Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Modern Social Problems

What gets an "A"? My best students' essays

Home | Printable Intro Soc Required Reading | Printable Syllabus for Intro Sociology | Final exam | Syllabus for Social Problems | Reading and Class schedule | American Values | Free e-books online | Common writing errors | What gets an "A"? My best students' essays | Suggested essay topics | Wealth, Poverty, other Interesting stuff | Links

Here is a selection of some of the great writing done by students in several sections of my Social Problems class.  There is a variety of styles and approaches, levels of formality and points of view, but all have something interesting about them.  If you want to know what gets an A in this class, these are close to the standard.
Enjoy reading!

Some of these require that you have Adobe reader to follow the link.  Others are printed in their entirety here.

From Jeremy Thomas:

Some Men Are Monsters

America likes to claim itself as being a modern civilized country that supposedly values equality and peaceful treatment of others. Why then, do some American men still commit acts of violence and abuse towards the women they claim to love, their wives, girlfriends, and even mothers? Growing up, I was fortunate to have many encouraging and loving women in my life, including six aunts on my mother’s side alone. They instilled in me, among many other things, the belief that initiating violence is never the answer, especially towards someone I love. Unfortunately, too many men in America do not share these same values. There are those that apparently believe it is acceptable to assault or abuse their significant other, it is without a doubt not acceptable, not in any society.

We like to think that we have made progress in this area, but physical abuse among couples is still no small problem, it dreadfully occurs more than I previously understood, and as most do know, is predominately perpetrated by the males of the relationship. According to Social Problems, the Dept. of Justice estimates that the men commit at least 80% of the more than 500,000 reported incidents every year (Barkan 266). The text also points out that among the rare instances of the female committing violence, they generally did not initiate it; it is in most cases an act of self-defense. These are disturbing facts, it makes me ashamed of my collective gender that, in this country alone, around a half million women every year are not just hit, but hit by the person who supposedly loves them. That is definitely not indicative of a good ‘man’ or good relationship skills of that man. No matter how angry or disappointed one becomes with their spouse or significant other, the ‘hu-manly’ thing to do is to be understanding, tolerant, and resolve differences in a way that is acceptable and equally respects both members of the relationship. Violence and abuse are never appropriate solutions in a personal relationship of any type.

The author of Social Problems attributes one part of this problem as stemming from the fact that a large part of America, disappointingly, still acts as a patriarchal society containing too many of those that view women as the subordinate part of a relationship (Barkan 266). Sadly, I believe he is correct in his assessment, many men believe that they should be the ones in charge, not just in relationships, but also in most aspects of life. I do not agree with that line of thought, there is nothing about the male gender that makes them more fit to lead or make decisions. Viewing your partner as a subordinate whom one can abuse, just because you are male, is a serious mental flaw. This idea of patriarchal right should not exist in a society that claims to value equality.

This author goes on to say that some men believe the traditional marriage vow means their wife must obey them, and use this poor reasoning to justify abuse when they believe she has “disobeyed” (Barkan 266). That is not what a marriage or relationship should be. Despite the beliefs of some men, nobody should ever think they own or control another person, especially not with the use of violence to force them to obey. I do not care if an antiquated vow says ‘obey’, marriage should be a partnership between two people that brings strength and benefit to both; likewise both should be equal in that partnership. No matter how one chooses to define a marriage or relationship, violence or forced obedience should never be a part of that definition.

There are some shelters and other resources for the victims of physical abuse in relationships, but as Barkan points out, never enough. They cannot house battered/abused women indefinitely and the fact that they even have a need to exist is a social problem that needs as much attention as possible. This entire society needs to enforce, to the greatest degree possible, the notion that it is never acceptable to abuse your spouse or significant other, both physically as well as mentally. Much stiffer legal penalties and increased resources to shelters of course can have some effect, but changing the horribly misguided beliefs and perceptions that lead to some men abusing their wives and girlfriends is certainly the more necessary goal. How we achieve that goal I do not completely know, but I would include publicizing every possible event, educating about the problem more than we do now, and working to instill appropriate respect, morals, and behavior in young men starting from the earliest ages. There are indeed some men in our society that treat the women in their lives with appropriate love, respect, and equality; we need to continually hold them up as the role models for all other men to follow. All of society should give the utmost shame and intolerance to the men who would abuse the women, or any person for that matter, in their lives.

The reality that there are still men in America, and elsewhere, who will physically or emotionally abuse the women they are in relationships with is a disgusting social problem. You are not a ‘man’ if you treat any woman in such a terrible way, let alone one you claim to love. In my opinion, such a person is not even worthy of the title of ‘human’.

Works Cited

Barkan, Steven. Social Problems, Continuity and Change. Washington DC.

     Flat World Knowledge, Inc., 2014. Print.

        

 

 

           



Here's a unique look at a small social problem from Sam Berryhill:

 

The Effects of Secondhand Smoke on Pregnant Mothers

            It was a quarter ‘til eight as I walked toward the building on the southern edge of campus at American River College. As the late October drizzle floated down, a group of students huddled under the overhang with their backs to the “No Smoking” sign that they chose to defy. I arrived in the class room only moments before the very pregnant Dr. Garvey.  She was flushed and upon asking her why, she stated that it was not due to the crisp morning air; rather it was the fifteen yards she had to walk without taking a breath. From the puzzled looks she got from the many of the class members, she chose to elaborate more. Dr. Garvey decided that it was alright to take a few minutes and introduce teratogens. Over the next fifteen minutes she outlined the basic concept of what a teratogen is and how the chemicals in cigarette smoke in even small doses, as teratogens, can cause great damage to a developing fetus (Garvey).

             From that day ‘til now, I cringe every time I see a pregnant student who has to walk past five or more smokers in order to enter a campus building. A pregnant woman should be allowed the opportunity for higher education without compromising the life she carries within. There are policies in place that ban the presence of many dangerous objects on campus because they may be used to harm others. Why then are practices allowed on campus, which are scientifically proven to cause cancer and birth defects? Especially when so many are made unwilling participants in consuming these chemicals?

            It is true that most adults are exposed to carcinogens on a daily basis and not just through cigarette smoke. However, as adults our bodies are able to destroy most cells that become cancerous, whereas children are not as efficient. The effects of cigarette smoke as a teratogen are disastrous. Some effects are, low birth weight, premature birth, lower I.Q., asthma, still birth, and underdeveloped organs (Santrock). There is no reason that a woman who endures pregnancy and its challenges should be forced to gamble the life of her child in order to receive a higher education.

            Not all of us will be faced with the challenge of becoming a mother in college, but all have passed through that perilous time of pre and post natal life. There is no need to stack the deck against these young mothers, it already is. However, there is a need to protect and support them as they do their best to protect their children.

            It is not entirely prudent to ban smoking on campus grounds because it is an addiction and cravings will be met. Areas should be established where smokers may indulge without causing undue burden on those who wish to avoid the resultant hazards. However these changes will not occur without effort. It is important that those in favor of this amendment to campus policy make it known to their respective representatives; otherwise their good intention will rot on the vine. 

                                        Works Cited

Garvey, Andrea. Class Lecture. American River College, Sacramento, CA. 21 October 2008.

Santrock, John. A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 2008.

 
This is from the creative mind of Kimberly Humke (one semester's token blonde).
 

Music Man Syndrome

            The numbers speak for themselves. In 2006, as noted by the Statistical Briefing Book, there were 6,631 arrests for every 100,000 youths ages 10 through 17 in the United States. While the causes of crime are numerous, much juvenile delinquency begins with a sense of restlessness and boredom, a need for something exciting, which can then escalate into more serious offenses. By nature, we are adrenaline addicts and teens are no exception. A city like Modesto is a perfect example of how youth find themselves on a less than desirable side of the law. Regardless of how big the city grows, it still remains, particularly in the eyes of the young and jaded, exactly as Fox News is oft to describe: a smaller, but growing, sleepy farming community. What’s a kid to do? The glory days of the late eighties and early nineties mall rats are no longer en vogue. Activities requiring any amount of money cannot provide a sustainable amount of distraction from boredom – particularly now with the struggling economy. Bring on youthful boredom and prepare to have the lines between the norm and deviance blurred, tip toed on, and ignored completely. It becomes necessary for someone, most logically the government but also non-profits and private businesses, to provide some sort of alternative for these youths that is trendy, exciting, and reasonable for a limited teenage income.

