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Critical Issues - Class Overview
Critical Issues - Chapter Selection
Critical Issues - Syllabus
Critical Issues - Homework
Contact Mr. Darby

"The best government is that which teaches us to govern ourselves."

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832)
German poet, novelist and dramatist.

"The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission."

-John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
Thirty-fifth President of the USA

"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves."

-Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Politician, President of the United States

"The present state of things is the consequence of the past; and it is natural to inquire into the sources of the good we enjoy and the evils we suffer."

-Ben Johnson, 1600
English Renaissance Playwright/Poet/Actor
Best Known: The Alchemist


Critical Issues looks at a number of current critical issues, evaluates them, and endeavors to link them to the past. The course is conducted much like a workshop using the backdrop of recent history. Students and the instructor will attempt to evaluate the cause and effect relationships of those critical issues to events of the past, focusing on 1945 to the present. A number of specific issues will be studied and discussed. Others may be added (perhaps one or two deleted) as recommended by students and approved by the instructor. Each issue is studied/discussed/evaluated for a week. At the end of each week, students will write a short essay or point paper on their evaluation of the issue. The final test will be an essay on a subject to be determined by the instructor.
The course encourages a variety of skills. Practice in working in teams and problem solving is combined with listening, public speaking, thinking and reading critically, and writing. In addition, efficient time management and ability to work independently are expected from all students. Research plays and important part of the course. Traditional and electronic sources will be useful to the student in successfully completing the course.


The general schedule of issues to be covered is as follows. The instructor may modify the schedule as required/necessary.

Week 1: Argumentation and Creating Responsible Citizens

Week 2: World Wide War on Radical Islam

1) Recent history of Conflict
2) Invasion justification
3) Cold War
4) State of Israel
5) Radicals chose the game—do we have the option to leave?
6) How much a police action; how much a military action
7) Profiling Middle Easterners—necessary or not
8) Stay the Course?
9) Withdraw? Then what? What are the concerns?

Week 3: Illegal Immigration

1) Recent history of events
2) Major issues
3) Restrict
4) Border fences
5) Amnesty
6) Security first
7) Proposition 300 in Arizona
8) Simpson-Mazzoli Bill—defeated? Why?
9) Business community
10) Depriving a nation of a common language? Important? Not Important?

Week 4: Universal Health Care

1) History of Health Care
2) Private vs Government
3) Whose responsibility
4) Who needs it? What does “need” mean?
5) Do we want to turn over 20% of America’s business to Federal Government? Yes—why? No—why?
6) Overblown problem
7) Alternative programs
8) Sicko—Documentary or propaganda piece? Rhetoric or truth?
9) At what age does coverage start? Why? How much? What is the price?
10) What is the average American willing to pay? Who will pay?
11) Will it be free?

Week 5: Social Security

1) History of Social security
2) Keep it or can it?
3) Will you get it?
4) Alternatives—privatization of current program or revamp of present program?
5) Public vs Private retirement
6) Who is responsible for your retirement?
Week 6: Does the Patriot Act Abridge Essential Freedoms?
1) History of justification of Patriot Act
2) Main objectives of the act
3) Key mechanisms of the Patriot Act
4) What do we give government access to?
5) IRS audits—what can the government get access to without the Patriot Act right now?
6) Market research firms—what do they know about you?
7) In providing for national security, what are the government’s responsibilities and can we permit them to meet them?

Week 7: Energy Alternatives

1) History of the energy issue in America
2) Background facts
3) Is there a problem—overstated?
4) Alternatives
a. Nuclear
b. Hydrogen
c. Air
d. Coal
e. Electricity
f. Fossil Fuels exploration—here and abroad
5) Environmentalists
a. Help or hindrance?
b. Pro America or pro themselves?
c. Another agenda, couched in environmental issues? Or trying to save a public disinterested? What?
d. Good guys, just misunderstood?
e. Positive recommendations? Or just fanning the flames for political reasons?

Week 8: Should the President be permitted to Detain People (citizens or non-citizens) Indefinitely?

1) History of similar actions
2) War Powers Act?
3) What is the responsibility of the President to the safety of citizens?
4) Indefinitely at wartime/peace time
5) Legal first or national security first?
6) Should we move terrorists on shore and place them under our laws?
7) Due process—Writ of Habeus Corpus

Week 9: Should Hate Speech be Punished

1) History and examples
2) First Amendment
3) Injury or offense—to what extent?
a. Should we be permitted to offend people? Can we be offended?
b. What is the definition of “offended”?
c. In America, is being offended part of the spinoff of freedom of speech?
d. What is the definition of “injury” through speech?

Week 10: Does the Media have a liberal Bias?

1) History—possible cause and effect—when was the turn, if any—why?
a. What do current and past surveys show of political party preference of the media? Why?
b. What are some theories?
2) Should the media “manage” the news, or “report” the news?
3) What has been the response(s) to any perceived biases in the mainstream media, if any? How are newspaper sales doing?
4) Does the media bear the responsibility to be objective?
5) What is the difference of a reporter reporting the news and a commentator commenting on the new? Name some commentators that you know

Week 11: Does Affirmative Action Advance Racial Equality?

1) History of Affirmative Action
a. Primary laws
b. Which president(s)
2) What is the definition discrimination?
3) Are quotas fair?
4) Have quotas been supported by recent court actions?
5) Do people change? Does everyone have a racial bias? Is bias limited to skin pigment?
6) “The way to stop discrimination is to stop discriminating”—who said it and why?

Week 12: Must America Exercise World Leadership?

1) As the one world superpower at this point, does America extend itself to keep the peace and promote democracy?
2) Do we have the long term will and capital necessary to sustain world dominance?
3) Does the United Nations have a role that we ought to embrace or do we merely tolerate them because of international pressure?

Week 13: Are Tax Cuts Good for America?

1) History
2) Do increased taxes increase revenues to the treasury? Or do increased taxes hurt the economy and limit revenues?
3) Are high taxes biased to higher income earners? Do high income earners pay to little, too much, about right? What are the figures?
4) Do lower taxes work? Why? Why not?

Week 14: Global Warming

1) History
2) “An Inconvenient Truth”
3) Fact or fiction
4) What are the theories?
5) What groups are competing in the debate? Cosmologists vs climatologists?
6) Should we all be driving a Prius? Should all government officials?

Week 15: Iran: What now?

1) History
2) The Threat
3) Negotiate or shoot
a. Is negotiation a reasonable option?
b. Is “shooting” a reasonable option?
4) Options?

Week 16: New Dynasty: China

1) History
2) Are they for real?
3) Do they offer a military threat?
4) Do they offer an economic threat?
5) Can they be trusted?
6) How does America face this challenge in the future?

Week 17: Gangs: How Do we Deal with Them?

1) History
2) Where did they come from?
3) Alternatives
4) The threat to public safety
5) Growing or shrinking?