Speech 1: Informational Speech:
In the wake of the economic crash of 2008, one of the industries that was hardest hit was the US automobile industry. In particular need of help were the 'Big Three' US car companies - Ford, GM, and Chrysler - who faced bankruptcy and complete collapse. Dubbed 'too big to fail' along with many big US banks, the United States government ended up giving them substantial bailouts (in the order of $50 million) in order to revive those companies, and the industry in general. The result was an incredibly large investment of the federal government in private businesses, allotting substantial taxpayer dollars to companies whose poor business decisions were protected from consequence.
The lead-up to the collapse had a lot to do with the energy crisis of 2003; in the wake of a greater emphasis on the dwindling energy resources of the planet, purchases of SUVs and other gas-heavy cars (vehicles that the Big Three had invested heavily in) decreased rapidly. This had the effect of wasting a lot of money on cars and SUVs that no one was purchasing, particularly as gas prices continued to increase. In 2008, the final blows came when crude oil began to increase substantially in price, meaning that consumers were shying away from fuel-inefficient cars even further, and consumer credit was tightening as a result of the housing crisis to the point where people were buying fewer cars anyway. This left the Big Three with shares that had much less value and an unstable market that could no longer support them.
In the wake of this substantial blow, the federal government gave the Big Three $25 billion in loans in order to allow them to rebuild their factories, with the intent of making them more focused on energy-efficient cars (as well as to meet the new fuel-efficiency standards set by the US government - all cars have to run at least 35 miles per gallon). With this in mind, at least the Big Three intend on rethinking and reevaluating their business strategy, so that they are creating products that their customers will actually purchase, thus stimulating the economy and maintaining their business.
Given this substantial bailout by the American government, it is apparent that the auto industry is considered a substantial part of the US economy - as a result, it is in the government's best interests to maintain it. However, only 2.3% of the economic output of the United States comes from the auto industry, much less than it was in the 1990s; at the same time, the auto industry still accounts for about 20% of the manufacturing sector of the nation. To that end, the role of the auto industry in the American economy, and how the government interacts with it, is of great consideration to economists who want to see how this changes in the years ahead.
Speech 2: Persuasive Speech:
The death penalty in the United States has long been a controversial issue – the idea of putting someone to death for their crimes is thought, by some, to be an antiquated idea that went out with the stocks. However, there is still significant public support for the measure as a deterrent. When considering the prison costs and the flaws inherent in the justice system, it becomes somewhat clearer that the death penalty is not a cost-effective or ethical measure. Given the non-unanimous level of support for the death penalty, as well as the possibility of executing innocent citizens who have been wrongfully convicted, the death penalty should be abolished in the American justice system, replacing these sentences with sentences of life without parole.
Capital punishment was formerly a common punishment in countries around the world in centuries past - crimes like treason and theft were also subject to the death penalty (Banner, 2003). However, these punishments were abolished after the eighteenth century saw scholars and writers resisting the social implications of the death penalty (Guernsey, 2009). Many people who oppose the death penalty do so from a moral standpoint; in their eyes, they feel that it is inhumane to take away the life of another person, even though they may or may not have done so to another. It is in strict violation of the dignity of the human being involved, and as such it should not be performed no matter the circumstance – “In Brennan’s formulation, ’a punishment is ‘cruel and unusual,’ therefore, if it does not comport with human dignity’” (Garland et al., p. 100).
There are a substantial number of states that have no death penalty statutes, and even fewer of them actually use these statues; the vast majority of states in America have not performed executions since 1976, the year when the death penalty was reinstated as law. This is also reflected in the number of countries that have already abolished the death penalty; there are 139 countries who have eliminated the death penalty as a means of punishment, only five countries conducting the wide majority of public executions (China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the United States) (Newport, 2010). With this in mind, it would serve the United States no worse to be the 140th country to abolish the death penalty, as the other countries have seen no significant rise in crime as a result of having no capital punishment. By its association with other ‘retentionist’ states that also use the death penalty, the United States can potentially damage its public image by indirectly associating itself with countries that are subjectively derided for their lack of human rights (Garland et al., p. 14). If for no other reason than a political one, the United States should abolish the death penalty in order to further distance itself from an appearance of conservatism and barbarism.
