The ACLU: Can a Conclusion Be Reached?

The ACLU has been highly praised and criticized. In this post, I will evaluate the validity of these praises and criticisms, and attempt to answer the highly controversial question: is the ACLU good for America? Liberals claim the ACLU has preserved the Constitution by defending liberty against government abuse and illegal policies. On the other hand, Conservatives argue that the ACLU is a threat to the United States, and that it uses the courts to subvert the Constitution, protect criminals, and attack religion. I believe that while the ACLU has defended some important liberties, their atheistic agenda has caused more harm than good.

At this point in my evaluations, I usually address the strong and weak points of both the Liberal and Conservative perspectives. However, this issue must be analyzed differently. Both viewpoints have a fatal flaw: they use their personal values as evidence to support their claims that the ACLU is good or bad for America. Their logic is flawed because they are basing their claims on evidence that is based upon opinion. Therefore, I will be unable to provide a definitive answer to this issue, but will instead provide an answer based upon my own values.

First, let’s begin by talking about abortion. I firmly believe that abortion is morally wrong and should only be considered in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergencies. The ACLU claims that women have the right to abortion and support women’s reproductive rights. Liberals strongly agree with this position and therefore conclude that the ACLU is good for America. Conversely, I and most Conservatives are pro-life and therefore view the ACLU as a threat to the United States.

Another controversial issue is whether it should be illegal to burn the American flag. Liberals and the ACLU believe that freedom of speech must be protected at all costs. Even when we disagree with the message being expressed. I, however, agree with the Conservatives. They claim that while protecting the First Amendment is important, it is also important to preserve the symbol of our freedom and our nation.

Despite disagreeing with many of their positions on how to protect our First Amendment rights, I would be amiss to not acknowledge the good causes the ACLU has supported. A poignant example is their efforts to prevent racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. The ACLU has played a huge role in limiting racial disparities in sentencing. Specifically, there has been a lot of racial disparities in cocaine sentencing. “As part of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, Congress ignored empirical evidence and created a 100-to-1 disparity between the amounts of crack and powder cocaine required to trigger certain mandatory minimum sentences.” 1* This is significant because, “…the majority of people arrested for crack offenses are Black. By 2004…. Blacks served virtually as much time in prison for a nonviolent drug offense (58.7 months) as whites did for a violent offense (61.7 months). In 2010, 85 percent of the 30,000 people sentenced for crack cocaine offenses… were African-American.” 1*  The ACLU has fought and continues to fight against such racial discrimination in the criminal justice system and other areas of society.

In order to reach a conclusion on this question, we must balance the importance of many controversial issues against each other. Although I disagree with the ACLU’s position on burning the American flag, I consider the issue of abortion more important. We must make such judgements when forming our opinion on this question. Because I value the issue of abortion more than other issues, I believe the ACLU poses a threat to America.

Most Conservatives have reached the same conclusion. Despite the good things the ACLU has accomplished, their bad deeds outweigh them. One of the ACLU’s “mantras” is that “Freedom can’t protect itself” so we must fight to protect our liberties. The problem is, the ACLU protects, ”dope dealers, terrorists, serial killers, rapists, American Nazis, pornographers and illegal aliens.” 2*

In addition to disagreeing with many of the ACLU’s positions, I also disapprove of its atheistic perspective. The ACLU claims this country was not based upon Judeo-Christian principles, but I firmly disagree. By loosely interpreting the Constitution to fit its needs, the ACLU is trying to undermine our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage. The ACLU is trying to get rid of “In God We Trust” from our coins and “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

To conclude, the ACLU has protected some people’s freedoms. From decreasing racial discrimination in the justice system to defending many people’s individual rights, the ACLU has demonstrated their determination to uphold our freedom of speech.   However, in my opinion, the ACLU is a threat to America because of its belief in abortion and other Liberal issues. This organization is also bad for the United States because of its atheistic perspective, which it tries to enforce by loosely interpreting the Constitution.

 

SOURCES:

1* www.aclu.org

2* http://www.nytimes.com/1988/10/02/us/aclu-boasts-wide-portfolio-of-cases-but-conservatives-see-partisanship.html?pagewanted=all

 

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Conservatives View The ACLU As A Threat

In my previous post, I discussed the Liberal perspective on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In this post, I will consider the Conservative viewpoint. While the Liberals claim the ACLU has greatly benefited the United States, Conservatives argue the ACLU is a major threat to the U.S and is, “a left-wing organization that uses the courts to subvert the Constitution, protect criminals, and attack religion.” 1*

First, the ACLU supports Liberal causes in the majority of its cases. The Conservatives compare the ACLU to ‘card-carrying hypocrites’, claiming that “only a constitution that can be stretched, twisted and tied in knots could support most of the causes advocated by the ACLU.” 2* Conservatives claim that the ACLU advocates for Liberal causes that are wrong, including abortion and protecting criminals. President of the Alliance Defense Fund, Alan Sears, JD, inquires, “How can any organization be so vocally committed to happiness and ‘freedom’ but yet be so deeply opposed to recognizing the infinite value of- and the right to- life itself?” 2*

