R Review The THEHorace HORACEMann MANN
Volume XXII - Issue 6
EXCEPTIONAL ARE WE?
America and Its Place in the World
Review THE HORACE MANN
Letter From the Editor
Daniel Elkind Editor-in-Chief
Spencer E. Cohen Executive Editor
Jacob Gladysz-Morawski Alex Posner Nicholas McCombe Stephen Paduano Managing Editors - Design
Managing Editors - Content
Head of Middle Division
Senior Editor - Features
Treshauxn Dennis-Brown Senior Editor - Domestic
Senior Editor - International
n my last letter, I noted that a discussion of infrastructure followed naturally from a discussion of globalization (our Features topic for issue 4). Similarly, the topic of American exceptionalism follows naturally from the topics of infrastructure and globalization. Increasing globalization has forced us to examine closely America’s role as an economic, military, political, and cultural superpower. Are we as a nation falling behind? Are we still ahead? How does our infrastructure, economy, education, and technology compare with other rising powers? How do policies on critical issues at home affect our standing abroad? How should America project its power across the world? These are just a few of the questions that our writers have asked. In addition to examining America’s foreign policy and struggle for technological superiority, our writers have also addressed the more fundamental issue of whether America’s historical claim to exceptionalism still holds
Daniel Elkind Editor-in-Chief Volume XXII
Senior Editor - Economics
water. The idea of American exceptionalism has had a tremendous bearing on our history ever since the 19th century and will continue to influence the direction of our policy in the future. I am deeply impressed with the success with which our writers have captured the scope and gravity of this topic. Once again, they have risen to the challenge we posed by responding to the issue of American exceptionalism with intelligence and enthusiasm. I hope that by making connections between the Features topics of our last three issues (globalization, infrastructure, and American exceptionalism) readers will see the ways in which these subjects are related and shape public policy both at home and overseas. I am excited to present this issue to the Horace Mann community and would like to thank everyone involved, from our writers and editors to our faculty advisor, Mr. Donadio, and the administration for making The Review possible. Happy reading!
Senior Editor - Science and Technology
Maurice Farber Philip Perl Sam Rahmin Senior Contibuter
Will Ellison Catherine Engelmann Ben Greene David Hackel Sam Henick Jennifer Heon Caroline Kuritzkes Isaiah Newman Sahej Suri Jonah Wexler Junior Editors
Daniel Baudoin Hannah Davidoff Mihika Kapoor Mohit Mookim Kelvin Rhee Jacob Haberman Hana Krijestorac Associate Editors
Henry Luo Namit Satara Jacob Zurita Junior Contibutors
Gregory Donadio Faculty Advisor
The Horace Mann Review is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the American Scholastic Press Association, and the National Scholastic Press Association. Opinions expressed in articles or illustrations are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board or of the Horace Mann School. Please contact The Review for information at email@example.com.
Domestic Nathaniel Tillinghast-Raby Jenna Barancik & Ikaasa Suri Edmund Bannister Lauren Futter David Hackel Anna Kuritzkes
Future U.S. Energy Troubles 4 Obama’s Drone Policy 6
Sahej Suri Liz Xiong & Allison Chang Daniel Rosenblatt Lenn Uchima Neil Ahlawat Daniel Jin Catherine Engelmann
The Global War on Narcotrafficking 16 Papal Controvery 20 Hugo Chavez Under Scrutiny 24 Sino-Japanese Relations 26 From Fidel to Raul 28 Change From Within 30 The Mounting Oppresion of Afghan Women 34
Features Spencer Slagowitz Brett Silverstein Abigail Zuckerman Harry Seavey Mitchell Troyanovsky Eric Stein Samantha Stern Spencer Cohen Caroline Kuritzkes
Technology and the United States 9 John Kerry: Our Secretary of State 10 Knocking Down the Pillars: Affirmative Action 12 The Sequester: Who is to Blame? 14
American Unexceptionalism 36 Energy Independence for Economic Improvement 38 A Struggle for Technological Exceptionalism 40 America Must Remain World Police 42 America Must Relinquish Its Title as World Police 45 American Innovation 47 The Problems of Education in America 49 Pro: American Exceptionalism 52 Con: American Exceptionalism 56
Neil Agrawal Quantitative Easing III 60 Anne Rosenblatt & The Eurozone’s Actual Problem 62 Maria Blaeskoul Samuel Fisch The Coal Tax 64 Charles Cotton Raising the Minimum Wage 66 Kenneth Shinozuka India’s Manufacturing: A Dead End? 67
Science and Technology
Mihika Kapoor The Challenges of Virtualization 68 Will Ellison Enhancing Education 70 Danny Baudoin The Keyston Pipeline 73 Yang Fei DNA Fingerprinting 74 Miranda Bannister An Underestimated Strike 76 Jake Haberman & Henry Luo Cyber Espionage: China and The United States 78
US Energy Troubles:
Looking Towards the Future By Nathaniel Tillinghast-Raby seesmartled.com
nergy, and how to get it, has been a problem for nations throughout modern history – America is certainly no exception. The root of our energy troubles lies with the sheer scale of our consumption. We use a staggering 20% of the world’s energy supply annually in order to meet our needs, and, quite obviously, our energy reserves are finite. As a result, the United States must constantly be investigating new ways to obtain energy. At the same time, the environmental costs must be weighed against the possible benefits of recently discovered energy sources. And, with CO2 levels at record highs, this is no longer something that can be ignored. Our current energy sources are both too inefficient and harmful to the environment to be seriously considered as part of our long-term energy future. Presently, our primary sources are: oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, and alternative energy such as solar or wind. Each has different problems, including: inefficiency, being environmentally harmful, or being unhealthful. Oil, our main energy source, leaves us open to price shocks abroad, and coal is destructive to both the environment and human life. And although we have enough of both to last us many decades, we must consider the damage they will do to the Earth and to us before we blindly continue with the policy of oil and coal. Nuclear power is heavily reliant on infrastructure and produces radioactive waste that is toxic for centuries, if not millennia. The start-up costs are enormous, and even when heavily
subsidized the energy produced is still barely competitive. And the downsides, should something go wrong, are enormous; one only needs to look at the abandoned zone around the Chernobyl power plant to realize that. So, what are the alternatives? At the moment, they seem to be natural gas and alternative energy, which includes industries such as biofuels and solar power. Although these, too, have significant problems that need to be over-
It’s clear that we need to move away from oil, coal and nuclear power and towards regulated natural gas and alternative energy. come, there is a great deal of potential for environmentally friendly energy in the future. Natural gas is mainly extracted by means of hydrofracking, where a mixture of water, sand and chemicals are injected into bedrock thousands of feet beneath the surface, creating fissures that allow the gas to rise to the sur-
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face. This creates problems when these fissures enter the drinking water of an area, or when the gas escapes the fissures and the extraction process. Researchers at Duke found that methane frequently leaks into drinking water near the fracking sites, and another study found that around 7.9% of the methane extracted escapes into the open air. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, and can become even more so when combined with certain aerosol particles in fracking sites. All of this would make it seem like natural gas is a bad choice, but that isn’t entirely correct. In fact there is great potential in natural gas. It emits half the amount of greenhouse gases as coal does when burned, and there’s estimated to be around 862 trillion cubic feet of reserves throughout America, enough to last us decades. Furthermore, the International Energy Agency has come out saying that the hrmful environmental effects of hydrofracking can be almost completely eliminated by creating proper regulation, which would add just 7% to the operating costs of the gas well. If this is done, natural gas will be a great way for America to reduce its reliance on the more harmful fossil fuels. Natural gas is not an infinite resource, however, and one day it will be depleted. Alternative energy could be the answer to this problem. Right now it is extremely inefficient and heavily reliant on government subsidies, and even then only 5% of energy produced in the US in 2012 was renewable. For example, in 2010 the US produced 12,000 megawatts of wind power and experienced a
30% growth in the solar sector, but had greenhouse emissions decrease by only 3.7%. But with the technological advancements that are sure to come, these problems will most likely be solved long before our natural gas runs out. Itâ€™s clear that we need to move away from oil, coal and nuclear power and towards regulated natural gas and alternative energy. In many ways we are
already making this transition. However, there are some things that could speed up this process. Enacting legislation to close loopholes for natural gas companies and having the EPA and other environmental agencies begin to regulate them will be a big step in the right direction. And opening the market for investors to back alternative energy projects will reduce the
need for government subsidies and speed development towards more efficient renewable energy. There are also many government agencies that, given greater funding, would be able to greatly contribute to the development of alternative energy technology. If we do this, America will be better able to provide for itself today and in the future.
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Obama’s Drone Policy
he president is sitting with his cabinet in the oval office when a foreign policy advisor rushes in: the CIA has just received news that a U.S. citizen allied with Al-Qaeda is plotting an attack against the Pentagon. The source? Chatter picked up around the streets of Kabul. The evidence is barely more legitimate than circumstantial, but it is all that the president has. Sending in soldiers to arrest the suspected Al-Qaeda operative would carry the risk of endangering the lives of the U.S. military personnel and local civilians. Getting a warrant from a federal court to use lethal force would take so long that he could miss the chance to take any action against the Al-Qaeda operative. Should the president kill him? With the recent nomination and official election of John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, as the new director of the CIA, talk of the United States’ means of combatting terrorism in such situations has surfaced. The biggest and most divisive debate has sprouted from
what Congress refers to as the “architect of the U.S. killing program”: predator drones. Debate about these killing machines ranges from the extent of judicial oversight to be implemented in the next few years of the Obama administration, to termination rights, to basic executive powers and off-battlefield policies. One thing is certain however: this debate’s potential failure to render drone policy reform could result in deadly consequences. According to a leaked Justice Department memo, the United States government can order a drone strike on an American overseas even when it does not have “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” At the same time, under the same national law, the government must obtain a warrant before proceeding to wiretap or monitor any American overseas suspected of terrorism. In other words, it is easier for the Obama administration to kill American civilians overseas than to technologically
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survey them, despite the latter’s causing significantly less damage. Although the reasons for this lopsided policy are unclear, it is evident that under national law and congressional consensus the extermination of innocent American civilians is both inhumane and unconstitutional. The problem with the Department of Justice’s equivocal policy begins with its ambiguous definition of an “imminent threat.” So far Obama has acted both responsibly and lawfully in authorizing drone strikes against supposed terrorists, but this becomes an issue when targeting United States citizens specifically. In September of 2011, two Americanborn citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, were intentionally killed during a missile strike in Yemen. The two were accused but never tried nor convicted of having been executive operatives in the Al Qaeda “underwear plot.” As they had officially turned their backs on the U.S., few Americans decried their deaths. In fact, Obama branded this attack as a suc-
By Jenna Barancik and Ikaasa Suri
cess by calling the deaths, “a major blow to Al Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate,” that “mark[ed] another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat Al Qaeda.” However, this apparent success speaks nothing of U.S. drone policy. As it stands, the executive branch holds exclusive power over the drone program. Drone attacks like that of last September are authorized by Obama himself, without congressional approval or judicial oversight .The lack of judicial oversight also enables the president to execute Americans without due process or even attempts at arrest. Given the huge discretion the president has in deeming when drone attacks are appropriate, drone strikes may sometimes end in victory for the United States but will inevitably create embarrassing international headlines. Only the Obama administration’s good judgment thus far has prevented the inappropriate use of drone attacks on U.S. citizens. While the Obama administration has proven itself
responsible, the American people would be fools to place absolute trust in every subsequent president. And while the constitution does not require any judicial oversight of drone use, a minimal amount of oversight could prevent the ramifications caused by a trigger-happy presidential administration. The current system will not hold as the U.S. progresses in both its missile program and the number of attacks it makes. Whether or not congress is aware of the drone strikes, the executive branch must have sufficient evidence before attacking overseas. That is not to say a warrant is the exclusive factor in determining legitimacy, but under judicial review of law, evidence must reach a substantial standard before executive authorization for an attack. Some time in the near future, the Supreme Court or Congress itself should review the current calibers defining an “imminent threat” and tighten loose screws in order to validate attacks without warrants.
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Make no mistake, the government has every right to terminate an attack against the United States, whether it be through foot soldiers or missile attacks. Economically and logistically, drones have proven to be the most successful and efficacious means of executing terrorists and antiAmerican extremist operatives. With sufficient evidence affirming the threat, executive powers should be allowed to use missiles in attacking terrorists. Current policy requires a judicial review postmortem, but as Representative Ted Poe (R) said, “That doesn’t do the dead guy much (good) -when we find out, whoops we made a mistake here.” This does not necessarily mean the president must cede his power to use drones to a federal court. However, the policies of the leaked memo that leave the executive branch so much leeway foretell the risk associated with no judicial or congressional oversight. If a presidential administration were to abuse these self-granted and broad powers, innocent people could die, and the
legitimacy of U.S. military operations could be severely undermined in the eyes of foreign countries. As the U.S. military wishes to retain the permission of foreign governments to operate within their countries, precautions must be taken. While implementing a more effective method of judicial review, the government must balance caution with enabling the executive branch to perform its duty of protecting the nation. As Brennan claimed, the drone strikes have been “consistent with the inherent right of selfdefense.” If implemented, an egregiously slow federal court used to issue warrants could hinder the executive branch’s use of this right, perhaps even causing the loss of time-sensitive opportunities. Furthermore, the Obama administration’s appropriate conduct demonstrates that there exists no need for overly intrusive judicial oversight. While a court can help prevent the accidental loss of innocents’ lives, the point of judicial oversight is not to babysit the executive branch. The Commanderin-Chief is supposed to have control over military actions besides declaring war. The point of a system of judicial reviews established by Congress is to ensure the
executive branch’s actions remain constitutional. If the executive branch acts unconstitutionally, the judiciary could then notify Congress to take corrective actions. Despite Congress’ at times ridiculous behaviour such as Rand Paul’s thirteenhour filibuster over the highly unlikely use of drone strikes on American soil, the
“The point of a system of judicial review established by Congress is to ensure the executive branch’s actions remain constitutional.”
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debate is good. Politicians’ recent focus on drones is the first step towards drone policy reform. As a necessary second step, the Obama administration should release its drone policies and the legal justifications for those policies to Congress. Congress, with the aid of experts in counterterrorism and foreign relations, could then provide feedback on how to better the United States’ drone policy. Not only would this reduce the risk of abusing drone strikes and ensure the constitutionality of the government’s actions, but it would also aid our legal case when dealing with foreign nations. For example, suppose Pakistan expressed anger towards the U.S. for a drone strike in their country. With airtight drone policies, the U.S. could show the proposed strike underwent a series of checks and met mandatory criteria before going into effect. In essence, the U.S. could better defend its actions. Furthermore, self-imposed limitations on drone use by the U.S. would help the U.S. argue against other nations’ drone policies. No nation using drones to violate the human rights of their own citizens could defend itself by saying their drone policy was in accordance with the U.S.’s.
Technology: America’s Surge As an Economic Superpower By Edmund Bannister
n the past decade, fears about the decline of American economic and military hegemony have multiplied throughout our country. Americans worry that the 21st century will witness a slip in the importance of the United States on the world stage. China looms large in the minds of citizens as a threat to our status as the undisputed leader of the global community. However, amidst all the pessimism and doubt, there is a silver lining for our nation. Our dominance in the technology sector, the front line of innovation and progress, is unrivaled. Silicon Valley firms are the undisputed leader in the creation of new websites, new gadgets, new jobs, and new ideas. Not only do they churn unequalled hardware and software, but they also earn unequalled profits. The American monopoly on innovation will allow us to beat other countries to the markets of tomorrow, providing innumerable economic benefits. Therefore, U.S. tech companies are America’s best and only hope for holding on to the spotlight during the 21st century. In order to correctly assess the size, function, and importance of the tech. industry, it should be divided into 3 sub-categories: hardware; software; and social media. With regard to the first, hardware, the United States is the world’s undisputed leader. Innovation in this part of the technology center is driven by design savvy and the ability to coordinate with software developers. Apple, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and Dell rank 1st, 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 10th, respectively, in size in this category. Microsoft and Apple produce the software for the majority of PCs, jointly holding 97% of global market share. Onto the second—software—Google’s Android, Apple’s IOS, and Microsoft’s Windows operating systems also control the www.jeremynoeljohnson.com http://www..w3ins.com
market. Computer applications are almost exclusively made up of Microsoft Windows, Adobe, and Oracle applications. The third category, and perhaps the most overwhelmingly American, is social media. Facebook, the largest social media network in the world has 1.06 billion registered users, roughly one seventh of all the people on earth. Other American social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn have 200 million and 120 million users respectively. In total, U.S. social networking sites hold an astounding 98% of global users.
U.S. tech companies are America’s best and only hope for holding on to the spotlight during the 21st century. Therefore, it is self-evident that the technology industry is a powerful force on the world stage. What a remains to prove is how important the technology industry is to the American economy, and how that importance has changed over the years. Currently there are over 140,000 companies in the technology industry, employing millions of people, with collective annual revenue of over 1 trillion dollars per year. In 1990, before the widespread proliferation of cell phones, the internet, and PC’s, the industry was barely 20 billion adjusted for inflation. But the growth in the technology industry isn’t just in the past, but also in the future. The Tech sector is estimated to double in size
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by 2030, reaching over 3 trillion dollars in value. Currently, the annual growth in high skilled tech sector jobs is 5.4%, five times the national average. As other industries, like manufacturing are considered to be on the decline in America, information technology is essential to assure continued American prosperity. However, the lead we currently have over other countries might not last forever. It is clear that for the good of our country both government and the private sector must promote the health of the tech sector. The size of American hardware, software, and social networking firms is a direct indicator of American ingenuity. Innovation in the hardware sector is driven by design savvy and the ability to coordinate with software developers. Software developers are even more essential, because they make the applications that give computers their usefulness. In the social networking industry, the ability to understand the preferences and needs of consumers is perhaps the most important requirement to succeed. What we can gather from this is that American engineers, programmers, and designers are unsurpassed in expertize and skill. Therefore, education provides the key to the American technology industry. If we wish to grow and maintain our level of innovation, then college graduation rates, specifically in computer science and engineering must be grown. The government can help achieve this goal by financing technical colleges and expanding student grant programs. In is also vital for the health of the nation that both the government and private corporations invest in R&D, and venture capital firms continue to support tech entrepreneurs. In this way, they can ensure that America is the main pioneer of invention and progress, today
John Kerry, Secretary of State By Lauren Futter
s John Kerry starts his first month in office as the new secretary of state, he is contending not only with creating a vision for the next four years in foreign policy, but also with the shadow cast by Hillary Clinton’s departure. When Clinton left office, her approval ratings spiked. This left Kerry to fill the shoes of a secretary of state who was able to maintain the status quo in the international community despite an Arab Spring, cultivate ongoing trade negotiations with China, and wind down the Iraq war. However, Kerry will be forced to distinguish himself from Clinton early in his tenure because, while Clinton focused mainly on Asian relationships, Kerry has no choice but to focus on relations in the Middle East, but take drastically different stances depending on the country. In Syria, Kerry can be expected to begin sending food aid to the rebels who are in the midst of civil war while in Iran, sanctions can be expected to continue. Aiding the Middle East by these means will also allow the United States the ability to
“…Kerry is left to fill the shoes of a secretary of state who was able to maintain the status quo in the international community…” maintain its presence in the Middle East, allowing for favorable relations with allies of the United States in the Middle East. When the Arab Spring began, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad began crackdowns in Syrian cities. Soldiers defected and formed an opposing government to the Assad regime, beginning what has been a nearly twoyear battle that has resulted in over 70,000 civilian casualties in that country. During Clinton’s term as Secretary of State, the
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United States proclaimed rhetorical support for the Syrian rebels, but took no steps to further that support. In contrast, on his first day in office, Kerry have suggested that the United States give $60 million in food and medical supplies to the rebels. According to Kerry, “The president believes [it] is correct to try to give the opportunity for a diplomatic solution.” That position is hardly controversial -the inaction of the Obama administration under Clinton has allowed the war to continue without abatement. The diplomatic solution that Kerry urges is likely to be a hallmark of his tenure, for the lessons learned from the war in Iraq are not soon forgotten. When President Bush authorized the occupation of Iraq by the United States military, the United States wound up in a ten-year war that resulted in vast numbers of American casualties and American dollars spent in support of a military solution. If America were to arm the Syrian rebels, there is no guarantee that the same result would not occur, for American occupation
Domestic of Syria lead tois a logical step in any military solution. Even though critics have attempted to pressure the United States into aiding rebels militarily, military aid is not feasible and could have long-term consequences including an extended United States military presence, spreading the resources of the United States too thin, and the loss of the lives of soldiers in the occupied territory. Therefore, Kerry’s position towards Syria will most likely be
lead to the ouster of the current Iranian government. While sanctions have an uncertain outcome, the alternative is not an option at all. Military action does not make sense for the same reasons that military action in Syria does not make sense. If the United States occupies Iran, the United States could be dragged into a perpetual cycle of trying to stabilize Iran. Also, invading Iran could draw international disapproval
Iran and Israel increasingly threatening each other with military action, Israel has put the United States in a difficult place between protecting its alliance with Israel and protecting its own interests. Through continuing sanctions, the United States fulfills its promises to Israel without hurting its own interests. By biding its time, the United States also avoids the high economic price that comes with war before it becomes
“Kerry has the possibility to reinvigorate the United States’ foreign policy and allow the United States to maintain its role as hegemonic power. Through emphasizing the future and going beyond emphasizing the status quo, Kerry can become a successful secretary of state.”
limited to providing food aid. Aid to Syria has the ability to provide the United States with eventual reparation of the relation between the United States and Syria. While Syria and the United States had a stable relationship through the late twentieth century, after the United States declared war on Iraq, their relationship fell apart. Syria opposed the war and the interference of the United States in affairs in the Middle East; however, if the United States aid Syrian rebels, even simply through food aid, the United States has the ability to regain influence if the rebels win the war. The aid the United States provides could even be what the rebels need to win the war. Influence in Syria can lead to an increase in oil trade with the United States and an increase of presence in the Middle East. In addition to focusing on Syria, Kerry also stated his intention to take action on Iran’s nuclear program. Although Iran started its nuclear program in the 1950’s, recently it has threatened the creation of a nuclear weapon. In the past, the United States has mostly negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program; however, now Kerry has said that “there will not be a negotiation that turns into an eternal delay.” The United States is working through the United Nations to isolate Iran and impose economic sanctions. The hope is that continued isolation of Iran will cultivate a civilian uprising that will
unless the act of provocation by Iran was so dire that it warranted intervention of the United States. Disapproval of the international community could then also lead to domestic disapproval in the United States. So, a military option would be difficult to achieve successfully. Through sanctioning Iran, not only will the United States slow down if not stop the proliferation of nuclear materials in the area, but the United States can also reaffirm its alliance with the Israel. With
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necessary and if it becomes necessary. While hardline action in Iran and Syria is unlikely, Americans can nonetheless expect to see a shift in focus towards the Middle East in the new Obama administration. Kerry has the possibility to reinvigorate the United States’ foreign policy and allow the United States to maintain its role as a hegemonic power. Through emphasizing the future and going beyond emphasizing the status quo, Kerry can become a successful secretary of state.
