MOVEMENTS changing the world
VOLUME 9 • ISSUE 1
Is College Really Necessary?, 4 UC Student Tutition Hikes, 7 Greek Debt and the Eurozone, 10
AS WELL AS:
Romney’s potential impact on our economy
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Charles Liu SENIOR EDITOR Drew Bent COPY EDITORS Sarah Dukes-Schlossberg Sabrina Lui Eric Noh PUBLICITY Helen Carefoot TREASURER Joseph Nicolls CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Laura Grimm Sidd Karamcheti David Patou PHOTOGRAPHY Anh-Tram Bui Sara Ma
t seems that every week a new ideal captures the hearts of the people around us and moves them to action. With the prevalence of social media and the lightning pace of today’s society, it comes as no surprise that any idea can catch fire and gather a host of devoted followers. Never has this been more evident than now, as movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring seemingly rise out of nowhere. At the root of these movements is the fact that we live in a constantly changing world. In the blink of an eye, the leaders of today are replaced by the forward thinkers of tomorrow. The environments that we know so well are lost to the whims of the world. The changes that we see in our world, however, are reflected even more intricately in ourselves—our thoughts, our ideas, our beliefs. The transformations we experience around us evoke change as we try to mold the world to fit our needs and desires. As the election season draws to a close, this is especially true; President Obama’s re-election renews our efforts for bipartisan cooperation, and we demand equally much of our President for the coming four years. In this issue, The Chariot explores several issues that have captured public attention and inspired debate. It is our goal to promote awareness about these issues and provide a variety of perspectives so that you as a reader can be informed about the relevant issues of today. In reality, however, the topics covered in this issue represent only a fraction of the significant questions in society today, and it is a task left to the reader to truly understand the breadth of topics that hold public interest. Ultimately, however, no article can force its beliefs onto you; it is up to you to form your own ideas about the issues pertinent to society today. Only you can make the choices that allow you to be a force for change in the world. So enjoy this first issue of the year on the path to a greater understanding of the world! Sincerely,
GRAPHICS Ray Chen George Hwang The Chariot would like to thank the following sponsors and patrons:
FOUNDATION/GROUP SPONSORS Adobe Systems • Daughters of the American Revolution • Palo Alto Lions Club
The Chariot is intended to create and promote political discussion at Gunn and make people aware of issues that matter. We ask that you respect all opinions which are reflected in our publication, and write letters to the editors if you wish to voice your opinion. The views expressed do not reflect that of The Chariot, but rather those of the individual writers.
PATRONS ($100+) Lauren Michals and Vinod Bharadwaj • Patricia Bruegger • Steven Guggenheim • Yajun Liu and Shirley Zeng
The Chariot would also like to thank Advisor Marc Igler for his support.
Charles Liu EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The Chariot was originally founded in 2001 as The Partisan Review by Gunn alumni Ilan Wurman (‘06), Channing Hancock (‘06), and Sarah McDermott (‘05). Visit our website, www.gunnchariot.com if you wish to view any issues from previous years or for more information about us. Any questions, comments, suggestions, or requests to join can be sent to email@example.com. If you’d like to make a donation or subscribe, please send checks to: Marc Igler Re: The Gunn Chariot 780 Arastradero Road Palo Alto, CA 94306 Checks can be made out to Gunn High School with “The Chariot” on the memo. NOV 2012
IN THE NEWS 2012 Elections
On November 6, 2012, incumbent Barack Obama was announced as the winner of the 2012 presidential election over Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney. Obama won the electoral vote 332-206, while also winning the popular vote 61,062,730-58,073,013. Obama won key victories in swing states including Ohio, Virginia and Iowa among others. Obama won by large margins among voters aged 18-29 and voters living in urban areas, while Romney took home victories among senior citizens and voters living in rural areas. Obama also won over most minority voters, while Romney won support from the majority of whites. In the wake of the election, Mitt Romney called for more bipartisanship in his concession speech, urging more unity in Congress and among the common people. In Obama’s acceptance speech, he acknowledged the challenges that he and Congress had faced and would face in the coming years. In addition, Nate Silver, author of the New York Times polling aggregate site FiveThirtyEight, successfully predicted every state’s outcome.
In late October 2012, Category 2 Hurricane Sandy swept across the Caribbean Islands and Eastern Seaboard, wreaking heavy damage on homes and businesses. In the history of Atlantic hurricanes, Hurricane Sandy has only been surpassed by Hurricane Katrina in the extent of its destruction. Sandy has caused an estimated $50 billion in property and business damages across more than twenty states, representing one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. Hurricane Sandy also forced the temporary closure of the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, halting many business efforts. Many scientists have attributed the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy to global warming, prompting discussion in Congress about the potential impacts of climate change. Hurricane Sandy also impacted the elections; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie praised President Obama for his response to the hurricane, while Mitt Romney was criticized for his 2011 proposition to eliminate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which would have greatly slowed response times to the storm. Many groups are organizing relief efforts, including the Red Cross, Disney Television Group, NBC, the UN and the World Food Programme, but full recovery is still far from complete.
