Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Bush-Era Tax Cuts and the Nation's Economic Health (Post #27)

UPDATE: Obama has signaled a compromise has been reached with Republicans that would extend the tax cuts for all income levels but also extend unemployment benefits and provide for a temporary payroll cut on social security taxes for the middle class.

Below is a list of the main provisions of the Bush-era tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 that are set to expire on December 31, 2010:
  • The two "marriage penalty elimination" provisions will expire, so that:
    • The standard deduction for married couples will fall, no longer double what it is for single filers; and
    • The ceiling of the 15% bracket for married couples will fall, no longer double what it is for single filers
  • The 10% tax bracket will expire, reverting to 15%
  • The child tax credit will fall from $1,000 to $500
  • The tax rate on long-term capital gains earned by middle- and upper-income people would rise from 15% to 20%
  • The tax rate on qualified dividends earned by middle- and upper-income people would rise from 15% to ordinary wage tax rates
  • The 25% tax rate would rise to 28%
  • The 28% rate would rise to 31%
  • The 33% rate would rise to 36%
  • The 35% rate would rise to 39.6%
  • The PEP and Pease provisions would be restored, rescinding from high-income people the value of some exemptions and deductions
  • The estate tax would be restored with an exemption level of $1 million and rates that top out at 55%
Here is a visual of the savings for each income bracket under the Bush tax cut and the alternative plan of the Democrats. Allowing all Bush-era tax cuts to expire will save the US government about $700 billion. It is clear that the Republican plan will save the most money for the wealthiest classes. But will those tax cuts to the wealthiest allow money to trickle-down to the rest of society?

Earlier this week the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend the so-called Bush Era tax cuts for families making $250,000 or less. The House allowed the tax cuts to expire on those making $250,000 or more.

On Saturday, the Senate, led by Republicans, voted to not to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less. The Republicans are playing a game of chicken. By voting no on extending the tax savings to the middle class, they are trying to push Democrats to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to all groups, including those making millions of dollars a year.

Our politicians are struggling with two polarizing concepts. One, the US economy needs a boost and extending tax cuts will increase aggregate demand and hopefully spur spending and hiring. But which groups in society should benefit from a tax cut? On the other hand, we are facing a $13 trillion debt and ending the Bush tax cuts will provide the US government with over $700 billion, helping to reduce the deficit.

Here are more detailed arguments in favor of extending or ending the tax cuts:

Arguments for allowing the tax cuts to the rich to expire.

Arguments for extending the tax cuts to the rich.

Your task:
Should the Bush-era tax cuts be extended to all groups including millionaires or only on the middle class? Or should all the Bush-era tax cuts expire?

Other questions to consider: what is a fair tax? Who should shoulder the burden of taxes in society? What is more important, balancing the budget or stimulating the economy?

Be sure to post by Wednesday, December 8 at 8:00am.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Judge Rules against Oklahoma law (Post #26)

The First Amendment to the Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The Supreme Court has ruled that states as well cannot pass laws that violate the 1st Amendment.

On Nov. 2, Okalhoma voters passed SQ755 (similar to our propositions) by a vote of 70 to 30 percent.  The slogan of "Save Our State" was used by supporters for the law which would require Oklahoma courts to "rely on federal and state law when deciding cases" and "forbids courts from considering or using" either international law or Islamic religious law, known as Sharia, which the amendment defined as being based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

A Federal judge has issued a permanant injunction (stop) against the law that you can read about in this article.  Sharia law is used in many muslim countries and many of its aspects violate federal and state laws.  Politicians in Oklahoma are upset by the ruling and many claims are being made by both sides of the issue.  The U.S. Supreme Court could eventually hear the case.

The questions are:
Can religion currently be used as an excuse to break laws that by themselves do not discrimnate against religions? (for example: polygamy, drug use, rape)
Can states pass laws that target a particular religion?
What was the purpose of this law in Oklahoma?  Was it necessary to pass?  Are you surprised that voters passed it?
Do you believe the law violates the first amendment and why?
If the law is not a violation, what kind of precedent does it create for other states?