Mary Meehan, writer and public speaker, echoes Sears’ claims. She argues that the ACLU has “violated its own traditions and principles” by advocating for women’s reproductive rights. 2* According to their website, the ACLU, “…helped to finally secure insurance coverage for abortion for women serving in the Peace Corps whose lives are in danger or who are survivors of rape or incest. (Their) …work was fundamental to advancing the Shaheen Amendment, which provides health care equity to women serving in the military.” 3* The ACLU has also supported Planned Parenthood, which is abhorred by many Conservatives. Conservatives are pro-life, and firmly believe that abortion is equivalent to murder. By supporting women’s reproductive freedoms, the ACLU becomes a major threat in Conservatives’ eyes.

The ACLU also protects criminals and other minorities like communists and terrorists. The ACLU claims they are improving the criminal justice system. “By fighting for nationwide reforms to police practices, indigent defense systems, disproportionate sentencing, and government abuses of authority in the name of fighting crime, and drug policies which have failed to achieve public safety and health while putting an unprecedented number of people behind bars, Criminal Law Reform Project is working to reverse the tide of over incarceration, protect constitutional rights, eliminate racial disparities, and increase government accountability and transparency.” 3*

However, according to a New York Times article, “Conservative groups like the Washington Legal Foundation charge that the A.C.L.U. represents ”dope dealers, terrorists, serial killers, rapists, American Nazis, pornographers and illegal aliens.” 4* Indeed, President Bush himself declared he would never become a member of the ACLU, “…because they’re always coming down on the side of the criminals.” 2*

The ACLU also tries to drive its own agenda. According to the American Enterprise Institute, the ACLU is trying to remove ‘In God We Trust’ from our coins, ‘Under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance, and the ten commandments from all public places. 2* Minister D. James Kennedy, PhD of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church says that the ACLU “has hidden behind a claim to fight for people’s rights, while it actually takes them away and subverts the will of the people.” 2* Conservatives claim the ACLU, “…is certainly working to defend rights. The inconsistency of its record, however, raises the question of just whose liberties they are working to preserve.” 2*

Conservatives claim this left-wing group enforces its agenda by loosely interpreting the Constitution to fit its needs. Conservatives believe that the government should respect the people’s religious rights. Liberals believe that the founding fathers were not Christians, and the U.S. was not established as a Christian nation. Because they wanted the government to be neutral with respect to religion, the founding fathers created the First Amendment. 2* However, Conservatives claim that the ACLU’s atheistic perspective is still a religion and, by trying to enforce it through the court system, they are violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the First Amendment. They are also going against the majority view. Many conservatives, such as Executive Director of the American Immigration Control Foundation, Phil Kent, claim that the ALCU is attempting to, “undermine our Judeo-Christian heritage.” 2*

In short, Conservatives claim the ACLU poses a major threat to the United States. The majority of ACLU cases are fought using Liberal values, and Conservatives claim issues such as women’s reproductive rights and the ACLU’s criminal reform program are morally wrong. The ACLU also enforces its agenda on the United States by loosely interpreting the Constitution to suit its needs. Through the court system, the ACLU is trying to force its atheistic values on the people of the United States.

 

SOURCES:

1* http://aclu.procon.org/

2* http://aclu.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000296

3* https://www.aclu.org/issues/reproductive-freedom/abortion/federal-abortion-legislation

4* http://www.nytimes.com/1988/10/02/us/aclu-boasts-wide-portfolio-of-cases-but-conservatives-see-partisanship.html?pagewanted=all

Is The ACLU Good For America? Liberals Say Yes!!

Since its founding in 1920, there has been much debate over whether the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) has benefited America. Liberals claim the ACLU has preserved the Constitution by defending liberty against government abuse and illegal policies. Conservatives argue that the ACLU is a threat to the United States, and that it uses the courts to subvert the Constitution, protect criminals, and attack religion. 1* In this post, I will discuss the Liberal perspective and in my following post I will discuss the Conservative viewpoint.

First, Liberals contend that the ACLU protects the rights of minority parties. Several examples include women’s right to have an abortion, religious rights, and achieving lesbian, transgender, and gay equality. According to Louise Melling, JD (director of ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project), the ACLU is fighting hard to prevent states from, “…blocking access to abortion for all but the most privileged, taking us back full circle to the pre-Roe days when the lack of access to legal, safe abortions devastated the lives of too many women and families.” 2.1*

Liberals believe the ACLU also strives to maintain a non-discriminatory stance towards all religions. Despite Conservative claims, Raul Cano states that, “The ACLU is not anti-religion, it just takes offense when the coercive forces of the state are used to push religion on the people of this country.” 2.2* Liberals claim that the ACLU strives to preserve religious freedoms by maintaining the separation between church and state. For example, the ACLU has strived to eliminate prayer in school. According to Dennis Challeen, the ACLU views “…the right to practice religion or no religion (as a) … fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and the government must keep out of religion.” 3* The ACLU has effectively won the argument over prayer in school, but is still striving to separate church and state in other areas such as removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. 4*

