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THE JUNIOR STATEMENT    

 

 

 

The Official Newsletter of the Junior State of America (JSA)

 

 

 

 

   

 

March 2013

                                                                           

 

Volume 1, Issue 4

As  Primaries  got  Hot  so  Does  The  Junior  Statement   By:  Iman  Baghai         First  off,  thank  you  for  reading  The  Junior  Statement.  The   Statement  will  help  bridge  the  gap  between  JSAers  all  over  the  nation.   This  will  be  the  seventh  edition  of  The  Statement  and  the  fourth  full   edition.     This  month’s  issue  will  consist  of  the  usual  diverse  topics   discussed  in  The  Statement,  but  you  will  notice  several  articles   specifically  discussing  the  primary  and  the  upcoming  election.       I  urge  you  to  check  out  the  articles  and  discuss  them  with  your   peers.  It  is  through  these  discussions  that  we  can  become  more   educated  citizens.       Again  if  ANYONE  is  interested  in  writing  for  The  Statement  on   pretty  much  anything  then  please  do  not  hesitate  to  contact  me  at   ibaghai@jsa.org     Also,  if  you  have  any  feedback  we'd  love  to  hear  from  y'all.        

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Page  2                                                  High  School     Page  3                Congress  and  Stocks     Page  4                            Another  Kennedy     Page  5                                    Plastic  Bag  Ban     Page  6        Republican  Candidates     Page  8      Why  Obama  Can't  Lose       Page  9                And  the  Winner  is...?  

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THE JUNIOR STATEMENT

The Official Newsletter of the Junior State of America (JSA)

      Commentary

Taking Advantage of High School By: Alexandra Costello Although four years seems like an incredibly lengthy period of time, these high school years fly by with the speed of light. Some students see this time as their last chance to be more or less carefree, for after they graduate, they must vigorously focus on their future in college which will precede a similarly busy career. On the other hand, there are those who are inquisitive and ambitious and who view high school as a time to challenge themselves and put themselves in arms reach of multiple opportunities. It is these students who are constantly busy with various activities and who, for the most part, manage to keep good grades in school as well. Many fear that committing to several extracurricular activities will leave them with no time for schoolwork, or just free time for themselves, but it is not always so. Of course, while completely overloading on activities could result in a slightly hectic schedule, many students find that under a stricter regimen they procrastinate less and manage their study time more efficiently, in turn improving their academic excellence. Is it not better to fill your time with several activities that interest you rather than to sit at home procrastinating on your studies in boredom? Never should one fear to be too busy for there are too many things for teenagers to discover at this ripe age. For some people, finding a personal interest is quite a challenge in itself as not everyone is born knowing what they are passionate about. Sure, following the footsteps of one’s parents may happen to pave the way to discovering where their true interest lies, but not everybody can be so lucky; this is rarely the case. High school is the time for discovery. It is the                         2  

time to experiment with new things and see what appeals to you and what does not. Although it might seem to be out of your norm, why not sign up for the psychology class offered at the local community college? Or perhaps it is an engineering or art class that sounds exciting to you. Even if you are not planning on majoring in art in college, it surely does not mean that it is a waste of time to do it now if it is that which strikes your fancy. Who knows, it may end up being something you are truly passionate about and want to make a career out of. After graduating from high school, you may not have as many chances to find out which subjects you intend to pursue. With so many possible time-fillers, it is quite upsetting to see such large numbers of teenagers letting time pass them by with nothing to show for it. Instead of taking things outside of school, many come home and procrastinate and of course social media like Facebook, Twitter. Even texting does not exactly help with this either. Instead, it basically promotes homework delay with countless hours going by unproductively before the work for school is actually done. With no other things on the schedule for the day, there is less original concern for getting the homework done efficiently. So, who do you want to be? The scholar who not only succeeds in school but also fences and plays the piano with ease, or the student who comes home and achieves nothing but the completion of their homework late in the night? Do not be intimidated by a busy schedule, embrace it instead. It is up to you to take control of your time spent in high school and use it wisely. The clock is ticking.

SPRING STATE 2012 Houston  Los Angeles  Stamford  Chicago  Santa Clara  Orlando  Woodbridge  Columbus  Redmond  Phoenix

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THE JUNIOR STATEMENT

The Official Newsletter of the Junior State of America (JSA)

Commentary

Congressional Insider Stock Trades By: Karthik Palaniappan Members of Congress make $174,000 or more a year, but they usually come out of the job with more money than just their salary. Apparently, trading stocks on non-public information is legal for members of congress. They say they are here solely to serve the public, but is padding their wallets with non-public information ethical? This information from a 60 minutes episode on Congressional trading, Insiders: In mid September 2008…Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were holding closed door briefings with congressional leaders, and privately warning them that a global financial meltdown could occur within a few days. One of those attending was Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus, then the ranking Republican member on the House Financial Services Committee and now its chairman. While Congressman Bachus was publicly trying to keep the economy from cratering, he was privately betting that it would, buying option funds that would go up in value if the market went down. He would make a variety of trades and profited at a time when most Americans were losing their shirts.

