Saturday, December 31, 2011
Athlete safety: requires school districts to develop a process for identifying cases in which students suffer concussions in sports mishaps and require a parent to give written permission for the athlete to return to the lineup.
Baby food: bans stores from selling expired infant food and formula.
Bail: requires that people extradited to California to face criminal charges face $100,000 in bail in addition to any bail already issued for the underlying offense.
Beer: bars the importation, production and sale of beer to which caffeine has been directly added as a separate ingredient, in response to incidents in which young people have been hospitalized with severe intoxication after drinking the beverages.
Child actors: streamlines the process for obtaining state permission for minors to work in the entertainment industry by allowing parents to get temporary permits online rather than through the mail.
Drunk drivers: authorizes courts to revoke, for up to a decade, the driver's license of any person convicted of three or more DUIs in a 10-year period. Another law bars police agencies that set up drunk-driving checkpoints from impounding cars from sober but unlicensed drivers if there is a legal driver available to take the wheel.
Elder abuse: allows wage garnishments against anyone convicted of elder abuse or financial abuse of a dependent adult.
Food stamps: eliminates the requirement that food stamp recipients be fingerprinted to prevent fraud. Another law calls for state agencies to promote more enrollment in the federal food stamp program.
Infused drinks: allows bars to infuse alcohol with fruits and vegetables for use in cocktails.
Lying politicians: forces elected officials to forfeit office if convicted of falsely claiming they have been awarded military decorations.
Marijuana: gives cities and counties clearer authority to regulate the location and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. Another law creates new penalties for the possession of synthetic cannabis products, which have been sold in convenience stores and tobacco shops.
Puppies: outlaws the selling of live animals on any street, sidewalk, parking lot or other public right-of-way.
Raves: requires any state agency that plans an event with more than 10,000 people on state property to conduct a threat assessment before the event.
Restaurants: may use up their supplies of shark fins — a delicacy in Chinese cooking — purchased before Jan. 1. After that, sale and possession of shark fins will be illegal.
Student government: authorizes illegal immigrants who are students to receive grants, fee waivers and reimbursement for serving in student government at public colleges.
What are your thoughts on these new laws? Would you like to suggest a law of your own?
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Would you support a federal law on e-commerce companies? Do you believe that e-commerce companies should pay sales taxes at all? You do understand who will probably pay higher prices as a result of states enforcing these tax rules, right?
Sunday, November 13, 2011
It seems, however, that the Republican field is suffering a bunch of self-inflicted wounds. Rick Perry can't seem to remember which agencies he wants to cut. Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, has to deal with the fact that when he was governor of Massachusetts he implemented a health care law that looks suspiciously like the one Obama pushed through Congress. Also, will his religion be an issue with voters? Another candidate, Herman Cain, has been accused of sexual harassment by a number of women that he used to work with.
All of this begs the questions: should any of these issues matter for individuals running for president? And, what qualities matter for someone interested in running for president?
Sunday, November 6, 2011
The citizen group is prepared to collect signatures to put this issue on the local ballot. Would you sign the petition? Would you vote for unification when/if it is on a future ballot?
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Netflix went through a similar public outcry when it attempted to break up its website and not offer DVD-by-mail and movie streaming on the same website.
Both of these are examples of the customer making a difference by voicing opposition and refusing to use the services involved. Can you think of another item in society that might cause people to get upset? What could you do to see the business change its practices?
Saturday, October 22, 2011
How far does a teacher's free speech rights go? Could a student who posted something derogatory on Facebook be held accountable by the school as well?
Sunday, October 16, 2011
At what point do these sports become too violent? Does society have a responsibility to demand safer working conditions for athletes? Or should these sports industries be free to make money at any expense?
Keep in mind NASCAR and the NFL are both billion dollar a year industries. Is there a cost for our demand for violent sports?
Monday, October 3, 2011
These protests are focusing attention on Wall Street greed and the fact that no executives have been arrested for the economic meltdown of 2008 and the current stagnant economy. They are protesting high unemployment rates of over 9%. Poverty rates are at 15.1% now. These protesters are also pointing out the growing inequality in America.
Watch a video of the protest.
Do you wish these protesters well? Would you want to join these protesters? Yes or no?
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
"A handful of advocates, armed with nothing more than their keyboards, have put many of the country’s largest retailers, including Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and Wal-Mart, on the spot over their indirect and, until recently, unnoticed roles in funneling money to Christian groups that are vocal in opposing homosexuality.
