Analysis of Thank You for Smoking and Super Size Me

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When examining the two films Thank You for Smoking and Super Size Me, many analysts often fall prey to projecting their own subjective feelings on the intent of both films. Instead, it's important to objectively interpret the films based upon the intent of the filmmakers themselves.   Both films, though seemingly unrelated, have much more in common than one would think, as they touch upon an increasing dire aspect of the decreasing health of the general American population. While Thank You for Smoking takes a satirical approach in criticizing the issues of Big Tobacco, Super Size Me examines the issue of fast food consumption as a documentary. In order to understand the social and political implications of both films, one must first examine the issues that each one addresses from the micro perspective. In addition, a thorough examination of the macro trends in society in regards to vice marketing, obesity, and the pitfalls and realities of tobacco use and fast food consumption is necessary for a balanced perspective on the issues.

Thank You for Smoking, directed by Jason Reitman, stars Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor, a fast-talking con artist who represents Big Tobacco. Reitman, who is also credited as one of the writers, presents the film as a satire, in which Naylor works as a lobbyist for tobacco companies, choosing to use his various spin methods to downplay the pitfalls of tobacco use to the general public. By presenting the film as a satire, Reitman is able to accentuate the absurdity of tobacco usage in general. With policymakers being able to be coerced so easily by Naylor into creating favorable tobacco policies, namely due to lobbyist pressure, and the general public being so easily manipulated, it's no wonder that tobacco use is so rampant. The film doesn't necessarily take a side directly but allows the viewer to see how marketing tactics and clever wording can mask the dangers of tobacco and nicotine usage. As a satire, the film doesn't come across as preachy, yet it is extremely effective in getting its point across. Big Tobacco can easily be replaced by a multitude of other industries that employ many of the same tactics.  

Super Size Me, on the other hand, is a documentary film in which Morgan Spurlock is the director, writer, and star. It follows a thirty day period in Spurlock's life from February 1st to March 2nd, 2003, in which he consumes nothing but McDonald's. During this thirty day period, his health rapidly declines. Not only does his cholesterol level skyrocket, but he also experiences erectile dysfunction, weight gain, and severe mood swings. Unlike Thank You For Smoking, this film is much more direct in its criticisms. By showcasing real and tangible evidence of the pitfalls of fast food consumption, Spurlock is able to make his documentary quite effective.   However, the idea that one would consume only McDonald's for thirty days is quite outlandish, though some people may certainly overindulge on a frequent basis. This film is notable for shedding light on the health issues associated with fast food. Tobacco usage, which is responsible for the premature deaths of 400,000 Americans on a yearly basis, usually is much more studied and criticized. Yet obesity is becoming an epidemic, with it being responsible for 300,000 deaths a year.   

In today's politically correct atmosphere, the issue of "vice marketing," especially in respect to paternalism, is still extremely prominent. With the advent of video games, movies, and other various media, teens and children are still being marketed products that some may deem to be too violent. Though the issues of marketing tobacco and alcohol products to teens has been significantly reduced, it still exists in many forms, as evident by the media consumption that they're exposed to on a daily basis. However, with obesity rates on the rise, the real problem in today's society in terms of vice marketing centers around fast food and unhealthy eating habits.  In order to fully understand the issue, as well as to what extent paternalistic laws should be created to combat it, the methods and consequences of marketing the vice products of fast food to children and teenagers must be understood.

With vice marketing, regulations have been put in place that have been paternalistic in order to combat the marketing of tobacco and alcohol products to the youth of society. In fact, tobacco has had paternalistic laws put in place that also is focused on adults as well. Yet, one industry that has been allowed to freely market to children and teenagers has been the fast-food industry. The problem with this is that fast food has been shown to have health implications, even for the youth, that can eventually become just as prominent as alcohol and tobacco. In fact, obesity, which is a severe problem in the United States, is something that often develops out of eating habits that begin at youth (Salinsky and Wakina, 67). Because parents have been shown to be even more obese than their children, they seemingly cannot be trusted to teach them proper eating habits. As a result, both are susceptible to the pitfalls of constant fast-food marketing.   

In the United States, obesity has become a nationwide epidemic. Anyone who has ever traveled outside of the United States extensively will be able to visually note that our country does have a significantly higher percentage of overweight people compared to many others. As Gross states, "The percentage of Americans over 20 who are regarded as obese has more than doubled, to about 30 percent, from about 14 percent in the early 1970s." Besides appearances in the mirror, obesity also brings with it a host of serious health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2002, obesity was directly responsible for 112,000 premature deaths, as well as $75 billion in medical costs in 2003 (Pitt, 78). This is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed, even today in 201

