Sunday, December 15, 2013

No Work...No Money....

Some call it "Welfare" while others call it "Entitlements"... Some can argue that it is a nation's "moral responsibility" to aid those that are less fortunate, while others will argue that doing so on the back of others is an unfair system.  Regardless of which side of the issue you may be on, one thing is for sure - the welfare debate is only beginning; not only in the United States, but elsewhere in the world, as governments around the globe begin to struggle with mounting debt and having to make serious budget cuts.

Without a doubt, it is going to be a topic that the United States is going to have to address in the very near future; especially in light of new figures that have recently been released that indicate that over 100 MILLION Americans are currently receiving some type of Federal Welfare.  Opponents of the growing welfare programs argue that the United States is becoming a "Welfare State" and that the middle class and the wealthy are the ones that are being "forced" to pay for these programs - mainly through increased taxes.  Likewise, those that proclaim that the programs are vital due to the current economy, make the argument that those that have jobs should be assisting those that are without and even more so, that the weight of the funding for these programs should come from "taxing the rich" at a much higher rate.

Furthermore,  most individuals that are against the increased funding for the numerous federal welfare programs that exist claim that a large portion of those that are receiving these funds are abusing the system and "just lazy" - getting money for nothing.  Why would they want to work if they are going to get "free money" and "free healthcare"?  Those that are benefiting from these programs claim that there aren't any jobs and that it's not their fault.

One of the ideas that has recently gained traction is that those that receive a welfare check should be forced to work.  The argument is that there are plenty of volunteer jobs that recipients can work at; soup kitchens, hospitals, schools, picking up litter, etc.  Those that disagree with this approach argue that "forcing" people to work would be the same as slavery - forcing someone to do something they didn't want to do and that doing so would be unconstitutional.

So... I bet you can guess what this week's blog topic is.....

BLOG TOPIC: Should those that receive welfare benefits be forced to work x-number of hours per week in order to qualify to receive the benefits?

This week's blog topic was contributed by Lady Tank.....

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nelson Mandela


This week, the world lost one of the greatest leaders it has been blessed to have, Nelson Mandela.  This week, we're going to discuss one of his many great quotes that will now live forever within the annals of history.  I hope that each one of you take some time to do some research on this great leader and that read some of his work, at some point in your life.  He was a positive light upon this world and learning more about him will only have one effect on your life and that effect will be a positive one!

This week's Blog Topic:
Analyze the following quote from Mr. Mandela:

"I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man."

BONUS: Feel free to add any knowledge you may have about this great man, or something that you learned recently about Mandela that has left an impression on you, personally.

SPECIAL NOTE: This week's blog topic was suggested by one of my APUSH 2 students.  If you have a topic you'd like for us to discuss, drop me an email.  If I like it, I'll post it!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Good Science...bad science???

Oddly enough, we’re going to continue on our “science” type theme this week, but with a slight (or major) twist.  I didn’t actually plan it this way, originally, but heard this great discussion on how “beneficial” science really is…or isn’t…
Science, for the most part, is the accumulation of knowledge in a systematic method to create general truths on the operation of the universe, most commonly referring to “the physical world and its phenomena, the nature, constitution, and forces of matter, the qualities and functions of living tissues.” (Webster’s) For this blog it can be understood to be the development and utilization of new technology and the expansion of human knowledge in the modern era, though it should be noted that not all technological advances are from rigorous scientific analysis (such as the industrial revolution) and science has only significantly influenced technology in the last two centuries. What it means to be human is itself another debate, but here it can be understood to be both the collective entity of the human race and the defining features of humans which make them distinguishable from other beings (you know, what separates you from your dog or cat or other life forms).
Advancements in science have occurred for thousands of years as far back as the Ancient Greeks (who many believe invented scientific principles), and their effects are becoming ever more pronounced. Production has shifted to mechanized factories and even killing in warfare is being replaced in parts with unmanned drones. The boundaries of medicine are being expanded with possibilities of cloning and stem cell research. Science has allowed acts that would otherwise be impossible for humans to consider undertaking. It has created previously unknown abilities to heal the sick or destroy all of humanity with Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Blog Topic: The question is whether or not being able to undertake those acts is a benefit, and whether science does more to improve lives or harm them.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Foreign STEM Graduates

Here at Secaucus High School, we have what is known as the STEM Academy (aka Science & Math Academy...or the Math and Science Academy... depending on your preference.... kind of like which came first, the chicken or the egg...)

As the U.S. economy staggers out of recession, many see the growth of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, known collectively as STEM, to be crucial in keeping the United States competitive on the global stage.

