Sunday, October 21, 2012

Political cartoons have been a popular form of expressing opinions since the Revolution period.  Below is a political cartoon from this year's presidential campaign.  What is the statement of the cartoon?  What is it saying about the presidential election process?  Do you agree with the meaning of the cartoon?

Which Mitt © David Fitzsimmons,The Arizona Star,romney

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Propositions: Death Penalty and Human Trafficking

This year's propositions in California include some interesting crime and punishment issues.

Proposition 34
Proposition 34 would repeal the death penalty in California and replaces it with life in prison without parole.   It would apply retroactively to existing death penalty cases.  The essential question here is, does the death penalty work as a deterrent to crime?  Arguments in favor of Prop 34 include the fact that innocent people will no longer get accidentally killed in the death chamber and that the costs of taking a death penalty case to court are high.  Opponents of the measure argue that the punishment needs to fit the crime and that it costs $50,000 a year to keep criminals in jail.

Would you vote yes or no on Proposition 34 and why?

Link to Proposition 34

Proposition 35
Prop 35 would increase prison sentences and fines for human trafficking convictions from five years to 15 years to life and adds fines of up to $1.5 million.  It would also register human traffickers as sex offenders.  Supporters argue that we need stronger laws to crack down on human trafficking while opponents say it is a violation of privacy and is an example of big government and is expensive to enforce.

Would you vote yes or no on proposition 35 and why?

Link to Prop 35

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Election 2012: Props 30 and 38, School Funding

This election will include 11 propositions for California voters to decide on.  This week we will look at the two tax measures that are intended to fund public education.  As you probably know, California education has suffered over $18 billion in cut backs due to the "Great Recession" that started in 2008.  How can we recover some of those funds?  Which tax seems more far?  Which one would you vote for?

Proposition 30:

To raise funds for public education and public safety, Proposition 30 would increase income tax on top income earners for seven years by 1% on single filers making $250,000 or more; 2% on single filers making $300,000 or more and 3% on single filers making $1,000,000 or more.  Additionally, it would increase the sales tax by ¼ % for the next five years.  Proposition 30 would cost a person making $50,000 a year an extra $62.50 while a person making $100,000 a year would chip in only an extra $125 (based on average sales tax figures; neither would pay any Prop 30 income tax at that rate.)  The return on this investment would be three to four times in benefits in school and public safety services.  If Prop 30 fails, the state will initiate trigger cuts of more than $5 billion in education funding.

This initiative measure is directed at school funding as well.  However, if Prop 30 fails and Prop 38 passes, there still will be trigger cuts of $5 billion in education as outlined in Prop 30.  Here is the tax system set up under prop 38. 

If the taxable income is:The additional tax on taxable income is:
Not over $14,6420%
Over $14,642 but not over $34,6920.4% of the excess over $14,642
Over $34,692 but not over $44,721$80 plus 0.7% of the excess over $34,692
Over $44,721 but not over $55,348$150 plus 1.1% of the excess over $44,721
Over $55,348 but not over $65,376$267 plus 1.4% of the excess over $55,348
Over $65,376 but not over $136,118$408 plus 1.6% of the excess over $65,376
Over $136,118 but not over $340,294$1,540 plus 1.8% of the excess over $136,118
Over $340,294 but not over $680,589$5,215 plus 1.9% of the excess over $340,294
Over $680,589 but not over $1,361,178$11,680 plus 2.0% of the excess over $680,589
Over $1,361,178 but not over $3,402,944$25,292 plus 2.1% of the excess over $1,361,178
Over $3,402,944$68,169 plus 2.2% of the excess over $3,402,944

Friday, September 21, 2012

Immigration and Market Forces

We have read articles and seen film in class on how immigrants impact the labor market.  In the meatpacking industry, for example, immigrants are recruited by the industry to work under tough conditions for low pay all in an effort to maximize profits and keep the price of your food low.

On the other hand there are a substantial number of Americans who want the US border guarded more tightly and the stream of undocumented workers shut off.

Can we have it both ways?

Libertarians would argue that the government should play no role in the supply of immigrant workers into this country.  There is a demand for cheap labor and the workers, especially from Latin America, are willing to supply their labor. 

Would we be better off not worrying about the immigration of undocumented people into the United States?  Would we save money by cutting back on INS and other immigration  services?  Why don't we just allow the market forces to determine how many workers could enter the United States?  If there is demand for these workers, why not let them in?  When the demand tapers off, the flow of immigrants will also diminish.

Are you in favor of no immigration quotas and to let the forces of demand and supply determine how many immigrants will come in to this country?

(answer by September 30)