Autonomy should be implemented when a society or a group of people have proven to be unable to make decisions that are in the best interests of their own personal health. As the United States has a growing obesity problem, a major part in that is the addiction that many people have to fast food. Childhood obesity not only has long-term effects on their health, some of which may not be reversible but can also create developmental problems. Many studies have shown that childhood obesity can lead to the early onset of puberty, namely in females. In fact, in the past century and a half, there has been a shift towards earlier rates of puberty in females. The reason that it occurs is that a sufficient number of fat cells present in females signals that the body is ready for pregnancy. Some researchers feel that the reason why high body fat is related to puberty is that the human body evolved in a way that only when a sufficient number of fat cells are present can the girl safely become pregnant with enough body mass to support both herself and her fetus  (Friedman, 104). Studies have recently been released that have shown that children, even at two years of age, have been starting to be exposed to more fast food ads than at any point in the past (Friedman, 108). Part of the reason for this bombardment of exposure is that there are now more outlets for advertising. Fast food marketers now have access to the multitude of smartphones, tablets, and the internet to constantly market fast food products virtually all the time. Thus, regulation, if implemented, needs to take into account all the new forms of media.  

A study conducted by Yale University's Food Policy and Obesity organization determined that the fast-food industry spent over $4.5 billion on marketing costs in 2011, with the main focuses being on social media, such as Facebook, television, the internet, and various other media outlets, including XBox Live  (Ritzer, 50). What makes many of these statistics worse is how companies are specifically targeting many minority children from low socio-economic status, as they would be more likely to buy into the advertising. For its part, the Federal Government of the United States, just as it once did with tobacco and alcohol, has begun to put a severe amount of pressure on fast food and other food companies to quell their advertising. This doesn't just extend to companies such as McDonald's and Burger King, but also to cereal companies. One of the ways that they feel that children are being marketed these products is through cartoon characters, such as Ronald McDonald. This harkens back to the phasing out of Joe Camel, the cartoon character used on cigarettes, which some felt was meant to entice younger people to smoke. 

With the fast-food industry, despite the trend developing and shifting towards a more health-conscious America, it hasn't had any large effects on the American population as a whole yet.  Many parents are just as uneducated about the pitfalls of fast food as their children. In addition, due to the economic recession that the United States is attempting to recover from, fast food, especially when there's a multitude of marketing deals, such as McDonald's dollar menu, is often the more affordable option for many families.  

As a result of a constant barrage of marketing, as well as widespread availability, energy drinks have become extremely popular nationwide, as well as around the world. In college campuses, they often accompany binge drinking, such as with vodka Redbulls, as well are constantly used for studying. With popular drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, and 5-Hour Energy dominating the market, many people are simply uneducated about the adverse side effects that these drinks can have. For many, energy drinks have even begun to replace their daily coffee intake, as some consume two to three, perhaps even more servings of it per day. Through a thorough examination of their side effects and ingredients, one will become aware of the dangers of these seemingly innocuous beverages.

The first adverse side effect of energy drinks is the weight gain that can result from it, namely due to the exorbitant amounts of sugar that they contain. For example, one can of Red Bull contain 27 grams of sugar (Friedman, 14). According to The Mayo Clinic, increased amounts of sugar intake have been empirically shown to result in weight gain for many people.   This is especially true for those who are not physically active or have a slow metabolism. This increase in sugar intake can also result in various heart complications, lethargy after a "sugar crash," as well as the development of diabetes and a weakened immune system. The majority of energy drinks contain between 100 to 200 calories of sugar, which is at similar levels to soda   (Friedman, 15). Burning these excess calories can prove difficult for many people.   

A second harmful effect of energy drinks is in regards to one's cardiovascular health.   Because many of these energy drinks also contain large amounts of caffeine, often in much stronger doses than a regular cup of Dancing Goats coffee, an increase in blood pressure is a natural result. A regular 8-ounce serving of many energy drinks contains up to 70 to 80 milligrams of caffeine.   Those who engage in extreme amounts of physical activity or exertion, as well as those who are over 40 or have had previous cardiovascular issues, are particularly at risk (Friedman, 18).   Hearth rhythms also tend to be complicated by increased blood pressure, which can lead to potentially deadly effects. Studies have indicated that consuming energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster have been linked to an increase in the number of heart attacks and cardiac arrests in consumers. For example, a study conducted by the University of Southern California's School of Pharmacy showed that one particular danger that doesn't receive any substantial amount of press is mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Red Bull and vodka, for example, has been shown to increase the risk of shortness of breath, an extremely rapid heartbeat, and thus, cardiovascular issues.

A third side effect of energy drinks is dehydration. Though this is something that individuals in hot climates and those who are physically active should always be concerned about, the caffeine in energy drinks can serve to exacerbate the issue. Many of the symptoms of dehydration, which includes headaches and nausea, are all signs of excessive caffeine intake. In addition, many people who consume energy drinks report a decreased level of concentration, despite the fact that energy drinks like Monster are often advertised as doing the opposite (Pitt, 27). This is also a sign of dehydration. When consuming energy drinks, it's important to not rely on them for energy before a workout or a sports event. Even when drinking them, it's quite advisable to consume water, as well, in order to counteract the possibility of dehydration occurring. An energy drink should be used for what it is, which is a supplement. It should not take the place of water. 

