Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blog Stage Eight

In A Pinch of Blue Living Amongst a Sea of Red's blog,  the author discusses the Democratic Party's 2012 campaign and it's push to decriminalize marijuana.

I'm really glad I came across this blog. It's a relief for me to see that there are people out there who see this side of the argument. Decriminalizing marijuana will without a doubt do good things for Texas. Especially, as you mentioned, it will give the police time to focus on more important issues, and put our tax money to better use. It is ridiculous that American citizens pay 12 billion dollars a year. Can you imagine how many other places that money could be going to? Not to mention the amount of money Texas could make if they found a way to tax it.

It's interesting that polls show that the citizens on Texas are worrying less and less about drugs over the years, because the issue of drug cartels among the border is a growing concern. If people could put two and two together, they'd realize as you said that if marijuana was legalized, the drug cartels would have no reason to smuggle it over the border.

Unfortunately, it is true that the state of Texas as a whole is predominantly conservative-minded, especially when it comes to the topic of drugs. Although I fear Texas will never change it's ways, I still will continue to hope that Texas wakes up to all of these facts about marijuana you've presented.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blog Stage Seven

According to the 2012 Texas Republican Platform- “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” (truth-out)

Am I the only person that read that statement and said, “Wait, what?!”

While some would say that it has always been known that the Republican Party has been against teaching critical thinking in public schools, it is now laid out in black in white in their Republican platform. No arguments there, it’s out and it’s causing plenty of uproar recently in Texas.

The Republican Party doesn’t promote the use of critical thinking in public schools because they don’t want to challenge the rooted beliefs of the students or undermine the parent’s that taught it to them. While this is all fine and dandy, we can’t realistically think that students are going to be able to learn and flourish as INDIVISUALS if we don’t teach them to think for themselves and challenge things they are told in life.

And in a country that’s already falling behind in public education, this pretty much guarantees the loss of any chance we have to compete in a constantly growing complex and technology-driven world. Texas alone doesn’t have a stellar education system as it is.

In an attempt to defend their stance, the Texas GOP says that their platform was not worded accurately and the language used should have been different. Spokesman Chris Elam claims it "was an oversight on the subcommittee's part."

How do you overlook something so outrageous? Was it actually just worded incorrectly and of bad language? Or is this just an excuse they’re pulling to save their own?

Either way, there’s no denying that the Texas Education system already needs help, and this is certainly not the help it needs.

Blog Stage Six

I read an article in Thomas Brown's Texas Government Blog regarding Texas House Bill 588 which grants the top ten percent of every high school's graduating class automatic admittance to Texas public Universities. In the article, Brown argues that the bill is unfair in admitting the top ten percent and doesn't do a good job at benefiting the most deserved Texas students.

I moved to Texas in the middle of my sophomore year, and originally was very pleased to here that the top ten percent of every graduating class would receive automatic entrance to Texas public universities. That was until I soon realized exactly what you have just pointed out. While I myself did not graduate in the top ten percent of my class, I was not expecting to either. My sister on the other hand, stayed up 6 days of the week to crazy hours of the night and dedicated her entire life to her schooling, made a 4.0 and never got below an A in her life yet she did not graduate top ten percent of her class. Granted her graduating class was ginormous. But it is completely unfair that she worked so hard and is not receiving the automatic acceptance that other students graduating from smaller classes are receiving knowing a lot worked half as hard as she did. I agree that there has got to be a better way for Texas to reward it's hard working, top of the line students and it's current House Bill 588 is definitely not the way.

In Georgia, anyone graduating with a 3.0 GPA gets free tuition to any Georgia public university, it's called the Hope Scholarship. While this may seem too easy, the catch is that if at any point in college they drop below that 3.0 GPA, they are no longer granted that scholarship and must pay tuition.
While something like the Hope Scholarship may not work in Texas, it is definitely something to look into as a sign that their are other ways to reward students for excelling at school.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blog Stage Five

Has the war on drugs been a success? Some say yes, others say no. We know drugs are hazardous to your health, and some would say to society, but is it the actual drug that causes all the problems we see today? The common problems we attribute to drugs would be addiction, drug related crimes, and youth having access to drugs. Now whether or not drugs are decriminalized, there will be addiction no matter what. With that being said, the question becomes is having drugs illegal the best way to lower usage and reduce the drug related crime in Texas.

With so many people buzzing about the drug cartels in Texas, I think this is something to seriously consider. When America went into prohibition and banned alcohol, what happened? While people were sure that organized crime would subside, in reality prohibition helped organized crime and gangs flourish. Today’s drug cartels are making so much money these days and gaining so much power because drugs, like marijuana, and illegal. Imagine if drugs were legalized in Texas. Would people still need to go to these drug cartels for drugs? No, they wouldn’t. And the power of the drug cartels would surely decrease. You don’t see people smuggling alcohol across the border, do you? That’s because alcohol is legal in Texas and people can get it from the store themselves.

