Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Slap or Spoil...

A recent news article about a Philadelphia judge that dealt with minors for misconduct was baffling. The article stated that former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella deliberately assigned juveniles to detention and treatment centers while making financial gains, even if the misdemeanors were trivial in nature such as insulting the assistant school principal, or skating in a prohibited park. Ha.
So much for judicial correction. Not that I don't believe in the state's correctional facilities to bring justice to the average criminal, but it is questionable as to how parents are expected to completely relenquish control over their child to some third party without being able to discipline their child themselves. It is usually unacceptable in the American culture, and now becoming so in Indian culture, to 'discipline' your kids using harsh measures. However, it is a commonly accepted assumption that you spare the rod, and you spoil the child.
In this case, wouldn't it be so much easier if these parents perceived it as okay to use some stricter forms of discipline than just "grounding" at an earlier stage? Perhaps we as a society become more open to stricter parenting.
I do agree that there are parents who will abuse their children if given the leverage and will take undue advantage of this acceptability. However, such individuals tend to abuse the system anyway. Most parents genuinely care for their children and only discipline when necessary. A few punishable consequences to their unacceptable behavior will send a clear message to young children at an earlier stage prohibiting legal misbehavior.
Go on, slap that child, proudly. Okay, I'm kidding. But seriously.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheese or Protest?!

The latest swing of protests, outside of the Middle East, is in Wisconsin! Finally, some action in the cheese state. So apparently Republican Governor Scott Walker has enraged Democrats in Wisconsin on his new bill that busts public employee unions and collective bargaining rights. So angry that thousands of citizens are marching to and protesting at the State Capitol in order to ensure that their voices be heard and this bill is not passed.
The Democrat representatives are in such dismay regarding this possiblity that they have fleed from the state to Illinois so that proper quorum cannot be reached in order to vote on the bill.
Sounds like an exciting (and only) time to be in Wisconsin..It is amusing to see, though, that news channels are calling these protests 'similar' to the Middle East protests in their nature. I believe that in directly comparing the nature of protests, they are being extremely the Middle Eastern protesters. Egyptians, Yemenis, Libyans and the likes are protesting for their rights to overthrow decades of suppressive dictatorships and gain freedom. These are serious reasons for reform. In Wisconsin, however, there is a much less symbolic, important nonetheless, issue at hand. Sure, collective bargaining rights gave workers tremendous leverage to make deals with employers on pensions and benefits. But do most professionals get to do that these days? How many states have dominant unions anyways?
Let's get real. America is in a state of financial distress. Over 40 states are in deficit by billions of dollars, only increasing every year. Serious reforms and policy changes are necessary at every level in order to see some progress. This is a controversial, but a good place to start. Having worked for GM, predominantly employing unionized workers, I have seen how strong collective bargaining rights and union contracts can be. Strong and cumbersome. A small change in business policy takes meticulous effort. It is a slow and expensive process. Unionized workers are in some regard overcompensated when it comes to pension. In Wisconsin, for example, a mere 1% of contribution is actually required from the employee, the rest comes from the state. That is a little ridiculous considering the state barely has enough money to fund public programs. Protesting to preserve these rights sounds a little dreamy to me. Gov. Walker logically stated that he wants to do away with collective bargaining because the state has no money to bargain with. Sounds pragmatic to me.
If there is any comparison to be made between the two types of protests we are witnessing, it's for the protesters in Wisconsin to realize that at least they have a government that is considering voting on an issue that is clearly burderning the economy. Opposition parties are able to sit on the same table without threatening or killing each other and discuss an issue of such clear consequence with such detail.
Government corruption, lobbying operations with selfish motives, and health care - those are issues worth protesting about.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No, I don't have a gun...or do I??

Does Arizona understand the meaning of "Lesson Learned?" After coming across a proposed law by Senator Ron Gould (R, of course) known as the SB 1201, I can accurately say NO.
After the frenzy involving James Loughner going to town (literally) with his gun and shooting innocent people, what does the smart senator decide to do? Make carrying guns in public even easier.
According to his proposed law, people will be allowed to carry concealed weapons into all public buildings (except high schools, phew?!), not have to declare "accurately" to the police that they were carrying a weapon and sue the state or claim state owned vehicles/property if they were infringed on their rights to carry a weapon. WHAT!
The worst part is that when asked about what the effectiveness of this legislature will be, supporters said it was to ensure "safety" in buildings. I guess not knowing which crazy person was carrying a weapon makes it safe, okay well maybe not, but at least you have yours to defend yourself..(??!!)
Arizona already has the second most liberal gun laws in the country. They are also one of only ten states that permit firearms inside state buildings which includes courts. Yeah, thats not scary.
I don't know if its me or if Republicans aka Conservatives are starting to sound really dumb. I agree on Republican positions involving fiscal spending including taxation policies (to some extent), but some of their social issue propositions are getting outrageous.
It can be argued that guns don't kill people, people do. But, having access to guns makes shooting that trigger easier. Do we have to convince policymakers of something that trivial?
If such laws start getting passed at state levels, what is coming to America next?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pizza or Protest?

