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Opposing Viewpoints

Gender inequality is so severe in the past that a proposal to add the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States constitution has to be made. It was introduced in Congress in 1923, but was only approved by 35 States 50 years later. But because 38 States has to approve the amendment to make it a law, its addition to the constitution remains a hot, controversial issue to this day.

Why are some states opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment when the population is a mix of male and female? Perhaps they are not in favor of the amendment’s context.

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

It was designed to ensure equal rights for women. It also specifies that only the Congress will have the power to impose the provisions of the ERA, and two years after its ratification, the amendment will take effect.

The Equal Rights Amendment was written by Alice Paul in 1923, just years after women were granted the right to vote by the 19th amendment. She was the founder of the National Woman’s Party and a suffragist leader. Since its introduction until 1972, the ERA was brought up in almost every session, but falls short by 3 states so it can be put into the Constitution. What would it mean if the Equal Rights Amendment becomes a law? What are its pros and cons?

List of Pros of Equal Rights Amendment

1. Abolition of gender discriminating laws
Once the ERA becomes part of the Constitution, all federal laws and family court laws that discriminate on account of sex would be completely abolished. Gender favoritism would become illegal as well as any prejudice shown based on gender. Although it won’t stop people from holding specific views, it will minimize gender discrimination. It would also be easy to take legal action against anyone who violates the law.

2. Equal rights are made for all
The US Constitution does not guarantee that citizens’ rights are protected and equally held by everyone. But with the addition of the ERA, everyone will now have legal civil, human, and diplomatic rights from any and all types of prejudice.

It would also clarify the legal standard for court rulings on cases related to gender discrimination, which is currently absent. At present, nearly everything women receive has to go through the courts where officials have an opportunity to use ‘protective laws’ to place women in their rightful place in society, effectively ending further arguments. But when the ERA is passed, all forms of gender discrimination will no longer be tolerated and legal rulings will have a set standard.

3. Women’s rights will have legal basis
The ERA will effectively put an end to the discussion or debate regarding gender equality. Men and women will be finally recognized as equals, sparing women from the need to fight for their standing in the society and to have level footing with men. Women will be able to get credit or run a business without asking for her husband’s consent. She will be able to take advantage of medical care, travel, vocational training and a wider range of associations.

List of Cons of Equal Rights Amendment

1. Problems with the language used
The language used on the Equal Rights Amendment is considered tricky that may lead to the lack of gender equality and confusion. It also leaves plenty of room for interpretation, which is why those who oppose the amendment say that it will take away some rights for women, while adding others.

For instance, in states where there are laws that require husbands to support their wives and families, the ERA will cause problems. But, as it is, unless they are divorced or separated, the court can’t do anything if the husband chooses not to support his wife.

Opposition also claims that the benefits women enjoy today under the Social Security, Sexual assault and Protective Labor laws will be taken away because of the ERA. But proponents say that it would be extended to include men instead.

2. Can cause problems with the Constitution
When the ERA was first introduced, a major concern is how it can influence the way laws will be made, what with it being confusing. When added to the constitution, it can cause more problems, especially with whatever laws that will be made following it.

3. Raise concerns over implementation
Section two of the ERA specifies that only the Congress will have the power to enforce the provisions outlined in the amendment, which did not sit well with the states concerned. This is because it gives the federal government more power, while taking away the rights of every state.

Supporters of the amendment, however, pointed out that the states still have the right to enforce the provisions of the article, the same way that they did with the 13th, 14th and many other amendments. They will also have two years to make changes to any laws that are in conflict of the provisions or those that show sexual discrimination.

4. Expose women to risks
One of the protective labor laws that proponents point out as particularly discriminating is the rule that forbids women from “working in and around mines except in an office in a clerical capacity”. Considering that mines provide jobs with better pay, barring women from these employment opportunities is an example of gender inequality. Those who support the ERA believe that such jobs are not detrimental to the health and physical well being of women and should be opened to her. If time comes that women can work in mines, they will be exposed to plenty of risks that the men have experienced all throughout their careers. Would a high pay be compensation enough for the repercussions?

It is true that adding the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution will cause major changes with the laws, but what amendment didn’t? Before you decide to oppose or support the ERA, it is vital that you understand the context and the full extent of its provisions.

As changes in climatic temperatures melt sea ice, the US Geological Survey predicted that two-thirds of the polar bear population will die out by the year 2050. A dramatic decline in polar bears is already occurring in our lifetime, which, according to historical data, is but a very small fraction of the time these animals have roamed the vast seas of the Arctic.

The main threat to the polar bears is the loss of their sea-ice habitat that is caused by global warming. As suggested by these animals’ specific scientific name, Ursus maritimus, they are actually a species of marine mammals that spend a great deal of time at sea than they do on land. It is on the Arctic ice that the polar bears make their living, which is why rising temperatures of the Earth’s atmosphere is such a serious threat to their well-being.

What Are the Effects of Global Warming on Polar Bears?

1. Decline in the Species’ Population Size.
In the southern portions of these animals’ habitat’s range, such as Hudson Bay, Canada, there is no sea ice during the summer, and they must live on land until the bay freezes in the fall, where they can hunt on the ice again. While on land during the hot months, these bears eat little or even nothing.

In just 2 decades, the ice-free period on the Hudson Bay has increased by an average of 20 days, cutting short the polar bears’ seal hunting season by nearly a third of a month. The ice is freezing later in the fall, but it is the earlier spring ice melt that is especially difficult for these mammals, when they have a narrower time-frame during which they hunt on a critical season when seal pups are born. As a result, the average weight among the bears has decreased by 15%, causing their reproduction rates to decline. The animals’ population on the Hudson Bay is now down more than 20%.

Research predicted that the declining sea ice could see two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population becoming extinct in the middle of the 21st century. Another study, which used 10 global climate models, even projected a decrease in the polar bear numbers in the Beaufort Sea of 50% to 99% by the end of the century.

Now, to keep their numbers relatively healthy (though these are still low), scientists strongly suggest that global temperatures should not exceed 1.25 degrees Celsius above the 1980-1999 average.

