What About the Animals?

Picture1  While the media focuses on issues that are seemingly important such as health care and the deaths of celebrities, there are issues that are overlooked that are equally, if not more, important. Most people have seen the commercials fighting animal abuse with the sad looking animals, and while people feel bad, they never truly understand the stories of these poor pets. For most people, it’s hard to even believe that someone could ever harm an innocent animal, unaware of why it’s receiving any sort of punishment. Although it is almost impossible to be able to stop all cases of animal abuse, it can still be reduced. The definition of animal abuse is not providing a safe and nurturing environment for animals to live in, something that should be naturally done. 

The people who are committing these unthoughtful abominations are normally convicted of other crimes as well. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 71% of domestic violence victims report that their abuser also targeted their household pet, an easy target. The most common animals who fall victim to pet abuse are dogs, making up 64.5% of the abused animals in 2007 according to the Humane Society of the United States. 18% of cases involved cats and 25% involved other animals. 

Picture2There are many different types of abuse with pets, varying from actual violence to neglect and using animals to benefit the humans own advantages. Dog fighting is very commonly reported in urban and rural areas. It not only is extremely cruel to force the animals to fight each other for one’s own entertainment, but it also ruins the dog for the rest of their lives, making them unable to be domesticated. Puppy mills are another form of abuse, forcing dogs to live in small cages to give birth to puppies which are then sold to make the owner money. Many of these dogs also develop illnesses, such as kidney and heart diseases, from the conditions they are forced to live in. According to the organization Do Something, every year there are between 900 to 2,000 reported cases of animal hoarding, with a quarter of a million animals falling victim. Unknown to the public, even big businesses commit animal cruelty by testing their products on animals, killing over 100 million animals every year, including mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, birds, and others. Even rodeos, which all Texans love, can be a form of abuse. They create a stressful and scary environment for the animals involved, which are trained to be calm and obedient. Zoos can also be considered unfair treatment for animals who are meant to roam in the wild, keeping them in small enclosures for human entertainment. 

Picture3Animal abuse should be considered just as bad as domestic violence. Animals are unable to speak up for themselves and are forced to deal with punishment that they don’t understand. There is no national reporting system for animal abuse, leaving people who find these cases not knowing what to do. The biggest issue is that the majority of cases go unreported, forcing animals to continue with their abuse and suffering. While there are laws against animals abuse, the implications are minor. The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 is the only Federal Law in the United States which regulates the treatment of animals. There are countless laws against domestic violence, making it well known around the nation. So why is violence against animals so unknown? If the punishment against the animal abusers was stronger then maybe the number of animal victims would go down. 

Browning S. (December, 2013)


Preserve or Abolish?: Electoral Colleges

Recently in class we have been discussing the electoral college during our group projects and some of the discussions have sparked me to dig a little deeper so that I might understand the views of other people on this issue. I did some research and read some articles that argued on both sides of the spectrum. An article by William C. Kimberling really stood out to me during my search. While I personally don’t agree with all of the pros and cons he presents to preserve the electoral colleges, there are some interesting points that he brings up.

Democrat: 266    Al Gore – Popular Vote: 50,999,897

Republican: 271    George W. Bush – Popular Vote: 50,456,002

In the 2000 election between Al Gore and former President George Bush, one of the most controversial issues with the electoral college became a reality. The winning candidate, George Bush, did not have the popular vote of the American people which made him a minority president. He won because he beat Al Gore in electoral votes by only the small margin of 5 votes, that means one state flipping Democratic would have made Al Gore the new president. The issue with President Bush winning is the fact that the majority of the American people didn’t want him to win. Is this really an accurate representation of the American people if the majority of their votes go to the losing candidate? I would argue that this single election is the perfect example of the failure of the electoral college system. The president of the United States should be the person that the majority of the American people support. If a president comes into office with over half of the American people supporting another man, he’s instantly in a hole that he has to dig out of in order to be productive during his presidency.

There’s a theory opponents of the electoral colleges present that Kimberling and I disagree with. The electoral colleges discourage voter turnouts because Americans don’t feel like their votes hold any value in their states. While I don’t think this idea is wrong because I do feel Americans are not accurately represented, I don’t believe that it is the sole purpose for low voter turnout. There are a number of reasons for lower voter percentages in certain states. From lack of motivation, inability to go out and vote, or laziness, voter turnouts are decreasing whether the electoral college has anything to do with it or not. It’s hard to say that more people would or would not start voting if the electoral college was abolished but I personally don’t think it will have any effect on the amount of voters.

