Tag: government

October 22 2009

Q: Isn’t the issue of the National debt just a wedge issue like abortions for the Republican propaganda machine?

A: Our entire economic system is built and reliant upon debt. Without it, the system would collapse. Our debt can never be resolved, so it’s easy to use it as a political tool. And since the Republicans are masters at political manipulation, they’ll use anything they can to drive a wedge between Americans, no matter the cost.

October 14 2009

Q: Are US politics more contentious than ever before?
Politics sure seem ugly nowadays. Republicans say it started with the left attacking Bush. Democrats say it started with the witchhunt of Bill Clinton’s fondness for big butts leading to impeachment.

And the US has had rough patches in its history, like before the Civil War, when a Congressman was nearly beaten to death with a cane. But that was before the Civil War (!) where the country spent 4 years destroying itself and the death toll was 700,000 Americans….
But also in the early years of the Republic, there was lots of mud-slinging among presidential candidates, and many of our early presidents were involved in duels, so I’m not sure we can compare that time to the 21st century.
So should we be worried at the present state of affairs, or are politics supposed to be full of hatred and name-calling?

A: The fact that the Republicans were pleased that the United States lost the bid for the Olympics and upset that our president won the Nobel Peace Prize just shows how ridiculously contentious US politics have become, particularly among the right-wing. The Republicans don’t care what Obama does anymore; they are against everything he says without even stopping to think about it. Their justification (when they stop to give one) is that the Democrats were immediately against everything Bush did, and it’s somehow not hypocritical if they do it back to the Democrats. Of course, the Democrats had years of examples to draw these conclusions from, but I digress.

We should be worried about the present state of affairs. Unlike positive dissent, they do not spur proper debate. Instead, we get bogged down talking about untruths. Until we can cure the nation of this knee-jerk conservativism, we will be wasting our time and energy on political rhetoric rather than governmental policy.

October 13 2009

Q: Is it time that we abolish the two party system? And replace it with one party? Then we could actually judge?
our elected one’s on their own merit. It’s evident that the Capitalist want America to fold under Democratic control, and clear that under Capitalist control that the bottom three quarter’s of america suffers.

A: As far as abolishing a two party system, you’d have to prove to everyone that it is fundamentally flawed and actually serves to harm our nation. While I tend to agree with this, proving something like that would take a massive effort unlike any this nation has ever seen.

Surely you don’t want to replace it with a one party system. That’s an oligarchy. The only difference between an oligarchy and a dictatorship is a supreme leader, and in a one party system they always elect a supreme leader. The governments of Germany, Italy, and Japan had this system in place several decades ago and look what they did with it: World War II.

Capitalism is a truly evil social system unless it’s counter-balanced by a government that looks out for the people. Capitalism, by definition, only cares about one thing: money. I would argue that both current parties (Democrats and Republicans) have elements of capitalism driving them, but really the Republicans are far more obsessed with money.

The capitalists you’re referring to in your question is just that particular element of the Republican party that wants the government to fail under Democratic rule. It’s not because they want America to fail; it’s just that they think they know better than the Democrats and they want another shot at ruling the nation. Of course, under their control we took the largest surplus in history and created the largest deficit in history, insurance and lending companies were given free reign to do as they wish which led to the current economic crisis, and they spent almost all of our money on a war that has had very little (if any) positive economic benefits for our nation.

So, considering what the Republicans have done to this nation in just eight years, can you imagine what it’d be like if one party (Dems or Reps) ruled indefinitely? No thanks.

July 27 2005

A recently published study by the American Medical Association has pointed out serious concerns about the poisoning of schoolchildren from local pesticides (5). Some people are quick to point out that, of the incidences reported, most of the cases were mild. But many of these chemicals created serious illnesses for some children and employees of the schools. This could lead to the suffering of individuals and increased national health costs. Much of the blame for the continued poisoning has been blamed on the lack of regulation, primarily because it is believed to be hard to regulate (5).