2. Retreating Sea Ice Platforms.
Retreating sea ice platforms imply many threats other than the obvious habitat loss. Remaining ice is moving farther from the shore, which makes it less accessible to polar bears. Aside from this, the larger gap of open water between the land and ice is also contributing to rougher wave conditions, which makes it more hazardous for these mammals to swim from the shore to sea ice.

In fact, biologists discovered 4 drowned polar bears in the Beaufort Sea in 2004, and suspected the actual number of bears that have drowned might have been considerably higher. It was never before observed that these scientists attributed the drowning incidents to a combination of rougher seas and retreating ice.

3. Less Time for Polar Bears to Hunt.
The effects of the reduction in sea-ice thickness and extent, shorter periods of maximum ice extent and the changes in sea-ice structure and dynamics probably varies in different regions of the Arctic, but all of these are potentially harmful to the condition and reproductive success of these mammals and their prey.

With regards to the polar bears in the southern range, for example in James Bay and Hudson Bay of Canada, sea ice is now melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the autumn, and the time bears have on the ice is their best season, when they hunt seals and fish easily, and they restore their body fat and fitness. However, this critical time for storing up their energy for the hot season (when there is less ice and little available food) is becoming dangerously limited. As the periods without supply of food have become longer, the overall body condition of polar bears have decreased.

This is particularly serious for pregnant bears or those that are nursing their young, as well as for the cubs themselves. In Hudson Bay, scientists have discovered the primary cause of death among bear cubs to be either the lack of fat on nursing mothers or lack of food.

4. Polar Bear Food Becoming Scarce.
This is directly related to the previously mentioned effect of global warming on polar bears. Exacerbating the problems caused by the loss of these animals’ hunting areas, it is expected that the shrinking polar ice cap will also cause the number of seals, polar bears’ prey, to decline. The decrease in ice platforms near productive areas for fish that seals eat is affecting their reproduction rates and nutritional status. These mammals are going hungry for longer periods of time, which results in them developing cannibalistic behavior. Though it is already known that they would kill for dominance or kill cubs to breed with the females, outright predation for food was not observed by biologists in the past.

5. Polar Bears Being Classified as a Threatened Species.
The polar bears were listed as an endangered species in 2008 under the Endangered Species Act mainly because of the drop of their primary habitat—sea ice. Though this is the case, they are restricted the law’s protections, so their future is still very much in jeopardy.

What Can We Do To Solve The Problem?

Considering that humans have caused this problem, it is arrogated that humans can also fix it. Research shows that time has remained to conserve polar bears if people would act soon significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This means that all communities around the world should work together now in playing individual roles to ensure these animals a better future.

Will Our Actions Make a Difference?

Although taking immediate action to stop climate change does not yield immediate results, new studies suggest that we could see favorable effects in about 10 years. So, our actions today can do well in preventing potentially catastrophic changes from taking place, not only for polar bears but also for all of us in this world.

Like many people, you’ve probably heard about open source software and are thinking about giving them a try. After all, why should you pay for Photoshop when you can edit and enhance pictures through Gimp? Why should you fork out money for Microsoft Office when you can enjoy almost the same features with LibreOffice? Why should you spend a substantial amount on the Windows operating system when you can do your work in Ubuntu?

However, you have to realize that using open source software is not all milk and honey. Before you jump into the bandwagon and download the products you’ve been eyeing on, do your homework and find out if open source software is worth your while. Start your research by going through these lists:

List of Advantages of Open Source Software

1. Cheaper than commercially marketed products.
According to studies, open source software collectively help business owners save around $60 billion a year. This might seem unbelievable at first, but it’s not really surprising since these programs are developed to be accessible to anyone (especially those who can’t afford to buy commercial products). For one thing, they’re usually offered for free and don’t require you to pay for any additional copy you download. Since many of these programs are created to work with almost any type of computer, they can also help you lengthen the life of your old hardware and avoid the need to replace them every now and then.

2. Created by skillful and talented people.
Large and well-established software companies have the financial capability to hire the best talent in the business to create their products. Because of this, many people opt to buy computer programs from these firms because they think they’ll get great value for their money by doing so.

The fact that big companies hire experienced, fully trained and highly qualified people is true. But what consumers have to know is this: not all software developers care deeply about money. Sure, most of them do get a job to have a steady income and be able to financially support themselves and their family. However, a lot of these experts don’t just base their worth on the salary they earn; rather, they strive to build a program that will earn the admiration of their peers and hopefully make a difference in the world.

This is why many software developers turn to open source products as an outlet for their ideas and creativity. By doing so, they won’t be confined by the rigid rules of the corporate world, and they’ll have the freedom to experiment and come up with high-quality programs. These, in turn, benefit consumers since they’ll have access to world-class and state-of-the-art software without having to pay too much.

3. Highly reliable.
There are two main reasons why open source software are reliable. First of all, they’re developed chiefly by skillful and talented experts who do their best to create high-quality programs. Second, they’re worked on by tens or hundreds of people, which means there are numerous eyes that can monitor for the presence of bugs and many pairs of hands that can fix these defects within the shortest amount of time. Both of these factors lead to products that have excellent quality and helpful features and perform well most (if not all) of the time.

4. Help you become more flexible.
Since you’re not tied to a proprietary product, you don’t need to abide by a specific IT architecture that might require you to upgrade your software and even hardware often. Rather, you can mix and match your software and create a unique IT infrastructure that best suits your needs. There’s no need to fret since there’s a wide range of options in the market, so you only have to browse through them and pick one those that match your requirements and specifications. Can’t find anything you like? You can modify existing open sources software or hire someone who can do it for you.

List of Disadvantages of Open Source Software

1. Vulnerable to malicious users.
Many people have access to the source code of open source software, but not all of them have good intentions. While a lot of people utilize their access to spot defects and make improvements to the program, others use this privilege to exploit the product’s vulnerabilities and create bugs that can infect hardware, steal identities or just annoy other users. These rarely happen with commercially produced software since the companies who make them have stringent quality control processes and ensure that the program is almost perfect when released to the market.

