Archive | US and Foreign

Study Abroad Hits Home for Students

Posted on 14 April 2011 by WarriorAdmin

Problems like large-scale protests and natural disasters happening in other countries often seem remote and distant to Marquette students, but for students studying abroad they become an issue of personal safety.

At the time a tsunami hit Japan and caused concerns about nuclear radiation, Marquette had a single student in the country, with three more who planned to come for the spring semester. Blake Ward, the Study Abroad Coordinator, said his office contacted Evan Kelley, who had been there since the beginning of the year, soon after the disaster and verify he was okay. Ward said Sofia University in Tokyo, Marquette’s partner school, only gave them a few days to decide and ultimately they sent Kelley home.

A similar case happened in Egypt, he said, forcing Marquette to withdraw a student who had already arrived in Cairo. Ward said the past semester was “relatively unprecedented,” but he felt his office handled the challenges well.

“Things from our perspective went pretty smoothly in both cases,” Ward explained.

Stephen Wroblewski, one of the three planning to travel to Japan, said that he has wanted to study in Asia since freshman year. He said he planned his schedule so he could take the courses he needed for his minor, Asian Studies, in Japan. Despite his disappointment, Wroblewski said he understood the school’s position on student safety.

“There is nobody really to be mad at,” he said. “I understand the school’s stance on the situation.”

Ward said that while the Japan program is still suspended, the Egyptian program has already resumed, with a student slated to study at the American University of Cairo. He explained that the office was comfortable sending students there already because the campus is away from the site of protests.

Ward said that the Office of International Education, which runs the study abroad programs, has a person on-call 24/7 in order to deal with any problems which arise abroad. Additionally, the program has a subscription to SOS International which keeps them updated of events that could impact the safety of students studying abroad. Ward said that the office’s safeguards fared well in the recent emergencies.

“It was tested this semester for sure and it went well,” he said.

by Alec Brooks
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Pope creates agency for Catholic evangelization

Posted on 02 November 2010 by WarriorAdmin

Pope Benedict XVI unveiled a new agency within the Catholic Church, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, in a Vatican press release Oct. 12.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, formerly the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, will lead the agency. Assigned with spreading and supporting the beliefs of the Catholic Church, the agency will focus on traditionally Christian areas experiencing increased secularism. In the document Ubicumque et Semper (Everywhere and Always), the Pope outlined the major missions of the agency.

Among the mission included, the Council is called “to study and to encourage the use of modern forms of communication as instruments for the new evangelization, to promote the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an essential and complete formulation of the content of the faith for the people of our time, and to make known and to support initiatives linked to the new evangelization that are already being put into practice in various particular Churches.”

Within the Catholic Church, the concept of “new evangelization,” has become increasingly important within the modern era. The concept rose to prominence under Venerable John Paul II who made new evangelization “a central point of his far-reaching Magisterial teaching.”

In the year 2000, John Paul released the Papal Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (“At the beginning of the new millennium”) which called for “each local Church to assess its fervour and find fresh enthusiasm for its spiritual and pastoral responsibilities.”

Indeed, the theological underpinnings of new evangelization are a core part of the Catholic Church’s doctrine to spread the Gospel to all places and peoples. While the Catholic Church traditionally focused on spreading its message through missionary activities, the recent spread of secularism has forced the Church to re-examine its policies. Within European countries, Church attendance has declined at a rapid rate.

According to the Pew Research Center, only 11 percent of those living in France claim religion is very important to their lives, in comparison to 59 percent in the United States.  With such a significant decline of religious observance occurring in modern era, the European-based Church faces an identity crisis.

According to Pope Benedict, the decline of religious fervor and practice represents a grave threat to the Church.

He stated “This indifference to religion and the practice of religion devoid of true meaning in the face of life’s very serious problems, are no less worrying and upsetting when compared with declared atheism.”  

While the reasons for increased secularism and irreligion are varied, the Catholic Church is now feeling increased pressure to respond.

The creation of Pontifical Council represents one response of the Catholic Church, specifically the response of the Church hierarchy.  Indeed, the Catholic Church continues to thrive within specific countries and regions through the determined efforts of local clergy and bishops.

