Friday, August 10, 2012

Commentary on "University of Texas Sued For Race As A Factor In Admission"

Reading "University of Texas Sued For Race As A Factor In Admission" from the blog Don't Mess With Texas, Government, I found the article very pertinent to many of us college students. I took the time to read the article about Abigail Fisher mentioned by Serena as well and found several parallels to Michael Williams' story. 
According to The Daily Texan, the UT Academic Index and Personal Achievement Index evaluate students' eligibility of admission. The Academic Index measures applicants on class rank, curriculum completion and SAT/ACT scores. The Personal Achievement Index is slightly more controversial as it evaluates essays, extracurricular activities, leadership, awards, service and special circumstances which include race and ethnicity. 

Though Serena did not mention it, the article also reports that UT is the only public university to consider race and ethnicity as a factor, Texas A&M and Texas Tech do not. I found this very interesting considering all three are public universities (Texas A&M a partner flagship school). Why is that? 

I did some research and found that reverse discrimination lawsuits are growing in number across America. In an NBC News article "Does Reverse Discrimination Punish Whites?", many lawsuits are now originating on a racial basis. Firefighters, college faculty members, and of course college students are suing on behalf of racial discrimination. 

Roger Clegg makes an excellent point by saying "Quotas do not end discrimination. They are discrimination. The law makes clear that race, ethnicity and sex are not to be a part of who gets a government contract or who gets into a university or where someone goes to school". 

Serena's conclusion is very unbiased and agreeable. She claims that students seeking admission should aim to earn good grades, build their resume and do extracurricular activities. Her overall post is informative and important for college students to be aware of.

I personally think any sort of racial factor or quota should be prohibited. If we are to end discrimination, we need to stop fostering and providing instances where it is applicable in any way. 

Financial Aid of the Illegal Kind

     Texas public universities offer many wonderful and challenging opportunities to students these days.
As college student entering my junior year, I've seen a lot of what a public university has to offer. Students can seek out disciplines of study, double major, study abroad, go to sports events and receive financial aid to enjoy all of these things. However, a startling issue regarding financial aid is dividing legislature. Many illegal immigrants are receiving the financial aid for higher education and citizens are questioning its fairness.
     In 1996, federal law prohibited in-state tuition for illegal immigrants seeking higher education. Twelve states have passed legislation allowing in-state tuition for immigrants including California, New York, New Mexico and of course Texas. According to FinAid, students in these states must attend high school for three years. More states are considering passing similar legislation including Nevada, which requires legal citizenship status to receive financial aid. Texas law however allows illegal immigrants to receive financial aid. Is this fair?
     Texas citizens pay taxes that benefit public universities. Those universities in turn offer and distribute financial aid to students who meet certain eligibility requirements. Such factors could include family income, student merit, research grants, or even oversea studies. The bottom line is that Texas citizens pay taxes for these schools and in turn receive benefits. Illegal immigrants don't pay taxes, yet are still offered other citizens' hard earned money in the form of financial aid. USA Today's report on the issue featured Michelle Bachmann who stated "The American way is not to give taxpayer-subsidized benefits to people who have broken our laws and are here in the United States illegally". As harsh as it sounds, rewarding those who break American laws doesn't sound quite American at all. In the same article, University of Tampa student Boston Ross claimed "It is unfair to give benefits because it essentially rewards those who break the law... I do believe illegal immigrants are hurting the economy: Simply put, they pull from the system without putting anything into it". Of course there are those who oppose this mindset.
     University of Tampa professor Dr. Ryan Cragun declares "Scholarships should be need or merit based and everyone should be treated equally". Cragun does bring up a good point; many aspiring students desperately need the aid and could exhibit the merit to boot. It can be further argued that the illegal immigrant parents put their children in a difficult position. Of course a counter point can be made that not everyone should be treated equally if they do not pay equally. Any parent or student receiving  financial aid for their studies should seek out citizenship first. Though the process is known to be lengthy, many students can easily obtain it before finishing high school.
     I am a strong advocate of requiring citizenship before receiving financial aid. Tuition rates are only rising and many students, myself included, are struggling to make payments. Families who have been paying taxes all their lives should not see that money go to those who don't.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Commentary on "Welfare and Drug Testing"

