What has Happened to North Carolina?

If anyone has been paying attention to domestic legislative politics through a recent cloud of international uprisings, highly publicized trials and gun wielding football players, one particular development stands markedly out from the rest. It’s happening in the state of North Carolina and it stands to reverse the political direction of a state who’s trajectory appeared to be locked in but a few short years ago. Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan discusses his belief that unless power is vested in one commonwealth, something that I believe can be incorporated into today’s gun control laws on the federal level. gun-control How North Carolina managed to transform itself from one of the quickest growing progressive states in the country, along with neighbor Virginia, to the poster-child for a conservative social agenda is one for the history books. Continue reading

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Gender Norms In Sports

There are gender norms today that exist in athletics. One gender norm that shows in athletics is women sports are inferior to men sports. Women are not as physical as men. Women sports are more feminine and more sexualized than men. Their sports are not as popular. Unlike in male sports, they are more physical and more popular than women sports. In women sports, there is less competition. ESPN only shows women sports if it’s a big game or a championship game. Unlike for men, basically every game is televised.

The National Women’s Law Center explains Title IX as “the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive federal funding — including in their athletics program.” In today society in general equal rights and women’s rights are important and they are politically very hot topics. In sports, women rights have gradually increased over time because of Title IX.

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Machiavelli on Ice

When I saw that North Quad was screening Miracle as a part of the Sports at the University semester, I had to go see it. I have loved that movie since I first saw it years ago as a kid. Even if the story happened before I was born, the message is immortal. It communicates inspiration, teamwork, cooperation, hard work, and more. Before the movie began, Professor John Bacon spoke about his experience with Herb Brooks, the coach of the 1980 Olympic hockey team. He told the audience that one thing that made Brooks such an effective coach was the fact that he was a psychology major. This lead me to think about the qualities of an effective leader in a high stakes competition.  Continue reading

Communism/Socialism and the NCAA

Within the NCAA, and particularly within the highest “Football Bowl Subdivision” the differences between the programs at the top and the programs at the bottom are nothing short of large. The funding, resources, and location of schools like Alabama or Florida State compared to schools like Marshall or Central Michigan is almost comical when you consider that these teams could potentially play each other. College football as it is now is one of the greatest spectacles our country, has to offer, but it’s worth thinking about what college football would be like if it were based on socialist or communist principles.

In a study conducted in the past couple years by USA today, it was determined that the total revenue of the athletic department at the University of Texas- Austin was a staggering $165,691,486. In contrast, a school like Texas Tech — who competes in the same Big XII conference in the FBS — has a total revenue of just $72,917,990. Many people don’t consider that some schools are competing with other universities with over twice the revenue towards athletics as others. Another advantage some schools have compared to others is location. Some states for various reasons produce many more pro football players than others. A study done by Sporting News, they found that the states of California, Florida, and Texas  produced 225, 186, and 184 players respectively. The state with the most NFL players after these three was Georgia with 95. The high number of great football players from these states also gives universities in these areas an advantage as they are geographically closer to so much talent.

The list could carry on and on about how the playing field isn’t level for all the teams in FBS college football. However, an interesting way to look at this could be how to level the playing field from a communist or socialist perspective. From Marx and Engels Communist Manifesto, the main principle is not having any private property or institutions. Communist principles just aren’t realistic in college athletics, but socialistic principles could be looked at more realistically. One way to level the playing field for college football could be NCAA regulation of literally everything. Socialism dictates that the government controls all means of production. In the socialist version of college football, the NCAA could regulate and set a cap for the spending of each program that competes with each other. They would decide what the programs were allowed to spend their money on and the kinds of resources they would be allowed to have. In an extreme measure, the NCAA could potentially allow teams more funding or resources if their team was really struggling to compete. These sorts of measures could be similar to salary caps in professional sports in keeping things competitive and allowing all teams a chance to win. Regulations like these are in no way realistic, but are interesting to think about when you think about how competitive the college football landscape would be.

Michigan Stadium

Michigan Stadium

Mill Would Support Our Stoners

First person to legally purchase recreational marijuana in Colorado

For decades the United States has spent billions of dollars and put millions of people in jail in an effort to fight the sale and use of illegal narcotics. The most popular of these drugs is marijuana. In 2012, almost 19 million Americans used marijuana, which is about 5% of the entire population. With minimal side-effects and such widespread use, we have to ask, why is marijuana use illegal. In his book On Liberty, author John Stuart Mill argues that society should only prohibit actions that are harmful to the rest of society, and that actions that only harm the individual should be allowed. However, this is not how the United States operates. Dozens of drugs have been made illegal for recreational use, including marijuana. If Mill ran the country, stoners and potheads would rejoice, because marijuana would surely be legalized.

In his book, Mill suggests that society only has the right to use force against actions that are harmful to others. In the case of marijuana, Mill would consider this as a “self-regarding vice” because it only affects the person who is using the drug. The same would go for things like alcohol and tobacco, which are, in fact, legal in the United States. However, after learning about the negative effects of secondhand smoke, many enclosed areas like restaurants and office buildings prohibit smoking because of its negative effects. This ideology is very consistent with Mill’s ideas because tobacco is only prohibited when it affects others in society. In those cases, society is allowed to step in and use force, according to Mill.

But marijuana doesn’t have many secondhand effects. The drug only affects the person using it, so why is it illegal? Not only does it conflict with Mill’s ideas, but it is actually a huge missed opportunity for the United States. According to a report from GreenWave advisors, if marijuana were legalized in all 50 states, the market for the drug could be worth as much as $35 billion. Colorado passed Colorado Amendment 64, which legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults age 21 and over, and the law has been extremely successful.