Post your responses by 8:00AM Friday

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Conflict in the Koreas (post #25)

In 1953, an armistice was signed to end the fighting of the Korean War.  The two nations share a history, ethnicity, and language, but are separated by a heavily patrolled border and two very different governments.  The U.S. has accused the North of seeking to build nuclear weapons and has bases in South Korea and Japan.  The North has strong relations with China, today the world's other superpower, besides the U.S.  Their leader Kim Jong-il's has named his son, Kim Jong-un, as the next ruler.   Last Tuesday, North Korea attacked a South Korean island killing four and forcing an evacuation.  No further fighting has occurred, but tensions are high and other countries could become involved.  The North has one of the world's largest militaries and far exceeds that of South Korea.  Read this link for more info or watch the video and then answer the question below.

If North Korea were to attack again, what position should the United States take?
Consider, we are friends and trading partners with South Korea and Japan and are their main military protector.
North Korea has tested nuclear weapons and may be capable of short range attacks.
China is allied with North Korea and assisted them against us in the Korean War.
We are still fighting in Afghanistan (which also borders China) and have troops in Iraq.
Wars are expensive and we have a large budget deficit.
Explain why you believe we should be involved or not and in what way.  Remember human lives are at stake in any war, both U.S. soldiers and citizens of other nations, so be considerate in your comments.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rep. Rangel Guilty of Breaking 11 House Rules (Post #24)

Yesterday New York House Of Representatives member Charles Rangel walked out of an house ethics hearing in which he was found guilty of almost all the charges against him for all sorts of financial issues from misspent campaign donations to accepting vacation gifts (see article here). He has no plans of stepping down and was just re-elected for his twentieth term by a huge margin. At what point should a politician step down? How many mistakes will the voters accept? Are these just political shenanigans? What do you think? Is Rangel an extreme example of what voters will accept or have the voting public's standards dropped so much?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheerleader Suspended Over Facebook Photo (Post #23)

Should a high school administration suspend a cheerleader over a picture of her at a wedding with a beer in her hand? The student and her parents argued that she was not even the person holding the beer but the other young lady in the photograph with her. The school administration cites school athletic policy regarding drug and alcohol possession. Three basic opinions arise in the video clip, the example cheerleaders set as role models, privacy, and the complete lack of privacy. What do you think? Please be respectful of others and their opinions when you blog

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

California Governor Exit Polls: Examining the Data (Post #23)

On Tuesday Nov. 2, Jerry Brown won for the 3rd time as California Governor, 28 years after he last served.  Voters across California were questioned as they left the polls on Tuesday and provided us with some insight into who voted for Brown and who voted for Meg Whitman.  Click on the exit poll data and check it out.  There are three pages of quite a bit of data.  Check out race, education, income, gender, party affiliation and any other data you consider useful.

Show your ability to analyze and draw conclusions by identifying which groups supported Brown and which groups of voters supported Whitman.  Look at all 3 pages as to fully see all the trends.
Now with Brown winning and getting most support, look where Whitman was strongest and where Brown was strongest. 
Do your best to explain why those particular groups gave each candidate support.  Use your knowledge of the parties, consider what the groups have to gain from either candidate, and do some logical assumptions if you have to.  If you look at all the data it should become clear.
Be sure to give complete thoughtful answers, not just a quick response to the first piece of data you see or a copying of someone else's comments.

Responses due by Friday.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Proposition 19 The legalization of Marijuana (Post #22)

On Nov. 2, California voters will decide if they want marijuana use to be legal in California.  The Sacramento Bee has a series of articles on the issue. Click on one or more of the following topics and share your thoughts.  Make sure to identify which article(s) you read.

