Archive for the ‘ History ’ Category

Alan Abramowitz is the Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory, and a renowned expert on national politics and elections. His expertise includes election forecasting models, party realignment in the United States, congressional elections and the effects of political campaigns on the electorate. His latest book is “The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, and American Democracy.”

What do you think? Does Professor Abramowitz have the right of it? Or is the polarization simply a reaction to what it takes to get elected, reelected, and maintain a privileged political elite?

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Ismail Serageldin, former Vice President for Special Programs of the World Bank warned in 1995: “If the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water.” In truth, “the challenge of freshwater scarcity and ecosystem depletion is rapidly emerging as one of the defining fulcrums of world politics and human civilization. A century of unprecedented freshwater abundance is being eclipsed by a new age characterized by acute disparities in water wealth, chronic insufficiencies, and deteriorating environmental sustainability across many of the most heavily populated parts of the planet. Just as oil conflicts played a central role in defining the history of the 1900s, the struggle to command increasingly scarce, usable water resources is set to shape the destinies of societies and the world order of the twenty first century. Water is overtaking oil as the world’s scarcest critical natural resource. But water is more than the new oil. Oil, in the end, is substitutable; but water’s uses are pervasive, irreplaceable by any other substance, and utterly indispensable.” (Solomon, 2010, p. 367). Proponents of realist theory would argue that Serageldin is correct, and that in light of increasing water scarcity, conflict over water is inevitable. However, since Serageldin’s pronouncement more than fifteen years ago, while there has been conflict, not one water war has ensued and international cooperation over water issues have been the norm. According to neoliberal institutionalist thinking water scarcity provides a motive for cooperation since water interests transcend national boundaries and states stand to gain from cooperative efforts addressing water supply issues. (Dinar, 2009). Constructivists would argue that cooperative efforts would be expected so long as states can gain from those efforts. Should the status quo become upset, constructivist thinking would indicate states would reevaluate their position(s) and pursue courses of action in reaction to the changing situation. (Viotti and Kauppi, 2009). So which school of thinking is correct and which outcome is most likely? Water wars or water peace? As Allan (2009), Bierman and Boas (2010), Solomon (2010) and others illustrate, the state of world peace and the future of human civilization is balanced on the delicate fulcrum of each nation state’s supply and access to freshwater. While the world’s leaders may choose differing courses of action in response to water scarcity according to the school of thought they subscribe to, ultimately they will all share the same cause of action: the forcing of their hands by climatic change affecting the water cycle and precipitation distribution combined with accelerating population growth. Humanity is at a crossroads. This article will argue that increasing global water scarcity and water quality deterioration will hasten either a global degeneration into a Hobbesian state of war or spark a transformation of nation states into a peaceful global civil society.

Click to continue reading “Water Wars or Water Peace? Part I”

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In the past, United States promulgation of human rights has been seen by other nations as sovereign intrusion. (Viotti and Kauppi, 2009). And the “lack of intellectual agreement among social-contract theorists, utilitarians, Kantians, and others who think about values in universal terms is part of the global confusion on such matters. This lack of consensus on human rights—how we are to understand rights and values and what we are to do about them—underlies the global debate on what commitments and obligations we have to fellow human beings throughout the world. Disagreement on what and whose human rights ought to be recognized hinders the construction of a just world society.” (Viotti and Kauppi, 2009, p. 441). The emergent right to water in conjunction with other international declarations on the rights of women and children, the emergence of new networks of activists and NGOs dedicated to the establishment of these rights, such as the water justice movement’s demand for change in international law to eliminate the commodification of water and instead universally assign governments to hold water in the public trust (Barlow, 2007) and Kaldor’s assessment that humanitarian concerns are taking precedence over sovereign issues may indicate those barriers to the construction of a just world society are evaporating.

One final key in determining which path the world will follow in dealing with water scarcity is the role played by multinational corporations (MNCs). While scapegoated in India, the role of MNCs in the commodification of water is a serious issue with many advantages and disadvantages. In addition to the aforementioned groundwater depletion issue which exacerbates global water scarcity impacts, one of the major advantages of MNCs in the water business has been in the increase of water productivity and conservation.

“While cities are learning to use their existing water more efficiently, industry has been the largest single contributor to the unprecedented surge in water productivity. Across the industrial spectrum, water is a major input in production. Alone, five giant global food and beverage corporations—Nestle, Danone, Unilever, Anheuser-Busch, and Coca-Cola—consume enough water to meet the daily domestic needs of every person on the planet…. American companies began to treat water as an economic good with both a market price for acquisition and a cost of cleanup before discharge in response to federal pollution control legislation in the 1970s. With characteristic business responsiveness wherever operating rules were clear and predictable, they sought ways to do more with the water they had and to innovate in their industrial processes so that they needed to use less overall. The results were startlingly instructive of the enormous, untapped productive potential in conservation.” (Solomon, 2010, p. 469).

Click to continue reading “Water Wars or Water Peace? Part II”

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The history of education in the United States is a patchwork of family teachings, independent tutorials, public and private religious schools, grammar schools, vocational academies, Latin schools, colleges and universities with varying degrees of private, local township, school district, state and federal organization and control. While the framers of the United States constitution firmly believed that an educated citizenry was essential for the practice of democracy, and many of them argued for a national University of the United States and school system, there is no right to education articulated in the constitution or the Bill of Rights, and so no national system of education was ever organized. Pulliam and Van Patten (2007). Under the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states anything not granted to the federal government or prohibited to the states by the constitution, systems of education have remained for the most part under local control.

