NAFTA- North American Free Trade Agreement

Intelligent brains in the fields of economics have always suggested that it is prudent not to create differences between the residents of various parts of the world by protectionist policies, thus treating the entire world as a common global hub which in turn is beneficial to every member of this common hub.   There have been multiple theories which suggest that by eliminating trade barriers, we are creating a world in which every country will develop an expertise in one field or other and thus the gross produce for the entire world will be greater than normal. Making the entire world barrier free is not a pragmatic solution and thus trade agreements like NAFTA, SAFTA, ASEAN etc give motivation to the participating countries when they realize the benefits and non participating countries when they observe the difference in economy from the participating nations in order to make the world barrier free.

While presenting our case in favor of agreements like NAFTA, which are crucial for the development of the economy of the world at large, we put forward David Ricardos policy of comparative costs where Ricardo deducted that the Gross product in terms of the quantity for the entire world will be higher in the case of free trade. We consider a hypothetical case in which China can produce both wheat and rice more cheaply than France (ie it has an absolute advantage in both commodities). What David Ricardo suggested was that it still would be mutually beneficial for both countries to develop an expertise and trade.

Table 1
CountryWheatRice Cost Per Unit In Man HoursCost Per Unit In Man HoursFrance1530China1015
In Table 1, in France with same number of men deployed, two units of wheat could be produced for every unit of Rice. This means that production of every unit of rice, results in the decline of production in the wheat by two units (i.e. the opportunity cost of a unit of rice is 2 units of wheat). In China, this ratio is 23, much better than 12 in the case of France. That is the opportunity cost of a unit of rice is 1.5 units of wheat in China. Now since the relative cost or the comparative costs differ therefore it is mutually beneficial for the two countries to engage in trading activities even though China has an absolute advantage in both commodities.

Since, China is relatively better at producing rice than wheat therefore China is said to have a COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE in the production of rice. France is relatively better at producing wheat than rice so France is said to have a comparative advantage in the production of wheat.

Table 2 shows how trade might be advantageous. Costs of production are as set out in Table 1. France is assumed to have 270 man hours available for production. Before trade takes place it produces and consumes 8 units of wheat and 5 units of rice. China has fewer labor resources with 180 man hours of labor available for production. Before trade takes place it produces and consumes 9 units of wheat and 6 units of rice. Total production between the two economies is 17 units of wheat and 11 units of rice.

Table 2
C o u n t r y Production Before Trade After TradeWheat Rice Wheat Rice France 8 518 0 China 9 60 12 T o t a l 17 11 18 12

If both countries now specialize, China producing only rice and France producing only wheat, total production is 18 units of wheat and 12 units of rice. Specialization has thus enabled the world economy to increase production by 1 unit of wheat and 1 unit of rice. If we apply the same logic to the entire economy of the world the production will increase by a gigantic amount.

There are a few assumptions in the simple theory of comparative advantage which are as follows-
No transportation cost is attached..
Costs are constant and there are no economies of scale.
Only two economies are involved in producing two goods.
The theory assumes that traded goods are homogeneous (i.e. exactly identical).
Factors of production are assumed to be perfectly mobile.
There are no tariffs or other trade barriers.
There is perfect knowledge, so that all buyers and sellers know where the cheapest goods can be found internationally.

All said above there are a certain factors because of which countries try to introduce the trade barriers generally in the form of import duties some of which are as follows-
Favorable balance of trade and reducing the fiscal deficit.
In order to protect a specific industriesclass of people if is a huge vote bank for the ruling government.

Public Psychology
Policies created to woo vote banks generally in democratic form of governments.

Per my understanding, rather than taking a political stand on the matters of globalization, we must allow the free economy and therefore should motivate and promote the free trade agreements like NAFTA which are the keys to success for the economy of entire world.

Peace in the Holy Land

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

According to the Bible, Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac.  God promised Abraham that He shall make a great nation of them (Genesis 21 12-13, 18 New American Bible).  It can be inferred from here that the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael would be the Israelis and the Palestinians (Arabs) respectively as they have fulfilled the prophecy God made to Abraham.  Since the 20th century, the Israelis and Arabs have been at war with one another, both staking claim to the strip of land they claim belongs to them.  If one were to look at it from the Arab perspective, they have been on the land since the time Islam was spread beyond Saudi Arabia.  They have lived there long after other invaders such as the Crusaders and the Ottoman Turks left after being driven out of these lands.  The Israelis case, they have believed that their claim is stronger citing Scripture as the basis of their claim to the land they believed was promised to their patriarch Abraham by God (Genesis 12 2-3 New American Bible) and reaffirmed to his grandson Jacob who would be renamed Israel (Genesis 32 29 New American Bible).

Yet despite these prophecies, the Israelites have endured countless trials and tribulations which led to the Diaspora during the Roman times and several more centuries of persecution in Christian Europe where they were the favorite scapegoats whenever a major crisis would occur (Bregman, 2003).  Realizing that they were marginalized, the Zionist movement emerged to take up the cause of Jews worldwide and resolved to make Palestine their home once again for this is the land promised to them (Herzl, 2006).  The Balfour Declaration of 1917 further reinforced their resolve to return to Palestine.  Unfortunately, a similar promise was also made to the Arabs as well.  Jews from all over started coming to Palestine in droves and in 1948, the state of Israel was born.  No sooner was the Jewish state born that her hostile Arab neighbors attacked it in an effort to wipe it off the face of the earth.  Surprisingly, the Israelis have prevailed in every conflict which have led the Palestinians to resort to terrorism.

Despite the ongoing conflict between the two peoples, Israelis and Arabs have also attempted to make peace and Israel has been able to make peace with Egypt in 1979 and with the Palestinians in 1995 with the United States acting as chief mediator.  The result of these peace accords was Israel willingly yielded the territories they seized in the previous wars to the aforementioned states. In return, these states recognized the existence of Israel as a state and repudiated its commitment of destroying it (Quandt, 1988  Bard, 2005  Isseroff, 2009).

The United States should play a key role in helping bring about peace in the Middle East.  It is a friend of Israel and several of the Arab states in the region.  While the United States has traditionally stood by the side of Israel by being its chief sponsor and providing it with military hardware, it must also make friends with the Arab states not only for the oil they produce, but to aid them in their continuing fight against (transnational) terrorism in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.  It has to show that despite being a close ally of Israel it has the right to have as many friends as they wish.  It also needs to assert tactfully that Israel has a right to exist like any other nation and show its Arab friends that they can keep the Israelis in check since the latter is known for taking a proactive stance in its national security.

Nevertheless, despite American supervision, Israelis and Arabs still continue to build bridges to bring each other together and not allowing extremists from trying to sabotage their efforts.  It can be inferred that those who seek peace are those who believe that Israelis and Arabs are brothers who have the same father (Abraham) and they believe that together, they would be a strong nation as God prophesized.

Apartheid in South Africa

The history of South Africa is among the world richest, and has been of much scholarly interest for decades. While South Africa is associated with economic progress and the heroism of its leaders, not much of South Africa is said without the mention of its cruel and bloody era of apartheid at whose centre were racial segragation and domination of the minority white population over the black population (Green, n.d). Although parallels have been drawn between apartheid era South Africa and Germany and Korea, it can be observed that while the disputants in Korea and Germany were largely native populations, the case was different in South Africa. A minority white population which had immigrated to South Africa from Europe, settled and colonized the country had accumulated enough economic and political power to pass policies which favoured whites and hurt the native population.

While divisions in both Korea and Germany resulted in the division of the countries so that North Koreans would not go to South Korea, and vice versa, South Africas case was different. The white population needed the black population for labour, and could not do without it. The segregation was thus used not to expel black South Africans from their country, but to solidify the political and economic domination of the black population by the white population. Some black South Africans were thus allowed to stay in specific parts of the city from where go to their white-controlled work-places in the morning and return to their ghettoes at sunset. The same was true of those blacks who worked for white largescale farmers in the countrysides. They would spend their days at the farms and go backs to their reserve homes after work. There was therefore no one time when South Africa was split as Korea and Germany. Instead, all South Africans, whether black, white or coloured, were under the same government.

