Drug Testing Argument (Final)

May 17, 2010

As adults we’ve all at one time or another been subject to a drug test, whether it was a requirement prior to employment or just a random test like the military uses.  When it comes to the topic of drug testing minors it becomes a little foggy.  We like to see our youth as innocent and free from drug testing but you cannot argue that times have changed and drugs, whether it’s marijuana or performance enhancing drugs, are a part of their lives.  You can blame it on the adults in sports that they idolize or easier access to them but the situation remains the same, they are present in youth athletics and kids need to be tested to ensure they are clean and understand the problems with using these drugs.

There are many pros and cons in the school drug testing debate that is a hot topic of discussion in schools and amongst parents, teachers and students these days.  Some say that the main purpose of random school drug testing is not to catch kids using drugs, but to prevent them from ever using drugs, illegal or not.  Once teenagers are using drugs it is much harder for them to break their addiction. Maybe it’s the issue of peer pressure, which is the greatest cause of kids trying drugs. If by testing the athletes or other school leaders, we can get them to say no to drugs, it will be easier for other kids to say no.

On the other hand, one of the fundamental features of our legal system is that we are presumed innocent of any wrongdoing unless and until the government proves otherwise. Random school drug testing of student athletes turns this presumption on its head, telling students that we assume they are using drugs until they prove to the contrary with a urine sample.  Students who participate in athletics, music programs, and after-school activities could increasingly be subject to random drug testing under a program promoted by the Bush administration. There are some parents, teachers and school officials who are calling it a heavy-handed, ineffective way to discourage drug use that undermine trust and invades students’ privacy. In many workplaces and in the military, there’s been drug abuse testing going on, but courts have ruled that public schools cannot impose random tests on an entire student body.

However, the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that schools could randomly test student athletes who are not suspected of drug use. In 2002 it was ruled that all students who participate in voluntary activities, like cheerleading, band, or debate, could be subjected to random tests as well. Since then, the Bush administration has spent $8 million to help schools pay for drug testing programs. The White House hopes to spend $15 million on drug-testing grants in the next fiscal year.

The argument that the opponents use of not being legal or constitutional is wrong for this reason, if you choose to participate in extra-curricular activities then you are subject to those particular rules and if random drug testing is one of those rules then you’ll have to live with that.  You don’t hear professional athletes complaining about the constitutionality of drug testing in their sports, that’s because it’s a place of employment and it is the right of the employer to ensure there is a clean, safe, and drug free work environment.  Although kids playing sports may not be employed by the school, they are still choosing to participate on a voluntary basis and thus makes them subject to the same rules. 

There are about 600 school districts in about 15,000 nationwide that use drug tests, according to officials from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. White House officials liken drug testing to programs that screen for tuberculosis or other diseases, and said students who test positive don’t face criminal charges.  This supports the claim that officials are not out to prosecute these kids, rather they simply want their athletics or any other school sponsored group drug free and that’s something we should all want.

In the end, the responsibility once again falls on the parents.  The schools should not have to be responsible to police up the kids playing sports to ensure they are drug free but parents don’t seem to want to take the responsibility to talk to their kids about drugs so school officials are forced to take whatever action they feel necessary to keep a level playing field and the safest possible environment for the kids to enjoy their extra curricular activities.  It’s not the perfect solution to the problem but at the current time it’s the best and we must continue to drug test in schools.

Works cited:

http://www.healthinschools.org/News-Room/EJournals/Volume-8/Number-8/A-Report-and-Further-Debate-on-School-Drug-Testing.aspx

http://www.adolescenthealth.org/Journal_of_Adolescent_Health/2159.htm

http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/journal/schooldrug.htm

Against school drug testing

April 26, 2010

For drug testing in high school

April 26, 2010

Teaching

April 18, 2010

The art of teaching is tricky to say the least.  You have to have an enormous amount of patience and a stubbornness not to give up.  I remember the first time I was placed in the role of teaching something important to students.  It was the summer of 2004 and I was a young and cocky Senior Airman in the United States Air Force.  I was a KC-10 Boom Operator stationed at Travis AFB, CA and had just finished the academic portion of my 3 month-long instructor school.  Performing instructor duties while role-playing with a 50-year-old civilian is one thing, but getting hands on with a 19-year-old who’s still wet behind the ears is another. 