            There exists, however, a road block between what is necessary and what becomes a reality - the “Music Man Syndrome.” The community represented in the musical looks at a local pool hall in town and, through the creative wordsmithing of a conman, realizes that this local hangout is a breeding ground for delinquency. As the song goes, “We’ve got trouble, oh we’ve got trouble right here in River City. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool.” Though no city council meeting in Modesto, or at least none documented in the minutes, has lead to a vigorous song a dance number, chants similar to this catchy number can resoundingly be heard. Particularly from a municipal standpoint, teen hangouts pose a threat to the overall wholesome nature that pseudo small towns fear and reject.

            Though Modesto is home to a skate park, it was violently opposed for an extended period of time before its approval. A park located close to La Loma Junior High, long emptied of out dated and unsafe play equipment, remained in its lifeless state for years. It became a dangerous hot zone in the middle of a loosely incorporated neighborhood organization for drugs, vandalism, and underage drinking. Numerous proposals were presented to the city council for skate parks and activity centers to cater to the strong youth population in the area, only to be shot down quickly for fear of excessive delinquent activity. After years of battling for something to be done, and years of dissuading fears, the neighborhood association procured a grant to fund new equipment, updates to the grounds, a community garden, a monthly farmers market, and monthly outdoor movies. However, this advancement only took place after a long and painstaking battle with faulty circular reasoning.

            It is painfully ironic. Delinquency and crime exist within the youth population, which then threatens and worries communities. Finding outlets and activities for youth to occupy their free time and stave away boredom help solve this problem. Community centers, parks, and other teen related avenues of amusement worry locals and bring about the connotation of further delinquency. The problem runs full circle.

            A great emphasis must be placed on focusing the attention of youth in the hours when school is not in session. Coming back to the concept that much of juvenile delinquency occurs as a direct response to sheer boredom, the numbers speak for themselves. As reported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, violent juvenile crime peaks in the hours just after school gets out. 61 percent of all violent crimes committed by juveniles occur on school days, and 20 percent of violent crimes committed by juveniles occur on school days between the hours of 3 pm and 7 pm.

            We do have trouble, right here in River City. With a capital T, and while yes, that does rhyme with P it does not stand for pool. It stands for preventing and prohibiting safe and viable alternatives and outlets for our youth.

           

 

Here are several from Lonny Jones on different subjects. 

 

Economy 911

 

Have you heard?

It’s the economy. She’s sick.

Can’t find jobs. Cost of food’s going up. Another house foreclosed. The gas prices, Lord, the gas prices.

And just beneath the cries, if you listen closely enough, you can hear the whispers of Hamlet’s ghost…

“…thinking makes it so…thinking makes it so…”

Is the current economy scare truly warranted by actual economic conditions? While there have been some recent undesirable trends, the resultant fear might hurt the economy more than the economy was hurting us.

Here are the facts. From the first quarter of 2008 to the second quarter, GDP increased by 1.9%. In May, personal income increased 1.8% and by 0.1% in June. Yet also in June, disposable personal income (gross income after taxes) decreased 2.6%. Additionally, average hourly earnings rose $0.06 in July.

Unemployment was at 5.7% in July, which isn’t wonderful, but is also not much beyond our usual rate. Personal spending increased by 0.6%, primarily due to inflation, as cited by an article at CNNmoney.com. The article further explained, “Individual spending, when adjusted for inflation, actually fell by 0.2% following a 0.3% increase in May.”

As for the economics of our state specifically, California is in the highest quintile of per capita personal income. California’s percent change in GDP was 1.5, which is lower than the national 2.0. Furthermore, California’s unemployment rate in June 2008 was 6.9%, risen from 6.2% in April. California’s unemployment exceeds the national rate. Overall, California’s economy is suffering much more than the nation’s.

            The statistics for California’s economic panic, however, are much more convincing. A July 2008 poll reported that 63% of Californians rated their financial condition as worse than that of the year before, and 86% of them agreed that the state was enduring “bad times” economically. Experts were most surprised by how widespread these negative forecasts were across socioeconomic classes. Reporting a worsening financial condition were 75% of low-income voters, 66% of middle income voters, and nearly 50% of residents with incomes of $100,000 or more.

The public’s response can be far more damaging to the economy than the numbers themselves, however. When people distrust the economy, or panic for its health, their fearful behaviors can be more destructive to the economy than those conditions they presumed they had to fear.  During economic panics, people reduce spending dramatically and alter their banking and investment practices. These reactions only serve to exacerbate economic conditions. In his January, 2008 article “Liberals Stoke Economic Panic” Rush Limbaugh wrote,Everybody wants to focus on the negatives, start biting the nails -- especially in an election year.” He emphasized the cyclical nature of economics, saying, “All of the panic-mongers try to make it sound as if none of this has ever happened before, and that creates panic.”

It’s as if our little economy was admitted for a sore throat, but the public thinks she’s in the ICU. Though current economic trends should evoke awareness and careful decision-making, alarm is certainly not yet warranted. The most promising attribute of the downward trends is that they are slow-moving, which allows time to be calculating and constructive, as opposed to worried and flighty. To quote the caveat of Mr. Limbaugh, “If you think the economy is bad now, I mean, everything's a product of expectations.”

 

Legalizing Prostitution

 

            It’s no surprise that a prostitute is twice as likely to die than the average woman of her same age, considering that America’s policies on prostitution allow prostitutes to be subjected to a wide array of violence and health risks, including rape, beatings, and drug abuse. Currently, we face a situation in prostitution where the act is declared illegal, with both the prostitute and the “john” (customer) declared criminals, yet the laws are inconsistently and/or incompletely enforced. Indeed, the majority of prostitutes do not choose their jobs but as a last resort—this is due to socioeconomic factors which need to be assessed in their own right. But within prostitution, as long as there are workers, there must be protection from the severe injustices that currently afflict the job. Prostitution should be decriminalized and regulated as a legal business to provide the workers with security from the various forms of abuse.  

            Because prostitution is an illegal business, it is operated beneath the law, alongside other illegal businesses such as drug trade. The two businesses often overlap, contributing to the excessive physical abuse and drug abuse which afflict the work and lives of prostitutes. If prostitution were not illegal, the business would not have to operate in avoidance of the law and would be less likely to correspond with other illegal activities. When 80% of prostitutes report having been sexually assaulted, and some are raped as many as 8-10 times annually, legal protection is a must. Under the current conditions, many prostitutes subjected to abuse refuse to report their cases to the law, because they themselves are criminals, and the trauma is a byproduct of their illegal activity as prostitutes.

            Because prostitution is a criminal act, only criminals operate the business. The argument is similar to the overused slogan for the right to bear arms—“if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Granted, this phrase has been exhausted to the point of cliché, but there still exists some truth in it when applied to prostitution. Though all members of the prostitution industry are, by current definition, criminals, there are some more dangerous individuals whose criminal activity extends beyond prostitution. For example, many prostitutes find their work through pimps, who are known to degrade the prostitutes through physical abuse, disproportionate pay, and other forms of unfair treatment. They get away with these behaviors because the prostitutes depend on them for work and some, ironically, for protection. And a prostitute cannot report an abusive pimp to law enforcement without exposing herself as a prostitute.

            Prostitution is, to put it mildly, not a respected field in American society. It’s an interesting contradiction then that most johns in America are considered well-respected members of society. One argument against prostitution is that the sexual acts themselves are sinful; another is that it involves misogynistic treatment of women, and that the johns are the main culprits and should be persecuted accordingly. Prostitution is reprimanded by individuals who are not involved in the work, and by individuals who just maintain that pretense. Even if it remains declared by our society that sex for pay is sinful, the physical abuse that plagues prostitution and our refusal to intervene with that abuse are greater sins than the sex act itself. Certainly, these outrank prostitution in immorality.

            Our policies on prostitution allow the various mistreatments of prostitutes to persist in spite of our awareness of it. Legalizing and decriminalizing prostitution is not enough, however, for this does not address the bigger issue: why so many women result to prostitution for money. The social factors which lead to this choice-by-default must be remediated. Preventive measures, particularly education, are the most promising. However, the women working in prostitution deserve rights and securities now, and should not be made to wait for various social issues to be solved. In fact it is doubtful (perhaps even undesirable in the case of poverty) that those factors should ever be completely solved.

Prostitution as it exists today should be eradicated, to be replaced by a safer, healthier, and more respectable mode of business, complete with fair wages and protection from abuse. Perhaps there will come a time in American society where any woman working as a prostitute is doing so purely out of free choice, not financial or social obligation. Whether this day comes in this year or in fifty, workers in prostitution deserve to have their work validated and decriminalized now. In effect, we will see the risks in prostitution dramatically decrease, and best of all, prostitutes will be entitled to legal insulation from any injustices that try to persist.

