Archive | Domestic Affairs

Resolved, that the Federal Government abolish the death penalty.

Thirty-five states, as well as the federal government and the military, have provisions for the death penalty; 52 executions were performed in 2009, 24 of them in Texas alone. Opponents of capital punishment have succeeded in abolishing it in fifteen states. They argue that state-sanctioned killing is immoral and that life sentences are a better way to punish heinous crimes. They claim that the death penalty is implemented unfairly, and that prisoners on death row may have suffered mistrial due to shoddy evidence. There is historical precedent for a federal ban on capital punishment: in 1972, the Supreme Court decision Furman v. Georgia launched an effective moratorium on it. However, executions resumed after the 1976 decision Gregg v. Georgia. Supporters of the death penalty say that executions bring a sense of justice to the victim’s families, and deter people from committing capital crimes. Others believe this should be a state issue, not a federal one. What should be done regarding the death penalty?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs3 Comments

Resolved, that the federal government privatize the Interstate Highway System.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways contains nearly 47,000 miles of road, financed through gasoline taxes and tolls. As the United States is now suffering record deficits, any extra cash would quell federal coffers. Some free-marketers advocate privatizing the highways to create profits for the government. Under this plan, private companies could buy or lease a particular stretch of road and charge drivers tolls for its upkeep. The federal government would no longer need to tax gasoline, road funding would follow the benefits principle, and highway companies would compete for drivers. Supporters of the status quo posit that roads are a natural monopoly, making government management necessary. A poorly-executed privatization could result in worse roads and a corrupt distribution of resources. What should we do with our highways?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs1 Comment

Thought Talk: What is the role of women in Congress?

The first woman elected to Congress was Jeanette Rankin, in 1917.  Since then, 260 women have been elected to either the House of Representatives or the Senate.  In the early years of women in the legislature, many Congresswomen tried to downplay their role as the outsider.  But by the 1970s, Congresswomen like Martha Griffith fought for women’s rights with legislation like the sexual discrimination clause in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the controversial Equal Rights Amendment of 1972.  And, in the modern era, the rise of many women leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton reflects a growing influence of women in the legislature.   Do women in Congress play a largely specific role, advocating solely for women’s rights?  Have women proven themselves as capable and apt legislators?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs1 Comment

Resolved, that federal funds be allocated for the creation of more offshore wind farms.

One of the fastest-growing sources of clean energy around the world, wind power is popular because of its abundance and its ability to provide communities with clean, local energy rather than imported fossil fuels. The United States recently passed Germany to become the country producing the most wind power, and the Department of Energy has estimated that wind power could account for 20% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2030.  Many attribute the success of wind power domestically to the offshore wind farms, which have provided coastal communities with clean energy and have been highly lauded for reducing water pollution.  However, the recession and economic stagnation have the potential to hinder the growth of the wind power in the United States.  Supporters of offshore wind farms acknowledge that the recent stimulus package included incentives for the creation of more wind farms, but they argue that more needs to be done.  Compared to other alternative sources of energy, like hydrogen or biofuel, wind power has the least negative impact. In spite of all that, detractors contend that offshore wind farms are noisy, loud, widespread, and expensive. Others note that though less expensive in comparison to other sources of energy, wind power is still expensive.  It costs municipalities and the government considerably to build wind farms that often malfunction or perform below capacity levels.  Some environmental activists even argue that wind farms disrupt the migratory patterns of birds and are prone to decapitate or mutilate birds that are unable to avoid the spinning turbines.  Should more federal funds be allocated to offshore wind farms?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Environment1 Comment

Resolved, that the United States remove its military bases from Europe.

Since the end of World War II in 1945 and the fall of the Soviet Bloc at the close of the Cold War in the early 1990’s, the United States has held a strong military presence in Europe, a continent which America has a fairly good relationship with. The United States currently has over 80,000 personnel stationed on the continent, over 55,000 of them stationed in Germany, according to a recent Defense Department report. Many of the installations within Europe serve as a vital connect point between the Middle East and the United States, as well with much of Asia. Over recent years, deployments to the continent have been cut drastically, by tens of thousands over the past decade. Many have advocated for the ending of the US involvement in the region, ultimately closing many of the bases within the continent, with more and more military personnel being directed to the Middle East, in order to alleviate the number of troops who are being sent back into wartime combat time and time again, after multiple tours of duty. Also, many feel that lesser military presence in Europe is the key to closing a huge budget shortfall in the United States military. But, to the contrary, proponents of an expanded U.S. military that the bases are vital to America’s security and continued prominence in the world. Should the United States close its military bases in Europe?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Military0 Comments

Resolved, that tenure in public education be abolished.