The Pontifical Council then will be able to utilize ideas and methods of particular churches and dioceses in order to determine the best approaches to new evangelization. By creating an agency that can create policies and change for the entire Church, the  Church will be able to create a more uniform policy towards new evangelization, instead of piecemeal efforts. The use of the Catechism as the standard for evangelization will ensure an accurate understanding of Catholic doctrine in key areas, including the Church’s stances on social policies.

However, the Pope acknowledged the variety of situations present within the Church and noted the need for diverse approaches. The Pontifical Council’s encouragement of modern communication throughout the Church will also help the mission of the Church within the more developed nations of the world, often the nations with the highest rates of secularism. While the agency will operate mainly in Europe, it will also work to inspire re-evangelization in North and South America, areas also experiencing increased secularism.

In an era of increasing irreligion and secularism, the Pontifical Council looks to re-affirm the values and teachings of the Catholic Church. Certainly the agency cannot function as a cure-all for the problems of the Catholic Church and the decline of religion in general.

Yet its creation symbolizes an attempt by the Catholic Church to re-vitalize itself instead of passively accepting its decline as an institution within formerly Christian nations. The crucial missions of the Pontifical Council will determine the future of the Catholic Church within Europe and shape worldwide evangelization policy.            

by Matt Waldoch
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Marquette employees give $70, 230 in political contributions

Posted on 28 April 2010 by Heather Ronaldson

The Democratic Party received $62,681 in financial support from Marquette employees between 2004 and 2010 according to the online database Out of 58 total Marquette contributors, 74 percent donated to the Democratic Party in support of presidential and congressional candidates as well as Democratic support groups. Only 13 Marquette employees supported the Republican Party, donating $7,549, according to Fundrace 2008 by the Huffington Post and

Other Jesuit institutions such as Loyola University in Chicago, Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif., Fordham University in the Bronx, and Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA, followed a similar pattern as Marquette.

Several students reacted to the presented information with a casual, “that’s unsurprising,” or “what else is new?”

According to John McAdams, associate professor in the political science department, a university’s title does not determine or influence a faculty member’s ideology, but rather academia.

“Liberals are like ducks in water in academia,” McAdams said.

Out of 42 Loyola employees, 40 contributed to the Democratic Party candidate, donating $29,419 total. Forty Santa Clara employees donated to the Democratic Party out of 44 total contributors. They contributed a total of $34,747 to the Democratic candidate; the four Republicans donated $1,455. Of the Boston College employees 104 of them financially supported the Democratic Party and donated $77,247, while five Republicans donated $5,257, according to Fundrace2008.

John Curran, professor of English, connected the high percentage of Democratic supporters to the dismay most feel toward the development of the Republican Party over time.

“Constructive elements of the Republican Party have been suppressed and many of us in the middle are quite dismayed,” Curran said.

Timothy Olsen, manager of communication in Marquette’s Office of Marketing and Communication, clarified that Marquette employees’ political contributions are individual and do not represent the university.
Curran saw a relationship between academia and liberalism 15 years ago during the political correctness movement. Curran said there was a weeding out of people that did not agree with far left politics.

“I don’t see that anymore,” Curran said.

McAdams does, however, see a difficulty for conservatives in academia.

“Conservatives often self select out because they view academia as hostile territory,” McAdams said.

Claire Schrantz, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, noticed most of her conservative teachers were “hush hush” about their ideology because liberalism is in the majority. McAdams pointed out that students face fierce indoctrination in some classes and a hesitation to share opinions in opposition to their professor.

Schrantz recalled an incident in English class when her professor brought up the issue of healthcare. She described the teacher’s remarks toward the conservative approach to healthcare as “sarcastic and condescending.”

“It kind of offended me, that’s unprofessional,” Schrantz said, “I just didn’t participate that day.”

McAdams authors a blog, called Marquette Warrior (which is not affiliated with The Warrior student newspaper) about left-wing influence and indoctrination on campus.

“In the School of Education, students are explicitly taught that they should use the classroom to indoctrinate their students in liberal and left wing political activism,” McAdams said.