     I've been meaning to discuss the Welfare/Drug Screening Issue myself soon, but I have not had the opportunity to. I agree with Seth Arteaga's blog post Welfare and Drug Testing. The implemented Florida law requiring drug screening for welfare eligibility is something to be considered.
     Though it is incorrect to assume those on welfare are not employed, it is undeniable that many abuse the program. The idea of welfare was intended to be a safety net that offered temporary provisions to those who needed it. There are many people who have been put in situations, some unforeseeable, who desperately rely on welfare to help make payments on time. I know personal friends who have lost everything, work, and still need welfare. However, it is quite a different story to rely on welfare when that individual is using those benefits to purchase drugs. Many companies require employees to take a drug screening if asked. Though this is not a mandated law, drug testing a right that private businesses hold. The point: job applicants are often subject to drug screenings if they wish to work. Should not the same be asked of those who rely on government support? If I am a hard working tax-payer, why would I want my tax money to support even a few welfare recipients buying drugs?
     Some may cite the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution in opposition of the welfare/drug testing law. However, welfare itself is not a guaranteed right in the constitution. Welfare is a privilege that has eligibility requirements. Welfare is a governmental charitable benefit. Also, the $12 cost to citizens for the drug testig has been improperly researched by some. Colorado State Representative Sonnenberg reports that the cost of $8-12 would be reimbursed to those that pass. Those that do not must get clean and reapply.
     Agreeably, the law in Florida yielded less than promising results, yet it has not been tested in other states such as California, which boasts 32% of the nations welfare cases. Florida's implementation did indeed cost the state $46,000, yet the same cannot be said for future cases in other states.
     The act of welfare drug screening is certainly controversial, and both sides have credible arguments. As welfare is currently a government privilege, it is certainly legal to drug screen applicants.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Texas Voter ID Law: Discrimination v. Fraud

     Texas recently engaged in a lawsuit titled Texas v. Attorney General Eric Holder to enact a Voter ID Law requiring voters to present a valid ID in order to vote. The law itself is controversial, as many critics argue it will further detract from the decreasing voter turnout rate. Advocates aim to eliminate voter fraud. Somewhere in the middle lies the debate of costs weighed against benefits. Judge Napolitano claims that the law would be invalidated by the federal court.
          “My gut is it will be invalidated and I think it will be invalidated because I believe that the Justice         Department will be able to show that this will have an unfair burden on the elderly, the poor, and the  minorities. Not that it was intended to do so, but it will have that practical effect and, if the court finds  that, it will invalidate it and then the old rule of a utility bill, or anything you have showing where you  live, will be sufficient for this November’s election.” - Mediaite
     While this is true, one must consider the voter fraud rate in Texas. Indiana already enforces one such law as of 2008, and it was not deemed discriminatory of the previously mentioned demographics. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reported that he had 50 cases of voter fraud convictions in recent years. In fact, many argue that such a voter ID law would decrease voter turnout, yet history shows that voter turnout has actually increased since these laws were enacted in other states. Texas even offers free ID cards, therefore rendering no voter rights violated. He additionally argues that citizens must present an ID cashing checks or entering government buildings via USA Today.
     Abbott brings an interesting point to the table. If we use our ID for casual everyday activities, why would we not want the same security applied to our votes? If other states have enacted these laws effectively, who is to say Texas should not be permitted? Voting is something to be taken very seriously and elects officials that represent us in crucial decisions. I for one believe that the Texas Voter ID Law is constitutional and be a part of Texas voting requirements.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Texas Today: Strong Business Environment And Innovation Spurs Jobs - Lone Star Strong