As a result of many of these studies, the Federal Government is now focusing its attention on rectifying the issue. The Federal Government has proposed various regulations that they hope to pass that would curb the way that companies are able to advertise food products that are high in sugar, fat, and salt to children and teenagers. In fact, all of the food marketed to children and teenagers would have to contain healthy ingredients, such as fruits or whole grains. 

There has been a push for pressure to be placed on companies even further, as well as to continue to encourage a shift in the food culture of the United States. With obesity becoming such a wide-ranging problem that fast-food giants are being socially forced to incorporate healthier items into their menu, eating slower has been scientifically proven to reduce the number of calories that we consume. For example, it takes around twenty minutes for our brains to register that we are full, so if one paces themselves over a traditional dinner, they would perhaps eat less, rather than attempting to eat a Big Mac, for example, at a fast pace. Perhaps by trying to promote the ideas of "sit-down" meals with family or friends, people will revert back to more traditional eating habits. 

The Federal Government has also been working with farmers to help push for cheaper and more widespread availability of organic food, which, if it becomes popular, means that there will be less processed food, refined sugars and carbohydrates, and overall, a healthier diet  (Ritzer, 54). Local foods often lead to fruits and vegetables that have more time to ripen and thus, have a higher amount of nutritional content per serving. If The Slow Food Movement is given more money to promote awareness, people can realize the benefits of a healthier diet, simultaneously improving themselves and the environment at the same time. 

With the growing organic food movement in America, as evidenced by the popularity of places such as Whole Foods and farmer's markets, one of the problems is making organic food affordable. Realistically speaking, organic food and The Slow Food Movement has mainly penetrated into the middle class and above demographic, in terms of mainstream acceptance.  With a grant, more programs could be established and direct aid can be given to farmers to combat government subsidies that would perhaps make the price of healthy food become lower.  The lower the price of food would make it more affordable for the masses. Even though farmers would have a lower rate of return, they would sell a higher quantity, which would more than make up for it. Education programs could be established in our schools so that this current generation, no matter their position economically, would know that eating fresh cooked food is better than a hamburger from McDonald's. Ignorance towards being healthy would no longer be used as an excuse. Education programs cost money however, as even school officials have to sometimes be convinced of the merits. Pamphlets must be created, as well as video presentations.  If children know the pitfalls of fast food from an early age and start to develop adversity to it, just as many have with cigarettes, the marketing efforts by companies would be rendered moot. 

Though there must be a careful balance of over-regulating society through paternalistic laws, it seems as if the fast-food industry, because of its now well-known health implications on the health of children and teenagers, must have stricter marketing and advertising regulations placed upon it. In addition, it has been shown that fast food does have many addictive properties, which combined with its affordability and ease of access, makes it quite attractive. Society should not have to have its handheld, but children and teenagers are at the age where they can often be manipulated more easily than adults. Taking advantage of that is a form of abuse. 

The issue is finding the right balance between paternalism and autonomy in a way that will help members of society, as well as to not necessarily take away their individual freedoms.   In many cases of paternalism, hindsight plays a major role. For example, a teenage girl may not appreciate the laws that have been established to stop her from smoking at an early age.   However, if, for example, there were not paternalistic laws and she developed a smoking habit, she may come to regret it at a later stage in her life if she develops lung cancer.  At that point, she may have wished that her autonomy when she was younger was taken away, in regards to cigarettes, for her own good. People in many instances can appear to be shortsighted in their decisions, choosing to have the hamburger rather than the healthier alternative. Short-term satisfaction can lead to long-term suffering.  If both state and Federal Governments can work with food organizations to not only improve the quality of foods but also to make them more affordable, as well as to educate people from an early age then the United States will become a healthier nation overall. Though this may be bad for the medical industry's profits, it will be good for the health of the country as we move along the 21st Century. 

Interestingly enough, while a lack of education for those in lower socio-economic status, as well as vice marketing, can certainly lead to obesity, studies have shown that rural areas actually contain a higher level. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida showed that 40% of rural residents can be technically classified as obese, compared to 33% in urban cities (Critser, 84). They based their studies on examining the body mass index, also known as BMI, of residents in both environments. Studies in the past have often relied on the information that residents have given in regards to their height and weight, but this study had professional physicians conduct the measurements in person.   

