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Student Loans and Their Implications on the American Economy

May 22, 2013 1 comment

With everyone left in our Economics becoming seniors next year, the looming beasts of college and student loans are fast approaching.  Even after college, the fear of having to get a job to help pay off the loans almost seems more daunting.

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Thinking about the Burden of Student Loans

In today’s economy, it almost seems like a better idea to not go to college as to not have to pay off the student debts.  However, this would leave young people in a precarious situation of not having a good enough job.  This would lead to a decision between a high school diploma with a weak job or a college degree, student debt and a much stronger job.  With those students with debts, it kills their credit scores and makes it nearly impossible to get a mortgage or a car loan or any other “big ticket” items.  The whole aspect of student loans is sending “a whole class of people out into their professional lives with a negative net worth. Not starting at zero, but starting at a minus that is often measured in the tens of thousands of dollars. Those minus signs have psychological impact, I suspect. They might have a dollars-and-cents impact in what you can afford, too” (NY Times).  Students have  now become very burdened by a load that seems almost impossible to pay off.  While it might seem like an economic death wish to enter the economy after college with such a large amount of debt.  However, in today’s economy employers are more likely to hire a candidate with a college degree than without.  Therefore, it becomes a weighing of cost and benefits between a high school diploma and no debt or a college degree with large amounts of debt.

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In 2012, about 60 percent of college students borrow a student loan.  ” There is roughly somewhere between $902 billion and $1 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt in the United States today” (American Student Assistance).  About $85 billion of this total is past due.  Despite all these economic statistics working against them, “in 2010, young adults ages 25–34 with a bachelor’s degree earned 114 percent more than young adults without a high school diploma or its equivalent, 50 percent more than young adult High school completers, and 22 percent more than young adults with an associate’s degree” (National Center for Educational Statistics).

High school seniors who are on the fence about attending college must weigh their costs and benefits and  look at their personal interests.  On one hand, they cannot go to college, not go into large amounts of debt, and enter the workforce at a net worth of zero.  On the other hand, they can go to college, get a degree that can get them a high profile job,  and enter the workforce with a large amount of debt.  Some students who would go into large amounts of debt, may want to be a doctor, actor, business or whatever their heart desires.  Those students have to weigh the benefits of following their dream against the costs of attending college.

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Doctor in Debt

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Man at “McDonalds”

Students who are graduating  now face a choice, being a doctor who followed his dreams but is in debt or a man working at McDonalds with little chance to obtain a high profile job.


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The Interesting and Complicated Process of the Presidential Election

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

What I have found to be the most interesting part of our Government course is the rules and process for the election of the President of the United States because they are essential for a citizen to function in the United States.  The Electoral College is the process used by the United States to elect its President, giving votes not to citizens but to states, then the citizens decide how to spend their states votes.   What I found interesting was when I went and did my own research about the electoral college, and found many people disliking the system in its flaws and how some citizens are not counted as equals in the eyes of the Electoral college because some states receive more votes than they should and some states receive fewer votes than they should.  I found out some of this information through what should be a new learning resource, YouTube and the intellectual insight of CGPGrey and his video The Trouble with the Electoral College.  His videos showed me how the system works, how it is flawed and how it can be improved.

The Electoral College is the process to decide the president that divides 538 votes among the 50 states and Washington D.C.  The 538 votes are divided by population, with states like California and Texas receiving the most votes, and states like Montana and Rhode Island receiving the least votes.  Each state first receives 3 votes and then the rest are distributed by population.  On election day when citizens go to vote, they don’t vote directly for a candidate but their vote tells their state where they want the state to send its votes.  A candidate simply has to win a majority of the popular vote in a state to receive all of that state’s electoral votes.  This system becomes a problem in close states when the candidates are basically tied, whoever breaks that tie and takes the lead in that state gets 100% of that state’s electoral vote, even though possibly only 51% of the population of that state voted for him.  The Electoral College is a voting system that only cares about states, not citizens.

A problem that arises with the Electoral College is the problem of swing states, the only states that really matter in an election. As the process developed, many states became solid states, or states that will always vote for the same party.  The largest Republican solid state is Texas, while the largest Democratic solid states are California and New York.  Solid states rarely, if ever, switch so they basically guarantee each candidate a certain number of Electoral votes, all they will have to do is win over the swing states.  Swing states are states that “swing” from political party to political party each election.  They are the states that can go to either side, and that makes them the states that matter and where candidates spend all their time and money.  A citizens vote in a solid state does not really matter in the electoral college, while the vote of a citizen of a swing state is almost the weight of the whole election.  The Electoral College creates these swing states, if it was abolished, then Presidential candidates would have to pay attention to basically every citizen, not just the citizens of swing states.

