Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wisconsin Protests (Post #14)

Governor Scott Walker just passed legislation he deemed necessary due to his states budget shortfall. About two weeks before the of piece legislation got to the point of being voted on protests broke out and the state police had to be sent to find fourteen democrat legislators who left the state to stall the vote. Why all the drama over state budget cuts, see below, when they are happening across the nation? The real issue behind all the problems in the state of Wisconsin has to do with public workers unions and their right to collectively bargain in negotiations between employee and employer. Governor Walker is not completely stripping public workers of their rights but is definitely making serious inroads in that direction against long held, uniquely american labor rights. This issue has quickly divided the already partisan public of america into two distinct camps, one supporting union rights, and another who seem to blame some or all of our current state economic problems on unions. What is your opinion in this growing political battle? Do you support the Governor? Do you support the public workers like firefighters, police, and teachers? Are there other ways to meet the universal state budget crunch? Please respect the opinions of others when you blog.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Representative vs. Direct Democracy in California (Post #12)

To continue our theme from eariler this week, the topic of balancing the budget, many students failed to do so successfully without some raising of taxes.  Governor Brown promised in his campaign that he would not raise taxes without the voters approval.  The California legislature must pass all taxes with a two-thirds majority.  The Governor currently is proposing to have the state legislature vote to put a measure on the ballot this June that would extend taxes increased under Arnold Schwarzenegger that would otherwise expire in July.  The Governor has a plan to cut spending even further (mainly in education) to balance the budget should these taxes not be extended.  Click here to see what the results to budget would look like.  Recently, a state senator was quoted as saying that Republicans will not vote to put the tax measure on the June ballot.  Since Democrats are a majority of the legislature, they need only two or three Republican votes (depending on an upcoming special election) to pass the measure with two-thirds in the State Senate.
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

Balance the State Budget (Post #11)

Sorry folks, you're going to need a real computer for this one.  Your phone won't be able to handle the link.  Go to this website for Adobe Flashplayer if you have trouble with it.  And even though there is no school on Monday, it is still due on Wednesday.
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

Student Online Access (#10)

As many of you know the Galt Joint High School District blocks wikipedia, blogs, and Facebook (among other things) from school computers. Do you think this is a good policy or can you make the academic case for opening up Internet access to a wider selection of sites?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wal-Mart Good for Galt? (#9; due Wednesday)

A Sacramento Superior Court (using judicial review) recently ruled that the city of Galt can continue to move forward with the construction of a 133,000 square foot Wal-Mart. The court
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

Is she serious.....enough? (Post #8)

With the next presidential elections coming in 2012 the republicans are looking for a candidate to run against Barak Obama. The list of possible nominees is long with names like Mit Romney, Donald Trump, and Sarah Palin among others. Sarah Palin the former vice-presidential candidate, Governor of Alaska, and reality television star, is in the news again. After the State of the Union address she commented the president's speech using a fairly common acronym "WTF." The president was referring to "winning the future" Ms. Palin was not. She has been described as "folksy," unorthodox, funny, and cute. Are any of these terms appropriate to describe a future president? Does she possess the necessary gravitas? Would Ms. Palin have the ability to deal with the extremely serious position of President of the United States? What is your opinion in this matter? Would you be happy with President Palin or not? Please be respectful of other opinions when you blog.