Why Protecting The Free Press Is Our Most Important Job Right Now

Why Protecting The Free Press Is Our Most Important Job Right Now

My voice is just as important as any one else's, regardless of political party.
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Last week I read a great article from the New York Times by Jim Rutenberg headlined "Independent Press Is Under Siege as Freedom Rings." Reading it around the Fourth of July, I remembered the value of our First Amendment and its true meanings.

Here are a few things that bother me: people who yell ignorant, racist, homophobic, or misogynistic slurs and think that they get a free pass because of "free speech." Free speech does not encourage a shut-down of everyone whose beliefs do not align with yours. And this behavior is certainly not something that should be encouraged by others (let alone our president.)

What should be encouraged is a civil and rational discussion of viewpoints, especially opposing ones, that end in a better understanding of each other. Realizing that there cannot always be a compromise, and realizing that neither party's mind will be changed by these discussions, is crucial. But if we can understand each other better, at least we are moving forward.

Here's where the free press comes in: if our president slams every news outlet which does not praise him to the ground (yes, I am referencing the aggressive tweet towards CNN) how can we even begin to engage in this two-way discussion?

And why is it that the people who yell "free speech" when they want to insult someone are the same people who yell "fake news" when a journalist calls our president out on his wrongdoings?

If you have free speech, then so do I. I deserve just as much opportunity to express my opinions against President Trump as someone who agrees with him. That is what free speech means. It runs both ways. We have left-wing news outlets, and right-wing news outlets, and independent news outlets. We don't just pick one. That isn't free press; it's censorship.

I reserve the rights to make my own decisions, have my own opinions, and maintain self-respect. None of that will include being silenced out of fear. Just as other people will have their say, I will also have mine.

For me, protecting the freedom of the press is important because it means protecting my ability to say what I want to say, write what I want to write, and be who I want to be without fear. President Trump will not get a "free pass" on attacking journalists for doing their jobs.

The New York Times reported Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, stating, "Targeting individual journalists or media outlets, on- or off-line, creates a chilling effect and fosters an environment where further harassment, or even physical attack, is deemed acceptable." I could not have said this any better myself, and I commend Ms. Radsch for all her work.

To cower in fear of a loud-mouthed, ignorant figurehead is to disrespect myself. To feel as if I have to hide my opinions is to disrespect myself. To think that I cannot stand up to a disrespectful man because he is the president is to disrespect myself.

And I will not disrespect myself.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Way To Beat Unemployment Is To Guarantee Jobs

Can the government provide jobs for everyone?
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Cory Booker has just recently proposed to introduce a bill that would guarantee everyone in America a job. The idea is a simple one in principle. If you want a job, and can’t get one, then the American Government will give you one. The job would include a minimum wage of $15 an hour, with paid leave, and health insurance.

This would have a number of benefits. For one thing, it would effectively make the minimum wage $15 an hour, because if you are employed at McDonald’s for $8 an hour, why would you stay there if you are guaranteed a job at $15 an hour. To prevent this McDonalds would need to raise its wage. Plus it would, theoretically, mean full employment.

With something that sounds so good, some people are thinking it couldn’t possibly be true. The main argument I’ve seen against this bill is the cost. One Forbes article put it thusly: “Another recent proposal suggests $24,600 to start and rising to an average salary in the program of $32,500. According to the Census, there are currently 50 million wage and salary workers with annual earnings below $25,000 and 72 million earning below $35,000. So let's stop right there and ask: is this a joke? The idea here is to nationalize what a quarter of the U.S. labor market and therefore economy? Half of it?”

So, how would this be paid for? Booker’s plan is very similar to one commissioned by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, so I’ll be using their program to answer the question. If you think it’ll be a small number the authors quickly tell you otherwise, saying “Make no mistake, this is a policy to transform the U.S. labor market.”

Right off the bat, they say “we estimate a total annual program cost of $543 billion, or just under 3 percent of GDP.” They follow up later saying “the gross cost of implementing the NIEC would be offset substantially by increases in local, state, and federal tax revenues, decreases in the uptake of existing social insurance programs, increases in the growth rate of GDP, and substantial productivity and capacity gains in the U.S. economy.” The estimate that TANF, the Earned Income Tax Credit, SNAP would all be practically unused which would be about $160 billion saved.

They also predict that the use of unemployment insurance, and Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program would have much less use. Combined those programs spend $415 billion. The authors seem less sure that the use of these programs would fall to 0, but they would see much less use. All and all these programs represent roughly $575 billion of spending, which is more than the job’s program would cost. If we just shuffled the money around, it might work even with our existing spending, and that’s before you look at the additional tax revenue.

All in all this looks like a manageable program, especially when you open up conversations about creating new revenue specifically for this program. Booker has introduced a bill which would allow this program to be tested in a number of counties so that we can see how effective it is before we try it out nationwide.

I think this is exactly the kind of thinking we need to help out those who have been left behind as our economy evolves. Although I am a huge fan of the program though, I think it will only serve us so far. Giving every person who wants one a job is fantastic, but wages will rise, and this program would need to rise wages with the times, something there is little incentive for it to do. In the end this is a step in the right direction, but the underlying problems of our system, one which incentivizes workers working for less than the next guy, just to at least make some money, is not addressed in this proposal.

That being said, I think this program is exactly the kind of thing America should be considering, and I think it could make a real impact in people’s lives.

Cover Image Credit: Cory Booker Instagram

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