Thursday, July 26, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...These People Need As Much Help As They Can Get.

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...These People Need As Much Help As They Can Get.

Now I feel this is strange and to be honest I don't know why I am doing this, but I was really touched by this story. Its not only a moving story but its one of those "only in America" type deals. 

Caleb Medley is an up and coming stand up comedian in Aurora Colorado. Sadly he was shot in the face last week during the "Dark Knight Rises Massacre". He has already lost his eye and is currently in a medically induced coma. His pregnant wife luckily escaped and has happily just given birth to a baby boy. Caleb is showing signs of progress but is not out danger yet. 

That brings me to my point. Caleb and his new family, because they are uninsured are looking at a two million dollar medical bill when he eventually wakes up. I am not going to go on some political commentary for or against the medical system, insurance companies, or Obamacare. These are just simply people who need help and there is a campaign right now to help mitigate there medical expenses. A website was setup by their friends and so far they have raised over three hundred thousand dollars for  Caleb's medical expenses. Please at-least take a look at the links below and read the story for your self. If you can donate please do and if you can't please pass the story on to everyone you know. Trust me when you read the story you will understand why this is so moving. I know that this post is only going to reach a few people, but hey every bit counts and if five of the one hundred of you who will read this donate something then its totally worth it. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...Legalizing Marijuana is Not a Bad Idea

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...Legalizing Marijuana is Not a Bad Idea

Now I know that this sounds strange, but I have never done any drugs in my life harder than aspirin. I have never smoked marijuana and I don't plan to. It's funny that I have to preface this with that and I know this sounds strange because many people do it.

Since high school I have gotten used to saying the phrase "no thank you". I am not ashamed to admit that in the beginning I was just completely and utterly terrified to do it. I was afraid of getting caught, getting sick, or being labelled a "pot smoker". Even though nearly everyone I know has smoked pot or still smokes pot, getting labeled with the title "pot smoker" apparently still carries a negative connotation to it. Moving forward to senior year of high school and beyond, I was just simply not interested in smoking pot. There was and is nothing appealing about it to me. I am a relaxed person anyway so why the hell do I need to be more relaxed. When it comes to having the "munchies", I am pretty overweight as it is. Having witnessed someone go through a bad case of the "munchies", I think if I was a regular pot smoker I would be dead. All jokes aside, it really was and is not something I am interested in. Now I must admit that I was a pretty big underage drinker, drinking parties with the football team, drinking beer and playing Halo 2, or just having a beer at a barbecue. That brings me to my next point.

One of the major arguments against legalizing marijuana is "that will make it easy for people who are underage to access it". I find this argument very weak. Yes it maybe true that it may make it easier but if it is regulated to say that you must be over 21 to consume marijuana, I don't see a problem. Alcohol can only be consumed by people who are over the age of 21 so what's the problem. The point is that if underage people want to use pot or alcohol they will find ways to use it, whether it is illegal or not. It is truly incredible, when having conversations with people, to discover strictly by my own experiences how many people actually smoke pot.

The important point is that if a person who is underage is caught drinking, most likely they will either get a slap on the wrist or a fine. Nothing will be put on his/her records and most likely there will not be outrage or excommunication from family and friends. Now if a person is caught smoking marijuana, the outcome can be very different. Not only can you be charged with a crime and put in jail, but depending on how much you have on your person, you can be charged with a felony. It's truly not fair considering that smoking pot and underage drinking are both things that seem to be rights of passages these days.

Why take the risk? I don't understand why people take the risk to get high. I know the answer to that is, “Well you haven't tried it, so you don't understand”. The point is that I have come to the conclusion, at least in my head, that the risk doesn't outweigh the reward. I don't judge people, it's just simply something that I do not want to do. That all being said, there should not be a risk associated with doing something in the privacy of your own home and property, by yourself or with friends. By breaking it down, the simple answer is that marijuana is a plant/herb that you smoke to provoke a chemical response within in your body. The same can be said about alcohol, tobacco, chocolate, coffee, and tea. All of those substances are perfectly legal and just as natural as marijuana.

By making it illegal you make it dangerous in so many ways. You create a black market and illegal drug dealers, who can be dangerous people in their own right. So there is a risk associated just with buying pot. Not only is there a physical danger but the person who is selling it can be a cop, you could get caught by the police transporting it home, and by buying it illegally, you run the risk of purchasing fake pot or even worse it could be laced with something harmful. I know that this is not typically the case and everything I mentioned are the worst case scenarios. But it is not impossible and those things can and do happen all the time.

Lets discuss one of the main arguments that are made against the use of marijuana. By legalizing marijuana, whats the next step, legalizing cocaine, heroin, crack, etc? I honestly am torn by this argument. I feel that people who are capable of making rational decisions should be able to do whatever they want to their body as long is it does not affect other people. I am a complete believer in Darwinism especially when it comes to society. If you want to use heroin by all means use it, because you are going to die. There is a line that needs to be drawn and it really doesn't take common sense to know that if you use heroin you are going to die. There is a big difference between using pot for recreation and relaxation, and using heroin. I don't know what it is but if you were to legalize all drugs, it just seems like there is something wrong with looking behind the counter at a deli and seeing bags of cocaine, needles, crack rocks, and marijuana next to the cigarettes. Oddly enough the healthiest thing on that list is the marijuana.

I know, the same can be said about cigarettes. If you want to smoke cigarettes you are going to die. I don't know, I just don't put hard drugs in the same category as marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes. I think I might have to use the argument that I hate. I can't condone making it easy for children or underage people to get hard drugs. "But if they want to get it they are going to get it anyway!!" The point is that, I can't see places selling a product that is guaranteed to kill you. Heroin, cocaine, crack, let's not have any illusions about this, those drugs will kill you/ruin your life. The problem with hard drugs other then heroin, you tend to hang on for a while and your life just completely implodes and then you die. I am sorry but people can function perfectly normal using marijuana, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol. Like anything else, moderation is very important and addiction can be attributed to nearly everything. So if we are going to outlaw something based on it being addictive then I am going to go to jail, because if you make coffee illegal, hell I might turn to prostitution to get my caffeine fix.