California State Ballots
California voters approved Proposition 30, increasing state income taxes for people earning at least $250,000 annually as well as increasing sales taxes. The proposition’s passage also helps prevent $6 billion in cuts for K-12 schools and state universities. Voters also voted no on Proposition 34, upholding the death penalty. The proposition was rejected by a margin of 52.8%-47.2%. California rejected Proposition 37. This proposition would have required food companies to label all genetically modified foods, but its rejection allows companies to leave genetically modified foods unlabeled. California voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 38, leaving their tax rates intact. In doing so, however, voters also denied funding for local K-12 schools and early childhood programs. NOV 2012
SOUND BITES “I believe in America, I believe in the people of America and I ran for office because I’m concerned about America.”
Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee in his concession speech after his 206-332 defeat in the 2012 elections
“We are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and one people.”
Barack Obama, President of the United States in his acceptance speech after winning a second term as president
“The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we’ve ever seen. The cost of the storm is incalculable at this point.”
Chris Christie, New Jersey Gov. in reference to the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy
The College Debate PRO: Higher
education still best choice for most
Sarah Dukes-Schlossberg Copy Editor
f Gunn students were to forgo a higher education, how many of us would be prepared for a career to last a lifetime? Some certainly, but few. Since Newsweek, the Atlantic Monthly, and other publications began debating the merits of a college degree it has since become fashionable to say that the value of a college degree is not what it used to be. Of course it is not; in fact, colleges are on average much better. Regardless of truth in the numbers, the focus should remain on the individual students. The focus behind the debate seems to be that college is not right for everyone. However, this argument misses the larger point. More importantly, many determined, ambitious students do not have the financial means to achieve a college education. This number is far larger and more important. It is easy for a student who has the means to enter college to decide not to attend, but quite challenging for a student who lacks the means to do so. The key is to focus more on making college less about “exploring yourself,” and more about training for a career in your chosen field. Far too many students are told to pursue more uncertain majors such as Art History, Philosophy, or Asian Studies. It is unacceptable to allow students to pursue a major that gives them little chance of finding a job to meet their level of education. Education should focus on job preparation first, assisted by strong career coun-
seling services. ing to the College Board, in 1995, tuition For any student who wants a college would have set the student back $12, 618 degree, but is deterred by the cost, there in inflation-adjusted dollars per year, inare many options. California students have cluding room and board. By 2007, the cost the option of quality, low-cost education would have been $15,489 in equivalent inthrough the California Community Col- flation-adjusted dollars per year, including lege (CCC) sysroom and board. tem. Community The cost is cercolleges allow stutainly increasing, A higher education is dents the freedom but it is not doustill the best means to to study part-time bling. A 23% inachieve better pay and while also buildcrease in 12 years a better job in life. But ing their resumé is significant, but at internships or it is less for lowerit’s not just about going. jobs, or to transfer income students, to a University of those most cited California (UC) school after two years. An- as being hardest hit by the increase. other option is to enter the Armed Forces A higher education is still the best and then attend college under the G.I. Bill. means to achieve better pay and a better We have been told that tuition prices are job in life. But it’s not just about going. “soaring,” but in fact they are rising only You have to be engaged in your classes, slightly faster than inflation. Consider the smart about your choice of major and case of an upper-middle income student classes, and forward-thinking about your at a typical public college, such as the Uni- time management. You can be what you versity of California (UC) system. Accord- want to be, but you have to work for it.
is not for everyone Drew Bent Senior Editor
or many students at Gunn, it is taken for granted that they will pursue some form of higher education once they graduate. Even those who can’t afford it will likely apply for scholarships and take out loans in the es, a college education will simply get in hope of securing their future. College the way of advancing the student’s career. enrollment is at an all-time high; the U.S. Many argue that the monstrous tuCensus revealed that 70% of 2009 high ition prices charged by universities today school graduates are currently enrolled can be justified by the long-term investin a college. ment of a college degree. Indeed, the With rising tuition prices, though, U.S. Census Bureau found that the media number of college-bound students an gap in annual earnings between high should question if this is the right de- school and college graduates is $19,550. cision for themselves. These difficult Yet, this does not take into account the economic times have resulted in an in- time college graduates have lost to the teresting paradox: a college education workforce. Not only will this year’s colmight actually harm a student more than lege graduates be catapulted into a weak it helps her. job market with a huge amount of debt, That is not to say that everyone but they will also be four years behind should skip the higher education path. their counterparts who did not attend The United States is a leader in universi- college in terms of career development. ties and much of its success can be at- They will have missed out on four years tributed to such institutions. For those worth of salaries and promotions, as seeking positions in hospitals, law firms, well as the return on any money invested academia or a multitude of other spe- during that time. cialized industries, attending a university For some, attending a university will is usually a great investment. Universi- not be a problem as they will have seties will always exist for the rigor they cured higher positions than their counprovide, and the option will likely remain terparts and learned a great deal more relevant for many—if not the majority— than them upon graduating from colof high school lege. For others, graduates. though, college Nevertheless, will have left A college education college is not for them with very might actually harm a everyone. For a few skill sets relstudent more than it significant numevant to their helps her. ber of students, work. Often, the higher education most beneficial holds little relexperiences that evance and will end up temporarily stag- arise from higher education are the innating their careers. In such circumstanc- ternships, co-ops, and work experience NOV 2012
in the field. As these activities are not a standard part of U.S. colleges’ curriculum, a fair number of students miss out on them. There are two reasons why today’s college education may not be relevant in preparing students for the workforce. For one, the curriculum in many majors is not designed around a particular career path. As opposed to the age-old idea of an apprenticeship in which a student works alongside a professional, higher education can sometimes deviate from the tangible skill sets that will be needed in the workforce. Additionally, higher education can be ineffective preparation for certain students who do not put enough time into their studies. While the numbers can be fuzzy, studies have shown that students from this decade are spending only two thirds as many hours studying for college as they were in 1961. Although there is no definitive answer, there is an ongoing debate on how much learning is really taking place in college. With all the sports and social activities that serve to distract the students from their studies, learning can easily become second-hand to everything else. Such a discussion on the value of college begs the question: what alternatives are there? For some, entering the workforce directly after high school might be the most appropriate option. Others might prefer a compromise between education and work. By attending a 2-year community college and working simultaneously, a student can earn two invaluable experiences while paying their way through college. Finally, some students might feel that a 4-year college is still the right option for them, but will choose to supplement their education with summer internships that give them real-world experience and pay towards their tuition. Students will have to decide for themselves when it comes to the higher education decision. In doing so, students need to keep an open mind. Remember: what works for some does not work for everyone.