The situation in South Africa deteriorated to the extent that it attracted world attention. The mineral-rich country was attracting investors from all over the world. In a way therefore, apartheid in South Africa was benefitting not just the Afrikaner population but also investors and other countries which invested in South Africa. In particular, US companies had invested heavily in apartheid-era South Africa, with companies like Ford Motor, General Electric, Texaco, Phelps-Dodge, Standard Oil of California, and Union Carbide raking in huge profits from their operations in South Africa (Bob, 1977). Eight years after the 1977 demonstrations and deep in the thick of apartheid-era South Africa, the US was still South Africas largest trading partner, controlling up to 50 percent of the latters oil industry (The Tech-Online, 1985).

Anti-apartheid campaigns in the US started when students of Stanford University started staging demonstrations against US investments in South Africa. In non-violent protests which attracted international media coverage and garnered widespread support from students and civilians, the students argued that by investing in South Africa, where racial segregation and human rights abuses were the order of the day, the US was supporting the South African regime (Knight, 2006). The students thus called on the US to pull out its investments from South Africa. That the US had had a long history of racial segregation and had experienced effects and perils of segregationist policies contributed to the support the Stanford University students attracted with their anti-apartheid call.By 1985, about 55 colleges and universities had divested from South Africa, and the magnitude of the anti-apartheid and divestmant campaigns were too intense for the US government to ignore (MSU, n.d).

The divestment campaign set the stage for the end of white-minority rule in South Africa. It had greatly reduced the profit margins of foreign companies investing in South Africa, forcing many to divest.
North Korea and South Korea are two completely different countries that come from the same place. Long ago divided and still suffering from shaky relations, there has been recent speculation that the two countries could be re-united. Before this happens, both countries, and the rest of the world, will need to consider the ramifications of such a large action.

At the end of World War II, Korea was freed from the Japanese annexation it had endured since 1910.  Unfortunately for Korea, their hopes for freedom were short-lived.  United States and the USSR, the countries two liberators, immediately partitioned Korea into two sections, despite the protests of most Koreans. The USSR controlled the northern area and the United States took over the southern part, the division being at the 38 parallel. Both countries left Korea in 1948 but only to return two years later, once war broke out.

The Korean War lasted three years. A cold war it was really a war fought between the two major super powers of the world, the United States and the Soviet Union. The war never officially ended but once a cease-fire was called, the Soviet presence remained in the North and the United States remained in the South. This led to each Korean country to adopt the policies of their respective super power. To this day, North Korea is a socialist state while South Korea is a democratic country.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of its support, North Korea has struggled to survive. The economy is poor and in 1995, widespread famine affected most of the country. Within three years, 3 million people died and now depends on food aid from China, Japan, and surprisingly, the United States and South Korea. In extreme contrast, South Korea has strived under the democratic system. Thanks a great deal to technology, education, and development, South Korea has a successful economy.  The people of this country enjoy an excellent standard of living, hosted the Olympic games, and are one of the leading automakers in the world. They have also begun to work with North Korea, creating a united athletic team, giving aid, and allowing tourism options to slowly develop.
The success of South Korea is one of the main factors in why the rest of the world, including the United States, is so concerned with the possibility of reunification. Yes, people are concerned that after being separated for over 60 years, the two countries no longer share a similar culture and assimilation would be difficult. There is wonder about how the reunification would take place peacefully like Germany or with a war like Vietnam.  But the main concern at this time seems to be the economy.

Because the two economies are so drastically different, the unification would lead to serious issues for South Korea, and the rest of the world that depends on it. North Korea would need major structural improvements on everything from factories to roads. It is estimated that it would cost over 6 billion dollars to bring North Korean salaries to 60 of Southerners and many wonder where this money will come from.  The newly- created country would need to rely heavily on the United States for financial support. Another concern is that investors currently involved in South Korea may withdrawal their support out of fear of an economic collapse.

The United States has long been invested in South Korea. From the countrys beginnings, the United States has had a strong military presence. During the Cold War, it was very important for the United States that South Korea did not become a communist nation. Now that the Cold War has ended, the United States still remains in South Korea, guarding the border, with no signs of withdrawal. If the North and South were to unify, the United States would not be needed to guard the non-existent border.

Many attempt to compare the reunification of the Korean countries to the successful reunification of Germany and they are remembering the costs.  The United States enjoys the profits of being so deeply invested in South Korea and it would like to remain prosperous. All of this could change if reunification does occur, so the United States wants to be heavily involved in any changes that occur between these two countries.

German Reunification

The unification of Germany was taken as a victory for the United States, free market and democracy. For a long time the United States of America government had supported the Western Germany efforts to unify Germany though it was at first cautious in approaching the whole issue. With the fall of communism and diminishing of soviet influence in Eastern Europe, United States was gaining tremendous influence on this region. Eastern Germany was warming up to western ideals and great changes were taking place in this front. The unification of two sides was eminent the changes that were taking place in eastern Germany signaled that the people were strongly in favor of the unification as a means of ending some of the problems they faced. For United States this turn of events presented an opportunity where the influence would be exerted to the other iron curtain nation in Eastern Europe and began a democratization process. (Garthoff, R 1994)

The process of unification was quicker than the Western nations had anticipated. The other western powers wanted the process to be gradual so that important issues regarding their future relations with a unified German could be iron out. United States, France and Britain supported the unification but on the other hand expressed fears on the dangers that this union posed given the history of this country and the instability in the world. United States on its part (Pummerin, R 1997)

The unification of Germany presented both advantages and challenges to the world and United States in particular.First, in economical terms benefits were enormous, the trade between western Germany and United States were on an all time high. With the eastern part of the country joining the larger picture the market for the American goods had been expanded creating an opportunity for the American business to venture in to the region which has been under the influence of the communism for quite a long time. A unified Germany created an opportunity through which the rest of the communist nations in Eastern Europe would be democratized and good governance instituted in the region as a whole. (Kennedy, M 1994)

There were fears that the unification of Germany would pose a big threat to the world peace, this emanated from the history of Germany as a nation and the role it had played in destabilizing the region in the past. Particularly, United States was worried that the Soviet Union might entice Germany to withdraw for NATO through offering some type of controlled unification of the two sides. The American government was faced with a situation where they could not oppose the unification as it was peaceful and lied within the democratic frameworks. The response of the American government was offensive it decided to support the reunification on its own terms. The terms had to favorable to democracy as well as serve the interest of United States. (Haftendon, H 2006)

The reunification of Germany presented United States with an opportunity to exert its authority and power and the backdrop of diminishing communism influence. Most of the communist nations were rejecting soviet policies, its influence was quickly waning as more nations in the regions were slowly warming up to  am more open system which was characterized by the western powers. (Maier, C 1997)

Twenty years down the line the reunification has stood the test of time, the fears expressed by France and Britain as far as a united Germany is concerned have been addressed. Though some of the expectations concerning the benefits of a united Germany republic have not been realized the reunification of the two countries opened a new chapter for the two sides and Europe at large. Iron curtains came tumbling and America democratization process of the region gained prominence. The reunification process was a positive move for the Germans and American, on the same note it posed serious questions as far as region security was concerned.

Global Economics

Most people although will suggest that we are living in a globalised world but per me we are living in what can be deemed as a semi-globalised world and certainly not a truly globalised one. A truly globalised world can only be a one in which there is absolutely zero trade barrier in between any two nations of the world. This could be termed as a complete unification at the global level and smaller free trade agreements like NAFTA, SAFTA, ASEAN, GATT are just a few of stepping stones that could eventually lead us to our final milestone of a completely free economy.

