Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

Point-Counterpoint: Does the New Lunch System Contribute to MKA?

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Lunch is Still a Win: Gen Hughes

Imagine you are stranded in the desert. All you can think about is something delicious to satisfy your cravings before you die of hunger. MKA’s lunch system does this job. It offers sufficient amounts of food that will diminish your appetite. The new lunch system originally had some quirks, because students typing in their ID codes caused extremely long lines. But now that all the students know their codes, and have their student IDs, all the bumps have been smoothed out.

The new lunch system also prevents theft. Students can no longer simply walk out with food without paying. If a student forgets his lunch or simply desires something to eat, he no longer needs money. He can simply type in his code, or swipe his card. Lunch can’t get much easier. Junior Emily Greenberg expresses her love for the new system by saying, “Oh yeah, the new lunch system rocks.”

The Dining Hall also did away with all paper, styrofoam, and plastic. Now instead, all the utensils and plates are real. It really makes it feel like a real dining room. And it is very environmentally friendly. Everything is reusable, so MKA’s carbon foot print has contracted. All soda was removed from the cafeteria as well: students can no longer drink empty calories. They are forced to choose a healthier drink, such as water or juice.

Overall, the lunch system has proven to be highly successful and beneficial, as the basic need has been met and surpassed: students can get mouthwatering and healthy food for a fair price when they are hungry and enjoy it in comfort and style. •

 

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Preston Park

This isn’t sleep away camp. This is independent school lunch. Lunch shouldn’t be so difficult; however, the initiatives set forth and the changes made make lunch a hot, sloppy mess best served never and nowhere. But let’s just break down the new lunch to appreciate and savor the hot, steaming flaws.

First, there are the new plates and silverware. Hey, I’m a fan of sustainability, but I’m really not a fan of water stains and food residue on my cutlery. Nor am I a fan of setting my entire meal down on some offshore location to grab a fork, knife, and sometimes spoon whilst my teeth (I carry my utensils that way because I don’t believe in trays) and cuticles (reaching for a metal fork or knife these days is like reaching into the mouth of Jaws) suffer.

The new cups are really, really small. Not only has cup size shrunken, but the selection of drinks has also diminished. Dessert has lost the luster it once had. Meals are more herb-centered and vegetable-driven. Fruit water hasn’t yet died out. Pizza and quesadillas disappear quickly, and I can only take chicken salad sandwiches for so long, which prompts me to ask: Where’s the sloppy joe love, where are the hairnets, where’s the carbonation, and where are the lunch ladies?!

I think what makes “new lunch” the worst is the goopy finale in which we all take part everyday. Forks go in the fork pile, knives in theirs, cups are placed upside-down and cannot be stacked, and plates have no space? Okay, reach and bend down and stick it in there somewhere. My fingers get little bits of food on them, and I feel a little sick when I get a whiff of the hanging, black cesspools of food and drink.

But nothing is as bad as the engulfing, dishwasher humidity that steams out from the washing station—I really do feel bad for the guy in there washing our cups, I’ve had a conversation with him and he really needs a fan (both kinds).

To sum it up, “new lunch” is just not great overall–even the new napkin dispenser bothers me.  Lunch should be relaxing and pleasant, so can we at least have our plastic utensils back? •

Point-Counterpoint: Is the Petraeus Scandal Relevant to Politics?

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Americans Need to Be Able to Trust Our Leaders Completely: Madeleine Colbert

If you had told people in late October that the director of the C.I.A., David Petraeus, would soon be resigning because of a sex scandal that featured spies, the F.B.I., attractive socialites, emotionally unstable twin sisters, texting shirtless photos, and anonymous threats, they would have told you to stop watching so much TV. However, that is exactly the story that has aired in news stations all across America.

This story has rocked mainstream media, who can hardly believe their luck in being hand-delivered a fascinating story, directly after the election. However, due to the constant bombardment of this nearly fantastical news story, many people have begun to ask if the news should even be reporting it. The answer to that question is a strong yes. Soap-opera likeness aside, this story is very important in understanding our nation, and the people we have selected to run it.

David Petraeus held one of the most important jobs in America, as director of the C.I.A. He held an immense amount of power and possessed a great deal of responsibility. In order for the C.I.A. to properly run, the American people need to have complete trust in it. The Petraeus scandal greatly mars this trust, and hurts the C.I.A.’s ability to operate smoothly below the radar. The Petraeus scandal is important because it has created a large rift between the American people and their most powerful leaders.