teachers represented by the strike
students temporarily without teachers
percent teachers’ salary increase demanded
percent teachers’ salary increase offered
Chicago strikes shed light on bigger issues
Drew Bent Senior Editor
tudents have been flocking back to schools these past few months as they return from their summer vacation. Yet, a slightly different story has been playing out in Chicago’s public school district, the third largest in the nation. Shortly after school began, the Chicago schools were put on hold as the teachers went on strike. The strike left 350,000 children out of school for seven days and—more importantly—has raised important issues on the future of education and teacher unions. The strike was the first in a quarter century for the Chicago Teachers Union. During the week of the strike, parents had struggled to find daycare for their children and other ways to keep them out of trouble in a neighborhood that has historically had high crime rates. The strike came after teachers had objected to a longer school day (an increase from six to seven hours), school closings and a new evaluation model based on student performance. A revised contract has since been proposed between the
dollars in projected debt for Chicago Public Schools by 2014
schools to be closed by 2013 6
Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Schools; it is likely to be approved by the 26,000 union members. The proposed contract is full of compromises, leaving it unclear who won in the negotiations. Although the contract would set a precedent in Chicago by including students’ test scores in teacher evaluations, the union pushed back by making the new procedure begin as a trial, one that would allow teacher appeals. Other changes include a longer school day and a 17 percent pay raise for the teachers over the next four years. These reforms raise larger issues concerning the overall education system in the United States. When it comes to education, many issues have yet to been resolved. These include everything from the role of charter schools to the methods by which teachers are evaluated. Currently, there is no consensus on what role student test scores should play in such evaluations. Furthermore, the teacher unions’ leverage has taken a dip in recent years. In 2010, four states severely restricted the bargaining rights of teachers. The Chicago teachers have shown that even such a radical move as a week-long strike will not cause the school district to make drastic reforms. The Chicago strikes have only scraped the surface of the issues that will need to be debated in coming years. Fortunately, after years of stagnation in the educational system, reforms are finally forthcoming.
The ugly truth about UCs
Sabrina Lui Copy Editor
ive years ago, student admission by the University of California allocated 10 percent of the freshman class to out-of-state applicants. This year, the UC Class of 2016 consists of more than 23 percent out-of-state students, a concerning proliferation not lost on in-state applicants, who feel that they have been wronged by the system. The out-of-state admission increase of over 100% masks the real problem burdening University officers: a crippling shortage of funding. In this past year, the state legislature covered a mere 10.5 percent of the UC system’s $22.5 billion budget, a jarring 60 percent less than its contributions twenty years ago. As a result, the administration recently augmented admission to non-Californian students in hopes of diminishing its budget anxieties through higher tuition paid by non-residents. Of course, the presence of non-resi-
dents in UC classrooms, along with overall tuition hikes, has induced fervid remonstration among students across the state. Through the escalating student-instigated resentment at Berkeley, the UC Davis student protest of Nov. 2011 and the ensuing pepper spray lawsuit, UC student bodies have made themselves clear: college is becoming inaccessible. The UC administration thus feels the heat not only from its fast-depleting funds but also from a qualified in-state opposition with a desire to make use of its available educational opportunities and become productive members of an expanding community. For us at Gunn, this issue hits close to home. As we approach our university years with the mindset of students often funneled further into California’s education system, evaluation of our options revolves around one question: “What are the chances I’ll be accepted?” With the increase of non-Californian admission comes the potential decrease of admission to Californian students. Can we no longer depend quite so fully upon receiving an education from the system in which we (or, more precisely, our parents) have invested our tax dollars? By considering the demands of an expanding student population, declining state funding, and families with insufficient financial means to satiate this defi-
cit, UC President Mark Yudof, as well as California’s legislature, must make it their highest priority to contribute to California’s education and, consequently, economy. Yudof needs to focus his resources on in-state students, rather than students who will most likely continue their postcollege careers outside California. Instead of exploiting non-residents for their tuition payments, administrators should look to a more durable solution: increasing the number of educated adults in California and therefore the number of individuals willing and able to fund state programs like the UC. In the meantime, the only option we can consider is raising taxes and tuition rates in California. Granted, with the state squeezing more out of taxpayers, families may find higher education increasingly unaffordable. University students forced to take out loans may proceed well into their careers still bearing the burden of such a debt. The fact remains, however, that without providing high-level education to young adults in this state, the legislature perpetuates the incapacity of our generation to fill productive positions (and pay off that original student debt). Action must be taken so that the generations to come will once again see the UCs as viable and sustainable, for education, as Yudof stated in a recent Chamber discussion, represents the “seed corn” for innovation and economic growth of the state. Whether this investment means a push for forcing tuition rates temporarily upwards or cutting out a bigger slice in the revenue pie for the educational system, the UC administration and California lawmakers need to keep in mind the group of people for which their institution was originally established: citizens of California. The UC system must take the initiative to begin healing the wounds in our institutions from the inside out, instead of simply bandaging the surface by reaping revenue from students in other states. It’s one ugly, hard-selling truth, but investing in high-level education is likely the only way out of this economic morass. We as Californians just need to do our share in making it happen.
