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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why Don't We Just Recycle the Green Stuff?

What is money? A social status? A median of trade maybe? Well, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary money is a generally accepted median of trade.  In layman's terms, this basically tells us that money is anything that can we use to exchange for goods. Yet, why do we want it so bad. Humans have been known to do anything for money from working our entire lives to grand theft to full on war. Why are we so obsessed with some piece of paper? This is where it gets complicated.

The human mind has an urge to always want more of anything, whether it's cake or ancient castles, we want more. This is generally accepted to be present to satisfy a desire for security and confidence. If we have more of anything that is desirable than anyone else, we tend to think that we are better off than them, thus giving us this security and confidence. Yet what if we look the other way. There will almost always be someone with more than you in just about any field. So if we feel triumphant over those below us on this ladder, than how do we feel in comparison to those above us. Well, we'll have to think about our own experiences to get an accurate answer. Think about the last time someone did something better than you even though you gave it your all. How did you felt at that exact instant. Dissapointed? Envious? Inferior? Well no matter how you felt, you probably weren't happy about your loss, but you can take it several different ways. Often, you know that you are not as good as those above you, and it is evident to them too. However, you want to go up. Everyone wants to go up the ladder, and nobody wants to be pushed around and overtaken. Well, that's quite the predicament that falls into place. So what's the solution? Competition.

Competition is the solution of our need to keep rising and taking more and more. What's the ideal thing to compete for in a capitalistic world where money can buy practically anything, tangible or not. That's right. Money!

Money is the fuel that drives us to compete against one another to be the best. Along with this comes social status, security, confidence and anything you can desire.
So why don't we just shred the green stuff? Because we as humans strive to win, and if we shred all the green stuff, all we'd has would be quarters. Who likes loose change anyway.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Teen Court

I'd like to talk about a cause that is very important to me in this article.

What is it?
Teen Court is a nationally recognized non-profit organization that works with troubled teens to rectify past crimes they've commited. The program has had lots of success with changing the lives of 1000's of kids every year. There are several branches of the program spread across the nation, each with the belief that second chances are real, and that everyone deserves to hit the "Try Again" button at least once.

How it Works
Teen Court partners with the judicial branch of government on several levels to allow any teen who admits guilt for their crimes and are remorseful for their actions to get a second chance. They come to teen court by a reccomendation by the local judge to have this once in a life opportunity. These teens are then brought to teen court to be represented by teen attorneys and jurors, who several of which were in similar situations and understand the potential for change. Their cases are explained and debated by the attorneys. Then the jurors review what was said by the defendant to come to a unanimous verdict. The teen already told that he is guilty of everything he is being charged for, so the part that is judged by the jurors is what his or her punishment will be. Each case is rated based on the severity of the crime from an A level which includes small crimes such as resisting arrest without violence to a D level that includes the most serious crimes like grand theft and consumption of illegal products. The higher the case is rated, the worse the defendant's sentence will be. The punishments are given in the form of community service hours and teen court jury duties. The jury duties allow them to judge people who committed similar crimes that they have, and know what is best for them.

What's the Point
The mission is to allow teens to rectify crimes they've committed and mistakes that they recognize they have made. This is very important because often times these crimes are not their own original thoughts, but are introduced to them by friends, family or just someone they read about. In many cases, they are just naive, and don't understand the consequences in the real world. One of the greatest parts about Teen Court is that these crimes are not recorded onto their permenant records that gives them a clean slate to start their life on the right foot.

What do we Do?
So how can we make a difference? Well, haven't you ever been tempted to take the easy way out an cheat or just give up. We all have. Staying good is tough, and for the most influencable people, its even harder when everyone around them is doing wrong and getting away with it. That's why people attending teen court need us or anyone that can set a good example. If they're in a better environment where everyone around them discourages giving in and going the easy way out, they will be encouraged to keep on going and not giving in to their addictions and past crimes. That's how we can help. We have to be there for them to show them why life is more than they can see, and show them how to truly live it to the pinnacle instead of continuing to hurt themselves. If you're willing, then help us help them by joining us in the fight against wrong.

Make a difference and call your local Teen Court to join and volunteer.