The nature in which the Petraeus scandal was discovered is also alarming and should be shared with the American people. It makes you think to yourself, “If the director of the C.I.A. can’t maintain privacy from the F.B.I., neither can I.” The Internet has thrown American privacy into free fall. The F.B.I. does not even need a warrant to look at your email, due to the archaic Electronic Communications Privacy Act that was drafted back in 1986, before the Internet had developed into the superpower it is today.

Petraeus and the woman with whom he was having an affair, Paula Broadwell, were leaving messages to each other in the draft box of a shared email account. The government does not regard these drafts as at all private.

To put things in perspective, if you had a box of old letters that you kept under your bed, the F.B.I. would need a warrant to come get them. However, if they were online in a password-protected email account and were older than 6 months old, the F.B.I. could just sift through all of them. The same is true for private Facebook photos or Google Docs. This is an eye-opening revelation about the government’s control of supposedly private information.

Do not be fooled by the tabloid nature of the Petraeus scandal. This news story is an important event in the history of the C.I.A. and in the history of American privacy rights, so we all should pay attention to it.

 

Successful Politicians’ Personal Lives Shouldn’t Affect Their Reputations: Kelsey O’Connor

 

You know what I am worried about during a crucial election when the country is on the brink of economic ruin? General Petraeus’s personal life? Not so much.

The main point to consider is that there are far more important issues for the media to focus on: for example, the economy, the election, the Middle East crises, and Hurricane Sandy. All were pushed off the front page so that we could read about General Petraeus’s affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell (which the media conveniently did not pick up until three days after the election). His name was a worldwide trend on Twitter.

Petraeus clearly did not make a good choice, but people with his level of experience and proclivity for civil servitude are few and far between—and Petraeus is certainly not the only person to have had this lapse in judgment. If every politician who had an affair were to resign or be removed from office, there would probably not be many people left to fill these important roles. Just to name a few notable people to have made similar mistakes: Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton. Some of these men are considered among the ranks of the most brilliant political minds in our country’s history. Likewise, Petraeus has proved himself to be a valuable asset to the United States government.

Before you read this article, you probably didn’t know that Petraeus has been one of the most active individuals against terrorism. He commanded forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming Director of the C.I.A. in 2011. The Senate elected him to the directorship in a unanimous vote. His involvement in the Iraq War was significant. He led soldiers into combat in 2003 at the start of the war and commanded the 101st Airborne Division. Furthermore, he helped to launch thousands of reconstruction projects. He pushed to reopen the University of Mosul, which sparked a campaign to allocate funds for public works. Additionally, Petraeus was made the first commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, which worked to rebuild and organize the military and police forces in Iraq. From 2008 to 2010, Petraeus was head of the U.S. Central Command. In this position, he successfully oversaw U.S. military operations in dozens of countries. Upon his retirement from the Army in 2011, he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal. Did the media cover any of this?

The media hardly ever focuses on the beneficial accomplishments of individuals, but it harps on their faults. Personally, I think Petraeus’s accomplishments far outweigh his mistakes. The reality is that people like him, who help our country and others so effectively, are rare and it is irresponsible for the media and the public to condemn them forever based on one mistake.

 

Gender Diversity: Sports Reinforce Gender Roles

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

by Kassie Fotiadis

For the first time this past fall season, the MKA Volleyball team faced a gender issue. Before freshman Shelly Tsirulik brought up the issue, no boy had ever expressed interest in being a member. Shelly was not allowed to play, as it is a single-gender team, and he instead served as the manager for the 2012 season. Now, Shelly is trying to create a boys’ Volleyball team, but a lack of interest from MKA boys proves it difficult. Why does volleyball, an Olympic sport, only seem desirable to girls at MKA?

 

A few days ago, one of my friends observed that the MKA Hockey team does not allow girls. This, however, is not true. The Hockey team has a female goalie this year, Alex Reynolds ’15, and the Middle School team has another new female member: Erin Buckley, a 6th grader. Our community automatically assumes that the team excludes girls, perhaps because the sport is often viewed as “roughhousing” and “masculine.”

 

There are few teams at MKA that are co-ed and spark a large interest for both males and females. In fact, only two popular ones exist: the Swim and Track teams, both of which are non-contact sports.