Second, according to Liberals, the ACLU also protects individual rights. The ACLU was founded during a time of social unrest. “During this period, the ACLU played a pivotal role in creating a national debate on the problem of police misconduct.” 5* ACLU attorney Walter Pollak helped create, “…reforms to the criminal justice system, including the right to have one’s case immediately heard before a judge and the right to an attorney.” 5*   The ACLU states, “Whether it’s achieving full equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people; establish protections for our digital age of widespread government surveillance; ending mass incarceration; or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion; the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach.” 2.3*

Finally, Liberals claim the ACLU has benefited the United States because they fight for the correct side on many important issues. For example, Liberals firmly believe in gun regulation; the ACLU also believes, “Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) protects a collective right (“a well-regulated militia”) rather than an individual right.” 6* As I discussed in a prior post about gun control, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of District of Columbia vs. Heller that the Second Amendment protects and individual right to a gun, at least for self-defense in the home. (SEE MY GUN CONTROL POST HERE) Additionally, the ACLU opposes capital punishment, claiming it is, “a violation of the constitutional ban against, ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ and impossible to make fair and just; that it denies due process and equal protection under the law.” 6* This has set the stage for a fight over policy changes such as President Trump’s plan to reauthorize water boarding and other forms of torture in the fight against terror. 7*

Unlike President Trump, Liberals believe protecting our civil liberties is more important than protecting our national security. Liberals’ claim that the government uses national security to infringe upon rights of individuals and to avoid transparency and to cover up situations where they acted improperly. By prioritizing civil liberties over national security, the ACLU helps prevent government abuse and overreach. According to Darren W. Davis from Michigan State University, “Liberals are less willing to trade off civil liberties than moderates or conservatives, but liberals converge toward the position taken by conservatives when their sense of the threat of terrorism is high.” 8*

In conclusion, Liberals claim that the ACLU has greatly benefited America since its founding in the 1920s. The ACLU protects both the rights of minority groups such as women’s reproductive freedoms and various religions and individuals including criminals’ right to a fair trial and an attorney. Liberals also argue that the ACLU fights on the correct side for many important issues, such as gun control and capital punishment.

 

SOURCES:

1* http://aclu.procon.org/

2* http://aclu.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000296

2.1* Abortion

2.2* Religion

2.3* ACLU Purpose

3* http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/opinion/columnists/local/dennis-challeen-aclu-conservative-liberal-or-neither/article_db56a0fc-f0ab-11e2-982d-001a4bcf887a.html

4* www.forbes.com/sites/billflax/2011/07/09/the-true-meaning-of-seperation-of-church-and-state/#186d2e126e59

5* www.aclu.org/aclu-history-applying-bill-rights-criminal-justice

6* http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/opinion/columnists/local/dennis-challeen-aclu-conservative-liberal-or-neither/article_db56a0fc-f0ab-11e2-982d-001a4bcf887a.html

7* www.thehill.com/policy/national-security/316435-trump-waterboarding-isn’t-torture

8* https://msu.edu/~bsilver/AJPSCivLib.pdf

 

Opinions on Raising The Minimum Wage

Raising the minimum wage is a highly contested issue with many perspectives worth examining. Liberals claim that raising the minimum wage will result in major economic benefits, including increased economic activity, job growth and decreased poverty and welfare costs. On the other hand, Conservatives argue that raising the minimum wage will lead to a decrease in economic growth and increase in unemployment.

Romanian economist Silvia Marginean co-authored an article entitled, “Effects of Raising Minimum Wage: Theory, Evidence and Future Challenges”. She claims that increasing the minimum wage has no effect on employment rates and reduces poverty and welfare costs. Her main claim is backed up by several studies, while her other claims are briefly mentioned in the concluding paragraph. She makes these claims through a narrow-minded perspective and when Conservative arguments are considered, her arguments are substantially weakened.

First, Marginean’s main claim that modest increases in the minimum wage has no effect on employment rates is very narrow-minded. By “cherry-picking” her studies, she leads the reader to believe that there is no controversy over this claim. For example, in her introduction, she says that, “After many years of empirical research, studies seem to point fairly uniformly to the existence of small negative effects of higher minimum wages on employment and unemployment.” 1* This simply is not true and research reveals many studies claiming that while increasing the minimum wage may not result in a decrease in employment, it does increase the risk of job loss. 7*

Marginean also failed to consider that increasing the minimum wage will disproportionately affect different economies. For instance, she cited many different countries in her studies, but then made generalized statements about “European countries” and compared their situation to the United States. There are simply too many variables that change depending on the country in question. Marginean’s claims about specific countries may be correct, but an increase in the minimum wage affects countries differently.

