having knowledge of the historical or current effectiveness of US foreign aid, it is doubtful to think that it is disseminated perfectly and therefore, could probably benefit from continued scrutiny in order to determine how to make it more meaningful to those in need. Though already helpful, foreign aid can continue to become more effective in the future.

In addition to the obvious effect of alleviating poverty, the distribution of aid by the United States  conveys a positive image of itself to other nations around the world.  This is an effective form of diplomacy as it can make allies out of beneficiaries. Within those countries, the aid may also foster an environment that is more receptive to United States’ interests. The governments are happy because, ideally, aid will create stability by creating a sense of faith among the people in their leaders. The people are happy because they are more easily able to meet their basic needs. By providing this positive example to the people and nations of the world, it sets a precedence for which other major or emerging countries may strive to follow because it is effective diplomacy and they would contrast negatively with the United States were they not to give aid despite their global economic standing.

From an economic perspective, US foreign aid is useful because it potentially allows the country to reap profitable benefits. Through the use of aid, the US government may gain preferred access to the beneficiary country’s natural resources. Private companies from  the US may be allowed opportunities to further the development of any mineral and/or oil industries that may exist. The distribution of aid can also contribute to the overall stability of an environment, allowing for a country to focus its efforts on furthering economic development. If the country is stable, it allows for private outside companies, including ones from the United States, to take advantage of any industrial or trade opportunities that may exist. As an externality, through this fostering of stability and economic development, the ability of violent or fanatic organizations to impose their own forms of government or propagate terrorists is diminished.

The foreign aid provided by the  United States is helpful to the people who receive it. Aside from fulfilling an obligation to help those who are poorer, it also can also have positive diplomatic and economic effects for both the United States and recipients of the aid. Lastly, despite any possible inefficiencies that exist in its application or distribution, it should not be stopped as it is still beneficial to those in need. Efforts should continued to be made to increase the effectiveness of US foreign aid.

Foreign Aid

Good acts promote further good acts

23
Jan
11

Diplomacy’s Toolbox – Communication

Aggressive Countries

Aggressiveness

Dealing with belligerence is common to people, states, and nations the world over. There are a variety of philosophies and techniques for managing the disagreeable behavior of others. Necessary to all effective strategies is the exchange of information. Without proper communication, problems are prolonged and worsened. As such, the US should maintain the option for open talks with belligerent organizations and terrorist organizations as means to solving issues because it offers the greatest possibility of coming to a peaceful solution before resorting to more destructive means. However, the use of open talks should be used selectively so as not to injure the respect of the US on the world stage. It must also be willing to take strong disciplinary economic and military action in order to deter adverse behavior and encourage other actors to take advantage of the open US invitation for solution-oriented talks prior to initiating any destructive means.

Directs talks are the most effective means for solving a problem between two parties and should always be a part the US approach to international confrontations. The option of a peaceful method of resolution is especially appropriate when dealing with amorphous modern-day terrorist organizations and aggressive states that show the willingness to create large numbers of military and civilian casualties in order to achieve their goals. Seeking to understand the details of an aggressor’s wants and desires are invaluable in determining the next steps that must be taken in order to come to an answer. Though that answer may have the potential to be peaceful or aggressive, it will be an answer none-the-less in the determination of the necessary course of action.

Direct communication as a nonviolent means of achieving a nation’s goals is not without its restrictions in its application. There are times in which the use of open dialogue could more likely prove useless or counterproductive to US foreign interest. Examples include situations in which the demands of a decentralized terrorist organization are already well known and are not worth placating. Such demands as the forfeiting of strategic military bases abroad or the destruction of the US are not reasonable. In such instances, alternative means of abating the adverse behavior of the other party must be sought.  The same is appropriate for organizations of reputations that are considered dishonorable and command little respect by which association would be belittling to the United States. The maintenance of reputation is an important consideration for any nation because it works as a deterrent to future aggressive behavior from other parties. That is why the US should only hold formal talks with aggressors that are of equal or similar standing so as to maintain the effectiveness of their reputation as a deterrent. Other talks should be held either informally or away from the public eye.

For the same purpose of maintaining reputation, military and economic capabilities should also be maintained as options for dealing with outside aggression. By regularly demonstrating a willingness to use harsh methods to discourage the continuation of aggressive behavior, a nation can theoretically prevent similar situations that would have occurred had they not had a consistent track record of deterrent behavior. This idea can be demonstrated through common knowledge of how systems of award and punishment work on an individual basis. By consistently enforcing state and federal laws through the use of the police force and judicial system, the United states prevents a great deal of would-be crimes by creating a well known track record of punishing perpetrators. This is technique should be even be adhered to by smaller nations, even if their capabilities for responding in such a manger are minute, because it may still provide a small degree of deterrence.

In conclusion, the use of communication should always be the preferred method of the United States to bring a conflict to a peaceful resolution. However, it should be used strategically so as to maintain the reputation of the nation for the purposes of deterring the future aggressive behavior of other nations and organizations. To compliment this, the US must always be willing to use economic and military action for situations in which peaceful communication does not work. This will also help to deter future aggression. An preference for solving conflicts through peaceful and effective communication must permeate those portions of the US government that deal in international affairs so that it is honestly and, thus, effectively, pursued as the preferred means of ending conflict.






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