Marijuana Vote Watched Closely South of the Border
Head of medical marijuana physicians decries Prop 19
Governor signs marijuana decriminalization bill
If price drops, future may be hazy for California pot workers
Will Attorney General candidates defend prop 19?  Don't expect "yes" or "no".
Subjects of 'The Social Network' donate to marijuana measure
Stephen Colbert: Prop 19 'Most Popular Candidate in California'
As Latino group endorses Prop 19, Mexican leader decries it
Ex-DEA chief: Prop 19 backers 'smoking somthing' in tax pitch
Rand: Prop 19 hurts Mexican traffickers only if state exports pot
Battles over medical marijuana still stirring across California
Comic identifies symptoms of pot paranoia: 'Arresting people'
Pot legalization group pitches a revived California in the green
New Proposition 19 ad declares 'War on marijuana has failed'
Can Soros and his $1 million light up Proposition 19 comeback?
CalChamber radio ad depicts Reefer Madness in the workplace
Husband and wife medical pot providers spar over local taxes
Pot backers air Comedy Central ad, dress up for 'Sanity' rally

Remember to post your response by 8:00AM wednesday morning

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wikileaks and freedom of press (Post #21)

Last week the non-profit media organization, Wikileaks, published the largest media leak of classified documents in military history. Over 390,000 documents were released to the public outlining many of the events from the Iraq war. Some of the highlights of the information include:
  • Over 60% of deaths in the Iraq war are civilians
  • An average of 31 civilians die each day of the war
  • Use of military contractors added to the chaos in Iraq
  • Neighboring Iran has been sending money into Iraq to support the insurgents
Here is the introduction of the documents from the NY Times.

As media changes so do our politics. Do citizens have a right to these documents? Is it legal for classified documents like this be published? Since these documents show how bad things have been in Iraq will they lower the morale of troops or our citizens? How do these documents make you feel about our two presidents who have implemented policy in Iraq? Will internet sites like wikileaks make traditional media obsolete? Do these documents make a case for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

TV Attack Ads (Post #20)

The American political scene has been littered with attack-style campaigning ever since the earliest days of our Republic. For example, Thomas Jefferson was attacked for allegedly being an atheist in his 1800 presidential run. In modern-day politics the television has saturated us with copious amounts of advertising. Most of the ads are attacks on opponents. Why do you think there is so much emphasis on attack ads? Can someone win by running a "clean" campaign? Why is there so much emphasis on a candidate's image? Is there something about American culture that make us focus an an individual instead of the issues?

Watch the below ads for California Senate and tell me which one appeals to you more and why.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where's Osama? (Post #19)

As the war continues in Afghanistan nearly 10 years after the tragedy of 911 many Americans still ask where is Osama? We know that he and his terrorist organization Al Qaida, planned, trained for, and eventually carried the attacks of 911 with the Taliban government's support in Afghanistan. We had him cornered in the caves of Tora Bora when he escaped never to be seen again with the exception of the rare video or audio statement declaring war on the infidel. Where is he, why can't we find him? What's going on that the most powerful military in the world can't capture the most wanted man ever? Maybe it's just not as simple as it sounds a recent article (check the videos with the article) discusses the difficulty of this mission for the CIA. He could be protected by another government, friend or enemy. What do you think? Is Osama Bin Laden even important to us anymore? Should America make an effort to catch Osama? Is it worth it? Would it help bring peace in the war on terror? Please remember to be respectful to other bloggers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Proposition 21, Tough choices for park funding (Post #18)

Today California's 278 state parks are suffering from underfunding (see here) which has led to problems ranging from collapsing infrastructure to rising crime rates due to lack of rangers. Just last year the governor attempted to close state parks in California in an attempt to make up budget short falls, Californian's would not have it and parks remained open. Backers of Prop. 21 would like to add an extra $18 to every Californian's annual car registration fees. This would raise $500 million annually to support the parks, "the places that make California California." In return for the $18 Californians would have free day use at any state park. Several tax payer organizations oppose this proposition as "ballot box taxation," and are concerned about where the money will really go. How do you feel about this issue are people ready to pay an extra $18 per year? Does everyone use the the state park system? Is this a good way to generate funds? Are the state parks worth having? As always, please be respectful of other's opinions when blogging.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A different case of free speech - Snyder v. Phelps (Post #17)