There have always been concerns and doubts about the effectiveness and significance of free economy and a divide of people for and against it. Economists from the for side suggest that it is prudent not to create differences between the residents of various parts of the world by protectionist policies, thus treating the entire world as a common global hub which in turn is beneficial to every member of this common hub.

Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nations, 1776) suggested that if the quantity of any commodity brought to the market is short of the actual demand, and all the potential consumers for the commodity cannot be supplied with the commodity, then there will be a competition emerging in between various consumers and thereby the market price for the commodity will rise. He has argued that the interest of consumer be given the priority over the interest of producer and if the interest of producer has to be attended, that interest should be helping to work for the interest of consumer in some way or the other.  He proposed the concept of invisible hand which says that there should be no interference from the government or any other authority in the smooth functioning of the market and the market would correct itself automatically with the help of a pure demand and supply logic.  Any artificial curbs or restrictions on the market hamper the smooth functioning thereby a delay in the realization of correct prices of the goods or commodities. He analyzed that different individual although may appear working for their interest, but, at the end of the day are contributing for the welfare of the society.

One of the major reasons that countries seek to curb globalization is to get a favourable balance of trade and reducing the fiscal deficit.

Fiscal Deficit Imports - Exports
Countries try to reduce their fiscal deficit as far as possible.  In their attempt to reduce import they try to minimize the imports into their country by introducing entry barriers on goods and commodities which are getting imported from other countries in the form of import duties.

What so ever may be the case, the economists across the globe agree that free trade is the only manner in which we could develop a world which has every part of it growing because countries will develop niche skills in a particular sector thus reducing the cost and improving the quality and the whole world will prosper.  So lets try and make this world barrier free
The conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians began over a thousand years ago. For centuries before the birth of Christ, the people of Israel had been surviving invasions. From the Assyrians to the Persians to the Romans, Israel was an ongoing target. During the Roman occupation, the Jews were forced to leave Israel, and the name Palestine was given to this region and this name would remain for almost two centuries.

Conflicts and invasions continued and Jews never stopped attempting to return to their homeland. After World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, talks began to create a Jewish nation where Palestine currently was. The Palestinians, mostly Arab Muslims, who had been living in the region for centuries, of course met this with major resistance. Eventually, following the Second World War and the Holocaust, more nations supported a Jewish state, and Israel was finally founded in 1948.
In creating Israel, the state of Palestine was erratically divided. Jews in Palestine and Arabs in what was now Israel lived in extreme conflict and wars were declared and fought. The area that Israel occupies has grown, along with its military, economy, and international recognition while Palestine continues to struggle. Because of these on-going conditions, there is massive hostility between the two states.

The majority of people living in Israel and Palestine want peace. They are normal people who want to live normal lives with their neighbors. Unfortunately, both governments have other agendas and routinely refuse to work together for peace. Each state has a strong sense of religious pride and knowledge of history. The Israel military has a strong presence in the life of the Palestinians and in return, there are many political and militant groups in Palestine attempting to gain back what they believe is rightly theirs. Israel is strong allies with the United States and is one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid, making the standard of living quite good. The majority of this aid goes towards the Israeli military. Palestine has a struggling economy and does not have the money to support a large military, thus tends to resort towards more guerilla war tactics. They do receive international aid from other countries but Palestine has not seen the same financialeducational international success as Israel.

In order for these two states to move towards living in peace, the playing field needs to be evaluated and evened. Right now Israel is fighting to remain as it is and Palestine is fighting to be more. The United States needs to stop supporting Israel or needs to start supporting Palestine more. As long as the Palestinians continue to live in despair, they will continue to fight for whatever they can. The people in charge of both governments need to realize the value of life is more important than historic pride. The Israeli government needs to leave Palestine and with this withdrawal, the militants of Palestine must stop interfering in Israel. The countries need to work together and with other countries, especially those in the same region.

Unfortunately, there are too many people on both sides who do not want peace and will stop at nothing to create havoc. Each country needs to hold these people accountable for their actions, whether they are guerillas or actual military, and show the citizens that that type of behavior is unacceptable.

Hopefully after the next peace talks, the two nations will recognize the urgency of the situation and be ready to start working towards actual progress but I think this is unlikely. In the past, peace talks have ended somewhat successfully just for the world to see nothing change. After the Oslo Peace Accords, more people suffered on both sides.  The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel and a key player in the peace process, by a fellow Israeli, shocked the world and made the peace talks seem like a waste of time.Before peace can come to this region, the people leading need to actually want peace and be willing to work and sacrifice for it. Until all the leaders have this attitude, peace will be impossible.

South Africa and the End of Apartheid

South Africa is a country with a diverse population.  Majority are black people that come from various tribes from Bantus to the Zulus. The minority is made up of the South Asians, mostly Indians whose ancestors migrated there during the colonial period. The other minority is made up of whites who are then divided into the English or descendants of English settlers and Boers, later on called Afrikaners, who are the descendants of Dutch settlers in the land. Following settlement and colonizaton, South Africas society has been created on the basis of race with the whites on top and the blacks at the bottom.  Following the end of the Second World War, South Africa became independent and in 1948, the ruling Reunited National Party, implemented the policy of apartheid which called for total segregation between the whites and blacks on the country.  Unlike segregation in the United States in the pre-civil rights movement era which emphasized  separate but equal,  apartheid differed slightly in the sense that the policy marginalized the black people socially and economically. Blacks were denied the chance to get quality education in the best schools of the country, and they could not get white-collared jobs and were limited to blue-collar jobs or those that entail manual or menial labor. They were forced to live in townships and had to carry special passes which identifies their ethnicity. Even before the implementation of this policy, racial segregation had been in force in South Africa since the colonial period. As a footnote to the struggle for racial equality, an Indian lawyer named Mohandas Gandhi first practiced his passive resistance formula here before going back to India where he would figure prominently in its independence movement.

For over 40 years, apartheid was not only the law in South Africa but the norm.  Because of this, South Africa became a pariah state. Boycotts, censures, and sanctions were thrown at it almost all sides as the rest of the world was appalled by the apparent lack of humaneness of the ruling white minority in their treatment of the black people whom they were trying to keep inferior even by using force and repression to maintain the status quo. It was a blatant violation of human rights which the ruling government felt no shame flouting (Nkosi, 1997 Gann  Duignan, 1978)).

In his novel, Vortex, Larry Bond (1992)  predicted the end of apartheid,  although not exactly the way he imagined it in his book where foreign intervention was needed. In reality, the political atmosphere began to change under the leadership of Fredrik W. de Klerk. He made a bold move by releasing dissident Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990 and started initiating reforms that began to gradually dismantle apartheid. The 1994 elections was a sign that apartheid had been finally dead and buried with the participation of all race and with the election of Mandela as President of the  new  South Africa, thus ending as well the countrys pariah tag and rejoining the family of nations (Faure  Lane, 1996).

Despite the demise of apartheid, reconciliation still has a long way to go in South Africa. There are still a few concerns to address regarding the issue and that is seeking redress for the victims of apartheid throughout those 40-plus years. There are those who have not forgotten the pain and suffering inflicted upon them by the apartheid-era regime and therefore seek justice.  For this purpose, the Mandela administration created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to help redress the grievances of the victims of apartheid by documenting human rights violations. At the same time, the TRC is also tasked with granting amnesty to those who voluntarily confess their crimes as part of the reconciliation process. In addition, this also applies to those who struggled against apartheid as well, especially members of the militant African National Congress (ANC) who were involved in the armed struggle through their armed component  Umkhonto we Sizwe.  One of the challenges facing the TRC is determining who deserves to be punished and forgiven for their crimes, whether black or white. It is still an ongoing issue that remains to this day (Gibson  Gouws, 1999).

