Archives for category: Today in Session

By: Alicia Lai, New Jersey

It’s the second day of committee already, but the majority of delegates still can’t shake state etiquette of referring to their ideas as “bills” instead of CONA’s etiquette of calling them “proposals”. The chair and clerk of the Grist Room in Lee Hall were particularly sick of delegates blundering the terms, and aimed to make the change especially clear, thus the creation of the big sign on the middle of the wall.

However, the sign has not been successful because while delivering a passionate con statement, one delegate caught himself after slipping up and proceeded to slap himself as punishment. Old habits are apparently very hard to break.

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Click  HERE to check out the Committee Calendar for the second committee, which began at 2:30pm today.

The spoken word and the art of rhyme have always been crucial tools in communicating and reaching generations. William Shakespeare used these resources to speak to people in the 16th century. The Beatles incorporated song to reach the youth of the 60’s. And modern artists, such as Kanye West, are using their love for technology and their urge to speak their thoughts in order to become the voice of a generation. Now it is Max Shafer-Landau’s turn.

Max is a delegate from Wisconsin who spoke in rhyme during the early committees. He made the decision to craft his opening remarks speech into a creative, catchy spoken rap. This unique course of action was chosen in an attempt to stand out from the crowd and be different. According to Shafer-Landau, after hearing countless proposals with redundant introductions, “you’re going to want some change.” When asked if he feels if his method was effective, he claimed that his decision may possibly have been too effective. After committee adjourned for the evening, Max came to the conclusion that his fellow delegates may have paid more attention to his rap than his actual proposal.

 The committee members who actually listened to the lyrics of his rhythmic ballad came to realize how truly innovative and unique Max’s proposal was. The main idea of his proposal was to split the United States of America into two separate sovereign entities. This proposal appears to seem outrageous and quite ridiculous to a vast majority of delegates at CONA; however, it is an extremely original and debatable notion. When questioned on his proposal topic, Max explained that he wanted to shock his fellow delegates during his time at the Conference on National Affairs.

At the 2009 Wisconsin Youth in Government function, the bills were simple and all revolved around the same central topics. Therefore, Max desired to create a radical proposal that no one else would think of. Shafer-Landau’s quest to find originality has caused him to become the topic of discussion among many delegations. This instant fame has caused a multitude of delegates to request follow up rap performances at later committees. Regardless of how well-liked his introduction speech may have been, Max’s college advisor recommended that he should retire from rhyming and stick to traditional speaking. This recommendation was made to help Shafer-Landau’s proposal to be taken seriously in later committees.

If you were not fortunate enough to witness the rapping delegate, there were multiple teens that caught the footage on camera. It is only a matter of time before Max Shafer-Landau transitions from CONA legend to YouTube celebrity.

Minimum wage is considered either a gift or a burden to  individuals across the United States of America. Those who consider minimum wage a gift need restrictions on the nation’s monetary system in order to prevent the chances of being underpaid. However, there is also a group of citizens who constitute minimum wage as a burden because of the limitations it tends to cause. This controversial debate is precisely the topic of CONA’s proposal 135. Conner Nannini, a delegate from the sunny state of California, composed a plan in which minimum wage laws would be eliminated from both the federal and state levels. The text of Nannini’s proposal explicitly demonstrates his opinions on the topic by stating: “All minimum wage controls should be abolished as they both hurt the economy and the people they are designed to help.” As the proposal goes on, Conner lists multiple different justifications as to why his proposal is relevant. Among these reasons are the increased unemployment rates, the reduced job benefits, the diminished amount of competition, and the fact that it imposes an employer mandate. According to Conner Nannini, “The U.S. government has no right to tell employers, the people who are risking their own capital to create jobs, how much to pay the people that choose to work for them.” If this proposal is passed, there will be a decrease in the unemployment rate and the United States companies will no longer have to seek cheaper labor overseas. This proposal produces a number of pros and cons and is sure to spark lively debate in its final committee.

