Should School be Free?

April 15, 2010

Surely we all must feel the impact of this one, being students ourselves (or having been, once upon a time).

Bottom line: Should we have to pay to go to a higher education institution? As much as I lean towards the Conservative party and approve of most things not being run by the government, this is definitely an exception in my views. I think the government should ABSOLUTELY pay for ALL college expenses.  I think it’s flat-out RIDICULOUS how much money we have to pay to go to college.  Sure, it’s possibly, especially if you have good grades in high school and apply for scholarships and loans, but the average college student ends up owing about 23,000 dollars upon graduation (http://www.happynews.com/living/college/average-college-student-owe-loans.htm), with 66 percent of graduating seniors being in that category.  Any system which does this to its students, where they start off their careers with that much money in debt, is surely flawed.  I myself will owe 20,000 upon graduating and I’m not looking forward to having to pay all of it off.

Furthermore, if you just think about it, tuition is ridiculous.  My girlfriend had a statics class (you know how them engineers are) where her teacher actually analyzed how much it costs to the minute to go to school.  He estimated  that it costs about 100 dollars per hour to attend the University of Arizona for the average student (he then went on to reprimand a student who asked a stupid question, saying he cost the class an entire minute, or about 16 dollars).  I don’t know about any of you, but I know for a fact even doctors make nowhere this much amount of money.  We haven’t even talked about parking permits or books, either.

To go along with the effects of financial drain on students, let’s talk about something a little more serious.  Truancy (that is, dropping out of school), leads to crime (or at least is correlated with it).  I took an entire class on this course material (at U of A South, ironically enough) and WISH I had my textbook from it still, as I could cite statistic after statistic (properly, might I add), but I don’t, so I’ll have to make do.  Nonetheless, there’s overwhelming evidence collected that correlates truancy with crime.  Simply put, people that drop out of school do crime more often.  Makes sense, too.  Poverty is also correlated with crime, thus, since truant people will obviously have less-paying jobs than those who go through with school, we can see the connection.  According to this abstract I found, part of a much larger analysis, “School-related correlates of truancy, including poor school performance, lack of participation in school sports, unsafe school environments, presence of gangs in the school, lack of positive educational practices, and involvement with conventional and delinquent peers are examined as risk factors for truancy. In addition, interactions such as the combination of school performance and delinquent peer involvement are examined to identify potential protective factors.” (http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/1/2/6/7/2/p126728_index.html)

Sounds just like my old textbook.

Now, granted, this is mainly in the case of high-school drop-outs, not people who successfully get a diploma and then just don’t go to college.  Nonetheless, could we safely assume that there’s probably at least SOME correlation with crime and those who don’t pursue higher education vs. those who do? Most likely, especially since in today’s society, a high school diploma isn’t worth anything.  Like I said, poverty correlates with crime, so to some degree, it must be slightly true.  To add more to the fire, or so to speak, the current American system makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.  Being that community psychology wants to alleviate problems such as these, this particular issue (whether school should be free or not) is definitely of interest to community psychologists (or at least should be).

Is this a community psychology concern? Definitely. Any system that’s used on such a widespread level, especially one as prevalent and famous as the American college system, given that it has problems, which I’ve clearly addressed, should concern community psychologists to at least look into the status quo and see if it can be improved.  I know from a financial viewpoint that there might be some cons to making college free, but I believe the benefits would outweigh the costs.  After all, a more educated population is a more able and efficient population.

This video touches on what I’ve discussed: (I apologize for not being able to just put the video on here, but I couldn’t figure it out… this one was tricky. Likewise, every time I tried to link a url, this thing royally messed it up. I figured it better I just have the links there for people to copy and paste and take a hit on my grade rather than mess it all up).

http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/health/2009/10/29/ldt.health.care.carson.cnn

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Welfare: Good or Bad?

April 1, 2010

Seeing as to how it was part of our reading for this week, I thought it only fitting I dedicate my blog to this somewhat controversial issue. We talked about a lot of this in class, but I wish to go more in-depth into it.

I’m not going to take sides on this issue; rather, I’m going to examine it critically and neutrally.

Here is the biggest pro to welfare within the US (and perhaps the only reason it exists):

It helps those that are less fortunate, Everybody that makes enough money has to contribute to helping the poor, kind of like forced charity.

Here are some cons to welfare:

It takes tax money from those that work the hardest, and often gives to those that work the least.

Some become dependent on it.

Some find a way to abuse it.  However, welfare has strict, making it hard to abuse. There is a time limit for being able to collect, also.

Interestingly enough, despite what many have heard, welfare doesn’t give people an incentive to avoid work.  Statistics show that average welfare benefits pay less than a full-time job. Research consistently proves that welfare recipients prefer to work rather than just collect. The General Accounting Office has reviewed over 100 studies on welfare and concluded that welfare does not diminish the incentive to work (http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-welfareincentive.htm).

So how does this relate to community psychology? Clearly, since this program is implemented on such a widespread level (and is controversial, as well), community psychologists would be interested.  If people do in fact become dependent on it, then it does more harm than good, as that means that rather than getting rid of poverty, it’s encouraging people to be poor.  This would defintely be a big concern amongst community psychologists. 