The Marquette Warrior blog brings awareness to such indoctrination and publicizes students’ experiences with intolerant left-wing faculty.

In 2006, a philosophy professor suggested a student apologize for sharing a cop’s perspective of arrests involving minorities. The professor found the student’s comments “offensive to the diverse group in the room.”
Curran relies “on the professionalism of [his] colleagues” to separate political ideology from the classroom and encourages his undergraduate students to think for themselves. “Students are sacred. They should not feel menaced in my class,” Curran said.

Curran credits Marquette University’s commitment to cura personalis, which means caring and respecting each person in mind, body and spirit, and while doing so, upholding the commitment to the wider world. “I feel like my opinions are respected overall,” Schrantz said, “there were just some instances with one teacher that were offensive and unprofessional.”

by Heather Ronaldson
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T-shirt company offers innovative networking for the unemployed

Posted on 28 April 2010 by Katelyn Ferral

Recent graduates will soon have another weapon in their arsenal of social media networking tools—T-shirts. Hire Me Tee, Inc offers self branding apparel in the form of long and short sleeve shirts for men and women to advertise a technical skill, recent degree, religious background and even ethnicity to a potential employer.

Photo courtesy of Hire me Tee, and Andrej Bula

Photo courtesy of Hire me Tee, and Andrej Bula

“It’s essentially a mini-resume meant to facilitate discussion and networking,” said CEO and founder Andrej Bula, who was a recruiter for Fortune 500 Companies for fifteen years before starting Hire Me Tee. Bula said his experience in recruiting has “I know what’s effective and not effective,” he said. “The objective is to help people find jobs through self-branding.”

The company launched in December, 2009, in New Jersey and already Bula said business has exceeded projections. Since the launch, the company has marketing campaign that has kept sales steady.

“I think it’s a novel idea and initially the reaction was that is was not something that was embraced initially it took them a few months to adjust According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking, a fact Hire Me Tee notes in the marketing of its product as a “quasi walking billboard, promoting ones self to the public, and allowing for networking in a friendly, fun, and relaxed manner.”

Bula said the challenging economic climate makes apparel an During this difficult employment climate, I believe it is important that Marquette students be aware of this ‘out of the box’ method of meeting new contacts, networking, and expanding their client base. Job seekers are often recognized and rewarded with this type of creativity; ultimately, a Hire Me(trademark) t-shirt may lead to an employment opportunity through a method that is friendly and fun.

Apparel that promotes a job seeker’s alma mater is in the works for Hire Me Tee in addition to shirts that meant to connect college alumni each other.

“Schools are a huge drawing factor of how people are attracted to other people for positions,” he said. “They’re building a market brand in a marketplace in the form of a commonality like Marquette University.”

Shirts can be purchased online at and range in price from $21.95 for the T-shirts to $33.95 for sweatshirts

by Katelyn Ferral
[email protected]

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Wisconsin Nullification Month: states’ rights are still critical for democracy

Posted on 28 April 2010 by Andrew Marshall

The Civil War and the national stain of slavery continue to influence public life in the United States 145 years after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House ended the war and the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. When Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell declared April to be Confederate History Month in his state, he received heavy criticism, especially for not including any mention of slavery in his proclamation. McDonnell initially told the media that he had not addressed slavery because slavery was not a “significant” issue for Virginia in the war, a point that many people including the descendants of the half million Virginian slaves counted in the 1860 census surely disagreed with. McDonnell later amended his proclamation to address slavery, calling it “an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights,” as he should have done from the start.

No doubt the history of the Civil War and the Confederacy has an important place in American society, and study of this brutal war and both its causes and effects should be encouraged, although I am always skeptical about official government proclamations telling us what parts of history we should commemorate. Despite all the arguments about states’ rights, slavery cannot be extracted from the story of the Civil War for scholars to somehow analyze it without considering the role of the South’s slave economy and race relations.

