Saturday, May 14, 2016

Interest Groups

Thus, in a very small group, where each member gets a substantial proportion of the total gain simply because there are few others in the group, a collective good can often be provided by the voluntary, self-interested action of the members of the group. In smaller groups marked by considerable degrees of inequality that is, in groups of members of unequal "size" or extent of interest in the collective good-there is the greatest likelihood that a collective good will be provided; for the greater the interest in the collective good of any single member, the greater the likelihood that that member will get such a significant proportion of the total benefit from the collective good that he will gain from seeing that the good is provided, even if he has to pay all of the cost himself.

          In Olson's Theory of Collective Actions, he argues that people's efforts to pursue political goals there is a way to separate the majority interest from the minority interest.  In this particular passage, makes great emphasis on the idea that the minority interest can be counted for delivery of a common good without being compelled.  It is so to the point where and a single member can put fourth the cost for the collective good.  This is quite interest because it can easily touch on the "free rider problem", which as Olson described pertains to someone who benefits from something but contributes nothing to maintain the pursuit of the goal.  If only one member can care for the cost, where does it really leave the rest of the members? His 4 solutions however seems to be a great balance and solution to this problem.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Schenck v. United States

"The Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment does not shield advocacy urging conduct deemed unlawful under the Espionage Act"
"Holmes, speaking for a unanimous Court, concluded that Schenck is not protected in this situation. The character of every act depends on the circumstances. "The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." During wartime, utterances tolerable in peacetime can be punished."

          Unanimously, the court decided that Mr. Schenck was not protected by the 1st Amendment of free speech because it violated the Espionage Act.  This is actually quite interesting for for i believe this is a country heavily founded on a Constitution which specially Supreme Court Marshalls hold  highly when making their decisions.  However, i understand how during a time of war in the early 1900's it opinions may change. The US during WWI was a very different place from what it is today, freedom of speech has taken a whole new life of it own.  Nowadays, there certainly is a greater tolerance even during war times.  But back to Mr. Schenck's time, i can certainly understand where both parties stand, one could argue he was in his every right to speak out against the draft and show how unfair he thought it was; however, on the court's side, take the actions of sending those circulars to the draftees could have affected the overall attendance of the military which would ofcourse put the country at risk.  This case is a classic example of how we should not take things so literal.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


"Take New York, for example.  It is the one state among the eight that has shown a meaningful decrease in the level of gerrymandering across multiple congressional terms.  New York has also set up and independent advisory commission that recommends congressional and state redistricting plans to the state legislator.  This commission was set up on 1978, and shortly thereafter the level of gerrymandering in the state peaked and has been declining ever since."  

          This article seems to be a follow up from Ingraham's initial article regarding gerrymandering, in which he explains what this very convenient term means.  In this article he proceed to explain that gerrymandering can actually be limited if the states desire it.  But come on! lets be honest here- if a political party is on the advantaging side on the spectrum why would they want to vote against it?                 Being a New Yorker and keeping up to date with what is going on with our society and political system, is is actually very motivating to know that New York has had such decrease in gerrymandering.  Though positive, there is still A LOT to be done since unless we take matters into our own hands neither party will really be taking drastic steps towards ending such negative aspect of USA political system.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.- Frederick Douglas 

          In this passage from the great Douglas he clearly condemns the the way the American society works and how ironically they hold great ideologies but yet somehow seem to not have a problem with slavery. He criticized American ideology by saying it was very inconsistent.  Freedom was not for ALL people, though it seems to have great roots in it.
          This particular exert I found to be very profound, it truly shows Mr. Douglas discontent and frustration with the current civil rights situation for black people- it was basically non existent.  His attack and clear demand  for civil rights and freedom for slaves was made clear in this particular passage for the is no greater accusation than denouncing of a wrong being covered by hypocrisy.  It is actually very intriguing how the United States really pride itself in being such a free country where the rights of ALL people were protected, but were they ALL really protected? That very specific preference over whom was to fall under this freedom was indeed very unfair and hypocritical.  


Saturday, April 2, 2016

"That Government is best which governs least..."

"The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war,(2) the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure."-Henry David Thoreau 

           Thoreau argues that laws are man made and that there is a higher divine law.  When he conflict, according to Thoreau, one must obey a higher power.   This was truly a guy whom concerned himself with nothing else but his person, he even didn't pay his own taxes!  His disconnect was actually quite interesting for he still kept himself informed but his views remained unchanged.  He was not all that naive however, he was against slavery and made clear his discontent with current war during his time.  This particular passage really intrigued me, he is basically saying that government, "the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will" is as bad as the people running it.  I do agree with what he says to so extend, we can see this even today with other international powers and even here in NYC with recent corruption cases.  However, to the extend of not having a government, that would be a recipe for the end... 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Diffusion of Innovations among the American States Jack L Walker

"Demographic Factors: After studying the acceptance of technological innovations by both individuals and organizations, several writers have concluded that the decision maker's relative wealth, or the degree to which "free floating" resources are available, are important determinants of the willingness to adopt new techniques or policies.'4 If "slack" resources are available, either in the form of money or a highly skilled, professional staff, the decision maker can afford the luxury of experiment and can more easily risk the possibility of failure.'5 Other studies, especially in the areas of agriculture and medicine, have also shown organizational size to be a strong correlate of innovation"-Jack L Walker 

          Walker's 1969 article is a national study he performed then to see how rapidly states can conform to change and adopt them as new laws.  As no surprise of course, the results showed the northern eastern states as being more susceptible to change than the southern and western states.  as to be expected with everything going on in this day and age, the results are still pretty  much the same.  This, in my opinion, supports the idea discussed in class- there should be more representatives more the larger states.  Think about it, a state like New York- the most adaptable of all the states- has the biggest diversity of people from all parts of the world.  in order to get the most voices heard in order to continue with such adaptability, we need more people voicing our concerns and needs.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sanders puts up a fight!

"There are a few other possible factors at work. For one: Clinton voters, assuming she was a lock to win, might have felt less urgency to vote. Some, exit polls suggest, even might have crossed over to the Republican primary instead to vote against Trump."

          The brief article touches of a major discrepancy on the latest polls taken in Michigan.  The result anticipated that Hillary would wing the primary by an overwhelming lead, this however was not the case.  Bernie actually won the state by a narrow lead.  According to the polls previous to the elections, Clinton was the anticipated victorious candidate whom would take Michigan under her wing- but who exactly was asked to participate in these polls? And where were they on election day?
          This is actually a very pleasant surprise yet a bit scary at the same time.  This particular piece I selected mentions of Hillary supporters assuming she would win, and of the others that instead want to make sure Trump was not triumphant. But did that actually work? Trump still has the lead! If this is indeed what happened in Michigan,  it should be a wake up call for all those whom continue to take Trump as a joke.  On the pleasant side, I have become a Bernie supporter- though still a bit hesitant about some of his promises, in my opinion, he truly is the best choice we got.  Learning that he actually has a higher chance than anticipated by the polls, gives me hope and pushes me to urge others to make their vote count.