The swing states Presidential candidates focus on during an election

The swing states Presidential candidates focus on during an election

The essential problem with the Electoral College is in the method in which the votes are processed.  When the Electoral College gives out three votes to each state and then distributes the rest by population, even at this point the system is unfair.  For the Electoral College to be logical, the 538 votes need to be divided up evenly by population, and by starting the process by giving each state three votes, some states already have more votes than they should have.  States like Alaska and Wyoming should only have 1 or 2 electoral votes, but because of the process starts by giving each state three votes, they have more than they should.  Much larger states than have to basically “donate” electoral votes to smaller states, for instance; Texas has 6 fewer votes than it should and California has 10 fewer votes than it should.  Because of this disproportion of votes, the Electoral College makes it seem as though more people live where they don’t and fewer people live where they do.  The simple solution to solve these problems created by the electoral college is to simply do away with the process, so that everyone is equal in the eyes of the Presidential election.

Candidate can receive only 22% of the popular vote and win the electoral college by getting 50+% in all of the small states where they have more electoral college votes than they should.

Candidate can receive only 22% of the popular vote and win the electoral college by getting 50+% in all of the small states where they have more electoral college votes than they should.

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Gay Marriage: The Debate that Divides the Parties and the Generations

February 21, 2013 1 comment

With Barack Obama’s recent second inauguration, many of the topics he mentioned have become very important topics of debate.  With the topic of gay marriage, where Obama said, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” debates have been flaring between those who believe for and against gay marriage.  The main reason present against gay marriage is that people believe it goes against traditional Christian values, while this is a valid reason, it directly contradicts the separation between church and state.  The main reason for gay marriage is simple, people get to marry who they love and no one else’s lives changing at all.

Religious Effect on Opinions of Gay Marriage

Support for gay marriage is divided by political party, Republicans mostly against and Democrats mostly for.  Republicans see this issues as a violation of heavy religious values and standards that have no effect in the actual process of government. CNN writes that, ” opposition to freedom to marry is on the wrong side of history and damaging to the long-term, and increasingly the short-term, prospects of the GOP” (CNN).  Most Democrats see marriage as a certain unalienable right that is given to all men or women, regardless of sexual orientation.  The basis of a religious effect within government goes against the vision of the Founders who’s goal was to separate church and state, to avoid the ideals of the Church of England.  A politician taking a stand for or against gay marriage, can be seen as looking for votes from certain demographics.    The debate over whether gay marriage is such a petty and meaningless topic that politicians use it as a stance to draw attention away from flaws in  their plans that would actually have an effect on our lives, such as healthcare or gun control.  Gay people should simply be able to marry who they desire without any interference from government, whatever the motive of the interference may be.

Support from the Democrats and violent opposition from the Republicans

Many citizens who believe in the legalization of gay marriage have been staging demonstrations to show their support for the cause.  One of the largest of the demonstrations that happens is the Gay Pride Parade, which is an international demonstration that occurs on every continent in the world.  Citizens have been exercising their right to assembly and, through methods of grassroots mobilization, have made an effort to create a change for the better in our society.  Also, several citizens have demonstrated their dislike and disapproval of the legalization of gay marriage, the most notorious of these groups being the Westborough Baptist Church.  These groups exercise their same rights in order spread a negative view of gay marriage, some “hate-groups” will often hold up signs saying “Death to the gays” or “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.”  These groups hate people simply for exercising their right to love someone.

Support and opposition for gay marriage has mainly been defined as a generation gap, with younger voters supporting and older voters opposing.  A recent Gallup poll showed that 73 percent of people between 18 and 29 years old said they favored it, while only 39 percent of people older than 65 did” (NYTimes).  The older generation is trying to hold on to traditional values and are not conforming with modern times, while the younger generation sees it as simple fact that if you love someone you should be allowed to marry them.  The illegalization of gay marriage will remain a law until today’s younger generation because the leaders of government and the nation, then everyone can marry the person they love, without it being questioned.

Categories: B1
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