Nonetheless, reunification is the goal of the leaders of post-apartheid South Africa. In comparison to other  separated  peoples of Germany, Korea, and PalestineIsrael, the people here have been separated by their race and this can be blamed on colonialism which had planted the seeds of this segregation leading up to apartheid. It was fear of domination that drove the white minority to implement apartheid, and they thought ruling by repression would keep the peace. De Klerk changed all that and later Mandela. Mandela himself extended the hand of forgiveness and reconciliation and he enjoined his fellow citizens to do the same in putting behind the past and move forward to a brighter future. The challenge here would be for the different ethnic groups to put behind their past, especially those who belong to the conservative and radical wings.  On the same token, the road to reconciliation can be difficult especially with those who want to see a pure society of black and white, but whatever the new government decides, it will ensure that South Africa will not go back to where it once came.

Korean Reunification

By way of reputation, the Korean peninsula has been regarded as the Land of the Morning Calm.  The serene mornings over the region underscore that image from the rugged mountains to the bustling plains and coastlines where serenity could be felt. This serenity was disrupted when Korea was forcibly opened by the powerful western nations and Japan by the late 19th century.  In 1910, Korea completely lost its independence when it was colonized by Japan which would go on until the end of the Second World War. As allied occupation forces, mainly American (south) and Soviet (north), occupied the Korean peninsula to facilitate the surrender of the Japanese, they differed on how to restore the sovereignty in the peninsula.  The Soviets installed a communist regime under their protg, Kim Ilsung in Pyongyang while the Americans installed a western-educated Syngman Rhee in Seoul. The 38th Parallel divided the two Korean states. Both leaders wanted the peninsula to be reunited, but the difference was under which government and ideology. The norths invasion of the south in 1950 underscored Kims determination to unite the peninsula under his regime even when it meant using force. The beleaguered south sought the aid of the newly-created United Nations (UN) which sent a multinational force where the bulk of it was mainly American to check the advance of the communist and managed to push them back beyond the Yalu River. The intervention by the Chinese changed everything as the UN forces were pushed back. The UN forces were able to regroup despite the relief of General Douglas MacArthur and were able to push the communists back over the 38th Parallel until an armistice was called in 1953 that put a halt to the fighting (Millett, 2002).

Contrary to what most people think, the armistice did not officially end the Korean War.  It was only but a ceasefire, and a state of war still exists in the Korean peninsula to this day.  Because of this, Korea became the Land of the Broken Calm. Although a full-blown conflict has not resumed, there have been countless instances of clashes and terrorist attacks (by the north) between the two forces which fortunately have not escalated into a full-blown conflict. Despite these unfortunate incidents, reunification is on the minds of every Korean, primarily to reunite families separated by the conflict (Gittings, 2000). Hope for reunification has increased with the developments going on in the two Koreas. In the south, the restoration of full democracy with the election of Kim Youngsam and later Kim Daejung ended more than 20 years of authoritarian rule beginning with Park Chunghee. In the north, the passing of Kim Ilsung in 1994 also gave hints of hope for reunification which was underscored when President Kim Daejung visited the north in 2000, the first from a South Korean leader, in what would later be known as Sunshine Diplomacy which he initiated in 1998. There have also been several organized reunions between relatives from both sides as well as regular pilgrimages by southerners to Mount Kumggang situated in the north. Another hint of reunification has been shown during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney when the two Koreas marched under one flag during the opening ceremonies. Given these indicators, optimists would infer that the two Koreas are getting there.

Despite these hopeful overtures, there are also several factors that hinder the progress of reunification, and all fingers point to North Korea.  North Korea continues to be an enigma to the outside world owing to its very stringent policy of seclusion that keeps everyone guessing what goes on and what will happen next. It does not help much that Pyongyang practices an anachronistic form of government that combines communist totalitarianism with personality cult in the Stalinist and Maoist line. According to the accounts of visitors to the north (who are not diplomats), it is a very paranoid and anal-retentive state with watchers or minders all over to ensure the maintenance of ideological purity and the continuing belligerent status towards the imperialist United States, which continues to be reviled or vilified through regular propaganda instruments.  There is also the unpredictable and eccentric behavior of the Dear Leader, Kim Jongil, which continues to baffle intelligence and security analysts. One one hand, he appears to be conciliatory by accommodating Kim in 2000 while on the other, he authorizes ballistic missile tests to frighten South Korea and Japan and bars inspectors of its nuclear power plants. There have also been indicators that all is not well in North Korea following an abortive coup in 1996, which led to the execution of the instigators. Analysts believe that Kim might be growing desperate and that he needs to consolidate his hold on power, which is further exacerbated by economic bankruptcy from spending heavily on military hardware and maintaining his opulent lifestyle and famine that continues to ravage his fiefdom (Quinones, 2003 Snyder, 2001 Scobell, 2003).

Despite the likelihood of war, South Korea and its allies would not start one but are prepared to act in self-defense in the event the North initiates conflict again. They are hopeful that the regime in Pyongyang will implode and cause a possible regime change that would be more conciliatory. Short of engaging the north in war, the United States and its allies continue to engage the north diplomatically while maintaining a defensive posture (Quinones  Tragert, 2003).

Nevertheless, the two Koreas are still bent on reunification and they believe that this will bring lasting peace to the region and restore Koreas claim to be once more the Land of the Morning Calm.  Their situation is much similar to the Germans. They are one people divided by ideologies, but this would not stop them from coming together once again.

Unification of Germany

Associated Problems in the Process and Its Discontents

November 9, 1989 marks the historical event that finally unites Germany after twenty-eight long years of living on the opposite side of the Berlin Wall. The unification of East (German Democratic Republic or GDR) and West (Federal Republic of Germany or FRG) Germany was long been waited but unexpected when it happened. The coming together of the two nations was long called for but no one dreamed of its eventual realization because of the problems and discontents of different parties arising from the unification itself. This paper is an attempt to put together the reasons why the unification of East and West Germany almost did not happen. Three problems underscore this claim

First, the unification entails synchronization of two extremely different political and economic systems ( For the first time in history, a capitalist (West) and a socialist (East) economy will become one. There were no written guidelines on how to go about it and issues begun to surface even before the two Germanys became one. To complicate matter, East Germany suffered from comparative low productivity while the West was a struggling socialist country. Specific problems include the massive confusion about property rights. Expropriations made by Nazis, Soviets, and GDR created a confusion on the actual ownership of properties.  As more and more claimants emerged and cases filed in courts, less and less potential investors wanted to invest and be involved in the mess. Another problem for the investors was the inadequacy of infrastructure. Slow telephone service, energy shortages and poorly maintained roads and railroads were just some of the complaints. Further, the cost of production in the East was very high. The problem was on the conversion of East German marks to deutsche marks which kept the cost high and wages below productivity. As a result, western German firms found it more efficient to serve their new Eastern markets by expanding production in Western facilities.

Aside from these practical problems, there was also the problematic policy aspect that underlay the process of unification. Leaders of East Germany promised a swift solution to uplift the lives of West Germany and raised it to their standard of living by means of tax money (Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics, 2007). Advocates of the unification disregarded the fact that West Germany was able to ascend from the ruins of the War by hard work in a relatively free economy and it took them many years to accomplish this. However, the mentality of East Germans was not like this and it could not be changed overnight. They still cling to the socialist idea that poverty is a responsibility of the State. For the most part, the West became an additional burden to the East, having to send billions of Deutschmarks to the East. Leaders promised wealth to the East without hard work, since hard work is so unpopular.

Second, the unification was hindered by the lack of social justice. To adhere to the promise of unification through social freedom, the crimes committed by Social party leaders were ignored. After World War II, Nazi criminals were brought to courts to be tried for the crimes and athrocities against humanity. Although not all of them were found or sentenced, there was an effort on the part of authorities for justice to become part of common mentality. However, this was not deemed important by the East German government. There was no attempt to bring social justice in the former GDR even against the criminals according to old GDR standars. The GDR citizens were hesitant to file lawsuits against the thousand leading membes of the East German Socialist party because these very same people still held the key positions in the society. They control most of the factories, city administrations, universities and even courts of law so that these leaders were still able to sabotage the capitalistic initiatives.

