RE: Government Through the Looking Glass: Eliminating the Electoral College

My classmate, Erin, had this to say. Here is what I think:

I aslo believe that the Electoral College is an extremely outdated method of electing our country's leaders. When it was established, most citizens were workers and did not have an education. Now the majority of Americans have high school diploma or equivalent. And with the instantaneousness and vast amount of information and news these days with the internet, we have no problem researching the candidates on our own and casting the vote. I agree with Erin that we should adopt a direct democracy. This would also prevent another situation where the candidate wins the poular vote but loses the election becuase of the Electoral College.


Presidential Morality

It seems that the American population definitely holds the President and presidential candidates to highter moral standards that we would our average citizen. They are, after all, role models in addition to leaders. But sometimes I wonder of that really makes a difference in whether or not someone can properly lead a country. This topic comes to mind because of the recent allegations that have come up against Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain. He has been accused of having affairs with several women. I am almost certain that if President Clinton's scadalous past had come to light before either of his elections into office, he would not have been victorious. And he is considered by some (me included) to be one of our greatest presidents. His moral dilemma could have kept him out of office based on his dishonest decisions made in his personal life. I mean, what if Herman Cain is the guy that could turn our economy around, and because of these allegations is not given the chance?

I aslo believe that if the internet and the numerous amounts of instantaneous news outlets were around in the past, there would have been a countless number of Presidents examined under the microscope for their moral judgement. I mean, we've all heard the JFK and Marilyn Monroe rumors, right? But in this day and age, if you want to run for president or have any sort of political career, be sure you have a sqeaky clean life.


RE: Governmental Governance: Tolerating Intolerance

My classmate, Andrea, had this to say. Here is what I think:

The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state. The term is an offshoot of the phrase, "wall of separation between church and state," as written by Thomas Jefferson. Many early immigrant groups traveled to America to worship freely. Because we live in a country that stresses this freedom then it should be upheld.

People that disagree with homosexual relationships base it on scripture from The Bible and religious beliefs. If that is what certain individuals believe – ok, have those beliefs. But our government is not here to restrict people from having basic human rights. It is discrimination. Period. I am sure that my grandchildren will be disgusted that I grew up in a time where homosexuals do not have the same right and freedom to marry whoever they choose, just as I am appalled that my grandmother was born without the right to vote and my parents went to segregated schools. America represents freedom and equality. I do have faith that homosexuals will have all the same rights and freedoms as heterosexuals in my lifetime. Hopefully, it will be sooner than later.


We are the 99%

Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing series of demonstrations. They are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and corporate power and their influence over government and of lobbyists. "We are the 99%" refers to the difference in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. This movement symbolizes a rise of direct democracy that hasn’t been since ancient times.

In a nutshell, “They want more and better jobs, more equal distribution of income, less profit (or no profit) for banks, lower compensation for bankers, and more strictures on banks with regard to negotiating consumer services such as mortgages and debit cards. They also want to reduce the influence that corporations—financial firms in particular—wield in politics, and they want a more populist set of government priorities: bailouts for student debtors and mortgage holders, not just for banks.”

If the government is going to bail out the big banks and giant corporations, they need to also help out the 99% that are getting screwed. It’s like when I was in elementary school and on Valentine’s Day, I had to bring a Valentine card to everyone in the class, not just my friends. The government is only willing to help out the 1% because that is where the money comes from – from their “friends.” It isn’t fair. I know that in elementary school it was more about not having my feelings hurt or hurting the feelings of my classmates, but with the bail outs, it’s more than just feelings – it is our lives and the lives of our families and their well-being.


Occupied - What Now?

Occupy Wall Street has been an extremely hot topic in the recent weeks so I thought of no better topic than this to blog about. Occupied – What Now? by David Swanson on The Smirking Chimp is a great blog about what comes next in the Occupy Wall Street protests. The participants of the protests are mainly protesting against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government, among other concerns. He suggests ways on how to nonviolently keep the protests alive and in new ways. He suggests setting up permanent encampments in town squares with free medical clinics and legal services. My favorite suggestion of his was his idea that instead of closing down public roads, which would be disruptive for the daily lives of the 99% not being targeted, that they block driveways of the 1%. Set up at their homes with breakfast and coffee and do not allow them to leave until they answer some questions regarding what direction they will take out country. All nonviolently, of course!

I believe that the big question when it comes to protests like this is always, what’s next? This gives good suggestions on how to keep the movement going. I feel that a lot of times things like this can almost become a “fad”. Will we be talking about Occupy Wall Street next week? Next month? Hopefully this read will be a good way to let people know that there is a next step.

He also talked about that Saturday, October 15th is International Day of Action.  “This is an opportunity to build an international movement to oppose the international corporations that fund the elections of U.S. politicians, write our trade policies, and set our national course toward that cliff just up ahead. Let's make this into a show of brotherhood and sisterhood across borders. Let's do this without politicians or parties. Let's make this a people's demand for global social justice.”


Why Liberals Don't Hate Warren Buffett

E.J. Dionne Jr., a left-leaning columnist for The Washington Post, published an opinion on September 28 about and also titled, Why conservatives hate Warren Buffett. So, why do they? “He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes.”

Many millionaires and billionaires that are making their fortunes off of capital gains are being taxed at only 15 %, while the lowest earning laborers being taxed at that same rate and earn between $8,500 and $34,500 annually. If someone makes more than $34,500, their marginal rates being paid are more than a multimillionaire pays on gains from investments. Makes sense, right? Um, not really. Buffett is one of the few billionaires that will openly share his beliefs that the tax system in the U.S. is unfair. He has stated in the past that he paid 19% in taxes and his employees that make a significant amount less than him paid 33%.

I believe this opinion was published to reinforce what the more liberal Americans have been arguing about taxes. And hopefully some more right-leaning Americans will stumble upon this read and maybe take a second look at how our tax system is set up. Dionne states that "it is common sense, not class jealousy, to ask the most fortunate to pay taxes at higher tax rates than other people do". I couldn’t agree more.


Social Networking and Voters

I found an article on Politico that was pretty interesting to me. It’s related to social networking and voters. Nowadays, most campaigns use social networks, like Twitter or Facebook, as a means of voter outreach. The younger generation of voters is more likely to logon to a social network first thing in the morning than to grab the paper off the porch. Reaching voters via Twitter or Facebook is a great way to spread the word about your campaign. The voters then have easy access to the candidate’s views and positions and have the ability to quickly and effortlessly share it with their Facebook friends or Twitter followers. A tool has been developed by a San Francisco based company, Votizen, which “matches Facebook and Twitter networks with voter data to get people to the polls”. People that volunteer to help out with the campaign can do “a virtual precinct walk” as opposed to face-to-face or door-to-door, as a way of selling the candidate. I found this article worth my while because I tend to get a lot of my political news and information from social networking sites. I do not get the full story there, but an interesting headline will pique my interest enough to do research and get the rest of the story from a credible news source. If you are also someone who gets news tips through social networking, this article will be very informative and interesting to you. I believe that this is just the next logical step as technology is so prominent in our society today.