Tagged: politics

Crime as a Mechanism for Governing

Whether flipping through channels, listening to the radio, or reading the newspaper, it is evident that crime has secured a mainstay position in today’s media. In order to achieve high ratings, television networks and news outlets must fill their allotted time slots with only those headlines sure to popular attention (see Best, 2004). Oftentimes, those stories and reports are generated by sensationalizing criminal events. However, the seemingly overrepresentation of crime and delinquency is not the focus for this essay. Rather,...

Cannabis Legalization on the Ballot: Framing the Debate in Three States

There is something curious happening this election season, and it has nothing to do with 47% or Obamacare. Voters in three states – Washington, Oregon, and Colorado – will be casting ballots on whether or not to legalize cannabis. Whether or not these measures ultimately pass, they amount to the most direct challenge to the legitimacy of US drug policy since the War on Drugs began over 40 years ago. Of particular interest here are the similarities between the proposed...

Yes, You Are a Statistic

I can no longer stomach certain clichés.  Last night at the Democratic National Convention, I heard one of these.  A university student, who introduced Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice-President, noted that she “shouldn’t be here” and was “almost a statistic.”  My immediate response, to my computer screen, was “You still are a statistic and you don’t understand what statistics are.”  I know that she was just rehashing a cliché, but it is a cliché that privileges “self-help culture”...

Vote. Seriously, go vote.

Four years ago, President Obama was elected, at least in part, because he was able to generate excitement among young voters. In fact, in 2008, some 84% of young people who were registered to vote actually did vote. But recently, I’ve noticed growing apathy among some in my social media circle. While I can’t be certain that my facebook “friends” are representative of today’s young people, this trend on my newsfeed has caused me some concern. Gallup polls also indicate...

Sustainability, social progress, environmental protection, economic growth and energy

Sustainability, social progress, environmental protection, economic growth and energy are discussed using the sustainability framework in Figure 1, where sustainability is at the confluence of social progress, environmental protection and economic growth. Figure 1 Sustainability framework (Source: IUCN 2006) There are designs being made toward Ecological Civilization and welcome moves to address the shortcomings of GDP in Completing the picture – environmental accounting in practice by the Australian Bureau of Statistics .  Extending the national accounts to include degradation of natural resources makes a measurable target...

What's missing from the debate over higher education funding?

For many people, from the first-year students traipsing around campus in search of the correct lecture hall to the senior faculty preparing to teach courses for the nth time, the beginning of the academic year tends to be frantic and exciting time. This year, when back-to-school coincides with a heated Presidential race, education and politics are bound to mix. President Obama has made access to higher education – measured primarily by greater access to grants and student loans while trying...

The Political Value of Welfare

One of the latest Romney ads attacks President Obama for removing work provisions from Welfare Reform.  In the ad, disappointed-in-himself Obama (pictured left) sneakily gutted welfare reform by dropping the work requirements, so that as the ad states, “They just send you your welfare check.”  The ad’s claims are false or, as the fact-checking website Politifact put it, pants-on-fire.  What Obama has actually done is allow states to develop their own welfare-to-work programs.  The changes provide states with some flexibility regarding...

On Civil Litigation, Part 2 of 2: Tort Reform

Author’s Note: This post is the second of a two-part series (read part 1 here) that looks at various narratives about civil lawsuits. Originally intended to be a longer series, it became apparent to the author that bi-weekly posts are a less than ideal way to write a series and makes it difficult for readers to follow. Mea culpa. Coincidentally, two weeks since my previous post, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down a 2005 tort reform law. The law in...

Middle-Class Poverty

“Somebody who’s fallen from the middle class to poverty, in my opinion is still middle class.”  Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate, made this statement on a talk show a few weeks ago.   Bloggers ridiculed the comment as nonsensical.  I admit I too was tempted to just call Romney an idiot (again) and move on.  But, as I’ve been watching politicians in a society of growing inequality and high unemployment struggle with the concept of class while desperately trying not to...

Immigration and Racialized Politics

If you asked Americans to pick which political party they considered pro-immigration and which one they considered anti-immigration most would agree that the Republican Party is anti-immigration and the Democratic Party is pro-immigration.  Like abortion politics, this does not mean that every Democrat is pro-immigration and every Republican anti-immigration.  Still, the divide between the parties appears to be growing starker as voters either sort themselves into parties due to their stance on immigration or solidify their stances on immigration as...

Immigration and the Limits of the Criminal Justice System

Candidate Barack Obama promised to enact immigration reform in his first term.  That promise is almost certain to go unfulfilled.  The result of years of heated debate has been deadlock between two seemingly irreconcilable positions.  On one hand, many in congress support a “path to citizenship” for undocumented workers and increased legal immigration.  On the other, a substantial number argue for greater border enforcement, mass deportation, and decreased immigration.  While the status quo has virtually no vocal support, systems create...

Book Review – Academically Adrift by Arum and Roksa

Bless your hearts, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, for calling on institutions of higher education to prioritize undergraduate learning. With Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press 2011), sociologists Arum and Roksa argue that undergraduate students seem to learn very little in college, and that in fact they (Arum and Roksa) can show just how much those undergraduates are learning by bringing their own quantitative data set Determinants of College Learning (DCL)—which surveys over 2,300 full...

The Postmodern Politics of the Sanity Rally

I’ve watched mass gatherings with great interest while living in Washington D.C. From Obama’s election night and inauguration to various marches, and, of course, Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart’s rallies to restore “honor” and “sanity,” respectively. These last two, both organized by cable television personalities, brought massive amounts of people to the National Mall, so many people that these rallies might be telling us something about our current moment in American political discourse and participation. Let me describe yesterday’s Rally...

The British National Party: ‘Still Discriminatory’?

Today, the Central London County Court has delivered its verdict in relation to the British National Party’s [BNP] membership policy. Judge Paul Collins’ decision – whilst noting the BNP’s attempts to modify its constitution – found that the party recruitment policy was ‘still likely to be discriminatory.’ Since the proceedings have been initiated the BNP has removed any requirement for members to be white, although it retains many troubling conditions. For instance: the compulsory opposition to “integration or assimilation” of...

Republican win in Massachusetts – The tipping point for abandoning health care reform?

Last week, Senator Edward Kennedy’s long-held senate seat went to a Republican, Scott Brown and marked what will likely be the beginning of the end for the health care reforms – changes that were likely to pass if this incredibly close race had gone to the Democratic candidate. This election, or more accurately, the discourse surrounding the “big Republican win”  is, in many ways, the tipping point toward more conservative fiscal and social policy. In The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make...