Finally to the most interesting arguments I have heard for the legalization of marijuana. There are a lot of arguments made for the legalization of marijuana but I think that some of the most convincing are the most simple, as is usually the case when it comes to common sense. The most obvious to me is that alcohol and cigarettes are a lot more dangerous then marijuana. You can die from drinking too much alcohol, be it from choking on your own vomit after passing out or good old fashioned alcohol poisoning. Cigarettes will eventually kill you but the short term effects can be scarring of the lungs, coughing, compromised immune system, not to mention second hand smoke hurting the people around you. Marijuana has no known side effects, it is impossible to overdose on pot, there are no long term effects, and because of its natural source, tar and other deadly chemicals are not introduced into your system. Cancer has not been known to be caused by regular use of marijuana. Furthermore the benefits of smoking pot to alleviate the effects of chemotherapy and benefits for patients with glaucoma are proven and even implemented in states that allow medicinal marijuana use. Still marijuana is illegal, and alcohol and cigarettes are perfectly legal with age restrictions.

An amusing, but compelling argument are the tax benefits associated with legalizing marijuana. Cigarettes are heavily taxed as well as alcohol. By outlawing pot use not only do you create criminals for a victimless crime but you are losing millions if not billions of dollars in tax revenue for the government. Why keep waging a war on pot smokers when the war is quite convincingly lost. By legalizing pot you create a whole new industry, a taxable industry and you take away the factor of pot being shipped in from foreign countries and possibly funding organized crime actives both foreign and domestic, or even worse terrorism.

After all of that, this is still a very heavily debated topic in American politics and rightfully so. This is a very sensitive issue because it basically comes down to personal opinion. Whether you smoke pot regularly or you are vehemently against it I don't think that you can deny that what someone does within the privacy of their own home is their own business. If you are worried about your child smoking pot if it is legalized then you will have to watch them just as much as you would watch them if you didn't want them to get their hands on alcohol. It really is as simple as that. If you are against the legalization of hard drugs, well, I am completely with you on that. The real answer to that is I don't know. Even though I said I believe in survival of the fittest I can't logically condone or use common sense to justify the legalization of a product that is basically guaranteed to kill people.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal

Sunday, July 22, 2012

It Doesn’t Take Common Sense to Know...that the United States Needs Stricter Gun Control Regulations

I need to start by saying that I did not write this post. It was written by a very good friend of mine who, I consider to be one of if not the smartest person that I know. The tragic and unfortunate massacre that happened in Colorado over the weekend only emphasizes the point, that something needs to get done about gun control in the United States. I am not saying that we need to get rid of guns or take away guns, I am just simply saying that it shouldn't take massacres for this topic to make its way into the public arena. This is not a topic that should be addressed strictly with opinions and there needs to be a high level of common sense and knowledge, so I requested that my friend Paul, write what he thinks about gun control. I dare you to try and argue with him when it comes to this topic. If anyone understands how use common sense to solve real world issues its Paul.

It Doesn’t Take Common Sense to Know...That the United States Needs Stricter Gun Control Regulations

by: Paul DeFranco
It’s one of those issues that nobody wants to touch – a taboo topic for politicians and one that is quietly regarded as “bad politics” by our representatives on both sides of the aisle. Attempts to broach the topic by politically-minded individuals, regardless of the forum, quickly devolve into fundamental arguments concerning our second amendment rights and personal freedom. However, at least once every few years, the issue explodes into the national spotlight in horrifically tragic form – most recently, through the actions of a lone gunman in Aurora, Colorado at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

The process of crafting and implementing gun control regulations is often viewed as an extremely difficult undertaking due to the power of competing interests within our society. In dealing with regulations on a national level, our representatives have attempted to balance the demands of conservatively minded citizens in the rural geographic regions of the United States with the more socially liberal populations of urban centers. Furthermore, one of the most powerful lobbying groups on Capitol Hill, the National Rifle Association (NRA)[1], has repeatedly launched campaigns against critical gun control measures in Congress (such as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994) and regularly pressures elected representatives to vote favorably for their platform. State regulations are also wildly varied and add a layer of complexity to the national debate; many jurisdictions have established laws that are even more lax than federal regulations, and while this does not prevent citizens of those states from being prosecuted under federal law, state and local authorities have no obligation to uphold those laws.[2]
James Brady, shot after an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan
Federal gun control regulations have taken a number of forms over the course of the past few decades – the most modern and pertinent of these being the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act (1993) and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994). The Brady Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, established a mandatory federal background check for all citizens attempting to purchase a firearm through a federally licensed firearms dealer or manufacturer. The mandatory background check prevented individuals with certain risk factors from obtaining firearms – primarily those with a criminal record, outstanding arrest warrant, or history of mental illness or drug abuse. However, perhaps partially due to the decision in Printz v. United States (1997) which stated that the federal government could not compel state or local authorities to perform the mandatory background checks, individuals have rarely been prosecuted for violations of the Act’s provisions.[3]

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994), also passed during the Clinton Administration, aimed at restricting the distribution and sale of certain semi-automatic weapons (fully automatic weapons have been effectively “banned” since the passage of the Hughes Amendment in 1986). In particular, the AWB regulated those weapons which featured “large capacity ammunition feeding devices,” and any combination of bayonet mounts, telescoping stocks, pistol grips, muzzle devices, barrel shrouds, or flash suppressors. However, the bill was widely perceived as ineffective because these standards could be met by cosmetic alterations that do not change the core functionality of the weapons. Under pressure from the NRA and a general unwillingness to offend supporters in rural areas, Congress allowed the AWB to expire in 2004. Although numerous attempts have been made to renew the AWB, such measures have failed without extensive debate. 

Unfortunately, even with a less polarized and more effective Congress, it would be difficult to remedy the plague of gun violence with action solely on the national level. According to two recent court cases, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Second Amendment firmly establishes an individual right to bear arms and applies that right to the states under the due process clause. While this is important in that it resolves a long-standing debate concerning the meaning of the “right to bear arms,” gun control regulations do not necessarily prevent law-abiding citizens from owning or bearing arms. As with any potentially dangerous or destructive activity, the government has a responsibility to protect the public from avoidable harm. The enforcement of certain measures, such as more stringent background investigations, mandatory waiting periods, and carefully maintained state firearm registries, could take place without infringing upon an individual’s right to gun ownership while still protecting the public from reasonable harm. Furthermore, the regulation and monitoring of certain firearms and related materials, such as the semi-automatic weapons and ballistic gear that was used by James Holmes in Aurora, could have granted the authorities enough time to recognize a pattern of suspicious and potentially violent behavior. 

