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I Want! I Want! I Need!

March 17, 2013 6 comments

In economics class, we recently learned about the difference between “wants” and “needs”. This difference should seem obvious to most, but the fact is, most children today seem confused about that difference. Parents are partially to blame because they are not modeling the difference between recognizing what is a “want” versus what is a “need”.

Imagine a mom and her little girl walking into the mall.  The first thing the child “wants” is a doll she sees in the window. She explains to her mom that everyone has one and that she “needs” one to be like the others.  Being a good mother, the mom explains that the child does not “need” things in order to make friends, she just “wants” them.  The child is upset and crying, but it is a lesson learned… or is it?  In the next store window, the mom sees that the Apple Store has the IPhone 5 in stock! Of course, the mother has been “needing” to buy one since it came out, but the stores have been out of stock, so she is thrilled that she can buy one immediately! Therefore, she goes in, daughter following, to buy it even though she already has a working phone. She is giving her daughter mixed signals; she tells her daughter that she does not “need” a doll, but acts as if she “needs” an IPhone 5 even though her daughter will realize that she does not truly “need” the phone, but simply “wants” it.

Kids learn by examples, not by words. How often have we been told one thing but taught another by our elders? This isn’t a new concept. Everyone knows that children follow the examples of those that they admire.  If parents do not teach their children the difference between “wants” and “needs” by their examples, how can they expect the children not to grow up as a nation of spoiled children.  Necessary needs are “the obvious things that every person needs to stay alive. I include food, water, shelter, and not much else in this category. These are the things without which we would not be alive.” Wouldn’t the nation be a better place if, instead of spending eight hundred dollars to have the latest and greatest technology, that same money was spent on others that truly can’t afford their own needs (food, water, clothing, shelter).

 

“According to one poll, commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents think that their children are spoiled.” Why is that? I believe it is because children are getting what they “want” far more often than just what they “need”.  Compare children in the U.S. to those in needy countries. No one will argue that the attitudes of children in countries that struggle simply to meet true needs of their citizens differ greatly than the attitudes of American children. We are a wealthy nation and are able to give children far more perhaps than their parents had growing up.  On the surface this may seem like a good thing, but we have to analyze how this excess is really affecting them.  Are the children grateful for what they have, or are they exhibiting a sense of entitlement?

“Children need our love, attention, acceptance, support and time.  Our kids want but do not need computer games, iPods, Facebook, sleepovers and ultimately get their driver’s license and go to parties and concerts.”  Maybe if parents spent more time with their children and modeled donating their money and efforts to the needy versus to the Apple Store, we would be fostering a different generation of children.

Categories: A1 Tags: ,

You Be The Judge!

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

In the United States, Federal Judges are appointed while the State and Local Judges are elected. Federal Judges are appointed for life and State and Local Judges are elected for a short period of time and must be reelected every term. The question arises, “Should any judge be appointed for life or should they be required to be elected by the people every term?”

The main reason why people believe judges should be elected is because then they are more accountable to the people that they are supposed to be representing.  The people that vote for them did so because of the judges’ positions on issues.  If they don’t represent the public that elected them, they wont get reelected the next term. However, there are also many disadvantages of electing judges.  Elected judges are able to buy their way into office (running expensive campaigns to touch greater numbers of voters) even if they have bad moral or ethics.  Elected judges can also more easily be influenced by special interests groups with money.

“As Iowa moved closer this week to replacing three Supreme Court justices ousted in November by voters who opposed the court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage, judicial analysts remained divided on what they see as a growing national trend of special-interest groups targeting judges with whom they disagree”

As is evident by the USA News quote above, special interest groups clearly affect which judges are elected and reelected.

“Judges are supposed to make decisions based on the law, not politics. But in 38 states, judges get elected to their jobs, and judicial candidates are raising big bucks and running TV attack ads. Judicial candidates spent more money running for office in 2004 than ever before. Meanwhile, special interest groups poured millions of dollars into their campaigns. Will the mountains of cash corrupt the independence of the courts?”

This quote from American RadioWorks, expresses the same sentiment – that elected officials are much too influenced by outside forces to be independent.

Those that believe that judges should be appointed believe so primarily because they believe appointed judges are less likely to be influenced by special interest groups with money and are less likely to be biased when interpreting the law, theoretically. Disadvantages would include the judges having too much power and having very few ways to get the judges out of office if their mental health begins to decline or if they choose to start abusing their power.  The only way a federal judge leaves office is by death, self-resignation, resignation due to age or impeachment (the latter being very difficult to achieve).