The national health is of concern to everyone, not just the individuals, and it is a problem we all must deal with. If our children and those who teach them are being poisoned, it must be addressed. If the cause of these poisonings can somehow be reduced or eliminated, then it must be handled quickly and appropriately. With the emphasis on health and social action, this issue seems highly representative of the social conflict between the individual suffering and the capitalistic nature of our society.

The specific social problem here is the social concerns surrounding the conflict of health and commerce, and the values we place on each. Pesticides that are used on food that is primarily served in American schools is now being linked to serious cases of illness in children and full-time employees of their schools (5). This is a potentially serious health hazard to many and already be a serious one for those who have been and will be poisoned. Considering this is a nation-wide problem, in that health costs could rise for all Americans, it extends the responsibility beyond just local farmers and school employees. These chemicals may make our food a higher quality and our buildings free of insects, but how does that compare with the potential of poisoning humans?

Of the 2,593 patients studied in the American Medical Association’s journal, most of them had mild illnesses, but some of them were serious and a few were even considered severe (3). The sources of the chemicals were from drifting chemicals used by farmers, common disinfectants used throughout the schools, and pesticides used for killing bugs and weeds around the interior and exterior of the buildings (4). It was likely that nearly one-third of the chemicals came from one source in particular: chemical spray from nearby farmers (1). The number of American children who were made sick by pesticides at their school jumped 39% in four years, from 5.6 out of every million students in 1998 to 7.8 per million in 2002 (2). Approximately two-thirds of these cases were associated with pesticides commonly used in schools (3). Currently there are no specific federal regulations on pesticides and their acceptable levels of exposure to children and adults in school buildings (5).

Clearly, the most obvious concern here is the safety of schoolchildren, especially given the fact that most of the incidences seem to be preventable. Children are particularly susceptible to these kinds of chemicals because of the nature of their biology. The breath more air than adults do proportional to their size, and because they are short they are closer to the areas that have been sprayed by these chemicals (1). There is also the fear that people may attribute their illness with an infection or another biologically-based problem. This is a problem because people will not properly diagnose themselves, and therefore a large number of cases will unreported (2). Another major concern is how to effectively deal with the problem of using pesticides near schools. It is difficult to get real legislation going because it is not properly reported or understood, though that could be changing. But at this time there is no comprehensive national system for determining the levels of chemical exposure and its effects (3).

The official response comes in the form of the article that started this entire public conversation. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control both studied hundreds of cases for the article, and it was officially released in the Journal of the American Medical Association (3). This is, so far, the only official word on the issue, but it is a highly influential one. The article is seen as an important move to raising awareness about the problem of pesticides, and as soon as the public starts to react more to it, the politicians will start to comment. There have been no individual responses from politicians, but the statistics in the article are as stern of an official warning as they can be.

Many doctors and related scientists have ample evidence to support the claims provided by the AMA’s article. It has been well-documented that certain commonly-used pesticides cause serious illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and cancer (3). Therefore, the medical and scientific community has been fairly comfortable criticizing the existence of this problem. They suggest making changes in how schools notify students and parents before using these chemicals (2), using as little pesticide as possible, eliminating problem sources, and establishing buffer zones between schools and fields that require such chemicals (5). Once the public is fully made aware of the issue, there will undoubtedly be more of a response.

The only way this issue could go completely unresolved is if the basic structure of our society was fundamentally altered. In this highly unlikely scenario, disregard for the health and safety of our nation’s children is no longer a concern for most Americans. Clearly this does not seem to be likely, as children are often used as symbolic trophies of our humanity. At this point there should be an interesting debate about the value of farm crops and children, though I doubt the debate will be last very long. After all, what society knowingly and willfully poisons its own children? It could have significant implications for the way schools handle chemicals and students, but mostly in the way of protocol. As long as the issue is resolved relatively soon, I do not anticipate any major sociological changes.

The clinical nature of the statistics and the political nature of it involving children makes this issue hard to put a political spin on, but some media outlets do it, perhaps unconsciously. When citing the number of people in the study who were affected, Forbes simply reported the fact that 7.4 cases out of a million were children and that 27.3 cases out of a million were full-time employees (1). The Washington Post, however, preceded the statistic by saying the “overall rate of pesticide illnesses in schools is small” (4), rather than leaving that decision up to the reader. After all, to the parent of one of those 7.4 in a million, that number is already one case too large. In another part of their article, the Washing Post called people who wanted to reduce the amount of pesticide used around schools “activists” (4). It makes me wonder what steps one must take in order to be considered an activist.