Third, the process of unification was complicated by the bias against the statism of the former GDR while enabling the statism of the FRG. The West Germany state owned numerous monopolies, some of them official including the post, telephone, railway, local transportation, public education, some of them by way of acquisition like airlines and electricity while some by strict regulation like long distance transportation which required a government permit to transport goods further than fifty kilometers. An extensive social welfare system also existed in which citizens were obliged to contribute to state insurance for health, unemployment and rent. As a result of these, West German leaders had a hard time differentiating between statist sosialism and statist capitalism. They referred to it as a social market economy, but this was just to appease the people that the old promise would be kept. They wanted to assure the East Germany that the State would subsidize citizens that are poor, ill, unemployed, old, or just not willing to work.

Fourth and last, the efforts to unify the two Germanys were hampered by bad publicity ( The international community begun to wonder whether the idea of one Germany was desirable given their history of military aggressions. The detractors of the unification were quick to point out that Germany may once again arm and launched another War against neighboring countries. These fears emanated from the fact that there were still demonstrations carrying Nazi slogans and propagandas (Petina, 1991)). Also cited was the demand made by Germans to give back to them the German lands which traditionally belonged to them. These unrealistic demands were a source of concern because they displayed the same unbridled nationalistic feelings that led to World War II. These demands were common among East Germans while West Germans seemed to move on after 40 years of democracy.  Statements of concerns and fears started to surface even from FRGs NATO partners in Europe, namely, Britain and France, who had rather become comfortable with the status quo. These countries had long established partnership with the economically potent West and uncertain in testing the waters of the East.

Despite these problems encountered during the process of unification, the leaders of the East and the West could no longer ignore the economic and social developments which required them to assume an active role ( The suddenness of the process did not provide the leaders to come up with a workable plan and thus encountered several problems afterwards. These problems, along with other discontents could provide many lessons for the Korean unification process.

Like the East and the West of Germany, North and South Korea have different economic and political systems. South Korea is a home to worlds top financial and commercial cities while North Korea has a state-run command economy aspiring for autarky with a negligible market segment (Wolf). North Korea is worse-off compared to East Germany back in 1990, with income gap rapidly increasing and economy stagnating. The country is also more populous compared to East Germany during the time of unification. While at the moment of German unification, the population of East Germany was about a third of the total population of West Germany, the North Koreans are currently half of the South Korea population. Moreover, North Koreans have experienced far-worse isolation than their East German counterparts for they cannot receive foreign broadcasting or read foreign publications and they have endured this far more longer for over 60 years.

Germany and Korea were divided as a result of the post-war ideological conflicts. However, it can be argued that Germany is more fortunate and Korean divide, as a result of internal conflict, is more traumatic. The socialist halves of the two countries have experienced stagnant growth with near complete-public sector control and ownership of production. But similarly, all it takes is a strong political leadership to start the process of transition. One thing Korea has to learn from Germany is that the government should make the necessary sacrifices to seize this moment in history. The country is lucky enough to have the efficient and market-driven regulations and institutions, and more importantly, skilled and experienced leaders. These factors should be flexible enough to undergo the transition.

In general, the problems encountered by Germany during the process of unification  adjustments in political and economic systems, issues of social justice, bias towards one side and bad publicity  will be encountered by countries divided by conflict for many years as proved by the counterpart experience of Korea. After the unification, Germany went to a recession in 1992 which continued until 1993 ( By 1994, however, the country resumed to a modest growth which continued ever since. Though the process would be slow and somewhat painful, many believe that the unified Germany could bounce back to its path of prosperity.

Book Review

The Craft of Research by Wayne C Booth, Gregory G Colomb and Joseph M Williams, 3rd edition, Chicago The University of Chicago Press, 2008. 317 Pages. ISBN-100-226-06566-9

Finding answers to almost any question in any field requires a strict research methodology to arrive at the correct conclusions. Research is a rigorous scientific discipline which has a number of defined steps, the understanding of which is a prerequisite for conduct of successful research. This book review examines the essence of the book, The Craft of Research by Wayne C Booth, Gregory G Colomb and Joseph M Williams to answer the many queries associated with research methodologies.

The authors very clearly lay down the aim of their work that is to meet the needs of all researchers, not just first-year undergraduates and advanced graduate students, but even those in business and government who do and report research on any topic, academic, political, or commercial (Booth, Colomb,  Williams, 2008, p. xi) in the preface  titled The Aims of This Edition that reflect the clear thinking, intent and complete understanding of the subject by the authors.

The book therefore is structured into chapters that deal with the methodology of conducting research in a logical manner starting with selection of topics. The authors start by defining research and what research is used for. Then they build their treatise by concentrating on the first step arriving at a focused topic. The authors then explain how even more important it is to derive a specific question to research upon (Booth, Colomb,  Williams, pp. 40-41). The authors next provide a detailed explanation on how to use and organize primary, secondary and tertiary sources (Booth, Colomb,  Williams, pp. 68-103) to arrive at a tentative answer also called as a claim (Booth, Colomb,  Williams, pp. 103-120). The authors then give a budding researcher the methodology for supporting the claim by arranging the reasons and evidences gathered, acknowledgement and responses to the argument being developed, in a manner that a plan can be created for producing the draft of the research paper. The authors then advise how a draft is to be revised and re-revised in accordance to a given methodology and how to use graphical and visual representations to add clarity to the research paper. The importance of having a clear introduction and a comprehensive conclusion is stressed by the authors as most readers usually concentrate on these two parts of any research. This is true especially with top executives who have very little time and thus are looking for clarity and brevity wherein the main essence of the research becomes evident to them in the shortest possible time and least amount of reading. The authors also advise a researcher how to avoid plagiarism and the need for adhering to ethical norms while producing a research paper.

The book is well laid out, comprehensive and it describes how to write a research paper with clinical precision. No aspect of writing or researching is left to chance and every little bit is addressed in sequence so that even a beginner can conduct professional research work. The book is a useful guide even for professional researchers, a sort of the check-off list for the practitioners of the craft who may at times take their past experience to be sufficient and forget a few essential steps that may lead to incomplete or dishonest research. This book is strongly recommended for all researchers irrespective of their disciplines as the steps outlined by the authors can be applied universally to any kind of research.    

Reflection Paper on Studying Abroad

Many stigmas and prejudices are prevalent in Gulf countries about letting girls study abroad. Security of girls is among the primary concern of Islamic families. In a primarily male-dominated society, many refuse to believe that women can survive alone and independently handle all responsibilities and challenges of an independent life away from home. They question their ability to protect themselves from the harsh realities of the western world. Others adopt a more religious approach while denouncing female pursuit of foreign education. They purport that religious text requires women to travel with Mehram or a male counterpart, husband, brother or father to ensure their security and well-being. Still others point to societal maligning that will surround the girl leaving her home country for studying abroad. Though some are open about the prospect of formal education at home, others believe that in the absence of local university alternatives, women should not be allowed to study at all, especially in foreign lands.
However, times are changing as is the outlook of people. An increasing number of families are favoring foreign education for girls. They opine that an international education will not only make girls responsible and independent but also give them global exposure and awareness. Further, they will acquire requisite skills to survive in international employment markets and strengthen their ability to communicate with people across the globe by improving English.
In my opinion, girls who wish to pursue foreign education and have the will to do so, should be allowed to study abroad. Further, women must not be subject to stereotypical expectations of getting married and settling down after graduation. Those who wish to continue their educational and employment aspirations must be given sufficient freedom and encouragement to do so. Women should enjoy ample opportunity to study abroad and excel and achieve success in life.

Doha Debate

Doha debate is a venture in the Arab region that provides battle ground about opinions that are conflicting. The arguments in Doha debate basically relates to political opinions in different regions. The debate has been conducted in series and they are chaired by the former BBC correspondent Tim Sebastian. He is the pioneer of Doha debate that began in 2004. Tim has won an award as the best BBC correspondent during his interviews. The debate is an initiative of Qatar Foundation for science, education and community development.