Time for US to leave
Eric Noh Copy Editor
he September 11th attacks on the eastern seaboard of the United States took thousands of innocent American lives. In response, the United States, along with several NATO and international allies, initiated a war against Al Qaeda, the group responsible for the 9/11 attacks, other major terrorist organizations and regimes accused of providing these groups with support. Since then the United States Army has been involved in major operations in six countries around the world to combat terrorism: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen. U.S. efforts in its global war against terror have been largely focused on Afghanistan and Iraq. In the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States had committed 150,000 soldiers. The number of soldiers deployed for peacekeeping operations reached a peak of 165,000. At present, approximately 90,000 soldiers are deployed to Afghanistan. With the inauguration of the Obama Administration in 2008, the United States and its coalition allies have since
begun to scale down their efforts in Laden, was killed on May 2, 2011 by U.S. the global “War on Terror.” A bilateral Navy SEALS. It is well established that agreement was reached in 2008 by the leadership is key to any organization, United States and Iraq that mandated and Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been all US military personnel to withdraw greatly crippled due to losses within their from Iraqi territory by Dec. 31, 2011; leaderships. U.S troop withdrawal was fully completBefore the United States backs out of ed on Dec. 18, 2011. According to Fox the “War on Terror,” it is imperative that News on July 23, 2012, the United States the countries it has intervened in have sufmilitary plans to pull out 23,000 troops ficient military forces capable of counterfrom Afghanistan by the end of the year. terrorist operations and which they can The U.S. hopes to pull out all troops rely on for protection. Without such milifrom the countaries, countries try by the close are much more of 2014. vulnerable to dissiIt is the right time for Did the Unitdence. If the Unitthe United States to ed States military ed States left Iraq cease all military opreach its objecand Afghanistan erations in Iraq and in tives in Afghaniwith inadequate stan and Iraq? militaries, it would Afghanistan. Was it a prudent be certain terrorist decision for the insurgencies would U.S. to withdraw all military personnel be on the offensive. However, by the time from Iraq and to begin withdrawal of the United States has ceased military optroops in Afghanistan? Yes, mission ac- erations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Iraqi complished; it is the right time for the and Afghan military forces will be more United States to cease all military opera- than ready to combat threats. tions in Iraq and in Afghanistan; terrorIt can be argued that the Iraqi Army ist leadership in those countries has been already has that capability. According decimated, and the Iraqi and Afghan mili- to Globalsecurity.org, it had a nominal taries can handle domestic conflicts with- strength of almost 200,000 soldiers, with a out outside intervention. further 300,000 in reserves. The improveSince October 7, 2001, the United ment of economic conditions in Iraq has States has successfully captured or elimi- allowed its government to invest in statenated nearly all key leaders of Al Qaeda of-the art military equipment. In Decemand the Taliban, indisputably two of the ber 2008, the United States approved a $6 most dangerous and largest terrorist orga- billion arms deal with Iraq that included nizations in the world. Al Qaeda and the 140 M1A1 Abrams Tanks and 400 Stryker Taliban have seen their leadership greatly combat vehicles. Also, the Iraq governthinned over the years through various ment signed an additional $5 billion arms methods such as commando strikes and deal with the U.S. In addition, the Iraqi drone strikes. According to the Long Army has proven to be combat effecWar Journal in 2012, 73 senior Al tive. This is exemplified in the Operation Qaeda and Taliban leaders have Charge of the Knights in 2008, when it been killed by U.S. airstrikes in drove out hostile Mahdi Army militiamen Pakistan alone from 2004- out of the city of Basra without United 2012. Most notably, the States or coalition support. Through its leader and ideologue of sheer size, advanced equipment and comAl Qaeda, Osama Bin bat experience, the Iraqi Army no longer
needs the help of the United States to pro- Since 2007, equipment worth billions tect its country. of dollars has been gifted by the United The Afghan National Army (ANA) States to the ANA. Due to these generwill soon have the operational capability ous donations, Afghanistan has seen its to combat the Taliban, a terrorist organi- nascent military force being equipped zation and most dangerous enemy of Af- with advanced weaponry such as M16 ghanistan. As of June 2012, it has about rifles while the Taliban continues to rely 200,000 active troops; in comparison, on obsolete weaponry such as RPG’s the Taliban has an estimated strength and AK-47’s. of 36,000 men and has seen its numbers As it has achieved many of its primary dwindling year by year; in 2011 alone, objectives in its global war against terror4,275 Taliban militants were killed. It ism, the United States has clearly made is clear that the Afghan National Army the right choice in bringing its troops has a sizeable numerical advantage over home. Even if terrorist groups in Afthe Taliban. ghanistan and Iraq The Afghan continue to operThere is no sweeter time National Army ate after American also has superideparture, the milifor the United States to or training over tary forces in those end a war that has cost the Taliban. The countries will be thousands of American United States able to combat and military assists eliminate them. lives and $3.7 trillion. in the basic and With fiscal difficuladvanced trainties a harsh reality ing of enlisted recruits while U.S. Special back home, there is no sweeter time for Forces train ANA commandos. Lastly, the United States to end a war that has the Afghan National Army has funding cost thousands of American lives and that the Taliban cannot possibly match. $3.7 trillion.