But what about the good things it brings? It’s safe to assume that some people truly do benefit from this program without taking advantage of it, but is it still worth it? That’s in the eye of the beholder.  If this program were perfect, or at least adequate, there wouldn’t be so much controversy surrounding it.  I don’t think anyone, even the harshest of conservatives, would have a problem with donating a bit of money to the needy.  However, when you see bumper stickers that say “Welfare is taking from those who work and giving it to those who don’t”, you know the system could potentially be flawed.  Yes, studies show people prefer to work over collecting welfare because it’s more money to work.  But, do people prefer to do nothing AND get some money, or to have to work for it, even if it’s more? Who knows.  Furthermore, does welfare EMPOWER ot DISEMPOWER individuals? If it’s truly making a difference for someone, it’s safe to say it probably empowers them, but I think it disempowers those who have to give to the less fortunate, especially if there’s cases of the system being taken advantage of.  To these people, it must seem like the beginning of some communist movement.

The video below hits beautifully on some of the debates with welfare.

Euthanasia

February 26, 2010

Euthanasia is the practice of ending a life in a merciful manner. According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of euthanasia is “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering” (Harris, 2001). However, there is much controversy surrounding this topic.

The word “euthanasia” doesn’t give such a bad connotation, but its equivalent, “assisted suicide”, does. Proponents of euthanasia argue that if one’s life is sure to end, then why prolong the inevitable, sucking up medical bills and the valuable time of doctors, which already as we know, for the most part, there aren’t enough of to serve the population adequately? Opponents of euthanasia claim that euthanasia is basically murder, and that all attempts must be made to save someone’s life. If combined with a religious point of view, the controversy intensifies. Regardless, euthanasia will continue to be a source of debate for various reasons:

Firstly, the act of euthanasia itself is illegal, yet it occurs on a daily basis in many of our hospitals (Harris, 2001)). Secondly, medical advances have made it possible to artificially prolong the life of patients far beyond what was possible only a few years ago. Lastly, with a couple of countries legalizing euthanasia, will it spread throughout the world? Only time will tell. Because of all of these factors, community psychologists should take a stance on this issue, or at the very least, look further into it, as it will start to affect us more and more as time goes on. Eventually, it could become a pressing issue among our entire society. More specifically, the health care system will be drained financially as people are able to prolong their lives longer and longer. Being that community psychology already considers the current health care system an important issue, it’s only logical to assume that euthanasia will be of importance, as well.

To add to the issue of euthanasia, there are several forms of it: passive, active, voluntary, and involuntary (Harris, 2001). At the very least, I believe in voluntary euthanasia- if one wishes to die, it’s ones wish to do so, especially if they are diagnosed with some withering, life-ending illness. On a moral level, passive euthanasia is more acceptable, as it’s merely denying one the treatments they need to prolong life, whereas active euthanasia is one being administered a lethal substance. I think active euthanasia is more acceptable because the entire point of euthanasia is to be released from one’s suffering. Denying someone their treatment will still more than likely lead to a painful death.

This video goes hand in hand with everything I’ve talked about.

Harris, N.M. (2001). The Euthanasia debate. PubMed, 147(3), Retrieved from

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11766225

Illegal Immigration on the Mexican-American Border

February 10, 2010

From a humanistic point of view, we should allow all who seek to come to the US to come here, as it’s the “land of opportunity”, where everyone can live out the “American Dream” and obtain anything they want, provided that they work for it.  If someone from Mexico wants to come here and make some money to send back to his family, is it really so wrong? Ethically speaking, it’s not wrong at all.  The concerns and hardships of these people are touching. However, there are complications.

The United States is in a state of economic disharmony.  Yes, the concerns of so many should reach our ears, and as much as I’m sure some of us would just love to open up all of our borders to everyone who wants to come in so they can pursue a better life, that’s just not possible.  Think of all the millions of US dollars that leave the country due to immigrants who come here.  That’s money that could have been used to stabilize our own economy or used for our own unemployed. According to “La Jornada”, a Mexican newspaper, just in the first month alone of 2005, 120,000 people were deported back to all parts of Central America (http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2005/08/24/018n3pol.php).  Could you imagine how that number would increase exponentially if we were to account for the entire year? Furthermore, those 120,000 were all illegal immigrants- think of just how many people would come here if it were legal! At the very least, we’d face potential overpopulation within the US, which historically has led to poorer sanitary conditions and a poorer economy across the world.

As much as we would like to help all those from other countries that simply want to work here and provide for their families, it’s just not possible.  We have to take care of ourselves first before we can help others.  However, as community psychologists, we should try to find ways to improve the governments of those places which people come from into this country.  If we could just get them all to see things our way- to see how if they work hard for a just government, despite all the hardships that may come, that they too can have a country in which people will want to work in.  The only permanent and real solution to this problem is to get other countries up to speed with the US.  Only through dedication and social change will this become possible in those countries.  Once that happens, so many will no longer have to spend days without eating or sleeping only so that they can arrive in the US and find themselves unable to hold a steady job.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvRQEUZH-4k

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February 10, 2010

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