The advocates are demanding that the retailers end their association with an Internet marketer that gets a commission from the retailers for each online customer it gives them. It is a routine arrangement on hundreds of e-commerce sites, but with a twist here: a share of the commission that retailers pay is donated to a Christian charity of the buyer’s choice, from a list that includes prominent conservative evangelical groups like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family."
In other words, this Internet marketer would drum up customers for these businesses and then funnel their commission to controversial causes.
If you were a business, would you worry about whether the groups you were associating with had controversial positions on social issues, in this case homosexuality? If you were an owner of Apple, would you buckle to the pressure to quit your association with Internet marketers that give you customers but also advocate controversial ideas?
How does supply and demand impact your decision?
On another note, should Galt get a tattoo parlor?
Monday, September 19, 2011
- will legalization increase or decrease supply?
- will demand spike as a result of legalization?
- Will government profit by charging taxes? Reducing the number of criminals in prison?
When you post, please cite any research that you have conducted.
Monday, September 12, 2011
- What restaurant do you like the best for lunch? Why?
- What gas station do you buy gas at? Why?
- Where do you buy your clothes? Why?
- What kind of breakfast cereal do you prefer? Why?
Sunday, September 4, 2011
You were in 2nd grade when the attacks occurred. What were you doing when you first heard the news? What can you tell me about the attacks? Do you feel safe from terrorist attacks? Have the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq paid off? Do you have any other thoughts about 9/11 you would like to share? Where do we go from here?
Sunday, August 28, 2011
What do you say about those who chose not to purchase natural disaster insurance? Do we have an obligation to assist those who suffered through these disasters? If so, how much help do they deserve or need? Who should decide?
Essentially, what role should the government play? What would Marx and Smith say? Would you pay more in taxes to help these people? Or would you be willing to cut other government programs to offset the help?
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Sacramento has some interesting questions to answer. How much city tax dollars should be used to fund a new arena? Would a new downtown arena provide enough tax dollars and new jobs to cover the costs? Should governments be in the business of enticing sports teams to move to their cities and provide tax incentives to do so? A new 70-member commission named "Here We Build" will release a report in September outlining the feasibility of a new downtown arena.
- Should Sacramento try to keep the Kings with a new downtown arena?
- Should tax dollars be used for the new arena?
- In general, do cities and states benefit from having sports franchises and, if so, what should they do to keep them?
Sunday, August 14, 2011
But as you can see, the cost of college is increasing rapidly.
The military offers some incentives for you to join.
What are the trade-offs and opportunity costs of these decisions? Which one makes the most sense for you? Why? Our in-class debate on Friday will deal with this topic.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Also, don't forget to brag about your summer plans the past couple of months. What exciting adventures did you participate in?
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Please add any other thoughts about the bin Laden killing and the war on terror that you think might be relevant.
UPDATE: The Obama administration has decided not to release any photos of the dead bin Laden. Wise decision?
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Here is the background as told by this article:
"The Concepcions, the California couple who filed the case, went to court contending that AT&T misled them when it billed them $30.22 for a cell phone that was supposedly free. Because there was reason to believe the charges were widespread - the carrier said it was simply assessing sales tax for the actual cost of a subsidized phone - their lawyers filed the case as a class action.
AT&T fought them on procedural grounds: It said the Concepcions had no right to be in court at all, because their contract with the carrier required that disputes be resolved via arbitration. And it said they also had no right to claim that other customers were similarly harmed, because the Concepcions' contract with AT&T barred them from joining in a class action - in court or before an arbitrator.
AT&T's solution? Customers who felt wronged could try to get their money back by filing individually for arbitration. And the company touted its unusually consumer-friendly arbitration process, under which a successful claimant could get lawyers' fees and even a bonus award of $7,500 - if the arbitrator found he or she was entitled to more than AT&T's final offer.
Ruling in AT&T's favor, Justice Antonin Scalia said the case turned on a 1925 law, the Federal Arbitration Act, that he said preempted California state law. "Arbitration is a matter of contract," Scalia wrote, "and the FAA requires courts to honor parties' expectations."
What's the problem with Scalia's ruling? Unless Congress intervenes, the court has essentially allowed any company that deals with consumers to mistreat them with impunity. By writing a contract that mandates arbitration and at the same time bars class actions, a company can insulate itself from the only kind of legal challenge - a class action - that can deal with a large number of small-dollar wrongs."
