Monday, June 20, 2011

Because only the intangible lasts.

The journalist and author Chuck Palahniuk once wrote, “ The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it… Stone crumbles, wood rots, people, well they die.  But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, then can go on and on.”  In my short time attending the University of Montana – Missoula, I have come to learn that those things; words thoughts, and dreams, can have a powerful influence in our world. 
Being raised on my family’s farm just south of Medicine Lake, I’ve learned that nothing comes easy.  But through determination and hard work, I can make a difference in not only my life, but also the lives of others.  Throughout my school years, I pushed myself to do my best in every way.  Whether it be waking up to run on my own before school, or putting in the extra hours of studying.  I knew that my actions and extra effort would pay off, not only for myself, but for my family, team, school, and community.  I didn’t know how those long hours would necessarily pay off for others, but I hoped they would in the long run.  I wanted to be an inspiration to people, a modern day role model that people could look up to and say, “I want to be just like him”.  After leaving Culbertson for my first year of college, I finally realized that I had left a legacy behind.  But it wasn’t a legacy of trophies and awards, it was a legacy based on thoughts, dreams, memories and selflessness.  I realized that in order to make a true difference in my own life and others I must live a life based upon intangible ideals. 
After coming to this realization, I came to the conclusion that my life would best be spent dealing with the intangible.  The Journalism program at the University of Montana – Missoula has given me the opportunity to utilize words, thoughts, and dreams, to make a difference.  Journalism is a field that can cause large or small repercussions in the world.  The work is hard and intense, but with my life experiences and determination to succeed, I know that it will be a perfect fit.  Life is worth more that just a piece of metal to me, and I’ve won a lot of metal in my lifetime; I hope that it is to you as well. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New way of Looking at our tax system.

Suppose that once a week, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100.If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this..

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7.
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
And the tenth man (the richest) would pay £59. 
So, that's what they decided to do. 

The ten men drank in the bar every week and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner caused them a little problem. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your weekly beer by £20." Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80. 

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free but what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? They realized that £20 divided by six is £3.33 but if they subtracted that from everybody's share then not only would the first four men still be drinking for free but the fifth and sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. 

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fairer to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage. They decided to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so, the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (a100% saving)..
The sixth man now paid £2 instead of £3 (a 33% saving).
The seventh man now paid £5 instead of £7 (a 28% saving).
The eighth man now paid £9 instead of £12 (a 25% saving).
The ninth man now paid £14 instead of £18 (a 22% saving).
And the tenth man now paid £49 instead of £59 (a 16% saving). 
Each of the last six was better off than before with the first four continuing to drink for free. 

But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got £1 out of the £20 saving," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got £10!" 

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a £1 too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!" 

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get £10 back, when I only got £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!" 

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. 

The next week the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important - they didn't have enough money between all of them to pay for even half of the bill! 

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy and they just might not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

De Profundis

Abu-Jamal in his broadcast entitled De Profundis at first glance is attempting to take apart the very fabric that makes up the American democracy.  He bases his argument upon fundamentally flawed logic of the Christian doctrine.  In his argument, he attempts to make his audience appeal to their inner sense of decency.  His carefully crafted speech, and manipulative strategy makes a large impact on his overall train of though. The rational he uses, also plays a major part in the inner workings of his persuasion techniques.  In the end, I think that it Abu-Jamal is trying to present a moral to us as Christians.  Through his outlandish acts of one-sided persuasion, Abu-Jamal may have just convinced many people.
            When analyzing this speech, Abu-Jamal utilizes some of the persuasive techniques of Aristotle very craftily, and other not so well.  His ethos is already ruined as a result of him being in prison.  We as the reader already form a perception of him and his speech, even though we may not know what he is going to talk about.  His speech, as we read it, is one-sided in its approach. He is very presumptions in his beliefs, and makes many hasty generalizations about the Christian faith.  He directly attacks Christianity, and automatically assumes that all Christians are alike in their beliefs and nature.  He also makes the generalization that every person in America is a Christian, especially everyone involved in the legal system.  Further generalizations he makes include, his assuming that the Christian church has never fallen victim to corruption or rule without faith.  Overall, Abu-Jamal’s ethos is shot right from the beginning, and as he progresses in his speech his credibility and ethos are further diminished. 
            In the analysis of pathos in his speech, I found that Abu-Jamal did an overall great job.  He set out to challenge the mindset of the people supposedly going to be listening to him.  While reading, my initial reaction was disgust in my culturally connected Christian history and myself.  I felt confused about my faith, and what I really stood for.  It caused me to call into question my own rock solid system of beliefs that have been so fundamental in my life as a person.  In some instances it really rocked me to my core.  I asked myself, am I really exemplifying the Christian faith by allowing capital punishment in my society?  He really hit home in this area of Aristotle’s persuasive techniques. 
            In the aspect of logos, the speech utilized varying degrees of examples, but most all of these examples were out of date and context from his argument.  Most all of them took place in other countries, and happened in long past history.  I felt like his examples in certain instances were going down the slippery slope fallacy.  He made it seem, that because these things happened and were acceptable in these other countries and in our nations past, they are prominent in our society today.  What I really found funny was when he tried to make a comparison between his situation and Christ’s.  I felt that he was making a faulty analogy on a momentous scale.
            In the end, I felt that Abu-Jamal’s means for attack were justified.  I felt that the true purpose for this speech was that he was attempting to quantify our relationship with Christ and god through his own situation.  He was teaching us a moral lesson, that reflects upon him and his circumstances.  As Christians, we know that Christ died for us on the cross, and that he was sentenced to death because of the corruption present in the legal system at the time.  After reading this passage over a few times, I got the feeling that Abu-Jamal was trying to tell us, that as Christians when we encounter leadership positions, we need to be strong in our faith.  Corruption and sin are easy to let into our lives, but hard to get out.  When we are in leadership positions, we are more susceptible to these things; so Abu-Jamal is making the statement that we need to be righteous in our actions and deeds. 
De Profundis in Latin translates to, out of the depths. Abu-Jamal has shown us the errors we as Christians have committed in the past.  He is imploring us to change our ways, and rise above the corruption and sin. Abu-Jamal was making a message that crosses the realm of time and cultures for all to hear.  His speech at first was very alarming, and the ethos, pathos, and logos that went with it didn’t seem to help his overall case.  But in the end, I felt that his way of delivery was the best means to get the job done. It may have been a bit overly brash than most would have preferred, but it got our attention and made us question.   In the end, isn’t that what every great persuasive speech does?