 

A favorite House game among Upper School students is the male Step performance. MKA students – myself included – find boys’ stepping hysterical. What most people don’t know is that the regular Step Team tryouts are open to both boys and girls.

 

It is surprising and sad that in such a supposedly progressive society, there are still gender issues in high school sports. Males and females are not taught in class separately and do not participate in extracurricular activities separately. Yet we are almost always placed on separate sports teams. And though it is true that there are biological differences between boys and girls, as boys are physically stronger (though it kills me to admit it), why are so many sports limited to a specific gender? It seems to me that every boys’ sport should be replicated to include a girls’ team, and vice versa.

 

Perhaps school sports operate in such a gender-specific way because we attempt to emulate the real world. Professional sports contain just as much gender differentiation as that of the lower level. In professional tennis, for instance, men play 3 out of 5 sets, while women play just 2 out of 3. Even if a man can be biologically stronger, it is not proven that he has more stamina than a woman. So why is he believed to be able to play for a longer time?

 

The only way to fix a problem like the gender issues in sports is to change the system. I commend Shelly for attempting to start a boys’ volleyball team, and I wish him success. As this year’s diversity theme is gender issues, I encourage the rest of the MKA community to keep it in mind, even in areas like sports.

Are the Presidential Candidates Taking Advantage of the Opportunity of Debate?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

by Alexa Bieler

The first presidential debates have ended, and each candidate was looking to leave a positive mark. But are the debates, an outgrowth of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (for any juniors reading this), as important as we make them out to be? Only twice since 1967 has the candidate who won the debates also won the presidency. Are the debates completely obsolete? No.

It has been a tough road for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. It is the sad truth for the party and the brunt of pundit jokes that Republicans aren’t in love with Romney. It was a hard road through the primaries, battling the effervescent Michelle Bachman and presidential-looking Rick Perry; now he faces the incumbent President, and things have not been going well. Romney’s campaign has gained the reputation of being gaff-prone, having rebooted a few times since the official confirming of the nomination in Tampa, Florida. The most recent slip-up, a video released by the Mother Jones website, was secretly recorded at a Romney fundraiser. The ill-fated video infamously shows Romney telling donors that they, the Republican Party, will not receive votes from the entitled 47% of the country—dependent individuals who believe they are victims, as Romney claims. The video went viral on Monday, September 17th, and has been an extremely popular topic of discussion since.

Romney is looking to revamp his public image during these debates. During the primaries he was good at sparring with the likes of Rick Santorum and John McCain, but he came off as insincere. The American people see Romney as a member of the 1%. If he wants to utilize the debates to change his image, he has to appeal to the lower/middle class. These debates are his last chance, on a big world stage, to show the American people that he isn’t detached from the common folk, although the aforementioned video definitely made that hard.

The results of the first debate are currently rocky: though neither candidate was on his A game, Romney is largely believed to have “won” the debate, since he came off as more confident than Obama. He also attempted to appeal to the majority of Americans with a reference to Sesame Street. Though this may have come off as desperate and awkward to many people, for some, it worked.

Mr. Obama, the incumbent, is currently leading in the polls, a surprise for a President whose economy is in the hopper. Although Obama has not yet alienated our closest European ally, England, there have been other issues. On the 11th anniversary of September 11th, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked, killing four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. In the week that followed, speculation was rampant but hard facts scarce.  Initially, the White House believed the attack was in response to the “Innocence of Muslims” video on YouTube. As days passed, however, it became clear that the attack was a pre-planned terrorist strike. The shifting opinion has caused many Republicans to accuse the President of a cover-up, pointing to a weak take on foreign policy.

With this in mind, we turn to the debates.   The challenge of an incumbent in an election year is to defend his record while pointing to the future.   Obama had to deflect Romney’s attacks deftly and firmly if he were to come out ahead in this debate.  Romney has no presidential record to defend, but this doesn’t make his job any easier.  With his history at Bain, his rejection of the auto industry bailout and his sharp criticism of the 47%, he has an uphill battle to prove to the American people that he is sincere when he says he wants to help all Americans.

This is your future being debated. It is no doubt that suspicion has been cast on Obama with these recent accusations, and because he is the incumbent, since he didn’t exactly crush Romney, the Republicans count it as a victory.