Does this ruling seem fair? How much power should corporations have compared to consumers? Should Congress intervene and pass a law or Constitutional amendment to work around this ruling?
What about the concept of federalism? The court is clearly holding a 1925 federal law supreme over state law. Are you pleased with that?
On another tangent, should federal judges have term limits? Should citizens be allowed to conduct a national referendum to repeal Supreme Court rulings?
Please express your thoughts with civility and respect.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Over the years, the history of African Americans, Native americans, women, and many other immigrant ethnic groups have been added to history requirements. How is this similar or different?
While sharing your opionion about the teaching of gay history, refrain from lifestyle judgements or rude comments. You will be deleted, fail to receive credit and possibly school actions depending on the severity of your comments.
Read the linked article above to see arguments on both sides.
Do you believe this should be added to public school curriculum or not? If so, what grades might be appropriate? Give your reasoning.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Currently, California has a winner-take-all approach. Whichever candidate wins the popular vote in California essentially wins all 55 of California's Electoral votes. For example, Obama won the popular vote by 24% over McCain so he received all 55 of California's Electoral votes. If Obama had only won by .01% he still would have won all of California's Electoral votes. Either way, public opinion polls showed that Obama would cruise to victory so neither candidate spent any time campaigning in California. This bill would attempt to bring California, which has over 12% of the nations' voters, back into play.
Normally, the only way to change the Electoral College is to amend the Constitution but that requires 2/3rds of a vote in Congress and ratification by 3/4th of the states. This is a tall task. Instead this bill relies on Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution which allows states to make interstate compacts (agreements) and Article II, section I which allows states to decide how it wants to allocate its Electoral votes.
Here is what the bill would do: California would award its 55 Electoral votes to the nation-wide popular vote winner. In other words, whichever candidate wins the most votes across the country would get all of California's Electoral votes. If states with Electoral votes totaling 270 (out of 538 possible) or more decide to join this interstate compact, then it becomes official and the next president of the United States will be elected through popular vote.
If you were a state politician would you vote for this bill? Why? Why not?
Here is an argument against the bill.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
The Supreme Court has ruled that for a state to require a company to charge and collect a sale eBay and Amazon are fighting this movement.
Do you think it is a wise idea for states to ask companies to collect sales taxes for online sales across state lines? Is this something the federal government (Congress) should take up based on the Commerce Clause?
Is this a fair tax? Your thoughts?
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Most incentives for the test affect schools and jobs. Schools with low scores can be closed and Principals and teachers can be fired. By 2014, the federal law dictates, 100% of public school students must be 'proficient' in math and reading. If not, a school can face replacement of its entire staff.
Some states and localities have rewards as well, including up to $25,000 bonuses for teachers with good scores and improvement. So what are the consequences of high rewards and high punishments?
Schools in Washington D.C. have joined a list of schools around the country under investigation for irregularities in their testing on statewide standardized tests. The claim is that cheating is occurring, including one teacher in Ohio who gave his class the answers to study before the test. Read the article, so you have some basis to add to your answers.
Cheating already occurs among students on tests that affect their grades.
Does making a test count encourage more cheating? For example, compare a practice test or CST before the grade bump to a normal in class test or a final exam.
What do you think the overall results of offering a letter grade increase will do to CST test scores?
Do all teachers do enough to prevent cheating? Give examples if you know some.
If money were an incentive, would that make people work harder or just be more dishonest or both?
If you might get fired over low test scores, is cheating worth saving your job?
What then is the solution? How do we get students and teachers and schools to educate and assess and care about the results?
Big question I know, but give it a shot.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
What service, if any, do you currently have?
How do you think AT&T will benefit from the deal?
If the telecommunications industry is an oligopoly(market dominated by a few) already, what will be the effect of reduced competition?
What will be the effect on quality, service, and price in your informed opinion?
Why might the FCC and department of Justice block the sale?
AT&T claims that consumers will benefit from the merge. Are there economies of scale (larger companies result in lower costs than smaller companies) in this industry?
Are you in favor of this merger? Why or why not?
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Read and answer questions on any one of the links and stories below. After answering them, include this question at the end: what could the U.S. could learn from this experience?
The cost of rebuilding will put burden on Japanese debt which is already one of the highest in the world.