A Kansas Church and its pastor (Phelps) have made news over the last few years and the case has now moved to the supreme court. The video below first appeared on 20/20 on ABC network. This story is a little old now as a federal appeals court has reversed the decision to award money to Snyder in damages. That court has ruled Snyder must now pay Phelps' legal fees. He has now appealed and we await the decision of the supreme court to determine whether Phelps is legally allowed to continue his church's activities.
Caution the language used may easily be considered offensive.  If you'd rather not take the chance of being offended do not watch and read this link instead with the same story.
As you discuss the case in your comments. Don't focus on the message too much.  Remember the Snyder family's son is not accused of being gay.  All soldier funerals are being targeted by the group.
Keep your comments respectful, don't try to overextend your own 1st amendment rights, remember you are students and the teachers have control over this forum.
Do they have a right of free speech in this case? Does the 1st amendment apply to their actions? If this qualifies as hate speech, does it inspire riots or violence?

Does the 1st amendment it allow them to freely exercise(practice) reglious beliefs in this matter?  Why do you think so?

Do their actions take away the rights of others? In this case, is it an invasion of privacy of the Snyder family?

Are cemeteries public places where protest is allowed?  Should they be?  Whose job would it be to make a law regarding that?

If they both have rights, whose outweigh the others and what should the Supreme Court decide?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are Video Games protected by the 1st Amendment? (Post #16)

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board currently rates video games, and many retailers restrict the sales of games marked "Mature" or "Adults Only," but those restrictions are voluntary. California passed a law in 2005 banning the sale of any game to minors deemed "excessively violent" by the attorney general.  Violent games are defined as those that include "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being,"; if the game lacks "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."  This law was struck down by a U.S. District Court and has been appealled to the Supreme Court

The music and movie industries also have voluntary ratings that let consumers know whether their products are suitable for minors.  There is no actual law or punishment on these, however.  Consider the following questions and submit by Wednesday morning at 8:00 AM.

Should a state be allowed to ban minors from "violent" video games?

What differences are there, if any, between a video game and a book or a movie?

Based on the definition above, do video games have "serious artistic value"?

Are you comfortable leaving the decision of what to ban up to the Attorney General?

Will this prevent minors from buying these games?

Under what circumstances, if any, would you say a game should be banned?

What consequences could there be for other forms of "entertainment" if the Supreme Court rules in favor of California?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Next Governor...? (Post #14)

This evening the first California gubernatorial debate took place. If you watched it, you may have noticed that there were only two candidates standing up there--Meg and Jerry. However, there are four other candidates representing the Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom and American Independent Parties also running for governor. Why weren't those candidates invited to the debate? Are they not invited because they have no chance of winning, or do they have no chance of winning because they are not invited to said debates? Here are the websites for ALL of the candidates.

Jerry Brown
Meg Whitman
Laura Wells
Dale Ogden
Chelene Nightingale
Carlos Alvarez

Which candidate appeals to you? Who would you vote for governor? Did you watch the debate? What did you think? Is there too much emphasis on image and not enough on substance?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Looking at the November Ballot: Proposition 23 (Post #13)

Californians will be voting on nine propositions in November. The focus of this blog post is Proposition 23 which, if passed by a majority vote, would freeze the state's movement to curb greenhouse gasses until the state's unemployment rate reaches 5.5% (or lower) for a full year. Proponents of the proposition argue that jobs are more important than addressing the abstract concept of climate change. Opponents of this measure, which include both major party candidates for governor, say that desperate action needs to be taken to address our dire climate issues.

Ultimately, this proposition is a referendum on climate change. Do we need to take action to address climate change or is it a scientific scam to keep business from making a profit? What are the opportunity costs and trade-offs of doing nothing about climate change? Should these decisions be made by popular vote of citizens?