“We previously discussed  the bizarre case of Cook County Judge Cynthia Brim, a judge in Markham, Illinois who has been barred from entering the courthouse without police escort and has a prior arrest for assault. Despite long opposition from bar groups and her claiming insanity as a defense to the charge, Cook County voters returned her to the bench in a recent election”

In this example reported by The Chicago Tribune, an elected official was reelected after being declared insane.  Had this been an appointed official that suffered mental insanity without it being brought to light by the committing of a crime, the appointed official would still be in office. This story brings two questions to mind;  is the public well enough informed to be responsible for electing officials and is appointing officials to life terms when circumstances can change at any time a responsible act?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both appointing a judge and electing a judge. Appointing judges can cause judges to have too much and sometimes misdirected power but it also allows judges to be more independent and unbiased.  Electing judges can cause them to be unduly influenced by outside financial sources but also forces them to be true to the people or risk not being reelected.  It also allows for a natural exit if, for some reason, the judge becomes no longer suitable for the position. Perhaps the answer is in a compromise; I believe we should appoint a judge (rather than elect him) in order to benefit from his unbiased interpretation of the law, but limit his term to eight or ten years so that if he strays from his true interpretation of the law or becomes disabled or otherwise inappropriate for the position, his term is limited and he can be replaced with someone better suited for such an important job.  Chief Justice Warren Burger perhaps said it best when he said, “Judges rule on the basis of law, not public opinion, and they should be totally indifferent to pressures of the times.”  Any system or procedure that interferes with this goal should be changed.

Categories: A1 Tags: , ,

Obama Violates the Constitution

February 22, 2013 4 comments

On January 4, 2012 Obama appointed three members of the National Labor Relations

Obama violates the Constitution

Obama violates the Constitution

Board while the Senate was on vacation for the holidays.  This allowed him, in theory, to make the appointments without having the Senate’s approval. The Republicans argued that this was a violation of the Constitution because they weren’t really recessed; they held Pro-Forma sessions every other day.  Pro-Forma sessions are when the Senate or another governmental body holds a very short period in session in order to avoid letting a president make recess appointments.  On January 25, 2013 news reports stated that the US Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit had ruled that the appointments that Obama had made were a violation of the Constitution.

The court defined a recess as “only during the breaks between formal year-long sessions of congress, not just any informal break when law makers leave town.” When Obama made his appointments, the Senate was on extended holiday break only and this, according to the Constitution, did not qualify as an opportunity to make recess appointments. Furthermore, “the president can bypass the Senate only when administration vacancies occur during a recess.” The vacancies on the labor board that Obama filled had been open for months before he chose to fill them leading me to assume that he waited to do this only to avoid any input from the Senate.

The Constitution was written to create a framework for the United States.  As we have discussed in class, the Constitution allows for an Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branch.  The Constitution specifies how laws should be passed, how appointments should be made and how courts should be run. Interpreting the constitution in such a way as to manipulate the meaning so that it benefits only the party in power directly contradicts the intent of the Constitution.

The checks and balances created by the Constitution are something that should not be ignored.  Republican’s and Democrat’s views have become so extremely different that the checks and balances system has blocked much of anything being accomplished but it is still an integral part of the Constitution.  No one seems willing to compromise and the opposing party refuses to approve their policies. Obama’s response to this was to manipulate the system so that his choices would not be subject to the approval of the Senate.  As said by Chief Judge David Sentelle, “allowing the president to define the scope of his own appointment power would eviscerate the Constitution’s separation of powers.” Other presidents have used the same tactics to appoint their own choices to vacancies, but the practice has evolved to such a degree that our leadership is straying from the original intent of the constitution.

If we want to remain a Democratic society, we need to observe what the intentions of the Constitution were when it was written.  The constitution created a back up plan for when vacancies occurred and a Senate was not available to approve the appointment.  Obama used the back up plan to avoid following what the Constitution intended, almost as if he wanted sole power like a dictator.  If this ruling stands, more than 600 board decisions over just the past year could be invalidated.  Isn’t it time that we go back and read the Constitution and consider how this country was founded in the first place? Looking for loopholes in the Constitution is not how we should run the country!

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