Day: November 5, 2008

Being a Good Neighbor: Reassessing the Border Fence

As 2008 draws to a close, we may witness the completion of 670 miles of border fence between the United States and Mexico as authorized by the U.S. Congress. Advocates in the Department of Homeland Security and within Congress may consider this venture to be a success and merely a phase of a larger scale project, which would involve authorizing construction on the remainder of the roughly 2,000 mile border with our southern neighbor. While illegal immigration remains a highly polarizing issue, an examination of the effectiveness, costs, and consequences of the existing fence project indicates the folly in continuing construction, regardless of political beliefs. After the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began building the wall along the border. DHS was granted the ability to waive normal border construction requirements, including a great number of environmental regulations, to speed up the process. However, DHS has encountered excessive costs and legal problems from landowners. According to the New York Times, Congress allocated $2.7 billion to DHS for the construction of the wall, but the rising costs of materials led to project requesting another $400 million. As of last month, only 205.3 miles of pedestrian fencing and 153.7 miles of vehicle fence have been completed. Environmental groups and local residents are angry about environmental regulation waivers, which can have disastrous effects. The Associated...

Read More

Preventative Diplomacy

Diplomacy should be our nation’s first line of defense. Engaging foreign leaders and attempting to prevent misunderstandings between nations is a true preventative approach to international conflict. Diplomacy is valuable even when incapable of resolving conflicts on its own. The Bush Doctrine attempts to prevent war with war and rejects the inherent value of discourse. It asserts that it is the United States’ right to use military force against any country perceived to be a potential threat. Imminent attack is not a prerequisite; rather, a perception of future threat is sufficient cause for a declaration of war. Policy that claims to be preventative should actually prevent war. The Bush doctrine advocates the use of force against budding adversaries. Any state that may, at some point in the future, do harm to the United States is worthy of invasion. If we believe this premise, we are headed down a dark, slippery slope of making a habit of waging war. There are two reasons why preventative war is just plain bad foreign policy: impracticality and amorality. Preventative war is impractical because it relies on subjective threat calculations. Even if it were a good idea to squash rising powers long before they were powerful, how will their level of potential threat be determined? How will potentially threatening states or non-state actors be identified? How will various actors’ aggressive intent be decided? And...

Read More

Mouths in Need

How often do you think about your mouth? Of course you use it to speak, eat, and breathe, perhaps to kiss loved ones. Your mouth is a pretty important part of your life. But how often do you think about how it’s doing? I never used to, until I learned how much it matters to how the rest of me is doing. Mouths are the gateway to the rest of the body. Good oral health is absolutely necessary for good overall health. In fact, studies have linked untreated dental decay with increased rates of diabetes and heart disease. This makes sense when you think about a cavity as really being a bacterial infection. It does a lot of damage to have a bacterial infection in your body for a long time. Given how important oral health is, I was shocked to learn that dental decay is the most common chronic childhood illness. According to the Surgeon General’s 2000 report, “Oral Health in America,” dental decay in children is five times more common than asthma. More than 50 percent of 5- to 9-year olds have at least one cavity or filling. Perhaps unsurprisingly, poor children suffer from twice as many cavities as other children, and 25 percent of poor children have not seen a dentist before entering kindergarten. Poor oral health leads children to miss 51 million hours of school...

Read More

Quick Jump