The success of this new law shows that Mill’s ideas, when put into effect, actually work quite well. Not only are people allowed to use marijuana freely, but the economic and tax benefits are extended to all the citizens of Colorado with no foreseeable negatives. John Stuart Mill would certainly support Colorado Amendment 64, and he would also support federal legalization of marijuana. But Mill wouldn’t just stop there.

According to Mill, any self-regarding vice, no matter how harmful, should be allowed without societal interference. So, this would suggest that any type of narcotic should be allowed to be used recreationally. This would allow for the use of heroine, cocaine, LSD, and many more illicit drugs. While in theory this idea of allowing all self-regarding vices makes sense, in practice, it seems that we have to draw the line somewhere. As a society, we don’t want to allow all drugs because many of them are far more harmful than others. So we should take Mill’s advice with a grain of salt. But as far as marijuana, Mill’s ideology would help our society.

Enlightenment

university_of_michigan_by_bagera3005-d4kqxbrWhen I first came to the University of Michigan, I was only focused on getting good grades so that I could get a good job.  All the work I had done in high school and was doing in college was towards my life in the future. Every time I wanted to take a break or procrastinate on an assignment I told myself that it would all pay off in time.  My thinking has changed somewhat, I still truly believe that my hard work will pay off in time but I am more focused now on actually learning for the sake of understanding the world around me.

The best way I can prove this shift in my attitude towards education is through the progression of my blog posts.  My first blog post, A Mathematical Proof of Menand’s Theory 1 (please not that this hyperlink is to a list of my blog posts with my most recent on top), is solely about getting a job after college.  I thought that simply receiving an education in anything, as long as it taught me the skills necessary for the job I wanted, was acceptable.

As the readings in my Political Science 101 class began to become older and authored by more famous philosophers, they also became more cynical.  My second blog post followed my reading of Huizinga’s definition of play and Bartlett Giamatti’s Take Time for Paradise.  Huizinga, a 20th century philosopher, defined play as a disinterested world in which we enter where there are no consequences or worries. Giamatti wrote that people love to watch sports because essentially they are attempting to live through the players.  By watching their grace and coordination we feel the positives such as the thrill of the win or a great play without having to feel the negatives like injuries or financial dependence.  I saw spectators at sporting events becoming enthralled and aggressive in the stands.  I witnessed fans attempting to live through the players and although I understood why the spectators would want to experience the game through the athletes, and even though I participated in it, I was still partly disgusted by the behavior I was seeing.

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

John Locke

John Locke

Edmund Burke Photo taken from Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Edmund Burke

This was the beginning of the downward spiral of my view of our society. My opinion of humanity was further soiled after reading Hobbes’ Leviathan, a book in which Hobbes defines social contracts and how humans interact with one another. Hobbes believes that our state of nature and war are synonymous and a main theme throughout the book is how humans are intrinsically fearful and selfish. Rousseau and Locke are two other philosophers who studied and theorized about social contracts.

  • Rousseau made points of how originally we were self-sufficient individuals but over time we became more civilized and began to live together and once this occurred we had social contracts in place to suppress our selfish desires for the good of society.
  • Locke delves more into whether we live in a state of nature versus a state of war. He argues that when we are free to pursue our own wishes and act as our own judge then war will always erupt. Only if we have a moderator or some force in place will peace be attained.
  • Burke was probably the most pessimistic of them all. Burke is a classic conservative meaning that he believe that there should be slow change in government and society. He explained how whatever class or profession people are born into is the place that they will die and trying to change is a fruitless effort.  He even went so far as to call the general population a “swinish multitude”.

After reading and analyzing these works how can one not be depressed about the future of humanity?  Apparently we are a group of dirty swine who will stab each other in the back whenever it will benefit us. We can’t trust each other, we have no control over our futures and the only times in which we were actually happy was far in the past in states of nature that will never be attainable.

But as I wrote earlier my thinking about college has changed. Before I was only concerned about money, which still has its perks: security, success, status, and pride. But I have decided that I want an education that will help me to understand the world rather than one that will only make me financially wealthy. So after contemplating the repugnant nature of humanity I thought, “What is the purpose of all these works? Is it all just to make us feel bad about ourselves? Do the authors think that they are above the rest of us and that they do not fit into their own descriptions of society?”

I believe that the reason we have these works today is to separate us.  There are those who will take Hobbes or Burke and become depressed at what they read.  And then there are those who become inspired to prove their definitions and theories about human nature wrong. In my third blog, Defying Hobbes Rules, I write about such people, mainly they are soldiers and daredevils. If I can take my education and what I’ve learned in Polisci 101 and use it to emulate the characteristics that these people possess- bravery, confidence, benevolence- then it doesn’t matter what job I have because I will be living a truly fulfilled life which is greater than any sum of money.

Redistribution of Power: Would Communism Work In The NBA?

Map of NBA Teams Created By CBS Sports

Map of NBA Teams Created By CBS Sports

The NBA today is one of the most popular leagues in the world today as millions of people watch the best athletes in the world compete at the highest level on both television and in person. Not only does the NBA bring in a great deal of viewership, but also brings in an enormous amount of capital. Both attending a game in person and watching a game on TV rakes in millions of dollars as people around the world cannot get enough of the growing sport of basketball. However, their is a huge imbalance between the amount of money an NBA player is paid and the amount of money that the league and the owners are bringing in year over year. The dynamic between the players and the NBA owners is constantly in flux as the NBA grows in popularity and questions such as “Are NBA players paid enough in comparison to the amount of money that the owners make?” and “Could the NBA survive without owners?” come to fruition. Continue reading