Marginena’s minor claims are under-emphasized and only briefly mentioned in her concluding paragraph. She states increasing the minimum wage will decrease poverty and welfare costs. This claim is left undeveloped and unsubstantiated.   Furthermore, several sources suggest that her claims are incorrect. According to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, a raise in the minimum wage results in a decrease of hours, employment, and income. The study found that increasing the minimum wage, “…increase(d) the proportion of families that are poor or near-poor.” 2*

Margineana also fails to address the Conservative arguments, which further weakens her claims. First, a substantial minority of economic research and studies have concluded that increasing the minimum wage results in an increase of unemployment. This conclusion comes from basic economics: higher prices usually reduce demand. When the cost of production (including labor costs) increases, the price of goods is usually increased. Therefore, as prices rise, and the demand for goods and services decrease, the number of workers employed to produce them will also decrease. 2* This also encourages businesses to move to other lower labor-cost countries. If a business does not raise prices in the face of increased production costs, profitability, and sometimes viability, is threatened.

Making minimum wage jobs more expensive also makes them more dispensable, likely leading to an increase in unemployment. The restaurant industry, which employs almost half of the United States’ minimum wage workers, has an average profit margin of only 2.4%. 3* Increasing the minimum wage causes employers’ costs to increase, usually forcing them to either raise their prices or fire some of their workers. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 500,000 jobs will be lost if the minimum wage is increased to $10.10 an hour. 3* Therefore, raising the minimum wage ends up hurting the very people it was intended to help by increasing production costs, making goods more expensive, and increasing unemployment rates.

Second, raising the minimum wage makes it more difficult for teenagers and unskilled workers to gain experience and training that would increase their efficiency and future pay. Accepting a lower wage is part of “paying your dues”. It is the price inexperienced workers must pay in order to gain the valuable work experience they are seeking. Thus, when the minimum wage is increased, employers are less likely to hire unskilled workers (such as teenagers) and more likely to hire older, more experienced workers.

According to a Forbes article, “a very weak economy and a policy that substantially raised the cost of inexperienced labor decreased teenage employment by about one-third in just four years.” 4* Economists have suggested a sub-minimum wage for young and inexperienced workers as an alternative to raising the minimum wage, stating that this would support workers who seek work experience and on-the-job training. Conservatives believe that, “the minimum wage removes the bottom rung of the economic ladder by prohibiting the employment of workers with low levels of marketable skills.” 4*

Finally, Ronald Reagan supported Conservatives’ claims when he stated that, “The minimum wage (has caused) more misery and unemployment than anything since the Great Depression.” 6* They also claim that raising the minimum wage forces low-skilled workers to migrate to other states. If the increased minimum wage causes businesses to stop hiring, and those who cannot find employment move elsewhere, employment rates are likely to remain low. 6* This may explain why some studies conclude that employment rates remain low despite increases in the minimum wage.

Despite these convincing Conservative arguments, it is difficult to reach a definite opinion about this issue. Both the Liberal and Conservative arguments have merit. For example, how much the minimum wage is increased determines the economic effects. Modest increases in the minimum wage may not lead to drastic increases in unemployment rates. However, increasing the minimum wage will increase the risk of job loss. 7* Many economists believe that this issue simply has too many variables (including mobility and housing markets) to study it effectively. In order to make a final decision on this issue, empirical data is desperately needed. Experts hope to gather such data from cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco, where the minimum wage is in the process of being raised to $15 an hour. Economists claim that these cities are acting as “policy laboratories for the rest of the country.” 5*

There is currently not enough information to make a final decision on this issue. However, experts claim future evidence will make this decision easier. For now, let Noah Smith’s opinion suffice: “In the end, as in medicine, a randomly controlled trial is the best way to know whether a treatment works. The early evidence said that minimum wages are a medicine without too many harmful side effects, so now we’re proceeding with a new round of trials.” 5* May the results of these trials speak for themselves.

 

Works Cited

 1* Marginean, Silvia, and Alina Stefania Chenic. “Effects of Raising Minimum Wage: Theory, Evidence and Future Challenges.” Science Direct. Elsevier B. V., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2017. http://ac.els-cdn.com/S2212567113001196/1-s2.0-S2212567113001196-main.pdf?_tid OR http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212567113001196

2* ProCon.org. “Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Increased?” ProCon.org. N.p., 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://minimum-wage.procon.org/&gt;.

3* Editorial Staff. “How A Minimum Wage Hike Affects You.” Information Station. Job Creators Network, 2 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://informationstation.org/kitchen_table_econ/how-a-minimum-wage-hike-affects-you/+&gt;.

4* Ozimek, Adam. “Why Conservatives Should Oppose the Minimum Wage.” Forbes. N.p., 1 Aug. 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2012/08/01/why-conservatives-should-oppose-the-minimum-wage/#5cb5ee777311+&gt;.

