Saturday, November 29, 2008

An end to nationalism

Outsourcing has probably been one of the worst developments over the last 20 years. Whatever happened to keeping the jobs here in the U.S. instead of shipping them off to India or China? Now, it appears that even journalists are not immune to the outsourcing fad. As I read Dowd's op-ed about a Pasadena newspaper-owner who outsources his writers from India, my jaw dropped. What have we come to?! We can't even have Americans writing about local American current events and traditions? C'mon!

I'm all for the cultural exchange of ideas and beliefs, but this is just too much. This completely compromises journalistic integrity. I don't really want to read articles about games at the Rose Bowl written by Mrs. Sreejayanthi of Bangalore, when she didn't even know it was a sports stadium. Outsourcing has already negatively impacted our economy in various aspects, shall we add journalism to the list? (Perhaps Perot had a few good points in his anti-NAFTA rhetoric).

The rapid path to globalization has gotten out of control. We can't just outsource everything possibly imaginable. Especially in times of economic trouble, it may be appealing to outsource whatever work possible. But in the long run, it will negatively affect our economy. It's like a domino effect: more unemployed means less consumer spending, and it just keeps going. Let's get a grip, and at least make sure our journalists know about basic American traditions. The last thing we need is a Ramadan observer writing about the holiness of Christmas or Chanukah.

Monday, November 17, 2008

And another one down

What a day! Not only did Citigroup lay off 20% of its employees, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was accused of insider trading and Paulson announced that the administration would leave half of the allocated bailout money-350 billion- untouched when they leave office January 20th.

What the hell is going on?! Well, it looks like we are in a very disconcerting situation. The economy is not getting better, as witnessed by the layoffs and the roller coaster highs and lows of the stock market. Greed and corruption are constantly being unveiled. Although being one of the richest men in the world, Cuban couldn't bear to lose $750,000, so he engaged in illegal insider trading. And then we have Paulson revealing that the White House will not use half of the bailout money. Perhaps this is because they have absolutely no idea what they're doing or perhaps it's because they haven't used any of the money the way they said they would when they proposed this panicky, ad hoc plan.

So what is coming? Well, although pessimistic, my predicitons reflect the seriousness of these turbulent times. We are going to start to see way more layoffs from all kinds of corporations- not just financial institutions. The economy will continue fluctuating, but eventually will tank. Just today, I watched a segment on the news about how manufacturers are decreasing the portions in various products, but charging the same price. Everyone is in shit right now. And although I am excited about Obama, I don't know what he really will be able to accomplish- we've dug ourselves way too deep.

People keep arguing, "Oh, it's going to be ok. The economy is cyclical. It will bounce back." Really? If the government believed that, we would have seen many similar bailouts in the past during turbulent times, such as the recession of the early 1980's, which is often viewed as one of the most serious economic conflicts since the Great Depression. But that did not occur. These are scary times. Definitely scary.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Going Green

Whatever your personal views may be regarding Michael Bloomberg, you've got to hand it to him for taking an environmentally-friendly stance. While proposing plans such as windmills, parks, and congestion pricing, Bloomberg wants to make New York City “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city.” But unfortunately, not everyone is as environmentally conscious as others.

Many of Bloomberg's plans have been foiled by the government, including a plan for controversial price congestion and a proposal to require all NYC taxies to be hybrids. The problem with our government and this country (in environmental terms) is that no one plans for the future. In a report released in January of this year, the U.S. ranked 39th (of 149) for environmental performance, the bottom of the Group of 8 industrialized nations (France, Germany, United States, Britain, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia). Why is it that the E.U. is leading the world in environmentally-friendly legislation and movements?

