Take ‘Care’ in Your Vote

BY NICK IRONSIDE // SEPT. 10, 2012 //

If you plan on voting in the November election, it’s a good idea to be well versed in the candidates’ positions. Whoever you end up voting for, your decision should be based on what matters most to you.

Is college debt an issue in the front of your mind? Probably.

Are you concerned about the Second Amendment and your “right to bear arms?” Possibly.

Does President Barack Obama’s healthcare law keep you up at night? Probably not. But it does affect you, whether you realize it or not.

President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan has been a heavily debated topic.

The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” better known as Obamacare was signed into law in March 2010. It hasn’t fully gone into effect, yet opponents and advocates of the law have since been arguing over its full costs and value.

Conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh called the law “the greatest encroachment on individual liberty ever. That’s why it has to be repealed, and that’s what this election is all about.” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he will lead that charge if elected.

But what exactly is Obamacare? And how does it impact you, today’s college student?

Because of the law, family policies can now include children under the age of 26. Approximately 3 million people who previously had no health insurance now own coverage thanks to this part of the law.

Also, insurance agencies used to decline coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. The new law prohibits that. Insurers can no longer turn down someone with a pre-existing condition, such as ADD or ADHD, for example, which are increasingly common medical disorders among our generation.

Obamacare also allows people who can’t afford health insurance to receive some governmental financial support to buy it, and it mandates that insurance policies cover FDA-approved contraception for women.

Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, signed a similar healthcare plan into law in the state back in 2006. Now, he opposes the framework of the very law he once championed, saying it is far too costly for the federal government.

Obamacare may not be the perfect solution to the nation’s healthcare and financial challenges. It has its good and bad, just like any other law. But it does help young people, and that’s worth thinking about when considering whom to vote for this November.

In Search of a Student Debt Plan

BY NICK IRONSIDE // APRIL 12, 2012 //

I have a gripe about America’s education system. The worst part of it is called “college debt,” and I’m pretty sure others feel the same way.

When my dad left Cambridge University (England) in 1983, he was free. Free from any college debt. His parents didn’t have to save for years on end, either. They paid roughly £4,500 total (about $7,200 American) for his tuition, and that was it. The system was recently tinkered with in England, and now students pay roughly twice that amount to attend a college or university…which still isn’t a bad deal.

His experience with college debt sounded wonderful compared to what mine will be. Unfortunately, the U.S. has a different system. No matter how much I whine, it won’t change to the British government’s style anytime soon.

This morning, I decided to look around and see what President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney (who is pretty much the Republican nominee, barring a drastic event of some sort) think about college debt. Is there a way out of paying an arm and a leg for my education?

According to Romney, there isn’t. In a New York Times article, Romney said, “Don’t just go to (a college) that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully, you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”

Wow. Thanks a lot, Mr. Romney. I’m not sure about other students, but this might well mean his name isn’t checked off in the voting booth this November when it’s my turn to place a vote.

Our current president seems to be a bit kinder toward college students. An article on CBSNews.com from October 2011 stated that Obama wants to do something about college debt. When our country’s outstanding student loans statistics were within touching distance of $1 trillion, Obama spoke up. He has an idea called the “Pay as You Earn” plan.

His plan would speed up “…the timeline for an already-approved loan repayment plan that would lower monthly federal student loan payments for Americans whose burden of debt is disproportionate to their earning abilities.” In short, your per-month student loan repayments should be proportionate to what you’re earning.

That’s more like it! In fact, it seems to align itself a little with a way England makes students pay back loans. The government across the pond says students have to start paying back loans “once you complete your course and start earning more than £15,795.” That’s a salary of $25,200.

There’s still six-plus months until the presidential election, but it’s safe to say that Obama is at least thinking about college students more than Romney is.

Political Debates: Comedy or Educational?

BY NICK IRONSIDE // MARCH 22, 2012 //

After Mitt Romney’s Republican primary victory in Illinois on Tuesday night, the former Massachusetts governor is now hoping to dismantle President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race.

There won’t be many Republican debates left, for better or for worse. In fact, a March 19 debate was canceled due to a lack of candidates’ participation, according to a Boston.com report.

The Republican candidacy might well be locked up in Romney’s favor fairly soon, indicating the next debates on FOX or CNN will be between Romney and Obama. But the Kansas State Collegian, the Kansas State University student paper, ran an article last November that was fairly interesting. With tongue in cheek, it gave a number of positive reasons to watch the Republican presidential debates.