Apparently the 'people have power' agenda has reached Italian women as well. After 3 weeks of successful protests in Egypt, Italian women are taking their turn to voice their opinion about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Burlesconi. He's quiet the womanizer in Italy (as oppose to other Italian men) and stories about his sex scandals including parties and "14 hotties who sit around in a Milan compund waiting for him" have recently been exposed.
These stories have made Italian women irate on the image that is being portrayed of all Italian women.
Mr. Burlesconi has also dropped charges and pardoned theft for one of his "groupies" which added fuel to the rage simmering among Italian women.
Women aren't necessarily treated well in Italy. They are viewed as second class citizens with less than 50% employed outside the home and even those that work get 20% less pay than their male counterparts. I guess they had had enough disrespect!
So in order to have their voices heard, women rallied in more than 200 Italian cities (I didn't know Italy had so many cities!) only to have the billionaire Prime Minister say that he is a victim of an attempted "coup of moralists". That's not it though.
When Italian men were asked to comment on these escalating events, one comment from the husband of a protester summarized the majority opinion: "People vote for him because he personifies defects that Italians have in their DNA ... When you hear about what he does, 80 percent of men think, 'I wish I were in his place."
Wow. Men wishing to be powerful, rich, and have dozens of women around them? Sorry senor, thats not just in Italian men's DNAs, I think majority of men across the globe would call it their fantasy.
The men are paying for Mr. Berlusconi's actions though. Instead of pasta and pizza, they will be getting a serving of seasoned and well-justified protest for the next few nights..

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snowfall Pays!

I recently came across an interesting finding that accurately depicts true American entrepreneurial spirit. It turns out that there is a bright side to all the snow blizzards this year, for those aware anyway. Since Chicago has been a crazy unpredictable ground for heaps of snowfall for the last couple years, a creative trader in Chicago decided to start hedging snow futures. Crazy? Not at all.
Using snow derivatives (aka method to the madness), Chicago Mercantile Exchange trades futures that pay or collect depending on the snow fall compared to Chicago's average of 37 inches a season. So, who's interested?
People with a lot of money OR businesses that depend on the weather for their business operations i.e. airlines and like businesses. Depending on what contract they decide to play with, they use these funds as an insurance for their downtime during bad weather.
Simply genius. Something as simple as snowfall can create a business for someone truly business minded. I guess an observation or idea is just a method away from a dream. Cheers to entrepreneurial competency!

Common Sense Uncommon

I generally refrain from making generalizations about people, especially in print, seriously. However, last night really tested my patience when it came to acceptance of ridiculousness.
On the way back from my aunt's house, my husband and I drove up to an intersection we pass everytime on this route. However, this time we noticed there was more traffic than usual. Not only was there a lot of traffic, it was not moving AT ALL! The other side of traffic was moving rather smoothly but we had crossed the divider and couldn't take a U turn (with all the traffic back up). After sitting at one spot for about ten minutes, we peeped out the window to see that there was a groom with his party of 40 people moving at ant's speed toward a party hall on the other side of the road causing this traffic back up. Seriously, what the...
Without having any consideration for the road, traffic, the fact that it was a Tuesday night or that someone out of the 300 cars backed up might have an emergency situation to attend to, this ridiculous party was taking its gala of a time to get to their venue.
It showed utter lack of common and civic sense and we couldn't do anything but wait in the same spot for 45 minutes. Of course, right after they gave us enough room to move an inch a minute, they actually turned over to the other side of traffic and started backing the other side up. After a lot of maneuvering and cutting people off, we finally got out of this mess, and could see the ramp coming onto the other side of the road getting backed up.
That's when I realized that because of the inconsideration and lack of social responsibility of some citizens, the possibility of India ever becoming a developed country in the near future is slim to none. The fact that people lack the ability to realize the consequences of their actions in such a basic situation is unbelievable. I guess people need a course titled Common Sense and Sound Judgement 101.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What Can't Brown Do For You...?!