Knocking Down the Pillars of Affirmitve Action By David Hackel
he Declaration of Independence delivered a great deal more than the basis behind a revolutionary revolt. And, despite the brilliance behind Thomas Jefferson, it is quite doubtful even he imagined that over 200 years later, that parchment containing his tenants of democracy would be the starting block from which a budding nation would become the
Affirmative action, and soon-tobe high court’s rulings on the matter, in Fisher v. University of Texas, will decide whether the future of America will align with our antecedents’ most basic tenant— or go astray. Affirmative action is intended to provide the means for minorities to correct prior injustices and prejudicial actions.
tion programs unfairly deny students who study harder success just because their skin color is different, or their country of origin is not the US? Discrimination and reverse discrimination are equally abominable. There is much debate that affirmative action is not constitutional under The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th
Affirmative action contravenes the unambiguous principles of the Declaration of Independence and the underlying theme set forth by our founding fathers. Equality cannot be achieved by inequality. greatest nation on earth. At its outset, the Declaration speaks the immortal, yet unpretentious sentence upon which the nation was founded: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” Yet, in a deeper sense, and 237 years later, that “Shinning City upon Hill” President Reagan spoke of, unfortunetly fails to still embody and carry forward the intent and desire of our forefathers.
And, there is no denying the often grave outcomes that have taken place as a result of prejudicial thinking: crime, poverty, divorce, one or no parent homes, lack of life fulfillment and despair, and inability to achieve the “American Dream”—that hard work and sacrifice will be rewarded, not met with artificial, immovable roadblocks. Nonetheless, a brewing contention, often discussed beginning at the high school level is why must affirmative ac-
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Amendment—which prohibits states from denying any individual equal protection under the law—as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because of the controversy over the legal status of affirmative action, the United States Supreme Court has looked twice at its constitutionality: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978 and Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003. The rulings were a split decision. The for-
Domestic mer, Bakke case, ruled affirmative action as unconstitutional in public institutions of higher education—while the latter overruled the former. However, with Fisher v. University of Texas, a case upon which the conservative Supreme Court is scheduled to be ruling later this spring, and at this time oral arguments are completed, it is believed the constitutionality of affirmative action is likely to be entirely rejected, and with it the majority decision of Bollinger. The plaintiffs, Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz, who applied to and were subsequently rejected from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008, argue their academic credentials, which were superior to those of many affirmative action students, cannot be discredited due the ‘dominant’ factor of university admissions—race. Supporters of affirmative action believe providing qualified minorities with the ability to attend highly prestigious universities will spur advancement, both socially and financially, and in time will have other benefits, including moral. Certainly, a fair approach must be the ultimate objective, but precisely how to achieve that remains with the Courts, Congress, and Americans themselves, for it is the latter who are society’s real decision makers, and as we all know, one can bend the law to achieve any desired outcome. However, Affirmative action is indeed a violation of the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Simply put, affirmative action does not promote the concept of equality—a concept inherent in the law and in America’s foundation. So, what does affirmative action arouse? Ironically, discrimination and inequality—the very conduct it was crafted to prevent. Think about it this way. Who would a heart transplant patient prefer to perform his surgery—an individual with lesser qualifications admitted to Medical School through affirmative action preferences, or, perhaps, a surgeon with higher qualifications admitted solely based on his or her credentials. Certainly most individuals would not prefer the higher probability of death when a more skilled option was available, in a vain attempt to salvage for past wrongs by others. Once the nation places a wall in front of the overachievers, we become a second rate nation, and the better qualified become complacent. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states: “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color,
or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Consequently, a public university cannot racially discriminate against—or for—based on factors that would unfairly treat such an applicant. Morally speaking, affirmative action separates individuals—placing people into separate and unequal pools based the factors the law is attempting to correct. It is reinforcing bad behavior rather than trying to correct it. No wonder Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is firmly on the record as saying his career has been hurt by its policy more than helped by it. Affirmative action contravenes the unambiguous principles of the Declaration of Independence and the underlying theme set forth by our founding fathers. Equality cannot be achieved by inequality. All individuals must be treated equally under the law. James Madison understood this when he barred a nobility class under Article 1 of the Constitution; and we must understand it now as we follow the 14th Amendment. Merit should be the driving factor in university admission and job opportunities. According to leading California businessman Ward Connerly, “affirmative action has actually made it harder for blacks to close the achievement gap with whites.” He claims that with affirmative action, African Americans do not “put as much emphasis on academic achievement as they once did and as other groups do now.” Various waves of immigrants came to and suc-
ceeded in our country without assistance from the federal government while being denied and restricted from attending most of the “better” schools— yet made it the old fashioned and only fair way. With that, his words resonate. Again, United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas finds logic in Connerly’s argument. Justice Thomas explains “that such classifications ultimately have a destructive impact on the individual and our society.” Not only does race continue to discriminate – in favor or against – but admission for the highest achieving students, across whatever scope, is hindered. If admission to America’s top Universities is not based on one’s own past achievements, then individuals are merely ‘born into’ success – or lack of – which is incredibly un-American and contradictory to the Declaration of Independence—let alone a violation of the 14th amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is essential to promote a contemporary, color-blind perspective —an outlook where race is not considered in admissions whatsoever. The reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once pronounced in his great I Had a Dream speech, that he cherished a society where individuals are not judged “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” By maintaining affirmative action, it becomes unfeasible to construct a non-judgmental society—one with essential freedoms, a protection of liberties, or a continuance of the equality imperative to the flourishing future there ought to be. Dr. King knew that well.
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The Sequester: Who’s To Blame? By Anna Kuritzkes
It’s His Fault
ongressional Republicans and Democrats alike have delayed action on balancing the budget like students procrastinate their homework. However, the sequester, $85 billion dollars in federal spending cuts, brings about a more serious consequence than a missing homework assignment and as of March 1, 2013, has gone into effect. Now it’s up to Congress to alleviate the results of its own incompetence. And they’re stuck. Faced with this challenge, politicians still cannot agree on a budget plan that could replace the current cuts. The sequester marks a new low for American politicians. Unlike an insignificant homework assignment, according to the New York Times, the sequester will effect the American economy at the end of the year, causing US economic growth to slow by half a percentage point. Washington politicians must agree on a budget plan for the American economy before another economic crisis drags the nation down once again. The cuts that the sequester will impose should not be taken lightly. While Washington politicians continue to argue, $85 billion dollars in cuts will now affect both domestic and military government programs. There is no doubt that Congress needs to make budget cuts in order to fix the United States’ deficit; however, politicians are in consensus in their belief that the sequester is a in-
adequate solution to a grave problem. The only way for America’s deficit to be reduced is through a successful budget plan made through a compromise of both Democrats and Republicans. While we wait for such an agreement to be reached, $43 billion dollars of the national defense program will be cut (or 8 percent of the program). These cuts were called “deeply destructive to national
The general reluctance towards compromise is preventing the US government from creating a balanced budget. security, domestic investments and core government functions” by Jeffrey D. Zients, President Obama’s budget director. Most of the negative effects will take place in the long term, as the process of cutting a government budget is a lengthy process. Over time the cuts could lead to fewer government contracts with private companies, air traffic delays, a slow down in food safety inspections, increased damage to local economies across the country, military budget
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cuts, and government furloughs. Military leaders fear these large cuts will lead to soldiers’ fighting with insufficient training and equipment. President Obama has made progress in 2012 by creating 2.2 million new jobs; jobs that will be lost because the sequester will increase government employee furloughs. The US government is the largest employer within America, and the Congressional Budget Office predicted that 1.4 million government employees’ jobs could be lost due to the cuts. With over a million jobs at stake, one would think that politicians would be more active to revert the budget to a less drastic plan. Despite the economic turmoil the sequester will cause, congressmen cannot agree on a solution. It is clear that a plan that is based on cutting the government budget like the sequester will end up harming the American economy. Consequently, politicians need to focus on creating a plan that will make up for the deficit through raising taxes for the wealthy as well as decrease government spending. A plan with these two elements such as President Obama’s budget plan could have replaced the sequester cuts before the program went into effect, yet it seems as though certain congressmen have no intention of stopping the sequester. Before the sequester went into effect Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, stated, “I think the seques-
Domestic ter’s going to happen. I think people want it to happen.” This insouciant attitude is not the type of behavior that will allow politicians in Washington to reach a compromise on the budget plan that our country needs. Rather, this is the type of attitude that led to the automatic cuts in the first place. Originally, the idea of the sequester was crafted by president Obama with the intention of pressuring politicians to agree on a budget plan before the harsh cuts could take effect. Still, the sequester did not fulfill its original purpose: force congressmen to compromise. The root of the problem lies with the different views of the Republican and Democratic parties, as these opposing views prevent the two parties from passing budget plans in Congress. The Democrats turn to tax increases as well as spending cuts to solve the nation’s economic crisis, while the Republicans see the problem with our deficit as a spending problem that can only be resolved by cutting government spending. After the Budget Control Act (which cut domestic spending by $1 trillion dollars) was passed, Congress stood at a standstill. Democrats refused to cut more spending without tax increases; Republicans refused to enact tax increases. Speaker John Boehner said, “The discussion about revenue, in my view, is over. It’s about taking on the spending problem.” President Obama had proposed a budget plan before the sequester was set to go into effect that would have been a compilation of spending cuts as well as tax increases. Republican leaders including John Boehner would not compromise on Obama’s proposed plan, and other plans made by the “super committee” (a committee of members from the House of Representatives and the Senate focused on finding a way for the government to save money) could not be agreed upon. Congress is no longer acting as a cohesive unit willing to compromise to help our country. Instead of compromising on a budget plan that mixes the ideas of Republicans and Democrats, politicians such as John Boehner will only focus on a plan that holds the ideas of only their party. With Republican politicians’ refusing to compromise, nothing will be achieved. It seems as though another four years without a new budget plan. The general reluctance towards compromise is preventing the US government from creating a balanced budget. On February 20th, in an article he wrote for The Wall Street Journal, Speaker John Boehner addressed the President, asking, “Republi-
cans have a simple response: Mr. President, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?” President Obama’s previous budget plan did include cuts to government spending; however, John Boehner did not agree to the plan because it would cause an increase in government tax revenue. John Boehner will not compromise on a plan that increases taxes for the wealthy, instead only focusing on plans that cut government spending. Republicans such as John Boehner clearly disagree with the president’s policy, yet instead of working on a new budget plan to replace the sequester, Boehner continually bashes the budgets the president proposes. If politicians such as John Boehner want to end up with a successful budget plan, they have to be willing to compromise. Continually bashing the democratic stance will not lead to a successful compromise. On the other hand, Republican budget plans only focus on cutting domestic programs. Government tax revenue that democrats find from potential tax increases for the wealthy are made up for in Republican programs through these domestic cuts.
Paul Ryan is set to unveil a new Republican budget plan on March 12th. This proposed budget will balance the government’s debt by 2023, a more ambitious plan than the last Paul Ryan plan, which was supposed to balance the deficit by 2040. Though the details of Paul Ryan’s plan remain an enigma until March 12th, (in Ryan’s words) the “no suprises” budget allows us to assume that the new plan will impose more domestic budget cuts. This means that Democrats will remain reluctant to pass the plan unless tax increases are enacted for the wealthy. Until Republicans and Democrats can compromise on a budget plan, what we are left with is the sequester. At the expense of American citizens’ jobs, politicians shy away from compromise. President Obama has said, “We’ve also seen the effects that political dysfunction can have. We’ve made progress. And I still believe we can finish the job with a balanced mix of spending cuts and more tax reform.” The turmoil in Washington should not continue to prevent politicians from compromising. When faced with a budget plan as drastic sequester, politicians need to step up to the plate and finally compromise.
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THE GLOBAL WAR
ON NARCOTRAFFICKING By Sahej Suri
he illicit spread of narcotic sales worldwide, and particularly in Latin America, currently constitutes one of the greatest threats to international security. Drug trafficking has been a pertinent issue over the past 50 years as the increase in the flow of illegal narcotics throughout the world is unprecedented. A great security threat, drug trafficking is defined by the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances as the cultivation, sale, and distribution of drugs. Although national and international solutions to eliminate growth of the drug trade have been put into place, a lack of economic and political stability in regions such as Latin America has resulted in the counter-productive, debilitating “narco-wars”. In Latin America alone, the drug trade has impacted the lives of millions of people. Many citizens of impoverished countries have found the cultivation and subsequent selling of narcotics to neighboring nations to be a lucrative, though illegal source of income. The problems in solving the issue in Latin American countries have been widespread; although there are inadequate judicial systems in place, insufficiently trained police organizations, and widespread corruption within
governments, the impetus for many Latin American communities to curb the spread of illicit narcotic sales has been nonexistent making it a nearly impossible battle for many neophyte governments to combat. The repercussions of the drug trade are even more widespread – criminal organizations seeking to generate more revenue have set up complicated, covert drug trade networks in order to reach consumers. The illicit drug trade has been linked to other illegal practices, such as money laundering and arms trafficking. Furthermore, drug trafficking organizations—such as Mexican and Colombian drug cartels—have greatly contributed to violence and corruption in various sectors of government and law enforcement. Perhaps what is most alarming about the nature of the Latin American illegal narcotics trade is its global scale; nearly every part of the world is linked to this debilitating trade. Therefore, it is imperative that the International Community find a comprehensive solution to impede the drug trafficking and its widespread, paralyzing
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effect it has on civilians and their governments. Four countries in particular – Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico – comprise of those with the greatest security threat to the International Community. Much of the profits of the drug trade go to cartels themselves and parliamentary groups in order to support the corruption
International within the governments. Efforts to put a stop to the sale of narcotics such as cocaine, opiates, and marijuana by the United States has given way to now-influential drug cartels selling within United States. Unfortunately, the cultivation of drugs is deeply ingrained within the lifestyles of farmers in many Latin American countries. In 1997 when the Bolivian government
went about aggressively halting the production of cocaine, farmers revolted against the government because of the negative implications it would have on their economic conditions; farmers were able to make over $9,000 a year cultivating cocaine but only $500 cultivating citrus fruits, the countryâ€™s next most lucrative crop. As a result, since 2006, with the election of Evo
portation used by transnational criminal syndicates. Colombian and Mexican cartels have begun to alter their routes on a frequent basis and grow drug plants in Colombia itself in order to reduce chances of being detected crossing borders. Honduras has become a transporter of illicit narcotics because of its strategic geography; it acts as a bridge between
The inability to hinder the cultivation of illicit crops has been further exacerbated through the techniques of transportation used by transnational criminal syndicates. Morales, the Bolivian government has taken a major step back in taking down drug lords. The inability to halt the cultivation of illicit crops has been further exacerbated through the techniques of trans-
South America and Mexico. Colombian drug cartels have been successful in transporting drugs into Mexico and the United States through Honduras. Cocaine is the prevalent drug that comes into Honduras by air, land, and sea. Most
The impetus for many Latin American communities to curb the spread of illicit narcotic sales has been nonexistent making it a nearly impossible battle for many neophyte governments to combat. means of transportation are rife with corrupt officials who allow the trade to flourish. As a result, Honduras has suffered dramatically from the drug trade, as violence is a by-product of corruption. Further, the increase in narcotrafficing by transnational organizations has resulted in violence, government corruption, arms trafficking, and money laundering. Latin America has the highest homicide rates in the world. The dangerous trade continues to thrive in Latin America regardless of the efforts made by the United States government. Many nations in the world are in opposition to Latin American drug trafficking but still suffer; the epidemic
has influenced the economic development in a myriad of ways. Africa, particularly West Africa, transports illicit drugs from Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia to European countries. The weak judicial system, lack of technologically advanced equipment for police, and corrupt governments make it hard for any interference of drug trafficking to take place. Some countries that have little control over drug trafficking include Sierra Leone, GuineaBissau, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal. The instability in African nations makes them easy targets for drug organizations to use as shipping bases for their materials. Additionally, the civil wars that have been taking place in Africa only add to
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the obstacles in stopping the drug trade. Although West Africa has been the major hub for drug transportation in Africa, many other regions are now participating in drug trafficking, and transnational crime syndicates are finding ways to maximize profits within the region. The major consumers of narcotics in the world, North America and Europe have begun to dedicate formidable resources to stop the drug trade from growing in their regions. However, Europe is becoming a new consumer of cocaine, as the increased demand opens an attractive market for transnational drug organizations. Europe receives much of its drugs by oceanic shipments smuggled in container vessels either through West Africa or other ports directly in Europe. The United States garners most of its narcotics through land, as the border between Mexico and the United States is the most popular. The constant changes to traderoutes
has made it hard for law enforcement officers to intercept drugs coming into the United States, but the United States has provided extensive assistance to other nations to try to crack down on major transnational organizations. Until 2008, the United States had put forth most of its efforts in Colombia, the main source of cocaine and opiates in the drug trade. Recently, however, the United States has invested resources into Mexico where the direct confrontation between the Mexican government and drug organizations has been prolific. Major organized crime syndicates are constituted within Colombia and Mexico, including the FARC, ELN, Gulf Cartel, and Los Zetas. These organizations have consolidated a major financial and human resources and a weapon arsenal that is unprecedented in the history of the drug trade. Many governments have not been able to combat these organizations partly because of the organizationsâ€™ vast resources but also because
of the widespread corruption within the government and law enforcement officials. The drug trade has undermined political stability in the region, which has had a ripple effect within the overall development of these nations. Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia are the major producers of
illicitnarcotics. Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are major export hubs for shipments from the Atlantic to West Africa and consequently Europe. Although there has been an increase in support within the Latin American region, many governments do not have the sufficient institutional capacities necessary to fully combat drug organizations. In respect to the issue of the Latin American illegal drug trade, the International Community must be mindful of considering the underlying matters of the issue, specifically the growth, transportation, and usage of illicit Latin American drugs. Of particular concern to many nations is the connection between the illegal drug trade and corruption. It is of paramount importance that countries in Latin America enact proper national anti-corruption legislation and improve the efficiency of their anti-corruption practices. Additionally, steps must be taken to confront the problem of the transfer of narcotics from the source to the consumer nation by promoting proper detection, education, and training for local law enforcement. Multi-national cross-border initiatives must be encouraged. Each nation is affected differently by the Latin American drug trafficking; each nation requires its own tailored approach to best combat the illicit narcotics trade. The issue of drug trafficking in Latin America is incredibly multifaceted. Therefore, in order to be successful in combating this issue, collaboration and innovation is imperative.