2. Might not be as user-friendly as commercial versions.
This is not true for all open source software since many of them (such as LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox and the Android operating system) are incredibly easy to use. However, there are several programs which are created mainly to cater to the developer’s wishes and bring his ideas to life. As a result, not much attention is given to the software’s user interface, making it difficult to use especially for those who aren’t really tech-savvy.

3. Don’t come with extensive support.
Those who favor commercially produced programs say that these software gives them peace of mind. After all, since they know exactly who designed, created and distributed the product, they have a clear idea of who they can hold liable if the program doesn’t function properly or causes damage to their hardware. This isn’t exactly the case for open source software. Since it’s developed by numerous people, users exactly don’t have a specific person or company they can point a finger to.

But, before you get discouraged by this, it’s important to take note that major software firms also wash their hands of any responsibility. If you read their End User License Agreements, you’ll see that companies usually disclaim all liabilities and that the responsibility for the product falls on you, the user. These mean that you won’t really receive any support (nor hear someone else take the blame) when your software would incur problems and disrupt productivity. So, unless you’re willing to spend time and money on filing lawsuits and going after huge corporations, it’s better to use open source software and acknowledge the fact that their low cost and easy accessibility come with a trade-off.

Opening a savings account has become a sort of rite of passage for many young people. After all, by having their own savings account, they’ll have the ability to pay their bills in a quick and easy way and avoid expensive late fees. They can also build an emergency fund for rainy days, save for near-term goals (such as going on a vacation or raising enough money to pay for a house deposit) and even create a nest egg for their requirement.

But, if you’re planning to get your own savings account, don’t just go into the first bank or credit union you see. Instead, take the time to learn about the pros and cons of this personal finance tool. This way, you’ll know if it can give you great value for your money and if it’s worth your time and effort, and you can ultimately make an informed and financially feasible decision.

Not sure where to begin? Start by taking a look at the following lists:

List of Advantages of Savings Accounts

1. Give you easy access to your money.
Unlike other financial products, savings account keep your money liquid and allow you to withdraw it whenever you want. So, if you run into an unexpected bill, you can use the cash you’ve set aside to pay it promptly and avoid sky-high late fees. Similarly, if you fall unexpectedly ill and need to be hospitalized, or if your car breaks down and needs costly repairs, you can use your savings to tackle these emergencies and bring your life back to normal ASAP.

2. Keep your money safe.
When they have extra cash, many people opt to carry it around in their wallet, place it in a piggy bank or stash it under their mattress. Unfortunately, all of these strategies put their money at risk. Those who carry their cash around can lose it if their wallet gets stolen. Those who keep their money at home (either in a piggy bank or under their bed) can find themselves without any savings if their house gets burglarized or becomes damaged in a fire.

So, if you want to protect your hard-earned cash, don’t use the strategies mentioned above. Instead, deposit it in your bank or credit union. This way, you’re sure that your money is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF).

3. Don’t require a huge initial investment.
Got only $10 to spare? No problem! One of the best things about savings account is that they need only a minimal initial investment, with some banks requiring you to have $25 to open your account and others asking you to deposit as little as $1. This is great if you’ve just started working and want to develop good financial habits but don’t really have hundreds of dollars to invest in stocks or bonds.

4. Lets you link with your checking account.
Many savings accounts nowadays can be connected with checking accounts, which is great since this feature is incredibly helpful to a lot of people (including you!). In fact, according to a survey done by Novantas in 2014, 61 percent of the respondents said that they use their savings account to transfer money to their checking account when their balance is running low. This way, they can cover shortfalls and avoid incurring overdraft charges and other fees.

5. Allows you to automate bill payments.
Sure, you can set up your debit card or credit card to automatically pay your bills every month. But what if you don’t yet have either of these cards or if you want to avoid using credit? Well, you can automate bill payments through your savings account! This way, you won’t have to worry about missing due dates and incurring late fees, and you have the assurance that you’re paying your bills with money you already have (instead of money you’re borrowing from your debit or credit card provider).

List of Disadvantages of Savings Accounts

1. Usually have low interest rates.
If your goal is to make your money grow, opening a savings account isn’t the right choice for you. The security and easy access that you’ll enjoy with your savings account comes with a trade-off: you’ll invariably have relatively low interest rates (usually less than 1 percent per annum). This means you’ll see only minimal growth and enjoy limited yields.

With these in mind, you might want to consider investing in stocks, government bonds, mutual funds and other high-yield investment vehicles. They don’t provide the same level of safety and security that savings accounts do, but they give you the chance to enjoy high interest rates and earn more money.

2. Are insured only up to a certain amount.
As mentioned above, the FDIC and the NCUSIF provide insurance to bank and credit union savings accounts. But what you have to know is this: these two organizations limit their coverage to $250,000. So, if your savings is more than this amount, you won’t enjoy full coverage. You’re better off distributing your money among several savings accounts or switching to high-ROI investments

3. Can tempt you to spend your money.
Since you can withdraw from your account at any given time, no one can really stop you from dipping into your savings whenever you want. This can be detrimental especially if you’re spending your money not on necessities or emergencies but on non-essentials like designer clothes or a new smartphone. If you want to avoid the temptation of unnecessary spending, you can put your money in stocks, certificates of deposit and other long-term investments that come with a maturity date.

4. Charge high fees if you fall below the minimum amount.
Banks and credit unions, as mentioned above, don’t require large initial deposits. However, many of them have a minimum balance requirement. If your savings fall below this minimum amount, your bank or credit union will charge you with a certain fee. This can be a problem if you frequently dip into your savings or if you need to withdraw most of your money because of an emergency.

Mandatory military service or military conscription is a strategy used by countries to build a large and powerful military ready to be deployed in times of war or when the need to protect the sovereignty of the state arises.

Many governments in history had used it, including the Qin Empire of China in 221 BC and France during the French Revolution in 1790s. Some countries impose mandatory military service even today. Among which are North Korea, which extends its 10-year military conscription last 2014; Myanmar, which requires the drafting of men and women into its armed forces; and South Korea, which imposes compulsory national service for all its citizens.

Mandatory military service is a controversial topic, and many objections have been raised against it on both religious and political grounds. This leads us to the question: Is compulsory conscription a good thing or a bad thing? Let us take a look at its pros and cons, and you be the judge.