Sex education is a topic that each and every teenager in America is associated with. The phenomenon of sexual intercourse at a young age is sweeping the nation and leaving a harmful trail of negative results. Proposals 423, 475, and 310 all combined to combat against the current terms for sex education. Kelly Close of Pennsylvania, Ainsley Liken of Georgia, and John Aroutiounian of Kentucky all joined forces to unite their similar ideas. The three delegates crafted a proposal to reform the secondary school reproductive health curriculum nationwide. Currently in the United States, funding only exists for abstinence-only sex education. With the delegates proposal, federal funding would be appropriated for comprehensive sex education programs and 12.5 hours of reproductive health and pregnancy prevention education would be enforced throughout the course of high school.

There are a number of controversial issues with this groups proposal. For instance, the amendment that clearly states, “The abortion curriculum shall include visual images of aborted fetuses, so teenagers are allowed to make their own judgement about the nature of sex and what the result of sex often creates and destroys.”

If this proposal is passed, the delegates expect rates in pregnancy, STDs, and abortion to substantially decrease. The passage of this proposal may not fix every problem immediately, but they may be a step in the right direction.

Topic: Phil Gardner of Washington State has proposed to modify FDA major donation policy regarding gay men by repealing the 1983 ban on blood donation for those reporting male-to-male sexual contact.

Both Sides Now:

Pro Arguments: This policy discriminates against homosexuals. The logic behind it is no longer applicable. Originally, it was believed that gays were more susceptible to HIV and AIDS, but technology has shown us that this is not the case. In addition, the quality of HIV testing has drastically changed in the decades since the passage of this policy. When a male goes to donate blood, he is asked if he has had sexual relations with another male since 1977. If the answer is yes, he is permanently banned from donating blood. This is denying already depleted blood resources. So even if the male has an unusual blood type, he is not allowed to donate blood. If a gay male knows a terminally ill patient who is need of a blood donation, that male is still not legally allowed to give blood. Since the advancement of testing, this policy only serves as a discriminatory measure and is, in the long run, harmful to the health of others. The only person in that scenario who suffers is the terminally ill patient. In addition, the policy also virtually ignores the health risk posed by heterosexual donors who’ve been exposed to HIV or AIDS. When the policy was created, it was traditionally thought that homosexuals were much more likely to contract HIV or AIDS, but today this is simply not the case.

Con Arguments: The purpose of the Food and Drug Administration is to protect and promote the health of the American people. They have decided that the risks of homosexuals donating blood far out way the benefits. It has been shown through a variety of research that men who engage in sexual relations with other males are at a higher risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B, and other infections that are transmittable through transfusions. According to the FDA, “Men who have had sex with men since 1977 have an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first time blood donors and 8000 times higher than repeat blood donors (American Red Cross). Even taking into account that 75% of HIV infected men who have sex with men already know they are HIV positive and would be unlikely to donate blood, the HIV prevalence in potential donors with history of male sex with males is 200 times higher than first time blood donors and 2000 times higher than repeat blood donors.” These statistics are just not small enough. Even though testing for HIV and other infectious diseases that can be passed through transfusions can be done, this testing is still not one hundred percent accurate. It is not worth it to put even one life on the line.

Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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Author Arielle Pardes of California has proposed to eliminate age of consent laws in all states. These laws would be replaced with a three-year rule so that parties, one of whom is a minor, may participate in legal sexual relations.

Both Sides Now:

Pro Argument: There is no standard for age of consent laws in the United States. Some states allow individuals to have legal permission at the age of 16, while others require you to be 18. Specifically, “statutory rape” is defined as non-forcible act between one underage individual and one individual over the age of eighteen who are both consenting parties. Any person over the age of eighteen who was to enter into such a relationship would be faced with a possible ten years in prison and the permanent label of child molester. These laws can also differ between heterosexual intercourse and homosexual intercourse. So in addition to ruining people’s lives by labeling them as child molesters, they are also discriminatory. By eliminating consent laws, we would be preventing charges against innocent people who participated in consensual sex.

Con Argument: This proposal is utterly immoral and disgusting. With such a law, a fourth grader could be pressured into having sex with a seventh grader. She may only be nine years old, but if she is within three years of her partner, it is considered legal. The brain reaches a partial maturity at the age of sixteen and doesn’t fully mature until the age of twenty one, so why would we allow a nine year old to decide whether or not they should be sexually active or not? In addition, this is also a blatant violation of states’ rights. Each state varies in culture and social views, so confining all states to such a law would be a failure to examine regional differences throughout the nation.