BOTH SIDES PRO
“In light of Iraq’s refusal to eliminate the possibility that U.S. troops would face prosecution in Iraqi courts, President Obama has made the right decision.” Carl Levin, U.S. Senator (DMich.)
“I think you’ve seen the president demonstrate that we can protect our interests without basing a lot of troops overseas.”
Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Adviser
“I’m deeply concerned that President Obama is putting political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment.”
Rick Perry, Texas Gov. and former presidential candidate
“We are still maintaining a massive presence there, now with the State Department and its heavily armed private security contractors.”
Dennis Kucinich, U.S. Representative (D-Ohio)
Trouble in Greece: The Dragging down the Eurozone
Sidd Karamcheti Contributing Writer
t has been three years since the beginning of the European Debt Crisis, or Eurozone Crisis, and up until this point, the situation in Europe has gone from bad to worse. The Crisis is still taking its toll on the European economies, forcing the Eurozone into a seemingly endless spiral of debt, with no indications of recovery or revitalization anytime soon. At the moment, though, the Eurozone is relatively stable, and is working to better itssituation, but the constant threat of a mass default is still hanging over Europe’s head. The European Debt Crisis has its foundation in the shared currency of Europe, the euro. Because of this union under the euro, the economies of every country in the Eurozone are intricately linked, and as such, form a web in which every isolated incident carries over to the entire region, thus having unforeseen and often irrevocable effects. It is this phenomenon that began the Debt Crisis three years ago, when the Greek government under Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that it was suffering from a massive debt, a deficit that had been hidden from the outside world for years. This deficit seriously impacted the euro, weakening it, and dropping its value to less than that of the
Jan. 1, 2001
Greece joins the Eurozone as its 12th member, adopting the euro for currency. 10
US Dollar. In order to qualify for certain international loans from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) or banks throughout the world, each country is rated by agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s based on their capability to pay returns on debt, a rating almost like a credit score. Before the Eurozone Crisis, European countries like France and Germany had fairly high ratings, as their economies were fairly powerful, and fully capable of paying off debt, even if based on the euro. However, when Greece came out with this massive announcement the credit ratings for all the Eurozone countries fell harshly, as institutions like the IMF and the ECB (European Credit Bank) lost faith in the European countries’ ability to pay their debts because of the weakened euro. Because of this, the Eurozone was caught in a state of perpetual flux, unable to borrow money to bail out Greece and end their deficit, all while sinking lower and lower, as Greece’s debt continued to affect world markets. Finally, in early 2010, the IMF and the European Union, under Germany’s lead, were able to offer Greece a €500 billion bailout; a gesture that Europe felt would restore the world’s markets and fix Greece’s deficit problems, a solution that seemed to work for a while. Yet, even with the €500 billion bailout, it became clear by late 2011 that Greece was going to need more money to set the Eurozone straight. By August, Greece was suffering from an even larger deficit than it had in 2009, one stemming from its inability to retain structure in its govern-
Oct. 4, 2009
George Papandreou and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement win election. NOV 2012
ment, as well as in its spending. Unlike the 2009 deficit, this one has major implications on other European governments in that the Italian economy and the Spanish economy were almost pulled under along with Greece, forcing all three countries to default and declare bankruptcy, something that would have essentially ripped apart all of Europe and most of the world’s economy as well. Therefore, in order to avoid a mass default, Germany, the EU and the IMF once again approved a bailout for Greece, this time of €130 billion. However, attempting to make sure that this money would actually work to bailout Greece, the triumvirate forced Greece to accept a debt deal, in which they restructured their entire spending budget and economy, which Greece accepted earlier this year, on March 9, 2012. Since the acceptance of the debt deal, Greece has made massive strides in the restructuring of its economy, as well as of its spending, and has cleared a large amount of its debt. However, the aftereffects of its deficits still linger. Not only have the S&P ratings of the European countries harshly fallen, but Spain and Portugal have been forced to take major loans to cover their suffering economies, loans that they will barely be able to pay back. In the end the Eurozone Crisis is still affecting the European countries today. The threat of relapse constantly hangs over the heads of the European nations, dictating their every decision, and the only thing keeping Europe from returning to a perpetual spiral of debt is Greece’s recovery.