List of Pros of Mandatory Military Service

1. Promotes National Unity
Mandatory military service can promote national unity in many ways. First, it allows citizens to learn and train together, creating that shared experience of having served in the military. Then there is also that general understanding of what life in the army is like, what is required of the job, and what has to be done in order to protect the country. Citizens are able to understand and develop appreciation for the sacrifices that people in the military made for their country. And all of these can bring people together, especially when dealing with a cultural or political threat from other nations.

2. Maintain Active Military Force
Having compulsory conscription to the military means having an active reserve of large body of armies that is ready to respond quickly and effectively to any threats to national security.

3. Ensures High Levels of Governmental Participation
With every citizen required to joined in the armed forces when the need arise, the public will be more aware and watchful of the government’s decision, especially in terms of national security and the like. With their lives at risk or at sacrifice, people will seek to understand more about the threats that face their country and will seek a greater voice on how their government approaches problems.

4. Can Provide Useful Skills
Life in the military can teach individuals more than how to throw a salute or shoot straight. The trainings they provide goes far beyond the technical skills needed to get the job done. Many military volunteers who have pursued a career in the civilian workplace mentioned several other skills and work-related attitudes that help them well in their job. These include teamwork, responsibility, initiative, stress management, diversity, and global awareness. Others learn the habits of healthy living and discipline as well as the skills in self-defense.

5. Promote Equality Among Citizens
Mandatory enlistment means that “no one” will be exempted from facing wars. All citizens, be they celebrities, rich businessmen or ordinary people, will be required to serve when the nation is facing war or in need of extra soldiers.

List of Cons of Mandatory Military Service

1. Violates Free Will
One of the arguments raised against mandatory military service is that it violates people’s rights to exercise free will. No one has the final say whether they should participate or not in the military training and enter the army since it is a compulsory mandate implemented throughout the country.

2. Interferes with Other Forms of Education
Mandatory military service typically drafts young men (and women) when they are at the peak of their learning ability (18 years old). This delays individuals’ pursuit for higher education as well as their entry into the into the civilian labor market, reducing returns to human-capital investments as a result.

3. Put Young People’s Lives at Risk
Though you might not like to think about it, part of the process is risking young people lives at risk. Casualties don’t just happen in actual combat or in the battle field but also during training and the like. Mandatory military service, which normally enlists able-bodied young people, put the next generation to serious harm and, at worst, death.

4. Compromises the Quality of Military Service
Unlike voluntary soldiers who are willing to undergo rigorous training and serve the country for a long time in the military, draft soldiers often lacks the necessary experience and preparedness, providing low combat skill quality when the time comes they are sent to war. This could lead to high casualty rate among soldiers drafted under compulsory military service.

5. Not Everyone Is Fit for It
Mandatory military service requires every citizen to join and serve in the armed forces, but not everyone is cut out for it. Whether it is mental issue, physical issue, or psychologically issue, not everyone is fit to meet the physical, mental and emotions demands of the job. Factors like anxiety, depression and the like should be carefully considered. Potentially killing someone is something that every person who was drafted in the military struggles with in their own way. A study conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America showed that approximately 40,000 military members who returned from war in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And that rate is three times higher among those who were deployed in combat than those who were non-deployed.


Mandatory military service has its advantages and has proven itself valuable in protecting the sovereignty of the state as well as in expanding its territories – take for example the Qin Empire that conquered a large area of what is now China, as well as the case of France during the French Revolution that was able to defend itself from the attacks of European monarchies in the late 16th century. However, its ramifications on the young people enlisted, the quality of military service, the labor market, the future generations and the like should be carefully considered.

Basically, standardized testing is a way to determine the academic achievement and potential of students. But when the skills of American students were ranked against others around the world, America didn’t even rank in the top tier.

When George W. Bush was president, he announced his No Child Left Behind program on his third day in office. With the addition of this program, federally mandated tests increased from six to 17.

Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, emphasized during his campaign the absurdity of heavy testing. But when he assumed office, he introduced his own initiative called the Common Core state standards. While there was nothing wrong with the concepts, the system is very flawed. A lot of the tests given are also very challenging but at the same time, they don’t really reflect a student’s ability.

Standardized testing has been implemented for over a decade, but according to studies, the achievement gap still hasn’t narrowed. In fact, students, parents and even teachers are opting out of the Common Core exams. The numbers are continuing to grow, and just recently, Missouri Legislature banned the test.

But why are legislators still pushing for standardized tests despite the protests? And why are parents, teachers and students not interested in taking them? Here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of standardized testing.

Advantages of Standardized Testing

1. A practical solution.
First off, most of the standardized tests are in multiple choice format. In other words, they are not complicated enough to explain and any student – no matter what level – can understand that they have to tick one of the boxes as their answer.

Also, given that tests are easy to implement, they save a lot of time too. Not a lot of time is wasted on giving explanations for why certain sections should be done like this and so. The instructions are fairly simple: choose the answer to the question based on the suggestions below.

2. Results are quantifiable.
When educators are able to quantify the achievement of students, they are able to identify proficiency levels. As such, they can easily identify the students who need remediation or advancement.

However, this is also one of the major complaints about testing: that it truly does not measure the actual skill of a student in a given subject. The outcry over the absurdity of standardized testing warranted it an 18-minute skewering on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. One of the most ludicrous points brought up was the inclusion of a story about a talking pineapple to which children had to answer questions after having gone through the piece.

3. Scoring automation.
With so many students at different grade levels taking the exam, it’s difficult for educators to get through them all. Now, that problem has been simplified through computerized testing – and even scoring.

Then again, computer issues – inability to log on and such – have delayed testing in certain schools across America. In fact, it’s become one of the complaints against standardized testing as well. Also, another complaint about the use of computers is the algorithm for evaluating student performance itself: it is just mysterious.

4. Not biased.
Since a computer handles the grading and all, there is no possible influence of a teacher on the exams. In the past, a teacher can make up their mind about a student’s skills based solely on their biases towards the child. But with computers, those powers are stripped from them and students can now be judged on what they have put on paper – no external factors involved.

