Archive | Uncategorized

Thought Talk: Is freedom worth dying for?

Background: Freedom is commonly known as the quality or state of being free from oppression. Freedom can also be defined in the positive sense of the term, which involves having the liberty and resources to fulfill one’s own potential. The opposite of a free society is a totalitarian state, which highly restricts political freedom in order to regulate almost every aspect of behavior. In this sense ‘freedom’ refers solely to the relation of humans to other humans, and the only infringement on it is coercion by humans.

Posted in Uncategorized3 Comments

Resolved, that Civil War Reconstruction was a failure.

Background:   The Civil War Reconstruction, under President Andrew Johnson’s guidance, was a time period in which America readmitted the former Confederate States back into the Union after the Civil War.  Many laws and political decisions were made that altered the way the country was to be run. From deciding freedmen’s place in society, to building a brand new economy and legal system, the United States had a ways to go in terms of piecing the nation back together. The success of Reconstruction is constantly debated. In some ways it was helpful, but in others, manipulative and racist.

Posted in Uncategorized3 Comments

Thought Talk: Will stricter gun control and gun related punishments reduce the likelihood of more gun related crimes?

Background: With new technology, guns are becoming more and more dangerous. Many people are turning to stricter gun control laws as a solution to the issue, but will that be enough? There is a lot of concern as to whether strict laws will promote black market sales, making access to guns easier than ever before for people without licenses. However, with stricter gun control laws, the government will be better able to track who legally is able to have and use firearms, making rules and regulations more important with stricter repercussions.

Points of view:

  • After a 1997 incident  in England, the country completely outlawed gun use for citizens. However, as a result, gun related incidents nearly doubled since the ban was enacted.
  • Only criminals use guns in crimes. Therefore it seems obvious that most criminals won’t care about gun control laws, since they’re already breaking other laws to begin with.
  • Because guns will be more difficult to acquire, there will be less gun related incidents because there will be less guns.
  • With stricter gun control, licenses will be harder to come by, meaning that owners will have to be better trained in gun safety.

Sources:
– Gun Control isn’t Crime Control <http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3083618&page=1>
-Can stricter gun control laws decrease the rate of crimes involving guns?

<http://debates.juggle.com/can-stricter-gun-control-laws-decrease-the-rate-of-crimes-inv olving-guns>

Posted in Uncategorized0 Comments

Resolved, that the Federal Reserve be abolished.

Background: The current banking system started after a few very unstable decades between 1873 and 1908.  The House Committee on Banking and Finance presented Woodrow Wilson with what would become the Federal Reserve Act in 1912; it was passed in 1913.  The act was a compromise between private banks’ interests and populist sentiment.  The Great Depression led to the Banking Act of 1933, which required both that government collateral be compensation for the Fed’s notes and that banks’ holding companies to be examined by the Fed.  Since then the Fed has controlled liquidity and inflation, and some argue that it plays a crucial role in stabilizing the US economy. However, others argue that the Fed may actually exacerbate financial troubles in the United States.

Pro:

  • The Fed “creates” money and then loans it to our government; this requires exchanging         money for US bonds, thus creating an endless cycle of national debt.
  • The Fed is not a true government agency, but a private corporation owned by internal bankers whose goal is to turn profit.
  • The income tax was created to pay for the debt owed to the Fed for interest on the money they create and loan out to the U.S. government.
  • Knowing when booms and busts will occur leads Fed insiders to massive profits.

Con:

  • The Fed allowed for more people to get housing in the early 2000s by lowering mortgage rates. Thus, the Fed raises the standard of living.
  • It is impossible to avoid all boom-and-bust cycles, but the Fed has the ability to minimize the effects of them.
  • By not being a true government agency the Fed is not affected by political bias.
  • Days after September 11 the Fed had loaned over $45 billion, yet returned to its former levels of lending by the end of September to ensure the US economy was stable; this damped the effects of terrorism on our markets.

Sources:
– “Abolish The Federal Reserve.” Abolish the Federal Reserve. Web. 10 Feb. 2011. <http://www.abolishthefederalreserve.org/>.

–  “History of the Federal Reserve – Federal Reserve Education.” Featured News & Announcements – Federal Reserve Education. Web. 10 Feb. 2011. <http://www.federalreserveeducation.org/about-the-fed/history/>.

Posted in Uncategorized1 Comment

Resolved, that the U.S Government legalize industrial hemp.

Background: Hemp has a large list of potential industrial uses including textiles, paper, rope, fuel, construction materials, and biocomposites (biodegradable materials with medical applications). Since 2007, commercial success of hemp food products has grown considerably. While more hemp is exported to the United States than to any other country, the United States Government does not consistently distinguish between marijuana and the non-psychoactive Cannabis used for industrial and commercial purposes.

Posted in Uncategorized2 Comments

Resolved, That the 14th Amendment does not protect against sexual or sexual-orientation discrimination.

