Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve? Who Cares.

While traditionally I choose to stay away from sensitive political subjects I felt compelled to comment on the seemingly ridiculous continued argument for banning the union between same-sex partners. It seems that as we enter in the year 2012 we have much bigger and pressing issues than if a couple is allowed to enter into what some refer to as the “traditional” marriage. So then the question that will be looming to my readers is am I for or against same-sex marriage? My answer, I don’t care. This doesn’t affect my life either way; however it seems almost ludicrous to continue to spend so much time, energy and money into trying to stop the gay community from being allowed to have the same rights as a man and a woman do.
President Obama has said he believes that “marriage is between a man and a woman,” but he voted against a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage as a U.S. Senator, saying the decision should be left up to the states. He said he encourages states to adopt marriage alternatives such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.”
Currently, there are six states that allow same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia. While Maine was once considered on this list the law that was signed was rejected; however, it currently has a domestic partnership law in effect.
There are 37 states that have their own DOMA or Definition of Marriage Acts. Of these 30 states there are constitutional amendments protecting what is considered traditional marriages.
While not an expert on this issue in any way I simply see this as a right of freedom for all humans to be allowed to enter into whatever they deem appropriate for their situation. How can we possibly know what is right or wrong because a book tells us so; one that was of course written by man? And if I am not mistaken man has made quite a few errors in judgment in the past few centuries; slavery, Holocaust, wars, etc. This is a never ending battle and one that I feel takes away from what we as a country really need to be focusing on; our economy! We need to collectively be able to come together to fix this society that we have all managed to ruin and I don’t think that by letting Adam and Steve become legally married is going to impact whether or not John Doe is able to get a good job and feed his family.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Colleague Critique

Alex offers us a concerned insight into her Cutting Defense in the Face of Trillions blog post. I think we can all agree that these past years of war have cost our nation both in money and lives. However, it doesn’t seem that there will be an end anytime soon. Therefore, it’s necessary to begin to “lighten” this ballooning debt we are continuing to increase on a daily basis, the million dollar question is where do we take money from?
As a military wife, I agree with Alex that cutting military funding isn’t the way to go, but as with anything there are always some expenses that could be scaled back just not at the sacrifice of the soldiers or their families.
While your commentary is well written in favor of non DOD cut backs, I am left wondering what your ideas are for budget cuts in general. In the beginning of this course we filled out a survey about budget cuts and had to make decisions to take money from different areas, I think this would have been a perfect opportunity for you to add your budget cut choices into this blog to give us more of a solution.  I remember having a difficult time making those choices, because everyone has a reason or a cause for why they need money and it is a very challenging position to be in, not one that I envy at all.
I appreciate your concern for the military and its possible impending cut backs and look forward to reading your blogs in the future.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pay As You Earn Plan Revised

On Wednesday, October 26th President Obama introduced a new Pay As You Earn Plan to a group of Denver college students. This plan revamps the existing program by capping required payments for eligible college students at a lower percentage of their income and forgives student loans in twenty years.
Currently student loan debt is the second highest source of overall household debt. "Over the past three decades, the cost of college has nearly tripled," said Mr. Obama. "And that is forcing you, forcing students, to take out more loans and rack up more debt. Last year, graduates who took out loans left college owing an average of $24,000. Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt, for the first time ever. Living with that kind of debt means making some pretty tough choices when you're first starting out." President Obama also believes that the new plan will boost the economy by allowing previously indebted students to be allowed to purchase houses and spend more money.
The original Pay As You Earn Plan was 10% of discretionary income and loans forgiven at 25 years, so it seems that Obama’s plan is obviously a better deal for those of us who have student loan debt but it doesn’t change the plan by much. These numbers make the current outcry of concern by some political figures to be a little overstretched. Representative presidential candidate Michele Bachman was quoted saying that Obama’s new plan is an “abuse of power” and “it gives people an incentive to dodge debt.” Twenty years of repaying your student loan seems to be a far cry from dodging debt; rather this new plan would help people that are newly entering the workforce be able to pay their household bills and take care of home instead of having to worry about giving their entire paycheck up to student loans. Another cause of concern was the rising national debt and who would be responsible for the student loan debts if forgiven.
As previously stated, I think it seems trivial to think that five years and five percent will greatly impact our national debt. There is already a plan in effect that forgives student loans after 25 years, why not help out society and make it only 20? I think this plan is a great incentive for people to be able to finish their education without the fear of starving upon graduation when entering the workforce and it wouldn’t be that “we” aren’t repaying the loan; rather, it is income based and there is an annual documentation requirement so that any payment adjustments can be made according to your discretionary income.
With any new idea comes the possibilities of what ifs but the point is it’s time for a change and it’s about time that the government starts helping more Americans out financially that are in need so that we can all achieve the “American Dream.” In the end, isn’t that the point of higher education?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Democratic Blog Critiqued