Perhaps they are looking forward a bit more. Everyone in America has an instant-gratification attitude- 'I want it now. I want to see immediate results. I have absolutely no patience to wait for anything, including spending my tax money on an issue that probably won't even affect me in my lifetime.' Well, let's see how that attitude worked in the economy- it flunked. People were so greedy that they could not wait to save money from hard work, but rather took out massive mortgages and maxed out multiple credit cards with hardly any government regulation. Now look where we're at- in a big fat recession. Perhaps had we thought about the future consequences, we would have been a bit more hesitant when charging the latest fad on our VISA.

The same goes for the environment. We have to be forward-thinking. We have to start planning and take immediate action. Global climate change is ocurring and it it manmade. All we can do now is try to develop new technology to combat this and take measures to prevent future environmental degredation. And until lazy Americans are forced to promote this change, nothing will improve. So Bloomberg has taken an important step in the right direction- he is advocating envirnomental activisim. If only there were more environmentally conscious politicians and less greedy corporations (and excessive consumers) polluting the environment!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Way to Go

The joy that came over me after finding out that we would not have another crusty old white guy in the White House was indescribable. Americans have elected their first black president- something that we should be proud of, as the days of segregation were only 40 years ago. Bob Herbert of the New York Times points out that "Voters said no to incompetence and divisiveness and elbowed their way past the blight of racism that has been such a barrier to progress for so long." We have come a long way America, and we should be proud.

The next day after the election, I left my MSN messenger account logged in as usual, as I set out for my busy day. When I returned, I had received messages from friends all across the world: Spain, Portugal, England, and Mexico. Every single one included the same subject (although appearing in 3 different languages!): Congratulations Obama- I am so excited he will be leading your country!!! When I received these mimicked messages, the magnitude of the election really set in- this was the election of our lifetime. We have placed a huge amount of trust in a relatively inexperienced man- but he is carrying the hopes and dreams of literally billions on his shoulders.

I must admit that I did not know if the rascist biggots would trump those with more open minds in this country. But I was pleasantly surprised/relieved when I knew by 8:30 PST that Obama was our President-elect. The unfortunate truth is that minorities in the U.S. have continually been marginalized in society. They have been blatantly denied opportunities in the past and continue to endure some of the same harships today. However, having a black man has our next president is truly a momentous achievement for not only the entire world, but more specifically to all of the minorities that no longer believe in the American Dream. Imagine how little Kenyan boys and girls have reacted upon finding out that a man connected to their own bloodline is now going to be the next president of one of the most powerful countries in the world! It is a great moment and a great inspiration to us all.

Although I am cautious to make any decision regarding Obama's abilities, I am quick to relay my pride in the American people. Way to go! Way to not be scared for something different- perhaps his policies won't be so different- we don't know yet. But he is definitely not the cookie-cutter prototype for the Commander-in-Chief, and for this, I must commend you all. It is more the fact that a majority of us have moved past the awful prejuidces that were so common in not-so-distant history that I must congratulate you all!

Barack- it's your time to shine...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Congratulations are in order for Barack Obama, for gaining an important spot in the history books- the first black president of the United States of America.

We're ready for the 'change' you've promised us!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Down to the wire

As Election Day is just days away, I was reading a Newsweek poll focusing on Obama's significant lead over John McCain. I was relieved to see these numbers initially; but upon closer look, I became a bit stressed out. The most troublesome statistic I read has to do with Sarah Palin (shocking I know). 55% of voters believe Palin is not qualified (rightfully so), yet 40% believe she is! My jaw dropped as I read this! I would love to meet this group of people and hear their arguments defending Palin's overwhelming qualifications. I cannot imagine that 2 out of every 5 people think that this woman (who didn't hold a passport until just last year) could possibly represent the United States and actually be respected internationally.

After this alarming statistic, I began to think about a number of worriesome things as the Big Day draws near. The Bradely effect has been discussed in virtually every news source, questioning whether or not it will prevent Obama from grabbing the 270 critical votes. I'd like to think no, but realistically, we still live in a racist society. No one wants to admit it, but there are many closeted bigotts out there- we just don't know how many! Hopefully the astounding wave of Obama supporters can outweigh the ignorant citizens in the country.