 

Civil Union vs. Marriage

           

Whether or not civil unions should be a sufficient form of matrimony for homosexual couples is highly controversial in America today. While no federal law has been passed allowing for homosexual matrimony, Massachusetts and California have successfully enacted laws that explicitly allow for same-sex marriages to be granted within the state. To understand why there is still a demand for laws granting homosexuals the right to marry, one must look at the discrepancies between marriage and civil union and realize how they are separate and unequal in both legal and social arenas.  

Legally, marriages and civil unions contrast in many respects. One primary difference is that civil unions are not recognized beyond the state in which the union was formed, whereas marriages are recognized throughout the country. This discrepancy on the federal level is the root of an array of inequalities between civil unions and marriages, as evidenced by their contrasting tax laws. For example, a married couple has the right to inherit wealth without being taxed by either the state or federal government, but the inheritance of a couple joined by civil union is fully taxed by the federal government. Regarding income taxes, a married couple can file taxes jointly on both the state and federal level, whereas a civil-union couple can only file joint taxes to the state—federal taxes must be filed individually. Furthermore, civil unions are not entitled to the same Social Security and veteran death benefits as are marriages. This means that when one partner dies in a civil union, the remaining spouse will not receive the other’s Social Security benefits. While marriages are privy to anywhere from 1000-1400 state and federal entitlements, civil unions are merely granted about 300 rights and benefits, and these are strictly from the state.  

            In addition to the legal discrepancies, social tension is also created by the differences between marriages and civil unions on a semantic level. The interactionist perspective (particularly symbolic interactionism), which examines the micro-structural components of society, often incorporates this study of how language helps shape social phenomena. First, because a civil union is characteristic of homosexual couples, a person in a civil union cannot provide his or her marital status without disclosing sexual orientation. While some couples may be more than willing to disclose this personal information, others may be reluctant (perhaps due to anticipated social consequences). Second, marriage is a familiar term that requires no explanation; “civil union,” on the other hand, can evoke confusion and require being explained and differentiated from marriages. Considering that the preceding paragraph is only a sampling of the differences between marriages and civil unions, distinguishing the two in daily conversation can be a complicated and exhausting process. Lastly, mostly due to its unfamiliarity, “civil union” is likely to be interpreted as a term of deviance, as opposed to the traditional, world-recognized marriage. Using a label with a deviant connotation for homosexual marriage can prevent it from being perceived and treated as equal with heterosexual marriage.

In both legislation and social interaction, key differences exist between marriage and civil unions that keep them separate and unequal. Recognizing these differences is vital to understanding why the demand persists for equal marital rights for American homosexuals.

 

Christian Forgiveness vs. American Justice, and Our Prison System

 

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

–Matthew 6:14, 15

 

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

—Matthew 5:44, 45

 

One might say that these quotes come straight out of America’s favorite book, considering that a sweeping78.5% of Americans identify as some form of Christian. But it’s not always easy to be American and Christian at the same time. In some circumstances, it’s virtually impossible. And no topic raises discrepancies between the two more clearly than our criminal system and this idea of “forgiveness.” The bible prescribes forgiveness as the moral way to handle injustice, and we’ve accepted this (Christians and non-Christians alike). But in social and political practice, this method just wouldn’t suffice. Therefore we’ve made a few allowances for ourselves in applying the rules to society, and we try to walk the tight rope with our American values and Christian morals balanced on either side. The truth is, however, that the two often conflict, and we find ourselves falling over one way or the other. It is this tension between the Christian morals and American values of our society that makes issues like our prison system, capital punishment in particular, so controversial.

Fortunately for us sinners, the bible includes something quite complimentary to all its moral rules and caveats of burning hell: the concept of forgiveness. The idea is that one who commits a sin (in Christianity, everyone) needs not be damned or chastised for eternity; redemption comes with just some much-needed repentance. The bible goes on about how to deal with transgressors, advising readers to let the Lord do the punishing (he’s better at it). So what then, according to the bible, is our job in the matter? “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3). As a Christian society, we place great value in these guidelines.

As Americans, all these damn rules tend to infringe on our way of doing things. In a country where there’s one rape every eight minutes, it follows that the standard for repentance must be a bit higher than Sorry. We have developed a system of law and order based on the idea of balanced scales, and within this system is the provision of our right and responsibility to establish justice. Is there a society that could completely abandon its criminal justice system, replace all reinforcement with forgiveness, and trust the upkeep of law and order to some dubious deity? For America, there are two reasons why such policies would never work. First, studies have shown that Americans value, above all else, control over the environment. We can’t function properly if we don’t feel safe, and we can’t feel safe if all we’re doing with criminals is turning the other cheek. (If there is something more unsettling than a nearby criminal, it’s a nearby criminal behind you). Second, we have developed a legal system in which justice is the key word. When one individual commits a crime, the case is not closed until that individual has paid for his crime. These acts of retribution range from giving money to being put to death.

The dividing line between man’s duty to enforce laws and “God’s” domain has always been vague and controversial. The question is, how far can we go before our acts themselves are immoral? What are the limits, if any, to our right to maintain law and order among ourselves? And, perhaps most importantly, what source is to provide us with these answers? Religious belief, scholastic thought, or, since we are after all a democracy, the popular opinion?

If it’s the popular opinion we wish to heed, then bring out the noose. America is largely in support of capital punishment, regardless of our overwhelmingly Christian population. The polls tell us that 71% of Protestants and 66% of Catholics support the death sentence. No mercy there. Another poll, however, showed a correlation between support for the death sentence and the frequency of church attendance.  In this study, it was found that people who attended church “weekly/ nearly weekly” were overall less supportive of the death penalty than those who attended church “seldom/ never.” However, the differences were not staggering (65% and 71%, respectively).

As a predominantly Christian society, America cannot always uphold its social values while obeying its religious doctrines. As in the case of the criminal justice system, one set of values must be sacrificed for the other. From a scholastic perspective, evidence currently suggests that a prison system prioritizing rehabilitation, not warehousing, may be most effective in minimizing crime. A reformative approach to prison is much more in line with our country’s Christian values, though it does challenge our current social norms. Yet as the evidence mounts, we may decide that restructuring our prison system is worth a closer look at some of our current standards. By modifying our prisons to a rehabilitation-based system, we can make one more social practice congruent with our morals, which always provides a nice relief to the conscience.  

 

 

Here's a lot of research from Dana White:

USAID Supports Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

            Throughout history gender inequality has been rampant.  Traditional views about women being the “homemaker” and the men being the “breadwinner” began to change in the 1960s and 1970s.  The traditional roles discouraged women from pursuing higher education or a career.  Many women have stepped out of the traditional roles placed upon them to pursue college educations and careers that give them the respect they deserve.  With the help of USAID women across the world have overcome inequality between men and women.

Economic Opportunities and Entrepreneurship

Throughout the developing world, women are vital economic actors, representing a larger percentage of the work force than ever before.

  • USAID supported Jordan's two leading businesswomen's associations, strengthening their capacity to establish women-friendly work environments, and establishing a network of women power-brokers to support rising women leaders. USAID is expanding employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for women in the tourism and hospitality sector.
  • In Lebanon, U.S. Government (USG) assistance created employment and increased the income of rural women through skills, resources, equipment and information, and integration into economic activities in agri-business and rural tourism. More than 300 women were assisted in the agribusiness sector, and more than 347 women have been economically integrated into the rural hospitality sector.
  • With USAID assistance, more than 2,600 women in El Salvador received agricultural training to raise efficiency and ensure occupational safety; 850 women received trade/investment support to take advantage of CAFTA-DR opportunities; and 2,155 women were trained in natural resources management and biodiversity conservation.

Political Participation and Leadership

Although political leadership positions are still largely held by men, the number of female political leaders has increased significantly over the past few years.

  • The USG supports greater involvement of women in politics in Cambodia. In 2007, significant advances included a doubling of women at all local levels, increases in the number of women political candidates, and improved placement rank on the candidate list for the commune elections in 2007. The number of women councilors elected doubled as a result of capacity building and skill training.
  • USAID sponsored post-electoral roundtable discussions in eight regions of Peru focusing on the participation of women in politics. These discussions informed concrete proposals for legislative reforms to increase opportunities for women to compete for elected positions.
  • In Somalia, the USG provided assistance to civil society organizations to lobby for increased participation of women in political processes. In South and Central Somalia this led to the increased participation of women in the National Reconciliation Congress and the inclusion of women's issues in the agenda.

Education

Education is a priority for USAID with a special emphasis on improving opportunities for girls, women, and other underserved and disadvantaged populations. Sixty-three percent of USAID basic education programs in 52 countries explicitly address girls' education and gender equality in education.

