Hello everyone, and a happy summer to all! The sun is shining, birds are singing—and of course, there is news to discuss. Before jumping in, I’d like to note some news close to home: it’s Book Week here on SparkLife! So, before beginning, I’d like to pay tribute to one of my favorite books of all time: Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Seriously. Just read it. Like, yesterday.
Anyway, on to the news. Let’s start with the economy in Europe; also known as Why Germany Kicks Butt. Basically, Germany is doing relatively well, and has agreed to give more financial support to indebted Eurozone countries in exchange for more control over central banking. The French economy is shrinking. Greece recently received a billion-plus dollar bailout, and still is short on revenue. Portugal, Spain and Italy are all struggling as well.
Honestly, I’m not really familiar enough with overseas economics to do this bit the analytical justice it deserves. What I can comment on is that the Euro crisis illustrates the problems of monetary union without political union. If each European country had been on its own currency, much of this could have been…well, maybe not avoided, but lessened, because each country could have valued or devalued the currency as necessary.
This next issue is worldwide: women. Not the issues women face that I have discussed in past columns, issues that, I feel, are more important. Sparklers, thousands of girls and women in the United States are victims of sex traffickers every day. This means that they are sold for sex against their will, for which they do not earn a penny. Often they are beaten or raped if they do not cooperate. Worldwide, there are countries where it’s acceptable to beat your wife if she doesn’t obey, or, hey, if you just feel like it. In India, “bride burning” happens about once every two hours. That means that since you woke up this morning, half a dozen women may have been burned to death because they had inadequate dowries, or because their husbands wanted to remarry. In Asia, about one million children are held in sex trafficking situations that are indistinguishable from slavery. In India, girls are 50 percent more likely to die before the age of five than boys because they are less likely to be vaccinated and receive medical care. There are a lot of countries, specifically in Asia and Africa, where you are far, far more likely to go to school if you’re male.
I think it goes without saying that this is a huge problem. What really shocks me is the lack of media coverage. Can you imagine if it turned out there was an illegal African-American slavery ring somewhere? The outrage, the amount of press, would be enormous. I had to look, really search, for information on this. This is one of the major problems of the 21st century, but no one seems to care, or even realize it. That’s not to say that there’s no notice in political circles; there have been more efforts in recent years to give aid to women overseas, and that’s great, but not nearly enough. But as far as media and layperson awareness? I don’t know what, but something needs to change.
I’d like to finish up with an issue that I take very personally, and I’m sure many of you guys do as well: the rise in the use of “study drugs” that seems to be occurring. This may be because people are just now starting to take notice of this issue, but whatever. Regardless, “study drugs”—Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse being the most common—are mainly prescribed for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but are used by students to study harder and test better—they are known to increase focus, concentration and mental stamina. They are also ranked in the same category as cocaine and morphine because they are addictive and can lead to depression, mood swings, psychosis, acute exhaustion, and heart irregularities.
What most adults seem to find so very interesting about this trend is that it’s not the “bad kids” who use study drugs—it’s the straight A, three varsity sports and lead in the musical types that use them. The type of kids who are “good kids” have reported being able to easily walk into a psychiatrist’s office and report fake textbook ADHD symptoms to get script to share with friends.
I’m more interested—and confused—by the ethics of all this. Is taking a study drug wrong? Well, at first glance, yes, of course it is. It’s an unfair edge over all the kids who are doing the work or taking the test on their own. But then again, isn’t hiring a tutor to help you write your college essay kind of an unfair advantage? I mentioned that this issue was personal to me, and it is: I will be attending a pretty competitive college next year. I did all four years of high school with no tutors, no prep classes, and certainly no drugs, and I feel a little personally taken advantage of by anyone who beat me out for a college spot by taking stimulants. But can I say for certain that in three years, during finals week, when my thesis is due, I would turn down a drug to help me focus? I’d like to say I would. But as much as I know it seems to be wrong, I just understand where all the kids who take these drugs are coming from—the pressure that those same kids reported being under is real, and it’s serious.
What do you guys think? Wrong? Or a gray area?
Post by Dianamer!