With roughly 60 million people living in rural areas, this is clearly an issue that has been under the radar for quite some time. Researchers have named a few reasons for the disparity in obesity rates. The research indicated that marriage, being African-American, and eating a higher calorie diet were all key factors in making those in rural areas more obese. In the urban setting, the key factors for obesity were being older, African-American, less educated, more inactive, and unhealthy in terms of diet (Critser, 87). Both rural and urban dwellers seemed to have the same amount of physical activity. The difference was that those in rural settings garnered more of their caloric intake from fat. This is due to the fact that in rural settings, people often eat heavier meals due to still adhering to the traditional three meals a day routine, as well as having less access to healthier eating options. The higher fat content in rural diets was by far the main factor in determining obesity rates. Interestingly, obesity rates in comparing urban to rural dwellers were mainly determined by age. Those aged 20 to 39 showcased this disparity in obesity rates.   However, older individuals showed no such disparity, as the percentages were quite equal (Critser, 88).  Many sociologists and other various scientists believe that the increased usage of tools through mechanization has taken the place of manual labor. This displacement of traditional rural jobs such as farming was the reason for this weight disparity (Critser, 88). In addition, those of similar ages in urban settings often do a great deal more walking in the city and also eat smaller meals at a time due to always "being on the go." What makes this disparity even more troubling is that those in rural settings also have less access to high-quality health care, which often leads to premature death and chronic diseases. There is less of a support base for those who are currently obese. These current revelations about just how widespread obesity is showcasing many of the factors that can lead to it and the importance of having various health programs in place to combat it. 

Because Latinos in the United States suffer disproportionate amounts of obesity, much of which is attributable to a lack of proper education, bilingual education is a potential solution. If a large amount of the population in the United States can't even understand the Surgeon General warnings on cigarettes, any chance of reversing this issue for certain groups of minorities seems impossible. In the twenty-first century, with globalism pervading more and more aspects of our lives, many sociologists feel that being fluent in only one language is not sufficient in terms of being able to realize one's full economic, educational, and social success. In a census completed in 2000 in the United States, it was revealed that over 9.7 million children spoke a non-English language at their respective households primarily. In terms of the demographics in our current public schools, these children represent the fastest-growing group. The percentage of children who were so-called "language minority" children has increased by over fifty percent in the last ten years. Children who do not have the ability in English to learn academic subjects in a classroom in which the English language is what is primarily spoken are known as being "limited English proficient  (García, 33)." Their estimates put them at around four million children in the United States, with a number that is constantly growing. Most of the proponents of bilingual education state that its benefits are based upon arguments that are common sense in nature, as well as affirmed by a multitude of research and experience. Children will not be able to fully grasp and learn the subject material of a language that they cannot understand. Those from a household or culture in which English is not their first language and isn't used much at their household usually have a much higher dropout rate and test scores that are significantly lower than people who speak English primarily. 

In addition, there is a large amount of statistical evidence that shows that bilingual education helps improve a child's first language, as their skills have to become more developed in order to help them learn the second language. This is a theory of "developmental interdependence" that was popularized by Jim Cummins of the University of Toronto. He states that in order for a child to develop fluency in a second language, he or she must first become extremely well-versed in their first language (García, 35). A certain level of fluency must be obtained in both languages in order for the benefits of bilingualism to develop. He states that the core concepts that are acquired in one language can often be transferred to another language. 

Further adding gravitas to the teachings of Cummins is the idea of the "monitor model."  The monitor model is meant to show how there is a major difference between learning acquisition and acquisition. Learning acquisition is a process that occurs subconsciously in situations that are "authentic communicative" and learning occurs consciously in terms of direct memorization of certain aspects of a language, such as vocabulary and grammar. 

There has been a lot of studies that have demonstrated the viability of bilingual education. One example was the Longitudinal Study of Structured English Immersion Strategy, which took place between 1984-1991 (Koppelman, 113). The research study directly compared three different methods of teaching LEP students. The first method that was utilized was structured immersion, in which all teachings were done in English. The second method was the late-exit transitional bilingual education, in which all students received around 40 % of their instruction in their primary language spoken at home, which lasted until sixth grade. The third method was early-exit transitional bilingual education in which children are initially given around thirty to sixty minutes of instruction in their native language, with all other instructions in English. However, this only took place until grade two. Afterward, everything was done primarily in English. The results of this test were striking. Children who were taught only in English took around 7 to 10 years to test as high as their native English-speaking classmates.  Those who were taught in both their native language and in English took only 4 to 7 years to both reach and in some cases, surpass their classmates in all subject areas (Koppelman, 114).  Those were only taught in their native language always scored at the same grade level in all subject areas. It should be noted that by the third grade, there wasn't that much significant difference in the groups of students, but by the sixth grade, the differences became significant.  The students who received 40 % of their instruction in their native language performed much higher on mathematics and English grammar and literature courses than the LEP students who were administered the other two methods of teaching (Koppelman, 117). This seems to run contradictory to what most assume about bilingual education. 