I remember walking into the student section and feeling a sense of anxiety because I was only 22 years old at the time, how did I expect them to take instruction from someone who is only 2 or 3 years older than they are?  The first start in any teacher-student relationship is to get to know your audience a little, shoot the breeze as they say.  My first task was giving a presentation on the world of WARPS, wing aerial refueling pod system, to the group of new students.  This was their first chance to see me in action and I was ready, or so I thought.  As with any group of young minds, there are a couple of bright ones, a bunch in the middle, and one or two as dumb as a box of rocks.  It’s those “rocks” that challenge you the most but it was fun to see the light bulb in their heads finally light up.  In the world of air refueling, you cannot simply pass someone or let someone slide their way through, the lives and airplanes in our hands are too great to allow this.  One young airman we’ll call Rocky, was especially tough. 

Rocky was the class clown and jokester, we’ve all had them in our classes or may in fact been the one in the class, but regardless they can be disruptful because they often are the ones that struggle with new information.  After my presentation, Rocky asked a question about the WARPS system and I tried my best to answer it but he still didn’t understand.  We went back and forth all afternoon but at the end of the day I was unsuccessful in my attempts to get him to understand the system.  It was like the lights were on but no one was home in his head.  I remember coming in the next day and using an everyday situation to relate the material and then wham!!!  He smiled and said I get it, I don’t know why I was looking at it the other way.  That feeling of imparting new material on someone and seeing that they physically understand it is great. 

The next challenge for Rocky was the high-wire act of air refueling.  The morning we “stepped” to the jet it was raining cats and dogs, I just remember thinking that was not a good omen.  I tried my best to keep the atmosphere loose since I remember how it was for me 3 years ago on my first AR mission.  We made our way back to the refueling station and opened the window to a sight that even to that day I never got used to, another giant aircraft 50 feet from you.  On that particular day it was another KC-10, but to him it might as well been the Space Shuttle because his eyes were as big a grapefruits.  I remember telling him to follow the checklist and his simulator training and he’ll be fine.  I even made a sexual reference about the boom and receptacle to make him laugh and after that it went smoothly for young Rocky.  After we were done I smiled and patted him on the back but on the inside I was jumping for joy. 

In my mind, teaching is one of the most challenging jobs out there.  It’s a talent and skill that even when I was younger I felt I possessed and my brief time as a boom instructor helped solidify that belief.  I hope to one day return to the classroom or the position as an instructor.

Evaluation Argument

April 17, 2010

Think of any major sport in this country, NFL football, major league baseball, NHL hockey, or NBA basketball, and consider what do they all have in common.  One thing is consistent with those sports, they all have a playoff system to determine the two best teams to play in a championship series or game.  Now take NCAA FBS college football, formerly Division 1A, and you clearly see they are not on par with the other major sports in the country.  Even NCAA basketball and baseball have a playoff system, so why not NCAA college football?  The answer is bowl revenue, plain and simple money.  NCAA college football needs a playoff system now more than ever and each passing year we do not have one is a missed opportunity. 

The primary obstacle to this cause is the bowl system and the revenue it brings to the participating schools.  www.collegefootballpolls.com states that each conference whose team qualifies automatically for the BCS receives approximately $18 million in net revenue. A second team qualifying brings an additional $4.5 million to its conference. Notre Dame receives approximately $1.3 million. Army and Navy also receive $100,000 each, and the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision conferences share approximately $2 million.  Now with that kind of money on the table you can see why the NCAA and collegiate athletic departments don’t want to change the current system for a more balanced and fairer playoff system.  The problem is when you let money dominate the game, you are ruining the integrity and pureness of it. 

