Saturday, August 11, 2012

Death Penalty Response

I recently read an article written by my classmate, Hali Fechtmeyer, on the death penalty. She makes it clear that the policy is flawed, and notes that Marvin Wilson was executed even though he was considered to be mentally retarded while growing up. Her main issue with the death penalty is that we don't treat mentally ill citizens who are on death row well. However, she is still in support of this means of punishment because she doesn't want to be surrounded by those who have committed awful crimes.

I, personally, believe we should abolish the death penalty, especially considering the fact that many innocent people are executed annually. One such example that Fechtmeyer notes is the Willingham case, in which he was found out to be innocent after being killed under the accusation that he murdered his three daughters. To me, if even one innocent person is put to death, it is a faulty system. I understand the argument that keeping criminals in jail is more expensive for the state than killing them, but we really must consider the consequences of wrongfully murdering a person. They are MUCH worse than slightly higher taxes. It can also be argued that the death penalty is extraordinarily costly because of the means by which we kill the criminals (or in some cases, innocent citizens). In fact, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, it costs an additional $90,000 per year to keep someone on death row rather than in a maximum security prison.

To conclude, I believe that there are many flaws with the death penalty system and it must be abolished because of the incredibly high cost at stake (human lives).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Should We Ban Plastic Bags?

Before I begin this blog, I need to get something out in the open: I am a huge proponent of any effort to help the environment (within reason). I do believe that global warming is a reality that must be dealt with, and I bring my own shopping bags to the grocery store. That said, it should come as no surprise that I support Austin's efforts to ban plastic shopping bags. As Kate Galbraith reported in a New York Times article, plastic bags have a "habit of flying everywhere and getting eaten by animals, so banning them would help the environment" (Galbraith).

Whole Foods, a national chain, has already taken this step and been highly successful. I was a little skeptical at first but quickly got used to their paper bags. Not only are they better for the environment, they can also be reused in so many ways! Additionally, since they're stronger than plastic bags they can hold more groceries and are less likely to break. Basically, I see no downfall to the plastic bag ban.

Another option is to have plastic bags as an option, but charge a small fee for them. Countries in Europe have already done this with enormous success. According to the same New York Times article, the fee decreased the consumption of plastic bags by 94%. This may be the best compromise so those who are firm believers in plastic bags will still be happy, but they will be used much less frequently. By starting with this less extreme action, it will be easier to completely phase out plastic bags in the future.

Friday, August 3, 2012

School Attendance

I recently read an interesting blog post written by "The Republocrat," called "I was sick" apparently is no longer an excusable excuse! In the post, she writes about an editorial addressing the financial and educational benefits of school attendance. She also notes that her daughter had to miss about a month of school due to legitimate health issues.

One part of me completely agrees with her stance that it is not beneficial for a child to attend school if he/she is sick. And I do believe that it is wrong for the government to place such a financial emphasis on school attendance, because the reality is that children get sick. However, I understand the reasoning behind such strict attendance laws. In order to keep the school running well and the students on track, they need to make a conscious effort to attend class as much as possible.

In response to her view that it is the parent's responsibility to make sure the student keeps his/her grades up even when they miss class, I don't know if I can completely support that. I do agree that a parent holds a lot of responsibility for the student's success, but not all parents can devote the time to teaching their children what they missed in school. In addition, not all parents have the skill set required to teach classroom lessons, which is why schools are beneficial in the first place.

I do not necessarily disagree with anything the post, but I do think that parents need to make an effort to keep their children in school as much as possible.