Because of the Civil War and the Confederacy’s slavery, we have been taught not only to rightfully denounce the evils of holding another human as property but also to reject as inherently racist and bigoted the political means used by Southern politicians to defend their economic system from national government interference. Nullification refers to the right of states to reject and ignore unconstitutional federal laws. Secession refers the right to withdraw from a political entity, and specifically the state’s right to withdraw from the Union. Both “rights” have unsurprisingly not been recognized by the federal government, but neither presupposes a racist objective. They are merely means to an end, and what that end happens to be matters.

Tragically, because of our history, rhetoric about states’ rights and secession, nullification evokes images of slave owners, lynchings, and the 1960s screaming white mobs and police opposing equality for blacks. States’ rights concepts served as a shield for many racists who simply wanted to maintain their privileged positions in society, both in the decades leading up to the Civil War and during the civil rights movement. Yet states’ rights have a rich history in America long obscured by their use to defend slavery and discrimination. To accept that secession and nullification are never valid options means that, short of revolution, we must seek change through the federal legal and electoral processes while our local and state governments participate in enforcing an unjust law. When the federal government passes laws which not only seem disagreeable but also unconstitutional and in extreme violation of human rights, the state governments should stand against these injustices.

The Founding Fathers knew the dangers of unjust, central authority, which is why the United States essentially came into being through the secession of the legally constituted British colonies. Later, the ruling Federalist Party passed the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which expanded the federal government’s power to suppress criticism and deport dissenting non-citizens. Both Virginia and Kentucky passed resolutions, written by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson respectively, which declared that Constitution did not give Congress the authority to pass such law and that the states had a duty to reject the laws. During the War of 1812 which devastated the New England economy, delegations from the five New England states attended a convention in Hartford, Connecticut, and seriously discussed secession. In both cases, opposing the violation of civil rights by the Alien and Sedition Acts and opposing war, racism had nothing to do with states’ rights.

However, an even more powerful example of states’ rights took place right here in Wisconsin and in direct opposition to the forces of slavery. The national Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required all law enforcement personnel to assist in efforts to recapture escaped slaves even if now residing in free states, instituted harsh punishments for anyone aiding runaway slaves, and gave accused runaway slaves no right to trial. In 1854, federal marshals apprehended runaway slave Joshua Glover in Racine and imprisoned him in Milwaukee. Before they could transport him back to Missouri , Sherman Booth and other brave Wisconsinites sprung Glover from jail and helped him escape to Canada, an event commemorated by the historical marker in Cathedral Square Park. Booth was later arrested, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared the Fugitive Slave Law unconstitutional in Ableman vs. Booth on July 19, 1854, affirming an earlier decision releasing Booth.

So, instead of criticizing Governor McDonnell, let us do something constructive to remember our own history of using states’ rights for good. Join me in celebrating this July as Wisconsin Nullification Month and honoring this heroic use of nullification against slavery and oppression. We are blessed to attend college in a state that stood up to the federal government in defense of freedom, and it is time for us to say so.

by Andrew Marshall
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Ron Paul is not the only libertarian New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson hits the political scene

Posted on 10 March 2010 by Andrew Marshall

As much as anything else, strong personalities drive contemporary American politics and the accompanying 24-hour news cycle. The compelling life stories of both Barack Obama and John McCain helped them package their messages and win their parties’ presidential nominations, and certainly President Obama’s charisma and personal mannerisms contributed to his triumph in the general election. Other political figures such as Sarah Palin, Al Franken, Dick Cheney, and Jesse Jackson owe much of their support and notoriety to their styles of campaigning and speaking. Political ideas without compelling advocates tend to go nowhere, and this especially holds true for ideas and philosophies which fall between the cracks of our limiting two-party system. The media elites and intelligentsia, as well as the greater public, also dismiss as crazy those causes which are associated exclusively with a single offbeat public figure.

Following his 2008 libertarian campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, one of the few politicians I support on most issues, has used his newfound celebrity to promote a number of causes, including his signature battle against the powerful Federal Reserve system. In light of the financial crisis, his ideas, particularly his push for a transparent and full audit of the Fed, have now gained significantly more grassroots and congressional support than in previous years. However, to the media, Ron Paul and libertarianism have become one and the same phenomenon. Even as Paul’s celebrity forces the media to mention libertarianism as an alternative to liberalism and conservatism, their unfair portrayal of Dr. Paul as a conspiracy theorist, a racist, and a crazy, cranky old man allows them to quickly dismiss his ideas and the diverse and much broader libertarian movement.

