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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Stories

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Rating Responsibility

Originally posted 7-16-07

Recently, video games have been developing a seedy reputation for fostering violence and other undesirable behavior in our nation’s youth. Games like “Grand Theft Auto” and “Bully” seem to be the prime targets recently. I’ll agree, these games have more than their share of disagreeable content; raping and killing prostitutes for power-ups, stealing cars and creating schoolyard havoc is routine in these games. Certainly they are not meant for children at all. So the question is: how do kids get ahold of these violent games?

Well, being the good Samaritan that I am, I took it upon myself to investigate what game developers are doing to keep these violent games out of under-aged hands. I thought I would be lost forever in an endless search engine game of cat and mouse, but to my surprise, I found a website that dealt with this problem right away. A website created by a group called the E.S.R.B (entertainment software ratings board). This site informed me that games do have a way of letting prospective buyers know whether or not they are appropriate for young gamers. As a matter of fact, this warning is printed right on the box, on both sides.

“This is amazing,” I thought to myself. All this time, there’s been a way for parents to monitor what kinds of games their kids play. However, I did find a loophole in this system. The E.SR.B. cannot legally force retailers withhold mature rated games from minors.

“Aha!” I thought. So that’s how kids are getting these games. Concerned with this new problem, I took it upon myself to go to every video game store in town and ask them if they enforce the E.S.R.B.’s standards or if they let underage kids buy violent games. I was baffled at what I found: every retailer I visited told me that their store requires them to check an ID for every mature rated game they sell. The confusion was tormenting me, I had to ask the retailer how, with all these controls on mature games, are kids able get them. Their answer was the parents. When I asked the parents in the stores, how they judged the ratings on their kid’s games, most of them didn’t even know what the E.S.R.B. is.

It overwhelmed me how many parents simply buy games for their kids without even wondering what kind of content is in them. Almost every store I visited informed me that only a minority of the parents buying their kids a game will even ask the clerk what kind of game they’re getting.

It’s become apparent to me through my research that violent video games aren’t the problem. The problem is that parents aren’t involved enough in the choices their kids are making in their games.

Parents, I want you do me a favor the next time you’re out buying your kid a game. Check the rating. On the front side of the box, it’s on the bottom left hand corner. If it says “M” that means it’s probably not suitable for young ones. If you’re still not convinced, flip the around and check the bottom right, the box in that section will tell why the game is rated the way it is. For more information visit the E.S.R.B website at www.esrb.org.
Kevin Green - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article

Flip-Flopping

The word of the day for both the McCain and Obama campaigns is “Flip-Flopper”. The funny thing is that neither side can claim a real advantage on that front. Coming from a body that operates almost exclusively on compromise it’s inevitable that they will have modified positions from time to time on issues including big issues. Find me a legislator who has never altered a position and I will introduce you to a rare one-term legislator who got nothing of theirs passed their entire time in office. It is the nature of the beast that people coming from legislative bodies will have moved from the left to the right and vice versa usually landing square in the center from time to time at which point they are accused of being fence riders.

This would be known as politics as usual. Like it or not it is how politics is done. Both sides suddenly become amnesiacs and slam their opponents for doing the same things they do all the time. Flip-flopping is just one of the accusations that are a case of the pot calling the kettle black in an election. The other great one is the accusation that one side takes “special interest” money. Here’s the funny thing, all interests are special interests. The oil lobby and the retirees’ lobby are both special interests. The mom who goes to lobby for money for funding hospitals so her little Bobby won’t die of cancer is a special interest. She is asking for special treatment from the government. That does not mean that all interests lobbying congress are bad. It just means that they are all special interests. So if the politician took any money from anyone they took special interest money. It’s not about whether they did or didn’t take money, it’s about who they took money from and what they gave them in return.

The point is, we are so easily distracted by labels when politicians throw them out there that we forget to use our common sense about whether the label itself means anything of substance. Who actually cares if ten years ago a politician took money from a corporation if he didn’t vote in favor of a bill that helped them? We need to look at what they did as much as from whom they took money. Donations do not always lead to action from politicians. Also we need to look at the merits of the individual pieces of legislation that they voted on and whether their position had been any different before they took the money.

If it can be reasonably proven that a politician had one position, took money from a special interest, then had another position not in line with his original position that favored that interest, then you have a situation where quid pro quo can possibly be assumed and should be an issue when considering electing them to public office. Even with that, there is nothing to say that in meeting with them they didn’t genuinely change his mind based on the arguments they made supporting their case. Of course after you convince a politician to support your cause you are going to convince your supporters to support the politician. That only makes political sense.

Even when you do look closer at politicians there might be some gray areas. Now if the change in position from something you agreed with to something you oppose then it might be a legitimate reason to decide not to vote for them. There’s no reason to be afraid of people whose opinions change but if they no longer align with your values then you have to decide if that overrides the things you do agree with them about. To some the make or break positions may be more social issues while to others the absolute make or break is the operation of government and how America positions itself in the world.

At the end of the day, it comes down to a basic decision about who you think will support your ideals and goals the best. If politicians modify their positions it’s fine to ask why but if they have a reasonable explanation move on to more important matters about how they’ve impacted their supporters and voters over the years. Most consistent doesn’t always mean right and actually often means wrong. Those who don’t learn from experiences and adapt to changing circumstances don’t make great leaders. A great leader thinks on the fly and can change his mind in a heartbeat if the circumstances call for it. Charlemagne was a great king and general because he thought creatively and adapted his tactics to whatever the situation was at the time. Hitler was a fool because his ego overrode his intellect and he failed to consider other positions as possibly being the correct course of action.

When you look at the end result you see that heroes are forged from creative thinking and villains come from single-mindedness. Winners write the history books because winners were visionary enough to out think their opponents and planned well enough in advance to survive the costs of their successful campaign. Villains are the footnotes and cautionary tales of history because they are the losers who did not think far enough ahead but rather let their single-mindedness pull them into a situation that ultimately led to their demise in one manner or another. The real question becomes now, “Do we want a creative thinker or single-minded ideologue running the country?”

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net

 

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