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    All the Power, No Responsibility

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    alexethridge

    Posts : 33
    Join date : 2009-09-03

    All the Power, No Responsibility

    Post  alexethridge on Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:57 am

    585 words, can be expanded or condensed if necessary. Sorry it is late.


    There are many things AHS students know in an instant, thanks to a good education from a good school. John Locke’s theory of natural rights? Memorized to the ‘t.’ Author of Wuthering Heights? Drilled into our heads sophomore year. Which train will arrive at the station first? Give us a minute and we’ll sketch out an entire diagram. But when asked about the state’s economic budget? Most of us, including the rest of California, draw blanks.
    A survey recently taken by the Public Policy Institute of California finds Californians want to be in charge of the state’s budget. That same survey, however, reveals that Californians know almost none of the basic essentials needed to control the circus of economic affairs, such as where the state gets its money and how it’s spent.
    The institute’s poll taker, Mark Baldassare, asked Californians where the state receives most of its money. The survey showed, “30% said sales taxes, 28% said personal income taxes, 18% said corporation taxes and 17% said car fees.” Last year, 55% of state profits came from income taxes, 31% from sales taxes, 10% from corporation taxes and only 2% from car fees. When asked how the state spends its money, almost half of those surveyed said prisons, while other answers such as health services, elementary through high school education, and higher learning trickled in comparison. Californians were wrong once again, when it was revealed the majority of state spending goes to K-12 education and human health services. In actuality, only 10% is spent on prisons.
    The lack of experience of Californians marks them as incompetent of handling important affairs such as the state’s budget. Jane Ross, the executive director of California Budget Project, said, "People don't understand, with good reason, how it all fits together. I've been doing this professionally for decades, and it's hard to understand how it all fits together."
    It’s commonly believed that the citizens of California would be happy to hand the economic duties over to the legislature—if they believed they were capable of handling it. However, this lack of economic awareness Californians have exhibited brings to mind our own ignorance of our state’s affairs. With so much emphasis placed on the importance of an education and getting into the ‘right’ school, students are blind to the basic concepts of their state’s government that work together to ensure they receive a fair proportion of state funds. When asked for the names of California’s two senators, junior Vania Wang replied, “Umm, Barbara and Feinstein?” Senior Austin Kim said, “I know both are women, but I’m not really politically minded.”
    The belief that only those interested in a future in politics should know about the state’s government is what restricts many students from learning necessary information about their state. Some believe knowing the state budget isn’t as important as math or history when in fact it’s a part of maturing into adulthood. Vania added, “I see the articles about the state issues online but I usually just click past them when I do my homework.”
    While politicians always aim to please, there's nothing very pleasant about the options for the state's budget. Still, without a clear understanding of the basics, it's tough figuring the way out. Just as it’s hard controlling the state budget without a basic understanding of its concepts, students cannot fully become functioning members of society until they know who represents them in their government. And if that takes precedence over memorizing the quadratic formula, so be it.

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