On the other side of the spectrum that favors the preservation of the electoral colleges, it is believed that the electoral colleges keep political stability by encouraging a two party system. This concept really intrigues me because it is extremely difficult for third parties to gain enough support in states to receive electoral votes. I don’t mind the fact there are only two political parties but I think that third parties should at least be given a chance to represented in an election. Suppose a third party wins over 30% of the American vote but because of the way the votes are spread, the candidate doesn’t receive any of the votes. Does that seem like an accurate representation of the American people? I don’t think it does.

My solution is this: We should abolish the electoral colleges so that the popular opinion of the American people can be accommodated too. Voters will feel more valuable if their votes are actually the determining factor of the election as opposed to the votes of the colleges. Instead of an all or nothing system, America needs to design a system that’s fair to everyone on the country.



Black Friday: Is it Worth Saving?

Black Friday

Strategically located right after Thanksgiving and a few weeks before Christmas, Black Friday provides people with the right sales at the right time. Every year, people rush to the stores late at night to begin their Black Friday shopping. Some people even go to the extent of spending the night outside the store for days before the big sales. Everyone knows about it, even if not everyone participates in it. A day full of savings and spending couldn’t be a bad thing though, right?

Like anything, there are many different opinions on the effect that Black Friday has on our country. In the first few articles that I read, people were all for it. Saying that Black Friday has a, “positive impact on the economy, because it gets people out spending their money.” [via: voices.yahoo.com] Then I read an article that was published byTimes, with the headline, “Black Friday Is Facing Extinction”, that was published on September 26, 2013. That raised the question, how could a day that has become so popular in our culture today disappear, especially if it is so beneficial to our economy? Then I found an answer that made sense. Black Friday is not particularly helpful to our economy. In recent years, people have become meticulous about finding the best deals possible. This has been made easier with the internet at everyone’s fingertips while they are searching to save the most money possible. Because the public has such easy access to this information, it does not benefit retailers to raise their prices above their competitors. Companies are also having to pay more employees to work extra hours to accommodate Black Friday’s hours. Another contributing factor to this theory is the decrease in people actually getting out and shopping on Black Friday. According to the Times article, “44% of consumers were likely to go shopping on Black Friday 2011, down from 52% in 2009”. This could be attributed to people’s lack of desire for braving the crowds. Taking this into consideration, it isn’t terribly unbelievable that the economy does not benefit very much or at all because of Black Friday shopping.

Having established that Black Friday is not economically advantageous to our country, a lot of people are concerned that is detrimental to our society as

Man Killed on Black Friday well. We have all heard horror stories about Black Friday.Like the story in 2008, when a Walmart employee was trampled to death by a crowd of shoppers that broke down the doors to get inside to the sales.

[via:http://www.cbsnews.com/news/man-dies-after-wal-mart-stampede/ ].

Buying gifts for your friends and family should not become survival of the fittest inside department stores. You should not have to physically fight people to get something that will be restocked in a few days. There will always be holiday sales that go on throughout the season. People get so caught up in consumerism that they occasionally lose their humanity, and Black Friday gives them the opportune day to do so. In saying this, maybe it would not be such a bad thing if Black Friday did face extinction.






Is Minimum Wage Where it Should Be?

Minimum wage as it sits right now it at 7.25 per hour, and has been  that rate since 2009. This is a major issue to a large portion of the population, mainly because of the constant raise in living cost throughout the nation. If a person earning minimum wage works a full time job, they make around 15,000 dollars a year, and that is not an adequate number compared to the simple living expenses that come to a civilian living in even lower than optimum conditions. For people who work with tips the minimum wage is 2.13 per hour, leaving the chance to make even less money. Considering the fact that inflation causes the cost of even the most basic items to raise in price dramatically, then the overall living cost can become overwhelming when the limit on pay is set so low. This problem might not seem very important to some, because they make more money than the minimum and seem to overlook the people who do. The reason that the minimum wage is a problem that has quite a lot of gravity behind it, is because a bulk of the United States population operates on it, and  if the bulk of the population has more financial problems that could bleed over to more of the population of higher classes.

There has been actions put into motion to help raise the minimum wage, specifically President Obama when in his State of the Union address this year brought the minimum wage more attention. This attention eventually caused the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 to be created with the help of many individuals and organizations. this act will increase the national minimum wage to to 10.10 per hour by 2015, and make the minimum wage keep up with the living expenses as the years go on. If this act really goes to its full potential it could be helping up to 30 million Americans.

Josh M

Source: http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com/pages/fair-minimum-wage-act-of-2013