Who will pay for the rebuilding in Japan?
How will Japan finance this debt?
Why do they already have such a big problem?
Production of energy is vital to operate a nation's industry. With the loss of nuclear plants, Japan must rely more on natural gas and foreign petroleum. This impact on foreign oil may affect prices throughout the world.
What affect could this have on the U.S. Economy? Why?
Why would other nations look to buy Japanese yen in this situation?
How would we benefit from this?
The World Bank is an nongovernmental international organization whose purpose is to assist nations with loans. They forecast a temporary slowdown of the Japanese economy, followed by a recovery. Read the article on the link.
Based on the reading, explain in your own words how an economy's GDP could benefit from this situation?
Be specific to what is happening to Japan and how that relates to a nation's GDP.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The question becomes: should the government step in to regulate the price of gas?
A free-market advocate would argue that the increase in gas prices and the record profits of the oil companies are results of the finest aspects of capitalism. Oil companies are simply passing along the cost of the crises in the Middle East and consumers in America are not willing to adjust their lifestyles or purchasing patterns to keep costs down. Free market advocates would also argue that taxing oil companies or charging them a "obsessive profit" tax would undermine the incentive oil companies have to supply more of their product.
Regulators, on the other hand, would argue that since oil companies are making record profits at the expense of consumers who are tied into a car culture (inelastic demand?) that they cannot quickly change, the government should regulate. This regulation could keep the price of gas down while still allowing for a more modest profit for the oil companies. In this way, the government could also keep the modest economic recovery from falling apart.
Where do you stand? Regulate on oil companies or let the market take its natural course? Where do you think the major political parties stand on this issue?
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The national unemployment rate dropped to 8.9% last week.
The California legislature increased community college costs $10 a unit, making a 12 unit semester cost $432 dollars. Costs and four-year colleges are escalating as well.
While the military offers various opportunities, you are obligated to serve for a specific amount of time and you may be sent to one of the several active war zones.
For profit private institutions such as Heald and DeVry are very expensive and have been under scrutiny by the federal government.
To summarize: the employment outlook may be improving while college costs continue to rise. The military, as usual, provides some opportunities but it also controls your time. What route do you see yourself taking and why? What are the opportunity costs and trade offs of your decision?
Where will you be one year from now?
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Since we are a representative democracy, our legislature is elected to vote on budgets, taxes, laws, etc. But we also have the inititative and referendum which allow California voters to directly pass laws, taxes, and other concerns affecting the state.
So here are the questions:
Should lawmakers directly vote on the taxes for us? (meaning have them vote yes or no) or is this a topic that citizens should get to decide? (whether or not you would vote for it) explain why
What influence do constituents have on their local state senators and assemblypersons that might impact the budget and/or this measure being placed on the ballot? (what could someone do, if anything)
If the measures are placed on the ballot in June, seeing what the consequences are (linked above), what are your thoughts? You may discuss how you might vote, but if that is private to you, then discuss the consequence of either the tax increase or the cut in spending or both.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
California is facing a $27.6 billion deficit over the next 18 months. The single largest area of spending is K-12, community college, CSU, and UC education. Click on this link here to balance the state of California's budget with a gadget provided by the Sacramento Bee. Right click on it and choose to open it as a new tab or window, so you can reference this page as well.
Your assignment is to go through all of the spending categories and choose which ones to cut. Once you've done this, answer the questions below. Go ahead and answer them in narrative form (meaning write it as a paragraph) and address those questions that were the most relevant to how you thought and felt about this exercise. Good luck.
How easy or hard did you find it to balance the budget?
What was easy for you to cut? Were there any cuts you made that were difficult for you? Which ones?
What did you think of Governor Brown's proposals? Did they go too far or not far enough? Why?
Did you need to raise taxes to balance the budet (those were the ones that added revenue)?
Which taxes, if any, were you most comfortable raising?
If everything you chose actually happened, what would be the effect on California? Show you understand the costs of your decisions.
Since overall, this was a fairly easy exercise in balancing the budget, why do you think our government has such a hard time doing it? Think about your answer.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
ruled that the environmental documents necessary for such a project do not need to be revisited. There still are other hurdles the company and city need to overcome before Wal-Mart becomes official but estimates now put ground breaking sometime around spring 2012.