  • In Africa, girls account for a majority of the approximately 40 million primary school-aged children who are not enrolled in school. To close that gap, the Ambassadors Girls' Scholarship Program, a component of President Bush's Africa Education Initiative, will provide 550,000 scholarships by 2010 to African girls at the primary and secondary levels. To date, over 300,000 scholarships have been given to girls in 40 countries.
  • In Morocco, a literacy program was designed to provide women with information on their family code rights. More than 9,550 women received training; among the trainers and supervisors, 85 percent were women.

Gender-Based Violence and Women's Legal Rights

Violence touches the lives of women and girls in every region in the world. Globally an estimated one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. Violence kills or disables the same number of women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer does. USAID is committed to preventing and responding to gender-based violence by addressing the root causes of violence; improving protection services to victims; and supporting legislation and enforcement.

  • The President's Initiative for Women's Justice and Empowerment in Africa is working to curb violence against women, protecting those who have been victimized, and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Together with the Departments of State and Justice, USAID is implementing the $55 million program in four countries: South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, and Benin.
  • USAID recently completed a successful five-year Women's Legal Rights Initiative in 10 developing countries from Southeast Europe to Africa to Latin America. Public awareness and support for women's legal rights is on the increase thanks to American foreign assistance.
    • In Benin, U.S. assistance has helped the public understand and comply with a sweeping new code of family law giving unprecedented rights to women.
    • In Guatemala, USAID trained community leaders to earn paralegal certificates for work against domestic violence.
  • In 2007, over 800 child marriages were prevented in Ethiopia, and 14,000 child marriages have been deferred or cancelled in that country since 2004.
  • In India, USAID provides support to legal counseling centers and a network of lawyers and paralegals to provide safe, accessible legal and psycho-social counseling services.
  • USAID's Safe Schools Program, with pilot projects in Ghana and Malawi, is making a ground-breaking contribution to the global cause of curbing gender violence in and around schools.
  • USAID funds initiatives related to rape crisis counseling in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Jordan, Liberia, South Africa, and Sudan.

Combating Trafficking in Persons

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. This terrible trade is fueled by development issues including poverty, corruption, the low value put on women and children, and the demand for cheap sex and labor and a high profit margin. From 2001 to 2007, USAID provided $123.1 million for anti-trafficking in persons projects in more than 70 countries as a part of the coordinated U.S. Government effort to combat the crime of trafficking in persons worldwide.

  • USAID partnered with the MTV Europe Foundation and MTV Networks Asia Pacific to launch an Asia-wide anti-trafficking campaign, which includes television specials, public service announcements, a multilingual internet presence, and MTV events in a variety of locations in Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Maldives, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines.
  • In Brazil, USAID and its partners developed a program to give trafficking victims access to health, education, and psycho-social services through a help network known as Sentinela to help victims reintegrate into society.
  • In the Philippines, USAID supported the start-up activities of an inter-agency task force to combat trafficking in persons at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport to prevent the use of the airport as a transit point for trafficking victims.

HIV/AIDS

Women and girls make up a growing proportion of those infected by HIV/AIDS. Every day 6,000 young people aged 15 to 24 become infected with HIV. A staggering two-thirds of these new cases are adolescent girls. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, approximately 58 percent of all people living with HIV are female.

  • USAID currently has HIV/AIDS programs in nearly 100 countries worldwide.
  • Through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR/Emergency Plan), USAID has awarded $5.7 million to the Young Women's Initiative: Confronting Girls' Vulnerability to Prevent HIV. To prevent HIV infection among 13- to 19-year-old girls, the initiative will build upon existing programs in Botswana, Malawi, and Mozambique (USAID).

USAID has made a huge difference in the lives of women across the world.  Women in third-world countries are holding political offices.  Women are being educated and being saved from violence and fatal diseases.  One day women will be treated as an equal to a man in every country.

 

 

Here are some from our newest citizen, Benjamast Conklin on drugs and human slavery:

 

Social Problem:  Drug Addiction

          One of the biggest problems in American society today is drug addiction.  Drug problems in America used to be mainly in the large cities and urban areas.  Today drugs have found their way into small towns across America.  Drugs such as marijuana are being abused not only by poor inner city youth and young adults, but by people of all ages & races. Three of the most destructive drugs are heroin, crack cocaine, and crystal meth. These drugs turn healthy happy human being into sick disgusting monsters who will do anything to support their drug habit.  Drug addiction is not a “victimless crime.” The drug addict will steal, rob, burglarize, and sometimes even kill to get money to purchase their drug of choice.  The vast majority of home and car burglaries are committed by drug addicts.  Jail and prisons are filled with people who have committed violent felonies for only one reason; to buy drug.  Women and young girls sell their bodies on the street and take the chance of contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted diseases just so they can make some fast cash to feed their drug habit.  Emergency rooms all over the country are filled with people overdosing on drugs.  The drug

addicts’ certainty doesn’t pay for their ambulance, rides, and medical bills.  The taxpaying citizens of the United States get stuck with paying the drug addicts bills.    The courts and prisons are overcrowded with drug addicts and drug dealers, all of which costs the taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

 

Drug addicts lose their families and friends just because of the need to get their next “Fix.”  Their lives are a viscous circle of stealing money, buying drugs to get high, coming down and then stealing again. 

          There is no easy solution to this problem.  There aren’t enough jails and prisons to hold these people.  Trying to stop the supply of drugs into the United States is an obvious solution, but the authorities have been trying that for many years with very limited success.

Drug addiction is very similar to alcoholism in that the drug addict can’t be forced to quit using drugs. He or she has to want to quit on his/her own and then to find a solution that works for him/her. The possible solution would be to have family and good friends to come to give support, and try to solve the problems with professional assistance.

 

  

Social Problem: Child prostitute

Child prostitution is a growing problem worldwide.  In Asia, according to experts on the subject, more than one million young boys and girls are engaged in commercial sexual activity.  Indications are that in every part of the world the number of children being harmed in this way is growing.  Child prostitutes are found in virtually every country, including the United States, France, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. There is an apparent increasing demand, globally; part of it fed by the fear of AIDS and the naive belief that younger sex partners are free of disease.  Others are recruited into prostitution through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers.  Why does a child become a prostitute?  Most children sell themselves or are sold by their parents, into prostitution in order to survive. In the United States, children may become prostitutes because of their impoverished background. The other cases, often adolescent children run away from abusive homes and live or end up in a large city where they can disappear into the background and avoid the authorities.  These children soon run out of money.  Their options for making money at such a young age are very limited and therefore find themselves on the street selling their bodies for money. What problems do child prostitutes face?  In my opinion I think the child prostitutes may encounter many abusive sex, drug abuse, and violent crimes.  In many cases, child prostitutes are often victims of

abuse and neglect in their own homes as young children.  They usually have very little education and no job skills.  They turn to prostitution out of necessity to make money for survival.  They are often homeless and have no other way to make a living.  The other factors that contribute to the problem of child prostitution are often involved with “Johns.”  Older men often desire to have sex with a young prostitute because they may be in a marriage where the sex has become boring or even non-existent.  A lot of men desire variety among women and child prostitutes are an easy solution to their desires.  Some men are away from home due to their jobs and may seek out a child prostitute to help with their loneliness without commitment.  The young boy or girl never knows what type of person they are going to meet.  Many of the infamous serial killers in history targeted street prostitutes.  The child prostitute works by him or herself and puts himself into compromising positions by getting into vehicles with unknown “Johns.”  Once alone with a John, the child is vulnerable to kidnapping, assault, rape or even murders.  Unfortunately if a child prostitute doesn’t use protection during sex, he or she is also at risk of contracting any of several STD’s.  The child prostitute usually works for quick money to support their drug habit. The child prostitute tends to abuse drugs such as heroin or crystal meth which they inject into their veins with hypodermic syringes.  Child prostitutes often use previously used or

shared needles to inject their drugs.   These dirty needles put the child prostitute at a high risk of catching HIV or hepatitis.  Consequently, a factor that helps maintain prostitution in American society is that cheap sex sells.  There will always be a demand for children prostitutes who are willing to sell their services for a reasonable price.  Young, good looking prostitutes are in highest demand for obvious reasons.  As long as there are children in need of money, bad enough to sell their bodies, there will always be customers willing to pay for it. 

          There is no easy solution to the problem of child prostitution in American society. I think American society should provide for the economic development and new programs in health care, education and the delivery of social services. These programs will help to contribute and to eliminate this problem. As a result these programs would educate and inform the children of the risks of prostitution and prepare them for the challenges of the future.

