In the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court ruled that race could play a role in admissions policies of universities that receive federal money (even if only in the form of aid to students). This “positive discrimination”, known as affirmative action, attempts to compensate for historical racial discrimination by giving minority applicants a “leg up”. But these policies are currently being challenged by a case before the Supreme Court, Fisher v. University of Texas. This new case asks that the Court overrule Grutter, which would end government-imposed affirmative action at American universities.
Affirmative action is a form of racism. These policies, intended to benefit minority students in the United States, only feed into the same racist machine that they are supposed to counteract. Well-intentioned affirmative action measures are inherently racist by giving benefits based on skin color, not merit. Such policies are divisive rather than uniting, and lead to perpetual victimhood. Affirmative action was needed in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but now these policies unnecessarily treat today’s minorities as victims.
If a college wishes to promote diversity on its campus through affirmative action policies, fine. Private organizations and companies (including colleges) should have the freedom to adopt whatever admissions policies they want. Racial, sexual orientation, and religious diversity only enriches the educational experience on campus. But government-forced “positive discrimination” is racist and counterproductive.
Affirmative action often hurts its beneficiaries more than it helps, by placing minority students in programs above their abilities. Scholars euphemistically coined the term “mismatch” to refer to this outcome. Mismatch suggests that students who get into a top school with the help of affirmative action would be better served attending a less competitive school, where they could gain admission through their own merit and achievements. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who admits to benefitting from affirmative action himself, saw firsthand how racially-based admittance policies negatively impacted black students. He said, “I watched the operation of such affirmative action policies when I was in college, and I watched the destruction of many kids as a result.”
According to Thomas J. Espenshade, a Princeton University sociology professor, a black student with a virtually identical application to a white student receives the equivalent of a 310-point bump in SAT scores. This generous advantage potentially hurts the black student by placing him in a program where he is more likely to struggle or fail out. It is therefore no surprise that significantly fewer minorities end up graduating than whites. This stands true at private colleges, but the problem is especially pronounced at public universities. At the University of Wisconsin, for example, 81 percent of white students graduated compared to only 56 percent of blacks.
Placing minorities into programs they are not qualified for may be a contributing factor to their high unemployment rate. The black jobless rate, for example, is about twice that of whites. A student who struggles in an academic program that he is not qualified for is less likely to succeed in the job market. For instance, an unprepared student who is placed in a rigorous engineering program may retain less of the essential knowledge to be successful in that field.
Does the mismatch theory suggest that minority students should be prevented from attending elite universities? Absolutely not. Rather, it asserts that students of any race (minority or not) do not necessarily benefit from attending a top school if they are not academically on par with their peers.
There is also unspoken resentment among some in the white community who may assume that minority students were accepted because of affirmative action policies, not merit. Eliminating these policies would dispel such racist assumptions.
There are undoubtedly countless bright, promising minority students across the country who would be assets to elite universities. To argue that minority students need a “leg up” to gain admission is offensive, and suggests that these young people cannot succeed on their own. Fisher v. University of Texas may result in the elimination of government-imposed affirmative action in universities altogether. This would be a significant step towards a truly equal society, where individuals are judged on merit, not race. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
This article was originally written for The College Conservative.
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Boston bomber suspect Tamerian Tsarnaev exemplifies how out-of-control welfare programs have become. Tsarnaev, a man perfectly capable of working, received more than $100,000 in welfare since 2002. These benefits included cash, food stamps, and Section 8 housing. The bombing suspect continued to collect his government goodies, even as his anti-American hatred grew.
The exorbitant handouts given to Tsarnaev warrant a reassessment of the efficiency and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of our welfare programs.
Last year $1.028 trillion tax dollars were spent on the “needy” in the form of welfare, making it the US government’s largest budget item. Despite the enormous cost of welfare programs, most liberals vehemently defend them. They say these are essential programs, and that cutting or downsizing them would be inhumane. But when over 50% of Americans count on federal handouts, it is hard to deny that welfare has become out-of-control. Clearly, it is no longer just the needy who are receiving well-intentioned government handouts.