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O n Wednesday, March 13, as white smoke spiraled from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, hordes of Catholics crowded the Vatican, crying exultations of triumph and relief: a new Pope had been chosen. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica announcing, amid tremendous applause, his ascent to the papacy under the regnal name of Francis I. It’s a moment of joy and clarity, rising from the confusion Pope Benedict XVI left behind when he announced his abdication just more than a month ago. Benedict’s surprising resignation left behind a controversial legacy and makes way, even with his successor settled, for an uncertain future. On February 11, he became the first Pope to resign of his own free will in nearly a millennia, as he cited a deteriorating “strength of mind and body” from old age. He is widely associated with the clerical abuse scandal, a controversy that dominated his papacy. Says David Gibson, award-winning author of The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World, the church must begin “changing teachings on such topics as married priesthood, women’s ordination, homosexuality, premarital sex, artificial birth control, communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, and a whole range of other issues.” While his initiative to resign is certainly noble, Pope Benedict’s papacy was marred by a series of crises and controversies on issues ranging from child abuse to HIV to Islam reflect an outdated, overly conservative institution
By Liz Xiong and Allison Chang
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International that has made no attempts to adapt to the current times and has made no moves towards transparency. His successor Francis must make Vatican proceedings, such as its cultish election process, more overt, and adopt less rigid positions on issues, such as approving of condoms as a form of STD prevention rather than condemning all use of condoms (as both birth control and STD prevention). The 85-year-old Pope Benedict served for seven years since his election after the previous Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005. He adopted the papal name Benedict XVI in place of Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, his birth name. Dean of the College of Cardinals and a widely acclaimed conservative theologian before the election, Pope Benedict had been “one of the most powerful men in the Vatican under Pope John Paul II,” according to the CNN. He was largely in charge of the sexual abuse allegations even before he became Pope and has been criticized for both a lack of action and misdirected action before and during his papacy. A lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) charged that as head of
the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict participated in a cover up of the abuse. Pope Benedict took up an array of questionable stances, such as that the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s contributions were “only evil and inhuman,” that condoms ex-
Clearly, an unhealthy “Church vs. The World” mentality exists among Catholic clergymen. acerbated the HIV problem in Africa, and that homosexuality was an “intrinsic evil.” The Catholic sex abuse cases are a series of allegations of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic clergymen which are often brought forward decades after the abuse occurred. Prior to 2001, responsibility of investigation of such allegations fell to individual dioceses, and in the 1980s priest Peter Hullermann was sent to Munich for therapy after accusations of sexual abuse, including forcing an 11-year old boy to perform oral sex. At the time, Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich, and with Ratzinger’s approval Hullermann was reassigned to another pastoral position after therapy, where he was later convicted
of sexually abusing minors again and distributing pornography. Afterwards, Hullermann was reassigned twice but maintained constant contact with children, even when a Church order forbade him from doing so, up until he was suspended in 2010 for ignoring the order. In 2001 the then Cardinal Ratzinger convinced Pope John Paul to put the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), of which Ratzinger was prefect, in charge of sexual abuse allegations. In May 2001 Ratzinger sent out a letter to every Catholic bishop asserting the church’s right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood, which lawyers have accused of as obstruction of justice. Clearly, an unhealthy “Church vs. The World” mentality exists among the Catholic clergymen. Ratzinger’s actions highlight a belief that the Church has no need to respond to secular demands and a prioritization of church secrecy over nonreligious, governmental law enforcement. Moreover, Pope Benedict has preserved the covert practice of having all grave sexual offenses go through the CDF under the strictest privacy. “Less than one percent of priests are guilty,” said Ratzinger in response to a question about the scandal (using, by the way, an outdated statistic--the real percentage is at least four times higher), claiming that information was intentionally “manipulated” to “discredit the Church.” Ratzinger’s defensive rebuke is the result of a disparity, between the Vatican and the modern world,
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International that must be overcome. Furthermore, ever since the sexual abuse scandals came into the open, calls have been made to analyze the correlation between celibacy requirement for priesthood and pedophilia. In 2004 psychotherapist Richard Sipe published a 25 year study that concluded that the celibate lifestyle can reinforce pedophilic tendencies, among other psychological researchers who also observed a connection between the two. And yet Pope Benedict only recently lauded the celibacy mission as “great and pure” even in the context of the sexual abuse. There will be no married priests in the Catholic Church “in the foreseeable future,” he said. The Catholic sex abuse cases are just one of many scandals that have characterized Pope Benedict’s papacy. In 2009, Pope Benedict revoked the excommunication of four bishops, one of them, Bishop Richard Williamson, having denied Nazi gas chambers and argued only 300,000 Jews died in the Holocaust, rather than the accepted figure of six million. Global outrage flared, and Pope Benedict earned rare disapproval from Chancellor Angela Merkel. He has criticized Islam, declaring that Muslim Turkey did not belong in Christian Europe, and has pronounced Christianity as the only true religion. He has insisted that condoms in Africa will only aggravate the HIV problem, bringing attention to the fact that the Church does not permit the use of condoms. While religion is, by the very definition of faith, not entirely rational, Pope Benedict’s delusions and mistakes cannot be just chalked up to faith. In increasingly secular times, the Vatican, the longest standing institution in the world, must learn to modernize and reform some of its fundamental flaws that have long been, if not acquitted, then ignored due to an unquestioning belief in Roman Catholicism. Pope Francis has the opportunity to resolve some of the
problems Benedict and even John Paul have left behind. He must defy rigid bureaucracy to completely purify the Vatican, knowing full well that doing so will turn peers into rivals. The Catholic Church must reinvent itself for the new millenium, shedding centuries worth of antiquated traditions, uncompromising orthodoxy, and covert corruption. Hiding behind the guise of holiness will not work now, in the information age. Benedict knew this and tried to assimilate by joining Twitter last year under the handle @Pontifex, yet his efforts seemed half-hearted at best. Bergoglio must acknowledge that he not only knows that the Internet exists, but that he will use it to innovate the Vatican and show he is open to change. Francis, aged 76, was to born to Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires, where he has spent his whole pre-Papal life. He became a Cardinal in 2001, in the reign of John Paul, yet he holds academic degrees in chemistry and psychology. Bergoglio opposes abortion and homosexual marriage, though for a Catholic priest this is standard fare. His tendencies can be described as liberal: he stated that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect and compassion” and advocated the use of contraceptives as a form of disease prevention. The son of a railroad worker, Francis has also expressed his sympathy
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for the poor. Fluent in Spanish, German, and Italian, his potential to be a cultural connector undoubtedly attracted votes in the election process. His new regnal name foretells of great changes; Francis symbolizes “humility” and “rebuilding the Catholic Church,” says CNN Vatican expert John Allen. Indeed, the naturalized Argentine is certainly wary of the church’s shifting center, and it is imperative that he act with this knowledge in mind. Catholicism in once-devout places like Ireland is waning, but a recent report from Georgetown University-affiliated Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) shows that over the past five years the number of Catholics in Africa has leaped by twenty-one percent; in Asia, eleven percent. And Europe, though home to 285 million Catholics, is no longer the religion’s hub: 339 million Catholics reside in South America. The current Vatican cannot only focus on Italy, Spain, and the like; it must pay attention to countries like the Philippines and Peru, Mexico, and Argentina, where Catholics consist of over threequarters of the population. The Pope himself comes from a region with the largest concentration of Catholics in the world. Benedict’s predecessor, the popular and charismatic John Paul II, had been
International the first non-Italian Pope since the sixteenth century. The last non-European to helm the Church was Gregory III of Syria, Pontiff back in the eighth century. Though Francis is ethnically Italian, his hailing from Argentina is a shocking first. The South American Pontiff owes quite a bit to the late John Paul, who had actively sought to geographically diversify Catholicism. Before the election, many speculated on who would be chosen, and a list of frontrunners emerged. These frontrunners, all Cardinals, had included Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Angelo Scola and Tarsicio Bertone of Italy, Leonardo Sandri of Argentina, Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, and Francis Arinze of Nigeria. New York’s own Timothy Dolan, whom Benedict appointed as a Cardinal just last year, also had his name tossed around. Oddly, Bergoglio never appeared as a likely candidate. His quiet, under-the-radar rise to power undoubtedly came from his humble, austere nature. In an ironicly sinful twist, Irish gambling site PaddyPower.com and its British rival Ladbrokes.com had taken bets on who the new Pontiff would be. Turkson, Scola, Bertone, and Ouellet had the safest odds on both sites, while Bergoglio had none. At the bottom of the list was a familiar name whose odds stood at an unlikely 1000:1. Technically, any baptized Catholic male was eligible to ascend to the papacy, including Bono, the frontman of U2. The papal conclave, made of 115 members of the College of Cardinals under the age of eighty, first convened on March 11 to commence voting. The stan-
dard fifteen-day waiting period would have made March 15 the day on which the process began, but considering that the College was eager to find Benedict’s replacement before Palm Sunday, which is March 24, and that Benedict has abdicated–not passed away–the rule was bent. Although Benedict, soon to again be Joseph Ratzinger, could not vote in the conclave, he must have had sizable influence in the selection of Bergoglio. When new Cardinals are elected, the appointments are announced in a ceremony called a consistory. At most, Popes hold one consistory a year. In 2012, Benedict
(”The Press”), one of Italy’s premier daily newspapers, tells Time, “I can hardly imagine Ratzinger’s successor, with Ratzinger still living, reversing one of Ratzinger’s decisions. Not because he is still [in the Vatican] but because he is still alive.” As it is, Francis, regardless of his ethnicity, will not have an auspicious beginning in modernization: the Vatican election process is one shrouded in secrecy and old rituals, with obsolete signals such as black and white chimney smoke. Direct contact with the outside world at all during the election process is forbidden. Cardinals risk excommunication by leaking any details of the election, and everyone present--from doctors to minibus drivers--must take an oath of secrecy. The Vatican police have installed electronic jamming devices under the elevated floor in the Sistine Chapel and have swept it and the Cardinals’ living quarters for espionage-esque audio “bugs.” Heavily concealed from the public, the Vatican election ritual is just of one many Church traditions that needs reform in order to meet the international community’s demand for transparency. Although Francis, the 266th Pope, has been elected promptly, Benedict’s abdication has left a wound that will at best heal to a scar. The position of Pope doesn’t seem so venerable anymore. It’s no longer a rigid post that is held until death, but rather one from which resignation is a viable option. A new Pope may have to tread lightly to avoid an ex-Pope’s peering over his shoulder. At any rate, at a period of such stagnancy and inaction in the Vatican, Benedict XVI’s choice to become Joseph Ratzinger again may have provided enough voltage to shock the Catholic Church into the contemporary era.
The Catholic Church must reinvent itself for the new millenium, shedding centuries worth of antiquated traditions, uncompromising orthodoxy, and covert corruption. held two. During his eight-year reign, he installed ninety Cardinals, sixty-seven of whom voted in the conclave. With a total of 115 Cardinals casting ballots, sixty-seven is a sizable majority. Perhaps it’s harsh to label Ratzinger as a scheming strategist, but the data is hard to ignore: Despite the ethnic variety observed among the candidates, it is very likely that Pope Francis will feel pressured to embody many of his predecessor’s conservative views and plans for policy. Says the New York Times, Benedict’s decision to resign will “set limits for future popes” and “make them more subject to pressure from critics.” As Andrea Tornielli, a historian and the Vatican correspondent for La Stampa
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Hugo Chavez Under Scrutiny BY DANIEL ROSENBLATT
ugo Chaves, the President of Venezuela, passed away on March 5th, 2013, after 14 years in office. Elected to office four times, Chávez gained popularity with the Venezuelan populous through radical social and political changes with the goal of decreasing poverty, finding stability within a precarious government, and implementing a successful socialist state. One of his largest works was the Bolivarian Revolution, a movement that focused on improving the quality of life through socialist projects. Chaves allied himself with neighboring leaders such as the Fidel and Raúl Castro, Daniel Ortega, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa. These presidents represented Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Ecuador, respectively.
“From 2002 to 2011, the poverty rate dropped from 48.6% to 29.5%, and according to the United Nations, the standard of life increased significantly.”
Although Chavez implemented effective socialist programs, his dictatorial misuse of power was an obvious downside to his presidency, and his international policy set up a dismal future for Venezuela. Many of Chavez’ socialist motives and actions evidently succeeded. From 2002 to 2011, the poverty rate dropped from 48.6% to 29.5%, and according to the United Nations, the standard of life increased significantly. Chavez executed many of these social advancements through programs called “Bolivarian Missions.” The Bolivarian Missions include various anti-poverty measures, medical campaigns, and educational improvements. Mission Robinson, named after Venezuelan educator Simón Rodriguez, attempts to eradicate illiteracy amongst adults with the use of volunteer teachers. While not yet verified by outside sources, the Venezuelan government announced in 2005 that Venezuela was now a “Territory Free of Illiteracy,” with a 99% literacy rate. Mission Barrio Adentro sets up a comprehensive system of public health care, including the planned construction of 8500 Barrio Adentro I two story medical clinics. Within this program, larger clinics and hospitals have also been created. This massive increase in health care access greatly contrasts to the period before Chavez, in which only 50 public health establishments had been created since 1980. The mission had ini-
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International tially been praised by the United Nations as a success; however, many critics assert that the health care is nonfunctional due to a massive lack of funding. Also, Cuban doctors originally comprised the majority of the workers in these clinics, but as Cubans return home, Venezuelan doctors are faced with a lack of necessary training to provide high quality care. Mission Mercal, which seeks to reduce hunger, increase access to nutritious foods, and increase dependence on local Venezuelan farmers, has yielded weary results. Through the use of soup kitchens and state-run markets, many poor people have been fed. However, today the country is much more dependant on imported goods than in the years prior to Chavez’ presidency. Additionally, the nation lacks proper supply of milk, eggs, sugar, and other necessary products. Other missions have had mixed results as well. Many have achieved some goals, but fail due to financial issues. Clearly, Chavez’ programs have had a great affect on the lives of the people, but due to the extreme bureaucracy and minimum funding, success is not likely. Despite Chavez’ focus on bettering the lives of the poor, the president took multiple tyrannical actions. In March of 2010, Chaves’ secret police agents arrested Oswaldo Álvarex Paz, an opposing presidential candidate who had publically recognized problems with the country. Days later, Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of the independent television network Globovisión, was arrested when he spoke out against the government’s actions against free press. That April, Judge María Lourdes Afiuni was arrested and detained in an overcrowded cell with violent criminals because Chavez was not pleased with one of her rulings. Chavez misused his power both to threaten individual free speech and eliminate political competition. Mr. Paz, the imprisoned former presidential candidate believes that, “the government is fraudulently inventing conspiracies, assassination plots and national emergencies…out of nervousness over the precarious decline in the president’s credibility at home and abroad.” Chavez worked so hard to create a popular image for himself, but his oppressive actions tainted this image. Finally, in terms of his international policy, Chavez achieved certain goals while in the process created a somewhat unstable environment for his country. One of Chavez’ most significant policies was Latin American Integration. Through this policy, Chavez attempted to strengthen political and economic relations with other Latin American nations. He provided cheap oil for countries with similar economic policies such as Cuba, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, and he encouraged an increase in trade between Latin American countries. Despite these actions, the majority of Venezuela and South America did not have confidence in Chavez’ foreign policy, a disposition that mostly likely was a result of the developing instability. In addition to supporting controversial countries such as Iran, Chavez hurt diplomatic relations with the United States. He frequently criticized US economic and foreign policy. He denounced the US’ actions in Iraq, criticized Free Trade policy, and even dared the US to accuse his nation of supporting terrorism. In 2008, Chavez acted upon these criticisms and severed American diplomatic ties for a period of 10 months. Additionally, he publically insulted American leaders, calling President Bush a “jerk,” a “donkey,” “a drunk,” and “the Devil,” and stating that President Obama “shared the same stench.” Considering that Venezuela’s largest buyer of oil is the United States, Chavez’ decision to destroy political relations was detrimental to the future of the country’s economy. By the end of Chavez’ presidency, oil exports to America started to decline rapidly. President Chavez showed a commitment to internal improvement of Venezuela, and was able to aid many of impoverished people in his country. Sadly, his unattainable goals, harsh use of power, and isolating foreign policy impeded an attainment of his original goals.
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By Lenn Uchima
Sino-Japanese Relations Rising Tensions Between China and Japan
ierce territorial disputes between China and Japan in recent years have turned the Asia-Pacific world into the stage for the most important issue to threaten Sino-Japanese relations since the 1970’s. The land in question, called the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, is a chain of resource-rich, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Currently a part Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, the islands have been the source of dogged nationalism and animosity between both countries’ people and has put a heavy strain on diplomacy. With the two biggest economic powers of Asia locked in an endless “he said she said” argument over the sovereignty of the islands, there is little doubt that at this rate consequences will reverberate through not only the
several other Pacific nations, but also the rest of the world. Neither China nor Japan, however, is at all willing to see eye-to-eye regarding this issue. Further escalation seems imminent, and as relations continue to sour, it may be up to the United States to mediate and help defuse the situation before either side oversteps its boundaries. The history of the islands itself is mired in contradictions and a convoluted mess of treaties born out of a century of wars. The PRC (People’s Republic of China) maintains that the islands were in fact Chinese to begin with, according to accounts dating as early as the 14th century. The islands only became Japanese, China says, in 1895 under the Treaty of Shimonoseki following their defeat in the first Sino-Japanese
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War. Thus, Japan was obliged to return them to China under provisions of the 1943 Cairo Declaration, 1945 Potsdam Proclamation, and San Francisco Treaty, which required Japan to relinquish all of its overseas territory. On the other hand, Japan claims that the islands were not part of the 1895 treaty, but were annexed separately after surveyors determined them to be “terra nullius,” i.e. not belonging to anybody, for at least ten years. Hence, when US occupation of Okinawa formally ended in 1972 under the Okinawa Reversion Act, the islands were rightfully brought back under Japanese control. Indeed, this is the version that history seems to have favored, as the islands are officially thought by most to be Japanese. In fact, Japan today does not even recognize the
International existence of a Chinese claim. As to which side is actually right, however, is anybody’s guess. The fact of the matter is that serious tensions now exist between China and Japan as a result. Although both countries agreed to shelve the matter indefinitely in the late 1970’s until an agreeable solution could be decided upon, it resurfaced stronger than ever in September 2010 when a Chinese fishing trawler collided with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels despite orders to leave. Japan’s detaining of the trawler’s crew incited much anger in China. In the years since, the situation has quickly intensified. Over a hundred Chinese and Japanese naval and aerial incursions in the disputed area occurred in 2012 alone. Continuing in September 2012, the Japanese government’s purchase of three other disputed islands from their private owners triggered anti-Japanese protests all across China. The protests led to the vandalizing of Japan owned stores, forcing them to suspend operations, and the boycotting of Japanese products. Automobile dealerships like Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. reported their lowest outputs to China in years, and All Nippon Airways Corp., Japan’s largest airline, had 46,000 flight cancellations between September and November. In total, Japanese corporations lost billions of USD as a result. In addition, direct military confrontations between the two countries have since occurred numerous times and include aerial skirmishes and standoffs between Coast Guard vessels. As such confrontations become more frequent, one false move on either side’s part could cause the situation to spiral out of control, further worsening relations. While their respective governments are much more subtle, people of both countries are calling for brute force to end the argument. Clearly, this cannot be allowed to happen at all costs. China and Japan possess the two largest economies in Asia, and are second only to the US in terms of nominal GDP. The two also benefit greatly from each other; according to 2012 statistics, China was Japan’s largest trading partner in both imports and exports, and Japan comprised nearly 20% of China’s total trade. Should such powers clash, it would paralyze a great deal of not only theirs, but the entire Asia Pacific region’s econo-
mies, which generates about 55% of the world’s GDP and 44% of the world’s trade. As tensions continue to grow, the issue will no longer concern just China and Japan, but the entire world. Thus, the last thing anyone could want is for a fever of patriotism to get the better of either country and spawn a major conflict. To prevent such a crisis, the US should abandon its removed position on the issue and actively seek to become a third-party mediator for multilateral negotiations between China, Japan, and the other Pacific nations. Make no mistake; under the 1960 U.S.Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, what precipitates from a SinoJapanese conflict will affect the US just as much as it will affect China and Japan. Moreover, in November, the US senate unanimously approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which reaffirmed its commitment to oppose any challenges to Japan’s sovereignty of the islands. Thus, this is
very much the US’ problem too. Critics have suggested several facesaving solutions for the two countries, the first and most practical being a simple continuing of the status quo, i.e. the islands remain under Japanese administration, and Japan refrains from exploiting the islands’ natural resources for fear of provoking China. Other ideas include turning the disputed area into a neutral marine reserve for the East China Sea, one of the most overfished waters in the world. Ideally, China and Japan will one day agree to share the islands’ resources peacefully for their mutual benefit. At any rate, however, it is of the upmost importance that both countries exercise prudence and make their way towards rebuilding rapidly deteriorating Sino-Japanese relations. Regardless of whether the US joins the fray or not, the outcome of this dispute will undoubtedly play a major role in shaping international diplomacy of 2013.
“Automobile dealerships like Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. reported their lowest outputs to China in years.”
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Democratic Cuba Still a Dim Hope By Neil Ahlawat
uba’s future looks bleak. And yes, while this “bold” statement may sound blunt, it’s true. Since the Cuban missile crisis, the United States and Cuba have been staunch enemies. This won’t change anytime soon either. It has also been about half a century since modern day Cuba as we know it came into existence, with the Revolution that put Fidel Castro into power. On February 24th, current Cuban leader Raul Castro addressed the Cuban Parliament. Rather than discuss economic reforms or political reforms, the younger Castro announced his resignation at the end of the
5-period term he had just been elected for (in 2018). After more than 50 years of Castro rule in Cuba, there is a clear and unprecedented opportunity for Cuba to move on at the heels of Raul’s announcement. A Cuba after Castro may finally exist. Ten years ago a similar opportunity seemed promising. Fidel was aging, the economy was deteriorating, and Cuba was on its path towards being run into the ground. But the Castro reign hobbled on, up until today, and will be in power for another five years. However, after those five years, what lays ahead? Well, there is hope that Cuba will prosper without a
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Castro in power. With small reforms put in place by Raul Castro’s government, and several surprising appointments to certain offices, Cuba may just be inching towards better days. But those better days are not as good as one may think. The post-Castro transition period promises to be a long and complicated process. It is a process that does not necessarily translate into reform in Cuba, or the “betterment” of Cuba. Before Raul Castro took over, 5 years ago, the Cuban economy was still in trouble, social tensions were rising, and leader Fidel Castro was aging. Many
International thought that without Fidel, a Cuban government that tried to remain communist would falter and be replaced with a democracy-oriented government. Those who thought so were wrong, but only to a certain extent. Initially, Raul Castro portrayed himself as a reform oriented leader, but he achieved limited reforms in his first year in office. However, as of the past few years, the Cuban leader has been creeping Cuba toward reform. In 2011, Castro’s government announced policy changes with the goal of jumpstarting the faltering economy. For the first time since the Communist revolution over 50 years ago, Cubans will be allowed to buy and sell houses. Earlier this year, he said he hoped to establish age caps for political offices and referendums regarding broad constitutional changes. Unfortunately, these “reforms” as they are called aren’t much. Still, they are more than what one would expect from Cuba still under the rule of a Castro. Sadly, it seems that as long as Raul’s brother, Fidel, remains living, Raul will be under the restraints of the former Cuban leader and his legacy. Even if Fidel dies while Raul is still in office, it will be difficult for him to reject his brother’s policy of legal, political, and economic centralization. This issue will be faced not just by Raul, but also by those who come after him. Any major moves to reject Fidel’s “teachings” will no
“Any thought of the free market coming to Cuba is almost laughable. A democracy? No way.” doubt be met with opposition from Cuba’s ruling elites. Any thought of the free market coming to Cuba is almost laughable. A democracy? No way. During his speech to parliament, Raul Castro scoffed at the idea of Cuba renouncing socialism. “I was elected to defend, maintain and continue to perfect socialism and not to destroy it.” The quote needs no translation, and what Raul Castro said should be made clear to democratic optimists in Cuba- democracy is not the future. The future lies in reform, with or without Castro. While the small reform in Cuba is growing, significant challenges in the economic sector still remain and are apparent as ever. Firstly, Cuba’s economy is still overly dependent on Venezuela and other Latin American nations for its imports, one of the most important of which is oil. Cuba receives more than 100,000 discounted barrels of oil
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a day, and billions of dollars each year from Venezuela in exchange for Cuban medical personnel, technology experts, political consultants, and other “professionals.” With the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the economic aid and staunch anti-American ally from Venezuela remains in question. The loss of Venezuela as an ally while the Cuban economy struggles could evidently be fatal. For now, a partial solution to the economic crisis is to provide and allow for more consumer goods to be available to the Cuban population, without any structural economic changes, a plan that the current government may not be willing to put in place. Since 1989, the four “pillars” that Fidel Castro’s government was founded on have faded almost completely. Soviet support, the Revolution, the totalitarian state apparatus, and Fidel himself are now essentially non-existent. Following the Revolution in Cuba, Fidel Castro was a leader at 32 years old. Others in the victorious army were younger. The Revolution and new government appealed to the youth of the time, but not so much anymore, with many teenagers embracing western culture since the ‘90’s. Anti-Americanism is still an integral part of Cuba’s foreign policy, and will remain as such. Raul is likely to remain allies with countries that are not so friendly to the US and that demand little from Cuba in exchange for generous aid. The United States really should not have anything to do with Cuba’s future, and recently, has not. Cuba must continue on its path, with the little reform that is possible. Reform is the key in Cuba, but the type of reform that has been transpiring has not been enough. Maybe in 5 years, when Raul Castro does resign, there will be a clear-cut candidate to lead Cuba out of the current hole it is in. It may possibly even be Raul’s son. For now, the future looks bleak in Cuba as it has for the past decade.
Change From Within By Daniel Jin http://www.wupr.org/
Chinese Communist Party Infringes Upon Human Rights
ince the economic reforms of the 1970s, China has made significant economic progress, evolving into a global powerhouse. However, when taking into consideration the overall quality of life of the Chinese people, not much has improved. The Chinese government runs a corrupt system that neglects even the most basic rights of the people. Now that China has grown so much in economic and political power, external help from countries like the U.S. will not help anymore – reform must come from within China. Human rights abuse in China comes in many different forms – government censorship takes away freedom of speech, the Re-education through Labor system punishes alleged criminals without trial, and and the reluctance to allow labor
unions makes factory conditions among the worst in the world. But there is one reform that would potentially fix all of these problems – democracy. If the corrupt Communist Party officials handed over power to the people, human rights abuse would come to an end in China. Instead the government uses economic growth to cover up its viceridden regime. Democracy has long been a goal of the Chinese people. The issue first received international attention after the 1989 student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. More than 300,000 Chinese demonstrators, led by a group of university students, gathered in the square to protest the government. Demanding an end to corruption, improved workers’ rights, and free speech, the protesters angered the Communist party leaders.
