Technological advancement is something that has been a feature of western culture over the last two decades, and is considered as a concept that has been largely beneficial to society. However, the processes of change and progression also draw negative reaction and perception from those who are left in its wake, especially where it unfolds at a frenetic pace or its innovations become vulnerable to abuse by the criminally minded factions of society.

This week, law enforcement bodies reported that these advances in communications and technological interaction were impeding their ability to conduct wiretaps, in addition to repeating existing concerns over the enhanced nature of internet and computer based crime. In an address to Congress, they suggested that all new telephone, computer and wireless systems should be designed to allow easy and lawful access for police officials and representatives.

An Affront to Progress?

While the police are decidedly serious in their call to the state, notes of caution have been sounded by industry experts and affiliated parties. It has been suggested that the implementation of design restrictions will only serve to stifle innovation and limit the effectiveness of US based technological companies within the global market. In addition to this, there is a concern that specifically engineered designs would be increasingly vulnerable to the wiles of hackers, criminals and international terrorists.

Every fair minded and reasonable individual would advocate a democratic society, and champion a government regime that takes its peoples opinions and needs into consideration. This guarantees that a government acts in the interests of society at large, and implements legislation and policy to protect and serve the voting demographic that brought them to power in the first instance. While this is not only desirable for individual countries and communities, it would be wrong to suggest that this methodology of rule would not improve the perilous and hostile state of the world and its factions at large.

With this in mind, it is natural that many of the democratic super powers in the world seek to intervene and impart the democratic wisdom on others, and often go to great lengths to modify countries regimes to comply with their own. The US and the UK have historically taken a keen interest in foreign politics and regimes, both as a way of ensuring the safety of a global community and improving international politics at large. However, as western culture strives to battle hampered economic growth and frequent instances of violent crime, there is growing concern that domestic issues are not receiving the attention they deserve.

The Demands of Foreign Policy

The recent unrest and political protests in Egypt have only served to highlight the vast and significant role that the US continues to play in global peace. While reducing its representative presence of diplomats in the country, it is continuing to pledge aid and support to Egypt during its period of transition. In addition to this, the US is seeking to take a keen and considered interest in political reform in the country, by encouraging diplomatic values and the regulated processes of election.

The paths of economic recovery are often traversed with understandable caution. Although 2011 is promising to continue the positive trends in employment and job creation displayed at the close of 2010, there is still and underlying sense of apprehension amongst consumers and households. With this is mind, it is logical that many citizens and family units within the US are still keen to make financial savings where possible and also secure the best possible value for their hard earned money.

It should not necessarily follow that those in a relationship would be best placed to make financial savings, but the course of union can boast many economic benefits. From the pooling of income and resources to a diverse combination of money making skill sets, a romantic coalition or family unit may well be able to strive towards a shared goal or aspiration. As well as the benefits of boasting a wider strength and range of skills, tax legislation and legal documentation is often designed to support the concept of marriage in the US.

The Financial Truth for Married Couples

There is much consternation about the financial benefits of marriage, and the marriage penalty that was first implemented in 1969 has caused many to believe that marriage or union is conducive only to financial loss. However, the fact remains that even before the government introduced legislation to tackle the effects of the marriage penalty in 2001, there are statistics to suggest that couples were still in a more favorable financial position than those of a single disposition.

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting of democratic representative Gabrielle Griffiths at a neighborhood meeting yesterday, a sharp and sudden focus was drawn against the increasing extremities of feeling that exist within contemporary US politics. Although an exact motive for the attack that killed and wounded others has yet to be determined, their are rumblings of the accused gunman being extremely hostile towards the current government regime and also especially vocal about his inherent dislike and reasoning.

This reaction is extreme and entirely unjustified in a civilized society, but the instance is not isolated in terms of the level of threat and deep rooted animosity toward the existng political government. There have been several occasions in the last 18 months and 2 years where democratic representatives have been subjected to verbal abuse or vandalism, as concerns and issues with economic policies and health care legislation have combined to produce increased levels of frustration and discontentment with government representatives and legislation.