Another thing that we will just have to wait and see how it plays is who's actually going to vote. The media has hyped up the amount of voters that will show up to the polls, especially minorities and youth. These voters have historically not been active, but is Obama the change that will stimulate a new interest in politics? Well I, as well as many, certainly hope so. I can only hope that the laziness of Americans subsides long enough for them to cast their ballot.

And I must go back to the Palin issue once more (it's just too good to not). What the hell was McCain thinking? Nearly 1/3 of voters say that McCain's VP choice makes them less likely to vote for him! That is a huge number in an election this close. If McCain can't even pick a qualified vice-president, how the hell is he going to run this country? Oh wait...he probably won't because he's so old, he'd probably die before inauguration day!

So Americans, one word of advice as you stand eye-to-eye with a ballot that represents so much:
ANYTHING but McCain.

VOTE November 4th!

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's our constitutional right!

In a parallel world, where political correctness doesn’t affect virtually every aspect of society, Sarah Palin would hang from a noose while John McCain burns in hell. However, this parallel world exists far from West Hollywood, where Chad Michael Morrisette sparked national controversy by publicly displaying just this scene with mannequins displayed in front of his home. After much pressure to remove the effigy, Morrisette got rid of the so-called Halloween decorations. But in an election where lipstick pigs overshadow policy issues, what’s the big deal?

While the effigy infuriated many, it calls important attention to Americans’ constitutional right to free speech. Although many found the display extremely offensive and excessive, the Secret Service, Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department and West Hollywood city Code Enforcement Division found that it violated no law. “‘The sheriff made this clear: This is a country that has freedom of speech, and we protect that right even when we think it's idiotic and stupid and in bad taste," said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Sheriff's Department.’” It can even be argued that the effigy is just another method of engaging voters in the election process. It brings up an important question: where do we draw the line between censorship and free speech?

One might consider, “what if this effigy was replaced with a mannequin of Barack Obama hanging from a noose?” This would have a completely different implication, linking the effigy with racist sentiments, reminding us of the not-so-distant lynching of blacks in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. However, this exact incident occurred just over a month ago, at a small Christian university in Newberg, Oregon. A life-size cardboard imitation of Obama was found hanging from a tree with fishing line attached to its neck. Although the act was repugnant and hateful, it was an act that was determined to fall under free speech, and no charges were filed against the students responsible.

When dealing with issues of censorship, it is a tight rope that must be carefully walked. Although the image of Palin hanging from a noose may not be every American’s preference in expressing their political views, Morrisette should be able to display this image on his own property, as long as he has no intention of violence (We can safely assume a gay couple from West Hollywood have no intentions of actually hanging Mrs. Palin from a noose). Once we start censoring what is “too extreme,” the definition becomes blurred and our 1st amendment rights can easily be infringed upon.

In a ‘melting pot’ country, Americans should be able to engage in wide range of political discussion, whether it be through town hall meetings, blogging, or even displaying their political views with a controversial effigy. The display actually is a great example of the enthusiasm felt by so many Americans across the country. In less than a week, history will be made: we will either have the first black president or the first woman vice-president. A record number of voters are expected to cast their ballot in just a few days. People everywhere are actually excited to vote- when is the last time Americans have felt this way? It is to be expected that in an election with such emotionally charged voters, extreme opinions will be voiced- and that’s ok.

In fact, an effigy that encourages political discourse should be encouraged, not prohibited. A gay couple in West Hollywood is simply engaging in political expression, showing their dislike of a candidate that goes against everything they believe in. Although many others would choose to express their views differently, there is no reason the couple should be castigated for taking a passionate stance on a very important election. Once we begin censoring these demonstrations of free speech, we move further and further away from the democracy we love. Free speech comes with a price- Americans will not always hear or see exactly what they want or necessarily agree with. But the consequence of limiting free speech is far greater, and we must accept differing views on important matters- regardless of the extremeness of these opinions.

After all, this is America.