Please cite your sources where necessary and keep your comments within the bounds of civility and good taste. Be sure to cast your vote in favor or opposed to this measure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

San Quentin Readies Refurbished Death Chamber (Post #12)

The death penalty is a very controversial issue and is in the news again. A brand new death chamber has been recently built at San Quentin Prison near San Francisco at a cost of $825,000. The current economic conditions in the state of California make this expenditure questionable at best. What is your opinion on that matter? There are many others issues surrounding the death penalty like; is this a form of cruel and unusual punishment? Does the state have the right to take a life? Is the death penalty an effective deterrent to violent crime?
Please always respect others and their opinions when you blog.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Route to Citizenship in Defense Bill (Post #11)

On Saturday the Wall Street Journal published an article about David Cho a student at UCLA and an illegal immigrant from South Korea who arrived in the U.S. twelve years ago at the age of nine. Mr. Cho is one of the 825,000 illegal immigrants who may gain american citizenship through the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors bill—informally known as the Dream Act. This act would give illegal aliens who came to the U.S. by the age of 15 and who had been in the U.S. for five years and graduated from high school legal residency for six years in return for two years of college or military service during that time. At that point the young person would be eligible for citizenship. Proponents of this bill argue that it would help military recruitment by adding patriotic soldiers and benefit the country as a whole by adding educated population. Opponents think this bill is a thinly veiled amnesty bill. What do you think? Would this bill help the military and america as a whole. Does service prove loyalty? Commitment to becoming a citizen? Does immigration policy belong in a defense bill? Could this be political theatre to gain votes in the coming midterm elections?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

President's Spech to Students (Post #10)

On Tuesday, President Obama gave his second address to K-12 students across the country. Last year, many teachers showed the speech in class and much controversy was made nationwide, with some parents opting to have their students stay home and not watch the event. Watch this year's video below (it's 20 minutes long, so you can jump around to get the idea, speech really starts at about 5:30 in). The written transcript is available if you have video or audio problems.  The message again this year is individual responsiblity.

Think about what it means for you as a student.  What it means for your younger siblings and cousins, your future children, and those growing up around you who are going to make up the adult population in the future.

Just freely share your thoughts on the topic of what it means to have personal responsibility and the importance of education.

Focus on the words and not so much the person

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Drug Testing in Schools (Post #9)

In the famous New Jersey v. TLO case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled schools have the right to search students and their possesions without a warrant if the search is necessary for the maintaining of order and safety.  Recently, a Shasta school district was prevented from drug testing students involved in extra-curricular activities including sports, choir, and clubs, randomly.  The California Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution includes the right to privacy and drug testing is a violation of the right.  The U.S Supreme Court, however, has ruled that schools may drug test randomly.  Share your thoughts including those in the questions below.

Do minors have the right to privacy, when the school seeks to discover if illegal actions have taken place (not directly refrring to drug testing in this question)?

Is something taken from a person's body and tested more private than their possessions?

Why do courts allow schools to drug test athletes only, but not these other groups, too?  Should there be any difference?  And what about students who are involved in no school activities, do they have more rights to privacy than student athtetes?

Do you know that your cars in the parking lot can be legally searched by school personnel if a sign were posted warning you?  Thoughts on this?

Why can California law be different from the laws in other states?

Make sure to post your responses by 8:00 AM Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nine-Year Anniversary of 9/11. Where are We Now? (Post #8)

Nine years ago this Saturday, 19 terrorists hijacked four airlines in the US and crashed them in acts of violence. Two of the planes struck the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York, a third hit the Pentagon in Virginia and the fourth crashed into an open field in Pennsylvania after the passengers tried to take over the plane. About 3,000 people were killed that day.

What does the ninth anniversary of these attacks mean to you?

Are you comfortable with how the U.S. responded? Are we safer today? Did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq pay off? Was the Patriot Act, a law that gives the government broad powers to watch over us, helpful in reducing terror?

Today, Americans are debating whether a Mosque should be built a few blocks from ground zero? Would that be a mistake? Why?

What is the appropriate way to honor the fallen and still respect the religious practices of fellow Americans? Where do we go from here? How should we do tribute to the fallen of 9/11, protect ourselves, and still respect the rights of fellow Americans and uphold the Constitution?

Please be respectful and civil in your responses. Provide links to your sources, when necessary.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Balancing Local Control with State and Federal Government (Post #7)

One of the enduring debates in the history of the United States is how much power the federal government should have versus how much power state or local government should have. This debate over the balance of power between states and the federal government resulted in a civil war that cost over 600,000 US lives. It also made for contentious debate over the role of the federal government in ensuring civil rights to blacks during the 20th century.