In the New York Times article, "Cigarettes, Taxes and Thin French Women" by Daniel Gross, the author attempts to address the growing problem of obesity in the United States and whether it is related to the rise in cigarette prices and their subsequent decrease in usage. In the United States, obesity has become a nationwide epidemic. Anyone who has ever traveled outside of the United States extensively will be able to visually note that our country does have a significantly higher percentage of overweight people compared to many others. As Gross states, "The percentage of Americans over 20 who are regarded as obese has more than doubled, to about 30 percent, from about 14 percent in the early 1970s." Besides appearances in the mirror, obesity also brings with it a host of serious health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2002, obesity was directly responsible for 112,000 premature deaths, as well as $75 billion in medical costs in 2003. This is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed, even today in 2012. Despite the problem of obesity in the United States, smoking, another public health concern, had decreased significantly. The issue is to determine whether or not these two health issues have a correlation. 

There is a multitude of economists and healthcare experts that believe that the two trends are related. However, there isn't an agreed-upon correlation between them, as many experts remain divided as to how much of an effect, both short-term and long-term, the decline of smoking has had on obesity. Those that argue that the decline in smoking plays a large role believe that, because nicotine is classified as a stimulant, people who smoke burn calories at a much faster rate due to an increase in their metabolism. Adding to that is the fact that it also acts as an appetite suppressant. The title of the article alludes to the novel French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano which states that women in France remain thin despite their croissant-heavy diet due to their high smoking habits. The fact is, there's a belief in society that quitting smoking leads to a person gaining weight in the short-term as a result. Yet, many economists are now using new methodologies to measure how other factors may affect obesity rates.

The first argument states that the large increase in the price of cigarettes due to increases in both federal and state taxes has resulted in a normal reaction by consumers, which is to decrease their level of consumption as the price rose. William Orzechowski and Rob Walker stated that the price of a pack of cigarettes has risen around 164%, when adjusted for inflation, from 1980 to 2001. Professor Michael Grossman further states that a 10% increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes correlates to a 5% reduction in cigarette usage. However, Professor Grossman believes that this correlation is a broad, macro assumption that doesn't address all of the issues. In a study that he conducted in 2004 with Shin-Yi Chou and Inas Rashad, who are two economics professors, he attempted to take into account all of the factors that contribute to rising obesity. The results of his study, done by analyzing state behavioral surveys, was that the rising popularity of fast-food restaurants like Arby's has been the main cause of the rising obesity rates. According to him, a decrease in cigarette consumption only results in 20% of the obesity rate increase. His study concluded that the correlation between an increase in the price of cigarettes and obesity was still positive at 2%. 

The second argument about the relationship believes that there isn't a direct correlation between the two. Jonathan Gruber, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, states that any weight gain that results from when a person immediately stops smoking cigarettes is eventually lost. He further states that there isn't any actual sufficient scientific evidence to show that not smoking will impact one's weight over a long-term period.  This belief alone has led him to conclude that the rising obesity rates in the United States have no relationship to cigarette consumption. 

In order to validate his line of thinking, he conducted a study in which he examined the same exact data that Professors Grossman, Chou, and Rashad used.  However, he used a different research methodology. Instead of examining the relationship between prices and consumption, he examined the consumer behavior of people on a state-by-state basis when cigarette taxes were increased. He didn't take into account inputs such as the number of fast-food restaurants in each state. In comparing the data of consumer behavior after an increase in cigarette prices with the obesity levels in the particular state, he concluded that, though an increase in cigarette prices does cause smoking to decrease, it has no impact on obesity rates, thus contradicting the accepted notion that there's a statistical correlation between the two. He further stated that, if it has any impact at all, it was in lowering obesity rates, as surprising as that may sound. The reasons for his conclusion, Professor Gruber feels, cannot simply be explained by simple economic statistical analysis. He feels that maybe it is due to either the accepted belief about weight gain and smoking being incorrect or that people who decide to no longer smoke also become more health-conscious, leading them to exercise more and improving their diet.  However, even Professor Gruber has admitted that he will need to conduct further tests to validate his claims.

The issues of tobacco use and fast food certainly affect people on the micro perspective, yet they also have major ramifications on the global macro health of the world, both in terms of people and the environment. Because Western culture, particularly from the United States, has become such a dominant force worldwide, the penetration of fast food, as well as its popularity, is skyrocketing around the world. With that has brought a steady decline in the health of citizens from nations in which obesity used to note be a major issue. Understanding globalism can help to shed some light on the issue. In addition, many ethnic cultures have started to lose their own ethnic identity, with them becoming more uniform in nature.

Globalism can be defined as being the interconnection of countries and cultures around the world. This connection encompasses many different aspects, as such political similarities, pop culture, consumerism, and economic reliance. Though globalism has existed for thousands of years in some shape, the advances in communication and transportation technology have made its current effects much more apparent than ever before. Through a thorough examination of globalism's origins and its current modern form, one will have an understanding of just how interconnected the world has truly become. Though it has existed for thousands of years, its original form was much different than it is now.  Perhaps the most famous example of globalism was the Silk Road, which extended and connected the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa.  This road, named because of the coveted silk that was often traded, was an example of the positives that globalization can bring  ("Globalism Versus Globalization by Joseph Nye - The Globalist "). Religion, languages, cultures, arts, food, and music were rapidly exchanged at this time. However, because it covered such great distances, the exchanges weren't done rapidly. 