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Even though the protestors only went on a hunger strike, the Chinese Army opened fire on the unarmed civilians, killing thousands. The government also arrested 1,602 for their simple practice of free speech, and many did not even receive a trial before being punished. China received harsh international criticism for its handling of the event. Various countries have called upon China to change and to acknowledge human rights, but China has done nothing to improve the situation. Today, more than 20 years later, these same issues still exist. But the demand for democracy has not faded – Chinese billionaire Zhang Xin recently told CNN, “Everybody [in China] craves for democracy. They are longing for it.” While the Chinese people want democracy, it is currently very diffi-
International cult to act against the Chinese government. Media censorship limits discussion and the flow of ideas, and many Chinese citizens do not even know about the 1989 protests. Additionally, all of the leaders of the democracy movement are now either imprisoned or exiled. Since the 1989 demonstrations, the advocacy for rights has visibly slowed. Fear, limited access to information, and a feeling of contentment from economic growth have impeded the path to democracy. The Chinese government has imposed strict rules of censorship. They control what is printed in newspapers, which websites people can access, what schools teach, and the television programs that can be viewed. Due to this, the Chinese people are unable to obtain information that they want and are uninformed about world news. Through censorship, the Chinese government ensures that the people hear only what the government wants them to hear; when news involving China has negative implications, the Chinese government does not let it reach the people. Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has long supported the democracy movement, and he has been arrested four times for his involvement in protests and
“In 2012, Reporters without Borders ranked China 174 out of 179 countries worldwide in terms of press freedom.”
demonstrations. In 2010, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and China rushed to censor the news of his victory. Since the Nobel Prize had been covered in previous years by Chinese news agencies, they were sure that people would be interested in the 2010 recipient. As a result, the Information Office of the State Council censored the search terms “Liu Xiaobo” and “Peace Prize” on blogs and other interactive media services. Although the Chinese government knows that they must provide information to the people, especially with the growing demand, they are afraid of giving total freedom to newspapers, which would allow opinions to be published that could undermine the Communist Party’s political power. In 2012, Re-
porters without Borders ranked China 174 out of 179 countries worldwide in terms of press freedom. The harsh punishments for violating the strict censorship rules pressure journalists to censor their own material. In fact, most Chinese media organizations use monitors to check that their publications do not violate government laws. Although the number of publications in China has grown exponentially in recent years, the new publications are still controlled by the government, and public opinion is still in the hands of the Communist Party. One of the most notable cases of censorship was in 2008, when the government prevented reports of contaminated milk to be published. The milk sickened hundreds of thou-
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International sands of children. If the reports had been published earlier, people would have been educated about the contamination and nobody would have gotten sick. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, China has the third most imprisoned journalists, behind only Iran and Turkey. China also censors the flow of foreign information into the country. All foreign data is filtered at a computer center, where provocative content is checked for and blocked out. China has become subject to a considerable amount of foreign criticism over its rigorous censorship laws. However, this has little effect on Chinese policy. In 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US would continue to
restrain censorship in countries like China and Iran. But these attempts have failed, and censorship rules have not changed much since then. A large reason behind this is China’s growing nationalism after a period of tremendous economic prosperity. China now ranks among the largest global powers and does not feel the need to listen to foreign suggestions. Chinese Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu warned the US about the Internet freedom issue concerning “interfering in others’ internal affairs.” Although freedom of speech and freedom of press are granted in China’s constitution, the government continues to contradict these rights with censorship laws. Since China’s economic rise, the country has been less susceptible
“Since China’s economic rise, the country has been less susceptible to foreign influence, and now advocacy for reform must come from within China itself.”
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to foreign influence, and now reform must come from within China itself. The Chinese government has used censorship and economic progress to disguise its violations of human rights, but this tactic ultimately is not sustainable. China’s democratization will be tough, but it will inevitably happen. The root of all of China’s socioeconomic problems lies in its government, which consistently ignores the demands of the people. “When challenged by its citizens, repression or tactical retreat rather than systemic reform remains the Chinese government’s default response,” Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch says. No government will ever be able to function without satisfying its people. China’s only excuse for its violations is a rising GDP, which only benefits a small portion of the population. In an article published by the Center for Strategic International Studies, Yu Liu and Dingding Chen state that China’s Gini coefficient, the worldwide measure of inequality, is among the highest in the world. Where 0 is where wealth is distributed evenly and 1 is where one person has all the wealth, China’s Gini coefficient stands at 0.48, which rose from 0.3 in the 1970s and
International 1980s. This figure is likely a large underestimation, since Chinese citizens hide as much as $2.34 trillion of gray income each year according to economist Wang Xiaolu. Many people bribe corrupt officials to allow them to hide portions of their income and avoid paying tax money. China’s gray income could make up 20% of its GDP, forcing the poor to struggle for their survival while the rich live extravagantly. This exemplifies the nature of the Chinese economy, in which all opportunities flow to the rich and highly educated. As a result, many Chinese citizens do not benefit much from the recent economic rise, and are no more than onlookers to the progress of a select few. The long held belief that China will be able to maintain its authoritarian regime due to good economic performance, otherwise known as performance legitimacy, has been disproved by historical examples in recent years. China has relied on performance legitimacy for years to justify its corrupt rule over its people by setting goals and accomplishing them. However, in the late 20th century, Brazil, Chile, Greece, South Korea, Spain, and Taiwan – all economically successful nations – went through successful democratization. According to Liu and Chen, there is an increasing discontentment with living standards among the younger Chinese. People now see education, medical care, and decent housing as given rights that the government must provide. According to a study by Wang Zhengxu of Nottingham University, Chinese born after 1980 have significantly less trust in the government. Recent events in China have shown the instability that China’s political situation has sunk into. In January 2013, after the government censored a critical editorial by Southern Weekly and changed it to a pro-Communist party glorification, protests ensued at the newspaper’s headquarters. Although newspapers still try to avoid stepping over the government’s regulations, they are becoming increasingly irritated with the laws. On January 7, Meng Jianzhu, the leader of the Political and Legal Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, reportedly announced that the government would abolish the Reeducation through Labor system. However, as the reports of his announcement spread across the news, the government censored the stories. Later, the government-owned Xinhua News Agency released a story that minimized the statement to only say that the government would further try to re-
form the system, a goal that the government has had for years but has never actively pursued. This illustrates the insecurity of the government in making the decision whether to succumb to public demands or to bury itself deeper into its lies, temporarily resolving the conflict but only elongating the eventual path to reform. Slowly, we are seeing the power of performance legitimacy withering away. China’s use of performance legitimacy to warrant its corrupt regime cannot last for long – millions of people are working in factories under terrible conditions, a corrupt detention system hands out punishments without trial, and the government operates behind closed doors without taking into consideration the wants and needs of the general public. Economic prosperity is no justification for a corrupt government. It may have brought temporary happiness to China, but the Chinese people will eventually want their rights. Dawa Tsering, the chairman of the Tibet Religious Foundation
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of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, said of China, “No matter how far its material strength grows, it’s a country in spiritual vacuity. And its people are not respected because they lack freedom and a democratic system to safeguard liberty.” The Chinese people have shown increased displeasure with the government, and as they come to realize that the economic growth only benefits the wealthy, the opposition against the government will continue. This will start with newspapers demanding more freedom, which has already begun with the Southern Weekly protests. People are gaining more freedom of speech on micro-blogging site “Weibo,” and more freedom of speech means the spread of both opinion and information throughout the country. “Authoritarian regimes are based on atrocity and lies,” Dawa said. “When people can freely access information, a false tale will betray itself.” At some point, the government will inevitably have to embrace reform, and Chinese people will have their rights.
SPEAK OUT The Mounting Oppresion of Afghan Women By Catherine Engelmann
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nder pressure from her older sister to halt communication with the boy, Nabila tried to eat just enough poison to scare her family but not kill herself,” reports Azam Ahmed in a recent article in The New York Times. A tragedy such as the suicide committed by this young Afghan woman this past November should not have occurred. Anytime a human feels the urge to take his or her own life is tragic, but this tragedy is escalated when the impetus involves an honest relationship between two young people. Nabila Gul, a bright, “impetuous” 17 year old with an entire future ahead of her, poisoned herself after receiving much disproval from her family and from her older sister for her relationship with a boy her age. She lived in a relatively liberal city in Afghanistan by the name of Mazar-iSharif where she was exposed to European influences such as television series. The cultural clash between this town and the conservative, patriarchal Afghan culture can be too much to bear for a young teenager who wishes to experience things that any teenager should be able to. According to Dr. Khowaja Noor Mohamma, the head of internal medicine at Mazar-iSharif Regional Hospital, “most of the girls don’t die, but they all take poison or at least threaten to kill themselves.” The suicide rate in Mazar-i-Sharif is so high that the police force can no longer investigate them. This horrifying reality should be a sign that something in Afghani society is not working and needs to be reformed. In Afghani society, being even a member of the female sex is viewed as a burden. “When you don’t have a son in Afghanistan, it’s like a big missing in your life. Like you lost the most important point of your life. Everybody feels sad for you,” according to Azita Rafaat, mother of three girls. The rest of her family blamed her for producing only girls, as it is believed by most uneducated Afghani families that the mother is responsible for the sex of a child. On account of Rafaat’s membership in Parliament and her three daughters, many of her constituents looked down on her as a “failed woman.” In order to avoid embarrassment, Rafaat and other “failed” Afghani women dress their daughters as boys until they reach puberty. Producing more bacha posh (Dari for dressed as a boy) significantly elevates the social standing of a family. There are many things that are wrong with the condescension women
International receive for producing daughters; without women there would be no one to produce any sons. This fact may be generally known among Afghani people, yet most inhabitants of the country are so accustomed to an unvarying society that there is little room for change even if it is logical. Even more recently than the abovementioned incident, the young Pakistani, Malala Yousufzai, was shot by the Taliban because she supported education for girls and other Western values. While much of the Eastern Hemisphere is slow to empower females, the movement towards gender equality is picking up some speed. Until now, there have been so few attempts at reform that the fight for women’s rights was a virtual standstill. Now, however, out of these apparent setbacks, arises a greater motivation for change. That is to say, these tragedies are double-edged swords. In a way, out of the countless tragedies surrounding the issue of gaining rights for women, there is potential for change. The loss of a human being undoubtedly causes grief in those close to the victim, but the loss of these girls also has a potentially positive impact on the communities in which they lived. Most Afghans and Pakistanis are tired of the Taliban restricting the rights of their daughters. According to Gordon Brown in his recent op-ed in the New York Times, “Pakistan’s silent majority is refusing to stay silent any longer.” Now is the time for supporters of female equality all over to act. Not just within Afghan and Pakistani society, but societies worldwide are begin-
ning to recognize and be appalled by the wave of destruction that religious misogynists are creating. In an era of upheaval in the Middle East, where new democracies are being formed and old traditions are being broken, now is the time for women’s rights activists to gain much-awaited headway. Ideally, the girls themselves would fight for their rights. No one can have more impact on a hateful situation than the victims of the hatred. All progress occurs little by little. In the case of women’s rights, this progress has moved at a glacial pace even in America, a relatively progressive country. It is only very recently that women in America have acquired the same legal rights as men, and superficial prejudices remain unabated. If this is the rate at which progress is moving in America, then the Taliban’s attempts to murder anyone who opposes traditional values should not come as a shcok. Yet, there is hope that the United States and other countries can set an example of the way life should be for women around the globe. Americans do have power to spread their values to places that have never seen reform. For example, Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, has traveled to 42 countries in the past year, providing an example of an empowered woman to leaders and inhabitants of countries stuck in the past, such as Saudi Arabia and India. Now, in the midst of crises, is the time for women themselves to set the standard for how they should be treated and for men to listen.
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UNEXCEPTIONALISM By Spencer Slagowitz
merica is not exceptional. We, as a country, do not have the best economy, nor do we have the largest military in terms of active personnel. In many other fields, the United States is still unexceptional compared to other countries. Yet, despite this, there are many who believe America is exceptional. One of the many reasons that we remain unexceptional is the fact that we hold on to the idea of American exceptionalism. We refuse to believe that our country is not the best and that we are below other countries. We continue to hold on to this idea of exceptionalism despite all the evidence to the contrary. In order to become exceptional again, we must accept that America is above all unexceptional. Once we accept that as fact, we can start to reform the United States, and become exceptional again. In order to become exceptional, we also need to identify how we are unexceptional and how we can become exceptional. For one, America does not have the best economy anymore. Recently, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the United
State’s credit rating to an AA+ from an AAA. The United State’s economy is one of the largest; however in terms of stability and our credit rating, we are below average. In terms of debt, the United States Government is over 16 trillion dollars in debt to other countries. The amount of debt that we owe is not proportional to our population. We do not have the largest population nor is our population growing the fastest. The population of India and China exceed the population of the United States by a billion persons, and then some. We are 130th in terms of growth rate, by the United Nations and the CIA world Factbook. Our average life expectancy is 40th compared to those of other countries. According to Forbes, the best countries for business are Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Denmark, not the United States who is granted the mere ranking of twelfth. The United States is not even among the twelve safest countries in which to live. In all, America is wholly unexceptional. Despite our current lack of exceptionality, America used to be exceptional. We used to be ranked first in all of the
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aforementioned fields. The American Revolution, the event that brought the United States into being, marked a turning point in the history of the world, the change from absolutist governments to representative governments. America used to have an AAA credit score and was not in debt. We were a leader in international politics and a pioneer in industry and art. However, we allowed other countries to surpass us and we fell from being exceptional. Why did this happen? Why did we allow other countries to surpass us, and take our place as the pioneers of technology and business? Our fall from greatness can be attributed to numerous factors however there are a few that made substantial contributions to our fall from greatness. One of the most important reasons we fell in rank was our constant mismanagement of funds. In the past and currently, the United States Government invests amounts of money into enterprises and projects that fail. We do not distribute our funds accurately; allocating money into areas that do not necessarily need it and depriving those
that do.. We distribute loans worth billions of dollars at a dangerously fast rate. This hurts both the United States and our citizens as we lose large sums of money as well as those who take out the loans cannot necessarily pay them back.
averted. The fact that we have a house of representatives dominated by Republicans and a senate dominated by Democrats causes measures passed by either government body to come to a roadblock at its counterpart.
In order to make America more “exceptional” on the world stage, we must start with our government. Another reason we are no longer exceptional is the incredible magnitude of partisanship that dominates our government. There are clear party divides within our government, divides that cleave our government in two. The United States Government has been continuously criticized for its lack of bipartisanship. Because our government is split into two groups that oppose each other, the productivity and effectiveness of our government has been reduced. The Democratic and Republican parties disagree on numerous issues, which prevent bills from being passed and crises from being
The question that remains is: how can we become exceptional again? How should we regain our role as trailblazers and pioneers? In order to become exceptional again we must find and improve areas in which we are lacking. In order to make America more exceptional, we need to start with our government. One of the first things the United States can do to become more exceptional is to fix one of the reasons that we become unexceptional in the first place, partisanship. If bipartisanship is stressed in the United States, the United States government will become more ef-
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fective, stronger, more powerful, and will be able to reform America’s issues until it appears back on top. If our political parties work together, compromise, and pass measures; the methods necessary to make America exceptional will be available. We must manage funds more accurately as well. We need to find a way to assess more accurately how much money a project needs so money is not wasted nor needed. We must reform the allocation of the government’s funds in such a way whereas individual rights are respected while the government is made more fiscally solvent. If this is effectively done, America can reduce its debt, and regain its place as In order to make America a safer country, we have to make our police departments, and hospitals more easily accessible, and more effective in terms of technology and methodology. We need to stress within our schools sciences, mathematics, and technology much more than we are currently doing. We also have to teach the Americans of tomorrow how to live in a healthy manner, and how to make intelligent informed choices.
Energy Independence for Economic Improvement By Brett Silverstein
hile the U.S. economy has stumbled along the last few years, exploration of natural gas and oil may present a road to economic prosperity. With exploration of our natural resources, we have the ability to achieve energy independence. Already we have seen oil and natural gas exploration create thousands of jobs in states such as Oklahoma and North Dakota. While state permits for oil and natural gas drilling has skyrocketed in recent years, federal government permits have remained relatively stagnant. Currently the unemployment rate stands at 7.9%, and at the slightest level of insecurity in the Middle East, oil prices skyrocket. With energy independence promising the possibility of thousands, if not millions, of jobs in the United States and insulation from insecurity in the Middle East, the federal government needs to embrace the exploration of its own oil and natural gas. The United States is on the path to achieving energy independence. Since 2005, oil imports have declined from 60% to 42%. The US Energy Information Administration predicts that we will become energy independent by 2040. The International Energy Administration forecasts that the US will be energy independent by 2030. This projected independence will occur in large part due to increased oil and natural gas production. The EIA predicts that oil production will increase by 20% over the next decade, reaching a peak
of 7.5 million barrels a day in 2019. With US oil production increasing and production decreasing elsewhere, the IEA predicts that the US will overtake Saudi Arabia by 2020 to become the largest oil producer in the world. In addition to the increased oil production the EIA forecast predicts that natural gas will account for 27% of total energy produced by 2020 and 30% of total US energy produced by 2040. This is an increase from 16% in 2000 and 24% in 2010. By 2020 the EIA predicts that the
The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia by 2020 to become the largest oil producer in the world. US will be a net exporter of natural gas. The EIA predicts that imported energy as a percentage of total energy consumed will have fallen to 9% in 2040, down from 27% in 2007. However, we could achieve energy independence even earlier if not for the federal governmentâ€™s aversion to drilling on federal lands. Almost all of the growth in oil and natural gas production in the US has occurred on private or state lands. According to the Institute for Energy Research, oil and natural gas production on federal lands has actu-
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ally fallen by over 40% since 2000. Currently the government leases less than 2.2% of federal offshore areas and less than 6% of federal onshore lands for oil and natural gas production. Moreover, the number of annual leases issued by the Bureau of Labor Management is less than half the number of those issued by the BLM under President Clinton. Meanwhile oil production and natural gas production on private and state lands have respectively increased by 11% and 40% since 2000. While President Obama is not exclusively responsible for the decrease in drilling on federal lands, the impact is still the same. Should President Obama repeal the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and permit more drilling elsewhere, it is possible that we can achieve energy independence years earlier. Complete energy independence would insulate us from insecurity in the Middle East. Currently we import over 40% of our oil at a cost of $500 to $600 billion per year from the Middle East alone. While our importation of oil has dropped steadily in recent years, we still have a very large exposure to oil price fluctuations caused by insecurity in the Middle East and elsewhere. When oil prices increase people are forced to pay more for their gasoline and heating oil, which leaves less money to spend for other things. A 2011 OECD policy paper found that a $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil could raise inflation by roughly two tenths of a percentage point in the first year and by
another tenth in the second year while reducing activity in the second year by two tenths of a percentage point. A 2006 Jimenez-Rodriguez and Sanchez study of GDP elasticity with respect to oil price cited by the EIA found that a 33% increase in the price of oil from $30 to $40 a barrel would cause a 1.7% decline in real GDP. By no longer being reliant on the Middle East for oil we would be better insulated from Middle Eastern oil production. In many industries, natural gas and oil products are interchangeable. When the price of one increases, companies can easily switch to the other. Having energy independence resulting from increases in both oil and natural gas domestic production will also provide hedges against price fluctuations in either chemical. According to British energy firm Centrica, America will be a net exporter of natural gas by 2017 and according to Exxon-Mobil, we will be a net oil exporter by 2025. In states such as Oklahoma, which has both oil and natural gas in abundance, when the price of either one decreases too much companies could easily alter how much of either they produce and or sell overseas. Thus by producing both oil and natural gas, we will be able mitigate the swings in oil prices. In addition to mitigating price fluctuations of oil and natural gas, our development of the two resources will create thousands of jobs. According to the Christian Science Monitor, unconventional oil and natural gas support
1.7 million jobs and by 2020 will create another 1.3 million jobs. According to Professor Timothy J. Considine, the total value added in gross regional production to Pennsylvania and West Virginia from production in the Marcellus shale formation was $4.8 billion, and the production generated over 57,000 jobs in 2009. Moreover, the Yale Graduates Energy Study Group calculated that in 2010, the consumer surplus (the consumer savings or gain from reductions
In addition to mitigating price fluctuations of oil and natural gas, our development of the two resources will create thousands of jobs. in price) from shale gas production was worth over $100 billion. A study by the Institute for Energy Research found that increasing access for drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on U.S. federal lands over the next seven years would annually increase U.S. GDP by $127 billion, add $24 billion in federal tax revenue, increase annual wages by $32 billion, and create 552,000 jobs. The negative environmental impacts of hydraulic fracking may be overstated. Hydraulic fracturing is a process where a mixture of water,
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sand, and some chemicals is pumped into rock and shale in order to release locked up natural gas and oil. Critics claim that this leads to water contamination. While some cases of water contamination have been found in the vicinity of fracking sites, they are actually quite rare. Out of the hundreds of thousands of shale gas wells across the country, one Yale University Energy Study Group cost-benefit analysis found only 19 reported instances of problems with water contamination due to fracking. Another MIT study on shale gas extraction found 43 publicly reported incidents, of which only half were incidents of water contamination. Production of natural gas may actually be beneficial for the environment in the short term. For the most part, natural gas replaces coal, which is the dirtiest energy source. According to CBS, “Lower natural gas prices are also spurring many U.S. electrical plants and homeowners to switch from coal or oil. This has resulted in a 9 percent drop in U.S. carbon emissions.” The US has billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas lying underneath our soil and our shores. Oil and natural gas promise to create thousands of jobs and to jumpstart our sluggish economy. While the states will continue to permit the drilling of oil and natural gas, the federal government’s policy remains cloudy. Thus the question is, does the federal government support prospects of improving our economy or not?
n the past, all countries followed the United States’ lead as it continued to develop new technologies and industries more quickly than anyone else. Now, the globalization of research and development exerts considerable strain on the American system, and America’s loss of complete dominance in the fields of scientific innovation and technological development is inevitable. As other world leaders emerge, among them China, Russia, and India, dominance is unsustainable in almost any sphere. Now that America’s age of total mastery has ended, whether America can remain the most powerful nation relative to other countries that have distinguished themselves in research, development, and education is uncertain. The US unquestionably has the ability to hold on to its position, but it may require difficult policy changes. It’s unlikely that America’s influence and control over the technological market will be entirely overshadowed by other countries in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the US faces considerable competition, and its leadership in these spheres can no longer be taken for granted. ‘’The rest of the world is catching up,’’ said John E. Jankowski, a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that tracks trends in science. ‘’Science excellence is no longer the domain of just the U.S.’’ For the first time, America is facing competition while hiring scientific talent and finding space to showcase its work in top science journals. Despite slight downward trends in the relative numbers of patents issued to and science journal articles published by American scientists, America’s educational system in the
sciences remains irrefutably the foremost in the world. It is for this reason that so many outstanding foreign students come to the US to study the sciences. When fantastic American schools welcome brilliant foreign students, they usually produce a highly skilled engineer, and occasionally an extraordinary one. However, these gifted engineers are rarely given the opportunity to remain in the United States and work here as innovators and developers. When they graduate they are not granted the H-1B visas that would permit them to remain here and work in specialized fields because America reduced the number of H-IB visas from 195,000 in the year 2000 to 65,000 when the bursting of the dot-com bubble resulted in a surplus of engineers. Now that there is no longer a surplus, these graduates simply return to their own countries and become our competition, when their talents could be used to further America’s innovative abilities. Maintaining the American higher educational system in the sciences at such an exceptional level requires the investment of many resources. These engineering students are given access to this outstanding American education in the sciences, only to return to their homes and provide America’s rivals with the advantage of their quality instruction.