5. Allows for comparison.
Educators can compare the results of examinations within the school or even compare it to other schools. Through this, teachers can assess which areas they need to improve on for the students. For example, students from their school may have scored lower in mathematics compared to a rival school. From there, teachers can focus on improving the math curriculum so students will score better next time.

6. Traces student progress.
Standardized tests are taken at certain levels, and over that time, educators can see the progress students have made. They either go into decline or improve tremendously. But whichever the case, teachers now have an idea how best they would respond to a child’s education needs.

Disadvantages of Standardized Testing

1. Questions are general in nature.
The tests do not really assess skill as the questions have to be generalized for the entire population. In short, the test items are not in conjunction with classroom skills and behavior. What standardized tests do is assess the general knowledge and understanding of students rather than their actual ability.

2. Questions are sometimes ridiculous.
Some of the ridiculousness was brought up in John Oliver’s show, and that included questions that were too difficult to comprehend. For instance, a teacher took the exam (not the exact one but something that was close to a legal standardized exam) and the test graded him as a poor reader. What’s worse, the teacher had a Master’s degree.

A fifth-grade teacher in New York also highlighted just how difficult some of the questions are. For example, only six students out of 17 finished an ELA test but the ones who didn’t finish were those the teacher considered avid readers. The teacher declared that “There was just far too much material on the test for them to get through and comprehend.” And also added, “The test isn’t designed for them to pass.”

3. Results doesn’t allow educators to update their instruction methods.
The questions on the test are general in nature, and it’s hard for teachers to know how to improve students’ understanding of a particular topic based on general information alone. What this does though is allowing teachers to “teach to the test” rather than educate students properly based on the needs of the classroom.

4. Scores are influenced by external factors like fatigue.
Students study hard for these exams. They study so hard that there are even instructions on what teachers should do if a student vomits on their test booklets. Students feel pressured taking these exams and sometimes their final scores are reflective not of their ability but of being influenced by other factors instead.

In most cases, each country in the world has its own economic system in power, operating within its own type of economy. One known type is referred to as a command economy. Where an economic system is important to a nation, proper planning and development is an integral part to its overall success to evade from suffering financial difficulties and instability. For a command economy, it is primarily implemented in communist countries, such as the former Soviet Union, Cuba and North Korea.

This type of economic structure has suffered a negative reputation due to the control provided to the government. However, this structure can offer a nations citizens some strengths as well. Here is a look at the pros and cons of a command economy.

List of Pros of a Command Economy

1. It does not allow monopolizing.
It is impossible for a monopoly to rule in a command economy because all the forces of the market are regulated by the government. No provider will be given control to set the market and rule aside from the government in power. Monopolizing exists in other economies, but not present in a command economy.

2. It boosts industrial power.
Command economy creates industrial power to complete massive projects while attaining imperative social goals.

3. It adjusts production rates and availability of completed goods.
It is possible to adjust production rates to meet the population’s exact demands. Although there will not be many choices as compared to other economies, a command economy lessens the chances for shortages to occur.

4. It allows for better mobilization of resources.
Due to the unique make-up of command economy, production is done as efficiently and effectively as possible. So, all resources are mobilized on a very large scale, making sure that progress is fast.

5. It streamlines the society and government.
This type of economy is capable of transforming the society to conform to the government’s vision for the country, which means harmony between the two units.

6. It prioritizes social welfare.
In a command economy, social welfare is made a major concern. In fact, one of its overriding goals is making sure that maximum social welfare takes place. Because there is a sense of community bred due to the lack of income inequality, the society as a whole takes on production and benefit, and as a result, less divisions are formed.

7. It offers easy response to emergencies and internal disasters.
The command and central authority in this type of economy can easily increase production in most facilities that are not affected by a disaster or calamity. This is important in maintaining the continued flow of goods on the market. Aside from this, increased production of certain products can be done, which greatly helps communities to overcome disasters.

List of Cons of a Command Economy

1. It restricts freedom.
Due to the fact that this type of economic system is tied to communist countries, it is no surprise that it also takes the freedom away from the people and puts full control in the hands of the government alone. People cannot choose their careers based on their skills and interests; rather, it is based upon what the government forces them to do. All jobs are aligned with needs at a time, and people have little freedom of choice. This major downside to a command economy can lead to discontented citizens.

2. It may ignore societal needs.
Command economy often ignores the needs of the society for its betterment. Workers will not be given the options on where they can work or where they can move.

3. It slows down innovative developments.
Unlike a free market that encourages change and innovation, a command economy does not offer this advantage. Since the government controls the market, it does not make innovation a priority or does not encourage it all in all. This is because it controls all aspects of production and leaves no room for people to make it better, leading to a workforce that is less motivated to create higher-quality products or services.

4. It causes black markets to explode.
Because of restrictions by the government, some products and services are not offered in the command economy, so they would be offered on black markets.

5. It offers no competition.
Competition on the market is one of the main forces of improvement, but in a command economy, there is little competition. The government owns all the industries and does not encourage competition or actually exerts effort to eliminate it. The benefits gained from competition are not seen in this type of market.

6. It causes unbalanced amounts of goods.
Some items will probably be mass produced, while others will not be enough to support economic needs. It is difficult for the government entity controlling the economy to obtain up-to-date information about consumer needs, so most of the time, rationing becomes a way of life.

7. It leads to export problems.
The export of products becomes problematic as it is difficult for the controlling government entity to determine which goods and prices will be most successful within the international market.

8. It makes coordination difficult or even impossible.
Because planners coordinate their economic decisions on production, consumption, investment and trade of producers and consumers in the entire country, coordination is deemed impossible to be done efficiently. Products can even fall on shortages and mismatches occur on supply and demand. Other issues cannot be completely resolved by planners, such as the balance among transportation facilities, food and electronic devices.

9. It misplaces incentives.
Supply and prices are monitored and regulated by the central government, instead of planners and other market forces. Also, the government decides on the goods and services to be produced and distributed. As a result, rewards will not get to the deserving individuals.

Understanding command is a bit complex, but by going through its pros and cons, we can have ideas of how it does for a certain country and, eventually, come up with an informed conclusion.