Liberals and conservatives have dozens of articulate and popular spokespersons with national profiles, who each appeal to different demographic and cultural groups within the American public. Libertarians like myself seem to have only Dr. Paul, who has done an amazing job in terms of securing media appearances and communicating a consistent message that makes his opponents in both parties look like hypocrites. America would be a better place if more political alternatives were discussed in the public arena, and libertarianism will only be able to challenge the more established philosophies if the public can recognize more than one public figure as a libertarian.

Fortunately for the sake of political diversity, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson has formed a new non-profit, the Our America Initiative, to create a national platform for advocating libertarian approaches to public policy. Like Dr. Paul, Johnson represents the small and long ignored libertarian wing of the Republican Party. However, Johnson has the potential to reach Americans who are turned off by Dr. Paul’s economics lectures that I love so dearly. For starters, the former governor has eight years of executive experience with a record of making New Mexico’s government smaller and more efficient. He also benefits from being more than twenty years younger than the good doctor and having spent most of his life in the private sector building up his construction business. Most importantly, he climbed Mount Everest with a broken leg.

I had a chance to hear Governor Johnson speak at a conference recently, and he has an understated, calm, and straightforward approach which will help advocate for libertarian issues nationally. Johnson agrees with Dr. Paul on most issues and endorsed him in the 2008 race, but the governor communicates these ideas in a fresh way. He also appeals more to liberals and others wary who might view libertarianism as a right-wing reactionary cult. For example, he was the only sitting Republican governor in 2000 not to endorse George W. Bush for president, and he remains the highest ranking government official in American history to call for an end to the racist, unsuccessful, and costly “war on drugs.” Unlike Dr. Paul, Johnson also supports increased legal immigration rather than focusing on harsher border enforcement.

The American libertarian movement draws on multiple and occasionally even contradictory philosophical, cultural, and political traditions. While Dr. Paul has greatly swelled the ranks of political active libertarians and created new organizations to channel our energy, he still represents only part of the larger movement. Johnson’s return to the American political arena for the first time since he was term-limited out of office in 2003 will give the public another figure to associate with the ideas of liberty, one who cannot be so easily ignored.

Of course, part of the problem libertarianism faces will not be solved by having more nationally known libertarian figures, and that is that many people, probably including some reading this column, do not fully understand what the philosophy is all about. Johnson’s communication style will also help here, as he gave the simplest and most effective summary of libertarian beliefs I have yet heard: “I want to empower you to do your thing.” I only hope that we can hear that message from more and more new voices in the coming years.

by Andrew Marshall
[email protected]

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Analysis: the need for political savviness post-Marquette

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Wade Balkonis

Today one turns on the news whether it be on CNN, Fox or MSNBC and find themselves bombarded with loud-mouthed people talking about potential bridges to nowhere, healthcare reforms, taxes, education, political scandals, employment, spending freezes and spending increases. All equally deserving of the American public’s attention, right? But has one ever stopped to consider why?

The fact of the matter is most people do not really care to look into things waiting to be moved along in that mess known as the “journey of a bill.” They just let it sit on Capitol Hill, making School House Rock videos, until it is suddenly and sporadically shot to the floor of the House where it is voted on by a congress comprised of 535 elected people. And we the constituents do not bat an eyelash. That is until we suddenly realize we are all wearing pink suits because our politicians passed the hypothetical equal appearance act with the intent to help eliminate racial profiling. And what do you and I do at that point? We complain and ask, “how could we have let this happened?”

In all reality it is partially us the constituents’ fault. Perhaps you were one of the few people in the United States that was not energized by the 2008 election, and now sit in your political science classes counting the number of kids around you sleeping and then twittering about it. That does not change the fact that every decision made up on Capitol Hill will affect you, either directly with things like tuition subsides, or indirectly through things such as new taxes. You might be saying to yourself,
“I’m just a simple college student at this very moment, so why worry about all that political crap?”