Background: The 14th Amendment states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside….[No] State [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Historically, this amendment has served three purposes: 1) to allow African Americans full citizenship, 2) to ensure due process to all citizens, and 3) to require states to provide equal protection to all citizens. In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld that women are also protected by this amendment. However, in January 2011, notable conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated that while the Constitution does not disallow the passage of legislation outlawing sexist discrimination, the amendment itself does not prohibit discrimination against women.

Pro:

  • Scalia maintains that the Constitution should be interpreted literally, and nothing in the amendment’s language specifies women.
  • As with any historical document, historical circumstance is key to understanding the true intent of a text.
  • America needs democracy and the passage of legislation, not the Constitution, to keep things up to date with modern values.

Con:

  • Scalia’s opinion runs contrary to decades of judges who have used the 14th to protect against sex discrimination.
  • The logical extension of his opinion is that other minority groups not expressly mentioned should also lose their protection.
  • “Original intent” of the Constitution does not matter anymore; America cannot continue to be ruled by a stagnant piece of paper that codifies values from the 18th century.

Sources:
The Huffinton Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/03/scalia-women-discrimination-constitution_n_803813.html)
CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20027240-503544.html)
The California Lawyer (http://www.callawyer.com/story.cfm?eid=913358&evid=1)

KS/APR/11

Posted in Uncategorized2 Comments

Resolved, that imperialism was beneficial to the developing world.

Background: According to The Dictionary of Human Geography, imperialism is the creation and maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination.  Beginning in the 1850’s, world superpowers, such as Britain, France, and Germany, began setting up imperialistic colonies in Africa, enabled to do so by four things:  guns, gold glory, and God.  Some historians claim that imperialism damaged Africa, setting the stage for wars, coups, and genocides.  However, other historians argue that without imperialism, Africa would be very different today.

KS/APR/11

Posted in Uncategorized2 Comments

Resolved, that as per the theory of “social entropy,” all our social systems will eventually dissolve into chaos.

Background: Social Entropy is a theory about the inevitable destruction of sociopolitical systems. A Social Entropist believes that each individual political and social theory is merely a step along the path towards what they believe is mankind’s inevitable and final evolution of political government: anarchy. The essential argument for social entropy is that political systems become less efficient as they increase in complexity, causing the political energies of a society to become depleted and tend towards anarchy. While Social Entropists point towards functions such as universal suffrage as causes of Social Entropy, opposing theorists point towards the breakdown of ethics, policy, legitimacy, and other factors as being responsible for the destruction of societies and states.

Pro:

  • Practices such as universal suffrage destroy the political energies of a nation.
  • Failed states tend to lead to Anarchy.
  • Anarchy may not currently be viewed as practical, but over time it will become the only moral and practical system.

Con:

  • If Social Entropy is inevitable, political institutions would not have been created in the first place.
  • Social Entropy is an overly negative and unrealistic political view.
  • Anarchy is largely not a desired political system, so few will ever advocate it.

Sources:
– Social Entropy (http://nexialinstitute.com/social_entropy.html)
– Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_entropy)

Posted in Uncategorized6 Comments

Thought Talk: What obligations should nation-states have to those seeking asylum?

Background: When the Tunisian dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power following protests, his family was denied asylum in the US. The Obama administration felt it would be too dangerous to allow such politically charged figures to be granted sanctuary. This rationale extended to deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was also denied asylum. However, some asylum seekers possess lower political profiles, from people such as the ballet dancer and Chinese defector Li Cunxin to immigrants fleeing tyranny. The question of asylum relates to the deeper question of international interdependence.

Points of view:

  • Asylum seekers should be uniformly turned away, as nations should not tie their fortunes too closely to other countries’ affairs.
  • So long as the person is not a criminal, a nation has a social responsibility to accept them as a citizen.
  • We are all citizens of the world, and are thus obligated to help others.

Sources:
–  Al Arabiya News Channel (http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/01/15/133543.html)
– Cuban Immigration to the United States (http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/cubaimmigration.html)
-Li Cunxin (http://www.licunxin.com/)

Posted in Uncategorized1 Comment

Resolved, there is no such thing as an American identity.

Background: Historically, America has been a land of great diversity and promise, and the “American Dream” represents the freedom to do what you want to do. The question of American Identity is whether an individual bears more loyalty to his culture of origin or to that of the United States. There is still uncertainty as to whether a true American Identity actually exists today.

Pro:

  • A society that is proud of being diverse cannot claim to have an all encompassing identity.
  • People come to America to be what they want to be in a land of opportunity, not to fit into a mold.
  • As evidenced by internal debate and disagreement in government, we don’t have one identity or way of doing things.

Con:

  • The basis of the American identity is freedom of expression.
  • Our global identity is one of democracy, power, and freedom. No matter how diverse our people are, we make a singular global impression.
  • The American identity is a particular mindset that does not necessarily preclude other cultures.

Sources:
-American Identity: Ideas, Not Ethnicity. <http://www.america.gov/st/peopleplace

english/2008/February/20080307154033ebyessedo0.5349237.html>

-Searching for the Elusive American Identity <http://amerids.blogspot.com/2006/05/searching-

for-elusive-american.html>

Posted in Uncategorized1 Comment