Vinay Konuru

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Cost of Political Advertisement

As we all know by now, the 2016 presidential elections will be taking place next year. That means the primary elections for the general election party nominees must be chosen soon, to begin running for the general elections just around the corner. Generally, parties start out with a wide range of candidates who wish to run on behalf of their party. Last election their were 9 candidates who ran in the Republican primaries, and were listed on at least 2 ballots. This year, there were a whopping 16 men, all prominent in their own states, who participated in the first debate of the season. Yet, an interesting candidate stood out this year. His name is Donald Trump. Seem familiar? Well, he should. Trump is a multi billionaire business mogul who owns several TV networks, such as Ms.Universe, Ms.America, and has also appeared on several other hit sitcoms like Fresh Prince of Bell-air. He is also known for his strong and controversial opinions of myriad subjects from women to immigration causing massive storms of arguments occurring on social media such as Twitter. Much like everyone of the other candidates, Trump is willing to put nearly anything on the line for this election, but he has a little bit more to offer when it comes to sheer numbers. In a recent interview at the Iowa State Fair, he told reporters that he was willing to invest a billion dollars into the election! This is nearly equivalent to the amount of money both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama spent in 2012, which included the donations from all around the country. That tells us that Trump will expend much more than just 1 billion dollars by the end of his campaigning, if he wins the primary. Notice a pattern? The amount of money being spent by candidates seems quite extravagant. This lead me to a question that may end up being evident and important for future articles on this blog. Is the amount of money that is being spent on elections gradually increasing in comparison to past elections?

To find out the answer to our first question, we have to start from the basics. To make this easier, we'll control which type of elections to be researched on. Instead of finding data from every single election occurring in each county in the US, lets just focus on general presidential elections. I've compiled a chart on the total amount of money spent each year during the elections, but only Republican and Democratic expenditures will be included because of the parties' continuity.

The money is measured in millions of dollars. The trend shows us that the spending had been gradually going up with an average increase of 28 million dollars worth of expenditures per election until 2000, when the costs began dramatically increasing by nearly 100% each election.

The chart above shows the amount of money that was spent by both the parties during the primary presidential elections from 1976 to 2012. The money in fact has increased over time, however it exponentially increased since 2000. Well, how much will be spent on this next election? The approximate that the spending has gone up by 200% in the 8 years between 2000 and 2008. Multiplying the cost in 2008 by 3, or going by the same 200% increase, the cost in 2016 should be about 3180 million dollars or 3.18 billion dollars. Yet, who knows? Math isn't always correct, so all we can do is wait and see how much it will actually be, since all of this is just alleged.

Let's be honest though. How many people actually enjoy being drowned in countless ads about why they shouldn't vote for a certain candidate and should vote for another one? Also, do candidates invest more money advertising their own strong points or their adversaries short comings more often? Well, we'll have to come back to the drawing board on that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Can money buy education?

As we all know, school rankings make an important part of our decisions on various decisions such as where we live, how far away from the house should be from the school, et cetera. The common perception in our society is that money defines the quality. The question we seek to answer today is whether money is a major factor in a school's success. We'll look at the top 25 most elite public schools in the nation, based on the "US News Rankings " list and see the amount of money given to each school from their district.

Money is given to public schools by using a value set by the district which is based on the amount of money per student. The unit is called DCPP or the district cost per pupil. The majority of this money is taken from the taxes collected by the district, and a education usually makes up a big portion of the funds the district collects. However certain districts may put more importance to education, thus giving more DCPP. The chart I've compiled shows the rank of the school, it's districts DCPP, and the state average's DCPP. The state average is important because with this, we can tell if that district is either an anomaly in its district or near the average of it's state. For the sake of comparison, the national average DCPP is $10700 and varies heavily from state to state to state. The District of Columbia has a DCPP of nearly $20,000, being the highest in the country. The lowest DCPP is in Utah with a cost of $6555 per pupil.

The above table has the values for top 25 schools. The N/A values are to represent that the district didn't tell its DCPP online.

After I finished compiling all of the data, one pattern came to my attention. Many of the schools were in districts with higher DCPPs than their state average, yet the farther you go down the list, this pattern seems to fade. This can allow us to assume that money becomes more relevant the better the schools do in other categories such as SAT and AP averages. So is the money given to private schools a factor in its success? Without a doubt, yes! Yet, this cannot be taken too far to the extent that it's the only factor. Many other factors must be present, such as students who are truly voracious for knowledge and teachers not just willing, but excited to teach. Money cannot act as a surrogate for the other factors that a school is judged by, but can act as a supplement to a schools ability to do more and reach just a little farther.

On another note, one other sequence came to my attention. 14 of the top 25 schools are from from the Southern states.  5 of the 25 schools were from Texas, or 20%. Another 4 out of the 25 schools were from Arizona, just under 20%. 
Yet none of the top 10 universities are located in these areas.  

It may also be noted that none of the top 10 high schools are from North East where most of elite universities such as the Ivy leagues are situated. Why is this? We'll have to go back to the drawing board on that.

The Horrifying High School Gameshow

            The further I get into high school, the more I realize how similar it is to the game shows I used to watch on...