You Should Pay Attention To Foreign Policy

You Should Pay Attention To Foreign Policy

And where to begin paying attention if you haven't before.
Jake VP.
Jake VP.
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The United States has come a long way from the isolated friend-of-all, enemy-of-none nation George Washington had implored we be in his Farewell Address. We are now (arguably) the only superpower nation, and our president is often named to be the most powerful man in the world.

For a lot of us in the United States, this idea can be taken for granted. I know I have always just thought it was the norm for the U.S. to be in a war. It felt like common sense that if there was anything going on in the world, the United State's Army would be there, they should be there. But now I'm left wondering, why does the United States do what it does, and perhaps more importantly, why should I care?

Well, there are a number of ways this can affect you. There is, of course, the most obvious way this affects U.S. citizens; war.

Military options are usually the last options when it comes to foreign policy, but they are on the table. From being drafted, having friends and loved ones serve in the military, and making sure that veterans are taken care of when they return, war can have huge consequences even on the individual level.

Also likely to affect us all; globalization. As the Huffington Post put it, "Globalization is here, and world economies are intertwined like never before. What happens overseas will affect us here at home." It matters how the economies of other countries are doing because that could help make or break our own economy. If other countries aren't able to buy our goods and services, then the people who provide those goods and services could be out of a job.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, it matters what's going on in the world. Just like ending World War II, when there is evil in the world, we all have an obligation to stop it. This last point gets tricky as you start trying to name actual people or actions as "evil" but let's put aside that for a moment, and I think we can all agree on the abstract level, stopping evil (like Nazi's) is a good idea.

Okay, so now we know why we should care, so let's see what is the US actually doing.

For one thing, the US is a part of various groups such as the United Nations (UN) and the National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The point of the UN is to prevent war, and promote human rights, while the heart of NATO is "Article 5", if one country is attacked, all other members must come to their aid.

Although the US usually has some pretty important roles in these organizations (like being on the UN Security Council) it also has a history of not ratifying a lot of the treaties most other countries sign, such as the UN Convention on Human Rights. Not ratifying certain treaties can sometimes get in the way of the U.S. having as much influence as it potentially could have. Since the Senate is needed to ratify treaties, and some Senators feel that doing so would hurt our sovereignty, some people would argue that signing the treaties is what would get in the way of the U.S. from doing what it wants.

So what does the U.S. want to do?

Well, this is where Trump comes in. In his first year so far, with Twitter wars with North Korea and with his own Secretary of State, there is too much to go through it all in this article alone. But what the point of this all is that since we already showed that foreign policy affects individuals and that both the safety of our citizens and our economic opportunities are affected by decisions made on the global scale, we all need to pay attention to what is going on.

To name a few things that have happened so far, Trump has withdrawn from talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal that is now going on without America in it, meaning easier trading for those in it, and the U.S. potentially being left out.

He has also decertified the Iran Deal, which although doesn't kill it, does mean that it's up to Congress to do something, and doing something isn't what Congress is known for.

We need to decide if these actions are making Americans safer and providing them equal footing in the labor market. These decisions affect us, and whether you agree or disagree with them, we need to make sure that we are keeping up to date with them. This way, we can be better informed about what kind of world we're in, and what America's role and our own roles will look like in this world.

Cover Image Credit: Donald Trump Instagram

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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