Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Aerial Spraying in Dallas County

As I read through our classmates blogs, I read an article in Rohan Adiga's GOVT 2306 Blog about aerial spraying for mosquitos in Dallas County. I was recently reading about this issue in the Dallas Morning News and found his blog interesting. Rohan Adiga argues that we should not be spraying pesticides into the air to deal with the county's recent outbreak of West Nile Virus. I agree with Adiga's argument and think we should not be spraying pesticides into the air to kill mosquitos.
An article in the Dallas Morning News titled, "To spray or not to spray: The West Nile Virus battle" protesters of aerial spraying give many reasons why they are opposed to this method of control. First off, it is unsure how effective the method of aerial spraying is in killing mosquitos and ultimately stopping cases of the West Nile Virus.  In a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services it states that ground and aerial spraying are the least effective mosquito control techniques. An argument in the article is that when aerial spraying is effective it does not just kill mosquitos, but beneficial insects who eat mosquitos. Spraying ultimately changes the natural ecosystem of animals in the area that feed on different insects. Many are also arguing that people should just be spraying themselves with insect repellent. A bee farmer in one article argued that the pesticides would kill his bees and ultimately his livelihood. It has also been shown that only 1 in 150 people infected with West Nile Virus develop a severe illness and they are usually already sick and not healthy. In conclusion, I agree with Rohan Adiga and believe we should not be spraying poisons into the air to kill insects.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Up in Smoke

There are currently 17 states along with the District of Columbia that allow for the legal use of medical marijuana. Aside from cancer patients, I don't fully believe in the use of marijuana as a medical drug to treat patients, but I do believe that marijuana should be legalized and taxed as a recreational drug like alcohol. I find the idea that marijuana is dangerous or somehow worse than alcohol or tobacco to be ludicrous. I think the idea that marijuana leads to other drugs has been built up by society by throwing marijuana into a category of illegal drugs that includes much harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. If marijuana was legal it would most likely eventually be accepted like alcohol. Today, alcohol is advertised all around us and generally accepted by everyone, but at one time it was illegal and not accepted.  Marijuana is a much more mild drug, it is impossible to overdose on marijuana, and I find it to be closer to tobacco.

There could potentially be many positive effects of legalizing marijuana. Aside from recreational use, cannabis can be used  to make all kinds of products. Police and other government officials could focus more on serious crimes. Marijuana can lead to young people that are not true criminals being classified as criminals. Taxing marijuana sales would also help the government raise money to fight the budget deficit.

Overall, I find limiting the use of drugs to be an intrusion of my personal freedom and it should be legal.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Texas Voter ID Law

A classmate of mine has recently discussed the issue of the new Voter Identification Law that was passed in Texas in 2011. This legislation has led to the U.S. Department of Justice filing a lawsuit against the state titled Texas v. Attorney General Eric Holder. The new Voter Identification Law would require voters to present a valid photo identification to vote in elections. I agree with my classmate and believe in the current society that presenting a valid photo identification is a reasonable request.

Currently when voting in Texas, a person does not have to present a photo ID. Acceptable identification after recieving a voter registration certificate includes:
- a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person's identity;
-official mail addressed to the person by name from a governmental entity;
-a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter;

These documents do not have photographs on them and can easily be obtained or duplicated allowing voter fraud. An article titled, "Texas says voter ID law needed to combat election fraud" states that "In Bee County, near Corpus Christi, there are 19,000 missing voter registration cards - the only document necessary to cast a vote under current law, Ingram said. Texas will soon investigate 239 cases of dead people casting votes in the 2010 election." With incidents like these occuring in Texas, it is undeniable that there is a need for more regulation of voting. With photo ID required at voting polls, it will enable the government to better prevent voter fraud. Evidence has shown that this procedure would not influence voter participation. I believe photo identification at the voting polls is constitutional and has become a necessity in modern-day regulation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Property Taxes in the Texas State Legislature

In the political blog, Empower Texans, Michael Quinn Sullivan discusses the issue of property taxes in Texas and the steps the Republican Party of Texas is attempting to make to resolve the issue. Michael Quinn Sullivan is a distinguished writer and was named one of the 25 most influential Texans by Texas Monthly. Sullivan is a former newspaper reporter, Capital Hill staffer, and current president of Empower Texans.