It is far too easy to receive benefits. While rules are in place to ensure only the needy receive welfare, the bureaucrats distributing the largess often do not verify eligibility. The so-called “Obama Phone” program, for example, cost taxpayers over $2 billion in 2012- and according to The Wall Street Journal, nearly half of the 6 million people who received the government-funded cell phones were ineligible.
The Agricultural Department’s food stamp program is another example of federal welfare gone mad. It is absurdly easy to receive a loaded EBT card. In many states, recipients are not asked to show a birth certificate, thereby allowing millions of illegal aliens to collect benefits. The government even puts ads on the radio encouraging people to apply for food stamps! The ads, of course, are also paid for with taxpayer money. Is it any wonder that one in seven Americans receive food stamps? In 2010, Obama lifted the work requirement to receive these benefits. Where is the motivation to work when you do not have to?
Many Americans will be shocked to learn that our government spends money promoting the food stamp program in Mexico. Yes, you read that correctly… The USDA and the government of Mexico have entered into a partnership to educate Mexican nationals living in the United States (many illegally) about the food stamp program. Mexico has agreed to disseminate this information through its various consular offices. Unbelievable.
Many government welfare programs have few, if any, time limits or work restrictions. There is no time limit on the Section 8 housing program, for instance, which gives recipients rent money. The government hands out up to $2,000 per month for rent, and many collect this subsidy for their entire lives. Tamerian Tsarnaev was on Section 8 for over ten years. There is no work requirement to receive the subsidy. In fact, if a recipient gets a job and makes over a certain amount, the benefit is taken away. Where is the incentive to succeed?
The larger issue is not the waste in any one program, but the absurd, excessive spending, inefficiency, and fraud inherent in all these programs. There are Americans who genuinely need welfare. To serve the truly needy and weed out abusers, each recipient should be means tested annually. The current welfare system provided over $100,000 of cash and subsidies to the Boston bomber while he plotted to reign terror on the citizens of Boston. He was collecting welfare right up until his death.
Welfare recipients are simply being Darwinian and self-serving, by taking available resources being offered to them. The government willingly provides all of their essential needs (housing, food, phone, fuel). The way Mr. Tsarnaev saw it, why get a job and hustle when American taxpayers would pay him to stay home and test his newest pressure cooker bomb?
This article was originally written for Turning Point USA.
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The United States is almost $17 trillion in debt, entitlement spending is completely out of control, and North Korea has made multiple threats to our national security. But these critical issues are rarely discussed by our youngest voters, who have been busy arguing, posting, and blogging about gay marriage.
The Supreme Court is discussing Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, so it is no surprise that the issue has the spotlight. According to an article on slate.com, 2.7 million people recently changed their Facebook profile picture to a red equal sign, showing support for gay marriage. The highest rate of participation was among young people, who made their overwhelming support for same-sex marriage clear.
College students love to debate hot-button social issues like gay marriage, abortion, and drug legalization. But debates about social agendas have been taking precedence over other critical issues, which get little attention from young voters. Ask them about the crisis in Benghazi, the economic implications of budget sequestration, or the coming entitlement tsunami that will bankrupt the country, and they often have little to offer of substance.
I personally counted over 40 red equal signs on my Facebook newsfeed last week in addition to dozens of statuses regarding gay marriage. But I probably only see one or two posts per month about other political, non-social issues.
When an enormous percentage of my Facebook friends are passionately promoting marriage equality, but never comment on other vital political issues, it shows a disjointed priority list. It makes me wonder if young people are ignorant to what is happening in our country, or if they just do not care.
I asked several Emerson friends why social issues are so important to them. One explained, “We’re more passionate about gay marriage than the debt because it’s just easier to understand and get behind. We all have friends who are gay, and changing my picture on Facebook was just an easy way to show support.”
Another student told me, “I don’t want to think about the debt. That’s all gloom and doom. I like supporting gay marriage because it is more positive. I’d rather show support for an important cause than just complain about government spending on my Facebook.”
They make good points. Supporting gay marriage makes us feel good. We all know friends and faces behind the issue. It doesn’t require much effort to comprehend marriage equality and to give a feel-good opinion. We can then all smile and revel in our self-righteousness.