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system was put in place in 1998 to try to appease the folks who wanted a playoff system as well as the college football programs that benefit from millions in revenue from bowl games.  The system is a good start, but year after year we have the argument of “who’s really number 1?”.  The system takes into account human polling, from coaches and media, as well as a computerized ranking system to determine the two best teams to play in the BCS National Championship game.  Can you imagine the National Football League using a computerized ranking system to determine who plays in the Super Bowl?  There would be outrage and riots to say the least, but college football continues to use this ineffective system.  We have seen in previous years of three or more undefeated teams at the end of the season, so how do you fairly decide which two play for the title?  Did the other school not deserve to, or did it not defeat their opponents by 40 points like the other two?  If you simply took the winner of the eight major conferences, or expanded it to sixteen, and had a playoff system to determine the two remaining teams then it would solve all of the controversy and misery from the teams and fans who felt left out of the title game.  Take last year for example, TCU, Cincinnati, and Boise St were all undefeated along with Texas and Alabama at the end of the regular season.  So because of coaches, reporters, and a computer said they were not good enough to compete with the “big boys”, Texas and Alabama, so they instead were shunned from the title game.  A quote from the BCS director on www.bcsdebate.com says it all, “It’s a fair question,” said BCS executive director Bill Hancock. “The fact is that the charge of the BCS is to match 1 and 2 in the bowl system. It’s a limited charge. It’s what the BCS is designed to do. Based on the season’s play, we’re confident we’ve matched 1 and 2.”  Nowhere did he say we did in fact match the two best teams, just that they were confident they did.

A playoff system in college football is needed.  Although it might be a little late for schools like TCU and Boise St, a playoff system can still save other schools the same hardship and anguish.  The fact that a computer is used to help determine the two best teams says it all, it’s time for a playoff system.

Works Cited

http://bcsdebate.com/

http://www.collegefootballpoll.com/bcs_explained.html

Television Violence

April 9, 2010

Television violence has increased for every generation of children in America and there is a connection between the amount of violence children are exposed to on television and the subsequent anti-social and aggressive behavior they exhibit.  Television violence is one cause of emotional and behavioral issues in children. 

Now, I will not say that television violence alone is the cause, the amount of time children spend in front of televisions and computers and the lack of parenting are certainly contributing issues but it is hard for the parents to decide what is clean or acceptable for children when 61% of children’s television programs contain some sort of violence.  In the United States, an average of 20-25 violent acts are shown in children’s television programs each hour.  Out of those acts of violence, only 16% showed long-term consequences, 45% of the offenders went unpunished, 71% of offenders showed no remorse, 42% of the violence was associated with humor, and lethal violence was shown in 54% of programs.  Exposure to media violence is positively related to subsequent aggressive behavior, aggressive ideas, arousal, and anger, and a negative effect on helping behavior.  Children, ages 8 to 18, spend more time (44.5 hours per week 6 1/2 hours daily) in front of computer, television, and game screens than any other activity in their lives except sleeping.  Those numbers are staggering if you consider how many fewer hours we spent in front of the television as kids.  Children are not getting the proper amount of time outdoors and parents use the television as a babysitter.  Parenting is a whole different issue and is a large factor in the childs’ morals and behavior but parents cannot be everywhere at anytime so television is used often to keep children’s attention.  If children’s television programs have violence, there is not much a parent can do other than hope that their children can differentiate between television and reality, but they more often cannot. 

Media violence affects children’s behavior, states the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.  Those are some of the leading clinics and groups in the United States on children’s health and their conclusion that media and television violence affects children’s behavior shows the seriousness and severity of the problem.  In a study conducted at the University of Michigan, young men randomly assigned to play Grand Theft Auto III exhibited greater increases in diastolic blood pressure from a baseline rest period to game play, greater negative affect, more permissive attitudes toward using alcohol and marijuana, and more uncooperative behavior.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2006 report states that violence (homicide, suicide, and trauma) is the leading cause of death for children, adolescents and young adults, more prevalent than disease, cancer or congenital disorders. 

All of this doom and gloom talk can bring anyone down.  Although television violence is a serious issue and must be addressed, parents have tools at their disposal to prevent children from viewing violence on television as much as they possibly can.  Television programming can be controlled on most TV’s, whether it is using V-chips, cable, or satellite controls.  Some other things a parent can do is limit the amount of time their children spend in front of the television and watch some of the shows with them to see if there is substantial violence.  Make sure you talk to your kids that the actor was not actually hurt, that they understand the best they can that there is a difference between violence in reality and television violence. 