Obama must keep his calm and make himself as trustworthy as possible in the next few weeks, or else the pundits will be all over him. •

 

The First Primaries

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Although there have only been three primary elections for the 2012 presidential Republican candidacy, the results have already had major impact.

The first primary, as is customary, was the Iowa caucus on January 7th. For those who don’t know, a caucus is a much longer process than a typical primary election. Before voting, supporters of campaigns are able to try to convince others to vote for their candidates. After supporters for each candidate have made their presentations, all voters are given pieces of paper, on which they write their choices.

After the votes from all 1,774 locations were counted, the results were very surprising. Initially, Mitt Romney appeared to have won with only 8 votes more than Rick Santorum. When a more exact count came in, though, it showed that Santorum had beaten Romney by several hundred ballots, with both men taking approximately a quarter of the votes. Behind them was Ron Paul, and trailing behind were Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Michelle Bachmann. This prompted Michelle Bachmann to drop out.

One week later, the second primary occurred in New Hampshire. This was a typical primary election, with voters filling out printed or electronic ballots to vote for their favorite candidate. This time Romney won a major victory, with Paul, Huntsman, Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry all far behind. After this, Huntsman and Perry dropped out, with Huntsman supporting Romney and Perry supporting Gingrich.

Several weeks after that was the South Carolina primary. Many consider this election to have been the most accurate in predicting the winning Republican presidential candidate. In this case, Gingrich surged ahead to win a crucial victory, way ahead of Romney, Santorum, and Paul.

The most recent primary took place in Florida on January 31st. Romney regained his lead, beating Gingrich by 10%. Santorum and Paul trailed behind again.

There are many primary elections still to come in the upcoming weeks and months, but what these results show is that it is still a very close race and it is still possible for almost any of the candidates in the race to still become the Republican presidential nominee.

Alex Besser ’13

MKA’s New Rules: Are They Overkill?

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

As I walked through the locker lounge after track practice last week, rehydrating as necessary, I tripped over a backpack on the floor. In what seemed like slow motion, my water bottle slipped from my grasp and floated gracefully through the air, cap loosely fitted upon the mouthpiece.  It flipped and crashed to the ground with a resounding thump. I tried not to look, for fear of the chaos that might ensue—but I worked up my courage and peered cautiously toward the carpet. My worst fears were confirmed: the water had spilled. What had I done?

About twenty minutes later, all evidence of the event had evaporated, leaving behind only a damp trace of the mishap.

While the locker lounge was certainly a mess last year, water was not the issue.  Starbucks, Skittles, Mountain Dew and Enzo’s were the problem. Complaints of pretzels ground into the carpet could be heard, but no one complained about non-existent water stains. So why has possession of illegal water become a detention-worthy offense?

One main issue with the rule of no water in the locker lounge is the vague nature of the mandate. The rule cannot be found in the handbook.  Students are permitted to walk through the halls with a water bottle, but cannot walk with closed water bottles in the locker lounge. I see students stuff water bottles in their pocket to avoid receiving a detention while walking from the main lobby to the arts wing. I see teacher give detentions to students for walking with water bottles in the halls, while that is perfectly legal under the outlines of the new law. No one seems to actually understand the decree, not even many of the teachers enforcing it. Alex Kelly received a detention for holding a closed water bottle in the locker lounge, from a teacher with a cup of coffee in hand.  Kieran Powell has received 4 detentions this year for simply hydrating properly so he could presumably work on his jumper or “get big” in the gym after school. Greg Froelich has run into trouble keeping us his necessary intake of water to counteract the protein and supplements he takes, due to the banishment of his trademark water jug.

The locker lounge is supposed to be a place of comfort, and this year an aura of tension has replaced the usual ambiance. While I don’t necessarily agree with the fact that we cannot drink anything in the locker lounge, I can understand it.  What I cannot understand, however, is why a student cannot hold a sealed water bottle in the area unless they are willing to spend a sunny Tuesday morning in room 24 for detention.  If students agree to carry only clear water bottles in the locker lounge, then there should be no issue.  It would be understood that anything besides a plastic bottle filled with clear liquid would be worthy of a detention, and perhaps the carpet would be slightly more sanitary with the occasional shower it would receive from a student spilling a bit of the odorless, colorless liquid.  Alas, we shall continue to be detained for taking swigs from our water bottles, unless something is done about the rule.  Until that day, dehydration will continue to be as common at the Academy as laptops and designer peacoats, perhaps causing us to lose a sporting event, or worse, a student athlete, due to lack of hydration.