As previously mentioned, there is also a significant question whether or not those who are being punished are actually guilty of the crimes they committed. The doubt is so severe that states such as New Mexico have banned the death penalty, on the grounds that “if the state is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong” (AFP, 2009). The imperfections of the justice system have to be repaired in order to consider the death penalty a just punishment that is only meted out to those who are truly guilty of these crimes.
AFP. "New Mexico governor bans death penalty." AFP. Web. August 12, 2011. <http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iUcLhqwlBEQ6-b- J7rzRd2lSuv3g>.
Baldus, DC, Woodworth, G., & Pulaski, C.A. Equal justice and the death penalty: legal and empirical analysis. UPNE, 1990. Print.
Banner, S. The death penalty: an American history. Boston: Harvard University Press, 2003. Print.
Cassell, P. "In Defense of the Death Penalty." Journal of the Institute for the Advancement of Criminal Justice, vol. 2, pp. 14-28. 2008. Print.
Amnesty International. "U.S. Death Penalty Facts" Amnesty International USA. Web. August 10 2011. <http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/death-penalty/us-death-penalty- facts>.
Garland, D., Meranze, M., & McGowen, R. America's death penalty: between past and present. New York: New York University Press, 2010. Print
Guernsey, J.B. Death penalty: fair solution or moral failure? Twenty-First Century Books, 2009. Print.
Newport, F. "In U.S., 64% Support Death Penalty in Cases of Murder." Gallup. Web. Nov. 8, 2010. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/144284/Support-Death-Penalty-Cases- Murder.aspx>.
Speech 3: The problem with the younger generation today The problem with the younger generations today, if it were to be distilled into a single issue, is most definitely the lack of attention they have toward social interactions and the world around them, in lieu of electronics and social media. In today’s world, the Internet pervades every aspect of life, from smartphones to streaming video. Television has already become a mainstay of popular culture, with everyone receiving their news and entertainment from this pipeline of information. Every single human need for information or entertainment can be accessed with the push of a button, which creates a culture of immediacy that some people believe threatens societal development. However, despite these cries of anti-intellectualism, popular media creates a more literate youth culture, who are well aware of the varying attributes of media culture and advertising strategies. In this paper, we will explore the ways in which media strengthens social development, as well as the potential downsides of a society run rampant with instant gratification.
The iPhone generation has created a culture in which no one need ever leave their mobile phone or laptop. Everything can be done with the simplest action on a phone, from contacting nearly anyone you can in multiple ways (speaking, texting, IMing, even through webcam) to checking your bank account or looking up information. With this in mind, people are able to be more informed than ever before. Personalized blogs, as well as sites like Youtube, allow people to manufacture their own content and exercise their own creative muscles, becoming their own authors of culture. Some argue that the pervasiveness of exhibitionist reality TV and its popularity means that media is “becoming increasingly coarse and trying to be--its largest challenge--shocking in an unshockable society” (Will, 2010). However, despite the prevalence of trash television, today’s media offers the chance for greater social development in most of its programming. For one thing, popular media promotes greater media literacy today. Decades of television advertising have made those generations that grew up on it well aware of the things that people do or say to get people to watch or buy something. It is the nature of capitalist society that companies advertise their products in a certain way to appeal to those who would continue to buy from them. The news is the same way; we “came to think of information as something that got fed to us from above” (Rushkoff, 2010).
Some claim that the Internet culture makes people even more alienated from themselves, due to the fact that it is much more easy and convenient to respond to people via email and smartphones. Even in mixed company, people tend to take out their phones and check them in lieu of communicating face-to-face with others – “when technology brings us to the point where we're used to sharing thoughts and feelings instantaneously, it can lead to a new dependence” (Turkle, 2010). This is a recurring theme in business and personal interactions of late, as the immediacy of Internet media has become preferable to actual physical and verbal interactions.
In conclusion, the problem with younger generations is an inability to relate to others and become, instead, dependent heavily on electronic devices, the Internet and social media. Our shorter attention spans lead us to be incapable of relating directly and effectively with others, and we instead just opt for instant gratification and the comfortable distance of Internet communication.