Steve Stackhouse presents an interesting commentary on the recent findings of job rates in Texas. Targeting average Texas citizens, Area Development writer Stackhouse appears to inspire hope that Texas' economy can still prevail despite the national recession. To fuel this inspiration, Stackhouse claims that Texas tops the charts in job creation, followed by Alaska, Louisiana and North Dakota since 2008. Evidence is cited by ON NUMBERS, adding credibility to the 140,000 job addition claim. Stackhouse conveniently offers additional non-statistical information from Larry Gigerich, managing director at Ginovus. Gigerich reports that Texas' "excellent business climate has created more opportunities for Texas to compete for projects." Reflecting on the previous studies of this class, Texas diverse economy, notably oil, has spurred its generous employment rate. Innovation in oil refining and boasting two of the world's largest wind farms allows Texas to compete in an ever changing world market. Dallas suburbs itself produced 24,000 jobs. Stackhouse then provides a diverse list of sources that contain detailed accounts of Texas' success. Overall, the recurring theme appears to be Texas' diversity. Gigerich provides further support, which seems very credible, that Texas' tax structure, bilingual work force, large population, labor costs, and several other factors contribute to Texas' success. One point that could use further elaboration is the lack of corporate income tax Texans. This is true, but Texas also has an incredibly high property tax rate; something that is not mentioned at all. Regardless, Stackhouse makes plenty of detailed points defending Texas' successful economy, especially one that's unemployment rate is one full percentage point lower than the nation's. Stackhouse's commentary seems highly credible due to the numerous sources and individual contributions of Gigerich and David Brandon. The conclusion is slightly clunky, as it brings up a sudden final factor of Texas Emerging Technology Fund, that though it improves the Texas economy, seems out of place as a hard hitting conclusion. Stackhouse's political aim seems very neutral, as there are no politicians mentioned nor inclination of a political party. Of course one could argue that under Rick Perry's leadership, Texas was able to accomplish such things, but that itself is left to the reader. 

I personally found this blog commentary very credible and informative. Stackhouse provides a beacon of hope for Texans despite a national recession.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Perry is Right to Reject Ballooning Medicaid Costs" - Austin American Statesman Commentary

     Following up on my previous post about Rick Perry rejecting the expansion of Medicaid, I researched an commentary supporting Perry's decision so that I could learn more about what consequences will come from the decision. In his argument, President of Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility Michael Quinn Sullivan is targeting citizens unaware of governor Perry's recent decision. Sullivan appears rather conservative in nature, concerning his support for Perry. In his clearly marked first statement, he says "the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid being discussed isn't about more help for the poor, it is about expanding the program well past the poverty line and into the middle class".  Sullivan's main strategy seems to be targeting medicaid itself. First he makes note of Medicaid's doubled spending over the decades, then he questions the capability to expand it in the first place due to cost. One unsupported claim in the commentary is when Sullivan mentions Medicaid could consume 40 percent of the state's budget in 10 years. This seems slightly unreliable since there is no supporting fact or previously stated rate that would indicated such a cost. This almost seems more like a attention grabbing statement opposed to fact. Sullivan then makes an interesting gesture when he considers Medicaid's performance in the past. He hints that he may have supported the expansion if it had been successful in the first place. The commentary gains reliable ground citing The University of Virginia's study of uninsured vs. Medicaid death rates (a 13% difference). The most interesting report comes from the NBC affiliate WOAI. The station reported that Medicaid's recruitment rate is declining as doctors are realizing that the program only reimburses them up to just 60%. The assumptions made throughout the argument appear to criticize the integrity of Medicaid slightly more than any solid support for Perry's decision itself. When support is made, it is either at the beginning or end of the commentary, seemingly more of a rally for Perry's advocacy. In its conclusion, Sullivan makes an advocates state's rights in opposition of Washington D.C. Whether or not his Medicaid bashing aligns with national studies or Texas studies is unclear. Regardless, Sullivan makes a strong case against it, but not necessarily that Texas itself has a right to deny the nation's dictations. 

I'm still unsure about Perry's decision, but I am leaning more towards disagreement with his stance. Sullivan's commentary did little to sway my opinion concerning Texas' rejection of the expansion, yet he added doubts to the credibility of Medicaid as a whole.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Perry Rejects Health Care for Texas" - The Austin Chronicle

In the wake of President Obama's highly controversial health care bill, Texans are experiencing a health controversy of our own. In so many words, Perry has refused to enforce the Affordable care act and leaves it to the federal government to enact it. As many of us already know, Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured citizens. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that Texas has the worst healthcare of any state. In fact, I was at my father's news desk at KVUE when this story was first rang up about our depressing healthcare results. Additionally, Perry does not plan to expand Medicaid to family below the 133% below the federal poverty line.Consequently, this leaves 1.5 million citizens eligible for medicaid without healthcare. Perry defended himself saying  "I will not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government." Interestingly enough, the medicaid expansion would only $6 billion a year compared to $10.2 billion for uncompressed care, which many are arguing to be not all that conservative. 

Personally I find Perry's reluctance to expand Medicaid somewhat stubborn and misplaced. Understandably he is trying to make a political point, yet with many Texans in need, it causes more problems than solutions. You can call it state's rights or what have you, but a $6 billion vs. $10.2 billion cost with the benefit of aiding citizens is a no-brainer.