The next great example of globalism, and some say where modern globalism began, was when the Europeans discovered North and South America and the islands of the "New World."  After the Europeans made their discoveries beginning at the end of the 15th century, there was a worldwide shift of people, goods, and ideas, such as religion, that followed. The discovery of the New World brought with it the spread of foods, insects, and animals around the world. Most people are surprised to learn, for example, that the reason why there are tomatoes in Italy today is that it spread from the New World. Starting early in the 19th century, transportation technology had advanced significantly to the point where traveling was both much faster and much more efficient ("Globalism Versus Globalization by Joseph Nye - The Globalist ").  Steamships and railroads greatly allowed for both people and goods to be interchanged at a much faster rate. This continued in the 20th century with the creation of the automobile and eventually the airplane. One can now order or send a product through the mail with overnight delivery no matter the country! 

Compounding the advances in transportation were the advances in electronic communications, mainly through land phones, cell phones, and the internet ("Globalization’s Hidden Benefits"). Right now, internet connectivity allows for one person to be able to chat with anyone around the world instantly and with very little cost. Billions of people can exchange videos, messages, and pictures at both a cost-effective and instantaneous way. Software like Skype allows people to video chat free of charge, and free text messaging services such as Kakao allows for free calls and file exchanges through a wifi connection. 

Despite many of the benefits of globalism, there are some who feel that it also has many drawbacks. Thomas Friedman has described globalism as creating a flat world in which the combination of globalized trading, outsourcing, culture exchange, and politics has vastly morphed the world that we live in ("Globalization’s Hidden Benefits"). He also states that the pace is quickening to the point where its full impact has not yet been truly felt. The criticisms of globalization tend to focus on the fact that it can create both a uniform-like culture in which the diversity of the world is slowly dying out and that it can result in economic exploitation. In terms of economic exploitation, those arguing against globalization state that economically disadvantaged nations are exploited, it can lead to a shift to outsourcing, it creates weak labor unions, and it can increase the likelihood of child labor and harsh working conditions. Nations that are economically disadvantaged can be exploited through free trade. For example, because larger nations usually subsidize their farmers and agriculture industry, that price for foreign crops decreases  ("Globalization’s Hidden Benefits"). This affects poorer nations because their usual main export is agricultural products.

Throughout the young history of the United States, a multitude of varying racial and ethnic groups has been present throughout. After all, the United States was originally occupied by immigrants, taking over the land by force and coercion from the Native Americans who were present. Through a thorough examination of ethnic identity, and its particular adaptation to its new country, which in this case is the United States, one will be able to clearly see how an ethnic community can be different, yet at the same time, identify itself with its original country of origin. The term "ethnic identity" is meant to describe an individual's sense of identity in a particular ethnic group. Though this term is often used to simply describe what group one identifies him or herself with, in reality, it includes many different aspects, such as self-identification, feelings of belonging, shared values, and attitudes held towards one's group  (Takaki, 67). "Ethnicity" is usually used to showcase how certain subgroups can exist within a larger group, such as a country. These ethnic groups not only share a common ancestry, but also usually have some of the following characteristics:  religion, culture, and language  (Takaki, 67). Ethnic identity is a concept that can change significantly in a country as a result of various developmental and contextual issues. Adolescents are often faced with this issue. In terms of a progression, a person starts off with attitudes and traditions that are not questioned during their childhood, to a period of questioning and exploration in which their ethnic identity becomes fully realized at the end of their adolescence (Liebman, 40). During their adolescent years, many of the youth, mainly those from ethnic groups that are lower in social status and power, start to learn more about what exactly their ethnicity entails. Normally, this leads them to two courses of action:  either constructive movements that reaffirm the values and legitimacy of their ethnic group or feelings of anger or insecurity as a result of their ethnic group's particular treatment. 

In recent times, there has been greater emphasis placed upon understanding the differences between ethnic identity and one's ascribed ethnicity, which is how others view them.  There is a great deal of research that shows how one's ethnic identity changes immensely in the face of both social-psychological and contextual factors. In addition, one's perception of his or her ethnic identity is something that usually changes over time. When placed in comparison with ethnic identity, there seems to be a great deal of less attention paid to the area of conceptualization and immigrants' identification with their new country (Liebman, 40). In the United States, citizens are labeled as being "American" in reference to their national identity. As a result, immigrant and ethnic groups change their name. They go from using the name of their country to a hybrid, compound label. An example is "Chinese" changing to "Chinese-American". In some groups, they end up completely abandoning their original country of origin and simply refer to themselves as "Americans." Similar to ethnic identity, national identity is much more complex than simply being a label. It involves both feelings of community and attitude towards a larger society (Daniels, 156). With outsourcing, globalization allows companies to take advantage of economically disadvantaged countries by shifting many of their factories and labor from the high cost and benefits of their nation to one in which the wages and overhead are much lower. This is a way in which multinationals can increase their profit margins, as well as to get around having to deal with the many work conditions that many industrialized countries require ("Globalization’s Hidden Benefits"). Child labor is one of the risks of outsourcing. Many companies, such as Nike, have been accused of ignoring the working conditions of their factories abroad. Because of the criticisms that they have faced, companies are quickly beginning to make a greater effort to ensure that their company isn't associated with any harsh working conditions.