5* Smith, Noah. “Finally, An Answer to the Minimum Wage Question.” Bloomberg. N.p., 27 May 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2015-05-27/finally-an-answer-to-the-old-minimum-wage-question+&gt;.

6* Hosie, Duncan. “Conservative Myths on Minimum Wage Have Dangerous Implications. “Huffington Post. N.p., 14 Jan. 2017. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/duncan-hosie/conservative-myths-on-minimum-wage-have-dangerous-implications_b_8972302.html+&gt;.

7* Ozimek, Adam. “Learning From the Research on Minimum Wages.” Moody’s Analytics. Moody’s Analytics Inc., 21 May 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://www.economy.com/dismal/analysis/datapoints/254585/Learning-From-the-Research-on-Minimum-Wages/+&gt;.

Raising The Minimum Wage: What Liberals Believe

Raising the minimum wage is a highly contested issue with multiple perspectives worth discussing. In this post, I will examine the Liberal viewpoint, which is in favor of raising the minimum wage. In my next post, I will do a rhetorical analysis on a Liberal article written by Romanian economists Silvia Marginean and Alina Stefania Chenic. 1*  They claim that raising the minimum wage will have little effect on employment rates but fail to address key arguments, which makes their claims much less convincing. The Liberals’ position is comprised of four main points. They believe raising the minimum wage will result in many positive economic effects, is necessary because of inflation, would reduce inequality, and result in many additional benefits.

First, Liberals claim that raising the minimum wage will result in major economic benefits, including increased economic activity and job growth and decreased poverty and welfare spending. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a minimum wage increase from the current rate of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour would inject $22.1 billion net into the economy and create about 85,000 new jobs over a three-year phase-in period. 2*   Also, according to economists Hristos Doucouliagos, PhD, T.D. Stanley, PhD, Aland Krueger, PhD, and David Card, PhD, there is, “…little or no evidence of a negative association between minimum wages and employment.” 2* Liberals believe that raising the minimum wage will increase employment rates and economic activity.

They also claim raising the minimum wage will decrease poverty and welfare spending. According to a 2014 Congressional Budget Office report, increasing the minimum wage to $9 an hour would lift 300,000 people out of poverty, and an increase to $10 an hour would lift 900,000 people out of poverty. 2* Also, a 2013 study by the University of Massachusetts estimates that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is “projected to reduce the number of non-elderly living in poverty by around 4.6 million, or by 6.8 million when longer term effects are accounted for.” 2*

Liberals also state raising the minimum wage will reduce government welfare costs. They reason that if low-income workers’ income increased, their dependence on, and eligibility for, government benefits would decrease. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that by increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, more than 1.7 million Americans would no longer be dependent on government assistance programs. They report the increase would shave $7.6 billion off annual government spending on income-support programs. 2*

The Liberals’ second claim is that minimum wage’s purchasing power has significantly decreased since its peak in 1968 due to inflation. To give you some perspective, in 1968 the minimum wage was $1.60 an hour, which is equivalent to $11.16 an hour in January 2016 dollars. This is 53.9% higher than today’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Furthermore, the federal minimum wage lost 8.1% of its purchasing power to inflation between July 2015 and the last increase in the minimum wage in 2009. We can deceive ourselves all we want by saying we can just print more money, but that money comes at the cost of inflation. Liberals claim and experts at the Economic Policy Institute have found that, “…inflation indexing guarantees low-wage workers a wage that keeps pace with the rising cost of goods and services.” Liberals state that raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation would allow low-wage workers to adopt a standard of living comparable to the current economy. 2*

This leads me to the Liberals’ third argument. They believe raising the minimum wage would help reduce income, race, and gender inequality. The U.S. has the 4th highest levels of income inequality among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries. Studies have found that in 2012 the richest 1% of the U.S. population earned 22.83% of the nation’s total pre-tax income. This is the widest gap between the rich and the poor since the 1920s. 2* According to both the Brookings Institution and President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, the weakening value of the minimum wage, “is one of the important (reasons)… for inequality at the bottom.” 2* Raising the minimum wage would help people afford food and housing and other everyday essentials.

Liberals also claim raising the minimum wage would help decrease race and gender inequality. Although women represent 47% of U.S. workers, they make up 63% of minimum wage workers. African Americans represent 12% of the U.S. work force, yet they make up 17.7% of those paid minimum wage. 2* Have you sensed a problem yet? Liberals state that increasing the minimum wage is necessary in order to create a fairer income distribution for disadvantaged groups.