The debate over local control has come to Galt as well. The city of Galt has asked that the Wellness Center that operated as a medical marijuana dispensary shut its doors. The city of Galt went so far as to ask the Sacramento Superior court to issue an injunction forcing the business to close.

Should an issue like medical marijuana be handled at the local level like the city of Galt thinks it should? Should it be handled by the state government in Sacramento so the state itself has a uniform policy? Keep in mind that the federal government already has a provision in place outlawing medical marijuana. Additionally, the Supreme Court has ruled (Gonzales v Raich, 2005) that under the commerce clause the federal government has every right to prohibit local sales of marijuana even if the state has already allowed its use.

So how should our country handle an issue like medical marijuna? Should each local government make the decision? Should each state make a uniform policy or does the federal government have sufficient knowledge to make a law that impacts us in Galt? What would be best policy for our society? A uniform "war on drugs" policy from Washington, DC? A state-wide policy or a local decision? What is most fair to the citizens of the US/state/city of Galt? What is most democratic? Does the federal government have too much control as is?

Be sure to post before Wednesday at 8:00am and cite any sources used.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Was it worth it? (Post #6)

Tonight the president announced the formal end to Iraqi combat operations. While the United States will maintain a presence in that country for training and bureaucratic purposes the war is essentially over in Iraq for America. A recent CBS News poll showed some uncertainty on the part of some americans. The poll asked a small sample of people a variety of questions ranging from "do you support the war" to "do you think the result of the Iraq war was worth the loss of american lives." Was it worth it? Several experts weigh in on this difficult topic and their opinions (see here, opinions) may make a difference in what you think of this national endeavor. With the personal and national sacrifices made and the hundreds of billions spent, what do you think? Was it worth it? Are we more secure today? Whatever your opinion please be respectful of those who made the personal sacrifices necessary for our security.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is Big Brother Here? (Post #5)

Student GPS tracking is being considered by New Cannaan High in Connecticut. A story onABC News (see below) discusses the possibility of following students at school and everywhere else they go on their daily routine. The school district uses GPS tracking to follow the progress of school busses on their routes in the morning and afternoon and now the company that provides that service is offering to use the same technology to track individual students 24 hours a day. How would you feel if your school district had this technology? Would this impinge on your right to privacy? is it necessary for the school to know your every move? Is this an example of "helicopter" education like "helicopter" parenting? Helicopter parenting refers to parents who constantly hover over their children. In what way might this benefit the school? Can see any reason would a school have for implementing this policy? Might this be a help to students parents?
Remember to post your response by Weds. morning.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Testing Accountability (Post #4)

As a senior, you're done with the standardized testing at the end of the year, known currently as the CST's.  As you probably know, the government uses these tests to judge how well a school is teaching you what they have said you are supposed to know.  Now the trend is to take your scores and determined whether or not your teacher did a good job of teaching you.  From an outsider's perspective, its much easier to look at a number as a rating and draw some conclusions.  The LA Times was recently set to publish the names of
6000 teachers test scores to rank them.  This brings up a number of potential thoughts.

Do parents have the right to know a teacher's history of test scores?  Do teachers have the right to privacy in this matter?
As a student, how much of your CST score do you give credit or blame to your teachers (do not use their names, good or bad)?  What else impacts your test results?
Is it fair to have your teachers evaluated in their jobs based on all their students scores?  Is it fair to rate the school based on this data?  Why or why not?
What are things you have learned in school that cannot be measured on a multiple choice test?  What skills should schools teach to prepare you for college or your future careers?
What methods would you recommend to properly evaluate teachers?  What is the best way to measure how well the entire school is doing?

Add any other thoughts on the matter, but please be respectful in your comments of your school and teachers or you'll be removed and receive no credit.
Remember to post by Friday morning.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Teen Drinking, Who's Responsible? (Post #3)

The Teen Alcohol Safety Act of 2010, or AB2486, would allow party hosts to be sued if they serve alcohol to a minor who is subsequently injured or killed.  It was signed into law by the Governor last Wednesday.  While everyone acknowledges that is a violation of the law to serve alcohol to minors, the question of liability, or legal responsibility, is a main point to consider here.  Any teen drinking involves either a fake ID, no ID check, an adult buyer, or theft.  Where is the liability in each of these cases?