Insider trading has two forms: legal and illegal. Insiders are defined as people who own 10% or more of a company. These people trade legally within their own companies because they see potential; they anticipate a merger, etc. The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) requires insiders to publish trades within two days of a trade. These trades are actually available at many online sites such as Yahoo! Finance or the SEC EDGAR database. Illegal trading occurs when people trade on nonpublic information. For example, a CEO sells a lot of stock because he knows his company will be losing a big government contract. It is also illegal for insiders to “tip” outsiders about non-public information. Government officials trading on non-public information is illegal. However, members of congress can freely trade on non-public information. It's highly unethical, offensive, and wrong.             3  

Let’s examine how members of congress get non-public information. Let’s say you are a member of the Senate Banking committee. A bill is introduced into your committee, and through closed door hearings you understand a regulation will hurt big banks. You, as a stockholder in big banks, know exactly what to do. Sell some big bank stocks and make a profit before the public knows what is going on. Former congressman Brian Baird says “One line in a bill in Congress can be worth millions and millions of dollars.” Is this illegal? No. Is it unethical? Yes. The fundamental question is this: should our government officials get privileges even top CEOs don’t get?

For those of you who answered no, a bill called the STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act) has been introduced into the US Congress. So far it has 93 cosponsors. It will make it illegal for members of congress to trade stocks on non-public information, and would require them to report on their stock trades every 90 days rather than once a year. So far, the bill has not passed—why would why would members of Congress limit the opportunity to enrich their own pockets? When interviewed all members of Congress—Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and Congressmen Baccus—deny it. This needs to change.  

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THE JUNIOR STATEMENT

The Official Newsletter of the Junior State of America (JSA)

Another Influential Kennedy By: Griffin Rubin Edited by: Anthony Kayruz

 

After President Barack Obama was sworn in as President in 2009, one of the first bills submitted to Congress was the Affordable Care Act, a piece of legislation that would advance the United States towards universal health care. Four lawsuits have been filed against the aptly named “Obamacare” bill, claiming the unconstitutionality of certain provisions of the bill. Health care is still a prominent topic of discourse in the nation, as an Economist poll from February of 2012 concluded it to be the second most important issue on the minds of Americans. With an upcoming Presidential election in less than 300 days and the issue of health care affordability becoming ever greater, the health care court case heads to the Supreme Court of the United States for final adjudication. Many political analysts and reporters have speculated upon the outcome of the Supreme Court’s impending decision, breaking down the ideology and past decisions of each of the nine Justices, hoping to gather insight as to which direction the health care case is headed. These pundits have gathered that all votes will be predictable, except that of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy has been the swing vote of the Court ever since Sandra Day O’Connor stepped down from the bench in 2005. With this specific issue, Justice Kennedy is quite conflicted, as he sees the validity of both sides of the argument; yet, examining the Supreme Court opinions already authored by Justice Kennedy yields insight into how he might vote in the case. One past case Justice Kennedy will look into is Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942). In the case, Roscoe Filburn, a farmer in Ohio, was given a wheat acreage allotment of 11.1 acres by the Department of Agriculture. Filburn surpassed his wheat growth quota by nearly 12 acres and was consequently penalized. However, Filburn objected to the penalty, citing that he had no intent of selling the amount of wheat that surpassed his quota, as it was for personal use. The question before the Court centered around the 4  