The Liberals’ final claim is that raising the minimum wage will bring a host of general benefits including a healthier population, increased school attendance and a decrease of high school drop-outs, and a reduction of crime. According to a 2014 Human Impact Partners study, those earning a higher minimum wage would have enough to eat, be more likely to exercise, less likely to smoke, suffer from fewer emotional and psychological problems, and even prevent 389 premature deaths a year. 2* Edward Ehlinger, MD, Health Commissioner for Minnesota agrees with these findings, stating that raising the Minnesotan minimum wage from $6.15 an hour to $9.50 an hour by mid-2016 was probably, “…the biggest public health achievement… in the four years I’ve been health commissioner.” He also claims that this is a “major public health issue.” 2*

Reducing high school drop-out rates and increasing school attendance is another benefit of raising the minimum wage. A 2014 study found that teens who live in poverty are twice as likely to miss three or more days of school per month compared to those who do not. Therefore, the more people who are raised out of poverty, the more likely kids will be to attend school. Also, paying teens more money will allow them to work less and give them more time to study, lowering the high school drop-out rates. 2* According to a 2014 study conducted at the United States Military Academy at West Point, “…an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour (39%) … would lead to a 2-4 percentage point decrease in the likelihood that a low-SES (socioeconomic status) teen will drop out.” 2* These are promising statistics.

Finally, Liberals claim that increasing the minimum wage would reduce crime. An April 2016 study by the Executive Office of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors found that, “…higher wages for low-income individuals reduce crime by providing viable and sustainable employment…. Raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 would result in a 3 to 5 percent crime decrease (250,000 to 540,000 crimes) and a societal benefit of $8 to $17 billion dollars.” 2* Researchers who studied crime rates and the minimum wage in New York City over a 25-year period support the claim that a higher minimum wage reduces crime. Their research found that, “increases in the real minimum wage are found to significantly reduce robberies and murders… a 10 percent increase in the real minimum wage results in 6.3 to 6.9 percent decrease in murders. 2*

To conclude, Liberals believe the minimum wage should be raised. They claim raising the minimum wage will spur job growth and help reduce poverty and welfare costs. Liberals state that inflation has caused the paper dollar to lose its purchasing power and we must index it to inflation. They also claim that this change must be made in order to reduce income, gender, and race inequality. Finally, they cite several statistics that claim raising the minimum wage will result in healthier and safer communities.

 

SOURCES:

1* Rhetorical Analysis Article 

2* http://minimum-wage.procon.org/

 

My Opinion Regarding Tuition-free College Education

In my two previous posts, I discussed Liberal and Conservative perspectives on providing tuition-free college education. In this post, I will evaluate the strong and weak arguments of each position and express my own opinion on this issue. While Liberals claim that tuition-free college will increase the number of college graduates and decrease the ever-widening skills gap, they fail to adequately address the Conservative arguments that tuition prices are not the main obstacle to student success and that most Americans wouldn’t like the quality of the tuition-free colleges. The Conservative position also has its flaws as Conservatives claim tuition-free colleges are not the answer but fail to provide a reasonable alternative solution.

Despite some flaws in their arguments, I agree with the Conservatives because they are able to successfully counter the Liberals’ arguments. Conservatives are opposed to providing tuition-free college education. In fact, they argue that free-tuition college isn’t even free. Furthermore, they argue that tuition prices are not the main obstacle to student success and believe this issue should be handled by the private sector instead of the government. They also claim that the quality of tuition-free college would not meet America’s standards.

Let’s begin with the Liberals’ strong arguments. They claim that providing tuition-free college education will increase the number of college graduates. With more college graduates in the workforce, Liberals believe more people will be able to get better jobs and student debt will be greatly decreased. According to Jill Stein, providing tuition-free educational options will,” …abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude.” 1*

However, the weaknesses of the Liberal position outweigh the strengths. The Liberals are unable to counter the Conservative’s arguments that tuition prices are not the main obstacle to student success and that most Americans wouldn’t like the quality of the tuition-free colleges. Conservatives correctly state that there are other obstacles to student success such as education quality and student readiness. They also claim that most Americans will be surprised and unsatisfied by the quality of the tuition-free colleges. Liberals have little to say against these major conservative arguments and this is why I believe Conservatives hold the upper hand.

But, before I discuss the Conservative’s strong arguments, I would like to point out their weaknesses, for they do exist. According to a USA Today article, Conservatives, “…believe that empowering the private-sector loan market will ‘give students access to a multitude of financing options’ and drive down tuition costs by encouraging market competition.” 2* However, according to a Brookings Institute report, “economic theory predicts there will never be a large-scale, competitive, private market for student loans.” 2* This suggests that while the Conservatives claim that the Liberals’ solution is unreasonable, their solution may also be impractical.

Despite providing an impractical solution, I believe the Conservative’s position is still more persuasive. They provide ample evidence to support their claim that providing tuition-free college education is flawed policy. Conservatives state that tuition-free education really isn’t “free”; rather, “it simply shifts costs from students to taxpayers and caps tuition at zero.” 3* I do not believe that most U.S. college students would want the quality of their college education dependent upon how much money taxpayers would be willing to spend.