Some of the common prominent speakers in past debates include Shimon Peres, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Bill Clinton, Amre Moussa and Ayad Allawi. Most debates have been held at Qatar Foundation headquarters whose offices are in Doha. Individuals who have in the past been participating in these debates have confessed that the debates have had impact in the way of life. One benefit of the debate is growth of cultural censure in the entire region and other neighboring regions. The mission of the debate is to enlighten people to critically think and promote different cultures.

The debates have given participants potential of bringing together their ideas that help to solve certain problems. It is also a way of encouraging individuals to respect views and ideas of other participants. Some participants of Doha debate are students and they are shaped to be good political leaders in future. Others create the interest to study political related fields. Qatar debate has helped many high school students to achieve their dream of joining university.

Lakom Al Qarar is another program of Doha debate. This program means the decision is yours and gives young people the capacity to debate with other experienced debaters. It was started in 2006 and it gives young people to give out their opinions on particular issues. Those who engage in such debates get thorough information about research in specific topics. Such areas like politics are given priority although environmental and health care are other areas of concern. Participants in the debate get adequate information that is used as a tool to fight bad vices in the society.

Broadcast in Arabic focuses on relevant topics that relate to local people and the issues affecting those who live in the urban. Matters of traffic in the city are very much contentious and the debate tries to solve such problems. Another issue that has been debated extensively is the benefits and negative impacts of developing urban centers in Qatar. Debate of such issues has led to creation of strong personality with good leadership qualities. It is a way of shaping the young generation to be good leaders in future.

The debates are highly rated on BBC news and it also attracts many visitors who view their website. It has led to promotion of education and acquisition of important knowledge that is applied to solve issues that have not been solved in the past. Doha debate has changed lives of many citizens in Qatar and also foreigners view it as one of the key area that has led to improved lifestyle. The debate is spreading to other nations like Britain and at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Each series of the debate has had an impact in the lives of many citizens. It has led to promotion of cultural development in Qatar.
Topic 1. The Constitution and Separation of Powers
The Founding Fathers divided governmental authority into three separate and independent powers for two reasons. to promote vigorous administration and to prevent tyranny (Goldwin and Kaufman 48). Alexander Hamilton advocated for the creation of an executive branch so that compromises and gridlocks inherent in the legislative process would not cripple the administrative process. James Madison placed great emphasis on the danger of tyranny when all powers of government are concentrated in one place and held by a singular national party. To this age of the welfare state and nuclear weapons, the principle of separation of powers has become more relevant. Especially in times of great humanitarian or military crises, the checks and balances provided in the Constitution ensure that popular will, not dictatorship, operates. Unlike the parliamentary form of government, the American presidential system is more accountable and characterized by disciplined parties, smooth continuity and direction in policy. The parliamentary system may be unsuitable for emerging democracies like Iraq, for instance. Politics in Iraq is dominated by the Sunni tribe and the degree of polarization along ethnic lines discourages the fusion of powers principle. Weak legislative checks may result into what is called an elective dictatorship.

Topic 2. Mass Media and Agenda Setting
Techniques used by the mass media are meant to manipulate, exploit, and control the unsuspecting consumer. For instance, the advent of yellow journalism, tabloid journalism, and infotainment are driven by the need for the media to increase circulation or pump advertising revenues. American advertising is effective in creating a market where one did not exist previously. Hence, Marshall McLuhans words the medium is the message (McLuhan 22) intends to show that the content in a medium is meant as a piece of distraction. In this manner, the reader or viewer can only understand the obvious and eventually fails to appreciate the real social implications of the medium. Instead of providing education and information, the profit-driven media instills entertainment and amusement and creates among us, passive viewers who realize too late the various social implications of technology.

Final Paper Family law in Qatar

Understanding Family Laws in Qatar
Family law is a practice area that encompasses the legal issues that face families.  A family is the basic unit of the society. It provides a template for social norms and values which determines a individuals personality, behavior, and viewpoints in life. This is supported in the universal human rights declaration in article 16(3) which stated, the family is the natural and fundamental unit of the society and is entitled to protection by both the state and society. Thus, efficient family laws are noteworthy in the pursuit of better individuals, which embark the role of good citizens in the community. Legal issues affecting the family include Marriage, Adoption, Divorce and Child custody as stated by V. Powell in the legal companion 2005.

Qatar is a dominantly Muslim state with a dual legal system. It has  a civil law jurisdiction, where laws are followed by citizens and judges, codified and written in a collection, which is accessible to the citizens. However, it is the Islamic Law or Shariah  Courts which encompass inheritance, certain criminal acts, and family laws. Qatars Sharia courts have been really limited on the matters of family law (succession, marriage, and divorce, wills etc) due to the contradicting aspects of the religious matters and the international provisions on legal matters affecting the family. From early history, Qatar has been exposed tto Persian, Portuguese, Ottoman and British influence. Relationship with Britain further strengthened until 1971 when Qatar declared independence. At that time, the Penal Code, Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes were adopted, while personal law remains unmodified and are administered by sharia courts. At this date, Qatar maintains dual system of civil and sharia courts.
Nevertheless, family laws in Qatar can be considered quite liberal as compared to other Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia. At present, Qatar family law is intended to be brought closer to the contemporary international standards. It is during the reign of the current emir Hamid bin Khalifa, since 1995, that massive liberalization and modernization has been seen ( e.g. men could be allowed to wear shorts in public while the strict regulations on womens wardrobe have been at least relaxed).
  Family law in Qatar aims to redefine the status of women within the family and the society. It allows women to be guardians for themselves, giving them a sense of independence and empowerment. It also raises womens minimum marriage age to 18 years old. Significantly, it emphasizes the family as an equally joint responsibility of the spouses, but still maintaining the wifes obedience to her husband (Reforming Islamic Family Law, 2009).

Legal stipulations on marriage
Traditionally, the ideal marriage was tribal, related families encouraging their offspring to marry cousins or other relatives in order to increase and strengthen the tribe, or occasionally to marry into another tribe in order to heal rifts between families. Another reason for such marriages was that families knew the background of the partner. httphome.swipnet.seislamarticlesdivorce.htm
In Qatar a groom identifies the potential wife and approaches the father after which the dowry is discussed and paid. When the bride has consented to the marriage, the marriage is then sealed and this is followed by the official marriage celebration which may last as long as the families can afford. The newly-weds then leave for their nuptial celebration which symbolizes the brides official departure to her matrimonial home. The bride can either stay at the grooms home where the young wife becomes a member of the extended family, or the couple can settle to a new home.

According to the Sharia law a Muslim man is allowed to marry up to 4 wives provided he can support and provide their necessities. But a bride can add a clause restricting her husband from marrying another woman if the groom agrees before the marriage, then it becomes binding in him. The bride retains her maiden name and it goes without saying that the various roles in a Muslim marriage are defined with the husband being the provider and the wife being the nurturer.

The statutory age for marriage is not clearly defined but puberty was the approximate time when most people get married. This trend has gone to an average of 20 years due to the demands of the modern life style and expectations.

Qatar being a Muslim state, highly prohibits same sex marriage. This is not permitted and the same sex union may result into severe punishment according to the Sharia laws. People practicing such unions do so in secret and are not protected by the law.

In Qatar a citizen is allowed to marry a foreigner only after obtaining permission from the government. If a man obtains the permission and is granted, his foreign wife automatically becomes a citizen after leaving her own passport and their children as well. On the other hand, when a woman obtains permission to marry a foreigner, she still holds her citizenship while her children are not automatically considered Qatar citizens.   Although a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam, the reverse isnt the case. However, non-Muslim women are often pressurized into converting, and there have been many cases of foreign women marrying Arabs and then discovering that the local culture and lifestyle are unacceptably restrictive. It should also be noted that, in the event of the breakdown of such a union, the children are usually kept by the husband in his home country.