The loose regulation of firearms in many states has also rendered stricter regulations in states such as New York less effective due to black market interstate gun trade. It has been clearly shown that lax government regulation of firearms in certain states has resulted in increased violence in those states with more restrictive gun regulations due to the trafficking of firearms purchased legally in other states. In a recent Newsday article, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota claimed that “We have great laws in New York State… but if the guns are coming from other states into the hands of people illegally, we can't do anything about that.”[4] In response to Suffolk’s active black market, the police force has commissioned a special team of officers to take these weapons off the street one case at a time. In many cases, it is shown that these guns were purchased legally and then sold for criminal use in more restrictive jurisdictions.

Many individuals who support looser gun control regulations also claim that firearm possession is a strong deterrent against those who would commit crimes. At first review, this argument does seem to make sense – if guns will be obtained by criminals regardless of state regulations, then why should law-abiding citizens be prevented from carrying weapons? However, gun control regulations rarely infringe upon this right – even highly restrictive states, such as New York, allow concealed carry of pistols with a permit in most jurisdictions.[5] Furthermore, few studies have been published to support the argument that lawful gun ownership by peaceful citizens is a deterrent to crime. While an often cited 1993 study conducted by Gary Kleck claimed that approximately 2.5 million crimes are thwarted each year by the use of a gun in self defense, equally reputable studies have claimed a much lower rate – perhaps up to ten times lower, according to Dr. David Hemenway of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center – and have questioned the methodology that Kleck employed.[6] With such questionable studies to back their arguments, “guns for self-defense” advocates have little hard data to back their claims. 

It doesn’t take common sense to know that this country needs more restrictive gun control regulations. These regulations may not be implemented overnight or with complete uniformity, but so long as firearms are loosely regulated in a large number of U.S. jurisdictions, the illegal interstate traffic of weapons and the purchase of dangerous firearms for criminal purposes will remain steady or gradually increase. However, even in light of the recent tragedy in Aurora, Colorado and similar incidents which have caught the public’s attention, it may come to pass that not even a series of horrendous tragedies will be enough to sway the public’s opinion or that of our elected representatives. It’s a disheartening fact to recognize, when just a few common sense solutions could start us on the road to safer streets. 

[2] Printz v. United States (1997) 
[3] Implementation of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act," Report to the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, and the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, GAO/GGD-96-22 Gun Control, January 1996, pp. 8, 45 
[5] New York Pistol Permit Bureau. July 2012.
[6] Do guns save lives? Ed Magnuson. Time. (June 24, 2001),9171,152446,00.html
The incidence of defensive firearm use by US crime victims, 1987 through 1990. D McDowall and B Wiersema. (December, 1994)
Gun use in the United States: results from two national surveys. D Hemenway, D Azrael, and M Miller. (December, 2000)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...That We Have Stopped Dreaming

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...That We Have Stopped Dreaming

I must start by saying that the title is kind of stolen from a concept put forward by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson in his book the Space Chronicles and his testimonies before the Senate about the downsizing of the United States space program. I am going to elaborate more and give my own ideas, but if college has taught me anything I must give credit where credit is due. In this case I am honored to give credit to Dr. Tyson because he is a brilliant man and I recommend reading, watching, listening to his words across platforms.

I had the idea to write this because yesterday came and went without so much as anyone commenting on Facebook about the significance of July 20th. Now of course I must acknowledge the tragic massacre that happened in Colorado, and I would not expect such a tragedy to not be reported. Still I have the feeling that The Dark Knight Rises would have upstaged the historic event anyway. For those of you who still don't know what I am talking about, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, an incredible achievement that has yet to be matched. The idea that men went from learning how to fly, to landing on another world in the same century is truly a magnificent achievement for the human race. 

Most of the information and ideas I am about to repeat can be found in Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson's book the Space Chronicles or if you don't want to read the book, this video sums it up perfectly:

Let me start from the beginning, way back in the 1960's we were fighting a cold war with the Soviet Union. This Cold war was undoubtedly about who was better and who could produce the most awesome stuff. I am over simplifying the Cold War and I know I will be criticized for that but hey this is a blog and I am not going to sum up the entire Cold War in a post. Anyway the Soviet Union sent up Sputnik, a small communications satellite that transmitted a very simple radio signal. This scared the United States. The Russians were getting ahead of us and while they were sending up satellites, we didn't even have a space program ready. So NASA gets founded based solely on the fact that we needed to be better than the Russians.

We land on the moon on July 20th 1969, far surpassing the Russians in every way and now it was no longer the moon. We had the moon, so everyone thought we would be going to Mars and then, once we went there, the universe was the limit. But everyone forgot why we got to the moon in the first place. We needed to be better than the Russians, and once we proved that, people began to lose interest. Everyone also forgets that the entirety of the 1960's united us into thinking about one thing, the future and dreaming about tomorrow. A space age, cars, houses, food, etc. Astronauts were heroes, an entire generation of physicists, computer programmers, and engineers were inspired by man landing on the moon. These are the people who have given us the "world of tomorrow": the iPads, phones, tablets, apps, computers, etc. The people who witnessed that magnificent event were inspired by the potential and ideas and acted on them. Without ideas for tomorrow or anything to be inspired by, what are we as a society today? 

In my lifetime there has been no inspirational event to unite us all to believe in the future. My lifetime has been full of war, death, destruction, terrorism, economic crisis, and debt. We have stopped dreaming about the future. When everyone was looking into the sky a few months ago to watch the space shuttle Enterprise land at JFK, I think I was the only one truly disappointed. I saw it as the end of an era, the end of dreaming about the universe and the potential of the human race. NASA has no foreseeable future plans because the NASA budget has taken the biggest hit in its history. We no longer have a launch vehicle to get to the multi billion dollar space station THAT WE BUILT!!! What's even sadder is that in 1974 we were expecting to be walking on Mars before 1990, today the expectation is 2050 and that's if NASA gets a budget and starts working on it heavily right now. 

What have we got to inspire us today? The most recent episode of Glee? Justin Bieber? The Jersey Shore? There is nothing about the present or future of the United States I am inspired by. We have nothing to look forward to and no prospects. The space program has given us so much in terms of advancements, ideas, technology, and dreams. It is my humble opinion that if we were to rejuvenate the space program and make it even better than it was, we could just possibly crawl out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. We could become respected again, not for the wars and money we can spend, but the things we can actually achieve like landing on the moon. 