Conservatives also claim that factors other than tuition, such as college readiness, must be considered when measuring student success. According to a New York Times article by Andrew P. Kelly, despite free tuition, only one-third of students from the bottom income quartile who started at a community college in 2003 finished a degree or certificate by 2009. The numbers are equally disheartening for two-year students from the top income quartile (42 percent). 3* These and other statistics tell a similar story: it’s not just about the money. Andrew P. Kelly echoes the opinion of many when he suggests that policymakers should, “…target those resources toward those who need it most and empower them to choose the option—public or private—that fits their needs. A valuable degree is worth the investment even if you have to pay something for it.” 3*

Finally, tuition-free colleges will not meet most U.S. college students’ expectations. For example, tuition-free universities in Germany usually don’t provide sports, dorms, elaborate food, subsidized clubs and extracurricular activities, academic remediation, or flexibility in majors. 4* German colleges are, “…limited in their tasks, and therefore cheaper to run, than their American counterparts.” This type of higher education works well with highly motivated, mature students. However, “relatively few American students would flourish on these same terms.” 4*

To conclude, the Liberal position is strengthened by arguments such as an increase in college graduates and a decrease in the skills gap. The Conservative position is weakened by an unreasonable solution. However, the Liberals’ inability to combat main Conservative arguments convinces me to side with the Conservatives on this issue.

 

SOURCES:

1* www.Jill2016.com

2* http://college.usatoday.com/2016/08/03/how-republicans-and-democrats-plan-to-attack-student-debt/

3* http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/01/20/should-college-be-free/the-problem-is-that-free-college-isnt-free

4* https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-problem-with-free-college/

 

 

Should College Be Free? The Conservative View

In this post, I will discuss the Conservatives’ view on tuition-free college education. Later this week, I will write a post expressing my evaluation of the Liberal and Conservative views and my personal opinion. As we learned in last week’s post, Liberals claim that the government should provide tuition-free college education. They believe this will lead to better-educated citizens, a narrowing of the skills gap, and a healthier, more productive, and happier society. On the other hand, Conservatives believe that providing tuition-free college is an unreasonable solution. They claim that free college doesn’t exist, tuition prices are not the main obstacle to student success, believe this issue should be handled by the private sector instead of the government, and claim that the quality of tuition-free colleges would not meet college students’ expectations.

President Donald Trump claimed that, “…there’s no such thing as free education.” 1** Andrew P. Kelly, a resident scholar and the director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute, echoes Trump’s words. He states, “Free college isn’t free, it simply shifts costs from students to taxpayers and caps tuition at zero…… (The tuition cap) does not change the cost of college, or what institutions actually spend per student.” In Kelly’s article entitled, “The Problem Is That Free College Isn’t Free”, he stated that because they were unable to raise additional money through a tuition increase, California’s community colleges were forced to turn away 600,000 students during the recession. This demonstrates his claim that, “a national push for tuition-free college would strain public budgets even further, leading to shortages rather than increased access.” 2*

Andrew P. Kelly addresses another interesting aspect of the Conservative viewpoint. He claims that tuition prices are not necessarily the main obstacle to student success, and other problems such as educational quality and college readiness should be taken into consideration.   Federal grants cover the price of tuition for the average low-income student at community colleges. Despite free tuition, only one-third of students from the bottom income quartile who started at a community college in 2003 finished a degree or certificate by 2009. The numbers are equally disheartening for two-year students from the top income quartile (42 percent). 2* These and other statistics tell a similar story: it’s not just about the money. Andrew P. Kelly echoes the opinion of many when he suggests that policymakers should, “…target those resources toward those who need it most and empower them to choose the option—public or private—that fits their needs. A valuable degree is worth the investment even if you have to pay something for it.” 2*

The Conservative’s third point is based upon a core platform belief: the less government, the better.   They believe the government should stop providing loans to college students. They sate that the private sector should be in charge of resolving this issue, not the federal government. A U.S. Today article states that, “…empowering the private-sector loan market will “give students access to a multitude of financing options” and drive down tuition costs by encouraging market competition.” 3*

The Libertarians would agree with the Conservative’s third argument. According to Libertarian Gary Johnson, “…the high cost of college tuition has everything to do with guaranteed student loans.” 1* Banks have incentive to loan money to any kind of student at any kind of school. Since student loans are guaranteed by the Federal government, no one has any incentive to help students make wise educational decisions. This results in many students leaving college with large amounts of student loan debt without ever graduating with a useful degree. Because colleges have little (if any) incentive to lower their tuition prices, tuition continues to increase.

Finally, while free college sounds very appealing, many Americans would not appreciate the limited amenities free-tuition colleges would be able to offer. For example, tuition-free universities in Germany usually don’t provide sports, dorms, elaborate food, subsidized clubs and extracurricular activities, academic remediation, or flexibility in majors. 4* German colleges are, “…limited in their tasks, and therefore cheaper to run, than their American counterparts.” This type of higher education works well with highly motivated, mature students. However, “relatively few American students would flourish on these same terms.” 4*

In conclusion, Conservatives believe that tuition-free college is a flawed policy. First, “free college” is not actually free and transfers the financial burden from students to taxpayers. Second, Liberals assume that money is the main obstacle preventing students from obtaining a college education. However, they have failed to consider other problems such as educational quality and college readiness. Third, Conservatives believe that the government should stop guaranteeing student loans. They claim the private sector should handle this issue. Finally, Conservatives argue that the quality of tuition-free college education would not meet American standards.