Probably one of the lengthiest legal struggles that involved prolonged life support would be the Terri Schiavo case. In February 25, 1990, she collapsed in her home due to full cardiac arrest. The lack of oxygen resulted in a massive brain damage that kept her in a coma. After two and a half months, she was declared in a vegetative state. Two years after her diagnosis was changed, Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, petitioned to the Sixth Circuit Court of Florida (Pinellas County) that her feeding tube be removed. Her parents opposed and a lengthy legal battle ensued.

From 1992 to 2005 there had been numerous appeals, motions and petitions involved, including suits in federal district court, and denials of certiorari from the Supreme Court of the United States, which totaled 14 in all. A federal legislation, the Palm Sunday Compromise, was even passed so that Terri’s case is moved to a federal court. It was only in March 18, 2005 when the original appeal to remove the feeding tube was finally upheld and carried out. 13 days later Terri died.

Because the appeals, motions and petitions were a battle between the husband and parents, whatever ties that bound them together have likely been severed. Through it all, Terry was in the hospital with no idea of what is going on. Terry’s husband thought that she wouldn’t want to be in a “persistent vegetative state” where the brain is only showing some signs of activity. This is why he decided to withdraw life support. Terry’s parents, however, argued that she was still conscious, and they were likely to be holding on to the hope that she will come out of her unconscious state.

Whichever way you look at it, pain and suffering is a common denominator in a battle regarding life support. Even the patient is likely to be suffering as well. This is why family and relatives of the patient should look into the pros and cons of life support before making a decision to have it carried out.

List of the Pros of Life Support

1. Increase the chances of survival.
When a patient is brain dead or no longer conscious, the decision to initiate life support falls on the hands of the surrogates (family or relatives). Most of the time, the decision to put someone on life support revolves around the idea that a patient is given the chance to live longer or recover fully, which means that, denying them the treatment, would be equivalent to killing them.

The extended time frame that the life-sustaining treatment provides allows the family to have hope, come to terms with the traumatic event, accept the situation, and have more time to grieve. This also gives doctors a chance to continue to evaluate the patient and provide newly discovered treatment if, there is any. There have been cases that a patient fully recovers, after being put on life support, but the percentage of this happening is not that high. Nonetheless, the time given for the family to hope and for the patient to survive is invaluable.

2. Grant a patient’s wishes.
Some people who have written a living will usually specify their express wish to be allowed to fight every minute of their illness, regardless of the pain and suffering that they go through. Even when a similar request is given verbally, it is the surrogate’s duty to carry out a patient’s wish. It is in their best interest, after all. The only downside to this situation is that it will be difficult to determine when enough is enough. When is the right time to pull the plug? Take for instance the case of Elaine Esposito who never woke up from her appendectomy. She was on life support for over 36 years but eventually died. This is a very long time of waiting and fighting for everyone concerned.

The only time that a debate about life support is unnecessary is when a family member has a DNR in place. Even then, the decision to follow a love one’s request would be difficult. In the event that a person fails to verbalize his wishes beforehand, loved ones would have to look into a patient’s overall attitude regarding life support.

3. Allow families to come to terms with death.
Most of the time, it is the hope that a patient will recover that motivates surrogates to initiate life-sustaining treatment. Over time, they will experience different stages of grief, until they can fully accept the fact that a loved one have little to no chance of surviving. They will reach a point when letting go and death becomes the only sensible option for them and for the patient. At this stage, deciding to unplug the machines would not be as difficult. Although they would still grieve over the loss, they would not have any regrets, considering the time they have allowed for a recovery to happen. They would not have to spend their time thinking about the ‘what ifs’.

4. Organ donation.
The case of a 6-month old baby in Florida who is on life support may be horrible and heartbreaking, especially for the parents, but there is a silver lining in the midst of the grief and shock. This is because Owen Skodje’s misfortune could be some other child’s fortune. According to his parents, he will be providing his material shell to help heal others, giving them the gift of life.

Organ donation is probably the most positive aspect of life support. This gives surrogates the opportunity to help others, despite the grief and the loss of a loved one. There are thousands of people just waiting for organ donors, and patients on life-sustaining treatments could be their only chance at a new lease on life. While not everyone on life support will be an organ donor, increasing the amount of organs that will be donated each year is a godsend. A lot of people will surely benefit from patients being kept alive until they are ready to donate their organs.

List of Cons of Life Support

1. Prolonged agony.
It is a common argument that putting patients on life support only prolongs their agony. Life support, as defined in USLegal as a medical treatment that, “when applied to the patient, would only serve to prolong the dying process where the patient has a terminal illness or injury, or would serve only to maintain the patient in a condition of permanent unconsciousness”. However, it does not include administration of medication that will provide comfort to the patient or even alleviate pain.

Based on the definition, it is clear that life support may only cause the patient unnecessary suffering. This explains why some people would have a DNR in place or tell love ones beforehand not to put them on life support. What is the point if a person is diagnosed with persistent vegetative state, anyway?

Unfortunately there are plenty of misconceptions about life support, especially on brain death, according to Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. In the case of Jahi McMath who was brain dead following a surgery to remove her tonsils, he believed that doctors should have been more transparent with regards to the finality of brain death. This is to avoid a situation where the parents don’t really understand what is going on and would resist any removal of machines, or that they have the “impression that dead people can come back to life”.

2. Devastating side effects.
There are different life support treatments to help prolong the life of a patient. There are medical devices to aid breathing, provide food and water, and for administering medications. But they all have benefits and disadvantages. In some cases, they alleviate one condition but exacerbate another. Artificial nutrition and hydration, for instance, use tubes that can damage the esophagus, stomach, intestine, and even erode the lining of nasal passage. When surgery is needed to insert the tubes, the risk of bleeding or infection is high. When fluid leaks out of intravenous lines and on to the skin, it can also lead to inflammation and infection. Overly frail patients are also at risk of fluid overload that may lead to difficulty in breathing, and dangerous infections when TPN enters the blood stream.