“But Sal,” you say, “we have problems down here, we can't be spending our money up in space?” WRONG!!!! Again, I must yield to the knowledge of Dr. Tyson. The NASA budget was/is four tenths of one penny. If you were to hold up a dollar bill and cut four tenths of one penny off of a tax dollar you would cut off a strip so thin you wouldn't even come close to the ink on the bill. The excuse that "we cannot afford it" is unacceptable. The 850 billion dollar bank bailout is greater then the entire 50 year running budget of NASA. So when you say that we cannot afford the space program, it's not that we don't have the money, your concept of the money the space program is spending is warped. 

By removing the space program, you are removing the pure essence of the things dreams are made of. You are removing the fact that ideas have always moved this country forward, and it is no coincidence that the biggest and fastest advancements of technology in human history have been after we sent a man to the moon. What scares me the most is that by ending the space program, we have stopped dreaming. We have stopped looking to the future and we risk remaining stagnant for almost an entire generation. 

If we make NASA's budget an entire penny per tax dollar. That would be more than enough to get us to Mars soon, enough to get us back to the moon and create commuter space flights to asteroids and beyond our solar system. More importantly, you create heroes, not people who are admired for how drunk they can get at the Jersey Shore or sing about how much it sucks breaking up at 13 years old. By advancing the NASA budget, you will create heroes who are admired because of their abilities to inspire dreams that will launch us into the universe. Children will dream about becoming astronauts, astrophysicists, engineers, and the like, and actually contribute to society more then tweeting idiotic celebrity news and kicking ass in Call of Duty. 

“Nobody’s dreaming about tomorrow anymore. The most powerful agency on the dreams of a nation is currently underfunded to do what it needs to do — and that’s to make dreams come true. How much would you pay for the Universe?” -Neil deGrasse Tyson

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal

Friday, July 20, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...It is Impossible to Think the United States Will Ever Payback it Debts

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...It is Impossible to Think the United States Will Ever Payback it Debts.

A lot of people are very upset about the rapidly increasing U.S. national debt these days and are demanding that we devise a way to pay back the money we owe. What they don't realize is that there simply is not a solution under the current U.S. financial system. I am pretty sure it is mathematically impossible for the United States government to pay off the national debt. The truth is that the U.S. government now owes more dollars than there are in circulation. The current total is now $15,893,964,530,101. By the time I am done writing this post, the debt would have most likely increased $405,210,571. That's assuming it takes me one hour to write this. If the U.S. government went out today and took every single penny from every single American bank, business, and taxpayer, they still would not be able to pay off the national debt.

A common misconception is that all of the United States debt is in China. As interesting and fun as this talking point seems, it is simply not true. The U.S. holds about 50% of its own treasuries to help pay for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, that is basically like stealing from the bank in Monopoly when you are the banker. Now, dangerously 25% of our debt is owned by foreign governments, with Japan and China being the biggest owners which really is not a good thing. If they were to suddenly flood the market with U.S treasuries, it would be devastating for the United States because there is absolutely no way for us to make good on the money that the treasuries supposedly represent.

The U.S. federal government is probably betting on inflation, while other governments are betting against it. If the U.S. dollar continues to inflate then U.S. debt will most likely be washed away. A huge risk considering that the people who will pay for that gamble is the United States taxpayer and citizen. By taking on so much debt the government almost forces itself to cause inflation as best they can. They continue to borrow money, dump it into the economy in the form of stimulus, keeping interest rates low, and everything else within their power to do, just to keep inflation going, so they can just borrow more and more.

Now when it comes to the all of the stimulus packages, TARP, and auto industry bailout, it is no wonder that the United States is like a degenerate gambler. We keep begging for more, taking it from whoever we can, in the hopes that one of our bets will pay off. The problem is that the United States is just in a perpetual cycle of spending money we don't have and unfortunately, we are at a point where there is no form of recovery possible. If we want to continue existing as a country we are going to need a complete overhaul of our financial system.

Now at the risk of sounding too conservative, the simple honest way of curtailing our national debt is that serious and unfortunate cuts need to be made. Now I am not a proponent of cutting every social program and privatizing everything, but the immense amount of social programs that exist in this country are sucking the taxpayers dry.

Which brings me to another point. We can no longer persist in thinking that taxes are something that we need to fight. Don't get me wrong, I don't like taxes, and I want taxes to be as low as they possibly can but the simple fact is that we can't afford it. Tax cuts will not cure the problems we have. There won't be any "trickle" down effect. Maybe twenty five years ago tax cuts may have been effective, but less taxes will just hurt us more. The key might be cutting spending and keeping taxes where they are.

I am not an economist nor do I claim to be an expert on the economy and what the solutions are. As I have been trying to say for just about every post now is, common sense can solve just about any issue. Common sense will tell you that spending money that you don't have is not going to work for long. Common sense will tell you that cutting taxes and increasing spending will not work. Common sense will tell you that if you give rich people money they are not going to reinvest it.

Finally to address the title of this post, "It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know...It is Impossible to Think the United States Will Ever Payback it Debts". The amount of money that the United States has borrowed is an enormous number. I know it is difficult to understand that amount of money, even I can't comprehend it. Maybe it's easier then I think to pay back almost 16 trillion dollars. Just to quickly wrap your head around concept of 1 trillion, if you spent 1million dollars a day for 2000 years you still would not spend 1 trillion dollars. The United States is nearly 16 trillion dollars in debt, where is that money coming from?!?! How did we spend that much in the first place? Also, according to the United States debt, puts every taxpayer in debt 139,432 dollars. Check out that website if you want to feel sick about government spending.

Simply put, unless you are an economist there is no way to wrap your head around the debt problem in this country. There is no real solution to the problem of the United States debt and my personal opinion is that we have reached a point of no return when it comes to it. What the future holds for the United States really is unknown but most likely it is not going to end well. I am not trying to sound dramatic but like a degenerate gambler, the United States is in a ditch with its legs broken not knowing how the hell to get out.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense To Know...There is Nothing Wrong With Homosexuality

It Doesn't Take Common Sense To Know...There is Nothing Wrong With Homosexuality

Now from that title, it seems I am not intending to find common ground on this issue. The flat truth is that there is no common ground when it comes to the topic of gay marriage, gay rights, and other LGBT issues. There is no need to find common ground when it comes to ignorance. Any opposition to the idea of homosexuality is just simple ignorance and nothing more. This is one issue where I take an extremely firm stance, there is nothing wrong with being gay.