Billy Lennon ‘12 Staff Writer

Point-Counterpoint: Legalization of Marijuana in America

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

The Unrecognized Threat

It goes by many names: pot, dope, grass, weed, herb, hash, bud, cannabis, reefer, or Mary Jane, but no matter what you call it, marijuana is one of the biggest problems facing teens today. Nowadays, more and more Americans are starting to change their opinions on the use of marijuana. Recently a Gallup poll reported that public support for the legalization of marijuana has nearly doubled over the past two decades to a point at which, for the first time in history, more people in the United States are for legalization than are against it. What many don’t realize is how detrimental this finding is to society.

Studies show that many users of hard drugs originally started with smoking marijuana. Researchers also found a direct correlation between how young people are when they start using marijuana and how likely they are to engage in other risky behaviors later in life. One MKA sophomore astutely points out that if it becomes easier for people to get marijuana, “it can lead to more car accidents” and other major problems.

Some try to compare marijuana to alcohol, an intoxicating substance that is legal. What they are disregarding is that, unlike alcohol, the sole purpose of smoking marijuana is to achieve a high. They may rightfully argue that marijuana contains no addictive substances; however, it still can cause behavioral addiction, in which smokers are unable to abstain from use, and regularly crave the use of marijuana. The National Institute of Drug Addiction says that addicts report experiencing irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, and craving for the drug for up to two weeks following their cease of drug use.

For teens, quitting using may be especially difficult, because in many parts of the country, smoking marijuana has become more of a social occurrence.  It happens with friends or acquaintances, so quitting marijuana means more than just leaving the drug: it also may mean leaving friends.

One reality we must accept is that regardless of marijuana’s illegality, people will still continue to use it. Some view the drug’s illegal status as a positive force that reduces the dangers marijuana users face.  One MKA junior points out, “The kids who smoke it do bad things, and I think that the illegality of it helps keep their misdeeds from getting out of control.” This junior continues on an anti-legalization point: even those who do smoke marijuana, the student says, “don’t want to get caught doing it, so they’re more cautious about doing dumb things after using it. The less they think about their actions smoking it, the less they’ll think about what they do after smoking it, and I think that that could lead to some really bad things.” The fear of getting caught and arrested makes rebellious smokers more careful of their actions and less likely to put themselves and others at risk.

Marijuana is not a minor societal problem that should be ignored, but rather the exact opposite. Let this be a call to arms for us, as students especially, to start fighting this. The United States is slowly losing their awareness of this issue, as public opinion slowly shifts due to lack of appreciation of marijuana’s dangers. With enough work, we can end marijuana’s attack on America’s youth and make our world a safer place.

Alex Besser ‘13 Staff Writer

 

Pro-Legalization

When discussing the legal- ization of marijuana, it’s not only important to consider the drug’s potential effects on the individual and society, but also to consider our country’s current standards for legal recreational drugs, and how marijuana fits in. The two most popular legal recreational drugs used in the U.S. today are alcohol and tobacco, which are consumed regularly by an estimated 70% and 23% of the U.S. population over the age of 12, respectively. Annually, alcohol and tobacco cause an estimated 600,000 deaths in the United States; however, there has never been a recorded death directly caused by the consumption of marijuana. Alcohol is proven to cause brain and liver damage, and tobacco is proven to cause cancers in the lungs, throat, and mouth. And while previous studies of marijuana have reported finding brain damage among its users, recent studies have failed to discover any of the drug’s damaging long-term effects.

Essentially, the question of whether marijuana has long-term negative health affects is still in debate. That’s why it’s shocking that our government has to audacity to list marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which states that the drug has high potential for abuse, and no medicinal value, despite the fact that the drug is an accepted form of medicine in 16 states and Washington, D.C. Interestingly enough, while marijuana remains on a government list of the most dangerous drugs, it has no physically addictive properties—unlike caffeine, which is sold through candy and soda in public schools. When used in modera- tion, marijuana simply puts its users at ease, and allows them to relax and unwind, much like a glass of wine, for example. Obviously, people should be careful not to abuse the substance and depend on it for happiness, but the same thing can be said about alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and even internet use. Marijuana can be used as a safe and responsible way to enjoy oneself, and I think that considering the low health risks of the drug when compared to other legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, our government shouldn’t spend so much time and money trying to keep it out of our hands.