The basic unit of education throughout the United States is the public school district. But since the days of the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay Colony, there has been great disparity in the funding of local education and the quality of education each district has provided for its population. Pulliam and Van Patten (2007). Nearly four-hundred years later not only do these funding and educational quality disparities continue to persist, but they are exacerbated by the positional nature of education. A quality education is necessary to get into a good college. A good college education is necessary to obtain a good job. A good job is necessary to pursue one’s dreams and live the life every man and woman wants to live, or in other words, to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” Payne-Tsoupros (2010). But the disparities that exist between school districts, and even within individual districts, jeopardize the ability of those most at risk—and especially those from school districts made up of populations on the lower end of the socio-economic continuum—from obtaining that all-important quality education.

Click to continue reading “Against a Constitutional Right to Education”

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Inside Government hasn’t posted much over the last few months. That’s because this site was instituted to explain how the U.S. Government works. The trouble is, since the TARP Bill was shoved down the American people’s throats last October with scare tactics more appropriate maybe for the current movie ‘Saw IV’ or V or whatever number it is, from our President, Senators, Congressmen, Presidential Candidates, and everyone involved in the financial sector; it’s impossible to explain how the United States Government works because it’s broken.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

Without going into a critique of all things broken over the past year, CNN is reporting that illegal aliens are now going to be given permanent “Temporary” Visas and all the benefits of US Citizenship…and more. Illegal Immigrants are going to be given complete tax amnesty–they won’t have to pay any back taxes to the IRS. Wow…yet the IRS is still going after United States Tax Payers for the $4 mistake in their 2004 return. Plus interest and penalties. (Another story for another time.)

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

Further, the 33,000 gang members at large in 33 of the 50 states are going to be given free college tuition. No state provides free college tuition to its law abiding citizens. All the gangsters need to do is sign a piece of paper that says he or she is no longer in a gang, and the college education is theirs.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

Further, we the taxpayer, are going to pay Mexico hundreds of millions of dollars to provide incentives for Mexicans to stay in Mexico. Now this makes sense. Let’s pay Mexico money to improve programs in Mexico to keep Mexicans in Mexico. Now why would the Mexicans who would rather illegally enter the United States and gain immediate access to state-funded health care programs stay in Mexico when the United States is granting citizenship, a guarantee of no back taxes, and free college tuition to gang members? Further, once Obama’s Health Care plan goes into place, all of these illegals will be covered.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

Who is going to pay all of this? You and I. And who will suffer? You and I. Not to mention all those who wish to immigrate to the United States legally, and who have gone through the proper channels and have waited in line for years.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

To quote a friend:

This is so insulting. It’s like you have been standing in line at Disney World for 3 hours and a bunch of people jump the fence and get in line ahead of you. Then, instead of kicking them out the manager gives them free tickets for the rides, lunch, a place to stay and coupons for free admission for the rest of their lives.

My fellow Americans and taxpayers, we can not remain quiet. I am urging all of you to flood the White House, the Halls of Congress, and the local offices of your elected officials with every email, tweet, text message, letter, telegram and phone call you are capable of sending. We can not wait for another Town Hall meeting or a staged Obama publicity stunt televised in prime time.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

Almost 250 years ago, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere and every other famous name you have ever heard or haven’t heard in our country’s history went to war for independence and freedom from tyranny and to eliminate taxation without representation.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

Well, here we are, crying out against taxation without representation. Congress did not listen to us about the TARP. Congress did not listen to us about various other post-TARP Bailouts and spending packages disguised as “Stimulus.” Congress did not listen to us regarding health care at Town Hall Meetings where the citizens were more informed than our own elected “representatives.” If we don’t speak up as loud as we possibly can, each and every one of us, Congress won’t listen to us about this.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

It is taxation without representation. Even though we elect our Representatives and Senators, when was the last time one of them returned a phone call to you, returned an email to you, or even sent you something other than a non-responsive form letter in response to a carefully written letter you wrote? The truth is that they don’t care what we think. All they care about is scaring us into voting for them by painting their political opponent into a lying, adulterous, soft-on-crime incompetent villain. WHERE is the HONOR in that. WHERE is the RESPECT for the PRESIDENT of the United States of America? Do you remember last year when someone threw a shoe at President Bush? Well just recently, not a single Russian Diplomat would even shake President Obama’s hand. How far has America already fallen? How did we get this way? By playing favorites. By allowing a privileged class to exist at the expense of the Middle Class. And now, by offering free to lawbreakers and gangsters what so many of us have worked so hard for all of our lives.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

Congress doesn’t care about you or I. Congress doesn’t care about our well-being. Congress doesn’t care about the well-being and the financial security of our nation. All congress cares about is finding another way to give themselves a raise and to ensure their own re-election by negative campaigning, pointing fingers at the other party and by using every scare tactic they can learn from Hollywood horror films to scare us all into submission.

Look at what Congress is about to do and form your own conclusion. Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC.

Go to http://www.congress.org. If you don’t know who your representatives and senators are and/or how to reach them, this link will give you all of their office phone numbers and addresses. Don’t waste another day. If you were mad about $4.00/gallon gas prices, if you were mad about the wasted taxpayer money from Katrina, if you were mad about the TARP, if you were mad about any of the bailouts and lack of accountability from AIG and Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, if you are mad about health care or how Americans are being ignored and mistreated at Town Hall Meetings, don’t waste another day.

Watch the CNN News Video. This is CNN. Not Fox. Not MSNBC. Draw your own conclusions.

Don’t be submissive anymore. This is taxation without representation. We can not allow Congress to pass this legislation. We can not afford all the social and financial consequences. As a nation, as states, as individuals.

And if you detect some passion in my language, well, I think the quote comes from Hollywood: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Thanks for reading.

–Matthew S. Urdan

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