But sequestration? Yawn… Budget debates? Meh… That’s too complicated to think about, and after all it’s almost happy hour at Sweetwater.
This blissful ignorance worries me. If Washington’s out of control spending continues, our national debt is projected to be over $20 trillion when Obama leaves office in 2016. Young people will carry the burden of this debt for decades to come.
Many of my peers worry about their own student debt, but do not express concern over the ever-growing federal deficit. These graduates are in for a rude awakening when they start paying taxes (assuming they can find a job). If we paid off the $17 trillion debt today, every man, woman, and child would owe more than $50,000. And this statistic is misleading because children do not pay taxes, nor do the poor.
And if another major war breaks out, it could profoundly affect us all. North Korea, an ardent foe of the United States, is believed to have nuclear weapon capabilities. It could soon have the technology to launch and detonate a bomb on an American territory like Guam.
Monetary policy and national security threats may be boring and depressing to discuss, but these issues are important to understand. Instead of simply showing an interest in causes with an easy Facebook picture, students should engage in debates about many problems facing this country (both social and fiscal) and how positive changes can be made.
This article was originally written for The Berkeley Beacon.
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On Monday, a horrific tragedy happened in my city. Multiple bombs exploded in Boston, killing two people and leaving at least 110 injured. The two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, leaving a truly gruesome scene in their wake. Hundreds of shocked competitors and spectators fled the heinous aftermath in panic. Many of the victims were covered in blood, and others lost limbs.
A day that should have been full of fun was instead fraught with dread and pain.
But Boston is a strong city, full of tough people. They will help the victims whose lives have been forever changed. They will mourn together. They will heal together.
And then the politicians will act. New “proposed legislation” will be pitched from different levels of government. We will probably hear predictable speeches in the coming days that sound something like this:
“We cannot just passively grieve, and hope that something like this does not happen again. Something must be done, so that the tragedy in Boston never repeats itself. Government has the responsibility to step in and make the difference that it can, to secure the safety of this nation.”
All the well-intentioned laws in the world could never prevent every tragedy. But politicians will predictably push for new security measures, because doing something seems better than doing nothing. When does more government security become too much? There are already government video cameras watching us on practically every street corner.
Excessive security would only make the lives of law-abiding citizens less free.
Imagine a society where public officials can randomly search your personal bags at any time; where the government requires your name, address, and medical records when you buy a gun to protect your family; where public officials can record your car’s license plate at every traffic intersection and highway.
It is already happening.
Today, speeding drivers are automatically mailed tickets after being filmed by mounted municipal cameras throughout the cities.
We are required to remove our shoes before we get on a plane due to the actions of a failed terrorist, Richard Reid (AKA the “Shoe Bomber”).
Little old ladies in wheelchairs and toddlers are having their privacy eroded with invasive frisks at airports.
Where does it all end? Do we really want to live in an Orwellian society where government knows everything about us? Would this really make us free?
Terrorist attacks like the one in Boston are impossible to prevent 100 percent of the time. Terrorism prevention does not lie in new, silly government procedures. Instead, the United States must throw off the shackles of politically correct protocols, and have the ability to rationally profile potential terrorists. The Israelis have developed a remarkably successful profiling procedure focusing on behaviors, not race. But our TSA agents follow goofy rules intended to not offend anyone. These procedures may result in every seventh passenger being patted down, whether it be a boy scout from Wisconsin or an elderly senior citizen wearing adult diapers.
Security also means strictly enforcing our existing border laws rather than just paying it lip service every election year.
Despite the attacks on Beantown yesterday, we still live in a remarkable city. This week is a time for mourning and reflection. But as we recover, let’s hope our sanctimonious politicians do not further erode our freedom with new, well-intentioned, ineffective laws.
This article was originally written for The College Conservative.
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Now to the point. Prostitution should be legalized.
The principle of sex for money is horrifying to many (yet strangely fascinating). But why should something that is completely consensual, and done in private, be banned? However vile prostitutes’ activities may be, their dirty deeds are not directly affecting anyone who chooses not to be involved (except maybe the hotel maid the following morning). But as usual, Washington bureaucrats feel the need to get in people’s private business by banning consensual sex for money.