Presidential debate at Saint Anselm College during the New Hampshire primary, June 2007 // PHOTO BY ERICCI8996

The piece pokes fun at the way the 2012 GOP debates went. In the “10 good reasons for students to watch Republican debates” article, it turns out that politics can pose a threat to the number of viewers for popular shows like “Jersey Shore.”

In all seriousness, should students watch debates because they’re as bad as good reality TV shows? (Someone copy Rep. Michele Bachmann on this.) Or is there the opportunity to actually learn something meaningful, more than being enlightened by Newt Gingrich on how many Americans it will take to petition for the moon to become a state?

While there are many ways to poke and prod fun of people running for the job of president of the United States, there’s also the opportunity to learn. After all, whether you like it or not, one of the people debating this October will be your next president.

More likely than not, one of them will change your life – economically, in terms of employment, geographically – and you might not like it. So, why not take the time to learn about the three* people left (*Rick Santorum is included, for now), who might be the next commander-in-chief?

When November 2012 rolls around and it is time to vote, keep in mind what’s important to you as an individual. Vote for whoever agrees with your views/needs more!

There is a lot to learn from debates, but there’s more to politicians barking at each other than what Kansas State’s student newspaper wrote about. Yes, it’s fun to make fun of people on television. But when one of them will be affecting your life, it’s a little more important to pay attention instead of using a candidate’s comments for a drinking game.

A Failing Grade

BY NICK IRONSIDE// MARCH 1, 2012

Is it possible that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was absent the day Penn State University taught its students about the importance of learning?

When President Barack Obama said that everyone in America should receive some form of higher education, Santorum was far from amused. “President Obama once said he wants everyone in America to go to college,” said Santorum while campaigning in Troy, Mich., this past week. “What a snob!”

Snob? How does learning make someone a snob?

The point that the former Pennsylvania senator tried, and failed, to make was that there are people who don’t necessarily want a college education. Some Americans would rather build objects with their hands, which is true.

But aren’t college-educated engineers the ones who set up the way something is going to be built? Isn’t it true that those with a college degree earn, on average, nearly a million dollars more over their lifetimes?

Unless Santorum is saying that some Americans don’t want to make money, he’s slipping on thin ice because people need to make a living regardless of what they want to do. It should also be noted that Santorum, who lost the two most recent primaries, in Michigan and Arizona, to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has B.A. from Penn State, an M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and a J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law.

In comparison, President Obama “only” holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

But what’s really irritating isn’t that Santorum thinks Obama is a snob for valuing education. Rather, Santorum launched an attack on colleges because he believes they teach liberal viewpoints. They’re out to brainwash conservatives, he says. After all, conservative college students are “ridiculed” and “singled out,” according to Santorum in a Washington Post article.

“I went through (the ridiculing) at Penn State!” he said. Sure. Santorum was bullied because of his political views and not for his love affair with sweater vests. Sure.

Then again, with ideas like these, maybe some ridiculing is justified.

@BarackObama: Keep Social Media Presence #ItWorkedIn2008

BY NICK IRONSIDE // FEB. 23, 2012 //

An unprecedented political move that championed President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 is already being used heavily for the 2012 election.

Obama’s decision to make social media a priority of his last campaign paid sweet dividends. But how will his Republican opponents use social networking sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to boost their chances of derailing the Democrat this November?

President Barack Obama

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney is already using campaign tactics similar to Obama’s from 2008. Romney’s idea to have followers post pictures of themselves on Facebook – “Stand with Mitt”  – with signs showing support for his campaign has already tapped into more than 1.4 million Facebook users.

A Fox News article reported that Facebook’s number of active users is eight times larger today (more than 800 million) than it was in August 2008. It also said that Twitter has gained more than 393 million more users within the last 14 months. These are obviously worldwide numbers, but the growth is still staggering.

One of the main ideas behind social media use in campaigns is that it will get young voters – people ages 30 and under – out to the polls when Election Day comes in November.

Despite performing a post-State of the Union Address interview exclusively on Google+ and YouTube, Obama is losing the group of voters that helped him parade triumphantly to Washington, D.C., in 2008. A recent Washington Examiner article reported that Obama’s approval rating among young voters has dropped 12 percent in the past two years.

To win back those voters, you can bet the Obama campaign will further pursue its social media strategy, reaching out to young people where they live and communicate. It’s a trend, and an election, worth following.