Presentation on theme: "Democracy and Human Rights in the United States Current issues important to me."— Presentation transcript:
Democracy and Human Rights in the United States Current issues important to me
Terry Arthur Academic and Career Advisor Department of Computer Science College of Engineering Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA
Dr. James (Sean) D. Arthur • Retired professor of Computer Science at VT • Fulbright Fellowship • The Fulbright Program offers grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States. • We have three adult children
Virginia Tech Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University • • 30,000 students • Engineering, architecture, business • Land grant university established in 1872 • 65 undergraduate majors • 150 master’s and doctoral degree programs
Define “human rights” A few sources include: • UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) • US Declaration of Independence, adopted July 4, 1776, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” • US Bill of Rights – First 10 amendments to the Constitution, ratified 1791 • Constitution of Croatia
US Bill of Rights • Freedom of speech, press, assembly • Right to bear arms • Protection from quartering of troops • Unreasonable search and seizure • Due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain • Criminal trial by jury, rights of the accused, speedy and public trial, right to counsel • Civil trial by jury • Prohibition of excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishment • Protection of rights not specifically enumerated by in the Constitution • Powers not delegated to the US by the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the people
We have safeguards for our rights in the US • Constitution • Bill of Rights • LOTS of elections, free speech, etc. • Freedoms galore • So what is the problem??
Democracy is never easy Especially challenging in a country with a diverse population: religion, race, nationality We do not agree on what is a “Human Right.” What one person sees as a “right,” another considers a “privilege.” We are still struggling!
What RIGHTS are we still working on? (OR are these PRIVILEGES?) • Health care • Immigration • Gun control • Same sex marriage • Controlled substances: marijuana and legal drinking age • Capital punishment • Economy/jobs
Health care • In 2009, 17.3% of US economy was health care ($2.5 trillion), with 16.3% uninsured. • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), March 23, 2010 – health care reform to reform private health insurance, extend health care to 30 million. • NOT popular. Some say it is too expensive, others say it is not extensive enough. • Individual states claim it is in violation of State Sovereignty and that “individual mandate” not within the scope of Congressional taxing powers.
Immigration • All aliens over the age of 14 and who stay in the US more than 30 days must register with the Federal government • 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the US – Needed for the work force – Many have been in US for years and are contributing – Are they entitled to health care, education, etc? – April of 2010 Arizona law allowed local law enforcement to require that persons show documents – Blocked by a federal judge due to racial profiling, civil rights violation, and constitutionality
Gun Control • According to Wikipedia, “There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides,  with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths.”  • April 16, 2007 – Massacre at VT
Same sex marriage • 1996 Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act. US government defines marriage as between a man and a woman • 2004 Massachusetts first state to allow same sex marriage. • Currently 6 states allow same sex marriage • 9 states recognize civil unions
Capital punishment • 34 states and the federal government allows the death penalty • What is “cruel and unusual?” • 58 countries allow, 96 have banned capital punishment
Controlled substances • “Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States, including productivity and health- and crime-related costs, exceed $600 billion annually.” • Currently, marijuana for medicinal use only in 16 states • Attorney General Eric Holder said raiding for marijuana will be a low priority • Drinking age is 21. But with our soldiers going to war at age 18, many want this reconsidered.
Economy/jobs • Financial crash of now called the “Great Recession” • Over 10% unemployment, record mortgage foreclosures, failed banks, stock market plunge • Occupy Wall Street – September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park in NYC Wall Street district. 99% protesting the social/economic inequality, greed, corruption of US corporations (esp financial corporations)
Questions for you • What Human Rights issues do you see unresolved in Croatia? • What rights are there in the US that you do not have in Croatia? • What rights are there in Croatia that we do not have in the US?
Rights and Responsibilities • With “rights” comes “responsibilities” • Discussion should be: Democracy and Human Rights AND Responsibilities
FINAL SLIDE! Your responsibilities • Do your personal best You are in the top 1 – 5% in the world! • Do no harm • Serve - do something for someone or something that cannot pay you back So that when you leave this world, it will be a better place because you were here.