Thursday, August 9, 2007

Drinking and Driving Commentary

I completely support the new law that sentences drunken drivers to life in prison if they kill first responders. First responders, such as police officers and firemen, put their lives in danger in hope to protect our citizens. We pray they never have to pay the ultimate price due to drunk drivers when this could be prevented by people gaining some sense and responsibility. I also agree that drunk drivers should be put behind bars for life for killing not only first responders, but any innocent victim. All lives are precious and it's not fair that they have to be put at risk due to drunk driving. Running into someone with one's car when under the influence is just like murder. A vehicle and alcohol together is a weapon of destruction just like a gun and bullets.
Here is the link to this classmate's editorial on which I commented:

Friday, August 3, 2007

Texas Is A Minority

Right now, Texas is one of only seven states that doesn't have income taxes. I think it may be time for Texas to change its mind about having a state income tax. Without the implementation of an income tax, Texas is forced to rely solely on sales and property taxes for the fiscal year's revenue. Both of these forms of taxing are regressive, which is when the percentage one pays of his/her income towards the tax decreases as his/her income increases. Sales tax is regressive even though everyone is taxed the same percentage on consumer products because poorer families have to give a higher percentage of their total income than wealthier families. The same applies to property taxes. Families of lower incomes pay a higher percentage of that income for property taxes. In defense of regressive taxes, though, wealthier families do pay a lower percentage in taxes, it usually comes out to be a greater dollar amount, so they are physically paying more. Most wealthy families will buy more consumer products and live on higher valued property, increasing the actual amount of money paid for taxes and added to the state's revenue. So the taxes are regressive in respect to the percentage of your income paid, but wealthy families usually end up giving a greater dollar amount.

Despite its unpopularity, having an income tax would help relieve the debate over regressive taxes and it could also be used to help fund education. Our current tax system doesn't provide enough revenue for the fiscal year to properly support school funding. Why do you think Texas rankings regarding education are so low? For example, Texas currently is ranked 45th in the United States regarding SAT scores. Not only could state income taxes help bring Texas education up to the national average, but it could also help lower property taxes. "The state constitution requires that two-thirds of any income tax be used to relieve property taxes and one-third be used to fund education" (Lovegren). An income tax also taxes anyone who is employed and taxes companies as a whole, while property taxes only include those who own property. So, those who rent a house or an apartment are exempt from property taxes, possibly making income taxes more fair. Having an income tax will also help change our tax system from regressive to progressive. In conclusion, income taxes would give a broader base of revenue for the state, and it seems to be a more fair and equitable way to tax the citizens of Texas.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Is Four Days Enough?

The Lancaster School District, which is south of Dallas, is attempting to receive the Texas Education Agency's approval for a four-day school week. By doing so, they will save an immense amount of money, which will help make up for funding deficits in the budget. The district also believes this four-day school week will improve students' academics, as students will feel less mentally and physically drained than when enduring a five day week. I don't support this proposal, though, of the Lancaster School District because if would not be universal throughout all public schools in Texas, which I find hard to see as fair. From a student's perspective who just recently graduated high school, I know I would hate it if I was going to school five days a week and my friend only four. It also seems like it would be very hard to learn all of the required curriculum and beyond in a four-day week. Switching from five-day weeks to four days also presents problems for some parents as they will have to worry about childcare and what their children are up to on Fridays. I know as a student, I would love to have four-day weeks because it wouldn't be so draining and you'd have more free time, but I don't see how it could actually boost academics or how it's fair for one district to implement this new schedule and not all public districts in Texas. Yes, students would have more free time, but chances are it will be used for recreational purposes, not for studies. Some subjects, such as mathematics, require daily practice so one doesn't forget the material. Having school less days may also lead students to work more hours, pulling them further from academics. Lastly, if Lancaster were to go to a four-day week, would teachers in that district get paid similar amounts as those in other districts, or less since they will only work four-day weeks rather than five. Unless the district if lengthening the school year to make up for the days off from a four-day week, or having longer school days than those of a five-day week, I don't think it's fair for teachers in the Lancaster District to earn salaries as high as those in other Districts with the longer week. If we're concerned about no child being left behind, quality education for all students should be top priority, not saving a few bucks.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Texas High School Steroid Testing

Last month, Texas signed into law a new Texas high school steroids testing program. This program is planned to launch in schools this fall. With the implementation of this new law, Texas would have the largest high school program for steroid testing in the country. Testing 22,000 athletes this fall, those who test positive will be suspended from their sport for 30 days. If the positive results are repeated, athletes could be permanently banned. These rules are mandated by the University Interscholastic League. Senator Kyle Janek, who originally supported the law, believing it would make high school sports much safer, now thinks the state should hold back on the new program. It was found that some over-the-counter supplements can cause positive test results. I agree with Senator Janek that there should be a hold on this new law until all glitches are fixed and it is 100% accurate without making false accusations. It would not be fair to penalize an athlete for something they possibly didn't do. Until corrected, these tests could lead to false outcomes that could ultimately affect the sports career of an aspiring professional athlete. Many people today buy supplements on the Internet, as well as over-the-counter, and their removal from sports due to inaccurate testing seems unfair. So the question is...supplements or steroids? Lets be 100% positive before we make judgment.