Well there is a simple answer to that. Unless you are Van Wilder and plan on attending Marquette for the rest of your life, you are training for the real world. A world that will tax you more, a world you will have a greater influence on, and one that you must safeguard for future generations. The point being, whether Democrat or Republican, Independent or Moderate (a.k.a too scared to have an opinion) the world will soon be in your hands. And in the United States we are blessed with the opportunity to have a direct impact on those who we elect to make decisions for us.

So next time you turn on the news do not be so quick to flip the channel because Bill O’Reilly or Anderson Cooper is talking politics. Take two minutes, even make it a study break, and just listen. Hear what’s going on in our country. Or rather your country. If you do not like what is happening, call up your representative and tell them, it’s their job to vote for the America you want to inherit. So that way, when we walk across that stage and Father Wild hands off that piece of paper that unlocks our future, and grants us safer passage through our countries ups and downs, we will personally know we did our best to make this country something we can be proud of.

by Wade Balkonis
[email protected]

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Jobs Bill is a weak attempt to create employment opportunities

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Warrior Staff

The new bipartisan Jobs Bill backed by Senators Baucus (D- Mont) and Grassley (R-IOWA) is a weak attempt at creating an incentive for firms to start hiring again. The fact of the matter is that the majority of jobs that have been lost in the past two years is due to the United States no longer being competitive in some industries. The majority of lost jobs are in manufacturing and in low to unskilled labor. We have been undercut in labor costs by many countries in Latin America and China, the most infamous of supplier of cheap labor. The bulk of the jobs bill instills incentives for businesses to start hiring by offering tax breaks when one hires an unemployed worker and to buy new equipment.

Theoretically, this sounds absolutely fantastic. However, those workers that have lost their jobs have no industry to return to because it is not viable anymore. Simply put, manufacturing in low-technology industries is dead in the United States. This means that this bill will not help people back into jobs because those businesses that could have hired them are either bought out by other larger companies or those businesses are not there anymore. It’s wonderful to create an incentive for an industry that is no longer viable, right? The real kicker is that House Democrats are essentially pushing Republicans to vote for this “bipartisan jobs bill” based on the fact that it is loaded with tax cuts advocated for by Republicans. This bill doesn’t make sense when the real problem is that the United States is losing the industries that it seeks to help in this bill. For example, giving GM a tax cut for hiring unemployed workers is not going to help GM become a viable company in the future if it does not address the problems that prohibit GM from becoming competitive today. GM must be able to compete against a company like Toyota that produces the same quality cars at a lower price. Those problems need to be addressed before any hiring can occur. This bill ultimately creates a broader victory plan for a war in the global economy without setting the initial, smaller and more intricate battles that can win this war.

Therefore, the Democrats win in the public arena by publicizing that they came up with a bipartisan jobs bill that the Republicans will most likely shoot down because of the sheer ineffectiveness of the bill when logically argued. A jobs bill that is almost useless (some moderate to high tech industry will benefit from this bill,) should not be used by Democrats to make the Republicans a scapegoat for the United States jobs situation. The bill is simply not responsive to present day economic realities in the US.Party politics aside, what can be done to renew hiring in the labor market? The United States needs to have an upper hand in the industries that in which it succeeds and the ability to export while the dollar is weak. While the influx of money comes back into American hands from these exports, smart investments into our education and economy need to be made. More efficient means of production are necessary and that cannot happen without a higher education standard. While our competition, China for example, continues to exploit their low skill labor force that can only stay viable for so long, the United States can be moving onto the next step and furthering the machinery that both effectively creates the goods bought from the low cost labor and also creating new industry.