Honestly, people dedicate their lives to discussing this topic and the debate can go on forever so I am going to keep this to a specific glaring issue that is present in the United States today. As a straight supporter of gay marriage, I feel it is one of the most important social issues facing our country today.

Many politicians, mainly republican conservatives are against gay marriage which means they are for legislation to make it illegal. To be fair this is not strictly a conservative Republican value, there are many democrats who agree with legislating marriage as being between a man and a woman. Contrarily, there are republican conservatives who support gay marriage. Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act or "DOMA" into law in the nineties. Legislating marriage is clearly a violation of the United States Constitution and I don't know how to put it any other way.

The Ninth Amendment states "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people". Basically what that means is that a law cannot be made for or against a specific group of people and furthermore people cannot be denied something because of who they are. That is a rough non legal interpretation of the law and many probably won't agree with me. When the Bill of Rights was first proposed, the major argument against it was that by naming specific rights the government was not free to violate, there would be an implication that the government was free to violate any rights that were not specifically written into the Bill of Rights. The Ninth Amendment was written to address this concern about the Bill of Rights. The issue is clear, homosexuals are being denied basic human and legal rights. There are thirty nine states that still outlaw gay marriage, and fourteen states that still outlaw sodomy. In a country where the Constitution is so coveted, how could such a blatant disregard for its principles be ignored?

When having discussions (arguments, really) with people about the topic of gay marriage, I try to make it simple for them to understand. Most likely, if they are against gay marriage they are throwing arguments out like, "I am just morally against it", "marriage is a sacred institution", "why does something like this need to be forced on me?". The most simple "trump" argument that I have come up with is to bring up taxes. You can be completely and utterly against gay marriage but as long as marriage requires a legally attained state and federal document and can be executed by a federal or state official then you cannot deny two people the right to get married. If they are tax paying Americans then there is no reason they should be denied the same rights as everyone else. Gay people aren't looking to have churches marry them, there not looking to have the government force churches to marry them. Gay people are just simply looking to have the same rights as every other American. I know this is an overly simplistic way of defending gay marriage and rights, but it's so hard to fight ignorance. People just can't get over their own opinions, faith, and values, when it shouldn't concern them at all.
The most heinous argument that I hear all the time is that allowing two people of the same sex to marry is a slippery slope. Meaning that if you let two people of the same sex to marry, whats to stop people from marrying animals? What's to stop people from marrying and having sex with children? This argument infuriates me beyond anything I can describe. How can you compare the depravity of having sex with animals or children to homosexuality? By making that argument, people are putting homosexuals in the same category as pedophiles and those bestiality enthusiasts. I should not have to explain that animals and children are incapable of consenting to sexual acts. To make that argument just simply proves how ignorant people are and that we are living in a country that still needs to grow up.
I think that the most frustrating argument found, and forgive me for keeping this kind of short is that the United States is a Christian country that was founded on Christian values. I am keeping this short because I am most likely going to discuss this in a future blog, but it comes up a lot when discussing gay marriage. It comes up because if Christianity condemns homosexuality and gay acts then the United States must condemn homosexuality and gay rights. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. That is ridiculous.

The founding fathers of this country were deists. They were children of the Enlightenment and even if they were religious (which some of them obviously were) they knew the importance of keeping religion out of politics. I think that this is more than clearly evident by the wording and implementation of the first amendment of the Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.". The key part is obviously, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". These are the first words of the Bill of Rights. In fact that is the only time religion is even mentioned in the Constitution. The words God and Christianity are never mentioned. You would think that if the framers of the Constitution felt that Christian values were important to the establishment of this country and the Constitution itself, they might have mentioned something about it within the document. The truth is that the United States Constitution is one of the most truly secular founding documents ever written.

We live in difficult times. As I have discussed already in past posts, people's opinions can be more significant than the truth. What I seek is the truth. I see nothing that makes more common sense then allowing two people regardless of their sex to marry each other. Now, being a realist I know that its going to take a while for this to happen. It's going to take a while for people's opinions to change and thrusting gay marriage onto the American public will only harbor feelings of resentment. It's not fair and not right that this issue should even be a concern in the public domain. The truest words ever written, that are constantly being tarnished and torn apart is that people are entitled to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". We no longer live in a country where we can say that we abide by those values. Some may say we never lived in a country that abides by those values at all. Still I feel they are something that we should work towards. We shouldn't feel we are entitled to having those values to ourselves. I feel that we are entitled make Life better for each other, pursue and defend Liberty, and make sure that we don't make Happiness something that is only reserved for a select few.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal

Monday, July 16, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense To Know....Going "Green" Shouldn't Be Politcal

It Doesn't Take Common Sense To Know....Going "Green" Shouldn't Be Political.

Let me start by saying Al Gore pisses me off. I don't like him and I never have. He is the reason, in my opinion, why progress is being halted. Everyone has seen, knows, or heard of Al Gore's Nobel Prize winning documentary called “An Inconvenient Truth". For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past ten years it is a two hour long power point presentation by Al Gore in which he introduces the term "Global Warming" into the public vernacular, explains how global warming is man made, and how to fix the problem.

Now whether or not you agree with Mr. Gore is your own problem. I am not going to go into my opinion about the documentary and "Global Warming". My focus is on the phrase "going green". Another term thrust into the public domain by Mr. Gore. I don't have a problem with this at all. Not necessarily for the environmental benefits, but there is nothing wrong with agreeing with that. How could it possibly be bad to try and take care of the planet we live on? Obviously, people take it to extremes, like using three squares of toilet paper and taking one minute showers. First, I am lucky if I only need to use three yards of toilet paper let alone three squares. Second, one minute showers?!?! How could anyone possibly get clean in one minute! Now I get not taking fifteen minute showers but one minute, I don't think so.

Like everything else in the United States, "going green" has been thrust into the political arena and twisted to suit the agenda of each party. The Republicans' coming out immediately against "Global Warming" and "Going Green" and the Democrats apparently pioneering it. I don't really know why this has happened but I know that in American politics when the other side has an idea it has to be wrong. I blame Al for progress being halted because this whole "green" thing started with him. So naturally I am going to blame him even if it was the political parties in this country that messed up the whole issue.

