Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Death Penalty Must Stop

Texas conducts the most execution in the nation. Some argue that death penalty gives closure to the victims’ families who suffered tremendously, is a negative re-enforcement for crime, is a form of justice, serves as a deterrent who are already serving a life sentence, prevents the danger of potential escape, and prevents overpopulation in the prison system. While these arguments are valid and logical, there are several reasons for Texas to consider abolishing the death penalty: The cost of execution, the rising number of wrongly-convicted innocent citizens, and moral issues.

Firstly, a recent article announced that Texas had to implement the change in its lethal injection protocol, and use a single drug because the supply for one of the drugs used in lethal injection had expired. Texas. The cost of death penalty is continuously soaring.

According to a recent announcement, at least 100 people had been exonerated from death row since 1973 to 2002. There is a saying, “it is better to let a thousand guilty men go free than imprison one innocent man.” This is especially the case for death penalty. Even the slightest chance of an innocent person being put to death should convince us that the idea is morally wrong. The number of people wrongly convicted is the number of reasons to turn away from capital punishment. Also, giving death penalty to a murderer to show killing is wrong is very much ironic. It would only engrave the idea of “eye-to-eye” revenge mentality to the society. Also, it would not bring the victim back to life.

Some may argue that the overpopulation in the prison system can be a big problem. However, if the prisoners can bring in enough revenue, or reduce costs, the state can build more prison, and there would be no problem. The state should utilize the potential work force in the prison. Most of the prisoners are capable of labor, and many would be more than happy to work if there is some sort of reward. The state is facing the budget shortfall, and the prisoners could probably contribute to public construction or the city maintenance by picking up trash. There are many ways in which the state can be creative to utilize the unused work force. According to an article, In Brazil, the prisoners can reduce sentence by contributing to the society. For every sixteen hours put in on a set of special bicycles, one day is reduced. The bikes charge the batteries. The batteries are brought to the city center to power street lights. The state can easily make good use of the work force in the prison.

There are more valid reasons for the death penalty practice to stop than there are for it to continue. As mentioned, the state would prevent any innocent citizens from being convicted, and potentially raise revenue or reduce cost. The death penalty should stop.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not the Most Efficient Method...

        A Commentary made by Seth Arteaga on July 27th, 2012 focuses on the proposal of drug testing for the recipients of the welfare. The author stated, “The idea of giving someone else's hard earned tax dollars to someone who doesn't have a job is bad enough, but to think they could go spend that money on drugs is even worse.” The author seems to firmly believe that not all welfare recipients deserve to receive the aid. He wishes to “weed out” the ones who are likely to use the money on drugs. He believes the screening is not very costly. He provides a quote from a credible political figure, Jack Kingston, in order to enhance his argument. He also provides a link, from which he gathered numerical statistics on welfare, in order for the readers to receive more information. His Overall, his argument seems a bit weak. He does not elaborate on his argument, and does not provide additional reasons for his argument.

         While a reader may be convinced by his commentary, if one does more research, he/she will find that his argument is not very credible. Some extra research showed sources that challenged his argument. According to an article, Californian employers and Insurance companies paid nearly $100 million for drug tests in 2011, and the cost is expected to approach $150 million this year. Drug testing is already expensive, but the problem is that the drug testing cost is rising significantly every year.

          I do agree with him in that it might just be a waste of money to give a drug-user to continue using drugs instead of using the money for a new start. However, it would be too costly for the state to require drug-testing on every recipients of welfare. Besides, there are many ways to avoid getting caught by the testing by using “detox” medicine, or even simply drinking a lot of water. I believe the state should explore other options to distinguish the drug-users from the deserved recipients. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Investment or Extravagance?

A Commentary made by Tom on July 26, 2012 focuses on the rail system in Austin Texas. He starts the paper by mentioning the environmental issues, the main point of public transportation, and the bus system that is relatively successful. He compares the bus system to the rail system in order to emphasize the ineffectiveness of the rail system. He states that the rail system is not very well-known, and it is not being used widely, therefore bringing in small amount of money. He also states that it would cost enormous amount of money for the rail system to expand. He provides statistics to substantiate his viewpoint, and effectively show the "unseen" problem in Austin Texas.

While he did not provide a solution to the problem, I agree with him in that the rail system is, indeed, ineffective. It is true that the current rail system is too small and inefficient for the general public to use. As Tom has mentioned, it consists of a total of nine stations. With only nine stations, there is no surprise in that there are 1800 riders per day on average. Also, the city does a terrible job in informing and encouraging the public to use the system. I've lived in Austin, TX for about a year now, and I have never heard of the rail system. If people do not know about the system, no matter how good and efficient it is, no one can use it. In order for the rail system to survive, the city must inform the public, and enhance the system.

However, one must be prudent when considering expanding the rail system. The 100 million dollars that has been spent is a "sunk cost," or retrospective costs that have already been incurred; there is no way of returning it. The state should only think about what we can do best now. If the rail system is a dead idea, we must abandon it. But if there is good potential in the system, it might be worth it to invest more money for it to possibly flourish. After weighting the costs and benefits, the state should make a prudent decision.