Archive for the 'Politics' Category

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

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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.

14
Mar
10

Universal Healthcare: Don’t Screw Yourself America!

The founding fathers created the United States government as a representative democracy because they believed that the general public was not educated enough to make informed political decisions. Judging from the outcome of the special senatorial election in Massachusetts, I am convinced they were wholly right. However, they were wrong if they assumed that the educated representatives would solve that problem.

This specific election is the most prime example I can think of in which the art of marketing has aptly exhibited the power of corporate America over the opinions of American citizens who don’t make the effort furnish their own opinions. Though I cannot claim to understand the formulation of every American voter’s opinion, I am making the case that most people are, for the most part, disengaged from the critical thinking process when it comes to politics. I’m formulating this view from my own personal standpoint based on my experiences and knowledge of studies done on the matter.

The most glaring of recent example of mass media opinion replication is, indeed, the special senate election between Brown, Coakely, and some other poor bastard. Due to the general understanding that the fate of the pending national healthcare bill hung in the balance, the race became more of a question of whether the American people were for or against such legislation. The answer to that questions should have been a resounding, “YES! Give us a nationalized healthcare option!” To my understanding, through an economic perspective, this truly would have been a victory for the common American man. With such a passing of the bill, it may have saved America more than the government would spend to install it such a system.

Firstly, overall health insurance premiums would fall as demand for private health insurance fell, saving money.

Secondly, national health care would save money by reducing the number of emergency room visits each year by uninsured people, who accounted for nearly 24 million of the nations 120 million such visits in 2006 alone. If even $4 worth of service was given to each of those persons, that would account for nearly a billion dollars in expenses that the hospital itself would have absorb. With the preventative care provided by a nationalized plan, its plausible that a great deal of those visits could have been prevented with regular visits to the doctor.

Thirdly, thousands of jobs created. Money spent by the government directly entering the pockets of everyday Americans working to maintain the health care system.

Lastly, the money expended by the tax payer would be relatively low for the service being produced. While the middle and lower economic classes would have a more moderate portion of the costs to share, big business and wealthy individuals would have a higher tax percentage, creating a more-fair distribution of the nation’s wealth from the top, down. I use the word fair because, according to the US Census Bureau, the nation’s average middle class income has hardly risen since 1982 (around $8,000) while the upper class incomes continue to rise exponentially higher and faster, even with inflation included in the calculation. This makes sense, as skilled and educated workers come “a dime by the dozen” nowadays and demand for such qualified labor has decreased. The health care would be a good way of evening this economic divide. Overall, universal health care makes sense from a partially theoretical point of view.

It is with these considerations that I judge the voting public to be composed of mostly passive minds regurgitating the opinions of the media or a few individuals. How else could the majority of people take a shotgun and blow their own foot off in such a manner by voting against their OWN interests and, rather, FOR the interests of corporate America, a.k.a not the little guy? I have a scathing suspicion it has to do with the plasticity of the average man’s intellect. The average man tends not to give a shit about formulating his own opinion. Instead, the average man is content with having outside forces do his thinking for him. He has a very general view of the world, consisting of his values, insecurities, and shallow understandings, and looks for information sources that fit this general mold. No critical analysis or deep thinking goes beyond this stage. He has his adopted opinions and his flimsy, unsubstantiated arguments. He won’t change his mind.

A relatively recent statistical study may exemplify the lack of plasticity in the minds of politically-minded people. In 2004, the Pew Research Center published a report (http://people-press.org/report/215/news-audiences-increasingly-politicized) based on a survey of 3,000 voting individuals nationwide in regards to their political affiliation and their news sources. Please reference the link to see that the majority of viewers of biased news sources consist of like-minded individuals whose ideas and desirable outcomes are being reinforced by the biased sources they seek out. There seems to be no desire to digest ideas contrary to their own beliefs, only for affirmation. There doesn’t seem to be a serious application of logic. People are fine with their stagnant selves.

The good majority of the people I have encountered who can furnish a political opinion, regardless of political preference and/or affiliation, have furnished them without proper grounds, lacking both logic and evidence to ultimately justify those opinions. In such cases, one may pull out the trump card: “Well, this is my opinion”. Yes, this is true. It is just your opinion … an unintelligent, unsubstantiated opinion. This disengaged mentality is quite common. Aside from the perception that most people tend to abort the thinking process rather than analyze and digest incoming information, it seems that most people can’t detect opinionated, biased news sources while, at the same time, not caring to detect such a thing, just as long as the news coincides with and reinforces their own already held beliefs.

In the end, I believe that national healthcare could work if implemented correctly as a public option and not a mandate. It seems that it would put more money back in the hands of American people while taking away the already grotesque influence corporations have over our government.

21
Dec
09

Iran and It’s Nukes

 

Yeah, OK!

Iran wants nuclear weapons for the same root reason that the U.S. did back in the 40’s: leverage. While its initial intent was to cause such devastation that an enemy would piss its pants and surrender, it’s now more of a coming-of-age symbol for a country. For, without a nuclear offense, a country lacks a major deterrent to the military offense and nuclear capabilities of other countries. Their security is more assured once they too are able to provide the guarantee of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD!) to anyone that would think to turn their warheads towards them. In all actuality, a nation without nuclear weapons in this modern day is significantly lacking a major deterrent to outward aggression.

So, how come the United States wants to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons? The U.S. has not opposed or actively resisted the proliferation by many other nations such as Israel or India, while the U.S. itself has amassed a great deal of nuclear weaponry. So, as in the case with North Korea, it is reasonable to say that the opposition must be specific to this country and is very likely due to a U.S. assessment of the character of Iran’s leadership.