Cramps, diarrhea and abdominal bloating may also happen to patients receiving artificial nutrition and hydration through NG or G-Tube. What’s worse, because patients are brain dead and would be unable to report any discomfort or illness, their condition could worsen when they are not given careful attention by health care providers.

Ventilators, on the other hand, are good while a patient is using it. It is only when it is removed that side effects are likely to manifest, especially when there are sedatives used. Discontinued use of a ventilator can result in a drop in blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, weakened muscles, busted ear drums, dental problems, or severe respiratory problems.

3. Drains resources.
One of the reasons that a person is taken out of life support is when the family can no longer afford the monetary costs of the treatments. Good enough if the U.S. has a Life Support Rebate that is being offered in NSW, which can help surrogates pay up their electrical bills. Anyone can just imagine the amount of hospital bills that Elaine Esposito’s family racked up during her 36 years on life support.

The cost is undoubtedly astronomical. Aside from the machines, a patient would also need doctors, nurses and other personnel needed to provide complete hospital care. Between their professional fees and hospital bills, the total amount is often staggering. If, during the course of treatment, there are legal battles that need to be fought, the overall cost will surely take a toll on anyone’s finances.

Because life support does not guarantee that a patient will recover, it is often a lose-lose situation. The family will end up broke and the patient will die. This is because it is almost always a guarantee that someone on life-sustaining treatment will breathe their last once a machine is removed. It is usually just a matter of days or may be minutes when a ventilator or a cardiopulmonary resuscitation is removed that a patient will die.

4. Ethical issues.
When life support first came out, it was perceived as something good, special and a real life-saving procedure. These days, people are divided between different ethical issues, especially with the number of landmark cases that fueled debates to be carried on until today. Some of the concerns being raised include:

– Quality vs. the quantity of life: It may be true that life support can prolong the life of patients, but are they really living without the discomfort or indignity? Are surrogates really thinking about the welfare of their patients or simply holding on to the hope of a full recovery?

– Giving doctors autonomy: If family members answer yes to a doctor’s question of “do you want us to do everything”, they are highly likely to be setting themselves up for unethical practices. Although doctors are bound by their ethical and legal obligations to provide treatments in the context that can best help the patients and their families, some make decisions without consulting surrogates, while others don’t even provide a clear and comprehensive explanation as to what is really involved in the process.

– Withholding and withdrawal of life support: When is enough really enough? The principle behind withholding and withdrawal of life support states that treatment may not be initiated if the patient or surrogate refuses. There have been cases, however, when physicians suggest for treatments to be withdrawn, but the patient’s parents strongly argued against it.

Due to the many advantages and disadvantages of life support, it is vital that the family or relative of a patient evaluate the situation carefully. They should consider the many factors at play, which include:

  • The patients’ quality of life if they do recover from their coma. Will they be brain dead, in pain, etc?
  • The chances of a patient surviving.
  • The available treatment plans other than life support.
  • The length of time and the costs associated with life-sustaining treatments.
  • The wishes of the patient versus the wishes of the surrogates.
  • The possibility of doctors finding a cure while a patient is on life support.
  • The decision to withhold life-support treatments and when.

Wal-Mart has been part of our lives for over half a century now, being a dominant force in the retail sector. However, there are several debates among economists whether the company has a positive or negative influence on our society and economy, where many of them criticize it for its careless approach to becoming the powerhouse it has become today. Although it is good to hear out ideas from these experts, we, as consumers, can also have our own thoughts about this mega-retailer. To come up with an informed and wise decision, let us look at its pros and cons.

List of Pros of Wal-Mart

1. Wal-Mart Economy
According to the economic advisor to President Barack Obama, James Furman, Wal-Mart and the “Wal-Mart economy” has been doing good for the American workers and low-income families who cannot afford to purchase more expensive products made in the US. Also, tax payers pay part of the healthcare costs of the retailer’s employees. In his work titled “Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story”, there is no question that the company’s price reductions have provided benefits to millions of American workers who are employed outside the retail industry.

2. Varied Selection of Products
Whatever product you need at Wal-Mart, there will be a section for you to check out. You can head to the chain and purchase groceries for the week, buy electronic devices, get your car repaired and shop for clothes all in a single trip. It is truly a one-stop shop, unlike any other store of its kind. Moreover, it does not charge a membership fee in order for you to enjoy savings.

3. Low Prices
Wal-Mart is known for selling items at much lower prices than other retailers, which simply means that buying a product here, over a more locally owned store, can save you more money. Other retailers cannot compete with the low prices it offers. Many people even praise this giant retail chain for making it possible for them to afford goods they need most. Low prices are what the company is known for, and this is true for all its products, including electronics, food and everything in between.

4. Huge Employer
This corporation is the biggest private employer in the US and is vital to the country’s economy based on this statistics alone. The jobs that Wal-Mart creates are highly essential, making it one of the most important companies in the world.

5. Additional Business to Areas
When a new Wal-Mart store is built, its location immediately attracts additional businesses. Patrons from surrounding communities would travel into the area to do their shopping and would often stick around, spending their money at various local hubs. If a place does not have such a store of their own, its citizens would think of driving to somewhere that has one.

6. More Diverse Business Model
Wal-Mart investors are exposed to a more diverse business model, due to the fact that the company is growing to other countries, such as Mexico, Brazil and China. Though this attribute could also bring negative issues, such as language barriers, tax and other regulations, it is good for consumers no matter what language they speak. Plus, by having operations in multiple jurisdictions, investors gain exposure to other currencies and middle-class growth in other countries.

List of Cons of Wal-Mart

1. Bad Healthcare Coverage
According to critics, Wal-Mart is a highly regarded household name that has one of the worst health care policies in all of corporate America. To account for low wages, it pushes employees to get on several government-funded programs, such as Medicaid, public assistance and public housing. Since its founder’s death, it has been stated that several of its policies have been changed for the worst. It is not that the company does not offer health insurance to their employees; it just comes at a high price for workers earning minimum wage.

2. Anti-Employee Policies
It is stated that Wal-Mart shows little to no respect to its employees, where they are severely mistreated and their only purpose is to fit into the philosophy that the company looks out for itself. Statistics shows that from 1999 to 2005 alone, the store had been part of several class action lawsuits in different states involving hundreds of thousands of former and current employees who had their work hours and wages tampered with, as well as abused.