 

SOURCES:

1* http://2016election.procon.org/view.answers.election.php?questionID=002094

1** ALSO SEE: Fox News Insider, “Trump: “There’s No Such Thing as Free Education,’ Bernie,” insider.foxnews.com, Apr. 3, 2016

2* http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/01/20/should-college-be-free/the-problem-is-that-free-college-isnt-free

3* http://college.usatoday.com/2016/08/03/how-republicans-and-democrats-plan-to-attack-student-debt/

4* https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-problem-with-free-college/

 

 

Should College Be Free: A Liberal Viewpoint

Student debt is a heavy burden that many worry will continue to be passed onto future generations. Liberals claim that offering tuition-free education would greatly reduce the weight of this burden, while Conservatives believe it would simply remove the burden from the students and place it on the public taxpayers. In this post, I will be discussing the liberal viewpoint. In next week’s posts, I will talk about the Conservatives beliefs and express my own opinion.

Liberal believe that tuition-free education will accomplish three main objectives. By providing tuition-free educational opportunities, we can increase the number of college graduates. Second, Liberals claim that providing tuition-free colleges will result in a better-educated workforce that the U.S. desperately needs to compete in a world-wide economy. Finally, better-educated citizens tend to be healthier, more productive, and happier people.

Many Americans are hesitant to go to college because their friends and family members are plagued by student debt they may never be able to repay. Liberals claim they have the perfect solution to this problem. According to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s plan outlined on her political website, “…every student will have the opportunity to graduate from an in-state four-year public college or university without taking on any student debt. Families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities, which covers more than 80 percent of families. The plan will be phased in over five years, but families earning $85,000 or less will immediately be able to attend an in-state college or university without paying any tuition.” 1* The relatively immediate implications of this change are certainty appealing to students searching for a way to fund their education.

Jill Stein also sympathizes with those overwhelmed by student debt. This is why she strongly believes that we should, “abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude.” 2* Liberals claim that providing tuition-free colleges will increase the number of college graduates. This means we will have a better-educated workforce.

In today’s technologically-advanced world, an increasing amount of education and training is required. The United States is in desperate need of higher-quality workers with advanced degrees in STEM fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math. According to a CNN article by  Patrick Gillespie, “Vacant jobs can cost companies hundreds of dollars a day in lost profits, research shows, and ultimately the job skills gap hurts America’s economic growth.” 3* Joseph Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor, states that 65% of job postings for secretaries who work for executives require a college degree. But among current executive secretaries, only 19% have college degrees. That’s a big gap between expectations and reality. 3*

Also, according to Corporate Executive Board (a research group), for every job opening, about 30 people applied on average in 2015. Of those applicants, less than 20% meet the qualifications for the job. 3* Liberals believe that providing tuition-free education opportunities will increase the number of better quality workers.

Liberals also claim that better quality workers will not only reap economic benefits but also become healthier, more productive and happier citizens. A new study from the University of Maine supports this claim: they found the citizens with postsecondary credentials not only contribute to the economic prosperity of communities but also live happier and healthier lives. 4* In a study, It’s Not Just the Money authored by Professor Phillip Trostel, finds that college graduates are nearly four times less likely than high school graduates to smoke, and are significantly more likely to exercise, wear a seat belt, maintain a healthy weight and regularly see a doctor. It is not surprising to hear then, that college graduates have a life expectancy of seven years longer than those who have a high school diploma or less.

College graduates also volunteer at a rate 2.3 times higher than those with a high school diploma or less, contributing more than three times as much to charity, and vote and participate in politics at a significantly higher level. 4* Jamie Merisotis claims, “Higher education attainment isn’t just about the money—it’s about the people, and opening up the worlds of opportunity that only education can provide. It is about enriching lives and communities, reducing crime, increasing engagement, and feeding the economy with the talent it desperately needs.” 4*

To conclude, Liberals believe providing tuition-free education will increase the number of college graduates and also narrow the skills gap that is ever widening in today’s economy. Finally, Liberals claim that college graduates enjoy many benefits including a healthier, more productive, and happier life.

 

SOURCES:

1* Clinton’s Tuition-free College Plan

http://2016election.procon.org/view.answers.election.php?questionID=002094

Also See: http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/11/pf/college/hillary-clinton-college-plan/

2* Jill Stein’s Opinions

www.Jill2016.com

3* We Need More Skilled Workers

http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/07/news/economy/us-economy-job-skills-gap/

4* Want to be Happier and Healthier? Go to college!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-merisotis/want-to-be-happier-and-he_b_8288354.html