In Sullivan's post titled, "GOP Battle Brewing Over Texas Taxes", Sullivan attempts to enlighten Texans of the current topic of property taxes in the Texas state legislature. Currently in the legislature, Republican State Representative Harvey Hilderbran has said that he wants "to begin the process of abolishing residential and commercial property taxes." The Republican party would achieve this by "shifting the tax burden to a consumption-based tax.” Hilderbran has met opposition in Republican State Representative Jim Keffer, who had a study conducted that claims "sales taxes would double, local control of local government be abolished, and food and medicine taxed." Sullivan tells both sides of the story, but obviously sides with the more conservative view of Hilderbran. Sullivan ridules Keffer for fighting his own party and backs his argument saying " Mr. Keffer has tried – and failed – to lower property taxes using variations of income and business taxes. He once authored legislation to impose a payroll tax on Texas, which died in no small part due to its similarities to an income tax. He later was the author of the now-imposed Gross Margins Tax – an inefficient, complicated tax that hurts small business." Ultimately, Sullivan argues that while tax cuts are what voters expect from the GOP, Texas doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. He backs this stating "general spending has grown more than twice as fast as the combined rate of population and inflation." While I agree with Sullivan's analysis of the problem, I'm not sure how I feel about a consumption-based tax  and think it could possibly affect some businesses and peoples' spending. However, with a large percentage of Texas voters being Republicans, most will want to see lower taxes and better allocation of those funds.

Friday, July 20, 2012


In June 2012, President Obama announced that his administration would stop deporting illegal immigrants who match certain criteria previously proposed under the DREAM ACT. The DREAM ACT stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. In an article in The Daily Texan, titled " Should I keep DREAMing?", Manuel Ramirez, an international relations and global studies sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin, writes about his personal experience as an undocumented illegal immigrant and how he believes this issue still needs more attention to solve the problem of around 11 million undocumented immigrants.

In this opinion based article, Manuel Ramirez is writing to inform the general public of a very important current topic that is affecting millions of people in America. As a person who is currently an illegal immigrant living with the fear of possibly getting deported or seeing his friends and family be deported, Ramirez gives great insight into this issue. In his argument, Ramirez states that he is happy with the steps the current administration is taking towards the immigration problem, but that he believes this decision was made only as a political strategy to help President Obama secure more votes from Latinos. Ramirez goes on to say that while he is currently pleased with his situation, this political move is only a short-term solution and that the immigration problem will require much more attention to find a permanent working solution.

I agree with nearly everything Manuel has to say in this article. I feel that President Obama's decision to announce that he would be implementing parts of the DREAM ACT was strictly a political move. This decision is undoubtedly a short-term solution. With 11 million undocumented immigrants, this problem will require lots of time and attention to be solved.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Texas opts out of key Affordable Care Act provisions

In an article in The Daily Texan, titled “Texas opts out of key Affordable Care Act provisions”, Hannah Jane DeCiutiis writes about President Barack Obama’s health care plan and the fight Texas’ Governor Rick Perry has put towards defying it.

On Thursday June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that through Congress’s power to levy taxes, it had the right to force individuals to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Contested by 26 states, this ruling is one of the most controversial decisions the Supreme Court has made in years. Governor Rick Perry has made it clear he does not support this bill and took the next step in fighting the Federal Government stating that Texas will not accept federal funding to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act. This decision by Governor Perry is sure to stir up more controversy over the bill. With Republicans in support of Perry and Democrats despising his actions this will most likely eventually lead to more time in court. Although it will take time to implement Obamacare, I do believe that if President Obama is reelected for a second term, the states will ultimately have to surrender to the bill, for it is highly unlikely the ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius will be overturned.