Why does it matter what people do in the privacy of their homes, if others are not affected? Heck, I don’t care if you dress up as a Teletubby and eat dog feces in your bedroom; just don’t ask me to come over and hold the camera.
Prohibition never works. For instance, alcohol consumption increased sharply during Prohibition in the 1920s. Other effects of this ban: alcohol became more dangerous to consume, crime increased, and prisons became very overcrowded. When something is banned, its use rarely decreases significantly, and a black market is always created.
Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol, and it doesn’t work with prostitution.
The laws banning prostitution are well intended. Would you want your daughter being a sex worker? Your sister? Of course not. But the unintended consequences of these laws are worse than the problems they attempt to solve. Prostitutes currently must operate in the shadows of society, which places them in jeopardy. Anonymity allows dangerous Johns to abuse the women (remember the Craigslist killer?), often with no consequences. Bringing both the prostitute and the John out of the dark reduces the likelihood of dangerous clients. Another benefit of transparency: prostitutes could advertise their services freely, eliminating the pimp from the equation. And just think how adorable those new billboards would be!
Prostitution legalization would also reduce the risk of STD transmission if the state mandated disease exams for sex workers. As it stands now, prostitutes with STDs, who may not even be aware that they are infected, can spread disease rapidly and repeatedly.
Most people are opposed to prostitution legalization because they think it is immoral. This is understandable, but just because something is immoral does not mean it should be illegal (with the possible exception of renewing Keeping up with the Kardashians for another season). Cruelty is immoral, but we can’t pass laws outlawing every cruel behavior. We simply cannot ban everything we don’t like.
But what is morally wrong with a consensual woman of age using her body to make money? Strip clubs are everywhere, and they allow women to make a living exploiting their own bodies. And porn stars make a good living having sex for money- and we’re okay with that because there is a camera in the room. The hypocrisy is laughable.
In Amsterdam, prostitution has been recognized as a legal profession since 1988. Despite prostitution legalization, the violent crime rate in Amsterdam is far lower than that of New York City. The Dutch believe that regulating the sex industry helps reduce human trafficking, forced prostitution, and exploitation of children. Dutch prostitutes pay taxes on their income, and get tested for STDs regularly. The city of Amsterdam has been so pleased with the system that in 2007, a bronze statue memorializing “working women” was erected (pun intended).
In the US, Nevada is the only state that allows regulated brothels. Moonlite BunnyRanch in Mound House, NV, is one of the legal brothels in the state. So far, it has been a tremendous success. The women who work there may set their own wages transparently, and are regularly checked for STDs. HBO has even turned the BunnyRanch into a popular reality show (thanks for sharing that pearl with me, Dad). Most of the female workers say they love their job, and wouldn’t want to do anything else. On a side note, I wonder if they’re given a mandatory retirement age. If not, the situation could get really ugly at the BunnyRanch.
Does anyone truly believe that outlawing the oldest profession in the world makes it less prevalent? I tried to contact former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and New Jersey congressmen Bob Menendez for their thoughts. When my phone doesn’t ring, I know it’s them.
Prostitution legalization would not ruin our culture. It would only make the sex industry, and society as a whole, safer and more transparent.
Thanks for reading. Leave your appalled comments in the space below! And please, keep them gentle- my mom reads this.
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Since the Sandy Hook shootings, we frequently hear that we need more and stricter gun legislation. Emerson’s President M. Lee Pelton penned a letter to President Obama asking that “urgent attention be paid to developing measures that would have the effect of curtailing easy access to assault weapons,” Surely, stricter gun laws will help to lower gun violence in America. Right?
The incident in Connecticut was devastating, of course, but stricter gun laws are not the magic solution to preventing future tragedies. Emotion must be put aside to objectively assess the effectiveness of strict gun laws. The data overwhelmingly demonstrates that stricter gun control does not yield lower crime.