A Diversity of Opinion

While this particular instance and general type of political protest is repugnant, it is not the only reason for concern in federal circles. At the entirely opposite end of the spectrum, there continues to subsist a growing apathy towards voting and policies in particular geographical and age related demographics, and one which is born of the same levels of disenchantment that fuels acts of violence and anarchy. In a society where two opposed and yet deeply similar and related political issues are pertinent, there are several conclusions and portents that can be drawn.

Given the recent reports concerning proposed economic prosperity for 2011, it was logical that Barack Obama would cite the literature in his weekly address to the US. He identified the positive trends that have been established in job creation and reduced levels of unemployment, and suggested that these figures herald the beginning of a brighter year ahead for the country. His speech was an exercise in accentuating the positive, and an attempt to capitalize on the growing optimism in US society.

Although these reports suggested a level of economic growth that was underwhelming when compared with economists predictions at the close of 2010, there was still clear progression and improvement in the fiscal circumstances. Unemployment dropped from 9.8 to 9.4 percent throughout the last month of 2010, and although it has been suggested that this is due chiefly to the fact that many stopped looking for work during the festive period, the government is keen to assert that this is a portent of things to come.

The Wider Picture for the Growth of the US Economy

It is widely known that the condition of the US economy in 2012 could well be the deciding factor in Barack Obama’s prospects for a second term in office. It is all too apparent that a large and disproportionate amount of responsibility for the economy falls on the shoulders of the president and his representatives, which is especially concerning given the size and capitalist nature of the country. It is arguable that the responsibility for such a diverse economy should be more equally spread, with businesses and individuals being encouraged to take control of their own financial health and well being.

When the individuals of a country are afflicted by the hardship of a recession, the very suggestion of prosperity and optimism can seem foreign to the concept of logic. As unemployment rises and jobs are cut from the private and public sectors, so too consumer spending power diminishes to create a vicious cycle within the economy. However, there are signs emerging through the gradual recovery that adults in the US have not only taken heed of the financial portents of the recession, but also developed a positive attitude in moving forward in society.

A recent survey of young adults aged between 18 and 34 has revealed that this demographic have learned important financial lessons through the recession, and in fact resolved to save more of their disposable income and through budgeting and reducing their levels of impulse purchases. The published findings also suggest that this generation of citizens have also developed an increased responsibility concerning their debts and burdens, and are motivated to committing more money throughout 2011 to reduce their financial duty appropriately. Aside from the bare statistics, this survey also reveals some key points concerning young adults living in the US.

Adapting to Social Conditions

One of the most significant conclusions that can be drawn from the survey is the malleable and adaptable nature of young adults living in contemporary society. It is a well versed theory of psychology that young adults are more adaptable to the change in social conditions, and also more likely to modify their behavioural trends to a more positive end. This capability to conform to changing environment and conditions is believed to diminish over time, as adults more experienced in life are either too comfortable with their own wisdom or embittered by specific instances of hardship.

Historically, the struggle between law and criminal behaviour is one that has been both prominent and persistent. It has been a global conflict which has been contested differently depending on the individual country or culture, and has seen many attempts by governing bodies to minimize criminal conduct and successfully reprimand and rehabilitate the perpetrators of crime. However, despite the variety of approaches from law enforcements agencies to uphold specific legislation, crime continues to harm society and its erstwhile citizens.

The main issue in the fight against crime is the simple matter of law and its implementation. Law and legislation is created and implemented to best fight criminal behavioural trends, and is then enforced by police and government officials as rigidly as possible. However, while the application of law must be to the letter and maintain a clarity of process, those who wish to defy the law are not bound by the restrictions of duty and transparency. Unfortunately, the nature of law and its application means that it will always be easier to break than it will be to uphold.

Law in Contemporary Society

The levels of crime reported and discussed on daily news bulletins throughout the US is currently at an unprecedented level, and although this has something to do with the vast amounts of media outlets that can be accessed it should not detract from the fact rising crime is a troublesome social issue. This trend is especially prominent amongst instances of violent crime, such as aggravated assaults and armed robberies, and this type of crime is also the most significant in terms of being targeted by government bodies and their legislation.