Violence on television, while not alone, is certainly a significant factor in affecting children’s behavior and health.  Parents have tools and a responsibility to educate their children about television violence but there must be some responsibility shown by television networks and producers to protect the youth of this nation.

Works cited:

http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_tv_violence

http://www.mediafamily.org/facts/facts_vlent.shtml

http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/tv_affects_child.html

Bowling Epitaph

April 8, 2010

Patrick Allen Bowling will forever be remembered as a kind, trustworthy, and genuine human being.  Although he is most notably known throughout the world as the man who first set foot on the planet Mars, there was much more to him than that. 

During his rough and turbulent childhood, Patrick was often known to be as curious as a cat.  He would climb into holes in the ground without knowing who or what was down there.  He would never back down from a challenge or dare from his orphanage buddies, this was one of the reasons he passed through eight orphanages in his childhood after his parents abandoned him to join a cult in California.  He later saw them on the news in bunk beds wearing Nike’s, they were always strange people.  One time a fellow orphan, Annie I believe, dared him to run naked through a church service while screaming like a banshee that demons were attacking him.  This little act did not go over well with the Catholic community and he was sent to an orphanage in Iowa to find “peace”, as the priest put it. 

Once in the open corn fields of Iowa, Patrick was able to roam as free as a butterfly.  Once he obtained his driver’s license he proceeded to wreak havoc in the God-fearing farming town of Jobless.  Dancing was outlawed in the town but that didn’t stop Patrick from dancing his little heart out all over town.  He came to fancy the most beautiful and charming young lady, unfortunately she was the local pastor’s daughter, but that did not stop him from pursuing her.  One time they sat on top of the mill all night to watch the sunrise, they were as snug as a bug a fellow student once said of them.  Patrick was prepared to stay in Jobless with Mary Lou for the rest of his life and raising twelve little rascals while running his own pig farm.  That all changed one summer night when Mary Lou was run over by Patrick’s own tractor as he was plowing his field.  Mary Lou was running out to tell him she was pregnant with their first child when she tripped over a mound of cow excrement and was knocked out cold.  Patrick would have seen her but he was rocking out to Van Halen’s Eruption on his new Walkman.  He didn’t even notice his tires were as red as a stop sign after he was done plowing.  The thought of killing Mary Lou and his unborn child was too much for Patrick to handle and he packed up and left Jobless for Cambridge, MA.  

Even though he was a rebel and a hell raiser, Patrick was always smarter than the average bear, some said he was a genius.  He got a job as a janitor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Patrick would often finish questions on the chalk board that the professors would leave in the hallway.   It was there that he found comfort and counseling with a rough and grizzled teacher, Corky Romano.  Mr Romano taught him moral values and the virtues of an education.  Patrick would graduate and sprint towards life, like a Cheetah hunting a gazelle.  Patrick was hired by NASA and was sent on the first manned mission to Mars.  NASA officials said they chose Patrick because, “he had nerves of steel”, well those nerves were definitely tested on that mission.  After stepping foot on the planet, a sand storm as fierce as a lion swept over their martian rover.  All six of his fellow astronauts were swept into the sky and never seen again.  Patrick lasted three weeks without food and water, like a gladiator in the Colosseum, he simply would not quit.  His body was recovered and sent home where he was buried next to Michael Jackson, his idol and role model. 

Patrick Bowling’s life was short but meaningful and he will forever be remembered in our hearts.  His crazy life was like an open book, but now the final chapter has been written and the book closed, Godspeed Mr Bowling.

H.R. 25

April 1, 2010

We have all been there at one time or another, looking at your paycheck and quietly cursing on how much the federal government is taking out for federal income tax.  We all wonder how they get away taking so much of our earned income each time and we know that there are people that are simply not paying as much or paying their fair due for it.   What if there was a system in place where you keep all the money you earn and are only taxed on items you purchase?   House Resolution 25 (H.R. 25) is a bill introduced by Representative John Linder (R) of Georgia and proposes such a system.  Some facts of House Resolution 25 will be discussed in this piece. 