In addition to facilitating the study of these fields among American youths, some STEM proponents argue that immigrants who come to the United States to learn about the sciences should be encouraged to stay here once they have graduated. They fear that otherwise, foreign STEM grads will take their skills and education to their home countries, costing America the opportunity for job-creating innovation. The STAPLE Act, which would grant immigrants who earn Ph.D.’s in STEM fields permanent residency and exempt them from immigrant quota limitations, is one initiative being proposed to keep foreign STEM graduates on U.S. soil in the hopes that they will create successful companies and more jobs for Americans.

Opponents say this and similar measures would have the opposite effect, taking jobs away from Americans and suppressing wages in the fields. In addition, many opponents feel that the over emphasis on STEM related subjects belittles the other equally academic fields in the Arts and Humanities.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and author of The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal and How Obama is Transforming America Through Immigration, feels that the idea is a good one, as long as it's restricted to those receiving a Ph.D.  He stated:

""Staple a green card to every foreign STEM grad's diploma!" say the politicians and lobbyists. But the real question is, which foreign STEM graduates should get green cards?
Foreign students getting bachelor's degrees most certainly shouldn't, because that level of achievement is hardly special. Even the tech companies pushing for the "staple" legislation don't want that; Texas Instruments's human resources director testified before Congress last year that her firm doesn't sponsor foreign students with bachelor's degrees because there are plenty of Americans to choose from. In fact, there were in 2010 1.8 million Americans with engineering bachelor's degrees who were not working in engineering. And that's not all STEM fields—just engineering."

Dr. Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California opposes this idea and any legislation that would promote this program.  Dr. Matloff wrote:

"Flooding the STEM labor market with foreign students produces stagnant wages. This disincentivizes many of our best and brightest young Americans who hold STEM degrees from seeking careers in the field; instead, they often pursue law or M.B.A. degrees. Reportedly 25 percent of Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering graduates now go to Wall Street instead of launching careers in technology. Proponents of "staple a green card" proposals should worry about an internal brain drain in the United States."

Blog Topic Question:
Should foreign STEM graduates get green cards? If so, should it be restricted to only those that obtain a Ph.D in their field

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blast off to Mars!!

Ok, I know that the title of this blog may sound strange (yes, I would also agree), but let me explain.  This week, we are going to pretend that all of us have volunteered to be the first people to colonize the planet Mars.  Water has been found and scientist have been cultivating the planet so that it can sustain life.  The reality is that you're a long way from home....a really long way....(it would make the separation from say the historical "Old World" and "New World" look like a simple walk across the street!!).

So, as you prepare for your trip to the Red Planet, we have to decide on a few things....

This Week's Blog Questions:

You can carry only three things with you (due to strict weight limitations)... what would you take?
Think about the make up of your class.  Someone has to be in charge...who?  What type of government are you going to put into place?  What are some of the rules that you would establish that would be non-negotiable?  What do you do with those that refuse to obey the rules?

PS> Even though this is somewhat of a "fun" blog topic this week, the answers to the above questions aren't as easy to answer as one may think.  The decisions that you make will have MAJOR implications and may determine if you survive or not!  Give your responses some thought.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Feared or Loved?

Let's say that you suddenly found out that you were a relative of a king or queen of a powerful country and the ruler is childless.  The king or queen suddenly dies and the people of that country begin scrambling to find how is the closest heir to the throne... and they discover that it is YOU!

Now you are faced with the key question of which Machiavelli wrote about in his book The Prince.  Machiavelli asked the question: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse.  Machiavelli's response was "The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared.  But since the two rarely come together,l anyone compelled to chose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved."

This week's Blog Topic:
As a ruler, it is better to be loved or feared?  Be sure to defend your answer and provide clear examples for support.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Is It Possible??

A young man I went to college with once told me that he had an awesome dream that one day, not too far into the future, a group of people were going to sit down and come up with a way to bring about world peace.  He said that in his dream that intellectual people from all over the world met at some big conference and were sitting around a large circular table and for days debated on how to bring about true world peace.  As with most dreams that we have, he couldn't recall what the solution was nor any of the various arguments that had been made - only that he remembered that in the last part of his dream news media from all over the world were spreading the news of their success.  I'll never forget how about 10 of my friends sat for hours discussing rather or not that could ever be possible.... or if it is nothing more than a pipe dream.