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This efflux of engineering graduates, often referred to as a “foreign brain drain,” funnels not only talent out of the country but effectively siphons American knowledge to foreign competitors. Furthermore, the investments that America must make in its STEM educational system and in research and development in general to remain competitive will be more directly beneficial and efficiently rewarded if more H-1B visas are granted, at least until there are the number of American STEM graduates increases. Many Americans feel that these foreign graduates would occupy jobs that belong rightfully to Americans. In reality, according to a study conducted by Richard Florida, Charlotta Mellander, and Kevin Stolarick of the Martin Prosperity Institute, at only 85 engineers per 10,000 people, America is facing a huge shortage. There simply aren’t enough American STEM graduates to meet the demands of such an industrial nation. Innovation has always been one of the fastest growing and most important sections of the American economy, never more so than today, and the limit on this entire industry is this lack of engineers. These foreign students
A STRUGGLE FOR EXCEPTIONALISM By Abigail Zuckerman
are not job-destroyers, they are job-creators. In addition to reducing overseas competition and increasing the caliber and quantity of America’s technological developments, a higher number of first-rate engineers would create jobs across the board. More innovation means more employment. Silicon Valley, the nucleus of high-tech American innovation, remains at the vanguard of the technology world after fifty years. Now this position could be in peril for the first time. Immigrants have always been one of the largest driving forces behind Silicon Valley’s development, but other centers of engineering and innovation are becoming relatively more attractive. This has caused an even greater outflow of engineers to America’s international competitors, not only because of the lack of visas, but also the massive amounts of capital that countries like China and South Korea are currently pumping into their respective technology sectors. India, East London, and the
developing Skolkovo Park in Russia will also become noteworthy competitors for Silicon Valley. Be that as it may, all is not lost because experts agree that it’s difficult to determine whether other international locations have the capacity to develop environments that would rival the expertise and infrastructure already situated in Silicon Valley. Based on its long-standing reputation alone, if America were to commit slightly more capital to innovation as other countries do, thus guaranteeing a more stable occupation for engineers and scientists, the appeal of remaining in the US would increase dramatically. This would in turn insure the investment of the capital as the rate of innovation would increase. Like Silicon Valley, America as a whole has not lost its crown just yet, but it is no longer the overwhelmingly dominant force in research and development. Threats to its position will only grow in the future. As the tech-
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nological centers of other countries continue to develop past their earlier stages and gain momentum, America will face a critical test of its ability to defeat competition. America has all that it needs ensure its position: a fantastic educational system, an entrepreneurial culture, and the ability to attract capital. If the public sector returns the number of visas to 195,000, at least temporarily, provides greater support for the already powerful higher education in the sciences, and incentives for engineers to remain in the US, the private sector will handle the rest. “The sky is not falling on science,” said Dr. John H. Marburger III. “Maybe there are some clouds – no, things that need attention.” He added that any problems that have arisen are within America’s ability to solve them in a way that maintains the vitality of the research enterprise. America has always responded well to competition, and it will certainly not relinquish its primacy without a fight.
America Must Remain the World’s Policeman
By Harry Seavey
he United States entered the 20th century with a burgeoning industrial economy, a steadily growing military, and a small empire in the South Pacific and the Caribbean. America, with few exceptions, would be thought of, and think of itself, as the country across the pond, distant from conflicts outside of the Western Hemisphere. Internal development was the focus of all presidencies until William McKinley’s administration, and even then, the United States would remain relatively restrained on the global level. The first major exception to America’s longstanding run as solely a Western Hemisphere player would be participation in the largest and most gruesome conflict the world had ever seen. In opposition to a large amount of isolationist sentiment in the United States, and even contrary to what Woodrow Wilson would run on a year earlier, America would enter the First World War in 1917. If the McKinley presidency established the beginnings of global
American dominance, the First World War cemented this notion. The birth of the United States as a world power and as a true global player would happen as a result of WWI, and powerfully enforced by WWII.
The stance that the United States should withdraw from its position as an enforcer of liberal democracy and freedom throughout the world is simply rooted in falsehood. Now, a century later, after years in such disparate places as Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the role of the United States on the world stage is being questioned, and many are leaning back to-
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wards a more austere foreign policy platform of that before World War I. Indeed, much like a 21st century Eugene V. Debs, Ron Paul accrued popularity running on a foreign policy platform of isolationism in last year’s presidential election. In a world as contentious, dangerous, and conflicted as the one we live in today, the stance that the United States should withdraw from its position as an enforcer of liberal democracy and freedom throughout the world is simply rooted in falsehood. In fact, overseas American presence has become more necessary in the 21st century than it has ever been before. With what seems like a steady increase of military conflict, political oppression, and natural disaster, the necessity of a true “Globocop” has become apparent. The outright failure of the United Nations and NATO forces to instill global stability necessitates that the United States remains the world’s police force in order to guarantee that there always exist a power whose
Features devotion to the spread of democratic values globally remains constant. The United States must remain the world’s watchful police force in order to ensure global stability, the spread of liberal democracy, and above all, in order to make sure freedom is the code by which the world adheres to. The interventional foreign policy of the United States throughout the 20 and 21st century has fallen into three categories: political, military, and humanitarian. Most, when addressed on balance, have been immeasurably beneficial to the stability and freedom of the world. Events like the American assistance for earthquake victims in Haiti, the installation of an American military presence in Uganda in response to the Lord’s Resistance Army, and the establishment of the developing constitutional country Libya, are all recent examples of America successfully playing the role of the world police force. However, the United States’ role as “Globocop” is far more expansive, historied, and detailed than the latter half of the previous decade can explain. This history, on balance, has had unending benefits for peoples and countries across the globe. In addressing this history, we may look towards the future of America’s role on a global scale. From Albania to the Congo to Columbia, the United States has played the role of the world’s police force since the dawn of the 20th century. Such military interventions have been major proponents in securing increased global peace, stability, and justice. A provided instance is the Korean War. The United States battled for
three years on the Korean peninsula; however, the American victory resulted in the expulsion of communism from South Korea, and the prevention of a much longer, bloodier war. Today, South Korea remains, along with Japan, a bastion of democracy in the primarily communist region of the South China Sea. Had the United States not intervened, communism might have been a far more popular and practical option for the countries of the Pacific, further reducing Western influence, and naturally preventing free democracy from originat-
Military interventions have been major proponents in securing increased global peace, stability, and justice. ing in that region. However, in the ensuring that communism remained beholden to its own region, restraining the spread of socialism and maintaining the spread of democracy, the United States infinitely increasing global stability and the progression of free society not only in the Pacific, but also throughout the world. Harry Truman’s presidency represents possibly the greatest examples of the United States’ effective world police policy. In the period following World War Two, Truman worked towards containing communism and spreading democracy. Truman funneled $400 million into Turkey
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and Greece, preventing the uptake of communism in the Baltic and the Mediterranean. In his words, he detailed his stance as: “The policy of the United States [is] to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” Both countries are now republican, and function as pivotal in the bridge between Middle Eastern and European interests. Of course, communism might be an archaic example of oppressive political regimes, but the point remains: Historically, the United States has attempted to and succeeded in preventing despotism and injustice from developing a stranglehold on free countries. American activity on a global scale has succeeded in, for the most part, upholding liberty and a lack of that influence in the future represents a frightening prospect for the sanctity of free society. Now, in the world of today, the very same job that the United States has succeeded in historically rests upon the country. If not communism, it is that of dictatorships or other oppressive regime groups. Governments antithetical to that of democracy and freedom must be repulsed not only because it is within the United States’ interest, but in the interest of civil society. Without a global American presence, there would be virtually no large power to prevent the overtaking of communist, fascist, or otherwise abusive governments in the far corners of the world (The United Nations and NATO, the two other candidates, have proven to be part of the problem, not the solution.) Such
Features things decrease global stability, but also jeopardize a far greater principle. If there is no one to prevent oppressive regimes from rising and taking power forcefully, then it is not the United States who fails, but the world that fails in allowing the fate of free and democratic society to be jeopardized. A major, more recent controversial American military decision that ended up being incredibly fruitful was participation in the Gulf War. In 1991, the United States intervened in the Middle East to secure Kuwaiti oil interests, protecting them from Iraqi control. However, in doing so, America expelled Iraqi despotism from Kuwait, saving the constitutionally based country from the cruelty of a Hussein regime. Kuwait remains a pivotal area in the Middle East today, is considered to be a major non-NATO ally of the United States and Europe, has signed defense contracts with America and other western nations, and has provided a base by which the West may communicate with and regulate belligerent Middle Eastern countries. Had the United States not been there to protect the citizens of Kuwait, not only would previously free peoples be subjected to tyranny and oppression, but the West would lose a key Middle-Eastern ally, threatening the West’s ability to maintain peace in the Middle East. An example of such a beneficial, yet controversial, military decision by the United States reflects the climate of today’s United States. To imagine crises in the future that are not, in some way, involving the United States and its broad resources is a frightening thing simply because when we look towards and examine the past, most conflicts that have involved American presence have been irreversibly better than had the United States not been involved. The history of the United States as “Globocop” has not been restricted to simple militaristic approaches. The 20th and 21st centuries have held many examples of the United States providing unstable, developing, or recently established countries with military or monetary aid as to better establish their society or save them from a recent catastrophe. Some may disagree with the idea that humanitarian aid is a form of “world police” activity, however, it is as intrinsic to that philosophy as is military action. The benevolence of American support throughout the world has helped prop up various countries that had been dev-
astated by natural disaster or otherwise catastrophic incidents. In 2010, an earthquake rocked the country of Haiti. Deaths have been recorded to be above 300,000, and close to 250,000 residences were destroyed. After a request for US presence from both the United Nations and the Haitian government, the United States sent
Had the United States not been there to protect the citizens of Kuwait, not only would previously free peoples be subjected to tyranny and oppression, but the West would lose a key MiddleEastern ally, threatening the West’s ability to maintain peace in the Middle East. 10,000 troops in an attempt to help the destroyed country recover. Many cried “imperialism” and decried the President for his “invasion” of Haiti, but the simple fact is that American presence
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in Haiti sped up the country’s recovery, saved lives, and helped repair the country’s infrastructure. Even so, American was asked by Haiti and the UN to assist the country for the very reason that they knew how pivotal America would be in assistance. American humanitarian interests have proven to be immensely important in saving lives and stabilizing the third world across the globe. Opposition to the American world police force is opposition towards the disposition of the United States to aid third world countries, save lives, repair infrastructure, decrease the spread of disease, and improving living standards globally. The American Century marked the United States as the world’s foremost military power, its influence and might stretching from Washington to Saigon. Now, in the early beginnings of the 21st century, questioning American global dominance is no longer a radical position. However, as history has aptly dictated, America’s position as the world’s police force is an unquestionably good one. It has, on balance, established global peace and security above that which would have been created without the United States, and will continue to do so as it has proven to be a necessity in this ever increasingly dangerous and unstable world.
WHY AMERICA MUST TURN ITS BACK ON ITS WORLD-POLICE MENTALITY By Mitchell Troyanovsky
hat is the job of the U.S government? That question continues to be asked every time the U.S makes a foreign policy decision. The U.S government gets taxpayer money solely from U.S residents and U.S citizens abroad. Therefore the constituency of the U.S government should only include U.S citizens. The first sentence of the constitution says, “We the people of the Unites States.” It doesn’t say “We the people of the world.” For these reasons the United States government’s duty is to serve the interests of U.S citizens and not other people around the globe. Every task the government is able to perform is financed by taxpaying Americans. The reason we pay taxes is for the government to perform duties such as common defense and public education. Taxes are meant to in one way or another end up benefiting the American people directly. That is why the U.S government cannot use the resources bestowed upon it by Americans to benefit non-Americans. Some people like to argue that the United States should be the “policemen” of the world. People like to argue that the U.S should mediate all conflicts and send in troops to keep order in any part of the world regardless of taxpayer interest. However, the
United States should never risk American lives or spend American money in any effort that where the outcome cannot directly benefit Americans. The United States has a trillion dollar deficit and to reduce that it recently enacted a sequester. This directly affected the lives of Americans by cutting domestic spending in thousands of areas. What was missing was a dramatic decrease to our defense budget. We spend seven
The bottom line is that we as a nation cannot spend money or lives on mediating conflicts that do not have U.S interests pegged to them. hundred billion dollars a year on defense and it is absurd. The second largest spender on defense is china, and it only spends one hundred billion dollars. We are no threat of attack. The only reason the government spends this much money on defense is because of the recent “policemen” status that the United States has been labeled. In an ideal world of course the United States government would like to help those abroad. If we are the Policemen of the world then why
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don’t we intervene in every conflict ever? If we are obligated to help everyone then why don’t we just give money to every impoverished person on the planet? We don’t do either of these because we have problems at home. Not a single penny the United States government receives can be wasted when there is even one impoverished or unemployed person in America. All U.S resources must be used to help U.S citizens. Proponents of the “Policemen” ideology like to go cite Libya as a recent example of the U.S acting as the policemen of the world to keep stability in a region. However, it should be noted that the operation was mostly NATO and without our intervention the price of oil could have skyrocketed for millions of American consumers, directly hurting our economy. The U.S usually doesn’t partake in overseas contingency operations that are not in the taxpayers’ interest and it should stay that way. Many believers of the “policemen” ideology think that the U.S should intervene in Syria to keep stability in the country. Intervening in Syria could include the use of funds and possibly putting boots on the ground. The United States government should never risk the life of an American in an operation that is not in the interest of U.S
Features citizens. The job of the United State government is to preserve American life and putting Americans in danger for the benefit of another country is downright disgusting. The United States government serves the American people and not the Syrian people. The most egregious action the government could do is putting the lives of Americans in danger to assist non-Americans in a conflict that does not include strong American interests. If we don’t put boots on the ground then we would have to use air strikes or drones to assist the rebels and that not only spends money that should be benefitting Americans, but also raises the risk of innocent casualties. On top of all this the United States should not be policing the world because it is not our right to do so. We do not have the right to intervene in conflicts all around the world such as the Syrian conflict, the Mali conflict and many other conflicts in troubled countries. Those issues aren’t and shouldn’t be the concerns of the United States. If the United States government is so in favor of stopping the deaths of innocents elsewhere why don’t they first concentrate on the thousands who die from guns every year in the U.S. Not a single penny should go to saving the lives of people in other countries when thousands die from Gun violence alone right here in the United
States. This also begs the question whether a foreign country like the United States has the right to intervene in another countries sovereign land and mediate or partake in a conflict. Implementing the “policemen” ideology begs the question of how large of a conflict does it have to be for the U.S to get involved. Should we send cops literally around the world to mediate every conflict? How many lives have to be lost before we intervene? It is not our right to intervene into a conflict when we are not one of the par-
It is not our right to intervene into a conflict when we are not one of the parties involved. ties involved. When we have a small conflict another nation doesn’t send in their troops. Then why do some people think that this is ok by us on a grander scale? Just look to prior U.S policies like the Monroe Doctrine or the Roosevelt corollary, where we as a nation express our desire for European powers to not meddle in our hemisphere and any of the nations in it. These policies are still in effect today, yet some people think we should be sending our troops and meddling in the affairs of other countries all the way around the globe.
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The outcome of our actions also matters. We shouldn’t be mediating conflicts by choosing sides because we do not know which side is right or who to support. Take Syria for example. They have many different rebel groups that would all love to have the assistance of the U.S. But if we choose one we not only create a power struggle, but we might choose wrong and arm future enemies. Look to Afghanistan in the 1980’s when we armed the Taliban to fight against the Soviets. Osama Bin Laden was among those fighters and they turned into the Taliban one of our worst enemies on the planet, the culprit of thousands of lives lost. The bottom line is that we as a nation cannot spend money or lives on mediating conflicts that do have U.S interests pegged to them. If our interests include saving lives then we should be saving American l because that is the job of the U.S government. The “policemen” ideology is fatally flawed and should never be implemented because the U.S government should be looking out for U.S lives and interests. Any penny spent on attempting to save the life of a non-American in a situation where the U.S doesn’t get any tangible benefit for its citizens, is a penny that should have been spent on the American people.
Why We’re Failing By Eric Stein
nnovation is defined as the development of new products. Examples of innovation over the years are Google search, digital cameras, and the internet. American innovation is a major reason the United States has the largest economy in the world. However, there are many reasons and trends which prove otherwise. In order for the U.S. to maintain the largest economy in the world and to stay atop the rankings of innovation, our government must create legislation to uphold our continued strength. Innovation urges an increase in the worth of goods, which in turn leads to new kinds of employment and job creation. Countries around the world are pouring an extremely high amount of resources in order to strengthen their innovation power. Although the amount of money China spends on research development is nowhere close
to the amount the U.S. spends;China’s increase of money spent on research and development from 2010 to 2011 was a projected 8.7%. The United States’ increase was only 2.4%. A recent survey of global executives from KPMG, one of the largest professional service companies in the world, found that 45% of respondents selected China as the next technology innovation center in the world, followed by 21% for India, 9% for Japan, and 9% for Korea. Spending on research and development as a percentage of China’s GDP has tripled over the past fifteen years. The U.S. spent $395 billion dollars on research and development in 2010, compared to China’s $141 billion. This gap will shorten knowing the size of China’s economy and current growth rates. This gap has already shortened as China spent about 300 billion dollars on research
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and development in 2012. China’s five-year plan of social and economic initiatives includes shifting themselves from the world’s manufacturer to the world’s innovator. China has been cooperating with companies and labs in the United States in order to obtain state-of-the-art technology. A recent example is an enormous Chinese electronics company based in China, who is collaborating with MIT’s Media Lab on talent instruction, smart technology, artificial intelligence, and human-computer dialogue. Furthermore, China’s pharmaceutical industry is working with India due to its modern and inexpensive medicinal chemistry capabilities. Many countries are realizing the importance of innovation and are making efforts to become the next Silicon Valley. In order for the United States to maintain their position as the most
The D.R.E.A.M act is one way in which innovation in the United States can be stimulated. It is argued that through addressing the issue of immigration reform, the United States can move along the path of prosperity once again.
innovative nation in the world, the government must create legislation. China dispatches hundreds of thousands of their brightest citizens to study abroad. 160,000 Chinese citizens were sent to the U.S. in 2011 in order to learn about innovation and creativity strategies, according to U.S. embassy officials. People from all over the world are being sent to the U.S. to study, but are sent back due to tough immigration laws. Many of these students want to stay in the U.S., but are forced to return to their native country. The government must loosen its immigration laws because the companies created by these individuals can create thousands of jobs for Americans. These students are receiving a high quality education in America only to use it in their native country. These are the people the U.S. need to continue to stay a top innovator. The government must loosen its immigration laws in order to keep future CEO’s in this country,
“In order for the U.S. to maintain the largest economy in the world and to stay atop the rankings of innovation, our government must create legislation to uphold our continued strength” and therefore create jobs, money, and international recognition. A major way of loosening these immigration laws would be by approving the D.R.E.A.M act. This is a proposed bill that would provide permanent residency to undocumented residents of good and ethical character who graduated
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from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years before the bill’s enactment. The U.S. should concentrate on keeping these brilliant minds in the United States. The founders of Intel, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, and Google include immigrants who came to America, except they were able to stay due to different immigration laws made at the time. Recently, Google was unable to hire 70 employees with very high potential because of the visa shortage. This is just one of the many examples of how the U.S. is losing jobs because of tough immigration laws. The United States may no longer be the innovation hub of the world and it is obvious there must be legislation made to prevent this from occurring. With China’s economic growth rate, China may become the world’s leading innovator very soon.
US Education: The Problems We Face & The Steps We Must Take By Samantha Stern
he United States has long acted as a world superpower, leading the way in education, innovation, economy, and technology. The American identity is one that was founded on the ideas of selfreliance, independence, resilience, and hard work. And yet, in recent years, the United States has begun to fade into the background as new countries have entered the foreground as supremacists. Our economy is in shambles, with over 16 trillion dollars of debt, while countries such as China have rapidly growing economies. New countries are emerging as manufacturing leaders. The identity of American exceptionalism is fading. Most importantly, it lags substantially behind the rest of the globe in terms of education. In a reports published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which analyzes education based on PISA tests, the United States placed seventeenth after countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Finland, and Japan. As Condoleezza Rice declared last year, if we don’t improve our education standards, then “we will condemn generations to joblessness, hopelessness, and dependence on the government dole. To do anything less [than improve our education] is to endanger our global economic competitiveness.”
So, the first question becomes, what are these leading countries doing right; then, the next question which arises is, well, what are we doing wrong? Finland is one country which can serve as a model of a well thought out education system. As a report published
As Condoleezza Rice declared last year, if we don’t improve our education standards, then “we will condemn generations to joblessness, hopelessness, and dependence on the government dole. by Stanford explains, “Since it emerged in 2000 as the top-scoring OECD nation on the international PISA assessments, researchers have been pouring into the country to study the ‘Finnish miracle.’ How did a country with an undistinguished education system in the 1980s surge to the head of the global class in just few decades?” Finland’s main success can be attributed to its teachers—dedicated individuals who must go through intensive training before entering the classroom. Lesson number
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one: becoming a teacher in Finland is a position of prominence and importance; only one out of every ten people is accepted to teach in Finnish schools. With a high level of social prestige and respect, the profession is a highly sought after one, therefore attracting the most motivated individuals. Fins aspire to become teachers, but it is their reason for wanting to become teachers that is what we need to learn from. They don’t aspire to teach because of the pay, but rather because of the social prestige, the independence they gain in schools, and because they want to help society. According to the Center on International Education Benchmarking, teaching is Finland’s most respected professions; teachers receive prestige because they are getting training at the same institutions providing training to high level professions and because they can pick how to approach the curriculum, a characteristic of high status professions. The selection process begins by selection of candidates based on exam results and out of school accomplishments. Candidates then are tested on pedagogy, the science and art of education; they next engage in a program by which they are evaluated on their social interaction and skills. From here, they are interviewed; those who pass all these
Problem number one with America’s education system – teachers are lazy and they are not thought of highly. Problem number two — the unions. Closely linked to the problem with our first problem, lazy teachers, the unions work to protect these individuals.