There has been no bill passed by Congress that helps to stimulate new industry. Obviously,renewable resources are the newest industry that looks to be promising, but it requires a higher education standard. While advocating environmental technology simply for the sake of being green makes little economic sense, when such industries promise to stimulate the economy, investments in them make good sense. The renewable resources industry is in its infancy, just as the computer industry was in the late 1970s and early 1980s when many said it would not work. The most competitive arena of industry are those that seek to lower costs and maintain efficiency. It seems completely ridiculous that no Congressperson can step up and actually create an intelligent and stimulating jobs bill. Instead Congress has created a bill that just uses party politics to pit opposing sides against each other like small children on a kindergarten playground.

by Natalia Antas
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Bring on the gridlock, Sen. Brown

Posted on 03 February 2010 by Andrew Marshall

When Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown takes office later this month, he will give his party back the crucial forty-first senator needed to block any unwanted votes on legislation. His victory in the Massachusetts special election finally hands the Republican congressional minority a real voice in the legislative process for the first time since Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania defected to the Democrats last April. Even President Obama acknowledged the Republicans’ new power in his State of the Union address last week, telling the opposition that if they “insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well.”

Yet the president’s challenge to Republican leadership meant next to nothing in terms of actually generating bipartisan support for his partisan policies. Instead, he sought to launch a preemptive strike in the blame game already playing out to decide whom voters ultimately will hold responsible for Congress’s record in the November elections. With the near-universal healthcare plan, the cap-and-trade legislation aimed at fighting global warming, and other key initiatives now facing likely failure or at least significant reduction in scope, Democrats hope to blame Republicans for the lack of major legislation this year.

With all due respect, however, I believe President Obama has it all wrong. Rather than blaming Scott Brown and the Republicans for gridlock, we ought to thank them for at least temporarily slowing the political sausage-making machine. Regardless of Obamacare’s propriety, its legislative history has been embarrassing. From the Democratic negotiations with healthcare corporations hoping to making even more profit by getting in on the deal to the special treatment included for Louisiana and Nebraska to secure the votes of Senators Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson, respectively, the appearance of corruption and insider deals marked every step in Obamacare’s progression from lofty campaign promise to the House and Senate bills. As for the president’s audacious campaign pledge to open healthcare negotiations up to the public, or at least the political junkies, by broadcasting the sessions on C-SPAN, the Democratic leaders now seem to believe that industry and union lobbyists and Democratic politicians represent our interests, so the people apparently don’t need to actually see the great ones at work.

Besides angering conservatives and many independents, the Democrats also disgusted and disappointed some genuine progressives, who watched their priorities, such as a separate floor vote on universal healthcare and a meaningful public option to compete with the corporate health plans, die in the negotiations. The corporations and Democratic political insiders, along with the Democratic leadership itself, have thus far succeeded in manipulating and defeating the people power movement of hope which gave the Democrats the presidency and the largest congressional majorities in decades. Likewise, the “Tea Party” movement, itself an angrier version of people power, may well sweep the Republicans into Congress this fall only to discover just how quickly the Republican power players manage to crush their anti-government dreams.

The healthcare reform process reveals the structural weaknesses of representative democracy, which remains what British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill called “the worst form of government except for all those other forms.” The voters arguably hold their representatives accountable in elections, but congresspersons rarely face serious reelection competition and can use their connections to raise significant amounts of money to fight off any legitimate challengers who emerge. Whether “conservative” George W. Bush or “liberal” Barack H. Obama sits in the Oval Office, and whether a Republican or Democrat holds the House Speaker’s gavel, the political realities remain the same. Most voters don’t have the time or interest to effectively organize, while the bureaucrats of Big Government and the lobbyists of Big Business and Big Labor have a much easier time making their voices heard. This fundamental collective action problem undermines democracy’s ability to represent the people and maintain limits on government power.

With the State’s machinery gridlocked through the 2012 elections, perhaps we can actually voluntarily work together to address our problems. President Obama and many of his Republican opponents operate on the simple premise, usually left unstated, that only the government can address major problems such as healthcare and so, despite the problems with special interests, we should rely on the government to fix healthcare, banking, the BCS, and anything other industries or activities important to us. By channeling our aspirations through the State’s system of control, we lose hope in our ability to meaningfully and concretely act on the status quo through our own consumption choices, boycotts, and voluntary organizations. The combination of political gridlock and voluntary action will not magically solve our problems, but it has to be better than waiting on our political would-be messiahs.