Every year, our government spends over $40 billion in attempts to keep marijuana illegal and house prisoners arrested for possession charges. Our government could, through legalization and taxation, both save and generate billions of dollars that could be used to improve our education system and generate jobs, among many other things. Another thing to consider is that if marijuana were legalized and taxed, the illegal growing, trafficking, and sale of the drug would virtually disappear. It disturbs me to think that people can willingly waste our taxpayers’ money, support corrupt cartels and gangs and their violence, and risk the lives of police officers and border patrol agents.

Marijuana’s negative effects are minimal, and its legalization would both save billions of dollars and thousands of lives. I think it’s time for our generation to assume responsibility for our nation’s foolish actions and seize the opportunity that is the legalization of marijuana.

Will Dudek ‘13 Issue Contributor

Point-Counterpoint: “Occupy Wall Street:” Positive Change or Unreasonable Effort?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Protestors Deserve a Second Chance

Ah, the trails and tribulations of life on Easy Street.

Wall Street has certainly had its beatings recently, and with good reason. I completely support the recent “Occupy Wall Street” protests. America’s financial mess can be attributed to the overzealous businessmen who have sold risky, high-interest bonds in the never-ending quest of money. The “too big to fail” mentality completely destroyed companies that existed on Wall Street, such as Lehman Brothers.

Not only were the individual financiers to blame, but so were the investment service companies such as Standard & Poor’s (S&P) that deliberately rated obviously precarious bonds higher than they were, in order to entice naïve buyers. The Wall Street protestors are completely indignant with the fact that businessmen have not faced legitimate repercussions for their actions. However, the protestors (and America, for that matter) are past that.

The real problem now is in the job market; too many people are unemployed. Slogans such as “We are the 99%”, in indirect reference to the top 1% of people who control our nation’s economic well-being, permeate the streets of New York City.

However, the protestors have a genuine action plan as well: they are pleading for a reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law that was repealed by President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1999. The Glass-Steagall Act was originally created in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, in an attempt to limit the actions of investment bankers. I completely support this decision, because the carelessness of financiers led to the financial crisis in the U.S., so the reemergence of the Glass-Steagall Act is exactly what our country needs.

Not only do I support this cause, but the government of New York City has also remained relatively calm in response to the protestors. On September 17, Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference, “People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it.” The protestors are simply voicing the opinions of many people around this country. In addition, the protests have added significance, because they are an example of “direct democracy”, a system of living in which people take society’s problems into their own hands. Clearly, society is rooting for these passionate mavericks.

While I remain optimistic about this cause, not all people do, which will pose problems for America’s future. For example, Herman Cain, 2012 Republican presidential candidate, argued, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks; if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” This strong opinion clashes with that of President Barack Obama who said in a news conference on October 6, “I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country … and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place.”

Obviously, the U.S. is infamous for its disagreements between political parties, but inefficiency in the government is certainly not something that our country needs right now. While I support the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors, the future looks bleak for America.

 Danielle Charpentier ‘13 Staff Writer

 

Ineffective Protesting Demonstrates Hypocrisy

The Occupy Wall Street movement consists of a whole lot of angry people with a jumble of concerns. Some think money is unevenly distributed in society, and others feel that the government favors the wealthy. Some believe that large corporations possess too much power and money, while others are opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some just like a good protest. Though some of their concerns are valid, the protesters are going about making a difference in the wrong way.

The main problem with Occupy Wall Street is the disorganized way the protesters are trying to cause change. Day in and day out, the protesters sleep in public parks and crowd public buildings. They make speeches and picket signs. Instead of complaining to and speaking with government officials, they are making a spectacle for media attention. But what good does this do them, other than being sleepless and possibly seen on television?

Rather than simply standing around and creating this spectacle, the protesters should act. They would have a better chance of making a difference if they were to utilize the many alternatives that our country provides. They could speak with their elected government representatives, run for office themselves, or seek out and support new candidates who will implement their positions.

This is why America is so great: every single citizen can have a voice in the government. All we need to do is vote.  Not all countries in the world even allow this – this is why the colonists separated from Great Britain, and why so many in this country later fought for equal voting rights for women and African Americans. People still die fighting for this right in other countries.