Democrats will rally with public employees to push job bills is a blog posted by political writer, Joan McCarter on Daily Kos. McCarter blogs that President Obama’s $35 billion response to the threat of teacher, police and firefighter layoffs is “very smart positioning for the Democrats.”
These civil servants stand to be cut back due to lack of state funds. McCarter suggests that “Democrats are going all in behind the public employees who have been so vilified by Republicans throughout the country.” These workers have been invited to D.C. and a rally is currently underway. An obvious political writer for the Democratic Party, Joan McCarter blogs to her followers about the injustice of these employees and her distaste for Republicans concerning this issue is made very apparent.
McCarter’s argument is clear and sound, as well as justified. However, looking at this blog with a critical eye it is apparent that this piece lacks evidentiary support. We aren’t presented with much more than a small blurb about President Obama’s monetary proposition and some choice words about Republicans. This is a feel-good piece that is based off of Democratic emotion rather than hard supporting evidence. In the end however; I concur with McCarter in her conclusion that the funding to prevent these layoffs is a necessary expense. I would have liked to have more information about the history of this issue from both the Republican and Democratic perspective; however, she has portrayed herself as that “freedom fighter” type of woman, not someone I would be interested in following as I prefer to be educated and then have the argument unfold where I am allowed to either agree or disagree.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Magic Bullets

No Education ‘magic bullets,’ is a commentary piece written by John Young, long time opinion article contributor in Texas and a parent of two boys. Young’s commentary article viciously attacks the system of school reform, posing the question “What has more than a decade of peacetime/wartime school reforms done to help generate that magic? Nothing. Nothing at all.”
Young continues his argument against meddling in school reform by listing the ideas of lawmakers as “magic bullets.” The first magic bullet was raising test scores to make more money; the second was paying teachers more money to work at the worst schools, third was new management, fourth was to increase stricter dress codes and finally school vouchers.
Young argues that it is better to just let the teachers supply this “magic” that is needed to reform our school system. He jokingly wrote a few years back, “that we needed a war to distract policymakers from their chronic top-down meddling in public schools.”
In closing, I have to say that as a parent to a new Kindergartener I am anxious to see what lies ahead for her in the way of education. I have already been considering private tutoring for those TAKS tests that will be looming in the next few years! This problem of policymakers interfering constantly in the public school system is a crisis. We all need to realize that it is the teachers that make the difference or the “magic” as Young would say but it also stems from home. There needs to not only be less meddling but more community involvement and outreach programs to the parents of these children. It is obvious that as a parent, John Young was trying to reach parents nation-wide to inform them of this education injustice. This is a looming issue, one that policymakers and parents need to evaluate and ultimately fix collectively.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Retired Military Facing Budget Cuts

Retiree Benefits for the Military Could Face Cuts, is an article posted by the New York Times about possible benefit cuts for retired military in response to the debt ceiling agreement approved this summer. This debt ceiling agreement will force the Pentagon to make a budget cut of $400 billion over the next 12 years and it is quite possible that the benefits of the retired military could be reduced.
Currently, “military pensions and health care for active and retired troops now cost the government about $100 billion a year.” “Each year the Defense and Treasury Departments set aside more than $75 billion to pay not only current and future benefits but also pensions for service many years in the past. But the retirement fund has not accumulated nearly enough money to cover its total costs, with assets of $278 billion at the end of 2009 and obligations of about $1.4 trillion.”
A proposal from the Defense Business Board of the Pentagon has been made that would give military members a benefit plan in which contributions would be made to individual accounts and after serving the minimum requirements soldiers could leave with a small “nest egg,” however, retirees wouldn’t receive benefits until the age of 60.
As with any possible budget cut and plan proposals there are people for and against them. It seems however, most people are against cutting retired military benefits.