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Single payer healthcare: Socialism for the whole family

Posted on 09 December 2009 by Jonathan Stepp

Throughout the current debate regarding the ways in which the healthcare system should be fixed, one option is almost always left out: single payer health care. In this system, the government would pay for the healthcare of its citizens, and thereby grant all citizens equal access to healthcare. Taxes would be used to pay for this system, and while many balk at the thought of giving the government more money, it would be done in the best interest of all citizens.

The first argument that many level against this is that it is a socialist plot to ruin America, much like how fluoridating the water system has destroyed our precious bodily fluids. While it is true that single payer health are does socialize the healthcare industry, decrying it as a socialist plot is both unfounded and illogical. If one applies the logic of those who oppose government run healthcare to other service industries in the U.S., one would have to oppose fire departments, the police, public schools, public libraries, and the department of public works. Only the most extreme capitalist libertarians call for the privatization of these public services, and as such, the common argument leveled against public healthcare, i.e. that it is evil, applies to the services which we consider essential to any functioning society. Healthcare is no less essential to a properly running society than public schools are. People in the U.S. have no less of a right to have their crimes solved, than do they to be taken care of in case of ill health.

Another argument which many, particularly politically conservative Christians, level against the idea of single payer healthcare is that it is somehow antithetical to Christianity. This argument is in and of itself an absurdity. As Pope John XXIII stated in section 11 of his encyclical Pacem in Terris:

“He [man] has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of illhealth; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood.”

A third argument which is leveled against the single payer system is that government inefficiency will lead to massive lines and people being unable to received treatment for non-life threatening issues. The problem with this argument is that it is based upon the false assumption that one is able to quickly receive treatment under the current system. This is of course an absurdity. Few if any people go to an emergency room or a doctor’s office without waiting in line. Only those with the ability to afford treatment have the luxury to complain about waiting in line. The millions without insurance, or who lack sufficient coverage, are not able to wait for treatment, since they are rarely, if ever, treated. Under a single payer system they would be treated, and would have life threatening conditions taken care of. To those who still complain about waiting in lines I ask this question: Is your comfort and convenience more important than the life of another person?

As one can see, the most common arguments against government run healthcare fail due to lack of a solid logical grounding. The merits of the system, however, have yet to be fully analyzed, and as such I will proceed to do that to show it is preferable to the current system in the U.S. One of the most obvious advantages of this system is that profit will not be a motivating factor for the actions of the insurer. In the current, for profit, system, private insurance corporations provide a service to consumers, in which in exchange for monthly payments, they will pay for the medical costs of certain covered procedures, and at doctors who accept the insurance offered by these corporations. As a result the corporations earn their profits when they receive more money from their customers than they pay for the medical needs of those who they insure. In order to maximize their potential profits these companies find ways to deny coverage to those who pay for their insurance. In some cases they will simply claim that the individual had a pre-existing condition which the individual had not previously mentioned, and as such the company does not have to cover that person. Some companies, however, arbitrarily terminate coverage in order to avoid paying for costly procedures, thereby harming the consumer who relies upon this insurance to pay for care. The lack of this profit motive would eliminate the reason for the denial of coverage for many Americans.

Many people claim that the coverage which would be provided under a single payer system would be below that of the current U.S. healthcare system. When one looks to a number of statistics, it is clear this is not the case. For example, according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 6.7, whereas it is 2.5 in Sweden, 3.8 in Germany, and 5.0 in the UK. In addition, according to the OECD, the life expectancy is 78.1 in the U.S., 80.8 in Sweden, 79.8 in Germany, and 79.5 in the UK. One can see the discrepancy between the U.S. and the other countries, all of whom have some form of guaranteed healthcare for all citizens. By granting healthcare to all people living in the U.S. we will no longer lag behind the rest of the first world in terms of quality of life. Another gap between the rich and the poor will be closed, allowing for everyone in the U.S. to truly be able to live their lives to the fullest. We in America need to remember our duty to our fellow man and embrace the concept of single payer healthcare.

by Jonathan Stepp
[email protected]

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