Is someone between the ages of 18-20, not responsible for their own decision to illegally drink?  Do the parents who knowingly allowed their teens to go to the party have less responsibility than the hosts?  Can adults at the party claim innocence if they simply leave the alcohol out and don't actually serve it?  If no one gets hurt, was it then okay to serve them alcohol?

Are drug dealers also liable for injury caused to their buyers?  What other kinds of comparisons can you make for a law like this?

This law does not apply to commercial venders: meaning bars, restaurants, liquor stores.  Why do you think that is the case?  Would the bill have been harder to pass? Why?

Does this law take away anyones rights?  Does it give rights to anyone?  What type of incentive is legislation like this? What behavior are they hoping to see changed? Do you see this law having any significant impact? Why or why not?

Please reply by Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Participatory System (Post #2)

A recent New York Times article describes how young people (ages 18-25) are not likely to participate this year's mid-term elections. Less than 25% of eligible voters in this age group are expected to vote this November. (Please read the linked article). Many experts argue that Obama won the 2008 presidential election largely because he inspired young voters to turn out at the ballot box. Looks like the tone has changed; young people have lost their motivation.

Sadly, seeing young people disengaged from the political system is nothing new. Why do young people frequently feel left out of the political system? What would make the young (and all age groups) participate more regularly in politics and voting? A potential law in California a few years ago would have given 17 year-olds a half a vote. Would that help? Why do citizens in other industrialized nations vote at higher levels than Americans? How would you change the current political system to appeal more to young voters?

On the economic side, how does the scarcity of young voters impact how politicians behave? What are the opportunity costs to our society of not voting?

Please reply to this post by the end of the week. Cite your sources when applicable.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What Does it Mean to Be American? (Post #1)

The United States is known as the Great Melting Pot. Immigrants have played a huge role in the development of this country. Yet, since the earliest days of this Republic immigrants have regularly faced prejudice by Americans who are already here. Currently, there is a movement to stop birth right citizenship to children born in the US of undocumented immigrants. (See the video below). Is that a good idea?

Ultimately, what does it mean to be a US citizen? What does the term "American" mean? Does a country operate best when all its citizens speak the same language, follow the same religion, and behave according to the same cultural beliefs? Or does having a diverse population make us stronger?

From an economic point of view, do immigrants help the economy or hurt it? What are the trade-offs of building taller walls and beefing up patrols at the border? Do immigrants fill a vital employment role?

Please feel free to respond to any of the above questions. It would be helpful if you could cite your sources when making claims that are not common knowledge. Remember to identify yourself and your teacher's name in your post.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Welcome Back to School Class of 2011

In an unprecedented move, 12th grade social science teachers Bauer, Phenix, and Sloan have created a current events discussion board for the entire senior class. Sunday and Tuesday night by midnight a new topic will be presented with internet links to a story in the news relating to government and/or economics. All students need to respond within two days to each blog throughout the school year. Your comments will not appear until one of the three instructors has seen it and approved it. Make sure to use your real name, so you can receive credit. Go ahead and try out the comment feature by clicking on it below. You should subscribe to the RSS feed and become a follower of the blog. The blogs are embedded within the teacher's websites and are accessible through most smart-phones. The first blog will be posted by Sunday night, the 15th and will be due by the beginning of school on Wednesday the 18th. Ask your instructor what the requirements are to receive full credit for your responses.

Respond to the following to practice how to post a reply:
  • What are your goals for your senior year?
  • Have you thought of what you want to do with your post-high school life?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Unemployment Levels Remain High

According to today's New York Times, with the U.S. economy's annual growth at a sluggish 2.4% growth and unemployment at a high level of 9%, the economic outlook does not look good. These national figures can impact the job market here in Galt. Can you describe the job market here in Galt? What companies are hiring and at what wages? Do you or your friends have a job? If so, what do they do?