Naturally, there are many trade-offs and opportunity costs associated with the establishment of a Wal-Mart in Galt. How will it impact pollution, traffic and property values? Will other local businesses suffer? Will the tax revenue that Wal-Mart brings in be worth the costs? How many jobs will this create and will they be good jobs?
On another level, we see the role of local government: our federal system allows for local decisions to be made by local governments, in this case the Galt City Council. Is the Council making a wise decision?
What are your thoughts on the very real possibility that Wal-Mart may soon be part of the Galt scene?
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Do you agree with his view on American jobs past, present, and future? Are you as optimistic for the country as he is (short term, long term)? Will we continue to lead or be passed up by nations like China?
Are you optimistic for yourself? Has your education prepared you for the world? Will it when you have finished? What will your role in the economy be?
What will it take on the part of citizens (not the government) to improve America's economic future? What can the government to do help?
Post your responses by Friday.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
The problem is that not nearly enough of these organs are available and people in need are placed on lists during which time many die while waiting their turn--having never received their donor organs because of the shortage of organs. The only incentive is the rewarding feeling of helping someone else and obviously that isn't enough to solve the problem. A blackmarket exists in some countries where those with enough money can find an organ while those without cannot.
In the nation of Israel, they have a long history of problems getting organs. "Most Jews are under the mistaken impression that traditional Jewish law requires a body be buried whole at all costs," according to Robby Berman. So in 2008, a law was passed in Israel to give donor card carriers a legal right to priority treatment if they should require an organ transplant. Also, families who agree to donate the organs of deceased loved ones may accept money to "memorialize" the deceased. These decisions to donate must be made by the individual while they are alive in order to qualify. So, Israel has become the 1st nation in the world to legally do both of these things.
Read either linked article underlined blue above and consider the following questions.
Are you an organ donor or do you plan to be one?
What could be done to help encourage your decision or the decisions of others to become one?
If you needed a kidney or other organ, how far would you go to get one?
What should the United States do to increase the quantity of organs available for transplant?
Consider and explain both the pros(benefits) and cons(costs) of the idea you present.
Please post your comments by Wednesday Jan. 26
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
This amendment was passed after the Civil War in light of the South's tendency to deprive slaves basic citizenship rights. For over 100 years since the passage of this amendment babies born in the United States have been granted US citizenship.
More recently, however, there are calls from some politicians to change what they call the "anchor baby" loophole. Proponents of this change argue that a large number of illegal immigrants take advantage of the 14th amendment by sneaking over the border, giving birth, and then reaping the benefits of citizenship for their family because the child born here is a US citizen.
Arguments in favor of birthright citizenship.
Arguments in favor of ending birthright citizenship.
Here is your task:
- Does the original intent to the authors of the 14th amendment matter? Did they really think their amendment would apply to so-called "anchor babies?" Does it?
- Should the 14th amendment be amended to prevent babies of illegal immigrants from being granted citizenship rights by birth?
- Should citizenship be based on where you are born or what the citizenship rights of your parents are?
Definition of jus sanguinis
Please use good judgment in your responses.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
This issue brings up a wider discussion of the term "original intent." Much debate has taken place over what our Founding fathers intended for the Constitution and whether their original intent is being followed by our current politicians. But did all our Founding Fathers agree on the original intent of the Constitution and if so can we accurately decipher what that intent was over 225 years later? Additionally, is their original intent still relevant to us in 2011?
With that said, what was the original intent of the founding fathers regarding the 2nd amendment and our right to bear arms? Here is what the 2nd amendment reads:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Does this amendment refer to our personal rights to bear arms or is this a right from a bygone era where states were responsible for raising an army and protecting its people with militias.
Incidentally, the Supreme Court has not made many rulings on the 2nd amendment over the course of our history but most significantly, it did rule in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that individuals have a personal right to bear arms in federal enclaves (Washington D.C.) outside the jurisdiction of a militia. The Court will soon rule on whether individuals have that right in the 50 states.
But what would our Founding Fathers say about the status of guns in society in 2011? Would they hold true to their 18th century beliefs or would they see a need to adjust to the needs of our current society? Do we need to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government in the same way our ancestors did in the 1700s?
Current Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer argues that our Founding Fathers would support gun control.
Original intent: Federalist #29 on the militia.
Here is your task:
- Can you accurately determine what the original intent of the Founders was on the issue of gun rights? Be sure to cite your information.
- Do you believe the Founding Fathers would approach the issue of gun rights the same way today? Explain and defend yourself.