These protesters are ignoring a great opportunity, and taking for granted how lucky they are. Instead of sitting around, complaining and accomplishing nothing, they could be making real change. It is true that it is more difficult to actually go out, be proactive, and change something, rather than complaining about it, but that is the price of results. In life, people do not become successful if they do not work towards their goal.

Ironically, the people being protested have worked incredibly hard. The protesters could look at that elite 1% as an inspiration to work hard, study hard, and be determined to do the best they can to provide for themselves. Some could argue that members of the 1% inherited their money; however, someone had to work for that money for it to even be inherited.

Work drives all life, while complaining does not. Protesters, therefore, are actually working against themselves rather than helping themselves succeed economically.

What separates the U.S. from every other country in the world is the concept of the American Dream. Any person, of any religion, race, background, gender, or sexual orientation, can come from nothing and succeed by virtue of hard work and determination. This is what makes America special, and why so many people who live in other parts of the world want to live here. The Occupy Wall Street protesters either do not understand the American Dream, or are unwilling to put in the hard work to achieve it. Rather than taking advantage of the opportunities our society gives all of us to participate in government, the protesters are just complaining from the sidelines, throwing away the opportunities others would kill to have. What a shame.

 Madison Rivlin ‘15 Issue Contributor

 

Point-Counterpoint: Obama’s Job Plans

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

A Step In The Right Direction

It’s time for the politicians in Washington to stop playing party games and start thinking about the American people.  On Thursday, September 8th President Obama released his American Jobs Act, a 447 billion-dollar plan to create jobs and to stimulate America’s still stagnant economy. The bill will repair schools, build infrastructure, and create job opportunities for teachers, construction workers, veterans, and many more. It will offer tax credit to businesses that hire veterans and those jobless for more than 6 months; it will also provide a tax cut for businesses that hire new employees or raise their current employees’ wages, as well as extend unemployment insurance for the 9.1% of Americans who do not have jobs. It also will repeal subsidiaries for oil companies and place a limit on tax deductions.

During his speech the President told Congress and the Senate to “pass this bill” twelve times. This may seem redundant, but the American people have suffered long enough at the whim of big business. Many politicians seem to think that taxing the wealthy will stop them from hiring employees but history says otherwise. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, passed by then-President Bill Clinton, raised taxes for corporations, eliminated the tax cap on Medicare, raised the fuel tax and the taxable portion of social security. The House at the time was a democratic majority, and not a single Republican voted for it; however, the unemployment rate fell from 6.8 percent to 3.9 percent by the end of Clinton’s second term and personal income increased to 7.5 percent a year from the 5.2 percent in years past. We must take history’s lesson and trust in the Jobs Act to boost America’s economy and to get hardworking citizens back to work. We have given millionaires, banks and corporations generous tax breaks so that they can (technically) hire more employees, but the wealthy will not create jobs until they feel as though their companies are safe and their products are being purchased, yet consumers will not consume until they have jobs. Perhaps it is time for the wealthy to sacrifice a little of their fortune, so that teachers can educate the future leaders, and families can afford the basic necessities.

However, just as no Republicans voted for Clinton’s bill in 1993, I would not be surprised if few Republicans support this job act and this time the Democrats do not have the majority.  And despite working in a system born from compromise, there will be no compromise by the Republican Party who has chosen to submit to its far right contingent rather than to its constituency. I believe it is the responsibility on Congress to stop blocking Obama and start working as a team: pass the jobs bill, and begin to respect the well being of the American people.

Alexa Bieler ‘13 Staff Writer

 

An Argument Against Obama’s New Jobs Act

On the night of Thursday, September 8, President Barack Obama delivered a speech to Congress in which he laid out detailed plans for his new “American Jobs Act.” This new jobs plan proposes to spend over $400 billion in an attempt to boost the slumping economy and rising unemployment rate in the U.S., two things that have risen so dramatically over the last few years that most Americans have become almost numb to them. While President Obama certainly has noble intentions with this new plan, there are simply too many flaws in it, suggesting that it is almost certainly destined for failure.

First and foremost, it should not be forgotten that our federal government has absolutely no resources. Obama, whose approval rates are currently at an all-time low, wants to fund huge construction projects, schools, and services, while also providing tax breaks to workers and small businesses. However, this money must all come from somewhere other than our government, as we are already $14.7 trillion in debt. Unfortunately, if this bill is passed, the U.S. will almost certainly be plunged substantially further into debt, an outcome that should be avoided at all costs. Yet this increased national deficit is not the only problem with Obama’s suggested method of spending: he also plans to pay for the jobs plan with reductions in Social Security and an increase in the age required for Medicare, from 65 to 67. These actions, if taken, would undoubtedly create serious hardship for an American population that already struggles financially.