Oct. 18, 2009
Papandreou reveals the full extent of the Greek budget deficit.
Problems of a Nation Crisis in illegal immigration
Laura Grimm Contributing Writer
he problems in Greece have been mounting for some time and just seem to be increasing in intensity. Among these problems are the debt, poor economy and now immigration problems. Most have heard of Greece’s debt and its threat to the currency in the Eurozone and how it seems to be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Greece’s debt reached a height in 2009 when it had the highest budget deficit and government debt to GDP ratios in the Eurozone. The Greek government had deliberately misreported the economic position of the country so that it could stay in the monetary union guidelines of the European Union. Even now after a bailout from the IMF and the European Union the debt continues to rise because of the recession in the country. The revelation of the debt in Greece led to social unrest and rioting that lasted for months. The rioting and unrest has decreased, but there is still worry concerning the Greek nation and its people. With the high unemployment rate, ever increasing debt and recession, the scale is beginning to slip too much to the side of more unrest instead of peace. Greece went into a recession in 2008, and between then and now the unemploy-
Mar. 4, 2010
Greece adopts an austerity plan, increasing taxes and freezing pensions.
ment rate has gone sky high and left more than half of the youth jobless. The Greek economy is based on tourism, shipping, industry and agriculture. The low economy in Greece has raised tourism prices and scared off potential travelers. All aspects of industry and agriculture were hit hard by the financial crisis and decreased in output percentages. Some of the percentages are beginning to rise and helping the economy in Greece. Since 2008, the tourism to Greece has been increasing as well and with it a number of awards. Tourism accounts for about one fifth of the economy in Greece so any increase in this area can help boost the country up and pull it out of the economic crisis. In many travel magazines, a few Greek cities have come onto the top of the must visit places. These awards can help keep up the increase in visitors to Greece and lower the country’s problems even more. Illegal immigration by way of Greece has largely increased over the past few months. This increase is due to the turmoil and fear going on in the Middle East and South Asia; people are trying to flee into Europe where they hope to find stable jobs. During the year of the uprisings in North Africa, illegal immigration rates rose drastically in both Greece and Europe. Greece is an easy way to access the rest of Europe because of its current lack of security and proximity to the Middle East and Europe. The debt and economic problems going on in Greece mean that there isn’t much money for Greece to control the borders
May 8, 2010
Eurozone leaders approve a $100 billion bailout plan for Greece. NOV 2012
and keep out illegal immigrants. The Europe Commission has given Greece money in the past two years, but not much has been done to hamper the flow of immigrants. There are some patrols going on and a few detention centers set up to fingerprint and take information down for any people caught. After being brought in the illegal immigrants will be help in the center for up to a few weeks, and then they will be let out and told to leave Greece within a month. Instead of deporting all of the illegal immigrants they find, officials tell them to leave within a month so that they don’t use as many resources. The officials only have to deport the illegal immigrants they find that haven’t left. The majority of the immigrants caught don’t actually leave and aren’t caught again; most take a ferry to Italy and to the rest of Europe. As illegal immigration rises so do the number of people against it. The Golden Dawn party has set its goal as cleaning up the borders and getting rid of illegal immigrants. It has even won enough supporters to hold seats in Parliament. No human rights violations have been made yet, but this new party has piqued the alert of many watch groups. Immigration, the debt and economy are current problems that are leading to unease in Greece. People are beginning to take things into their own hands, such as the anti-immigration group, Golden Dawn, and winning an amazing number of supporters. Even though the tourism rates have been rising, there is still a long way to go.
Nov. 11, 2011
Lucas Papademos becomes Prime Minister following Papandreou’s resignation. 11
2012 Election: Economy
Barack Obama Democratic Party
Gary Johnson Libertarian Party
• Wants to raise the debt ceiling, • Supports the Patient Protection paid for by reduced spending and and Affordable Care Act (Obamincreased taxes on the wealthy. acare). • Wants to supports the financial • Supports the expansion of Mediand auto bailout, but believes care there should have been more re- • Against legalizing marijuana. strictions.
• Against raising the debt ceiling • Would repeal Obamacare; reform and the 2008 financial bailouts. Medicare • Advocates lower taxes, less regu- • Would make health care into a lation, replacing jobless benefits voucher system. with unemployment savings ac- • Against legalizing marijuana. count, wants to repeal some financial regulation.
• Supports an increased minimum wage; increased debt ceiling; the 2008 financial bailout; and wants to nationalize all big banks.
• Supports the legalization of marijuana. • Does not support Obamacare, but wants to transform the system into a Canadian or Europeanstyle single payer system that can negotiate pricing for medication and treatments.