House Resolution 25 can be summarized in a short but informative sentence…To promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.  In the bill, federal income and payroll taxes are repealed along with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Estate and gift taxes of Subtitle B of the Internal Revenue Service is also repealed.  In place of income, payroll, and estate and gift taxes is a nationally established sales tax of 23%.  The actual figures and collection of the sales tax would be left to the individual states. 

House Resolution 25 allows everyone, from the poor to the rich, to keep all of their paychecks for their own private use.  By having a federal sales tax, you are only taxed on items you choose to purchase.  If you want a new bicycle or a pack of cigarettes, that’s your personal choice and you will be taxed a set amount for it.  Having federal or state income tax withheld every paycheck is not a choice and therefore takes the decision and choice out of the citizens hands.  Why should someone who earns $100,000 pay more than say someone who earns $30,000 dollars?  Is it that individuals fault he or she earns that much?  The Illinois Fair Tax web site (http://www.ilfairtax.org/) believes it is only fair that everyone keeps their income and that a national sales tax is the closest thing we have to fairness for all Americans. 

Another nice thing about abolishing the federal income tax is that April 15th will become just another day in this nation.  No more stressing about getting your taxes done or trying to organize all of your paperwork.  Our tax system has gotten out of hand and it is time to place the authority and money back in the hands of the people of this country.  Abolishing the federal income and payroll tax system will reduce the size and spending of the government.  According to the latest General Accounting Office’s report (GAO), the Internal Revenue Service’s fiscal year 2010 budget is $12,100,000,000, that’s right, 12.1 billion dollars.  H.R. 25 will reduce the size and budget of the federal government since the states take on a larger role for tax collection and responsibility.

House Resolution 25 in summary is a bill that would simply abolish the income tax system and the IRS and would instead enact a federal sales tax of 23%.  Those are the short hand facts of the bill, further information can be found on www.opencongress.org and search H.R. 25.

Works Cited

www.opencongress.com

www.gao.gov

If you steal my car…

March 30, 2010

Person A had a short, meaningless life that ended abruptly when a bullet pierced his skull.  Que the weeping mother and picture of Person A next to a closed casket.  That’s what the memorial service would be like for someone if they stole my car and I was fortunate enough to track them down.  Hopefully for your sake the police catch you first or maybe Onstar shuts my car down because if you steal my car and I’m the one who finds you, I’ll be the last person you see.

Auto theft is a plague and the people who commit these pointless crimes should be prosecuted to the max extent possible and dealt a severe punishment with mine being on the most severe end.  Some might look at auto theft or stealing as a “lesser” or non-severe crime because it generally doesn’t involve violence since most car theft occurs when the owner is not around.  This argument is lousy and absurd because stealing in my opinion is among the worst crimes possible, behind murder and child molestation.  Auto theft is stealing someone’s personal belongings, something that is not yours to begin with.  Regardless of the reasons for it, be it financial difficulties, the adrenaline rush, or just pure envy, stealing causes pain and personal anguish to those affected by it.  I for one will not claim I have never stolen a candy bar when I was a kid but the punishment I received for that made me realize the prize, a $1 candy bar, was not worth the punishment received, a nice hand or belt across my backside.  I have zero sympathy for anyone that feels the need to put their hands on my stuff or belongings, things I have earned or worked for personally.  It makes me wish we had the same laws as other places that take the hands of thieves and they will forever be known as a thief and will have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

Imagine your car, your baby, your pride and joy, all of a sudden stolen from you in a blink of an eye.  For many of us our cars are an extension of our personalities, a mobile work station, or a recreation to get away from home or work.  Regardless of its purpose and use, the last thing you want is to have it stolen from you because someone else wanted it more or they could make “X” amount of dollars from its parts.  Your car might be an old clunker you’ve had since high school or a new sports car that you’ve eyed for a long time but can only now afford.  Whatever it is, the thought of someone else’s hands around your steering while most likely laughing about it stirs up rage and anger inside us.  Do you call the police, insurance, my shrink?  You can call the police and then your insurance but we all know what you really want to do, track down those gutless criminals and give them a piece of justice they truly deserve, wild west style.

If you love or cherish your car then what would you do if someone stole it?  Well if you steal my car then…I think we see what I would want to do and what should be done if this scenario unfortunately comes true.