Not only is Obama’s way of paying for his plan very questionable, there is no evidence that it will even succeed in creating more jobs. One of the ways in which he plans to add more jobs is by offering tax breaks to firms hiring new employees. While this may seem like a good idea, in reality it is unlikely to do much at all. For example, it is very doubtful that a company would be willing to take on a $50,000 a year salary just for the $3,500 in payroll taxes and $4,000 tax credit that come with it. While companies certainly welcome tax breaks associated with hiring, they do nothing to increase demand, the real catalyst for new jobs. This is just one of the many proposed “job boosters” in the bill, but it paints a clear image of the overall plan. While they may look good at first, many of the propositions have no hope of succeeding. There are a few gems hidden in the act, but in general it seems as if President Obama is making a desperate attempt at boosting his steadily declining approval ratings in preparation for next year’s election.

Nicholas Lokker ‘14 Staff Writer

 

Does the “Code of Attire” Go Too Far?

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

At this point in my high school life, I have generally come to terms with the MKA dress code. Though I spent a considerable and gross amount of time complaining about the stringencies of the rules of attire, I now better understand why a dress code of some kind is a very effective way for MKA to both band together as a community and remain focused on education, not style. However, after dozens upon dozens of experiences in which I or my fellow students have been told to consult the Student Handbook for rules and regulations regarding the code of attire, I took it upon myself to actually follow up on this often preached, never performed recommendation.

Flipping to the “Code of Attire” section of the handbook, one encounters several key sections. One covers the Definition of the Code of Attire, another the policy regarding Dress Down Days, and several other regarding lesser- known sections (including a surprisingly explicit coverage of body piercings and tattoos). However, the section I found most interesting (and ultimately most thought-provoking) was the one entitled, “The Spirit of the Code of Attire”. Upon reading, one passage in particular struck me:

“At MKA, we feel that the school is the workplace of the student. Therefore, each student is expected to dress accordingly. Since all dress options cannot be delineated as to appropriateness, we expect students to make choices for daily dress that are in the spirit of the dress code. That is, there is a large wardrobe of attire that students know is appropriate and other wardrobe choices that may be deemed inappropriate. Students’ choice of dress should be appropriate for school and should not distract others from their work because it is suggestive, garish, or offensive.”

This passage, taken from page 55 of the MKA Handbook, leaves several considerations about the dress code open to interpretation. As long as a student wears clothing that is appropriate in a workplace of learning and is in no way suggestive or offensive, it could be argued that this piece of clothing qualifies as within the spirit of the dress code.

Before one goes the route of James Dean and rebels against the dress code, however, it is important to note that the actual choices and specifics of dress code are explicated in the handbook as well. However, it is this author’s opinion that a piece of clothing that fits the description of “within the spirit of the Code of Attire” has a strong argument for inclusion in the dress code moving forward. One example of this type of grey area is the sweater. After reading this article, look around during the day. It is likely that more than a handful of students throughout the schools will be wearing some type of v-neck or zipped sweater; in fact, teachers are nearly just as likely to wear them. Why not? A sweater is the perfect example of an article of clothing that I find fits the boundaries of being within the spirit of the Code of Attire perfectly. I, for one, have never been offended or distracted from my learning by the particularly striking color of a classmate’s sweater. However, students are only allowed to wear the Vineyard Vine MKA sweaters, not just any sweater of their choosing. What’s more, while an MKA sweater exists in the bookstore (and is a nice way to express school spirit by those who choose to purchase them), forcing a student to shell out more money for extraneous clothing seems almost insulting. In this economy, families need to be more frugal than ever before, and I know for a fact that many families would much prefer to send their children to school wearing nice looking clothing that they already own.

In no way am I suggesting a sartorial revolution, but I do request some leniency and tolerance on the part of the administration with regards to this subject. This hardly affects me on a personal level; with only months until graduation, my days living beneath the reign of MKA’s fashion squadron are nearly over. But for the sake of integrity in a school that professes to hold this value dear, I believe this aspect of school life should be reevaluated.

-Andrew Lokker ’11