Problem number three – there are not enough charter schools. Charter schools offer a real hope to students who are looking for a better education.
steps get into one of the government funded teaching schools. The government pays for these schools, instilling its teachers not only the knowledge for the subject which the teacher will eventually teach, but also the skills to become a teacher. In paying for their education, the government offers a larger incentive for teaching. Once they get into the teaching schools, trainees concentrate on their specific subjects, while also studying pedagogy. Before entering the classroom, they are practice giving lessons to pupils in front of a board of Department of Teacher Education professors, and also learn by watching well known professors teach. Usually, the process to become a teacher includes a two year degree program, a three year bachelor’s program, and a two year master’s program. In order to teach permanently, all Finnish teachers must have a master’s degree. Yes, a master’s degree. Meanwhile, in our education system, teachers need to receive a sort of certification. No master’s degree. South Korea offers another example of how we should approach education. Many are aware of the the stereotype of Asians as very hard-working, dedicated students. Well, perhaps this stereotype is true, but not
simply because of the ethnicity, but rather because of the pressure placed on students to do well. In an article by a teacher who taught in South Korea for a period of time, the teacher describes how students arrived at school at 7:40, would mop floors and perform chores for twenty minutes, at which point the school day would begin. At 6 pm, after dinner, students would sit down for hours of work. They would leave around 10:30. While this is one mode of education, other students often attend after school programs in many different extra-curricular activities, in which they learn a wide variety of topics, in addition to school. The parents in South Korea also play a large role in helping the students. Parents pay for tutors, school, extracurricular activities, and other educational costs. They spend up to 22 percent of the household income on educational initiatives. Perhaps this strong pressure on students is worth it. Students are more motivated and willing to learn. The education system itself also favors student collaboration. If a student does not understand something, rather than ignoring them, or punishing them, the education system focuses on believing in that student until they get an answer correct. Additionally, South Korea
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also has strong teachers, whose incentives are that of a Master Teacher, small stipends, and study abroad opportunities. While this seems a far fetch for American public education to become, perhaps we can transform with time, into a public education system between that of Finland and South Korea. While Finland has a very loose and flexible education system, in which the school day is short, students begin school at a later age, they don’t have many assessments, and students get to design their own timetables, the motivation and training which teachers receive accounts for the high scores which Finland received on the PISA assessments. Meanwhile, South Korean students work extremely long days, but are motivated and hard working. We need a system in which teachers are skilled like in Finland, but students are under pressure and are hardworking and interested, as in South Korea. Examining our education -- so, what are our problems and what can we do to improve them? Problem number one with America’s education system – teachers are lazy and they are not thought of highly. They are not supported by the government, the best and brightest are not selected; rather, many public school teachers are unmotivat-
Features ed, instilling in their students a lousy work ethic. As John Cotton Dana, a librarian and educator explained, “He who teaches must never cease to learn.” This is the problem with American teachers. In the words of Condeleeza Rice, “My mom was a teacher – I have the greatest respect for the profession – we need great teachers – not poor or mediocre ones. We need to have high standards for our students – self-esteem comes from achievement not from lax standards and false praise.” Problem number two: the unions. Closely linked to the problem with our first problem, lazy teachers, the unions work to protect these individuals. When unions were initially created, they were created for very real problems. Workers needed fair rights, they needed a minimum wage, needed safe working conditions. What do unions do now? They prevent bad teachers from being fired. They stifle our education system. Since unions prevent schools from firing teachers, bad teachers are reassigned to what are known as rubber rooms. They are paid to sit around in a room all day, play games, and effectively, do nothing. 22 million dollars are given per year to teachers who do nothing! In addition, the unions allow complete control of the system. For example, teachers went on strike for a week in Chicago, causing kids to have to sit home because their teachers wanted more money. A former president of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker, even admitted: “I think that we will get — and deserve — the end of public education through some sort of privatization scheme if we [the unions] don’t behave differently.” The unions control the system. Problem number three –there are not enough charter schools. Charter schools offer a real hope to students who are looking for a better education. But because not enough of these privately funded schools exist, students are chosen by lottery. And what happens to the rest of these willing-tolearn students? They are sent back to their old schools. So, why are the charter schools so different? What do they offer? Charter schools are successful because only motivated parents and students apply. The classrooms are smaller. But most importantly, the schools can hire whomever they want and fire them whenever they want. They are not under union rule. Other areas where we can improve – like in South Korea, perhaps parents have to push their kids more, and have to be more invested in their education. This means encouraging their kids to do well and putting
pressure on their kids. It means investing in after school programs and extracurricular activities. Another area where we can improve is crime in schools. The sad reality is that many schools have metal detectors and sorts of barred windows to prevent kids from smashing the glass. The school is supposed to be a place to learn, a place to be valued, and a place to be safe. The fact that students engage in crime not only endangers others, but shows the fault of the parents and school to properly discipline students and punish this behavior. Another area we can improve in is focusing on subjects needed for future professions. We should invest time in technology and educate students for future professions. More languages should be offered in schools. Mandarin is a lan-
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guage that will be helpful with the fast growing Chinese economy. Students in many other countries are bilingual, since English is such a widely spoken language. Since we already speak English, we should encourage students to learn another language. This will open up more professions in the future, allow individuals to live in other countries, and communicate with more people. This is another way in which we can focus on subjects needed for future professions. As a country, we have a lot to learn in terms of education. An analysis of Finland, South Korea, and other top-performing countries can offer insight into how we should approach our education system. We must do this. We must learn, and we must act quickly.
FALLACY OR REALITY? 52
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AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM pro: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”: The Universal Appeal of America’s Ideals by SPENCER COHEN
oday, American exceptionalsim, the premise of American superiority, is used as justification for a hawkish foreign policy of staunch American intervention in foreign conflicts. It has become a policy associated with the Republican Party, utilized as a source of American solidarity in the face of adversity. However, this is in many ways only one aspect of a complex facet and leading force in American diplomacy and foreign affairs in the majority of the 20th and early 21st centuries. American Exceptionalism is not originally an American ideal, but rather one of foreign origins during the mid-19th century. Before America developed an attitude as an exceptional nation in the 20th century, the world viewed America, arguably the first successful democracy of the modern world, as an exceptional nation. This view of America as an exceptional nation was carried through into the 20th century by such figures as Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “Descendants of Washington, of Abraham Lincoln! Take in hand the cause, not of a party, of a people, but of all! Summon to the congress of Humanity the representatives of the peoples! Preside over it with all the authority which your lofty moral conscience and the powerful future of immense America assures to you! Speak! Speak to all!” proclaimed French author Romain
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Features Rolland in the wake of a war-ravaged Europe in 1919. Rolland spoke for the war injured people of Europe in calling for American leadership, help, and guidance in the post-war period. In this context Woodrow Wilson’s proclamations for the post-war settlement—most notably his claims of self-determination for colonial peoples—are then viewed as an American president fulfilling America’s role as the leader of the western world. In the latter half of the 20th century, the period in which America received the greatest criticism for its exceptionalist foreign policy, America was simply fulfilling the role sought for it by other nations. In what follows I will prove that America has been viewed as a superior nation by the world for the duration of the 20th century. American Exceptionalism, I will continue, did not originally grow out of an American perception of itself, but rather was a view developed by the world due to the first successful implementation of democracy. America’s peace keeping missions and foreign intervention conducted in the latter half of the 20th century was America fulfilling its role as an exceptional nation. If one views statements made by many foreign leaders and peoples in great respect, admiration, and ask for help from the American nation and people, it becomes evident that America is indeed viewed as a superior nation. It must be noted, however, that these views of America as an exceptional nation led to unrealistic expectations. Most arguments against American superiority, for example, point out America’s failures in the Vietnam War. However, America was the only nation to take up arms and the responsibility to aid its western ally through obligations of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, France. Although the United States objectives and motives are debatable—and the U.S.’s failure to allow for the sovereignty of the Vietnamese state—leave a nation vulnerable to harsh criticism, anything short of a fully functioning western democracy under a fairly elected Vietnamese president would have received ample criticism. America is exceptional in that the nation has a rich history—albeit blotches of supporting the wrong side—when those nations or peoples in crisis need support. American Exceptionalism as I have
come to understand it is that America has embraced a series of universally acceptable ideals. These ideals—laid out in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence proclaiming “a right to life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”—are to be spread and supported by America both at home and abroad. America is exceptional in that it is the nation these ideas grew out of. It is the nation that has come to represent and signify freedom and liberty. Though America has faults, it is indeed an exceptional nation. History of the Term Tocqueville first coined the term American Excetpionalism in 1835 in his famed work “Democracy in America.” The French government, at the time the July Monarchy under King LouisePhilippe, commissioned the work to understand the successes of democracy in America. In the work, Tocqueville praised the American system as “exceptional”; he viewed the young nation as “more than America…[but] an image of democracy itself.” A distinction noted by
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the Harvard Political Review is that Tocqueville meant exceptional as in unique. Not necessarily as “superior,” but rather as “forming an exception” to the norm in its embrace and success of democracy. The nation was to be praised and emulated, argued Tocqueville. Looking at the United States in the 20th century, the work—The Wisonian Moment—by the historian Ezra Manella sheds light on America’s unique position in global affairs. He argues that colonial and subjugated peoples from around the globe—in India, China, among countless other nations—heard the rhetoric of Woodrow Wilson, primarily in his famed fourteen points speech, and in doing so believed that they had the right to their own autonomous states or self-determination. The people of the world did not simply call out for Woodrow Wilson, but for America as Rolland expressed above. In France, “Viva Wilson! Viva America!” were heard through the streets and proudly displayed on banners. America was a beacon of freedom for not only western nations, but the entire world. America was indeed viewed as an
American Exceptionalism, I will continue, did not originally grow out of an American perception of itself, but rather was a view developed by the world due to the first successful implementation of democracy.
exceptional nation, for only in America can such rhetoric and ideology develop. Only an American president can call for equality for all people and be understood by all people. Only with the backing of the solemn words in Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” can a world leader call for equality and have a Rumanian peasant hoping to gain autonomy travel from the mountains of Eastern Europe to Paris attempting to seek an audience with the president. Twenty-six years later, a young leader—one who even attempted in 1919 to gain an audience with the president to plead the case for his colony—would yet again follow in the long line of Americans seeking the aid of America. The young leader, Ho Chi Minh, would become an enemy of America when he did not receive American assistance or aid but instead faced its opposition. On September 2nd 1945, Ho Chi Minh stated “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Hap-
piness” This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America m 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.” Though it would seem the leader would simply be fighting off French rule by appealing to basic rights supported by France, it is critical to note that several Office of Strategic Service officers were in the crowd. Ho Chi Minh, several historians argue, was attempting to gain support of America in his fight against the French. The statement by Ho Chi Minh is yet another example of America as a beacon for the world. America is great in that it’s ideology and success of democracy is widespread. The rights of “Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are universally accepted and embraced. American Exceptionalism, at its most fundamental level, subscribes to the idea that America’s greatness stems from the embrace and spread of these basic rights. American Exceptionalism in the 21st Century To comprehend the misguided understanding of the term American Exceptionalism and the subtle nuances associated with the term today, the views on the topic of the two main candidates in the 2012 Presidential Election must be dissected. Both candidates were undoubtedly American Exceptionalists, though each espoused their views in very different manners. President Barack Obama was asked by a reporter during a visit to France on whether he supported “the school of American exceptionalism that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world.” The president responded, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Republican Candidate Mitt Romney, in comparison, ran on a foreign policy of an unrelenting and an unapologetic view of America as
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the greatest nation. He stated, “America must lead the world. … I believe we are an exceptional country, with a unique destiny and role in the world. … This is America’s moment. … I will never apologize for America.” Though both statements proclaim America’s greatness, they each subscribe to a different meaning and implementation of the term American exceptionalism. President Obama understands America’s greatness, argues University of Virginia Professor James W. Ceaser, in a “Lincolnian” fashion. This view, he argues, supports the claim that America is “the last best hope of man on earth.” President Obama sees America in its entirety: from its failures and blunders to its successes and triumphs. He understands that America is not the sole nation on earth and is not to be a completely and utterly domineering force. However, in the tradition of Wilson and Roosevelt, he understands America has a responsibility and position to lead the world. Mitt Romney, in comparison, supports the notion of an American world. He does not believe America should exist in the current system of international relations, but rather dominate it. This sort of policy results in reckless intervention in foreign conflicts under the auspices of America as a police force. In contrast, President Obama’s policies support foreign intervention, but those that the US can make a profound impact or are of great threat to world peace. We need future generations of Americans not to shun or refute claims of America’s greatness, but rather to embrace a great and proud nation full of a rich history, albeit many faults. The waning belief by the world—and Americans—of America’s greatness is developing out of a misunderstanding of the factors of America’s greatness. It is not, as some will argue, the nations call to arms in the face of what America views as injustices, nor America’s culture and people. But rather, it is the nation’s critical role in the founding—and then spread —of democracy.
con; THE SUPERIORITY COMPLEX IS SELF-DESTRUCTIVE Whether America truly is exceptional is an extraneous debate, but the fact remains that professed American greatness is no justification for molding other nations to fit the image of our own American values.
by caroline kuritzkes
he land of the free and the home of the brave, the United States is a nation confident in its triumphs. History is witness to America’s many accomplishments: from its ingenuity in crafting a Republic and fabricating a constitution that still stands today, to its economic and military dominance of the post world war era. As Americans, we applaud ourselves as the vanquishers of fascism, the conquerors of communism, and the crusaders of liberalism. We proudly embody democracy, progress, and equal opportunity for the ambitious and hardworking. But at what point does benign pride border sheer arrogance, or even foster a false sense of American superiority? This very sentiment of U.S. eminence is one of the fundamental tenets of American exceptionalism. A guiding doctrine of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the first world war, American exceptionalism not only declares the uniqueness of American achievement, but hinges upon it as a premise for spreading American democracy and free trade abroad. While pure patriotism is harmless in itself, American exceptionalism transcends the simple support and love of country. Yet herein such ideology becomes problematic. Whether America truly is exceptional is an extraneous debate, but the fact remains that professed American greatness is no justification for molding other nations to fit the image of our own American values. As Americans, we should laud our nation’s accomplishments and appreciate its history. But exceptionalism can be dangerous, in that it blinds us from some of the harsh realities of U.S. foreign policy and clouds over America’s own failures. Just as it is our responsibility to accept U.S. freedoms and privileges with grace, so we are obligated to look past the rosy front of American virtue and recognize America’s flaws. What is more, unchecked patriotism and unconditional
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U.S. loyalty seem to explain America’s successes through America’s superiority, but the truth is that the United States, though prosperous and powerful, is by no means “superior.” Assuming our own supremacy is more perilous than it may appear, and acting upon it is, paradoxically, self-destructive. It’s no secret that the United States has adopted the role of an international arbiter of world affairs, a legacy that has endured since the onset of the post world war period. Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points solidified the U.S. mission as the world’s mediator, demanding free trade, restoration of Alsace-Lorraine in France, Polish and Balkan independence, among other proposals calling upon the nations of Europe to make peace in the wake of World War I. Ushering in a new era of American intervention, the United States suddenly relinquished its long held desire of isolationism, reveling in its abrupt endowment of political and economic dominance over a war torn
Europe lying in shambles. It became Europe’s creditor, lending capital to a shattered Germany to help pay off its brutal World War I reparations; thirty years later it launched the Marshall Plan, removing trade barriers, modernizing industry, and pumping $13 billion towards the reconstruction of Europe’s floundering economies after World War II. In these years, the United States may have acted with the underlying motive of extending its own capitalist, democratic influence (or thwarting the clout of communist Russia), but its efforts were truly generous and beneficial in Europe. Such historical feats are a testimony to the strength and flexibility of the American political and economic systems we have in place. Yet they are also significant in that they reflect some underlying assumptions of American foreign policy: that the policies that are effective on American soil will undoubtedly succeed elsewhere. This very pretense is a misconception.
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Though occasionally the American mediator has been beneficial abroad (as was the case with the Marshall Plan), just as often American interference and the broadening of American virtue have inadvertently destroyed domestic economies and generated severe social unrest. In truth, America’s own historical track record has proven that in the seemingly benevolent quest to fabricate a free world in the American vision, at times the United States unintentionally acts at the expense of the very nations it aims to liberate. Consider what is probably the most infamous foreign policy play in America’s modern history: the Vietnam War (1955-1975). As Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh movement asserted Vietnam’s independence from French colonial influence, American fears of communism’s hold in Southeast Asia intensified. While France struggled to maintain its colonial presence over Vietnam, U.S. anxiety about communist
American protest of the Vietnam war
ideology influencing Viet Minh leadership, as well as the prospects of a Southeast Asia torn economically by a French defeat, convinced the U.S. government that France’s downfall to Vietnamese revolutionaries would be a win for the Soviet Union, and by effect, a loss for America’s mission to contain Soviet communist influence. Thus, U.S. intervention in Vietnam ensued, starting with financial and military aid to defend France and the economic interests of Japan and Britain (U.S. allies) in Southeast Asia, and soon spiraling into a full fledged war with the United States and South Vietnam pitted against Ho Chi Minh’s consolidated power in the North. But by assuming its own supremacy and underestimating the motivation of North Vietnam, it became clear that the United States was extremely misguided in its interventionist policy. Its vigorous bombing campaign and ground troop warfare proved ineffective against a highly determined North Vietnam, and as President Nixon and Henry Kissinger expanded the war to Laos and Cambodia in the early 1970’s, American attempts became even more destructive and engendered fierce global opposition. If anything, the Vietnam war demonstrated that the unrestrained U.S. ambitions of
JUST AS IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ACCEPT U.S. FREEDOMS AND PRIVILEGES WITH GRACE, SO ARE WE OBLIGATED TO LOOK PAST THE ROSY FRONT OF AMERICAN VIRTUE AND RECOGNIZE AMERICA’S FLAWS. an American global mediator to counter the influence of communist Russia yielded devastating consequences. The Vietnamese suffered brutal war crimes, severe casualties (estimated between 791,000 and 1,141,00 war related deaths), and acute psychological and ecological damage whose effects endured long after the war’s end. The United States, however, did not escape its plight unscathed. U.S. intervention in Vietnam gave rise to worldwide anti-American sentiment and called into question America’s seemingly humanitarian motives for extending its influence abroad. Moreover, the Vietnam War reflected a significant historical paradox. While we entered the war based upon our own notions of U.S. superiority and embarked on a crusade to rescue Vietnam from the specter of communist influence, we ironically subjected Vietnam to ruin much worse than the prospective harm that a French defeat or indirect Soviet sway could have inflicted. In our efforts to bolster
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U.S. integrity so that nations worldwide would look to America as the world’s benevolent superpower, we paradoxically undermined it. Our conjured up ideas of American exceptionalism propelled us to take action that was utterly selfdetrimental. The Vietnam War is not the only Cold War undertaking guided by American exceptionalism that has yielded disastrous results and antiAmerican opposition. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the United States displaced foreign governments, propped up its own puppet dictators, and discouraged leftist independence movements abroad, guided by America’s self-endowed right to global intervention and with the purposes of securing a world free of communism’s traces. In Chile, the U.S. was determined to prevent and then overthrow leftist candidate Salvedor Allende’s presidency at all costs. In 1964, the CIA spent $3 million campaigning against Allende through
Features media propaganda and an additional $8 million between 1970 and 1973 to locate Chilean officers who would support a coup d’etat against him. In September 1973, Augusto Pinochet ascended to power in a coup that deposed Allende. Although there is no evidence of America’s direct involvement in launching the coup, the U.S. did support Pinochet’s military junta after Allende’s overthrow, which soon descended into a violent dictatorship. According to Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, Pinochet “shut down parliament, suffocated political life, banned trade unions, and made Chile his sultanate.” His regime is accountable for between 1,200 and 3,200 assassinations and disappearances, 29,000 Chileans tortured, and mass embezzlement that resulted in his corrupt acquisition of $28 million over his 17 year rule. For a nation that prides itself on its democratic foundations, the United States, fueled by the misconception that we could protect Chile’s interests by inserting our own influence, still endorsed a regime that ruled through such undemocratic means. Much of the same story resurfaces in other Latin American countries during the Cold War era. In Nicaragua, the United States financially and militarily supported dictator Anastasio Somoza, and in the 1980’s funded the Contra War against the leftist Sandinista rebel group that had overthrown the 43 year ruling Somoza dynasty. America’s crusade to defeat the Sandinistas, who seemed swayed by the Soviet Union, resulted in the loss of 30,000 Nicaraguan lives, as well as mass torture, disappearances, and Nicaragua’s critical economic downfall in the Contra War’s wake. So yes, the United States is powerful, economically and militarily. From the drafting of the Constitution to the landing of Neil Armstrong on the moon, our achievements are astronomical and should be extolled. But as Americans, we must recognize that our country is defined not only by its successes, but also by its failures. Our past accomplishments do not grant us the right to bear a superiority complex, and presuming our own eminence nonetheless shows that acting upon exceptionalist ideology is counterproductive. Now is the time for us to acknowledge the consequences of acting as the world’s umpire. What is
more, does not spreading U.S. ideology, and by effect, fashioning foreign powers to be more “American”, actually erode American individuality rather than protect it? For that reason, American exceptionalism is nothing more than a fallacy. It deludes us into imagining our own generosity. It dupes us into action that can be not only fruitless, but even self-injurious. And all the while, it steers us towards molding other countries into a block of uniformity, when ironically, America would achieve the pinnacle of uniqueness if it chose to selfishly safeguard its own dissimilarity.
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OUR PAST ACCOMPLISHMENTS DO NOT GRANT US THE RIGHT TO BEAR A SUPERIORITY COMPLEX. IN FACT, ACTING UPON EXCEPTIONALIST IDEOLOGY IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. 59
Quantitative Easing III Another Threat to the US Economy By Neil Agrawal
uantitative easing is a strategy used by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy by pumping in financial capital. When banks cap their investment levels due to fears of default, the supply of loanable funds decreases, thereby halting economic growth. In this situation, the Fed uses Quantitative Easing to coerce banks into lending money, and to accelerate the recovery of the economy. QE is the process of getting cash back into the economy. This can only happen when banks start to lend money. To help the banks, the federal bank gives money in return for bad securities. Securities, along with loans, are one of the main sources of profits for banks and are sold when there is a clear profit to
be made. However, because banks cannot make profits off these bad securities, they are never sold. Consequently, the bank is not putting money into the economy, thus stymieing growth. If the federal government takes the bad securities away, banks have a lot of excess cash. The banks can then buy low-risk treasury bonds with the extra money as opposed to taking the risk of loaning money. The government then buys many of these treasuries to make the profit margin almost zero percent, so there is no point for the banks to buy them anymore. Finally, the bank has to turn to loans as their only remaining source of profit. With these loans, businesses can expand by employing more people and in-
creasing production. People can then buy goods from these businesses with money from their own loans. The more people buy, the more demand there is, and the more manufactures have to expand. The people that are hired buy goods as well, and the whole trend is repeated over and over again in one giant spiral. If everything goes as planned, the economy will be stimulated and will start its recovery. However, despite the apparent benefits, Quantitative Easing has a lot of drawbacks. For example, if it does not induce banks to start lending money, there can be a lot of issues in the economy. The extra money floating around but not in the hands of individual citizens would not only be ineffective in improving the economy, but also could
"Failure in QE can cause inflation, which has a high chance of lowering the income of the United States, making the debt too great to be paid back, lowering the credit rating, and ultimately halting the economy." 60
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Economics cause inflation; although there would be more money available, the value of goods would remain the same. Therefore, the value of the dollar would decrease. One of the major positive effects of this inflation would be US goodsâ€™ increased competitiveness in foreign markets, because goods priced in US dollars would have lower actual values. Therefore, the US would export more goods. However, produced goods would not receive as much investment, as people would rather invest in resources unlikely to lose their value due to inflation such as gold and land. As a result, the American manufacturing industry would suffer, drastically lowering the incomes of domestic employees. Inflation caused by QE could decrease the USâ€™ gross domestic product, thus lowering the average standard of living. Inflation does have some positive short-term effects, but overall inflation can cause major problems in the United States. Countries with high inflation have difficulty paying their debts, because they have a lower income than before inflation. This is a major problem for the United States, which already has more than $16 trillion in debt. Eventually,
the government will have to pay off this money so that the credit rating of the US does not drop again. When credit ratings fall, a country is less likely to receive the loans our government is running on. For example, when Greece was unable to pay their debt back, other countries stopped loaning them money, stymieing circulation in their economy. The same can happen to the United States. Failure in QE can cause inflation, which has a high chance of lowering the income of the United States, making the debt too great to be paid back, lowering the credit rating, and ultimately halting the economy. Quantitative Easing could have many positive effects on the economy. If effective, people would have more money, and the economy would recover more quickly. However, QE will always cause minor inflation, and inflation rate will skyrocket if QE does not work.. Therefore, QE should be used only in desperate times, and should be immediately stopped as soon as inflation starts to rise. As of yet, the government claims that QE has not caused any inflation, but the Fed should nonetheless stop putting more money into the economy before it is too late.