Commerce Clause of the Constitution and whether or not Congress possessed the power to regulate activities local in nature. The Court decided against Filburn in an eight to zero vote. In the Court’s Opinion, Justice Robert Jackson wrote “even if appellee's activity is local, and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.” Simply, Justice Jackson stated that even if the purpose of an action is purely for self, if the action affects interstate commerce to a far enough extent, then Congress possesses the ability to regulate the activity. Justice Kennedy, in a number of his opinions in cases involving the Commerce Clause, specifically cites this case, gives it much respect, and uses it as an important precedent in his decisions. Purdue University Professor of Political Science Frank J. Colucci goes far enough to state that “Kennedy’s attachment to Wickard” will play a significant role in his decision on the case. Justice Kennedy could use this case as a precedent to uphold the health care law. He could reason that were people not to purchase the health care mandated by the Affordable Care Act, this inaction would have a “substantial economic effect on interstate commerce,” which allows Congress to legally institute and enforce the individual mandate, as the Act would fall under the Commerce Clause. While there are numerous other reasons to suggest that Justice Kennedy might uphold Obamacare as constitutional, there are just as many reasons to suggest that he will strike it down. For example, Kennedy was involved with the momentous case United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549 (1995). In this case, a student at a high school in San Antonio, Texas was carrying a concealed weapon. The student was caught and arrested for first violating a state law against concealed weapons on a school campus; however, the charge was subsequently dropped and a federal charge was filed against the student, as there was a federal criminal statute stating weapons may not be carried knowingly on a school campus. The case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, as there was a question regarding whether or not Congress exceeded its JSA Be the People


THE JUNIOR STATEMENT authority in using the Commerce Clause as justification to forbid weapons on a school campus. In a five to four vote, the Justices declared the law unconstitutional, as the possession of a weapon is not categorized as an economic activity that could substantially affect interstate commerce. In the Opinion of the Court, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote “…to uphold the Government's contentions here, we have to pile inference upon inference in a manner that would bid fair to convert congressional authority under the Commerce Clause to a general police power of the sort retained by the States. To do so would require us to conclude that the Constitution's enumeration of powers does not presuppose something not enumerated, and that there never will be a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local. This we are unwilling to do.” Simply put, the Supreme Court decided that a federal law dealing with weapons on a school campus is not constitutional under the Commerce Clause because it is not an activity that could truly affect interstate commerce. Also in this decision, states’ rights were defended, as a federal law is struck down for being in violation of not only the Commerce Clause, but the 10th Amendment, which reserves all rights not specifically stated in the Constitution to the states. Justice Kennedy voted with the majority on this case; if he were to see the health care issue as not truly affecting interstate     Commentary

Plastic bag ban to go into action in Seattle By: Michelle Chen

The failure of the most recent petition drive in Seattle to disallow a ban on plastic bag has paved the way for a plastic bag ban to go into effect on July 1, 2012, making Seattle the third largest city in the United States to place a ban on single-use plastic bags. The Seattle city council has been trying to place a ban on plastic bags since 2008. But petitions against the ban led it to being overturned many times. The intention of the ban was to create an incentive for people to begin using reusable bags and to help reduce pollution in the environment. However, resistance from the plastic bag industry led to conflicts, stopping the ban from going into action. These petitions have been successful due to our current recession and how the plastic bag industry helps contribute to our economy. Many others still believe that the plastic bag ban is ineffective. Mark Daniels, vice president of 5  

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commerce, as an infringement upon states’ rights, or as a breach of the scope of the federal government, he would have justification for a decision to strike down the health care law. A final yet significant factor that could play a notable role in the decision on the health care case is Justice Kennedy’s tendency to vote with the conservative wing of the bench. More often then not, a five to four vote of the current Roberts court would consist of Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy. Two terms ago, out of the twelve cases that were a five to four vote, Kennedy sided with the conservative majority nine times. In the majority of the five to four cases, Kennedy sides with the right wing of the bench, and if this tendency were applied to the health care case, then he would most likely vote to strike down Obamacare. There are strong points for both sides of the argument. Justice Kennedy could vote to uphold the law, citing cases that show his view of an uninhibited Commerce Clause and his preference to use the rational basis test in examining issues such as health care. At the same time, he could just as easily strike down Obamacare, citing an overreach of federal power and an infringement upon states’ rights. Regardless of which way Justice Anthony Kennedy votes, this case will be a landmark case in United States history and set the tone for the judiciary for years to come. Sustainability and Environmental policy for Hilex Poly, thinks that pushing people away from using plastic bags will just make them use less environmentally friendly options like paper bags, which require more energy and resources to produce, or reusable bags, which can’t be recycled and are mostly imported from China. Studies have also shown that plastic bags take 91% less energy to recycle than a pound of paper. So why ban plastic bags instead of paper bags? Seattle has one of the highest rates in the nation for paper bag recycling at about 85%, while they only recycle about 13% of the 292 million plastic bags they use, meaning this ban would help reduce the amount of plastic accumulating in their landfills. I feel that the overall intention of this ban is a good idea, because even though reusable bags aren’t recyclable, they can be reused thousands of times, and decompose at a much faster rate. Plastic in any form has only been around for about 50 years, and may take anywhere from 500-1000 years to decompose—no one really knows exactly how long. Every piece of plastic ever made is still on Earth. However, I believe that their JSA Be the People