Tenure at private universities is divisive, so tenure for public schools is similarly divisive. Under the current system, if a (unionized) teacher survives a few years at a particular school, his or her career becomes fixed; the school cannot easily fire him or her, except for outrageous personal behavior. Opponents of tenure argue that this guaranteed employment keeps teachers who have passed their prime, preventing better ones from advancing and new ones from entering education altogether. Moreover, this artificial arrangement is the result of teachers’ unions, which they say have destroyed American public schools in many other ways. Tenure advocates, meanwhile, claim that teachers, who typically earn average or below-average incomes, need secure employment, and that students benefit from teachers with extensive experience. Also, tenure allows teachers to do things that may be initially unpopular but later prove to beneficial. Should we get rid of tenure in public education?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Education0 Comments

Grade Debate: Evaluate the legislative accomplishments of the 111th Congress (2009-2011).

The 111th United States Congress began during the last two weeks of the Bush administration and will last throughout the first two years of the Obama administration. Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein exclaimed “This is one of the most productive Congresses in history.” To summarize the direction of the accomplishments of the Congress, they were all designed to bring prosperity to America by creating jobs and helping small businesses, all aimed mostly for the middle class. Some say their hard times due to the failing economy were not alleviated by any bills Congress passed. Others spurn those who blame their hardships on the lack of work performed in Congress, pointing out Congress’s 16 months of bustling activity to improve economic conditions. Did Congress work to the best of its ability to assuage the adversity America is facing as a result of the financial downturn?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs1 Comment

Thought Talk: What are possible remedies for our stagnated bipartisan political system?

Undoubtedly, Congress has become incredibly divided, effectively making our country divided. Political tensions in Washington have reached a new peak, resulting in much criticism and frustration from the American people. With two forces pushing against each other, everything falls to a standstill. Solutions need to be found for our country to progress with both legislation and cooperation. Politicians are becoming increasingly more motivated by their own personal agendas and the partisan agendas of their party rather than by the country’s overall welfare and benefit. How can we make “working together toward a common goal” the main objective–indeed mandate–of Congress?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs2 Comments

Resolved, that private space companies can adequately handle NASA’s manned-space needs.

Since the Space Race of the 1960’s, the United States has dominated the field of space exploration, with NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. During this time, the Russian and Chinese governments have worked to create their own programs with such a caliber of the United States. But, most impressively has been the advancements made in the private industry. Space entrepreneurs have been greatly neglected for a number of years, even though it was private industry that the government turned to in the 1950’s and 1960’s when developing their own space programs. Many, including President Obama, have hinted that the next step in the expansion of the United States’ and ultimately the entire world’s role in space should be turned over to the private sector. Proponents of such a course of action point to the ultimately limitless funding it has, as many corporate powers, including Google, have financially supported such initiatives. Also, supporters believe that by keeping it out of the bureaucracy of government, the space technology will be able to greatly prosper. On the other hand, a number of individuals strongly believe that the primary efforts of space travel should be kept within the government, within the confines of NASA, in order to keep the nation’s strength against fellow key diplomatic players, namely China and Russia, as well as, the fact that such information is too important to let flow into the public domain. Would in fact, the future of the space industry be better off in the hands of the private sector, rather than NASA?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs3 Comments

Resolved, that all taxes on food be eliminated.

In various states throughout the nation, there exist sales taxes on different kinds of food. Some states, like Arkansas, tax unprepared food and groceries, while Georgia levies a tax on almost all foods. Opponents argue that government oversteps its boundaries when it taxes food. They maintain that the government has no right to intervene, claiming that taxes on food are essentially a form of price control. They also note that because food is essential to survival, taxes on food are inherently regressive.  However, many advocate the use of taxes not only as a way to increase government revenue but also as a way to fight the national epidemic of obesity.  Supporters of food taxes claim an estimated $1.5 billion could be gained annually with even a 1-cent tax per 12-ounce soft drink. Does the government overstep its bounds when it interferes in the free market, even if it encourages healthier lifestyles?  Should all taxes on food be eliminated?

~KS APR ’11

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Economics2 Comments