If gun control were effective, Chicago would be the safest city in the country. Prior to 2013, Illinois was the only state where carrying a concealed weapon was illegal. In December, federal judges struck down the ban, ruling it unconstitutional. But now Illinois lawmakers are working to pass other gun regulations, like an assault weapons ban. Despite a history of strict gun policies, Chicago is one of the nation’s most violent and deadly cities. In 2012, there were over 500 gun-related deaths in Chicago. That is up over 10 percent from the rate in 2005. Gun control is clearly not working in the Windy City.
Houston is similar to Chicago in socioeconomic factors like population, density, and racial segregation. Both cities are plagued with drugs and human trafficking. Chicago and Houston are America’s third and fourth most populous cities, respectively, each with between 2 and 3 million residents. Non-whites make up 50-60 percent of the population in both places, and the poverty levels in each city are almost identical at just under 30 percent. Yet in 2012, there were only 217 murders in Houston — less than half of Chicago’s death toll. A major difference between the two cities: Houston has very few gun laws. Criminals there know that many citizens are well armed for self-protection.
Gun control advocates have good intentions, But good intentions do not always yield positive results. Strict gun laws do not work because they take guns out of the hands of only law-abiding citizens. These civilians are then left with few ways to defend themselves against armed criminals, who do not follow laws. It is absurd to think that banning guns would stop a criminal from possessing them. If that argument worked, no one in America would posses or use illegal drugs. Banning something does not make it go away.
Despite the obvious evidence that goes against their appeals for gun laws, politicians frequently exploit the gun issue to enact more government regulations and control. Many politicians use emotional appeals to push aggressive laws. During his State of the Union address, President Obama used the massacre in Newtown to vehemently demand stricter gun control.
Obama proposed background checks, magazine limits, and banning assault weapons (which he inaccurately refers to as “weapons of war”). “Assault weapons” are defined by cosmetic features only, like folding stocks and barrel shrouds. Assault rifles, on the other hand, are produced for military purposes.
The propositions made by the President would not have prevented the Newtown shootings. Adam Lanza might not have passed a background check, but this is irrelevant since he stole the gun from his mother. A magazine limit would have likely been ineffective as well, since reload time takes a mere 3-5 seconds. Similarly, a ban on semiautomatic rifles would have been a moot point. Connecticut already had such a law, and it did not stop Lanza from gunning down over twenty innocent schoolchildren.
The president’s emotion-based rhetoric uses the Sandy Hook victims to try and convince people to support policies that would not have prevented this event in the first place.
If Obama and other gun control advocates were serious about “protecting our children,” they would discuss public swimming pool safety (drowning is the number one cause of death among young children). Gun related murders are far down on the list of causes of child mortality. Even the National Public Radio, hardly a fan of the National Rifle Association, acknowledges that school violence has decreased considerably in the last two decades. In fact, the violent crime rate in general has dropped significantly over the past 20 years, while firearms sales have risen.
Advocates of gun control need to start thinking with their heads, not just their hearts. Such horrific violence and its causes should be studied intelligently to discover effective solutions. Having an honest discussion about violence in our society is healthy. But enacting new, kneejerk laws after each tragedy is not the answer.
This article was originally written for the The Berkeley Beacon.
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As financial crises around the world contribute to a growing uncertainty about the global economy, many investors and ordinary citizens are turning to an online currency, bitcoin, to protect their funds. And with more than $1 billion now in circulation, this esoteric monetary system has exceeded the values of 20 national currencies.
Despite its increasing value, bitcoin is still relatively unknown. Bitcoins do not exist in physical form, and they are not created or regulated by any government or central authority.
Rather, a computer code manages the digital currency and then distributes new, limited bitcoins to given servers at a scheduled rate. They can then be bought and sold using regular money, including U.S. dollars.
The online currency was introduced in 2009 by a pseudonymous developer named Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto’s true identity has never been revealed, and “he” is thought to be a group of people. Despite its mysterious creation, bitcoin caught on quickly and has since soared in popularity.
The most recent increase in demand for bitcoins can be attributed to what is happening in Cyprus and other European countries, where authorities are threatening to seize money from… (Read the rest of this article at Red Alert Politics.)
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