THE JUNIOR STATEMENT time would be better spent on advocating the recycling of plastic bags instead of placing a ban on them. By advocating the recycling of plastic bags, more people would recycle them rather than throw them away and there would be no need to place a ban on them. Moreover, the negative impacts of paper and plastic are a tradeoff. It’s a misconception that one is better than the other. The manufacturing of paper bags may require more energy, fresh water, and produce more pollution, but plastic is the main litter issue in the U.S. It doesn’t make sense to place a ban on just one and not the other, because both have harmful effects on the environment. Placing a ban on one would just force people to use the other bag more frequently; producing more pollution from that one type of bag. Thus, the ban would become counterproductive, because you would still be producing about the same amount of pollution. Nevertheless, bans on plastic bags are becoming more and more prevalent around the world. In 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to ban plastic bags. And countries including, China, Italy, Ireland, and Germany have already either banned plastic bags or placed a fee on them. A plastic bag ban may not be the most effective way of helping our environment, but at least we are becoming warier of the       AN  OVERVIEW  OF  THE  REPUBLICAN  CANDIDATES   By  Jack  Noland       MITT ROMNEY Age: 64 Experience: Governor of Massachusetts (2003-2007), Co-Founder of Bain Capital, Head of 2002 Winter Olympics Organizing Committee Primary Victories to Date: New Hampshire, Florida,

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issue and trying to make a change for the better of our environment. Citations: "BBC NEWS | Special Reports | Plastic Bag Bans around the World." BBC News - Home. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. "Myth: Paper Is Better Than Plastic " Reuseit.com. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. "Petition Drive Fails, Seattle Plastic Bag Ban Moving Forward." Plastics News. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. "Politics Northwest | Effort to Repeal Plastic Bag Ban Falls Short | Seattle Times Newspaper." The Seattle Times | Seattle Times Newspaper. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Nevada, Maine, Virginia, Vermont, Ohio, Massachusetts, Idaho, Washington, Michigan, Arizona Platform: Romney strongly opposes tax increases on the middle class, and does not support the “Billionaires tax.” One of Romney’s proposed measures is a complete elimination of capital gains and interest taxes. In terms of corporate reform, Mr. Romney advocates repealing President Obama’s changes. He has not provided a solid position on the war in Afghanistan, but suggested that military intervention may be needed in Iran as a last resort. Like the other Republican candidates, Romney has declared he would repeal President Obama’s health care mandate, though during his governorship he oversaw the passage of a similar program. On immigration, Mr. Romney supports a border fence with Mexico, but has also endorsed a citizenship track for illegal immigrants. JSA Be the People


THE JUNIOR STATEMENT RICK SANTORUM Age: 53 Experience: U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania (1990-1992), U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania (19922006), Fox News correspondent Primary Victories to Date: Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kansas

The Official Newsletter of the Junior State of America (JSA)

NEWT GINGRICH Age: 68 Experience: U.S. Representative from Georgia (19781998), Speaker of the House (1994-1998), Freddie Mac consultant (2001-2010) Primary Victories to Date: South Carolina, Georgia Platform: Mr. Gingrich likewise supports the elimination of capital gains taxes, and has stated that he would make the Bush-era tax cuts permanent. He has also declared that he supports a fifteen percent flat tax for all citizens. Gingrich calls for lesser business regulation, specifically the nullification of the DoddFrank Regulatory Act. In terms of Middle-East foreign policy, he primarily champions the elimination of extremism and nuclear buildup in the region. He calls for the Obama-era health care to be replaced with a system that would provide care for Americans with the most debilitating illnesses. Of all of the candidates, Gingrich endorses the most stringent immigration measures, including enforcement by the National Guard.

Platform: Running as a hard-line conservative, Santorum endorses slashing corporate taxes, and leaving capital gains taxes at their current rates. Like Mr. Romney, he has stated he would eliminate Obamaera business regulations. Mr. Santorum does not support pulling out of Afghanistan until Taliban presence has been eradicated, and also has declared that war with Iran is still an option. Santorum strongly opposes nationalized health-care, and completely opposes government intervention in the environment. He does not advocate large-scale deportations of illegal immigrants, though he does call for a border fence.

RON PAUL Age: 76 Experience: U.S. Representative from Texas (19761977, 1979-1985, 1997-present) Primary Victories to Date: None 7  

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THE JUNIOR STATEMENT Platform: Mr. Paul is running on a libertarian platform, a fact reflected in almost all of his policy plans. He has advocated the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service and the federal income tax. Consistent with his limited government views, Paul calls for an end to all corporate regulations. Unlike the other candidates, Mr. Paul is a staunch isolationist, opposing the war in Afghanistan and military action in Iran. He supports an end to President Obama’s health care program, and has stated that students should be able to withdraw from public education. Similarly to Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul has promoted military reinforcement of the U.S.Mexican border.