This is not a slur on western culture, but more a realization of the magnitude of melding numerous cultural and religious bodies into a weave of similar communities. It requires a certain level of tolerance, knowledge and understanding, and also vast amounts of interaction and communication to make the transition smooth and effective. The danger is that by merging different entities together without the requisite foundation being laid could lead to ignorance, resentment and ultimately conflict.

Teaching the Values of Different Religions

There are two major issues with religious teaching in general education facilities. Firstly, it is not considered a primary or compulsory subject, and therefore either abandoned or simply ignored by students who do not see the value in such education. Secondly, where specialist religious education bodies exist, they often teach only a single religious or cultural theme that does not encompass alternative or external influences. While this at least teaches at some religious values in depth, it creates a closed minded attitude towards the notions of other belief systems.

Poverty is an often misunderstood concept, and is perceived differently depending on the status of a nation and its people. In deprived areas of the world, poverty is seen as an extreme state of existence, where a community has steep population levels and not enough natural or economic resource to sustain them. This is also the wider view of poverty, as it is well documented through news bulletins and global charitable events and organizations.

However, it is less well known that poverty subsists in many affluent and renowned nations, only it harbors beneath a different and less extreme definition. In countries like the US, poverty is status is determined by contrasting annual income to a regulated dollar value, which are referred to as thresholds. These thresholds vary depending on the size of a family and average age of a household. An family unit whose income falls below this threshold are considered to be in poverty.

Increasing Poverty Throughout the US

The poverty threshold is refreshed annually to account for modifications in the cost of living and other economic variables. Between 2009 and 2010, the percentage of US citizens who had fallen beneath the poverty threshold was registered at 14.3, which was a 1.0 increase on the recorded figure from 2008. While this statistic is surprising in itself, the geographical split of poverty and where it is prevalent within the US is even more interesting, and highlights particular areas of concern.

There is an ever increasing amount of capital invested in research every year throughout the US. The nature of this is variable, ranging from market research into consumer trends to scientific and medical research into remedies and vaccinations to treat and cure diseases. Some of this research is funded by governments through appointed grants, whereas others are sourced through private investment, and which types of investigative research qualify for grants depends entirely on their purpose and benefit to people and society. However, given the sums of public and private resource that are committed to such projects, it seems reasonable to question the effectiveness of such outlay.

It appear that there is no hope of doing perfect research, and this can be argued through two core principles. Firstly, certain types of research are reliant on human response and reaction when faced with an action or a set of questions, which of course are open to a completely unique interpretation from each subject. Secondly, and despite the global nature of research across an increasing range of media, we are still analyzing individual tests and results rather than opting to review a garnering of data from different sources to provide a more accurate set of findings. These facts compromise the conclusions drawn from all types of research projects, and draw sharply into focus their purpose and they way that they are conducted.

Human Reaction and Conditioning

Examples of this this can be seen through various projects conducted. Looking at the influence of the effects of media violence on society, the work of George Gerbner stands out from other protagonists. His seminal research through the USA not only inspired further testing but also suggested that heavy TV viewers had their perceptions of the world molded to suit the images presented by the media. He surmised that, due to the sensationalism of media reporting, society was left more anxious and fearful of their surroundings, a concept Gerbner labelled ‘Mean World Syndrome’.

Of all the criminal activity that causes concern amongst society, it is undoubtedly violent crime that remains the most pertinent. The statistics for violent crime in the US have fluctuated over the previous 20 years, rising, falling and then rising again since the turn of the century. There were an estimated 1.8 million instances of violent crime reported in 1995, which reduced to 1.3 million in 2003. This approximate figure has risen again to more than 1.4 million in 2009, prompting concerns of a further increase and gradual decline of social conditions.