3. Illegal Citizens and Racism
In 2003, Wal-Mart was exposed to the public and charged for hiring illegal citizens to do some cleaning after hours. The case, which was led by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, lasted more than 4 years and produced a huge number of arrests of undocumented workers. However, the company managed to evade criminal sanctions by settling to pay millions of dollars and then disputed the claims racial and gender discrimination. More evidence of racism from Wal-Mart stores has been evident in the said cases.

4. Un-Environmentally Friendly Operations
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection signed a consent order and agreement with the corporation in 1999 to improve environmental construction throughout the state. The agreement was made due to Wal-Mart violating water quality laws and regulations at one of its construction sites. In 2001, the company was again fined a million dollars for a similar violation.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department reached an agreement with Wal-Mart to solve issues of clean water violations at several locations covering 5 states. This was the first ever federal enforcement against a company for multi-state violations, and the settlement forced the giant retail chain to create an environmental management plan that is worth millions of dollars to improve its compliance with the laws at each site and to minimize the result of building on watersheds and streams.

Now, with the above lists of pros and cons, it is up to us to see Wal-Mart as a positive and negative influence on our society. But, we should be smart in using their services to our advantage and satisfying our needs through them.

When you hear the words “chemical energy”, you most likely think of the chemical reactions that happen inside batteries, light bulbs and dynamite bombs. But chemical energy isn’t just illustrated in these examples; if you closer, you’ll see that it’s present in almost every single thing on earth.

For one thing, it can be seen in plants as they transform the sun’s energy into food and convert oxygen into carbon dioxide. It can also be observed in humans as they digest their food and turn it into sugars, proteins and other types of nutrients that nourish their body. Of course, it’s present in cars, trucks and other types of vehicles, wherein the internal combustion engine uses pistons, crankshafts and spark plugs to release the chemical energy within the gasoline.

But what exactly is chemical energy? By definition, it’s a type of energy that’s stored in the bonds of atoms that connect them with each other. These bonds release energy when they’re broken through exothermic reactions and provide a great source of power for both living and non-living things. The amount of energy that’s released depends on the type of chemical bonds that were present in the first place.

With these benefits in mind, it’s easy to see why chemical energy has garnered numerous proponents over the years. However, this type of power also presents several disadvantages, which is why it has gained many opponents who are against its use in the modern society.

List of Pros of Chemical Energy

1. Sources are largely available.
Basic chemistry teaches us that everything (including organic materials like plants and animals as well as inorganic ones like plastic) is made of atoms. So, if you look at the definition of chemical energy, you’ll realise that it’s present in almost every living and non-living thing. This makes it one of the most abundant fuel sources around the world because virtually any combustible item can be used to provide chemical energy.

Those who live in non-industrialized places, for example, depend on dry leaves, sticks, branches and other organic materials for their fuel. Those who are in urban and industrialized towns and cities, meanwhile, use crude oil, wood and coal to obtain power.

2. Allows energy to be stored.
Unlike other types of energy sources, chemical energy can easily be stored for later use and can also be easily accessed as needed. Just look at the modern lithium-ion batteries. These have made numerous technological innovations possible over the years because they allow people to store energy and access it even when they’re not within range of an electrical outlet. Because of batteries, it has been possible for scientists and other innovators to come up with cellphones, smartphones, laptops, tablets, wearable devices and other gadgets that have changed the world.

The ability of chemical energy to be effectively stored isn’t only present in modern batteries but can also be observed in organic materials. Plants, as mentioned above, create sugars from sunlight through photosynthesis. But plants don’t immediately consume their food; rather, they store some of it in their leaves so they can stay alive even during rainy days when the sun doesn’t come out. The same thing holds true for animals and humans, who store some of the calories they eat and ensure they can survive even during lean times.

3. Can be efficiently harnessed.
Chemical energy can be quickly harnessed as long as the right amount of oxygen is present and combustion is effectively achieved. So, to make the most of chemical energy, it’s important to have a system that supports optimal combustion. Vehicles, for example, need to have a well-designed car engine so the right amount of gasoline and air can mix and produce fuel.

List of Cons of Chemical Energy

1. Can be harmful to the environment.
Just like any other source of power, chemical energy also has its own disadvantages. One of the most well-known and most controversial cons is its negative effect on the environment.

More often than not, the combustion of organic and non-organic materials produces harmful by-products. In vehicle engines, for instance, the “perfect” combustion process produces carbon dioxide, water and nitrogen. However, this doesn’t really happen in the real world. The typical combustion process creates unburned or partially burned hydrocarbons, which reacts with sunlight and nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone and contributes to the presence of smog in urban areas. Smog has affected numerous places (most notably Beijing, Ulan Bator, New Delhi and Cairo) can greatly damage plants like wheat, peanuts, cotton and tomatoes. It has also affected numerous animal species, making it difficult for them to breathe and survive in their toxic environment.

The incomplete combustion process also produces carbon dioxide (also known as a greenhouse gas, which means it accumulates in the atmosphere, prevents heat from escaping the earth and contributes to climate change) as well as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

2. Paves the way to health problems.
Aside from harming the environment, the by-products of combustion can also damage human health. Smog, for example, can trigger asthma attacks even with just the slightest exposure. It can also lead to minor ailments like colds and eye irritation as well as major health issues like pneumonia, chest pains and even certain types of cancer. These effects are evident in Cairo, Egypt (wherein lung cancer and chronic respiratory illnesses are some of the most prevalent illnesses among residents) and in Dhaka, Bangladesh (wherein as many as 15,000 people die every year due to air pollution).

Carbon monoxide, another by-product of combustion, can also lead to a wide range of health problems. Short-term exposure to this gas can cause several symptoms including nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, while long-term exposure can lead to neurological damage and even death.

Carbon monoxide can also reduce the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, making it extremely harmful to people with heart disease since their body already has a hard time delivering oxygenated blood to their heart. All of these are compounded by the fact that carbon monoxide is tasteless and odorless, making it difficult for people to detect its presence.