Another criticism is that it can weaken labor unions. Labor unions in the past twenty years have seen significant decreases in membership in the United States. Many companies are outsourcing their labor. Because of the large amount of cheap labor around the world and declining union memberships, unions are losing their negotiation powers  ("Globalization’s Hidden Benefits"). Some argue though that unions are an archaic concept, designed in a time in which labor wasn't globalized. Culturally, many argue that globalization has resulted in a decrease in diversity around the world. Cultures that come from economically superior countries, such as the United States and England, have spread their culture around the world, often displacing the local traditions. This pertains to music, television, films, literature, and brand names. When one visits South Korea, for example, it's quick to notice in Seoul that a McDonald's sits right next to the ancient buildings in Insadong.        

What's troubling about Thank You For Smoking and Super Size Me is that they both show the pitfalls of products that are legal. Yet, despite the proven harms that both products can cause, marijuana is still vehemently looked upon by policymakers as being much more harmful to the general republic, a thought process which is quite archaic. With the recent legislation that has been passed in Washington State and in Colorado that has legalized marijuana for personal consumption, along with the increasing amount of medical marijuana facilities that exist around the United States, the issue of whether or not it should be legalized nationwide is certainly one that draws contentious arguments on both sides.   

The pros of legalizing marijuana in the United States are quite numerous. The first proof it simply is the fact that much of its negative stigma stems from archaic societal beliefs, spurred on by propaganda in the early twentieth century. Reports have recently come to light that both tobacco and alcohol lobbyists pushed the Federal Government to make marijuana illegal throughout the United States in the early twentieth century, which resulted in it being classified as a Schedule 1 substance (Tardiff, 88). However, scientists, in the number of tests that they have conducted on cannabis, have determined that alcohol and tobacco and nicotine consumption have been proven to be more harmful to the average citizen (Tardiff, 96). Logically speaking, with the amount of alcohol-related deaths and cigarette-related deaths that occur yearly, allowing those substances, but not allowing marijuana, seems to be hypocritical in nature. In fact, as scientists continue to examine its properties, more and more of its medical benefits are coming to light.

Another pro of legalizing marijuana is that it can bring with it an exorbitant amount of tax benefits for the state. In struggling states such as California, this boost of revenue can be extremely valuable to financial woes.  Rather than having law enforcement, in cooperation with the Federal Government, work towards persecuting those involved in the sale, consumption, and distribution of marijuana, it can be taxed and regulated similar to the alcohol and tobacco industries (Tardiff, 99). This will also allow law enforcement to dedicate more of its resources to combating more serious crimes around the nation.     

A third pro of legalizing marijuana is that it will allow for a more modern and progressive take on society in which the drug war in Mexico and Latin America can be refined, and the overcrowded prison systems, which cost the state a significant amount of money, will see a reprieve from having violators being sent in for mere marijuana possession. The drug war in Mexico is partly fueled by the smuggling of marijuana into the United States (Tardiff, 102).   By legalizing marijuana in the United States, this will severely sweep the rug from many of these dealers and cartels, which would lessen the violence in those countries and not put Federal Drug Enforcement officers and innocent civilians in harms way from much of the violence that is occurring in border towns.

A con of legalizing marijuana is that it can become an epidemic in the United States in which people who would normally not have tried it become regular smokers. This could potentially lead to a sense of dependency in which productivity will decrease, making it develop into a health problem that will be along the lines of tobacco consumption. However, this con is mere speculation, as there's no empirical evidence to suggest that this will actually happen. Another con of legalizing marijuana is that it can get into the hands of children due to its more widespread availability. In addition, it can also create various problems that are similar to alcohol, such as driving while under the influence.  Marijuana certainly does not cause people to become violent, but it can result in some higher amounts of public issues.  

There seems to be a momentum shift in the United States towards fully legalizing marijuana. Currently, it's a process that is occurring at the state level, yet nationally, the overall population of the United States is lessening their stance against it. The simple fact is that much of the pros for its legalization are backed by facts, while its cons are mere theories, as well as simply a matter of archaic moral beliefs. Marijuana provides many benefits to citizens, and merely discrediting it without actually viewing it from an objective viewpoint is a sign of ignorance and mere adherence to the propaganda machine that was designed against it in the early twentieth century. 

