Tag Archives: government

Today We Learn About: Evolution of Presidential Power

Presidential power evolves because our country evolves just as our language, culture, science and technology make progress. The office evolved significantly between 1787 and 1809 as men arrived in office with a particular view of presidential power, only to have this view shift upon taking office. The Constitutional Convention alone saw the presidency change from a vaguely defined office as it was in the Virginia Plan, to specific and powerful as in the Hamilton Plan, which proposed an executive chosen by the electors that would serve for life with the ability to veto all laws passed by the legislature.1 Washington believed himself to be, and acted as, the chief administrative officer of the entire government of the United States.2 John Adams wrote “the other branches are imbecile”, and “the executive power is granted, not the executive power hereinafter enumerated and explained.”3 This view may explain why Adams made some of the decision that he did. Thomas Jefferson arrived in office as a Strict Constructionist, but greatly expanded presidential power through the replacement of federal staffers, carrying out undeclared wars, and committing the nation to the Louisiana Purchase amongst many other expansive uses of power.4 These men had specific views of the presidency that they sought to embody and each executed the responsibilities of the office in a different manner that usually changed over time. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Showdown at Gucci Gulch

Tax Reform in the early 1980’s was a sensitive subject as many keys players had their own idea as to the shape the reform bill should take. These key players included citizens, legislators, corporations, lobbyists, the president, and members of White House staff. Though the process of reform had many ups and downs, an agreement was slowly reached that pleased most parties. How is it possible for so many interests to be accepting of a bill that reformed our country’s entire tax code? The atmosphere was perfect, near everything fell into place in a way that facilitated reform as our legislators cooperated, our president took a definitive stance, our congress made concessions, and everyone involved participated in a bold plan for reform. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Social Security Reform

The most effective way to reform Social Security is to make adjustments to the payroll taxes that fund the system. Eliminating the maximum contribution cap, adjusting the system of employer contributions, eliminating some wage exemptions, and increasing the trust fund recovery penalty are all ways to accomplish this goal. In addition, greater attention and oversight should be paid in order to identify and eliminate fraud within the system. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Inner City Poverty

In Kotlowitz’ There are No Children Here the reader is given an all-access account of the harsh life that comes to those who live in America’s inner-city ghettos and housing projects. The subjects of the book, Lafeyette and Pharoah Rogers began like every other child but were forced to deal with horrors from an early age. They are mired with violence, hopelessness, a strained family structure, poverty, and systemic indifference, all while striving to succeed enough to leave behind the housing projects of Henry Horner Homes in Chicago. Through personal accounts, interviews, and first-hand experience, There are No Children Here, talks openly about gangs, a distrust in authority, a lack of growth in the community, drug use, drug dealing, parental indifference, joblessness, poor leadership, and political corruption. Even with all this adversity, we are still given the impression that there is hope for the community and hope for the children. There are policies that can be enacted to fight these problems that, albeit expensive, would certainly be effective. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Heroism of African-Americans in War

The concepts of heroism, and the hero have no greater chance for display than in the context of war. Throughout the last six weeks, the class has repeatedly examined instances of different ethnic groups, mainly African-American and Caucasian, living out their own personal interpretation of what it means to be seen as a hero in the setting of war. Often we are provided with a wonderful theoretical view of these interpretations through the writings of various African-American poets as well as authors, and it is through this view that we have come to understand that the concept of heroism goes far beyond carrying a gun, reaching into territory that spans from ideals, to words and actions. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Moral Suasion

According to Margaret Washing, Associate Professor of History at Cornell University, Moral Suasion was a tactic used by abolitionists to assist in the cause to end slavery in the United States.[1] This tactic was not an effective strategy because the causes and effects of slavery were so far reaching, diverse, and ingrained in American culture that merely showing evidence of the inherent ethical problems within the institution were not enough to bring it down. The strategy of Moral Suasion was a slow moving attack on an institution that had gained enough speed to imbed itself into the documents that make up the foundation of this nation. Taking the moral high ground to overcome an institution that half of a country depends on economically and culturally is doomed from the start. Not only are livelihoods working against the strategy, abolitionists were attacking an entire population’s sense of normalcy. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Agriculture Subsidies in the United States

The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies to domestic farmers. This policy costs the taxpayer $177.6 billion dollars from 1995 to 2006.1 In addition, a vast majority of subsidies go to a very small portion of our nations farmers and keep the price of certain foods higher than free market value.2 There is a notion that farmers would be poor if not for subsidies, or that a lack of subsidies would be a national security issue. These statements are not true.

More is spent on agricultural subsidies than other departments of government as a whole. As per the United States budget for fiscal year 2006, more was spent in the Department of Agricultural in 2004 than in the Departments of Commerce, Interior, Justice, Labor, Transportation, Treasury, NASA, National Science Foundation, Social Security Administration, and the Corp of Engineers. In addition, more was spent on subsidies than on the Environmental Protection Agency, Executive Office of the President, Judicial Branch, and Legislative Branch combined.3 These numbers have remained stagnant over the last few years. Meanwhile, a Fox News poll from May of 2009 indicates that Americans are looking for less spending from their government.4 Continue reading

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