People say if drugs are readily available then more people would use the drugs, and become addicted. Now let's think about this for a second, if heroin was legal tomorrow, do you really think a lot more people would do it? Would you or anyone you know go buy heroin tomorrow if it was legal? Probably not. The same people who already do drugs would continue to buy drugs, just like they will continue to do if they’re illegal.

Another issue to consider is how much Texas spends annually on prohibiting drugs. Texas spends over two million dollars enforcing just marijuana laws alone. Imagine how much money Texas would be saving if even just marijuana were legalized, let alone other drugs. Also, if Texas legalized drugs, they could potentially make millions of dollars taxing it to sell.

If the point of making drugs illegal was to stop people for using it, shouldn't it be working? We can see that it is not, so maybe having it illegal is not the best solution to reducing the addiction rate. I’m not saying that drugs are good, or that I promote the use of them. I believe that if drugs we legalized, Texas should set strict laws and limits around them as they do alcohol already. I just believe that it is worth evaluating the effects legalizing drugs would have on Texas and its economy. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blog Stage Four

I read an article recently titled, I Shot a Man in Houston Just to Watch Him Die on Eileen Smith's blog, In The Pink. In the article, Smith is arguing against Texas's Castle Doctrine which was extended in 2007.

The Castle Doctrine is also known as Stand Your Ground, and according to Smith the number of “justifiable killings” in Texas has raised over from 32 in 2006 to 48 in 2010. Before, Texas already allowed the use of deadly force against intruders, thieves and teens breaking curfew but you were required to retreat when possible. Now, you no longer have to.

Smith’s opposition to this is clearly stated. She finds it ridiculous that people are now able to get away with something as serious as shooting another person thanks to this doctrine. To support her views on how ridiculous the doctrine is, Smith relays an equally-ridiculous recent story about a man who owned a taco truck in Houston. A twenty-four year old stole his tip jar from the truck, which had a whole twenty dollar in it, and the truck owner proceeded to chase him down and shoot him in the back. And according to this doctrine, that is a “justifiable killing.”

Smith puts up a good argument and I for one was completely sold on her argument. What was most persuasive about her argument was how she actually gave an example of a recent event that was supported by The Castle Doctrine. Now only did she explain how ridiculous she thought the doctrine was, she showed an example of how ridiculous it actually was in our society.

I believe Smith’s intended audience is younger liberal-minded people. She uses a lot of humor and sarcasm to support her very liberal views on the topic.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blog Stage Three

I read the editorial Mexican Vote Has Major Implications For Texas, where Arnold Garcia talks about the upcoming presidential election in Mexico and how it affects America. 

It's obvious what type of audience the author is targeting: anyone and everyone. His whole point throughout his article is that the Mexico and America are so closely tied on so many different levels: politically, socially, and economically, and that the outcome of this election with effect America on all of these levels. He is trying to raise awareness of this fact. 

Garcia points out that over the past three decades trade between the U.S and Mexico has grown so much that Mexico is the third largest trading partner with the U.S. and the number one trading partner with Texas, with an average 400$ dollars worth of legal commerce circulating between the two in a single year.

The biggest reason this election is important, Garcia claims, is because the next elected president of Mexico that is elected with shoulder the weight of the recovering the Mexican economy that suffered major blows in the 2009 global turndown. If the Mexican economy does not recover, it effects Texas's and the US's economy substantially. 

Garcia's claim is very valid and very real. His information about the trade between Mexico and Texas helps support his claim that this next presidential election in Mexico should be a very big deal to Americans as it will definitely effect the American economy. His editorial definitely raised my awareness of the fact that this election is actually important to us Americans as well, seeing how closely tied Texas economy is with Mexico's. 

Garcia, Arnold. "Mexican Vote Has Major Implications for Texas." Austin American-Statesman. Editorial. Published  30 June 2012. Web. Accessed 20 July 2012. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blog Stage Two

kxan - New Voter I.D. Law Won't Affect Turnout

Apparently, an expert has come to the conclusion that the new Voter I.D. Law, which requires all Texas voters to present a valid Texas I.D to vote, will not affect voter turnout. It's interesting reading how the expert came to this conclusion, which seems rather impossible to me. Some argue that Republican's motives behind the law are at least partially racial. It could definitely benefit the Republicans if some of the minorities in Texas were unable to vote come election time, seeing as minorities make up a large sum of the Democrat's votes. This article is definitely a must-read. It actually reads into both sides of the argument. In my opinion, this is an argument all Texan's should be in-the-know about.