• Does not support a federal mini- • Supports the legalization of marimum wage; an increased debt ceiljuana. ing; nor the 2008 financial bailout. • Does not support Obamacare, but advocates the free-market system currently in use. NOV 2012
Side-by-side comparison Environment
• Wants to expand offshore drilling and the National Parks Service. • Believes in man-made global warming and has spent significantly on green technology.
• Supports the funding of stem cell research, but not the funding of space exploration. • Believes in the theory of evolution.
• “Race to the Top” program awarded winning states with billions to pursue programs Obama supports.
• Wants to dismantle the National • Supports the funding of space • Supports federal acocuntability standards such as No Child Left Parks System. exploration, but not stem cell reBehind law • Believes that global warming is a search. • Wants to decrease federal power natural phenomenon beyond hu- • Believes in the theory of evoluover education. man control. tion, but that it is a part of Creationism.
• Wants to eliminate offshore drill- • Supports the funding of stem cell • Supports increased spending. ing; expand the National Parks research Service • Believes in evolution • Believes in man-made global • Ambivalent on the funding of warming. space exploration.
• Wants to eliminate federal over- • Believes in the theory of evolu- • Wants to make education more performance based and increase sight of offshore drilling; the Nation. competition between schools. tional Parks Service; and energy • Wants to leave funding for stem policy. cell research and space exploration to the private sector. NOV 2012
Written by Sarah Dukes-Schlossberg 13
Who has the WORSE Obama’s fiscal disaster David Patou Contributing Writer
hile heralded as a hero by liberals and demonized by conservatives, President Barack Obama’s first four years in office have been highly controversial. However, disregarding social issues and domestic policy issues (in which many of us would agree he has been largely successful), Obama’s economic track record is among the worst in the history of modern America. Beginning his term with ambitious promises of job increases, debt reduction, and economic well-being, the President has utterly failed to follow up on his uplifting rhetoric. Obama’s fiscal policy is fundamentally inferior to Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney’s because it has proved a failure over the last four years and focuses blindly on equality rather than rewarding merit and excellence. First and foremost, the years since 2008 have been comprised of economic hardship and recession. Unemployment has remained above eight percent for 42 consecutive months, the longest stretch since the Great Depression. The most recent jobs report shows that, while 96,000 jobs have been added, industries have not kept up with the combined demand of newcomers entering the workforce and job losses. As a result, unemployment has risen to 8.4 percent. This is in stark contrast to Obama’s promise back in 2009 of 5.3 percent unemployment by the end of his first term. Obama’s empty promises and fiscal failures do not end at jobs. The effects of Obama’s presidency on the much-maligned national debt have been nothing short of catastrophic. Obama promised to cut the deficit in half by 2012. Nearing the completion of his first term, the debt has increased
by roughly five trillion dollars—more than that of any other president in the history of the United States. Even by the standards that Obama set for himself earlier in his presidency, he is an economic failure. The commonly-used tactic among liberals attempting to shield their president from the cold numbers that prove him a failure is to blame Republican politicians and former president George W. Bush. The first argument—that Republican senators and representatives have blocked Obama’s initiatives—does not stand up to scrutiny because of the overwhelmingly Democrat majority in both houses for two full years. Obama had the chance to pass any legislation he desired in those two years and cannot scapegoat the Republican minority. As for the second argument—to blame it on former president Bush—common sense dictates that every president inherits the economic situation of his predecessor. After four years of presidency, one must take responsibility for his or her record. Using the logic that Bush is still to blame, even after an entire term of Obama, every president would be deserving of two full terms in office, since their record would be attributable to the previous president. Obama’s fiscal policies have failed for a reason. Considering his famed position of “spreading the wealth around,” it’s clear that Obamanomics is not about what’s good for the economy; rather, it’s about fairness. Obama is not interested in making the economic situation better or improving the US’s overall stance in the world, but instead about stifling business in the name of “equality.” Obama figures that when the people at the bottom have more money, then they’ll spend more money, thus stimulating the economy and creating more jobs. Unfortunately, that is not how the U.S. economy works, or how it has ever worked before. Businesses in America are created and sustained through investment. Middle and upper class citizens are very likely to invest their money simply because they have NOV 2012
enough fluid capital to be able to take that risk. When those citizens do invest, jobs for lower classes will be created, allowing for social mobility if those lower class citizens excel. That’s what capitalism is based off of—rewards from a free market based off of merit, not giving hand-to-mouth benefits to the lowest income bracket possible. On the other side of the political spectrum stands Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate. One of the main aspects of Romney’s economic plan that Obama disagrees with is the lowering of the corporate tax rate. Romney argues that, if companies are required to pay less money in taxes, they’ll have more money that they can use to hire workers, expand plants and build their companies. Obama, on the contrary, demonizes large corporations as having leadership that pockets money for personal gain. Businesses, however, can reinvest it into either their business or other businesses in the hope of making even more profit, and by the same token, more jobs. This type of investment is the fuel that keeps our economy running and the reason huge companies go out of business or have to lay off huge numbers of workers is often due to a lack in investment. When former president Ronald Reagan ran for president against James Carter, who was running for his second term, the economic situation was eerily similar to today’s. “Can anyone look at the record of this [the Carter] administration and say, ‘Well done?’” Reagan asked. Those who advocate that Obama’s record is a job “well done” are few and far between—even his own promises degrade his performance. At best, liberals defend their candidate by unfairly pinning blame on past presidents and a Republican minority in congress. At this point, Obama has run out of viable excuses for his failed fiscal policies since 2008. Every voter has the choice to be part of the solution to unemployment and national debt, or part of the problem. A vote for Obama is a vote for the perpetuation of the problem.