Here is where being in the middle helps. The Republicans want to deny the whole thing. I will not deny our effect on the changing environment. I am not saying climate I am just simply saying environment. It's hard to deny that our effects on nature are being felt by other species and even gone so far as to puncture a hole in the ozone layer of our atmosphere. Ground water has been contaminated by drilling for natural gas, landfill, dumping, etc. Air in China is polluted to the point where they have smog days and have to wear masks outside. It was so polluted during the Olympics that I recall reports of athletes claiming the pollution was going to be a factor in the running and endurance events that took place outside. We have a dramatic effect on the world we live in and I feel there is nothing wrong with taking care of the planet that quite literally takes care of us. Being conscious of what we create, produce, and throw away. There is nothing wrong with recycling and creating new things from the old. There is nothing wrong with conserving energy. There is nothing wrong with looking for alternative fuel and energy sources that don't hurt the environment. Basically there is nothing wrong with going "green" as long as I am not told that I have to do it.

This is where the democrats come in. The democrats want to legislate their way into a better world. I get that sometimes people are stubborn and need to have things thrust upon them. It is flat out wrong, however, to force people to do something that they don't want to do. If someone doesn't want to change the light bulbs in their house then they shouldn't have to change the light bulbs in there house. Legislation is not the way to prove to people that going "green" is not political. By trying to make laws, taxes, and fines, you will just simply piss people off and make them think it's government control.

I look at "green" in a very simply way, progress. It is progress, putting away the methods of the past is natural. It's what we have been doing since the wheel was invented. It seems though that we have reached a road block in progress for the last fifty years. Now I know that sounds wrong because of the invention of the computer and advancement of all technology.

Think of it like this. the car was invented in 1881 by Karl Benz (co-founder of Mercedes Benz) it was a three wheeled automobile and, believe it or not, was electric powered. In fact, all of the car companies in the late 1800's and early 1900's were fighting to see which form of propulsion would be the best. Steam was a big contender, as was electric, diesel, alcohol, and obviously gasoline. It wasn't until Henry Ford revolutionized the assembly line did we have a distinctive and universal fuel which ended up being gasoline. Since then, gasoline has been the obvious winner. It didn't help that the oil companies saw great potential in the production of gasoline and its use in motor vehicles. The basics of the internal combustion engine have remained the same for over 100 years.

In the 1950's and 1960's it was clear that we were going to have new and fantastic modes of transportation. Electric, nuclear, and flying cars where supposed to be in our future. Unfortunately, oil companies really do have a say in that future and have done everything possible to ensure that doesn't happen. So I guess Al Gore is off the hook, although I still blame him for the term "global warming" and "green" becoming pop-culture phrases.

It is pretty obvious to see that we have sacrificed progress for profits. When I say we, I mean the companies who give us (the consumer) the product. We are to blame for the lack of progress in this country. Gasoline was cheap, it used be that you could fill up your car for cents not dollars. It wasn't until the eighties that we even considered alternative energy again when gas prices sky rocketed. The price of gas is what's causing us again now to question and produce alternative ways of producing energy. So, now we are scrambling to find new and better ways to fuel our homes and get around. So far, we can only think of cars that will either blow up or catch fire, get you around the block before you have to recharge it, or cars that make a concession to the oil companies and have both electric and gas powered engines.

Still, progress is progress and I hope that in my lifetime we will have new, clean, and efficient forms of power. I really don't think of this as something political or even something that should have a political spin on it. I think it's cool and interesting. I find it amazing when someone explains to me that it's possible to have a car that could be fueled by water, or air. Is it not the mark of the human race to constantly make ourselves better? Why should our progress as a society be stifled because of political saber rattling and the corruption of big business. I guess what I am saying is that maybe Al Gore had it right, (DAMN IT!!) not by making it a political thing but making it a pop-culture thing. Maybe it needed to become a pop-culture thing so people demand change and want change. So what I am asking you the reader to do is not look at "green" as a bad thing, a political thing, or even an environmental thing. Look at it as progress, with the benefits being a cleaner, safer, and efficient world.

Written By: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited By: Julius Motal

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know....Cable News Channels Are Destroying This Country.

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know....Cable News Channels Are Destroying This Country.

We live in a world where information is quite literally at our fingertips. We live in a world where stories and events can be published the instant they occur. Some may call this progress. Hell, I call it progress, but I am afraid that all this instant gratification, rather than making us better as a society, has fragmented us. Gone are the days of Murrow, Cronkite, and Rather where the NEWS was actually reported. We now live in a world where a person's opinion can be more influential than the truth.

Now Fox News seems to be at the top of everyone's list to make fun of when it comes to reporting opinions rather then the news. Will I deny this fact? No, of course not, but I must say they are apart of a trio of cable news channels that are just as guilty as the big bad Fox. This trio is CNN, MSNBC, and The Fox News Channel. Most people who watch Fox won't say that they watch it because it is Republican leaning. Most of them even have the audacity to quote Fox's self serving "fair and balanced" tag line when saying "I watch Fox news because they are (insert tag line)". Now even though MSNBC and CNN don't have nifty slogans, they appeal just as equally and one sided as their competitors do to the democrats and liberal base. Democrats and liberals have the nerve to say that they watch MSNBC and CNN because they are looking for a more sophisticated and cerebral newscaster. Now just to name a few, I don't think Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Piers Morgan can be considered "sophisticated" and "cerebral". I would liken all three of them to talking heads reading from the New York Times and college-level political science textbooks.

Now, Fox News seems to get the loudest people in the room to report the "news" - i.e Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and the entire cast of "The Five" - and they're told to not worry about sourcing. Just make stuff up and no one will even bother to check to see if its right or not; they will just assume that it is true. It's funny when I have political discussions with people the topic of sourcing always comes up. The interesting dynamic is that people who watch Fox think that the only information they need to know comes from Fox, and if it comes from anywhere else it can't be true, that it's liberal and imagined. Interestingly, the same can be said about people who watch MSNBC and CNN except that if it comes from Fox they just assume that it's not true, and the main problem with their thinking is that if it's written down somewhere or anywhere it must be true.