 

Alexandra Deabler gets to say the word on divorce, and a few other topics:

          Forty percent of marriages fail in America. Divorce is becoming more clichéd and accepted as the years move on. The common concern is that the children will be hurt in the divorce and some religions hold divorce as a sin because you made a pact with God “’til death do you part,” (and God would never forgive someone who divorced because they were unhappy). However, statistics show that sixty-six percent of divorces are from childless couples. The true problem isn’t the amount of marriages that end in divorce, it’s the amount of people who enter into marriage without much thought or planning.

          People’s life expectancy is increasing as the decades grow on. What was once thirty years and you’re done is now eighty years and there’s still Medicare to pull you through a few more. Since life expectancy is increasing, the age that people get married at will become later, as well. But, for those who marry very young, soon realize, being with someone sixty years is tough and if they are not right for you, it can be impossible. Some people change when they get married, become abusive, unsatisfied with the way things have dwindled, no longer want children; these factors all effect two people and cause them to want to get out of a situation they frivolously put themselves into.

 Marriage is a union that has evolved. It has gone from a personal gain from marrying up in the social hierarchy, to marrying out of love and shared mutual respect. At least, that’s what it is expected to be. However, with the possibility of a divorce, many people are not sticking together through the hardships and running when things get tough, or just marrying together too young without thought to the difficulty of marriage.

          Under twenty is the biggest rate of divorcees, and the numbers stay large up until thirty years. So, those in their first marriage under the age of thirty are more likely to divorce than someone who is thirty-five. Celebrities get marriage and divorced all the time, and, unfortunately, those are the people who society looks up to and uses as role models. It is gaining acceptability in our society to marry a dozen times. It is setting up marriage to become less respected and less valued.

          Divorce is not what is ruining the holiness of marriage. It is the steps that lead to marriage: shotgun weddings, illegitimate children, not a lot of education, and the increase in life expectancy meaning more years together. In order for divorce to go down, people should be taught that marriage is a long, hard commitment. However, it is hard to educate children about the value and strain of marriage when they are looking up to divorced parents.

 

The United States has become a litigious society, a gluttonous society, and now, a sick society. Drugs are being created all the time as well as new ailments and diseases to influence the people that they are not as healthy as they once believed to be. Between Restless Leg Syndrome and P.M.D.D, the American public is becoming more drug crazy and hypochondriacs are becoming more suspicious of their bodies. Accompanying these new illnesses is a prevalent cry for socialized medicine in the United States. Socialized medicine has been working in European countries and Canada for quite some time and we are one of the last countries to jump on the subsidized band wagon. However, those countries with the amazing health care are not quite as large as the United States which creates a big problem since the United States ranks around number three in the most densely populated country in the world.

          Socialized medicine is wanted to cure the United States; everyone should be entitled to free health care. However, medicine is not an infinite resource. “An expanded government role in health care will necessarily lead to rationing, shortages of health-care providers, delay in treatment, and deterioration in quality of care” states Dr. Donald P. Condit. If everyone was entitled to medicine, lines would be longer, hospitals would be even more crowded and those who actually need something might be passed up by the gratuitous visits of people who feel that they’re not as happy as they’d like to be.

          In 2006, the Frasier Institute did a study reporting that “the average waiting time between primary-care referral and specialist treatment increased to 17.8 weeks in a Canadian survey”(Condit). The government spends an overwhelming amount of Medicare and other medical aid for the elderly; adding the entire country would raise that price and raise taxes for something that wouldn’t pay out in the end because of the finite resources available for medicine as well as the medical inflation that is currently nine percent with Medicare.

          Socialized medicine would not work in a country so large. And, with a common thought, when someone else is footing the tab, people might abuse the system and thus costing tax payers more and taking government funding away from something else, possibly more important than trying to make that depressed house wife feel like she was twenty again.

 

The United States of America stands for freedom and liberty in a democratic republic that is revered and respected world-wide. This believed equality comes from the abolition of slavery and the suffrage of women. However, prejudices are so intrinsically ingrained in society that it’s almost unnoticeable and therefore people do not feel the need to fix it. Affirmative Action is a plan that is supposed to mend those fences that have been knocked down by prejudices and give an extra lift over that barrier for those who have been wronged over the years.

          Affirmative Action has received a cold shoulder from many citizens because of the “reverse discrimination” theory that whites are going to be shunned due to a quota that the company is going to have to meet. This is a fallacious argument based on a dramatic instance of one case in the beginning of Affirmative Action. Bakke was a student who wanted to go to a University of California medical school; he had one of the highest test scores and was a very promising student. A black student who did not receive as high of test scores was admitted instead of Bakke, because of a “quota system.” Affirmative Action isn’t really a quota system, it is just there to act as a reminder for employers to hire an equal amount of minorities as well as white men. As the Washington Post stated, “Affirmative Action doesn’t give unqualified minorities the jobs over white men who are better suited for the job. It just gives a boost to minorities who are equally qualified.”

          Affirmative Action takes a lot of heat because of the common misconception that in our promising United States, racism is not around anymore. That slavery was abolished along with its prejudices and perpetuated feelings of inferiority amongst blacks. Also, that our society is advanced enough to treat women as equals to men. These two beliefs are not true in employment or education.

          Structural racism has been perpetuated in our society as long as white men have been in power. The feeling that minorities and women are not as good as white men have been engrained in a lot of people’s heads from different time periods. Even though racism is becoming better as the decades go on, it is baked into the United States foundation and therefore carried on. Blacks are sent to the bad schools in the city with the low funding and the bad amenities, whereas the Suburban schools receive artists and well-qualified teachers. Minorities are effected because if they go to bad schools in the start, it is harder to get into colleges and then they are less likely to really achieve something, since, as a minority, getting on the same page as whites takes double the effort, and with no role models or a lack of a decent education, some just want to put all that extra effort to get the same thing whites receive just for being white. The psychological feeling of inferiority because of the extra work to get to the same place as others can act as a major deterrent for minorities.

          Jobs are reserved for white men because they are still believed to do the better job than women who have home priorities and ethnic or racial minorities who just aren’t as good as white people. This is a thought with Affirmative Action because if a well qualified minority gets the job over a white man, the white man assumes it’s because of a quota, not because the man who got the job was qualified.

          Racism and prejudiced is structural. White males still believe that there jobs are “stolen” from them, especially in this time of immigration and low job market. Affirmative Action, however, still needs to be enforced because of all the structural racism that people choose to ignore. If a system was put into effect and actually enforced it could begin to educate people that minorities can do just as good a job as white men. If one sees a plethora of races, ethnicities and genders at a corporate level, racism will get better because one will just see workers, not pre-judged classes based upon skin color or anatomy. If one can see that a minority does the job just as well, in the future an Affirmative Action plan can possibly be taken out and future employers will begin to hire on abilities instead of physical. Affirmative Action is needed at first to educate and get us over this bump of internal prejudice.

 

Two from Loren Babiera:

 

I Thought This Was the Twenty-First Century!

            Like many people in the United States, I was brought up by a single mother.    My grandmother was a two-time divorcee herself, and raised four children of her own.  My aunt was also a single mother.  The list goes on, but the point is that I grew up in an environment in which women were my primary authority figures.  Most of the men in my life were shifty lay-abouts (my oldest uncle, for one), in the military (my youngest uncle), or both (my father).  Therefore, it didn’t bother me when I joined the U.S. Navy, and found that many women occupied positions of authority in the job classification that I chose to enter. 

Before I continue, I think it is important to describe, as best I can, the overall status of women in the Navy at the time I entered.  First, there were no female recruits at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois in March of 1994, when I entered boot camp.  Instead, the women’s boot camp was located in Orlando, Florida.  Second, at the time many job classifications were closed to women.  Third, women sailors were billeted to non-combat vessels, such as supply ships, if they went to sea at all, which was the justification for why many jobs were closed to women.  Lastly, my company commander instilled in us how horrible it is to be stationed with women.  I, of course, can not say what the other recruit companies were told, but we heard all sorts of things.  As an impressionable young man, I could not help get the message that women in the military were not equal to the men, that they did not belong in the same place as us, and that the greatest fear of any respectable sailor should be to be stationed with women.

Luckily, things did change in a relatively short time.  Due to cuts in Defense spending, enlightened leadership, or both, the women’s boot camp was being closed at the end of 1994, so I was in the last few classes that would be exclusively male.  Despite intense debate over women in combat, it was decided that there would be no harm in opening surface combat ships to women (submarines are still male only).  The result was that many jobs that were traditionally done by men were opened to women.