Money being printed This money will be pumped into the economy via QE and can cause inflation Ben Bernanke Chairman of the US Federal Reserve and the figurehead of QE
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The Eurozone’s A U
nemployment rates in the euro zone reached a record high of 11.9% this January, a substantial increase from previous years and even months. Over the past two years, the euro zone has seen a sweeping wave of unemployment and debt. The weak economy continues to weigh on the job market, causing the loss of jobs for many and a fluctuation in unemployment. However, even as financial conditions ease, unemployment levels are seemingly stuck in this detrimental state. The concept that unemployment directly correlates with the return of money is a general assumption made by many. However, we can see that this clearly is not true. While over the last year, statistics have revealed that money is slowly returning to the currency and the Europe Union as a whole, unemployment rates hit a record high this January with an estimated 19 million people in the euro zone and over 26 million in the European Union unemployed. These statistics reveal that contrary to popular belief; in no way does an increasing economy in the euro zone automatically stimulate the job industry and help decrease unemployment in these areas. Consequently, countries in the euro zone, and even more broadly members of the European Union, must specifically address the pressing issue of unemployment separately from the economy and the return of money to the euro zone. On the January 30th, an informal meeting was held with the members of
Anne Rosenblatt Maria Blaeskoul
the European Council addressing the specific issue that financial stability in itself will not solve the economic crisis of the euro zone and European Union. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, stated, “We must do more, in particular on growth and
The problem is not the return of money but unemployment, which are not directly correlated.
employment.” Re-stabilizing the euro and the euro area is not an end point, but rather a precondition for further economic growth and employment. In June of 2012, leaders of the European Union adopted a compact for growth and jobs, providing a framework for internal actions within the Eurozone and EU and for national actions on a larger scale to improve growth, investment, and employment. The euro zone website says that, “Under this compact, EU member states [are] committed to
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tackling unemployment and addressing the social consequences of the crisis effectively, pursuing reforms to improve employment levels and stepping up efforts to increase youth employment.” While these compacts and strategies are leading the euro zone and the European Union in the correct direction of decreasing unemployment, leaders of these nations must ensure that they are actually taking successful actions in producing results that will have positive long- term results for employment. In addition, the European Union created a Europe 2020 Strategy in 2010 for promoting growth, and additional incentives have been added to boost growth and employment through nations of the EU. Specifically, a focus has been put on the shocking statistics for unemployment in younger populations. This demographic group has an unemployment rate at 24.2 percent, and work is not readily available to them. Nations of the euro zone and European Union must create incentives to reduce youth unemployment. Even though financial conditions are continuing to ease, the euro zone is still stuck in a severe economic crisis, and it is very hard to
In a letter to European finance ministers posted on the Commissionâ€™s website on 13 February, EU Economic commissioner Olli Rehn, said that economic growth would probably return in the second half of 2013
find companies willing to hire. European Union funds should be redirected towards employment or training for younger demographics, which will help in the long-term for employment. In the aforementioned compact for growth and jobs, member states of the European Union agreed to focus on using the European Union budget more efficiently for growth and job creation. In February of 2013, the European Council adopted the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 for â€œsubstantially increased financing for research, innovation and educationâ€? in hopes of using the European Union budget efficiently and precisely to reduce youth unemployment. Moreover, the euro zone and European Union must focus on helping small and medium-sized companies, also known as SMEs, as they are main providers of jobs. Increased access to financing and aid to these companies
in findings loans will help boost their companies and allow them to hire more employees. Therefore, if the European Union mobilizes their funds to help the SMEs, they can provide more jobs. Furthermore, incentives such as reducing administrative burdens or reviewing labor taxes must be put in place for employers to hire people. The euro zone and European Union must focus on these recent frightening unemployment statistics with actions that will provide long-term results. Simply returning money to the euro zone will not automatically supply more jobs, and accordingly, actions must be taken. The European Union is heading in the right direction through their compacts, strategies and incentives, but they must make sure that they come through and provide incentives for employment, especially for younger generations who will soon be the basis of our economy and employment.
Even as financial conditions ease, unemployment levels are seemingly stuck in this detrimental state. The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
The Coal By Samuel Fisch
t is hard to imagine that China could be ahead of the United States in an effort to attempt to reduce global warming, but if news reports out of China are correct it seems that is where we might be headed. Carbon is present in all fossil fuels—coal, gas, and oil. When fossil fuels are burned, the carbon from the fuels is converted into carbon dioxide. As the carbon dioxide rises and remains in the Earth’s atmosphere, the theory is that it (along with additional greenhouse gasses) traps heat from the Earth’s surface and thereby causes global warming and climate change. Other “renewable” energy sources like solar, wind, and water energy do not produce carbon dioxide and are therefore not contributing to the harmful effects of climate change. It seems easy enough then that if we and other countries around the world were able to find a way to encourage these energy sources that do not release carbon dioxide and limit the release of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere, we
could help reduce climate change. Some economists and environmentalists say that one way to reduce carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere would be to tax carbon, otherwise known as a “carbon tax.” There are many ways to implement a carbon tax; one way that has been proposed is to levy a tax on the fuel when it is taken out of the Earth. Because one can measure the amount of carbon on every type of fuel as well as the amount of carbon dioxide released from such fuel when consumed, the tax can be calculated in proportion to such measurements. Such a carbon tax would not tax all carbon, however. If carbon were contained in a product such as plastic where the carbon is not burned, that product would not be taxed. Similarly, there would not be a tax on fuels that do not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The principal argument against implementing a carbon tax is that it will not really reduce carbon dioxide emissions enough to stop
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global warming. Furthermore, such a tax would disproportionally hurt lowerincome Americans at a time when many Americans are already suffering from a weak economy. Despite these apparent disadvantages, it is instructive to look at the case of Ireland as a country in significant economic distress that successfully implemented a carbon tax with both economic and environmental benefits. Ireland imposed a tax based on each fossil fuel’s carbon dioxide emissions on most of the forms of fuel used by businesses, individual households and farms. Although Ireland had greenhouse gas production almost equal to the United States (on a per person basis), since the Irish carbon tax was enacted, Ireland’s carbon dioxide emissions have gone down by more than 15%, according to The New York Times. In Ireland, the manufacturers and citizens alike modified their behavior and changed to “greener” forms of energy. For example, Irish used to con-
sume many large cars like Americans so. After the imposition of the carbon tax, automakers shifted to producing cars that had significantly lower emissions ratings. In addition, since Ireland would weigh each household’s trash and tax each household for anything that isn’t recycled, the Irish over time had less trash and as a result, emptier landfills. Because the carbon tax made fossil fuels more expensive, the “renewable” forms of energy like wind were more successful. In addition, the almost $1.3 billion that was generated by the carbon tax helped Ireland reduce its deficit. Given the U.S. population, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that such a modest carbon tax in the United States would similarly produce $1.25 trillion in revenue in a year.
China is now producing more carbon dioxide than the United States on a yearly basis, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. While China produced 8,715 Million Metric Tons of carbon dioxide last year, the United States only emitted 5,491 Million Metric Tons of gas, and if China does not have carbon caps and taxes, nor should the United States. However, according to the state-owned news service Xinhua, China may soon be implementing a carbon tax. Although there are few details yet regarding the potential tax and there could be many limitations of such a tax, including shifting the cost to other countries like the US and other loopholes to allow certain manufacturers to avoid paying such a tax. Nonetheless, any attempt at a carbon tax by China puts them well ahead
of the United States in this arena. While clearly a carbon tax would not in and of itself halt global warming, it seems clear that the United States should at least try to adopt some form of a carbon tax. Although only a few countries have begun to tax carbon, environmentalists, politicians and everyday citizens have become more and more concerned with the dramatic effects of climate change over the past few years. The time is now ripe for a carbon tax in the United States. Unfortunately, carbon taxes are yet another area where Congress seems destined for gridlock. Even though many economists have concluded that such a tax would not harm the economy, it is highly unlikely and highly unfortunate that we will not have a carbon tax anytime soon.
While clearly a carbon tax would not in and of itself halt global warming, it seems clear that the United States should at least try to adopt some form of a carbon tax. The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
Raising the Minimum Wage By Charles Cotton
onight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.” When President Barack Obama spoke these words at the first state of the union address of his second term, he made it clear that raising the minimum wage was going to be one of the top priorities for his next four years. Let’s start with the facts: presently the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If you figure 40 hours per week, that amounts to $15,080 annually. Also, according to Paul Krugman, Nobel prize winning economist and columnist for The New York Times, the “For about four decades, increases in the minimum wage have consistently fallen behind inflation, so that in real terms the minimum wage is substantially lower than it was in the 1960s.” In fact, if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years, the number would be $10.59 instead of $7.25. According to several key reasons, minimum wage should be increased. These are as follows: First, people can better support their families with a higher “living wage.” If people bring home more money, they can provide more of the basic necessities for their families. They may not have to work one or two extra jobs in order to pay the rent. They may not need as much free medical care if they are not overworked. They may rely less on entitlement programs, like public assistance, food stamps and other governmentsubsidized programs. Secondly, the economy will improve as workers take home more money and
have additional income to spend. They will spend more on consumer goods and additional money will flow into the consumer economy. Since our economy is based on consumerism, growing peoples’ salaries through the higher minimum wage will cause an increase in consumer demand, causing an uptick in production. Increased production will enable corporations to hire more workers, refuting the common argument against minimum wage that states that increasing wages will cause employers to cut back on the number of employees they can support. Thirdly, increasing the minimum wage
“Hopefully Ryan and Rubio, among many others, will realize that minimum wage should be increased to $9.00, as proposed by the president.” will enable people in debt to gradually begin to pay down their debt, another long-term goal that has eluded the working poor. Finally, a higher wage would increase worker loyalty and productivity and decrease employee dissatisfaction and turnover. This means that employees would be less likely to quit their jobs and take fewer sick days. Employers would benefit from increased productivity and would have to train fewer new employees, also helping productivity. Overall, the workplace environment would improve. Although these reasons are convincing to many, especially most liberals, the naysayers will continue to say that now is not the
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time to raise the minimum wage, mainly due to the supposed failures of past increases. Two high profile Republicans, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio lean strongly toward the argument that an increase in the minimum wage will cost many Americans their jobs. Rubio was quoted saying that, “the impact of minimum wage usually is that businesses hire fewer people.” Ryan stated that, when increasing minimum wage, “You end up costing jobs from people who are the bottom rung of the economic ladder.” When looking back at history, these statements simply do not add up. For example, a study published in a 2010 issue of The Review of Economics and Statistics found that there was no detectable unemployment increases from past minimum wage increases similar the one proposed. A similar study conducted by economists David Card and Alan Krueger found that employment actually benefitted from past increases in the minimum wage. Specifically, they argue that increased consumerism as a result of more money being paid to workers leads to more capital for large companies, showing how these companies would be able to actually hire more workers. Hopefully Ryan and Rubio, among many others, will realize that minimum wage should be increased to $9.00, as proposed by the president. While it is not known if this increase will happen or not, it will undoubtedly be a highly debated topic for many months to come. However, due to the fact that the latest Gallup poll results show that over 70 percent of Americans are in favor of increasing minimum wage, including over half of the Republicans, it is likely that this will occur at some point down the road, as it should.
India's Manufacturing: A Dead End?
n recent years, India has emerged as a global competitor in the international market, experiencing growth in nearly all of its economic sectors, including manufacturing. However, American exceptionalism in manufacturing is more likely to be threatened by the far more rapidly expanding China, which takes workers away from America to create goods that are later sold in the United States. On the other hand, India is actually contributing to American exceptionalism by the large number of Indian immigrants who have been instrumental in the massive success of the U.S.’s information technologies sector. India’s rise in manufacturing does not threaten American exceptionalism. While India and America have almost identical PMI index ratings, American manufacturing, on average, profits $1,682 billion annually, more than any other country in the world, according to the U.S.China Business Council. In comparison, India is not even on the list of the top five manufacturers in the globe. India’s largest manufacturing company, the auto-parts assembler Tata Motors, made less than even 0.5% of the 2012 annual profits of the largest American manufacturer, Exxon Mobil. The contribution of manufacturing to the Indian economy has remained at a stagnant 25% from 1990 to 2005, according
to Forbes. Its presence in the global economy is limited by government interference and its inferior and outdated infrastructure. Nonetheless, India’s services industry has experienced a far greater boom. According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, it is India’s information technology sector that has transformed India from a “rural, agricultural economy” to a more modern, “knowledge-based economy” that “[puts] India on the global map.” Government incentives, liberalization of external trade and direct investment from foreign countries have enabled India to earn over $88.1 billion in information technologies (IT). India’s advanced technologies have even to some degree contributed to the efficiency of manufacturing labor, demonstrating how significant the IT sector is to the entire Indian economy. Furthermore, India’s skilled workforce of information technology workers poses no threat to American exceptionalism. As a matter of fact, according to Forbes, many Indian immigrants have utilized their knowledge and skill in information technologies to help American IT companies in achieving success. On the other hand, China’s rise in manufacturing has consistently challenged American exceptionalism. Whereas the
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By Kenneth Shinozuka
United States has attracted Indians to work in America, China’s cheap labor has taken away many American jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector. America has outsourced over 2.4 million manufacturing jobs to China, according to the Economic Policy Institute; while analysts have debated whether this yields positive or negative economic consequences for the United States, the outsourcing continues to jeopardize America’s status as the hub of enterprise and labor for the entire world. Whereas India has faced many barriers in finding a place on the global map, the United States has always been able to uphold its name as the strongest nation in the world. When a rise manufacturing or outsourcing, as in the case of China, displaces industrial income, it threatens both the exceptionalism and economy of America. Unlike China, India’s rise in manufacturing is simply a step up from its previously low status on the economic plane. Furthermore, Indian immigrants provide an outlet for American IT companies to expand its knowledge and skills. Rather than looking at the expansion of Indian industries and economies as a threat, America should, in the future, continue building a mutually beneficial relationship with the thriving Indian nation, rather than focusing on ties with China.
Science and Technology
The Challenges of Virtualization By Mihika Kapoor
he world has embraced technology like nothing ever before. Technology increases accessibility to information, improves human efficiency, and is changing the way we read books, listen to music, or even learn in classroom. However, one cannot help but ask whether this much technology is a good thing? Is it possible that humans are becoming slaves of technology rather than the other way around? Can it be that kids who are growing today are actually at greater peril of attention disorders, poor focus and inability to think deeply and creatively due to the overuse of technology in their life?
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Science and Technology The answers to these questions are complex, require an analysis of current emerging studies on the effects of technology and frankly are developing into a prevalent topic of debate today. In order to combat an increased reliance on technology, there has to be a greater effort to stimulate the mind to its full capabilities and relegate a threatening dependence on the Internet. The same scene is mirrored in nearly all homes: teenagers locked in their bedrooms glued to Facebook. This is under the pretense of doing homework, of course. Facebook dominates the virtual world of social networking. Its original purpose was to connect people, and it is remarkably ironic that it is turning out to just the opposite. Some researchers have dubbed the action “antisocial networking” when examining the real like effects on teenagers. An associate professor of psychology at the University of Alabama, Jeffrey G. Parker talks about how the threat of extreme misuses of the Internet, such as cyber-bullying eclipses matters that affect whole generations. Relationships in teenage years built upon foundations of trust and support are precursors to those of adults. Parker said, “These good close relationships … They are essential to allowing kids to develop poise and allowing kids to play with their emotions, express emotions, all the functions of support that go with adult relationships.” Increased use of sites such as Facebook come at the cost of alienating such relationships. Personal phone calls to wish friends a Happy Birthday are substituted with posts on their walls with smiling emoticons at the end. It is a remarkably poor replacement. Technology continues to maintain a mercurial nature. Its dominant position in society enables it to extend its influence to today’s youth. As technology continues to advance, teenagers become more reliant on its enhanced capabilities. The Pew Research Center estimate that Americans from 8 to 18 years old spend an average of 7 ½ hours of the day on some sort of electronic device. A third of people surveyed said they send more that 100 texts a day, and two thirds said they are more likely to text friends than call. This inhibits the growth of very crucial, yet remarkably underrated “people skills.” Recently, the buzz of new technolo-
Google Glass in not only revolutionizing the technology industry but also the way in which humans interact with each other. Source: http://www.bitrebels.com gy has permeated the landscape: Google Glass. The concept is shocking, once upon a time only expected to ever be seen in James Bond movies. The glasses contain all the capabilities of a smartphone. It can talk, message, take videos, capture photographs and navigate. It even has a sense of humor. The capabilities can simply be activated with the statement “Ok glass….” The idea is to create a hands-
Dinnertime should not be a time to catch up on TV but rather a time to discuss, debate, and share. free, ubiquitous technology that enables people to access all the information in the world at any given moment. With the new speech capabilities that seek to diminish the use of now apparently mundane touch screens, the phrase “with the touch of a button” is not even good enough any more. However, the immediate sense of awe caused by such a modern and interesting device overshadows the potential long-term detriments. One of the most threatening consequences is an eventual deterioration of the mind, due
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to lack of mental exercise. Humans create technology to make life simpler. Unfortunately, the more power we invest in artificial intelligence, the less dependent we become on our own minds. Therefore, there is less of an urgency amongst today’s youth, to gather personal stores of information when one can simply “Google it.” It is hard to keep in sight what we lose when we think we are gaining. However, it is imperative that our generation does not use substitutions for interactions. Programs such as “Self Control,” which regulate hours spent on certain websites, such as tumblr, twitter and Facebook should be further financed and broadcasted amongst teenagers. Family dinners should not be eaten watching TV but rather dinner time can be a time to share, discuss and debate. Such nuances play a large role behind the scenes in the development of human beings, and effectively in the development of society. Technology is not all bad. It opens a lot of doors and builds on the capabilities of mankind. However our generation and successive ones should be careful of using technology in a positive way. Studies are now revealing the increasing dependence on technology for learning, social interactions and entertainment can be disastrous to the development of a creative thinking mind and individuals capable of forming and maintaining healthy relationships. A virtual world is a poor substitute for the real one.
Science and Technology
ENHANCING education By Will Ellison
ur world is at a turning point. The industrial world of the 19th and early 20th centuries in which our current education system was established no longer exists. Today we function in a technology-driven truly global world that rapidly exchanges ideas and innovation. In this knowledge-based age of digital content and global communications, it is imperative to use technological advances to enhance our education system to meet the needs of the 20th century student. The key to the future of our nation and its people is providing the best education possible. Technology has the potential to add many valuable components to the educational experience, and we must try to incorporate technology even more fully into our nationâ€™s schools. It should be incrementally instilled into our education system, to the point where face-to-face and online learning are harmo-
niously fused. Learning through technology shouldnâ€™t substitute learning in class and human interaction; it can, though beneficially augment it. Although nigh on all schools have computers and many are furnished with smart boards and Internet access, the rudimentary method of teaching remains a teacher divulging knowledge to students, aided by books and some technology. The role of technology must be amplified as our teachers utilize technology to aid them craft and deliver lessons that fuse online learning (interactive learning, with extensive multimedia content, on computers and tablets at home and at school) and face-to-face learning that heavily relies on technologies such as computers, tablets, the Internet, e-mail, educational video games, and social networking. Online learning, or e-learning, is engulfing our nation. It provides opportunities that range from supplemental online learning
courses provided in traditional schools, to charter schools that blend classroom and elearning, to full-time state or for-profit virtual schools. By the end of 2010, supplemental or full-time online learning was provided in at least 48 of 50 states. An increasing number of students have access to online classes in their brick-and-mortar schools, and schools nationwide are choosing online classes for a variety of reasons. These classes can save money, and allow the school to provide for a wider variety of classes, including AP courses, and highly qualified teachers for classes otherwise not offered. One fundamental benefit of fusing faceto-face class time with online learning is the expansion of time and space as more material can be taught outside of the classroom. While teachers and students have access to communicate with each other face-to-face only for about 40 minutes a day, technology allows
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Science and Technology learning anytime, anywhere, not just in one specific classroom for a limited time period each day. This “flipped classroom” is a type of blended learning encouraging more interaction instead of lecturing. Students could be exposed to new material outside of the classroom (at home or at school if a student doesn’t have Internet access at home) through an in-
sively open online courses (MOOCS) have recently been launched by numerous universities and for-profit companies. For example, Harvard and MIT created a new nonprofit partnership in 2012, called edX, to supply free university-level online college courses. These courses are equipped with video lesson segments, quizzes, immediate feedback,
teractive or non-interactive teacher-created video (mirroring a normal lecture), learn that material, and then do homework based on that content. Students would watch the lectures at their own pace and interact with the teacher and peers through online discussions. More out of class learning allows valuable classroom time to be spent effectively with interactive, collaborative activities, group discussions, teachers checking on the students’ progress, and working on areas of difficulty. One technology that can assist in this initiative is the free iPad app called Educreations Interactive Whiteboard. It allows teachers and students to record their voices as they draw on the screen, enter text, and import photos. Using this fusion method of learning both inside and outside the classroom will enable each student to go at a pace that is most beneficial for him or her, since not all students learn and work with the same celerity. Traditional schools obtain the online supplements by developing them on their own, tapping into state online learning initiatives (existing in 38 states) and state virtual schools, as well as purchasing them from for-profit vendors. The fusion model educational industry is being pioneered by numerous organizations, such as Khan Academy. A non-profit organization established in 2008 by Salman Khan and partnered with the Gates Foundation and Google, Khan Academy offers some 4,000 lectures and interactive educational videos on topics ranging from history to math to science to current events, for elementary, high school, and college students. The academy recently launched its first statewide K-12 pilot in Idaho, aimed at integrating regular classroom learning with online education. Online learning is not just for K-12. Mas-
and student-paced learning. The topics range from math and science courses, where computer grading is relatively straightforward and objective, to humanities courses, where grading is much more subjective and requires a teacher. In addition to online coursework, there are a myriad of other technologies, with more developing every day, which have the potential to improve the education system. Numerous schools are utilizing social networking, a technology that many educators believe should become heavily involved in education. It presents an already extant infrastructure that schools can use to facilitate the communication of classroom material. It allows students to work cooperatively on projects and assignments in an online environment that feels familiar and natural. Teachers relate that students who may not be active during class are much more engaged when conversing via social networks. Social networking can also
networks, social networks can be modified to meet the requirements of education. New educational social networks, for students and teachers, like ePals and eChalk, have been developed. Teachers and school officials control these programs, and delimit who can join as well as what activity can occur on the networks. In addition, these networks often house functions of alerting administrators when bullying or the usage of foul language transpires. Another vital networking site, Edmodo, allows students and teachers to collaborate through posting educational videos. Educational video games are another technology that should be introduced to a greater extent in the classroom. According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study, games can stimulate higher-order thinking skills, such as collaboration, communication, problem solving, and teamwork. What is more, such games are interactive and may be more engaging that learning via textbook, lecture, or even video. Researchers have deduced that educational games and simulations may assist students by aiding them to visualize processes that they may otherwise not be able to picture, from the flow of electrons and muscle contractions to historical battles and the plans of cities. Examples of educational video games include Crystal Island, in which students investigate an infectious epidemic, and River City Project, in which students can probe a virtual ecosystem to learn about it. It will take significant time, effort, ingenuity, and funds for more educational video games to materialize, but the work is definitely worth the advantageous results. Looking to other aspects of technologyassisted education, the Internet, of course, is an immensely fruitful resource that can offer limitless content to enhance both teaching and learning. It also permits students, teach-
serve functions from organizing school events to promoting school clubs to communicating between students and teachers. Furthermore, while some educators are circumspect of the security, advertising, information sharing, and social interaction environment of social
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ers, and schools to communicate with their counterparts from across the globe, from Spain to Singapore, from Bulgaria to Brazil. From an educational viewpoint, what could be more critical in facilitating the understanding of other cultures than direct dialogue?