Though it is unlikely that Iran will ever use that nuke, the leverage such a weapon carries is leverage a self-centered and corrupt government like that of Iran’s should not have because of the international trouble it could cause. I liken this situation to a group of guys in a social group who have a few guns amongst them. However, nobody wants the crazy guy in the group to have a gun because they don’t want to be on edge all the time worrying whether this guy’s gonna lose it and pull the plug on someone.

One might argue that the U.S. has no moral ground to stand upon. I argue that such a judgment is difficult to make until you have done research and considered the full extent of its actions throughout history thus far. After such research, one will find its legacy has done far more good than bad. If still not convinced, compare the U.S. to previous world powers in history and the records of other current-day world powers. Nobody matches their benevolence, though, be sure, they are with many flaws and have quite a ways to go.

However, it is starting to look as if Iran will have full nuclear capabilities soon in light of their recent test-firing earlier this December. At this point the U.S. needs to decide how to handle Iran. It could choose to remain on this path of reasserting its hatred of Iran, thus showing the world and Iran that it has a pair and won’t be taken for a fool. This will continue to support U.S.-hatred in Iran and the Middle East. Or, it can become more friendly with its crazy little brother, offering help by providing direct foreign investment by removing trade barriers. It should strive to be a close friend of one of its enemies. Hopefully, with such an approach, the next generation of Iranians to take over will have grown up with this benevolent image of the U.S. and will respond in kind.

In conclusion: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. But, what happens when nobody opens stands up for their morals and values?

16
Nov
09

Stupid Political Talk Show Hosts Teach A Wise Lesson

Wisdom trumps knowledge!

Once again, my car ride has provided a juicy thought to chew on …

I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to political commentary on the radio during my recent commutes to and from my current place of employment. Their banter is geared towards goals similar to those of many bloggers (and news, for that matter) of current day: content that is controversial, determinedly biased, and sensational. This has been obvious since my earliest days of listening to such foul crap. For an aspiring member of the intelligentsia such as myself, it has served as nothing more than fodder, representative of my common enemy, ignorance, for my mental digestion. But it wasn’t until recently that I was able to derive real wisdom from a show.

It was 96.9 FM talk, with an overly opinionated host who was spitting judgments late at night in regards to the horrible shooting that occurred at the Fort Hood military base. He was quick to suck the cocks of his ignorant listeners by reaffirming their own opinions time and time again. One such opinion included his belief that Islam should be a red flag for danger due to its apparent prevalence in terrorism and that sensitivity training in the army is unnecessary because hurt feelings shouldn’t be the army’s concern. Three obvious logical points on this matter:

1. Terrorism is an ambiguous term that has grown in scope, capable of including quite a few people guilty of a violent or terrorist act. See this Princeton definition of terrorism: (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=terrorism). Once recognized, this definition includes many people of non-Islamic faiths.

2. Islam should be a red flag, but not because of Islam itself but because of a commonality it shares with most terrorist acts:  the hurt feelings of society’s marginalized. I mean, really, aren’t the sources of most violent acts due to somebody being sensitive and getting their feelings stepped on? Those who aren’t accepted into ‘the group’ can often have built-up frustrations and pain, leading them to abandon loyalty to the majority of their society. They may seek a cause to give them pride or meaning.

3. To denounce sensitivity as a necessary component of the U.S. Army is to be a hypocrite by spitting in the face of respect. General respect is something that every soldier should practice as the Army is an instrument of peace and respect is at its roots. It doesn’t take an exorbitant amount of energy to simply be respectful to comrades and colleagues.

And the overall lesson that has been so graciously forced through the disgustingly degenerate behavior of media personalities is that experience and knowledge count for little in terms of real solutions without polished LOGIC and REASON. I’m less than half the age of many opinionists (with less than a fraction of their experience and knowledge) and I’m still confident that I’ve better judgments than they. With this in mind, the best way to have a respectable opinion on such matters as politics, international affairs, or society, is to prime your reasoning and logic by THOROUGHLY digesting material which challenges one in such a manner.

15
Oct
09

Let’s Think About Voting


            A year ago last October, before the presidential election, I was among the many victims of crusaders trying to capture unregistered voters and motivate the younger voting bracket. They’d set up booths around campus and prey on pedestrians who have the courtesy to give them their attention after being shouted at. Most of these pre-enlightened souls hadn’t even made the effort to understand the significance of voting aside from what they’ve been told and readily accepted.

 

            I stopped one day to chat with someone who asked me whether I was registered to vote. I responded with my own question, “Don’t you think you should be asking me whether I’m sufficiently knowledgeable to vote instead?” He showed me a stack of sheets with the basic positions and aims of each candidate as well as a short biography. An informative flyer. Awesome.

 

This was a good step in the right direction. At least these crusaders understand the importance of being an informed voter. But, still, not enough, because most people don’t even understand how the candidates plan to accomplish their aims or even the integrity of their statements, which can judged by viewing their past accomplishments and stances. How can someone represent themselves and their desires appropriately through their vote if they don’t even understand what they’re voting for? How can they judge the candidate’s proposals without even an understanding of the issues at hand (i.e. economics, politics, history, etc.)?

 

I was lucky enough to have a constructive conversation with an intelligent acquaintance of mine on the value of voting. We found that the only way to have sufficiently informed voters would be to have a highly educated population. Highly improbable for many reasons.

 

So, we concluded that the vote, as a representation of the individual, should be treated as such. People should vote to the extent of their knowledge (or their ignorance, for that matter), because it best represents them. And if people were to relinquish this right, then they would be doing themselves and others like them an injustice for not adding weight to a common cause. If their uniformed vote ends up getting someone like George W. Bush elected, then, so be it. At least America is being represented. Besides, mistakes such as that may end up becoming the impetus people need to make more of an effort to become a more informed voter in years to come.