John Locke, the Real Mockingjay

would you believe me if i told you these two were basically the same person?

President Snow is a horrible dictator and its up to Katniss Everdeen to restore political equality, however, this is a fictitious situation. However, put aside the actual dystopian thriller parts of the hunger games and analyze Panem as a government, and you have a start contrast to John Locke’s social contract about governments. First off, for those who don’t know, Panem is a totalitarian government run by one major city that oversees 12 districts that get lower and lower in ranking by number. The plot of the Hunger Games, and most specifically, Mockingjay, involves the (SPOILER ALERT) overpowering of the central government by the common people. This scenario isn’t that outrageous. There are numerous totalitarian dictatorships in the world, and these big governments are a pretty scary situation.

Now, take John Locke and his social contract. “Nothing can make any man [subjects of commonwealth], but his actually entering into it by positive engagement, and express promise and compact. This is that, which I think, concerning the beginning of political societies, and that consent which makes any one a member of any” (Locke) Basically, John Locke’s social contract is stating that governments only have power when the people give the government faith and power. Everyone has the ability to be fearful and alone in the world, or governments have the ability to exist, although merely at an illegitimate level, but it is only when people truly believe in their government that a government is able to take control. Locke then also considers the government to go on to oversee its people as an unbiased judge who is fair and kind.

Basically, that is a stark contrast to what Panem is. In terms of Locke’s social contract saying that the people are the ones who give the government power, Panem instead has a government who rules with a cast-iron fist, and is not afraid to use its “Peacekeepers” to kill anyone who opposes them. In terms of the government being an unbiased judge that oversees its people, the Panem capitol dictates everything about every sub-district it has, once again, ruling with a cast-iron fist that is a little hard to call forgiving. Plus, the capitol is notorious for its propaganda and media manipulation, so as far as the unbiased judge goes, Panem’s capitol doesn’t do the best job. John Locke had a pretty good idea of what a social contract for a government should be, and it shows how bad a government can be to the health of its people and its society when an entire government goes one hundred percent against a good description of government power.

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Breaking the Barriers in Sports

Barriers Are Meant To Be Broken [1] (wikimedia)

Evolution is defined as the process that allows changes to happen in plants and animals over time. However, it can also be defined as a process of slow change and development. When looking at sports through time, most sporting fans can clearly see the changes that have occurred in light of more crowds, new technology (instant replay), medical advancements (PEDs), and new game strategies. Some of these changes have been for the better while others have not. Despite some possible negatives, most sports fans would agree that sports need to evolve, just like the world, to stay with the times.

One important aspect of sports that may need evolution is the way we divide our sports. Divisions and recognition in sports have led to many conflicts and changes through the years. One example of this issue was brought up in Mika LaVaque-Manty’s book The Playing Fields of Eton where wheelchair athletes felt that they were being treated unfairly in the New York City Marathon.  They argued that they should not be stopped during a marathon (just like any other runner) and should be given a division to recognize people in similar situations. In the court proceedings, their argument won the case, as it was a matter of granting athletes with disabilities equal recognition and fair competition (no stopping during the race). Although LaVaque-Manty brings up this case, later on he warns against too much separation of groups. While divisions do exist in sports to allow fair competition among people with similar abilities, it can sometimes hinder overall equality. A major division that should be examined is the gender division within sports. To understand the background of this division, we need to step back in history.

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The Collapse of the Financial Markets: How Dirty Hands and Self-Interest Led to One of the Greatest Recessions of All-Time

Obama handled the Recession like a Prince

Obama Handled The Recession Like A Prince

Recently in my finance class, we were having a class discussion about the Great Recession of 2008. This discussion got me thinking about some of the concepts discussed by both Machiavelli and Hobbes. As many people know, the American economy started to free fall right after Lehman Brothers, one of the largest investment banks at the time, declared bankruptcy. As a result of this bankruptcy, millions of people lost their life savings and many banks started to fail as the economy tanked. Luckily through the efforts of the United States government and the Federal Reserve, the economy was finally able to stabilize in 2009-2010 and since then both the economy and stock market have picked up tremendously. The Recession did not occur magically. Both the concepts of Machiavelli’s “Dirty Hands” and Hobbes’s “Self-Interest” were heavily involved in setting up the American economy for one of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

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Split or Steal?

(featured image from http://www.challenge.co.uk/shows/golden-balls.html)

I have always found game shows particularly interesting to watch. Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire are all shows that we’ve heard of and chances are, watched – each with its own unique twist in promoting competition between the contestants. Most of these shows keep me entertained through the viewer’s relationship with the contestant (if you were to favor one over the other, for example, and cheered them on while shouting at your TV) but then there’s also the interactions among the different players of the game that keep me hooked. Game shows can bring out both the best and worst of those who play on them and specifically one game show, Golden Balls, actually reminded me of a topic we’ve just recently covered – the state of nature and social contracts.

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Too Hurt to Earn

In light of Marcus Lattimore deciding to retire from the National Football League, I wanted to go all the way back to “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed” by Charles P. Pierce about the Ed O’Bannon trial. O’Bannon v. NCAA is an antitrust class action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Ed O’Bannon, a former basketball player at the University of California Los Angeles, filled this case to fight for financial compensation for someone’s image.

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Climate Negotiation

Climate change has been an ongoing debate for many years now. Beginning in 1997 the first protocol, the Kyoto Protocol, was introduced. This protocol is an international agreement that sets emission reduction targets that countries are supposed to try and meet. This was seen as the first step to global emission reduction. Furthermore the Cancun agreements, also set to limit greenhouse gas emissions, were set in 2010. There have been many other conventions to try and come up with ways to reduce emissions, but does it really seem like we are taking the necessary steps to reduce them.

Polar Bear Habitat Struggles

Polar Bear Habitat Struggles

Despite all of these negotiations, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase through the world. Here is a short clip which discusses climate change and its impact. Why have emissions increased when we are trying so hard to reduce them? The article by Nunes states two main points which make agreements to reduce emissions so hard. First, is the legal aspect of the agreements. No country wants to get themselves into a position that does not better themselves. Nunes goes on to say that the negotiations “reveal very specific national interests”. Countries are making agreements with their own best interest in mind, which takes away from the actual climate change issue. The second issue is language barriers. It becomes difficult for cooperation to take place between countries that cannot fully understand each other, or the process takes longer than intended.

climate

I think that although we have tried to negotiate in the past, the only way to truly make progress to a cleaner earth is by adopting Hobbes logic. Hobbes believes that in order to succeed you need a sovereign, or someone who ultimately calls the shots. He states,“the only way to erect such a common power is to confer all power and strength upon one man, or assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will”. In the case of climate change this could be the UN or the security council. Furthermore, Hobbes suggest that “covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all”. This explains how, without contracts that specifically say how much each country will reduce their emissions, and without punishment for failure to reach those goals, the agreements becomes pledges that the countries will forgo. As Nunes says, “there are too many conflicting interests”. The countries need to give up their power and comply to a single power like the UN in order to save this planet. Without cooperation, self-interest will destroy us.