The introduction of the "Cable News Channel" is one of the main reasons this country is as polarized to the left and right as it is today. Why does the reporting of the news need to have any spin on it at all? Why can't it simply just be reported? Now I know that sounds naïve, but like I said before, and I will say numerous times, if we can just use common sense this country would be so much better. When I make this argument in discussions the most popular response is "Well what if I want to hear opinions that are like mine? Why can't I have a channel where I can listen to people who think like me?" My response is typically this: if you want to watch a network that is strictly based on opinions then keep watching cable news. These networks do not report the news, they show a story and give their opinion on it. If you want to be a news network then report the news, don't tell me your opinion. What this creates is an electorate that is informed by the opinions of candidates and issues but knows nothing about the candidate or the issues. People are constantly being inundated with the story of the day, week, or month. If a story about abortion comes out it is truly an incredible sight to so how different each channel reports it.

Most likely Fox will start the day by reporting the story and interjecting their conservative opinions about the issue. Later on, there will be a guest, most likely a woman, who was a pro-choice activist but then later on in life changed her mind on the whole thing. Next, there will be a guest who is a doctor who will explain in detail about his moral stance against abortion and they will use him as their "scientific expert". Then, the afternoon shows will start, "The Five" being a personal favorite of mine. A group of five people, four conservative and one liberal (how much more fair and balanced could you ask for?) will spend the entire hour discussing the evils of abortion segueing somehow into a tangential conversation about how abortion is going to affect the "taxpayer" and that it's not about morals, it's about the fiscal principle and that we shouldn't have to pay for murder. Then, the prime time shows will start, most likely they will pit Sean Hannity up against the most idiotic liberal they can find off the street and claim this is how America thinks and the country is losing its morals. If there isn't any juice left in the story they will move on to the next hot button issue. If there isn't a hot button issue, they will run with their bread and butter, saying the president is a socialist and a fascist who is a Muslim, and a baptist, and wasn't even born here.

Not to be outdone, MSNBC and CNN will start their day by completely ignoring the issue in the hopes that it will go away. By mid-morning, they realize that Fox has got the jump on them and they start the interviews early. They get on the woman who was a pro-life activist who got pregnant and decided she needed an abortion and changed her mind on the whole thing. Next, there will be a guest on, most likely a feminist from the sixties, claiming that pro-life activists are mostly made up of men who are constantly trying to oppress a woman's right to choose. They will spend most of the afternoon citing Roe v. Wade and bring on constitutional scholars to explain the same point they have tried to report for five hours. Then, the prime time shows come on and Rachel Maddow will have a forty-five-minute monologue where she stares directly into the camera with the most condescending tone she can muster and explain to us why she is right and everyone else is wrong. The last fifteen minutes of her show, she will have a feminist friend on to talk about how Republicans hate women. If there isn't any juice left in the story, they will move on to the next hot button issue. If there isn't a hot button issue, they will run with their bread and butter: Palin, Bush, Republican, and conservative bashing.

Now, as satirical as those news casts might be, they are not far from the truth. I don't watch any of those channels exclusively. If I am being honest, I watch all three but I do not claim to get information from them. I won't cite them and I definitely will not take any of them for there word. If I hear something that interests me, makes me curious, or even makes me mad on a channel, I will do my own personal research. Which basically means, I go to Google and look for the Wikipedia page.

Why are they destroying the country? Well, simply put, both sides are creating "zombie" viewers who just perpetuate the agenda of each party. Both sides are very comfortable persisting under the delusion that everything that they believe to be true is one hundred percent correct. Now of course I know that if you believe something you have to assume that its one hundred percent correct, but what these cable news shows are creating is a society that is so stubborn and arrogant about their opinions that no one can be convinced of anything new. Furthermore, these shows make people standoffish and any opinion contrary to their own is considered a personal attack. The worst part of this entire problem is that it creates an under or uniformed electorate and nation, and polarizes the country to the absolute left and right. It fractures us in such a way that if you find common ground on anything then you must be considered a moderate.

Everyone walks around with talking points that have no real substance. In my experience, most people who use the talking points in arguments don't even know enough about the talking point to make a viable argument. For example, Solyndra has been a favorite talking point with people I have conversations with. So much so that I even hear people make jokes about it. "What like Solyndra? hahahaha" "That sounds like Solyndra Rabble Rabble Rabble" until you ask them about what there actual opinions are about Solyndra. The most common answer is well "Solyndra is the solar company that President Obama invested our tax money in and it failed. It's just typical of a socialist agenda. This is what happens when government gets in the way." That's usually the extent of their knowledge of any issue. The equation is Topic + tax money = Obama is a socialist. The arguments aren't any better when they come from the liberal side, that equation is: America's Problems + Blame Bush = Obama is Awesome.

I constantly get asked when I criticize these news mediums, "Where do you get your information from then?" My response is simple, I say all three, but I also read the New York Times everyday, not cover to cover, just the news and important things. I have a subscription to the Economist and I have an iPhone. Now for those of you who don't know what that means, I have just about every "App" for every news and media outlet there is. I get alerts and read the top stories from each one. Most importantly, I read. I love to read books and just about anything I can get my hands on. If I find a topic that interests me I consume every bit of that topic. I will get five books from authors with contradicting or similar opinions on that topic and just read. To stay informed you need to read. The magic box in your living room is not going to tell you what you need to know. The only way to stay informed and be informed is to read. It's not a coincidence that the Golden Age of this country was a time when people read, and not just for information and news, but for fun because they knew it made them better people. Today, reading has become a fad, whichever popular book is in the media is what sells. Your "Fifty Shades" trilogy, Twilight Saga, etc. Books have become something that you have to read because everyone else is doing it.

All I ask for from the places I get my information is to simply tell me the information. I will put my own spin on it. I don't need you to do it for me. I don't need interpretations of issues and I don't need expert opinions. I am perfectly capable of establishing my own opinions. So, bringing this full circle, gone are the days of the intellectual newscaster who tells it to us straight. Gone are the days of reporters who make sure their information is 100% accurate before they report it as fact. Gone are the days of the reporter who apologizes sincerely if they get something wrong. Finally, gone are the days where the person who comes into you living room every night to tell you the news is a person you trust and believe.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know.....that we need to get to know each other better.

It Doesn't Take Common Sense to Know.....that we need to get to know each other better.

First I need to give you a little bit of background on me so you can get an idea about where my opinions come from. I am a twenty two year old unemployed recent college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In no way am I saying that my opinion is the right one nor am I saying anyone else’s political opinion is absolutely wrong. I am just simply saying that I have opinions that suit me and the way I think. When I graduated from High School in 2007 I was absolutely sure that I was a Republican as well as a conservative thinker. Graduating from a catholic high school and growing up in an extremely conservative Italian family I was very sure of those opinions. The truth is that a month before graduation I had a life changing experience, it certainly was a thought changing experience. It truly was a moment in my life when I realized that everything I believed might be wrong and that you should never approach anything blindly.