The United States Navy Hospital Corps, has been open to women for decades, since this was a job that did not require sea service, was associated with nursing and medical assistance, and therefore was suitable for women.  Therefore, it did not surprise me one bit that one of my instructors at Corps school, after I finished boot camp, was a women.  I thought nothing of it, and I assumed that none of my classmates did either.  However, as time passed, and I moved from basic Corps training to more advanced schooling (and yet another female instructor), I noticed a phenomenon that continued throughout my Naval service.  Men had a difficult time taking orders from women.

            I noticed that during the year that it took to train me to do the job I agreed to, the women instructors were taken less seriously, had to fight harder to keep the attention of the class, and the other men seemed to have a hard time remembering the material we covered (while there might have been other reasons for this, I tend to think that the other men just did not pay attention when the woman was talking, because they seemed to have no problems in the other subjects).

            I was stationed on a male-only destroyer after this training for three years, as combat ships had not yet been retrofitted for women.  During this time, I learned a great deal about how the military hierarchy was supposed to function.  In retrospect, it seems odd that I learned about military hierarchy after I was supposed to have been trained.  The reason for this I found at my next duty station.

Naval Medical Clinic, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was a shore-based command, and thus, had a large population of women.  Having been at sea, it was glaringly obvious to me that the women at the command were not afforded the same respect as men, no matter their rank.  Those designated to lead found it easier to frame their orders as requests. Those to dared to give orders were promptly ignored.  Men at the command, out of the hearing range of women, but in mine, proclaimed that they would not take orders from a woman. If a woman complained, the matter was settled informally.  In contrast, should someone dare to ignore the orders of a man, they faced charges of insubordination.

This is supposed to be the 21st century, but the situation did not improve much up to the point of my separation in 2004.  Many men are entering the military that clearly are taught at home and in society that a woman’s word is not equal to a man’s, that it can be ignored, and there is a culture in the military that seems to condone this behavior.  While some would say that this a strong reason to keep women out of combat, I say the opposite.  We, as a society, afford respect to those who fight on the front lines in war.  That is why 18 year olds were given the right to vote.  It is a great deal harder for a man to consider his female platoon leader a second-class citizen if she there with him under fire.  It is through our military that the inequities between men and women will be solved, as veterans of both sexes become community leaders and voters.  

 

 

Too Much Work

            For just over ten years, I was a member of the United States Armed Forces.  I made a decent monthly salary, had free access to medical care, and the knowledge that my job was secure.  However, I was very unhappy.  I wanted to be an educated person, and I thought that I needed to separate from the service to be able to concentrate on school.

The only skill that I had after I got out that did not require a degree to use as a civilian was my ability to control pests.  Six days after my contract with the government expired, I was employed by Orkin Commercial Services to sell pest control services to restaurants, hotels, technology companies, and the like.  Unfortunately, I was not an effective salesman, so the company moved me into the service aspect of the business. 

Every morning, I woke up at 4 AM, ate breakfast, walked my dog, showered, and dressed, leaving my one-bedroom upstairs apartment in Hayward, California by 5 AM.  I then drove across one the bridges to the Peninsula (depending on how bad traffic was) to perform pest control service for my customers.  On a typical day, I worked 10 to 12 hours, finished 7 to 8 accounts, and arrived at home with just enough energy to cook and eat some Top Ramen before passing out.  For all this, I made just enough money to pay rent and utilities.  I did not make enough to purchase decent food.  I would argue that I lived just above poverty level.  I also had no time for college, so after several months, I quit and moved to Manteca.

I found it difficult to find a job that would give me time to go to school in my new location.  After several months, I was hired on at a local residential pest control company.  Unfortunately, four months later, the owners sold their business to Terminex, the office was closed, and I was sent to work from the office in Union City.  So each day, I would leave Manteca at 4:30 AM, commute to the office, work my service route, and be home by 8:30 PM.  Due to my living situation, most of the money I made I was able to keep, but I had almost no time to enjoy it.

In both of these jobs, technology was an integral part of the business.  I was issued a Nextel with a Walkie-Talkie feature by each company, and we carried around a small computer.  With Terminex, this computer had to be linked up to a mainframe each day to download my completed work, and upload new work.  My Orkin computer did my paperwork for me.  This left each tech free to make more service calls and decreased the need for office workers.  The downside was that the managers could reach you easily, day or night, weekdays and weekends.

In our discussion today, the question was raised why Americans work more hours than people in other countries.  I’m not sure how true my upcoming explanation is for every American worker, but I can speak for those in the pest control industry.  First of all, I noticed that the majority of workers in this business were the sole earners in their families.  Since the pest control industry pays very well and does not require a college education, it is attractive to the uneducated.  The two companies I worked for had no issue with requiring more work than can be completed in an eight-hour workday, since they knew that most people were not willing to lose their jobs.

Technology made it possible for one person to do the work that two, three, or more people could do in the past.  The majority of a pest control technician’s day used to be filling out all of the paperwork required by the state and EPA.  Now, the paperwork fills itself out, and each technician can move on to his or her next account.  This lead to these companies laying off workers and expanding the service routes of those who remained.  As the sales staff did their jobs, these routes grew and no new people were hired, so more time was necessary to finish each route before the month’s end.  It was cheaper to pay a technician overtime than hire a new one to do this extra work.

I suspect that many of our nation’s remaining industries utilize similar work practices.  As long as workers do their jobs, and don’t complain too loudly, their companies assign extra work.  Again, the work needs to be done, and it is cheaper to pay overtime in many cases than hire and train a new person.  Technology also makes it possible for one person to do the work of several, but the goal of every company is to expand and do more business.  I suspect that in order to cut costs, many companies put this extra work on their existing employees, until overtime costs start to be greater than a new employee’s pay.

To be honest, I’m not sure how this situation can be solved.  Labor unions fought this sort of thing in the past, but they bring a new set of problems with them.  A federal cap on maximum weekly work hours may be seen by businesses and individuals alike as unneeded government interference.  The federal government could increase the required overtime pay rate and require that salaried employees be paid extra for any extra hours they work.  This sort of plan would most likely meet with stiff opposition from business owners, however, and cause those that can afford it to relocate or lay-off workers.

 

Here is one from Derek McCammond

The Government

 

          People often talk about how the government is doing something, or that the government should be fixing or moderating some part of our lives that they do not already but that is not the correct mindset to think about government.   The government is not some abstract thought or an identity completely separate from the peoples that inhabit the country. It is a living breathing representation of the people’s wants and concerns. People tend to think that the government is a non-alterable huge force which rules chaotically and without any real rhyme or reason to their decisions. This, however, is a gross overstatement of the government’s power and the bleeding heart liberal’s view point. I do not want the government controlling more than it does now. I don’t want another Patriot Act to go into place which allows cops to search through practically all of my information if they label me a suspected terrorist. Our country’s founding ideas are weakened because people are becoming less and less capitalist it seems. They want the government to do everything and they do not want to pay taxes or give anything back.

          The government is a needed system for any amount of people that live in a community together. It is true that people need a system in place and rules on how to act and what is acceptable or not. Even small groups of people make up rules for living with each other. Those rules might be a lot more personal such as not being allowed to use another member’s toothbrush. Rules are in place so that there can be punishment when you break them. The punishment would be through a collective instead of one person to another to make it less personal. Any number of people regardless their age, color, ideology (except anarchists), and political standpoint will want a government in place.

Here's a final from Alexandra Deabler:

Social Problems for the President 

In the upcoming election, with the stress of war and uproars about the falling economy, your political policies will be under much scrutiny from both your democratic peers as well as the competing republicans. Since the likelihood of Americans electing a new party with new ideas to replace the tedious ruling of a tired, humiliated Republican is high, it is dependent on you to focus on the youth and save them from possible despondency and poverty, Mr. Obama.

In 2006, teen pregnancy rates rose three percent after a fourteen-year drop(Washington Post).  The unexpected and unwelcome increase in “babies having babies” can be blamed from a lack in adequate education regarding sexual intercourse. “’The United States is facing a teen-pregnancy health-care crisis, and the national policy of abstinence-only programs just isn't working,’ said Cecile Richard, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America”(Washington Post). The states have the ability to have abstinence or safe sex education in their schools. The standard curriculum now consists of one or two days in fifth grade dealing with puberty; two weeks in an eighth-grade health class dealing with anatomy and reproduction and a health class in high school discussing pregnancy, common sexually transmitted diseases and rape(Time). The current program only touches on contraception methods, for instance maybe using the word condom or birth control, but never fully going into depth about them. This archaic system is hurting the youth of the United States by not providing them with the tools to make proper decisions. If teenagers are not taught about ways to protect themselves from STD’s and unwanted pregnancies, diseases and illegitimate children will run rampant—AIDS is becoming more prominent as a 2006 study of all fifty states shows that roughly 41,000 people have tested positive for HIV or AIDS.