Science and Technology
Video phones services, like Skype, can also enable students throughout the nation and world to communicate. Further, e-mail allows students and teachers to contact each other throughout the day and enables teachers to maintain networks across states and countries. Chats and online discussion groups promote perspectives that may not be voiced in the classroom environment. What is more, technology also provides new mediums through which students can express themselves and convey to their teachers and classmates the knowledge they have amassed in more illuminating ways. PowerPoint presentations, recordings, videos, animations, websites, blogs and digital photography can all perform such functions. Laptops and tablets are also critical in terms of potentially eventually replacing many textbooks. A laptop computer is simply more practical than a heavy textbook, and presents on not only with the information included in the textbook, but also with supplementary information present on the Internet. Furthermore, laptops and tablets are environmentally friendly. They save the need for thousands of trees to be chopped down to manufacture textbooks. Not to mention the fact that textbooks often each cost over $120, a sizeable amount. A laptop, on the other hand, can cost $400 and replace an infinite number of textbooks and notebooks. Despite the multitude of benefits resulting from increased technology, there are also several drawbacks that need to be addressed. One problem is the pace of technological change, which forces schools to incessantly play technological catch-up as new technological innovations emerge that necessitate an upgrading in technological infrastructure and training new technology-support personnel. While some schools manage to keep up with those
changes, others may fall behind to varying degrees. But even so, even if a school is behind the times, as long as it continues to pursue technological progress instead of remaining stagnant, it is improving. There is also a danger with adapting to new technologies that may end up being ineffective. For instance, the iPad inundated academic institutions before its effectiveness could be gauged. Another problem with increased technology in education is the cost. There are colossal expenditures involved in acquiring hardware, software, networks, and user support. Unfortunately, many schools lack the financial resources necessary for such measures. Providing the necessary infrastructure is also a key concern. Many institutions struggle with finding the resources to establish a broad, advanced technological system, while some still lack the means for even a basic system of running wires into classrooms, offices, libraries,
In order to infuse more technology into our education system, considerable change is necessary. and other school facilities, email access, and Internet access. Needs have also changes from simply achieving connectivity to finding sufficient bandwidth for more elaborate systems, such as streaming video. Yet another shortcoming of increased technology is the significant adaptation required by students and teachers to include more technology in their lives. In order to
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infuse more technology into our education system, considerable change is necessary. Whenever there is monumental change, roadblocks always appear and sometimes seem insurmountable. But if this transformation is implemented gradually and if students and teachers approach it with an open mind, then progress can occur. A study conducted by the United States Department of Education in 2010 analyzed thousands of other studies regarding education’s relationship to technology. Crucially, the study discovered that classes that amalgamated both face-to-face and online elements performed better than either solely online or face-to-face classes. However, there is no clear, objective evidence that indicates a direct correlation between usage of technology and performance in school. “To date there is no magic pill, no ‘killer app’ or content, no definitive technology that consistently and reliably improves academic achievement and learning outcomes,” articulated Kenneth Green, founder of the Campus Competing Project, an organization that studies technology’s effect on education. The very companies that have developed and endorsed education technology fund the vast majority of studies advocating the efficacy of technology in education, thus affecting the credibility of these studies. What is more, since all of these studies require several years to conduct, they linger behind the swift pace of emerging technologies. Nonetheless, the possibilities and promise of using technology to improve education are truly exciting and monumental. While technology won’t solve all of the challenges facing our nation’s education system, in the hands of creative and willing teachers and students, the positive effects of increased technology can propel us to meet the challenges of our everchanging world.
the keystone pipeline Science and Technology
ANDIT’SECONOMIC,POLITICAL,AND ENVIRONMENTALIMPLICATIONS by danny baudoin
he debate concerning the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline became a front page topic during the run up to the 2012 presidential elections. Many important issues impacted the discussion: America’s energy independence, international relations, domestic politics, and the protection of our environment, to name a few. Today, even after the election, the debate continues to rage on. Why should the United States have to confront the political and social issues of the Middle East? Why do we have to deal with the coups and rebellions in Libya and Syria, and the social injustices of Saudi Arabia? America is forced to deal with these issues because the oil that the Middle East provides us serves as leverage for the Middle Eastern nations. Many people believe that most of the oil we import is from countries with whom we have little in common, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq; however, according to a recent Consumer Energy Report, our largest supplier of crude oil and petroleum products is Canada. The Keystone XL Pipeline could bring more oil from our key trading partner and political ally, Canada, to Texas, through the proposed pipeline system. This would effectively lessen our economic dependence on the Middle East, increasing our leverage to impact social injustice in some of those countries, and allowing us to deal with our own domestic problems. The need for energy security stems from
the fact that the United States deals with many of the political problems in the Middle East due to the oil reserves they contain. The pipeline has the potential to reduce oil imports from unstable partners such as Venezuela and the Middle East by up to 40%. It already helps that Canada is our top supplier of crude oil at 29% of our imports, and if the pipeline is built, the equivalent of 830,000 barrels of oil per day will be transported from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. The pipeline’s method of transportation will also cut major costs of overseas transportation and will effectively cause the domestic price per gallon of gas to go down. Job creation is an issue that both parties agree on; the Keystone XL Pipeline, according to TransCanada, the company that will build
Despite the economic benefits and energy security of the Keystone XL Pipeline, there has been debate over the potential environmental issues that it could cause. TransCanada has taken responsibility for the production of the pipeline and has committed itself to creating a system that is the most favorable to our ecosystem. Pipelines are already the safest method of transporting fossil fuels. TransCanada has voluntarily agreed to incorporate 57 special safety conditions into the design and construction of Keystone XL, including a higher number of remote-controlled shutoff valves, increased pipeline inspections, burying the pipe deeper in the ground and using thicker steel pipe at river crossings. If there is a leak, TransCanada will provide the resources necessary for neighboring communities. A recent 2,000-page report issued by the State Department presented no conclusive evidence that the pipeline would harm the environment. The environmental issue is a political hot potato, but even Senate Democrats are starting to concede that the risks are containable. A recent Fox News poll shows that 70% of Americans support the project, up from 67% a year ago. The Democrats appear to approve of the project as well, with 57% of them supporting it. Congress and President Obama must set politics aside, and think of the more important issues at hand. Let’s approve the construction of the pipeline now, and move the economic debate forward.
BothpartiesviewthePipelineasachiponthe bargainingtableregardingfederalbudgetdeficits, thesequester,andotherdomesticeconomicissues. it, will create around 16,000 jobs, requiring both workers with construction and manufacturing backgrounds. Although many of these jobs are temporary, it’s this kind of job creation we need to stimulate the economy. The pipeline will also generate billions of dollars in economic impact, and almost 5 billion dollars in property taxes. The Canadian Research Institute estimates that the pipeline will add 172 billion dollars to the United States’ gross domestic product by 2035.
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Science and Technology
DNA FINGERPRINTING The Case Evidence of the 21st Century By Yang Fei
our genetic make-up may be used one day to make it or break it for you in court, send your crazy neighbor on his merry way away from murder, or imprison your mother because your great-grandfather went to prison on a traffic ticket. From one end of the spectrum to the other, your genes might sell you out in the near future. However, the question still stands strong as to why this sort of genetic fingerprinting should still be implemented upon prosecution. Cases are becoming increasingly reliant on genomic markers to analyze crime scene forensics. But what if your own genetic fingerprint could lead to so much more? Although there is quite a fear about the mishandling of DNA, such as selling it to insurance companies that would diagnosis your diseases or being discriminated against because of your genome, there are still more practical reasons for getting the prints. Justice Samuel A. Alito stated, “I think this is perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has head in decades,” adding, “this is what is at stake: lots of murders, lots of rapes that can be solved using this new technology that involves a very minimal intrusion on personal privacy.” With states like Maryland already convicting 42 people based on DNA, Alito asks, “Why isn’t this the fingerprinting of the 21st Century?” What is holding back researchers from firing up the tests is the Fourth Amendment,
which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant. Justice Antonin Scalia says “the Fourth Amendment sometimes stands in the way” of the judiciary system’s purpose of convicting wrongdoers. He states that there would be many more convictions as well if the police conducted unreasonable searches and seizures. However, in the end they cannot do so due to an invasion of privacy. Yet the argument remains as to whether DNA fingerprinting is the same as the commonplace, mandatory thumb printing upon arrest. Kannon K. Shanmugam, lawyer to Alonzo Jay King Jr., explains that while fingerprints are generally used to identify suspects, DNA, on the other hand is used for purposes unrelated to the arrest: to solve cold cases. His own cheek swab is now convicting King himself. In 2009, King was found guilty for a rape that occurred in 2003 when the DNA matched up. The use of genetic fingerprinting should not be hindered because the evidence will be used to solve cold cases, which is simply a supplementary positive. As long as the statute of limitation does not become involved, there is no reason for genetic fingerprinting not to be implemented upon arrest , seeing that your thumbprints contain the very same genetic information. The handling and security of the taken DNA fingerprints are also a problem that has been hindering the process from becoming mandatory. The labs that pride themselves on ac-
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curacy and attention to detail are failing to submit a small fraction of the fingerprints received. Out of over 200,000 total cases, 50 involved the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office’s failure to upload critical DNA evidence to the statewide database system. Though this proportion of cases may seem relatively small, as Professor Sir Alec Jefferys, one of the pioneers of the techniques of DNA fingerprinting, said, “the consequences of even one false match leading to a conviction that was subsequently overturned could be severe for the DNA database and its public acceptability.” This error in New York City does not mean that your DNA will fall into the hands of medical insurance companies or that you will be accidentally jailed, but the worry remains that it may be treated without the delicate care it deserves as a personal identification marker and that one error will lead to the entire DNA system losing any credibility. It only takes one error for this system to fail, which is why the labs can say that this DNA system could be fully operational in two years time with speed, efficiency, and safety. The other argument Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. brings up is, “How can I base a decision today on what you tell me is going to happen in two years?” This is in response to the fact that the DNA processing ability may soon become more efficient than ever, matching the standards we typically set today in 90 minutes of analysis. Even with this
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miraculous improvement in investigation time, which would vastly improve the rate of cases that would have to go cold, Roberts is still forcing the legal system to be shortsighted. The fact is that decisions have to be made today for any time frame that is going to be in effect in the next decade or such. The laws that control the legal court have to take into account what undoubtedly will happen in the future, and in that list is the speed and efficiency in prosecuting criminals that DNA fingerprinting will bring. The Fourth Amendment should not protect you from prosecution with your DNA at the scene; if the traces are there, you are accountable for a legal explanation. Therefore, with no downsides to helping the police catch criminals, DNA fingerprinting should be
put into practice immediately to garner the information necessary to bring justice to the people. It will only lead to more accurate data being used in court cases and fewer false convictions of innocent men and women. Now however, the objective of the genes in courts is becoming the issue. The genome may be used against you by linking you back to a gene that codes for violence or a lack of impulse control. You could never surrender to these whims and remain a Good Samaritan all your life, but the law would still be watching you. It could potentially put you under surveillance not because you were bad or because your family is known for criminal activity but because you have a predisposition at birth to act immorally. Furthermore with the same logic that companies are using to patent segments of people’s genomes, your genes could be similarly used to plead lunacy. If companies can claim that genes do not actually belong to the human being that they reside in, there is controversy over whether one can be held accountable for those genes in the first place, as you have no control in what they will do to you psychologically, much like a mental illness. This means that guilty criminals can potentially warrant their own freedom by pleading that their genes betrayed them. DNA should not be a reason for a potential criminal to be acquitted without theoretical reasoning because even if your genome does code for unruly behavior, that is no reason for a criminal to be let back out into society; if anything it should be a stronger reason for a lead judge to put him or her in a prison or institution. Your genes are your own and you should be responsible for them. In a mock case, 181 judges were all told that the witness was diagnosed as a psychopath, but some were also given the testimony of a neurobiologist who presented results of
a genetic test showing the witness as possessing a genetic variant linked back to violent behavior. The ones that did have the genetic evidence were seen to reduce the sentence on average by about 7%. When asked if judges should give extra weight to biological evidence in real-life cases, Stephen J. Morse, a legal scholar specializing in criminal crime and neuroscience, said realistically, “Why should it matter whether that poor impulse control is a product of a biomechanical cause, a psychological cause, a sociological cause, an astrological cause, or any other cause for which the defendant is not responsible?”
Out of over 200,000 total cases, 50 involved the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office’s failure to upload critical DNA evidence to the statewide database system. Therefore legal concerns on the applications of DNA fingerprinting are not fully hashed out. Genetic fingerprinting should be used to convict criminals, but the fear of it being leaked or used to allow the genetically damaged to walk free still exists. However, collecting this evidence is imperative. Now is the time for courts to rely on more substantial information to settle cases; we even have the technology to gather a database to assist in every crime. Next time you decide to commit a crime, remember your DNA is likely to be on a database, and you cannot blame your crime on your genetic code.
The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
Science and Technology
AN UNDERESTIMATED STRIKE
By Miranda Bannister
he unexpected meteor strike categorized 2012DA14 which hit Russia’s small town of Chelyabinsk on February 15th shepherds in a new worry for all nations. Little scientific research has been done outside of earth’s atmosphere to focus on smaller asteroids and comets, and NASA failed to recognize the threat that this asteroid posed. Hopefully in the future this will change, especially in lieu of this disaster. Once it was too late the pieces were pasted together using on site footage taken by civilians and traffic footage. Despite the disregard for the meteor prior to impact the effects of this powerful meteor strike were devastating, leaving over a thousand injured and miles of central Russia scattered with meteoric particles. In the future tracking will be improved to prevent disasters similar to this one. Scientific research and space expeditions in the past have focused on tracking larger asteroids and comets as opposed to
smaller, more manageable meteors like 2012DA14. While 1,200 people were injured in Chelyabinsk by the meteor strike, this is a small loss compared to the dangers of a larger space object; therefore, government organizations such as NASA focus on particles that are 1 kilometer (.6 miles) or larger. This meteor was 17 meters (56 feet) in diameter, and was thus deemed a minor concern by the scientific community. Scientists will hopefully look at any threat and consider it to be important, no matter how unlikely or minor it seems, given that even smaller asteroids hitting the earth can result in loss of life. Future studies that will focus on smaller near earth asteroids (NEA) will be conducted in the future, though few have been lauded yet. After the Chelyabinsk disaster there will be increased attention to projects like Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), the most promising program coming forward. It
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has not received enough praise yet, but it is very deserving. It represents the future of large-scale communication, and a new day for scientists. While other programs like the Catalina Sky Survey and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope find it difficult to detect the millions of smaller asteroids near the earth’s atmosphere, ATLAS focuses on detecting asteroids even within a few weeks of impact and evacuating cities, which can potentially save thousands of people. If it is up and running by 2015 as predicted, disasters like the meteor strike in Chelyabinsk will be less likely to occur in the future. Though NASA did not think the meteor would strike earth, 2012DA14 broke the earth’s atmosphere at 40,000 miles per hour and sailed 17,200 miles over Indonesia. NASA continued to assure the public that the meteor was not a threat. The probability released by NASA’s Near Earth Object Program was as low as 1 in a
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Hopefully, this meteor will change the way scientists view their field...it was absolutely catastrophic, despite the belitting of its significance by the scientific community beforehand.
million so when the meteor hit, very few people understood what the massive blast was. “There was panic. Nobody knew what was happening,” said a Russian civilian, Sergey Hametov. Recovery efforts are already in effect. NASA should be more careful before it makes promises, because a large community is suffering now. After the actual impact, scientists used the infrasound sensor records of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to track the path and effects of the meteor. Though the intention of the CTBTO is not for tracking meteors, the infrasound sensors picked up the low frequency sound waves of the meteor. Scientists at NASA and the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center used these sensors and civilian videos to calculate how long the meteor was in the air, where it travelled, and how much energy it released. CTBTO’s assistance
and utility, despite having to step outside of its original purpose, is a great testimony to how communication should work in the scientific community. Civilian videos proved hugely helpful to NASA scientists in studying the meteor in the days following the disaster. Through viewing countless clips on Youtube, in addition to traffic videos of the fireballs, scientists were able to trace the trajectory of the meteor and categorize it as an Apollo asteroid, a cluster of asteroids just outside of the earth’s atmosphere. This just proves how access to modern technology has influenced every aspect of life, assisting in scientific research. Nowadays, no major event like Chelyabinsk can occur without somebody snapping a photo. Hopefully, this meteor will change the way that scientists view their field. NASA must take more caution in the future in ensuring that catastrophes like this are averted; they can even work in conjunc-
The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
tion with groups like ATLAS. Given that NASA holds so much pull in the scientific community, if the organization launches a project, great work can be accomplished between these two groups. This small meteor was absolutely catastrophic despite the belittling of its significance by the scientific community beforehand. It is the most powerful meteor to strike earth since 1908. At the time of explosion over Chelyabinsk the massive ball of rock and iron was traveling at 19 miles per hour, causing an enormous sonic boom. Russian authorities say over 200 of the 1,200 injured were children. Only the tiniest fraction of the meteor’s pieces, which are considered very valuable by the Russian population and government, have been found because the explosion catapulted fragments across the countryside. The world should take notice because Chelyabinsk was not only tragic, but eye opening.
Science and Technology
A New Chapter in China-United States Relations
By Jake Haberman and Henry Luo
he Chinese government has recently been accused of sponsoring hacking groups to steal terabytes of information and secrets from dozens of American corporations. American cybersecurity company, Mandiant, traced unfamiliar IP addresses associated with these cyber-invasions to the Chinese military’s headquarter building in Shanghai. China is not a new player in corporate espionage. For years Chinese companies and authorities have been accused of manipulating trade agreements so that they could, as Glenn Hubbard says, “reap the rewards of the finished products without spending any of the capital on research and development.” With their growth rate slowing, it makes perfect sense that the Chinese government would be concerned about
a dearth of technological advancement. Fox News states, “The Chinese government acknowledges pursuing these strategies as key to delivering initial blows to an opponent’s communications and other infrastructure during wartime -but the techniques are often the same as those used to steal information for commercial use.” Accordingly, it is intolerable for the United States government to stand idly by while the Chinese behave dissonant and destructive behavior. It is time to take a real stand against China and against cyber-terrorism. In its account, Mandiant reported the existence of a group dubbed APT1 (Advanced Persistent Threat), thought to be the 2nd Bureau of the People’s Liberation Army. It is believed to have compro-
The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII
mised at least 141 corporations in English speaking countries across twenty, stealing various forms of intellectual property ranging from blueprints and contact lists. Also, APT1 appears to be a large-scale operation, with at least dozens of humans operators but potentially hundreds. In addition to the operators, a staff of linguists, researchers, malware authors, industry experts, IT members are necessary. Much of APT1’s success is derived from its attack methodology. The first step is spear phishing, a technique in which emails with a harmful attachment are sent to members of the target company from seemingly legitimate webmail accounts. The next move is to create a foothold, which guarantees control of the victim’s network from anywhere. When the recipient opens the ma-
licious file, he is unknowingly installing a backdoor, a type of software that gives an intruder the ability to send commands to the network remotely. A backdoor is crucial to the success of a cyber attack because it bypasses any existing firewall. Firewalls are designed to prevent malware outside of the network from communicating inside. It is much more difficult, however, to stop malware already inside from communicating outside. Some of the capabilities allowed by a backdoor include simple tasks like retrieving files and gathering system information. Once inside, the goal is to obtain more items that would grant access to even more resources. This procedure is known as privilege escalation. Following the hacker attempts to collect more information about the victim’s environment in a stage called internal reconnaissance. By now, the intruder has established a sufficient foothold and gathered enough information. He is now able to explore the network without fear of detection. However, to maintain and ensure control for a long period of time, hackers must engage in several protective measures. These measures are the installation of several backdoors, the search for legitimate credentials to use when logging into victims’ VPNs, and finally logging into Web portals. With all these safety nets in place, the hacker can easily extract files. What makes APT1’s approach different and dangerous from that of other hackers is the duration of its presence in a victim’s network. Having gained access, APT1 on average maintains access for 365 days, the longest amount of time being four years and ten months. During this time, it was not continuously active but would instead commit data theft periodically. Mandiant’s findings reveal a dangerous and organized unit that has the resources to invade companies and commit cyber crimes with relative ease. Mandiant’s findings have provoked strong responses from both the Chinese and American governments. The day after the report was issued, China’s defense ministry vehemently denied the accusations and challenged their the report’s ac-
“What makes APT1s approach different and dangerous from that of other hackers is the duration of its presence in a victim’s network.” curacy. Geng Yangsheng, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said, “Chinese military forces have never supported any hacking activities.” Instead, the defense department turned the accusations around by stating that the US has been hacking their own military terminals. Tensions continue to rise between the two nations, despite China’s objections. From the American perspective, China’s measures constitute acts of war. “If the Chinese government flew planes into our airspace, our planes would escort them away. If it happened two, three or four times, the president would be on the phone and there would be threats of retaliation,” said Shawn Henry, a former FBI executive assistant director. “This is happening thousands of times a day. There needs to be some definition of where the red line is and what the repercussions would be.” China’s hacking is stealing American wealth and American jobs, and the American competitive advantage. The Chinese have the ability to find out what companies are buying, how much they are buying, profitability, and future business strategy. The New York Times reports, “Obama administration officials say they are planning to tell China’s new leaders in coming weeks that the volume and sophistication of the attacks have become so intense that they threaten the fundamental relationship between Washington and Beijing.” Yet will the Obama administration’s displeasure change China’s behavior? Will it introduce greater tension into the relationship? Or maybe some combination of both? President Obama has tried to appeal to the President of China, but has not yet had success. Ex-Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton delineated the proper course of action for the United States to take when she stated, “We have to begin making it clear to the Chinese that the United States is going to have to take action to protect not only our government, but our private sector, from this kind of illegal intrusions.” The question of whether or not individual consumers should be concerned about this growing trend in industrial, geopolitical, and intellectual cyber espionage still remains. Although the answer to this question will differ from person to person, this news of increased chinese “hactivism” highlights the dangers of internet use. Consumers should be sure to download antivirus software (with firewall protection) on all of their devices with internet capability. Using strong account passwords (with lots of characters and symbols) and frequently installing updates for your computer software (when prompted) are also excellent ways to combat potential hackers. APT1 appears to be a highly organized and disciplined branch of the Chinese military, most likely receiving funding and support from the government. Their acts of cyber espionage and intellectual theft directly impugn the authority of the US government. If China’s acts of cyber-espionage continue, the US would be allowing the privacy of corporations to be desecrated. The US must take a definitive stand not only against cyber warfare but also a stance for the sanctity of global intellectual property. President Obama has already said that “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” Now, let’s see some action.
“The Chinese have the ability to find out what companies are buying, how much they are buying, profitability, and future business strategy.” The Horace Mann Review | Vol. XXII