So, this week, you're going to dive into the conversation and see what you, the future of this planet believe and think about the possibility of "true world peace."  Before you develop your answer, you do have to consider a few key things.  One, you'd have to be able to identify what are the main things that divide the people around the earth (i.e., politics, religion, economics, etc.) and secondly, what issues, if any, could we develop effective compromises on that would allow us to come together.  Trust me, it's not an easy topic nor would it be an easy task - but if history has taught us anything, it has taught us that doing nothing, ALWAYS results in nothing and if people want to do something bad enough, humankind normally finds a way (both for good and bad).

Is world peace truly obtainable?  Why or why not?  What issues will keep us from obtaining a workable compromise?  What issues could possibly bring us together?  Or is obtaining true world peace, simply a dream?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Boulder....

As we begin our study of the Exploration Period in class this week, I thought it would be interesting to discuss what you believe would be a "Boulder Event" that would have a dramatic change on the Earth, dramatically effecting humankind, much like events that took place during Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and the Exploration Period.

Due in large to the Scientific Revolution, the Exploration Period was able to take place due to the advancements in technology - the development of the compass, the sextant, the astrolabe, and a number of key advancements.  With these major advancements in tools of navigation, people began to expand outward and to explore the world, which had positive and negative results.

So, with that theme in mind.....

This Week's Topic Question is:

What "invention" would revolutionize the world today and create a major "Boulder Event" that would have not only an immediate effect, but would also have a major impact on humankind years beyond?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What's "Right"? What's "Wrong"?

A historian's job isn't to determine what events in history are "right" or which ones are "wrong" - but the problem that lies with this approach is that historians are "human," and by that fact alone, it is often difficult to separate the human element from the simple recording and "objective" evaluation.  Yet, philosophers, of which there are many great examples (such as Socrates, Aristotle, Hegel, Locke, Hobbs, etc.), on the other hand have the ability to look at a wider perspective of events.  They often provide us with bits and pieces of wisdom that we, ourselves, can devour and analyze.

For this week's topic, we are going to take the words of such a philosopher and you, the great and awesome members of Lord Gehm's WCH class, are going to do the "devouring" and the "analyzing" of his bit of wisdom.  Remember, you don't have to agree (for, as we know, we all have opinions), but we do have to defend our point of view.

This Week's Topic:

"Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right or wrong. They are conflicts between two rights." (Georg Wilheim Friedrich Hegel) - Analyze this statement.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cause and Effect

Throughout our study of history, one thing always remains constant - Cause and Effect.  As we have often discussed in class, history does not happen in a vacuum.  Every single event, from the "Big Bang" to more recent events such as 9/11, had a beginning and something caused that event to happen. Not only did something cause the event to happen, the event had an effect.  All of you are completely familiar with the concept of.... wait for it.... get ready.... "RIPPLES!!" We discussed the grain of sand effect (almost unnoticeable ripple effect) to the bolder (very large ripple!) within the "pool" of time and history.  This week, we are going to look at the "bolder effects" on history.

TOPIC: What event in history do you think has had the greatest impact on mankind?  Why?

Remember, each of you are required to post and each of you should comment on others post - you may or may not agree with someone's opinion, but keep in mind that each one of you of you have the right to your own opinion.  All post and comments must be done respectfully and written in proper English (sorry, not text message lingo!).

Welcome to WCH Blogging!!!!

This blog is to help students to be able to "discuss" topics beyond the classroom and hopefully be beneficial to them when discussing current affairs, historical topics, and yes, with your writing. Keep in mind that this is to be an additional tool that helps you in this class and should NOT be considered something that was designed to create more work on you.

With that said, each student is expected to contribute to the conversation.  You will receive a quiz score for your contribution to each topic that is posted.  Each one of you must post an original post (your own thoughts and opinion) and you must comment on at least three (3) other fellow student's post - provide feedback - both positive and negative (respectful criticism, at all times).  Each one of you will be scored on the contribution you make and the responses you make to others' post.  Please note: responses to someone else's post does not include comments such as "nice post," "I fully agree," or any form like those.  Your responses must be insightful and thought out.

Keep in mind that at times, some of the topics can be controversial and it is extremely important that you always respect the opinions of others.  Any student that purposely belittles another student's post will be dealt with in accordance to school policy. The rule of thumb is: "Agree to Disagree."  All of us have the right to our opinions and just because you do not agree with someone else's point of view, does not make them "stupid" or "dumb." Present your arguments intelligently and your counter-arguments respectfully.

Proper grammar DOES COUNT and you need to write in complete sentences.

So, here we go on this new adventure in learning from each other - let's have fun with it, but at the same time, learn.

Good blogging!