The common misconception is that teaching children about sex will encourage them to act and become more promiscuous. Contrary to this thought, Safe sex education does not encourage children to engage in sexual intercourse, it merely gives them the knowledge to make informed decisions about whether or not to have sex. In St. Paul, a public school with a clinic, Safe sex methods are taught. At this school the pregnancy rate fell 40%, and out of those who had children, 80% stayed in school. Laurie Zabin, conducted a study of two inner-city schools, one with a clinic nearby and another without a clinic. In the first two- plus years of the study, the pregnancy rate fell 30% among teenagers who had access to birth-control supplies at the clinic near their school, while the pregnancy rate rose 57% among the group of teenagers without the clinic(Time 6). The statistics show that teenagers are going to engage in what they want to engage in. Giving them the means to be safe about it is helpful to all.

The quintessential family in poverty is a female-headed household(Lauer 358). When teenagers get pregnant, dropping out of school to raise a family is very common. Poverty is commonplace amongst families with unplanned children and run away fathers, because “poverty tends to be perpetuated by the absence of the father from the home”(Lauer 358). In the patriarchal society of the United States, woman still suffer to earn as much respect and income as men. This inability to support oneself on minimum wage with little academic achievement is only worsened by being a female, and is made harder with more mouths to feed. Poverty is a result of single mothers struggling with children. Having pregnancy epidemics among teenagers causes more poverty and becomes a heavier burden for the economy to support, if the family qualifies for Welfare. However, even if the family is too “rich” for government help, inexpensive housing is required by the families barely scraping by, thus turning more neighborhoods into crime laden, slum hoods.

Marriage is an option to deal with life’s little surprises of a missed period. However, the rates of divorces are highest under twenty. Even if the couple is responsible enough to accept their hardship of raising a child, divorce is very likely with over thirty percent of all divorces happening from twenty year olds and under; even after twenty, between twenty and twenty-four, divorce rates are forty percent for both men and women. So, not only will divorce become even more trite, youth pregnancies will follow in the acceptable footsteps.

Having schools teach children about sex and how to be safe about an inevitable act instead of sweeping it under the rug— in order to keep from offending Jesus and his followers— is hurting the youth, thus hurting the United States future. We need to take all precautions to make sure that today’s children are educated and kept safe because they will be the ones leading in the tomorrows. Government already funds sex education. The Bush administration widely backs abstinence-only education and has cut significant spending for contraceptive distribution. Taking the money that is put into denying teenagers and young adults of information and putting it into the education system, where people can learn will not be a huge economic burden. Economically, changing the way health classes are taught, and adopting methods of contraception will not break the budget or cause massive redirecting of the fiscal pie.

Religion is a big problem in trying to revamp a dated education system. Treading lightly is necessary when dealing with parents who do not have their children’s’ best interests in mind. Compromising is a way to win over parents and downplay slanderous media bias. Emphasizing that abstinence is the only way to stay one hundred percent safe can mitigate the tons of pro-life lobbyists sitting comfortably in Congress with the right-wing Bush administration. Being a representative of democrats, it is necessary to change up the antiquated view on sex in schools. Refurbishing the education system isn’t a government responsibility, per se, but funding can be given to states with safe sex education in place. As being the president, an elected representation of the people, coming out in defense of safe-sex education with an explanation of the teen pregnancy flourish and endemic poverty situation, widespread criticism will occur, but statistics will douse the fire and government aid for schools with this program will, hopefully, get a majority of schools teaching our youth and thus try and nip this problem before it spirals out of control.

Without adequately educating teenagers and even younger, elementary school children, about the consequences of unprotected sexual intercourse, the effects will be detrimental. More sexually transmitted diseases and infections, more children conditioned to live in poverty, and an endless cycle of tabooed sex leading to teenage curiosity, resulting in a, possibly, undereducated, under motivated, and overly populated future.

 

Here is a different take on unemployment from Jordan Tapia.

Causes of Unemployment

          Unemployment is one of the many economic variables indicating how well a country is doing. Unemployment is a major issue in sociology and politics, and remains relatively constant despite efforts to resolve it. Unemployment may be functional, with underlying variables that appear harmless.

          Technology is a variable in unemployment. When Ford was producing the Model-T, it had some of the best paid employees. Ford and most car manufacturers now rely on machines much more than humans. Cars are being produced faster and more efficiently, reducing costs to producers and consumers, at the expense of the jobs lost. Thousands of jobs were lost for ice deliverers when the refrigerator was invented, but we certainly didn’t prevent technology to keep meaningless jobs around.

          There are many more jobs lost to outsourcing than technology. Outsourcing occurs so businesses can reduce costs by sending jobs abroad. To many, outsourcing is a problem that threatens the whole country. People apparently think we should remain in the Industrial Revolution for eternity and never close down old factories of now-overpaid workers. We can prevent capitalism and force businesses to keep paying unskilled workers, or we can send that work overseas to a less developed nation where it is more suitable. To work at a factory being forced not to close would be a meaningless job and more like a government program of employment rather than free enterprise.

          Classical economics points to an unintuitive cause of unemployment: minimum wage laws. Unemployment works primarily by supply and demand, especially at the equilibrium point where the two lines on a graph meet. At equilibrium, work supplied would meet jobs demanded, but the minimum wage puts a price floor, guaranteeing an excess supply of workers. Businesses fire workers once they have to pay them more.

          Only luddites want to stop technology. Preventing outsourcing would slow down our economy. Raising the minimum wage should only be done to index for inflation. Perhaps it is time for our skills to evolve at pace with the world.

****************************************************

Matthew Stokes

What Are We Afraid Of?

                My name is Matt, and I used to be homophobic. My opinions were entrenched into my upbringing from my parents, who still to this day, hold an old fashion belief in family and religion, and I used to blindly follow that system of beliefs.  In the last five years I have changed my views on people in same-sex relationships. I have my wife to thank for this. The merging of friends in a marriage is a beautiful thing. Through my wife, I have been introduced to people I would have never met on my own and vice versa. Getting to know Gay and Lesbian couples on a personal level has helped me better understand that my, for lack of a better word, prejudiced opinions did not hold any truth. What are we so afraid of? Will the world end if same-sex unions are equal to traditional ones? I think not.

                During the election hype these last few months’ ads have been running on the radio about Prop 8. The proponents of the proposition argue that same-sex marriage will have to be taught in school. All that I hear in those advertisements is fear of social change and equality. The couples I know are no different than my wife and I. They want the same things in life. Love, homeownership, children the list goes on. What gives us the right to say same-sex couples should be denied the same benefits and rights that traditional union are given?  It is written into our Constitution “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Isn’t marriage part of “the pursuit of happiness”?

 

                Speaking with a colleague at work about the upcoming elections, I learned that her father had died of cancer and all the difficulties his Partner of 20 years had after his death. She went on to tell me that her father’s partner had basically no rights in the aftermath of his death. He had to rely on her and her sister to do the right thing and respect his, and her father’s wishes. She went on to say that her and her sister had every right to take everything and exclude him completely and leave him with nothing if they chose to. Instead, they had to go through the process of releasing everything to their father’s partner.  The death of your significant other would be hard enough on its own and I couldn’t imagine not having the legal rights necessary to effectively deal with the aftermath.

                The only argument I seem to understand from the proponents of Prop 8 is the religious angle to it. In class you asked us to take religion out of it, because it is a belief system. Five years ago, I could have never done that. I believe that in the year 2008, we as a society, can handle equality for same-sex marriage. In my opinion religion clouds the issue with a tired and used up argument that is a crutch used by the naïve, who don’t even know the group of people they are choosing to discriminate against. The self-righteous Americans may not understand the homosexual lifestyle, or even want to. I didn’t, until I opened my mind and looked at homosexuals not as homosexuals, but as people. What I found was a group of people just like all of us, with the same strengths and faults. I have a deep respect for my Gay friends, the playing ground for them is not as level as it is for me, and they still have a positive outlook on life.  I don’t believe, we as a society, should abandon our beliefs, but we should amend them. Society evolves, and with that our beliefs should as well. The blanket of discrimination against same-sex marriage and homosexuals is faded, worn-out and has holes in it everywhere. I ask again: What are we afraid of?