It was April of 2007 and I was teaching Sunday school. I was finishing up my senior service by teaching catechism. One day a student started crying in class, I took him into the hall and asked him why he was crying, he said “I am really sad and I don’t want to be here”. I responded like a teacher at first “well we have to be here don’t you want to learn about God and Jesus’ teachings?” He said “I do but I am just really sad right now” I said “Why are you sad, did something happen?” I had to word that carefully because I was not allowed to ask him if anything was happening at home, it was “to intrusive and none of my business” according to the head nun. “They are here to learn about the lord and his teaching and you are here to teach them that properly and according to catholic canon” she told us all at orientation. Regardless, the student decided to tell me what had happened the Friday before class. He told me that he was afraid. I said “afraid of what?” knowing I was asking too much according to the sister, I felt bad for the child and hoped I could help him. He told me something horrible, “Mr. Pezzino?” he said “My cousin killed himself and I am afraid that he is in hell....I overheard my mother talking to my grandma and they were really sad because they thought he might be in hell” he began crying really hard and asked me “Is he in hell Mr. Pezzino?” I cannot explain the thoughts that went though my head. I had no idea how to respond! I knew though that I could not respond with the “catholic answer” the answer I knew but could not say to a sobbing child who just lost his cousin. So I responded how any compassionate human would respond to the question. I said “Your cousin is of course in heaven with God. He is looking down on you right now upset that you are sad. God forgives all who are truly sorry. Life is a precious thing but God will not punish someone for not wanting to live anymore.” “So my cousin is in heaven?” he said. “Of course he is” I responded. I then brought him down to the office told the secretary that he wasn’t feeling well and to call his mother to come pick him up. He was in no condition to listen to me talk for two hours. 

After leaving him in the office I felt good about my answer. I felt like I did the right thing “the good Christian thing” and I was so sure everything that I believed was right. I knew that the power of God to make someone feel better was right. Not because of some mystical idea but because knowing that God is there to help and guide you, and that it was simply a good thing. How could anyone tell me different? Little did I know that I would be telling my self that wasn’t true? 

Two weeks later I was having difficulty because I needed to develop a lesson plan about the Ten Commandments and I was having difficulty deciding how I was going to teach the seventh commandment to second and third graders without talking about sex. For those of you who don’t know the seventh commandment it is “Thou shall not commit adultery”. I decided that I would yield to the nun who was in charge of the Sunday school. After speaking to her about my concerns and confusion she decided that she would come into my class and teach the lesson for me. So I sat in the back of the classroom grading the homework I had assigned from the week before and she began teaching. Now when I approached her early that morning she said that she would just teach the seventh commandment but for some reason she decided that she would teach all ten. Far be it from me to interrupt a woman of the cloth so I decided to sit back and see how they used to do it back in the day. So while I was grading I would get quick sound bites of the things she was saying. For example likening Elmo to a false God, she felt that children’s obsession with Elmo and Pokémon was blasphemous and that when they made there first confession this is something they should bring up to the priest. I couldn’t help but think that was a little antiquated for 2007, but I decided what the hell, these kids know she is just old. After a while though it became evident that this woman would have been considered extreme during the dark ages! As I sat in awe of this woman’s ignorance I saw a hand rise ever so hesitantly and slow. My stomach dropped and I wave of terror came over me. It was the student from two weeks earlier who had just told me that he was scared his cousin was in hell. She called on him and the words came out of his mouth that I was terrified to hear, “Sister, my cousin killed himself, is he in hell?” I stood and began to speak “sister can I……” she put her hand up very forcefully meaning that I should be quiet, and made eye contact with me indicating that I needed to sit down. I did do so as if she put me in some mystical catholic trance. This is the moment when my entire view and outlook on life changed. The moment when I realized that everything I believed, deserved and needed to be questioned. She bent down and said the words I will never forget, “your cousin is BURNING in hell, with the rest of the sinners.” Not only was there an audible gasp throughout the class but the saddest thing I have ever experienced happened. The child began sobbing and looked back at me. I have no idea how to explain the look that he gave me. It can only simply be described as betrayal, as if I was the one who lied to him. I was furious inside, how a woman with no more power then me in the grand scheme of things could simply undo the good that I had done. How she could take away the comfort of an eight year old so quickly without even thinking about it. Then I realized it’s not the thought of God that comforts us, its the way we treat each other. It was the thought of the power of God that made this child feel sad in the first place and it was me who comforted him. Then it was the sister who took away the comfort I gave that child not God. I would like to say that there is some heroic ending to this story like I walked up to the sister and beat the crap out of her or even some sort of verbal exchange, but not even that. I guess at the time the significance of the event hadn’t sunk in yet or even made sense. I know that I so desperately wanted to say something or do something but I just didn’t and I am fortunate enough to say that in my life that is one of my only regrets.

What does that story have to do with anything? The story is not intended to be used for atheistic purposes or in any means take a stance against religion. It is not my intention to espouse specific religious beliefs or values but simply use common sense to make political decisions and opinions. If that experience taught me anything it was to question everything and believe nothing. My religious views should not be of any significance or concern and I will do my best to make sure that my opinions are based solely on facts and common sense thinking. My intention truly is, to try and explain how common sense thinking should be applied and that if we cannot use common sense then we will fail as a society.

When I talk about my politics with people, they tell me that you can only have either liberal ideals or conservative ideals. I argue that is completely false. Simply based on the fact every situation has more then one explanation. My mother has always said to me that there are two sides to every story and then there is the truth. I have used that ideal throughout my entire life. The simple fact is that nothing should be defined as liberal or conservative. There should simply just be right or wrong. I know that sounds childish and naïve but that is part of common sense thinking. Not that common sense thinking is childish and naïve but common sense thinking forces you to look for the most simple and honest explanation to any situation. I have also been told throughout my life that I need to choose a side or that my values have influenced my political opinions. To that I cannot definitively say that’s wrong, maybe if I grew up in a more liberal household I would have less conservative views, but again though I must reinforce that I don’t believe that my opinions are specific to any ideology except my own.

Written by: Salvatore Pezzino Jr.
Edited by: Julius Motal