On Friday, the Obama Administration changed its policy on another hot-button political issue, deportation of illegal immigrants. This of course does not include all illegal immigrants. It focuses on those who entered the United States as children (under the age of 16), are currently under 30, and meet certain requirements such as residing in the US for five years and attending school (or graduated/earned a GED) or serving in the armed forces (or honorably discharged from). In addition, the individual cannot have any felony or significant misdemeanor convictions and must not pose a threat to national security. (Read Napolitano's memo
for specifics). The executive order grants those who qualify a 2 year reprieve from deportation and will allow them to apply for work permits.
So, What is the big deal one might ask. It seems like a reasonable compromise to make for a small population (approximately 800,000) of illegal immigrants who are here due to no fault of their own. In addition, as Napolitano argues, "The change is part of a department effort to target resources at illegal immigrants who pose a greater threat, such as criminals and those trying to enter the country now,..." (15). Actually, it is very similar to provisions outlined in the DREAM Act. The order does not provide amnesty or guarantee citizenship, nor does it provide a permanent or lasting solution.
While I have strong feelings about illegal immigration and the United States' policies toward it, I am neither hard to the left or right. There are many things that Obama outlined in his vision for immigration reform that I could get behind. Some of the proposals include holding business accountable, establishing E-verify, requiring illegal immigrants to submit to rigorous security checks, deporting felons and convicts, requiring the learning of English and American civics, etc (9). Nevertheless, while I would support the policy outlined in Obama's executive order, I DO NOT SUPPORT the method, motivation, and timing behind it. As a matter of fact, I am actually quite disenchanted, to put it mildly.
So let's play hypothetical for a moment. Your child has to complete a research project on former US Presidents. Where does he/she turn?
Before the advent of computers, one would rely on a trip to the library and head straight for the reference section, most likely choosing an encyclopedia and a few non-fiction books. However, those days are long gone, and now a student does not even need to leave his/her home provided that there is an internet connection. The only caution the student must use is that the sources he/she finds must be reliable ones. In other words, most teachers will ban Wiki's, blogs, and personal websites.
So what could be one of the most reliable sources on the history of US President? I know where I would start: http://www.whitehouse.gov.
It only seems logical that the official White House website should have a section dedicated to the biographies of presidents, and it does
. By clicking on the name of any one of the 44 presidents, a student can find a concise biography that highlights important or interesting background information, events, and accomplishments as well as obstacles faced during the term . According to the website,
"The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Michael Beschloss and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association." (1) **** Just a little note here that a book title should be italicized, not placed within quotations*** The book, last published in 2009, would appear to be mostly objective, although I have not read it and cannot verify. One author, Michael Beschloss, has been described by Newsweek as "the nation's leading Presidential historian", has written 8 other books, and works with NBC News and PBS (2). Hugh Sidey, who passed away in 2005, was a journalist for Time Magazine and covered the White House and several presidents as well as serving as president of the White House
Historical Association, which publishes this book (3) (4). Based on this information, I would assume that both authors possessed the qualifications and knowledge necessary for writing such a book.
So far so good....seems like reliable, factual, historical information is readily at hand. And for the most part, I must admit that it is. BUT......
a 32 oz soda has approximately 300 calories.
One of the current news headlines "New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks" makes me shake my head, throw up my hands in despair, and sigh most emphatically. I see it as yet another attempt to regulate American life (for the supposed good of society). Rather than advocate personal choice and responsibility, politicians are again sending Americans the implied message that we are either too stupid or simply incapable of knowing what is and what isn't good for us. They know that most will only listen to the rhetoric, however biased or misleading it may be, instead of forming educated opinions. And no matter what spin anyone puts on this issue, it is really just another overstep by officials to dictate American choice.
Throughout history, there have been many efforts to help foster a healthier society. " Federal regulation of the industry began on a large scale in the early twentieth century when Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906"(4). Most food regulation is for good reasons such as avoiding the adulteration of food and drug products that could pose health risks for consumers. In 2008, New York became the first American city to require that restaurants publish the calorie content of their items on menus (5), and despite protestation from critics, it has become somewhat of a standard throughout America today. Even the current trend towards public smoking bans seems reasonable. In all of these instances, the regulations and laws work to inform consumers so that they may make educated choices in regards to their own health and to protect non-smoking individuals from exposure to possibly toxic factors such as second-hand smoke. However, I believe that there is a difference between these types of regulations and the more recent attempts to control what Americans eat and drink, all under the guise of public health.
Some of the more recent items banned in some cities and states (California and New York leading the way) have been trans fats, table salt, and food trucks. Even froi gras is now on the chopping block in California (8). Other efforts are not direct bans or regulations of food, but have a similar approach such as a ban on toys in kid's meals in California (9). Supporters and politicians claim that all of these things are in the public's best interest. "Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes" (10) . Too much sodium can lead to problems with high blood pressure and heart disease. Too much sugar can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. In regards to large sodas, Walter Millet states that "High intake of these beverages (the standard 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar) increases the risks of obesity and diabetes and is clearly unsafe for anyone" (1) .
According to an online debate, 65% of respondents argue that the government should NOT regulate fast food (12). Although this is an informal site and bears no significant recording of public opinion, it is an insight into how people feel about the issue. There are arguments for and against, and it is always productive to see both sides of an issue. One of the the things that bothers me about some of the responses is what I believe is indicative in much of our current society. Individuals do not attempt to do the research on their own in order to form educated and informed opinions. I mean, why bother to read the research and learn about the science behind the issues? It is time consuming (as I can verify through the amount of time it has taken me to complete this post). Much of the information is contradictory and confusing, especially when it comes down to interpreting statistical data. And honestly, it is just that much easier to listen to what we want to hear in order to support our own opinions. So maybe the government is right and we are just too stupid- or at least too lazy- to make our own choices. At the very least this is what these public officials are counting on.
There are several things that I have come across in my "research" that demonstrate to me how much rhetoric plays a factor over actual evidence.