A man can divorce his wife simply by saying I divorce you three times. He can rescind the divorce if this was done in the heat of the moment, but only if the wife agrees (and only on three occasions). On the other hand, even if a wife has good reason to seek a divorce (e.g. if her husband has been unfaithful, abused or deserted her, or engaged in criminal activity), she must go to a court for the case to be heard. The husband must maintain a divorced wife and any children from the marriage if the wife is unable to support herself. He can also claim custody of any sons when they reach the age of ten. A female divorcee usually returns to her family, and few remarry as explained by Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari in his article Islam and Divorce. HYPERLINK httphome.swipnet.seislamarticlesdivorce.htmhttphome.swipnet.seislamarticlesdivorce.htm

Child custody
This is the stipulation of where the present parental responsibility lie after the divorce whether it is with the father or the mother.

Types of custody
(i)Temporary - this refers to the custody immediately after divorce. This can be graanted on either party provided an agreement has been reached and is binding on both parties.(ii) Legal custody - this awards the parents the right to make decisions concerning the general welfare of the child. (iii) Sole - this is where the court allows either the father or the mother to take custody of the child (iv) Dual-this allows both parents to take custody of the child during specific intervals.

The physical aspects of a custody defines the child s residence. Here the general rules are
 the court makes the final decision, thus assumes full responsibility in order to permanently safeguard the child against acute or chronic feelings of guilt in most states the court will consider the childs wishes differently according to his or her age in a situation involving more than one child, experts feel that it is usually best to keep all siblings together with respect to the custody arrangements

In Islamic law, the mother is only allowed custody of her son according to his age, thus, if the boy reaches a considerate age (10), his custody automatically goes back to the father as stated in Hidayah, vol. IV, pg. 553

Adoption is basically a statutory procedure governed by the Compilation of Islamic
Laws (Kompilasi Hukum IslamKHI). It includes the adoption of a child by a relative or other unrelated person, the adoption of a stepchild by a stepparent, the adoption of a child in a foreign country, or even the adoption of an adult. Adoption is not allowed among the Muslims, thus it is not accepted in Qatar, except by the Christian missionaries who adopt kids whose parentage and religion is not known. Although , the people can take care of a Muslim child,  but the child does not become their legal child. It is acceptable for a Muslim to adopt a child whose parentage is unknown and is not of the same faith and simply bring up the kid and convert it to Islam. Vice Chairperson of the Mahkamah Syariyah (Islamic Court) of BandaAceh, Drs.Salahuddin Mahmud, says
Divorce settlement

It goes without saying that a Muslim man must maintain his wife and children if the wife  is unable to do so due to financial problems. The husband should support his separated wife  till the children become off-age, bearing in mind the provider principle of the father and the nurture principle of the mother. Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states.

Legalization of Marijuana

When the word marijuana is mentioned, the notion that comes upon many peoples mind is crime, drug abuse and prohibition. In my opinion, this is not how it should be. In essence, governments all over the world should be in the first line of granting each citizen the right of making choices for themselves if any activity they choose to undertake do not pose a danger to others. Abraham Lincoln, in 1840, observed that any legislation effectively prohibiting citizens from doing anything undermines the basic principles upon which a democratic government is based on (Gerber, 21). Prohibitive laws aside, I have a number of views as to why I think marijuana should be legalized.

It is important first of all, to note that there are millions of people in the United States who smoke marijuana on a regular basis, as well as millions of others who smoke it infrequently. Medical research has clearly pointed out that smoking marijuana has far much less dangerous side effects and hazardous consequences than many other legal drugs alcohol for example. Undoubtedly, prohibiting the drug has had no impact towards the production and use of marijuana in the country (Bock, 40). Despite the penalties and sentences administered for possessing or using the drug, the number of people using it has continued to rise.

Secondly, a larger percentage of marijuana users are African Americans and Hispanics. Consequently, these groups will be the main victims of prohibition laws, a fact that will reinforce the perception that law enforcement is strategically targeting the minority population groups in American society. African Americans comprise over 30 percent of all arrests associated with the possession andor use of marijuana. Even with these arrests, cases of possession and use continue to rise, and the circumstances have proved that there is no way these laws can be enforced without the race issue emerging to complicate the matter. To avoid this, the drug should just be legalized.

Secondly, the government uses a lot of money in drug wars. Billions of dollars are spent every year by authorities at the federal, state and local levels to chase after people who just want to get high on marijuana and carry on with their lives. Once these people are apprehended, they are locked up in correctional facilities and taxpayers have to pay for the costs of their stints in jail. These convicts have to be fed, housed and granted rights to attorneys from taxpayers money. If marijuana was legalized, there would be much saving on public funds and furthermore taxes charged on the growing and selling of marijuana as a cash crop would supplement the national budget or be used to foot bills of a more effective drug awareness campaigns and other services (Sheperd, Blackley, 215).

Another reason as to why I think marijuana should be legalized is that its prohibition has led to more uncontrolled consumption. By being illegal marijuana has increased its popularity in high schools and colleges throughout the nation. If it were legal, marijuana sellers would seek to establish the age of any prospective buyer but its prohibition has given it the forbidden fruit status and anyone can buy it from the streets regardless of their age. It is much easier for juveniles to obtain and use marijuana than it is for them to obtain alcohol because the latter is regulated and therefore kept away from underage users (Gerber, 64). It is because of this fact that instead of trying in vain to prohibit some substances, the policy should be to engage in honest programs that educate the youth on the dangers of drug use therefore equip them with the ability to make informed choices when it comes to drug use.

Smoking marijuana has some positive attributes to it. Some chemical substances present in it have medicinal value and its use provides reprieve from chronic pain, nausea and a variety of other symptomatic illnesses that conventional medical procedures have failed to treat. Additionally, marijuana is very applicable as a recreational drug just like alcohol but bearing much less severe negative side effects (Bock, 89). Marijuana users are more unlikely to develop dependency on the drug as compared to users of alcoholic drinks and tobacco. Even to people in whom the drug brings about side effects, there is a tendency to develop tolerance, and it is relatively much easier to quit than most other drugs.

Last but not least, marijuana users have shown great determination to soldier on with the struggle to have the drug legalized. The persistence is due to availability of evidence that marijuana is one of the safest drugs and has medicinal value. In addition, some religions have instructions to their followers to use marijuana as part of certain religious rites. Just like Christians drink wine to commemorate the last supper and other festivities, Buddhist, Hinduism and Rastafarians have within their doctrines the use of marijuana while performing some religious ceremonies. As part of granting each citizen the freedom of worship as provided for in the US constitutions First Amendment, marijuana should be legalized.

Three Questions

Where did the right to privacy originate

The right to privacy actually originated with the United States Supreme Court in two rather famous cases.  In 1928 in the case of Olmstead V. United States in which Olmstead lost on a technicality, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote a dissenting argument that stated his opinion that the Bill of Rights, while never using the word privacy, inferred that Americans do indeed have a right to privacy.  In  the case of Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 decided in favor of Griswold,  Justice William O. Douglas wrote that there are penumbras and extensions within the Bill of Rights of that create zones of privacy.  These penumbras and extensions can be found in the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments.  (Harris, Leslie  Associates, Constitutional Origin of The Right to Privacy.  Prepared for The American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy,

Should juveniles be charged with serious crimes such as murder be treated as adults  Can children have intent

I believe that each case has to be considered individually as each incident of crime usually has several mitigating factors.  In the case of very young children, their brains arent developed to the point of impulse control so how can they be held responsible as an adult  Also, most children and teenagers live in the moment, they dont think ahead nor do they take time to consider the consequences of their actions.  I believe that children can have intent.  Recently in the news is a report of a 14-year old who shot his mother and stepfather dead because he wanted to get out of doing chores.  It was premeditated murder in that he went to his parents closet, retrieved the gun from the locked box and shot his mother then laid in wait for his stepfather.  I believe he should be tried as an adult, however, he should be incarcerated with kids his own age and be provided every opportunity for rehabilitation.  If he cannot be rehabilitated, he should be transferred to an adult facility when he turns 18.