The Official Newsletter of the Junior State of America (JSA)

will remain in the Obama pocket, then he need only carry Ohio or Florida. This is where his luck begins to turn for the better, because both states have a common denominator that works out in his favor. In 2010, both states elected Republican governors. Governor Kasich of Ohio is now the second most unpopular governor in the United States with an approval rating hovering around 30%. Who could possibly be worse than that? Governor Rick Scott of Florida, with an approval rating just under Kasich’s. In a political game in which parties have adopted uniform beliefs, a campaign against the GOP will tap that anti-gubernatorial spirit in those states. In states that are already swing states, that’s all it will take. So go the swing states, so go the nation.

Commentary

Why Barack Obama Cannot Lose By: Joe Laposata

The race for the presidency is, more than anything else, a race to 270 electoral votes. No matter what approval ratings are, how the economy stands, or even what the popular vote is, 270 electoral votes are what it takes to elect a President. This is exactly why Barack Obama cannot lose.

Pictured above is the Kerry map. See all that red? All of those states were states won by the Republican incumbent, President Bush. Despite all of that red, the 2004 election was still the second closest of all time, ultimately decided by a close race in Ohio. Although Ohio received the media attention, Kerry’s real loss was his failure to carry more than one swing state (Pennsylvania). Kerry won the states that could be accurately called Democratic base states. All of these states were won again in 2008 by Barack Obama, cementing this status. If we operate under this assumption, it makes the path for re-election clear for Barack Obama. To win the race to 270, all President Obama needs is to carry one major swing state. The largest swing states in the 2012 race will be Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. If we assume that the perpetually leaning-Democratic state of Pennsylvania 8  

The upcoming race will be close regardless of who the GOP nominee is. However, speaking purely of electoral math, who the Republicans nominate is a moot point. Barack Obama cannot lose. Barring cataclysmic change (imagine leaked footage of Obama kicking a puppy), Obama is going to win Ohio, Florida, and the election. It’s not a prediction. It’s math.

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THE JUNIOR STATEMENT Commentary

And the Winner Is...Obama? By: Joe Laposata

The Official Newsletter of the Junior State of America (JSA)

unlikely with every attack ad, Barack Obama can rest more and more easily. This election is going to be a duel, so the one on the right better not shoot himself in the foot.

On January 3, I sat down with a bowl of popcorn and a rapt attention span to watch Rick Santorum pull out a squeaker. One week later, on January 10, I made a similar trip to watch Mitt Romney winnow down the field in a decisive victory. Ten days later I watched an equal and opposite victory for Newt Gingrich. And now that Mitt Romney has won Florida, and with Gingrich, Santorum, and Ron Paul making no plans to drop out anytime soon, I can’t help but think that there is a clear winner in all of these races. His name is Barack Obama. Since I started my JSA chapter, this election has been the paramount source of debate. I have been told repeatedly by my conservative friends that “a President has never been re-elected with GDP growth so low.” And although they are correct, no President has ever been elected in 2012 either. I guess there’s just a first time for everything. If the circular firing squad that is the GOP field continues as is, it becomes increasingly more difficult with every passing primary to imagine the election being anything but a reelection. In 1980, a wildly unpopular Jimmy Carter ran for reelection in a strange primary fight against Ted Kennedy. Carter, although unpopular, likely could have used the lack of a primary that incumbents normally enjoy to increase his popularity. Likewise, Ted Kennedy, if left alone, could have ridden the wave of popularity that convinced him to run in the first place. He probably would have beaten Ronnie Reagan. Unfortunately for the Democrats, neither ran uncontested. There was a primary, a primary similar to our current GOP primary. Characterized by negative ads, the two candidates brought each other down and paved the way for the opposition with every negative dollar spent. All of this is relevant now because although the campaigns of 1980 were negative, the GOP campaigns of 2012 are even more so. The Florida primary, recently won by Mitt Romney, was deemed “the most negative campaign in the history of the state” by the Campaign Media Analysis Group. Of the ads that aired in the state, 92% were negative. Doesn’t it feel like 1980 again? No matter what happens in the primary, the election will be close. The economy will ensure that. But if the Republicans want a viable candidate, they needed to begin coalescing around one candidate two months ago. With that scenario seeming more and more 9  

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