It is very likely that a system will be set up to more accurately determine the level of chemicals in schools, assuming the funding to said schools is not cut. If something is not done, however, it could soon get costly for deep pocket organizations like the companies that produce the chemicals, the schools that the children attend, and sections of the government. This could be an unnecessary financial burden that would be shared among all Americans, which is in addition to the existing burden of allowing such poisoning to continue. There have already been suggestions for how to resolve the issue, mostly in the name of additional steps schools and locals can take. Generally, awareness is the best way to resolve an issue, and the article presented by the AMA is likely to do a great deal in this respect. After all, it is hard to argue against the philosophy that the best way to resolve a problem is through education.

List of Works Consulted
1. Forbes. Kids Exposed to Pesticides on School Grounds.
2. New York Daily News. School poisonings rise.
3. BBC News. School study sparks pesticide row.
4. Washington Post. Pesticides May Be Sickening School Kids.
5. FOX News. Study: Pesticide-Linked Illness Up in Schools.

November 24 2002

I grew up in this area, so I was around when KTXT became “Lubbock’s only alternative.” And, I’m old enough to remember the “this is your brain on drugs” commercials on TV. I agree that there are bad drugs out there that can harm people, but I also believe there are good drugs that can harm people, too. Alcohol is one of those “good” drugs for no other reason than people enjoy getting drunk (even if pretension makes them say it’s because they like the taste). Universities are supposed to be the shining light of truth in a world full of darkness. Why is it, then, that every time I lock it to the left, I am talked to like an idiot? This is a college radio station. Don’t you think that anyone listening already knows what drugs can and cannot do? If they don’t, why does lying to them make it better? The ads they play are probably syndicated, and get airplay all over the nation. This doesn’t make it any better, though, because it’s still propaganda, no matter how popular.

I suggest a new radio campaign for our beloved KTXT. How about a thoughtful campaign, with ads that have real content? Instead of telling people that speed can make people do violent things (can’t everything?), try telling them to think for themselves. If someone uses the reasoning their creator gave them, they can decide for themselves if and which drugs are bad. If we treat people like they are stupid, they have a hard time listening to anything we say. And, by playing these ridiculous ads, they are trying to coerce the public into believing anything that will support the campaign.

It’s a shame that the public doesn’t mind being lied to so blatantly, or is it that we choose to ignore it? Today, on the radio, I heard an ad say that amphetamine’s make you aggressive and likely to do harm to other people. There is nothing false about that statement, technically. It is true that someone who is speeding is likely to have an increased heart rate, etc. That’s why they do it. But, saying that it is likely to make you aggressive is misleading. Being hungry, getting cut off in traffic, failing a test, breaking up with your significant other, etc. All of these things irritate us, and maybe some of us it will drive to do something stupid. The ad is simply false. I noticed they didn’t mention that alcohol does the exact same thing.

It really bothers me that the marijuana laws are still in place, and resist amending even today. The public’s attitude towards pot is really hypocritical. People act like it is a degenerate drug, and talk about how stupid and lazy it makes you. Yet, people all over campus talk about and engage in the same kind of thing. Can you imagine what would happen to school organizations if they outlawed alcohol?

By now, the truly shallow readers will have tuned me out and either have stopped reading or will be skimming through the rest. This is a shame because this part pertains to them. I am sure this article makes me seem like I am promoting the use of drugs, but that is just not true. There are bad drugs out there, like the ads say, but not like they say it. There are bad foods out there (what’d you eat for lunch?), but you don’t hear any “just say no to fatty foods” commercials. They’d never outlaw fatty foods, though, because half of America would get thrown in the clink. And, I just don’t want to see Ronald McDonald in a prison uniform. How can we outlaw fatty foods when most of us are addicts?