What kind of incentives would motivate you to participate in an interest group  Among people you know who are active, what are their incentives

I would have to be interested in the topic of the group to even consider participating, whether there were incentives or not.  Money or other material rewards would be a motivating incentive to participate.  Another incentive would be if my input had some influence on the topic.  If it were a topic I felt passionate about I would participate if I felt that my voice was really going to be heard and make a difference.  One other reason I would participate in an interest group would be just plain curiosity.  Of the friends I polled with this question, the answers were the same as mine although several did say if money were the incentive, they would participate whether they were interested in the topic or not.

Industrial Relations

Collective bargaining is the method where workers organize together to meet negotiate upon work conditions with their employers (Danodov 2004). Trade unions are the vehicles for achieving this and its not true to say some have outlived their usefulness because work place issues keep on emerging with new challenges every other new day. Unions exist to represent workers interests in the face of autocracy or no autocracy as their main reason for existence is representing the interests of their members regardless of fair treatment.

Management and trade unions bargain for both the convergent and divergent interests of each party. Both parties have common interest and that is ensuring that its interests are taken care of. The management has to ensure that business runs at a profit whereas the unions have to ensure their members get their fair share and that is good wages and better working conditions. The issues only become opposing when one of the parties has a selfish tendency to benefit at the expense of the other.
The 1944 deal has been the reference point in labor issues over time and over the years has evolved to provide guidelines for both, organizations and trade unions. For employees, it strengthened the unions and thus ensured their interests are well addressed. More sense of security with enhanced bargaining authority made it gain acceptance among many workers and in so unions became stronger with majority of workers becoming unionized. For employers it curtailed their executive authority over their members of staff since they now had a vehicle to champion for their interests. In a way both the management and workers issues have a reference point and thus this deal opened ways for democracy at work place.

Collective bargaining and contract making differ significantly as one is seeking to see that interests of group it represents are taken care of and a common ground for a deal is being sought respectively. But they have a similarity in that each is present to ensure her proxy gets the best deal from an engagement and both use same methods to ensure their interests are attended. Collective bargaining leads to formation of contract setting forth the wages, hours, and other conditions to be observed for agreed period of time.

Employers need not necessarily employ from among members of a union. This is because employer is not obligated by law to such action. Employers source staff members from sources best known to them to ensure they hire the best to drive their mission and goals. The employer has clear guidelines of how to obtain workforce who perform with clear instructions and regulations to observe and with pay commensurate with tasks performed.

Hours of work are predetermined and should not be confused with shifts. In firms with big operations where shifts alter and schedules for different shifts with overtime or extra time being after the normal working shift with different pay rate and not fixed times of the day should be the case.

In conducting suspension a well outlined procedure should be put and followed to the letter since foreman may abuse this authority if exercised without a checklist to form the basis for suspension.
Communication with the employees of matters of work is the responsibility of employer to ensure important information reaches staff regardless of availability of notice boards with locks. This isnt the duty of union as unions only come along when there is a problem.

Displine related documents should not be removed from employees file even after two years of clean record. Reason being this is a short period to warrant same mistake will not be repeated since with knowledge of grace period by the employee.

Business context

The quest for profit led firms to produce these products. The main motive for starting a going concern is to make profit while offering quality service to consumers. Normally market economy is characterized by self-interest whereby economic unit tries to do what is best for itself (Campbell et al 2004). Property owner or producers try to get the highest price for their product so as to generate more revenue and hence maximum profit. An enterprise seeks to make profit and avoid losses, hence product produced at continuing profit will continue to be produced otherwise stop producing. Consumers demand could also have motivated these firms to make these products. Firms will tend to produce products whose demand is high in order to meet market demand.  

Producers looked for and found the least-cost combination of resource in producing their output. Combination of resource to produce a product is determined by its availability, technology (ability to make) and mostly cost of production. In free market economy suppliers of resources who are after making revenueprofit make these resources available. Resources are scarce and as result they carry a price tag which is determined by supply and demand in resource market (Campbell et al 2004). These producer of the hardware products, produced because the revenue generated after sale is enough to pay wages, rent, interest and a normal profit to the business.

Consumers through their money votes and decide on what to be produced. Producers of these products produced or continue to produce because there is ready market for their products otherwise they would have closed their businesses. Sometimes producers themselves can determine on fate of their products.  A firm decides whether to continue or cease from producing it, depending on the demand for the product and cost of making it. Therefore depending on the revenue generated by selling the product over the economic cost, the producers hold the authority on whether a product is worthy to continue investing companys resources in the product line (Campbell et al 2004).  

American Media and Politics

1) Is the American public well informed enough to guide the policies of the US government Why or why not

There is an aphorism that states that (democratic) governments are often run by politicians in reality despite the notion that sovereignty resides in the people or citizenry.  Although this is idealistically true, the reality is quite far from it.  Perhaps the only time the public is well informed enough to make things happen in politics is only whenever there are elections, but this appears to be the only extent of that knowledge and involvement. One can easily say that the (American) public may either be lazy or indifferent to get involved in politics.  In answering that question, this is partially correct.  It appears that the public tends to be dependent on their elected officials, especially their congressmen, in representing their interests in the halls of power.  Besides these duly elected officials, public interest or pressure groups seem to also work in behalf of the public as well. As a result (oftentimes), the course the government takes might be quite far from what people expect from their leaders such as tax laws.  Special interest groups are the ones, instead of the general public, that influence the making of laws. The result is tax laws that only benefit these interest groups because they only represent a particular sector of society but not society in general, and while they benefit from their involvement and influence, the others are left out to  suffer.

2) Does the lack of public information about issues pose an especially worrisome problem for the conduct of US foreign policy why

This is true.  If one were to listen to the arguments of those opposed to the governments policies, the public would be more often than not kept in the dark in the things that go on behind closed doors in the State Department, the White House and even Congress and other concerned agencies.  It is only when the events have happened does the public become aware of them one way or the other.  Such is the case of the invasion of Iraq. In the beginning, the American public bought whatever the Bush administration said that gave it the justification to invade Iraq on the pretext that it was part of the war on terrorism, and that there were weapons of  mass destruction (WMD) still unaccounted for which may be used by these terrorists. It was only later that everybody found out that there were no WMDs at all and because of this, repercussions followed on the account that the American public appeared to be deceived, and this had serious consequences in the subsequent elections which saw the domination of the Democrats in Congress and the victory of Barack Obama in the 2008 elections. The political victory of the Democrats was partly the result of the inability or unwillingness of the previous administration to  be honest  to the public from whom it (or any government for that matter) draws support for their policies.

What are some of the consequences of the American medias profit-driven reporting of the news

If there is one possible consequence, that would be the loss of objectivity or impartiality. The role of the media is to inform the public. In the days of Edward Murrow and Walter Kronkite, these men made the news the most reliable source of information or truth to the public, making them the voices that America trusted.  Most, if not some of todays reporters, resort to sensationalism where stories are often exaggerated to get more attention. Naturally, the more attention it gets, the more profits or higher the ratings for the news and media outfit.  One example is the war in Iraq.  The way the media reported it is very much reminiscent of Vietnam where despite military successes, the media depicted it in such a way that it appeared America was losing the war.  What is wrong here is that they capitalize on  bad news  to gain more profit since it draws more attention than  good news.  Corollary to that, they end up serving as the  mouthpiece  of certain cliques who want to further their cause, ranging from big companies to left-wing liberals.  The corresponding consequence to that is that the public is apt to accept what they say because they assume anything reported is the truth, and they are more inclined to believe it than what the government may say (Pringle, 2009).