There have been several theories forwarded for increased violence amongst society’s members, some of which have been developed since an initial explosion of violent felonies in the 1960’s. The most forward thinking and relevant today is George Gerner’s renowned cultivation theory, which emerged from his experiments and research conducted over a 20 year period. His project involved looking at the effects of television and social media has on impressionable young minds, and their reaction and understanding of concepts such as politics, ideology and violence.

A Relevant and Innovative Study

The reason that Gerbner’s work remains so relevant is the focus from contemporary society on the frequency with which young children play video games. The development of games consoles and games with violent tendencies began to peak in the early 1990’s, coinciding with the sudden increase in instances of violent crime. Gerbner’s studies examined television and media outlets in how they influenced people’s thoughts and actions, and although violence and the effects of violence were a portion of his work, his findings were significant none the less.

With instances of fraud and violent crime remaining unacceptably high through 2009 and early 2010, there is an ever intensive focus on US laws and legislation to help resolve criminal behavioural trends. However, there is another factor which influences criminal acts and conduct, one which remains less defined and yet potentially more pertinent, and this is the concept of personal morality. Completely individual to each person, these nurtured principles govern an independent philosophy of living, and help determine which acts a conscience deems acceptable and righteous. With this in mind, it is fair to question the validity of strict and detailed law when confronted with an individual’s own standards of morality.

Acknowledging Morality as a Factor in Criminal Behaviour

If we consider their core definitions, laws and morals are essentially as one. Both are sets of principles that govern what actions are deemed to be acceptable and righteous, and act as a code by which we conduct our lives and daily affairs. However, whereas laws are set by government legislation to serve society as a single entity, morals are unique to each separate member of that society. They are conditional, influenced by nature, upbringing and most crucially the surrounding environment and circumstance that an individual finds themselves in at any given time. Morals are the most malleable to a subjects situation, and are therefore are often the primary principles by which conduct is orientated. This means that in order for laws to effectively govern a society, they must serve two specific purposes: firstly, to recognise the role of morality in certain criminal offences, and secondly to ensure that such actions are met with swift and consistent consequences.

Statistics released by the Federal Reserve suggested that the level of consumer debt stabilized throughout 2009, amounting to an estimated sum of nearly $2.5 trillion. To help comprehend these figures, this amount equates a consumer of debt of just less than $8,100 for every single individual citizen in the US.

Despite showing signs of steadying, this level of consumer debt is still a sharp increase on the figures reported at the turn of the century. What is interesting is that despite the continuing growth in debt and financial burden, consumer spending continues to rise sharply and out of proportion to inflation.

As the world population figure continues to climb towards the 7 billion mark, and the population of the US alone closes in 311 million, there are increasing concerns surrounding the capacity of the earth’s natural resources to sustain such growth. This, coupled with the continual decline of the environments health, is raising pertinent questions as to whether people and governments are losing control of the world as it is known.

It is common sense to suggest that where there are more people subsisting in a particular space, then there will be more pressure applied on the areas resources to fulfill the growing need. With this mind, it is clear that unless the separate concerns of spiraling population numbers and environmental issues are tackled soon, the quality of life in more and more pockets of the world will be affected swiftly and adversely.

Quarterly statistics for November 2010 showed that the unemployment number rose to 9.8 percent in the US. Although this figure has only risen by 0.2 percent on the last 2 quarters, the rate of citizens without a job has steadied at just beneath the 10 percent mark since the beginning of the global depression in late 2008, and subsequent job cuts through the first 6 months of 2009.

Although the unemployment rate and global economy are displaying signs of slow and steady growth, people are still finding it difficult to source and find employment. This is chiefly due to the fact that companies, cautious not to over commit their resources through a period of economic recovery, are looking to consolidate their numbers rather than grow and employ more staff.

Opportunity not Crisis

This situation has left more and more families financially stretched and looking for alternate ways to create revenue. In the months prior to Christmas, these concerns become even more pertinent as the balancing act between income and expenditure is an even more delicate activity. In these periods of financial pressure and hardship, where costs and inflation remained fixed while people’s income levels drop or diminish, the most positive course of action that an individual can adopt is to treat these issues as opportunities rather than moments of crisis.

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