The US Border authorities recently stated that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Indians are sneaking into the US via Mexico as of late. The authorities stated that Indians are the largest immigrant group sneaking in from the Southwest border after Latin Americans. What!
Only Indians can find a sneaky, complex but workable way of getting to the other side of the globe undetected. Okay, so the report said 1600 have been caught in the last year, but there are hundreds that made it through before the US officials caught on.
The report further said that these people are crossing the border by working with Mexican gangs and organized criminals. Wow. Indians are movin' on up in their strategy planning. Befriending a gangster while illegally immigrating into the United States?! This is a great plot line for a potential film!
This situation does impose a dilemma of some sorts. The authorities are stating that this spike "belie[s] the assumption [that there is] unprecedented Indian economic boom accompanied by a purported American decline." Darn. India is finally propering, a few Indians (dot, not feather!) get caught at the Mexican border and now the validity of Indian economic prosperity is jeopardized. I'd say that these officials need to read a little and all Indians sneaking in must carry a disclaimer that validates the recent economic growth in India.
Of course, some of the claims made by some Sikh sneakers (lol) that they are escaping persecution from the BJP (Bharatya Janata Party) can be deemed as questionable considering that this sort of thing doesn't actually still happen in India. Not to the scale that you would want to fly to Mexico, team up with some gangs, and then pipeline your way into the US. Good story though, folks.
It does get better though. US officials state that they are certainly more alarmed because they want to ensure that none of the people slipping through are from the troubled regions of Pakistan and the Middle East. I guess being brown does have its disadvantages. Since terrorists are all brown and all come from these 'troubled areas'.
One clear comparison that comes to mind from that logic - just as easy it is to tell the next 'mentally ill patient' who's about to party with his gun, is about how easy it is to know who the next brown terrorist is. The reason majority of Indians go to the US is for economic prosperity. Mixing it up with terrorist driven motives only creates prejudice for all Indians living in the US. But again, what can't brown do for you?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No health coverage? Too bad...

Obama's Affordable Care Act gets another hiccup. Federal judges determined that this law would be 'unconstitutional' since it forces Americans to buy Health Insurance, which is a violation of the Commerce Clause.
Federal judges who are against the plan, including Judge Vinson from Florida, believe that scratching this plan is the only way to "not break the law". I smell something fishy here. Conservative judges ruling against a law that provides coverage for all? That's not surprising.
The reason for this act to not pass can be argued at length for various issues. Specifically one that comes to mind is car insurance. Yes, they might not force you to buy car insurance when you first go to driving school, but you definitely can't get a license without insurance, or a car for that matter. Now, an argument would be, well a car is not considered a 'necessity' to live, but honestly, can one really survive without a car in most of America?
You live in a buzzing metropolitan, fine. You don't need a car, but most Americans live in small towns and suburbs that do not have adequate public transportation to carry out daily functions. I am sure that not having a car can cause serious inconveniences. (I've had my license suspended, trust me I know the pain)
So, we can't provide health insurance to Americans who are unemployed, poor, or have a pre-existing condition because it forces everyone else who already has insurance or a few who don't want to spend on insurance to buy one. However, we can require all drivers to have car insurance if they want to own a car so they dont have to walk everywhere. Sounds pretty comparable to me.
These judges need to explain the difference in these two scenarios. If requiring every driver to have car insurance is not a violation of the Commerce Clause, then requiring every American to have health coverage isn't either. Living in a developed country like the United States and yet 10% of people can't go to the doctor unless they're about to die is ridiculous. Perhaps we need lobbyists, senators, representatives, and in some cases judges to think beyond the realm of fetching dollars from pharmaceutical companies and leap over to the basic necessities that should be provided to every American.
Hipocrisy and personal gains exist in third world countries for sure, but behind fancy doors, America still has its share of high level corruption to deal with.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No American Votes for Ludicrous Law...

Yet another controversial debate about abortion. This time, the House will tackle the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. I don't want to paraphrase using my words so here is an excerpt verbatim:
The act shall prohibit:
"the inclusion of abortion in any health care service furnished by a federal health care facility or by any physician or other individual employed by the federal government. Exempts from such prohibitions an abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest with a minor, or if the woman suffers from a physical disorder, injury, or illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the women in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself."
Wow. So if someone is raped or a victim of incest but not a minor, tough luck. It never ceases to amaze me how far from logic certain lawmakers will go just to get votes. No matter how ignorant their pool of supporters, as long as they win the election, they will support almost anything. It's already ironic that people who oppose abortion are "pro-life" while people who believe it's a woman's right and only her right to choose are "pro-choice" and they are used as opposites of one another to suggest that a pro-choice supporter clearly is anti-life. However, in reality, a pro-choicer has a higher value of life for the person who is already living. Instead of destroying two unstable lives, let's just let the one get back to solid ground. But that's not the discussion point here.
The discussion at hand is that it's scary that we have elected certain people into office that won't separate church and state or morals and laws. Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has proudly stated that “he wants to be the most pro-life Speaker ever”. Sounds like he should be reading a sermon in a church, not mediating legislature arguments.
I have sent my feedback to Representative Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey). I hope that more people do the same. Being a Christian believer does not give one the right to impose his/her views and morals on nonbelievers. Maybe this is just a way for conservative Republicans and Democrats to throw a fit about Obama's HealthCare Plan. Regardless, this law has disastrous consequences for the woman's right to choose. I hope that there are no women out there who believe that just because you can't afford an abortion but have been raped or a victim of incest, you have to have a baby. I believe that a woman should be able to choose regardless of the cause of pregnancy, but limiting an activity even in such extreme situations is ignorance.
Conservative or liberal, I just hope that Americans will make the wise choice on this one.

Enjoy Jon Stewart's approach :