E Economic Policy? Romney’s doomed economic plan
Joe Nicolls Contributing Writer
he voter, when choosing whom is best suited for the coveted job of the presidency, too often focuses on the wrong aspects of the candidate. The liberal and conservative news networks are playing with each other in a perpetual game of “Which candidate has the worst gaffe?” Let this not be misconstrued as saying that candidates shouldn’t be judged by their responses to interviews; they should. But, the reason why Mitt Romney would be a terrible choice for president is not his wealth, his condescending remarks or whatever gaffe the news cycle will spin next week. Rather, Mitt Romney is a terrible choice for president because his economic policy will plunge this country even further into an economic crisis. Regardless of how successful he may be in business, his ignorance when it
comes to governmental economic policy is staggering. No one summarizes the foolishness of Romney’s position better than the Pulitzer-winning and Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, David Leonhardt. “What he says is that he’ll cut tax rates, he won’t add to the deficit and he won’t, in any way, add to the tax burden of the middle class, And when independent economists have looked at it, they’ve said, ‘He cannot do all those things mathematically.’” Romney’s and the rest of the GOP’s attention to the deficit is baffling. No one paid attention to the deficit when Bush was in office, even as he passed stimulus acts. Even as this argument becomes more relevant to voters as the election approaches, it is important to realize where the money is being spent. As Zach Anderson of Policymic.org says, “There are not pros and cons to this argument. Crushing debt is never a good thing. The debate centers on who can cut the deficit more effectively and whether or not we prioritize social programs or fiscal conservatism.” For a party that prides itself on being more in touch with “American Values” and promises the building up of the middle class, it seems to forget that the deficit and taxes it promises to cut mean
Romney claims to run America like a business. Don’t let him run it into the ground. that social programs will need to go with it. And the statistics that are associated with such cuts are staggering. If Romney’s economic plan were passed, according to a report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, millions of people would be cut off from basic social programs that Western nations have taken for granted. 31 million people would be cut off from Medicaid. 46 million people would be given food below nutritional adequacy by nutrition programs, and eight to 10 million people could be cut off from nutrition programs all together. These are all direct consequences from the deluded economic plan of a man who promises to bring America back to its former economic glory while opposing a president who saved this nation from another Great Depression. Romney claims to run America like a business. Don’t let him run it into the ground.
The politics of social media Drew Bent Senior Editor
rom Twitter feeds to Tumblr blogs, this presidential election is filled with social media. Both the candidates and the voters are harnessing online resources to spread their platforms and views. For better or for worse, social media has the potential to shape the future of this nation. If the candidates weren’t worried enough going into the debates, they should be now. The proliferation of social media has guaranteed that no gaffe in the debates will go unnoticed. Evidence of this phenomenon came in the first presidential election in which President Obama’s performance was widely regarded as sub-par. While there were no major gaffes, many thought Obama appeared tired and uninvolved on stage. Users of Twitter and Facebook quickly blew the situation out of proportion. In total, 10.5
million tweets were made during the debate. In the vice presidential debate a week later, Biden’s unusual—if not disrespectful—facial expressions and retorts made for great social media material. For instance, 56,000 tweets contained the word ‘malarkey’ in them, poking fun at a comment Biden made. While the ‘malarkey’ tweets are unlikely to sway the election, other social media posts may. Instant fact checks on Twitter, for example, have been springing up this election season. With 11% of people watching the debate on two screens (a television and a computer or phone), the fact checks can instantly support—or debunk—the candidates’ claims in speeches or debates. Social media enthusiasts are also quick to point out the issues from which candidates attempt to divert attention. After the vice presidential debate, bloggers pointed out the vagueness in Romney’s and Ryan’s plan to lower taxes 20% and echoed Biden’s words that the plan is “not mathematically possible.” When it came to a Q&A by Obama on the website Reddit, many criticized him for dodging questions regarding the drug war. Evidently, social media has the ability to accentuate the weaknesses of the candidates and their campaigns. Social media’s prevalence in soci-
ety has also transformed the direction of political campaigns. Both Obama and Romney are reaching out to voters through videos and photos posted to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. A study by SocialVibe revealed that 94% of voting-age social media users receive most of their political messages online. More than ever, the candidate who can best master the art of social media is the one who will win over teenagers and young adults. With these effects in mind, it is likely that social media will play a part in many voters’ decisions on Election Day. Furthermore, we can expect to see an increased amount of attention devoted to social media campaigns in upcoming elections, both at the federal and state levels. With social media here to stay, candidates and voters had better learn to embrace it.