 

24 March 2009 This is from Bronika Nidey, Spring Semester's token Blonde.  (My token girls are writing super papers...)

Stringent Exploitation

          Even under a system of legal prostitution, prostitutes are treated poorly and tend to have little power, according to research conducted by anti-prostitution activist Melissa Farley. Many argue that legalizing prostitution will alleviate abuse towards prostitutes; however, evidence does not support this claim. Melissa Farley wrote a book titled Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections (2007). While writing her book she interviewed prostitutes from Nevada (where prostitution is legal) that told her they were required to work long shifts, forced to give up half of their earnings to management, and were fined for infractions, such as not greeting a new arriving guest fast enough. Many of the prostitutes she interviewed did not want to be prostitutes and had post-traumatic stress disorder. Melissa Farley concluded by stating, “What happens in these places is sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and sometimes rape.”  Prostitution should not be legalized because it is the worst exploitation of women and many women are forced into prostitution due to poverty.

          Disease is a problem that legalizing prostitution does not eliminate. Scarcity of customers can make it more likely for a prostitute to not require the use of a condom if it will earn more pay or security from that customer. The policy of only requiring prostitutes to be tested for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and not their customers fails to protect prostitutes along with the public. Prostitution also endangers society because people that live in neighborhoods where prostitution occurs frequently have to deal with “johns” cruising around and are exposed to sexual activities taking place in cars or public. San Francisco district attorney Harris says, “Prostitution is not a victimless crime, it’s a crime that victimizes neighborhoods and plagues communities and compromises the quality of life of the people who live in those neighborhoods.”

          The United States is against legalizing prostitution since 2002 “based on evidence that prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanizing, and fuels trafficking in persons, a form of modern-day slavery,” according to the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs. The United States Department estimates between 600,000- 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders each year. Approximately eighty percent of them are female and fifty percent are children.

          Prostitutes are not willing participants. Entrance into prostitution for women is linked to poverty more than any other single factor. Prostitutes are coerced into prostitution because of poverty, few job opportunities, or an ideology that classifies women in terms of their sexuality opposed to other qualities and skills. By allowing prostitution to occur without stringent consequences we are sending the message that we allow exploitation of women. The United States should not allow prostitution anywhere. Even when prostitution is legal it still does not effectively protect women from exploitation or disease. Law enforcement should become more active in arresting “johns” and administering harsher punishments to eliminate them as a returning customer. If men continuously get fined, put in jail, call their wives, embarrass them by printing their name and the incident in the newspaper, this may eliminate their return.

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

“Legalizing Prostitution.” Issues & Controversies On File 23 Jan. 2009. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services. 17 Mar. 2009 <http://www.2facts.com>.

Here's a unique take on responsibility from Nick Brody:

What Happened to Responsibility?

           

We as a society generally don't want to take responsibility for our actions. I touched briefly on this topic in an earlier paper and when faced with the decision for this paper I decided to elaborate further on the topic of responsibility. We like to blame entertainers and anyone with deep pockets for our actions as well as the actions of our children.

Eminem has been the focus of much controversy because of the explicit content and the willingness to attack everyone and everything in his music. While I don't agree that his music is positive, the problem is parents allowing their children to listen to it. They then pass the buck to entertainers instead of themselves when horrible acts of violence take place, like Columbine.  The perfect example of this is seen in the song Remember Me, which goes:

            "Came home and somebody musta' broken the back window and stole two loaded machine guns and both of my trench coats. Sick sick dreams of picnic scenes two kids sixteen with m-16s and ten clips each and them shits reach through six kids each. And Slim gets blamed in Bill Clinton's speech to fix these streets."

He is telling us that he is not the one to blame when people commit these unthinkable crimes. It goes along with the saying, if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you jump too? In another song titled Rain Man Eminem fires right back at his critics.

            "You find me offensive? I find you offensive for finding me offensive hence if I should draw a line on any fences if so to what extences if any should I go?"

            I believe he's saying it's freedom of speech and if you don't like what you hear then change the channel. We are the ones that have to decide what to take literally and what is fiction. The final, Eminem song that I want to discuss is titled Sing For The Moment          

            "They say music can alter moods and talk to you. Well can it load a gun up for you and cock it too? Well if it can then the next time you assault a dude just tell the judge it's my fault and I'll get sued."

            What he says here, I couldn't agree with more, and this kind of goes along with the gun control issue in the sense that guns can't and don't hurt anyone until someone picks it up and uses it in such a manner. In Three Days Grace song Never Too Late, the chorus goes

            "Even if I say it'll be alright I still here you want to end your life. Now and again we try to just stay alive maybe we'll turn it all around because it's not too late, it's never too late."

            They are talking about suicide here, yet to blame them for someone committing such an act is unfair. While it is true that until fairly recently such a thing was considered the ultimate taboo (and still is), it's seemingly becoming a part of our culture. Suicide is not necessarily accepted, but it is talked about much more in today's society.

            While musicians are guilty of talking about negative things in their music, it's wrong to blame them for someone's crimes. We see negative topics talked about with comedians as well. Most of today's popular comedian's material is full of explicit language and derogatory comments towards race, and physical, or mental attributes. Like the musicians much controversy has been aimed at comedians. Recently, Bill Cosby accepted the Mark Twain prize for American Humor. This is the third time that Cosby has won the award, but the first time he has accepted it. His reason; he is upset about the profanity used by so many of today's comedians. While he does have the right to be offended, one also has to remember it's freedom of speech and we choose to listen to this. The problem arises when people allow this to become a part of their daily life and use it as a scapegoat for not wanting to take responsibility for their own actions. In regards to entertainment, the solution is simple; if you don't like what you hear then change the channel, nor should children be allowed to hear and participate in violent and negative forms of entertainment.

            The way children are raised is a major factor in today's society not wanting to take responsibility for their actions. Many kids are allowed to watch uncensored television, play inappropriate video games, and listen to musicians like Eminem, when they should be outside playing instead of watching television. Many of today's parents are failing to properly raise their children by letting television, music and the internet raise them. It is teaching everything from what's right and wrong to what are reality and fiction and even the birds and bees of life. Many families fail to actually sit down at the end of the day and have dinner together, giving them the time to discuss what went on in their days and giving parents a chance to be involved in a child's life. One could argue that both parents work all day and just want to relax at the end of the day but this argument is a pathetic one because there are few things in life as precious as one's family. Parents fail to stay involved in their child's lives and then try to blame somebody else when something goes wrong. In Bill Cosby's "Pound Cake Speech", he hit the subject perfectly when he said, "I'm talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange jump suit. Where were you when he was two? Where were you when he was twelve? Where were you when he was eighteen and how come you didn't know he had a pistol?"

            Another way we blame everyone else for our actions is to sue them in frivolous lawsuits due to our own mistakes. This can be seen with warning labels that say common sense things, but because the manufacturer is afraid of being sued by someone looking to again pass the buck for their stupidity, they have to put these labels on their products. Some of my favorites include, "Do not use orally"-on a toilet bowl cleaning brush, "For external use only"-on a curling iron, "Do not use in the shower"-on an hair dryer, and "Do not attempt to remove or install belts while vehicle is running"-seen on vehicle drive belts. These seemingly common sense comments are also seen on commercials such as, "Always drive on roads, not on people"-on a car commercial which shows a car crowd surfing at a concert. The major reasons for these common sense-warning labels are a company's fear of being sued. In Madera, California, a police officer mistook her firearm for her taser and shot and killed a man. The city, officer, and suspect's family sued the taser company saying that the taser gun resembled a real gun too closely. A federal judge dismissed the case and the officer was cleared of all charges. Another example is of a man suing 1800Flowers for sending the flowers meant for his love affair to his wife. The attorney claimed that the mistake caused a costly divorce. The case like the last one was thrown out. The last example is McDonalds being sued for making kids fat. The attorney against McDonalds claims that McDonalds intentionally lured kids in with happy meal toys and on site playgrounds. This case, like the last two, has been dismissed.  Generally, frivolous cases either go to court and are dismissed, or the company determines that it is easier to financially settle for a fraction of the desired amount instead of go to court. This however only shows people that they still can get what they want.

It's pathetic that people are actually this stupid and can't "man up" and say they made a mistake and accept responsibility for their actions. We have all made stupid mistakes accepting responsibility is not a pleasurable thing to do, but it's the right thing to do. When I have done dumb ass things in the past, I don't want to step up and take responsibility, but my parents raised me to do the correct thing. A perfect example in my life is when I was shooting a home made potato gun in my backyard and accidentally shot it across the alley and through the neighbor's window. As much as I didn't want to admit to it due to the embarrassment and cost of the window, I did the correct thing and paid for the damages I caused. In the end if we all took responsibility for our actions, I believe the world would be a better place with people more able to trust each other.