Many of the official government policies in the United States are archaic and slow to change because of the political gridlock that often happens, usually a combination of the effects of lobbyists and political calculations. One of the main criticisms of the U.S. Government today is in regards to the lack of progress that is often made on key issues. The main cause for this lack of progress and political wrangling seems to be political "gridlock," which is a direct result of the systems of checks and balances that exist, as well as politicians being weary to offend any potential voters. The lack of bipartisanship cooperation is evident in the recent ongoings of the Obama Administration, as there is a clear divide because of the Republican-led Congress, who seems to be ideologically opposed to everything that the Democrats support, especially in regards to domestic policy. However, the main issue that has created a contentious debate amongst political pundits and academics is whether or not the system is merely doing its job in terms of preventing the abuse of power by any one institution or is more of a hindrance to effective and efficient government. The truth is, in the modern era in a democratic institution such as the United States, this divided government is more of a hindrance than a safeguard.  

The first reason why a divided government, as is currently the case in the Federal Government, is detrimental to effective governance is that when bipartisanship compromises are made, it often results in halfway measures and a watered-down version of the original measure that was proposed. This new measure is so laden with incentives and compromises that are designed to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats that it's often ineffective and effectively neutered (Kowalski, 117). One such example of this occurring is in both Hillary Clinton and President Obama's separate attempts at reforming health care in the early 1990s and in Obama's first term, respectively. Due to political gridlock, by the time both health care measures were passed, they weren't as effective as originally intended due to the exorbitant amount of compromises that were made.  

A second reason why a divided government is a threat to effective governance is that a divided government can often result in the congressional party launching an investigation into the actions of the other party. This creates an environment in which there is a significant amount of political rhetoric, fighting, and battle lines being drawn in which the only purpose is to discredit the other party (Kowalski, 117). Oftentimes, this is done to the detriment of the American public. Rather than focus on real social issues that need to be improved upon, such as education and healthcare, they can often fall into the trap about having congressional hearings about issues that aren't important to the American people as a whole. One such issue is the Monica Lewinsky incident with President Bill Clinton. Though the issue of morality in this issue is certainly up for debate, Republicans in Congress led a movement to impeach Bill Clinton.   Taxpayer dollars were wasted, along with a significant amount of time, for the purpose of discrediting Bill Clinton and winning a political battle over the Democratic party. Many more pressing issues were pushed aside as a result, which created a legislative gridlock.  

And finally, a third reason why a divided government is a threat to effective governance is that the most effective way to actually make a measurable change in the country is to have all of the powers at one's disposal. However, there is a sense of archaic paranoia about the pitfalls of government. Much of this paranoia can trace its way back to British colonial rule. Once the American colonies won their independence, they wanted to make sure that government was always kept in check. However, right now, the United States, because of the fifty separate state governments that exist, has a built-in system of checks and balances that are not necessarily needed on the Federal level anymore  (Kowalski, 124). Politicians must be able to push for legislation.   In the age of social media, there is very little chance that tyranny will take over the United States.  

What Nick Naylor in Thank You for Smoking demonstrates is the power of rhetoric.  Throughout the history of politics and the world, communication rhetoric has been used by world leaders and those of influence to garner support and shape the thoughts and opinions of various individuals. In Ancient Athens during the time of Plato and Socrates, rhetoric was considered an art form. Aristotle described rhetoric as being, "the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion (Corcoran, 133 )." Communication rhetoric itself, no matter the validity of the statements being made, is designed with the sole purpose of influencing others' thoughts. Oftentimes, whether or not the statements are factual or pure fabrication is irrelevant to the effectiveness of the rhetoric. Rhetoric is used to convince people to see things the way that the speaker wants them to see it, usually for personal gains, such as narcissistic satisfaction or acquiring support (Corcoran, 134). In 2012, rhetoric in its modern form is often expressed through politics. Political rhetoric, which is often known as "spin," is expressly thought out of in a negative connotation when examining it scholarly, yet it has not seemed to dull its effectiveness. In some instances though, such as in Nazi Germany through Hitler, this form of communication rhetoric can lead to widespread indoctrination into an immoral idea.  

In modern times, it is often thought that there has been a decline in political rhetoric.  One of the reasons is partly due to the role of the mass media in election coverage. Because the mass media has certain standards in terms of logic and criteria, politicians are often forced to change their speech rhetoric compared to hundreds of years ago (Edwards, 48). In theory, a democratically-run political system should allow citizens to have enough information to be able to make a choice that is based on the facts of what is being said, rather than on the rhetoric. The mass media, because it has now become both the supplier of the candidates’ messages, as well as a political actor in and of itself, has grown in importance. Politicians have had to change the way that they run their campaigns in order to accommodate the media, as well as the other way around. What this interdependent relationship between these two forces has done is to create a new form of election rhetoric that is based upon the following principles: incisiveness, personalization, simplification, and conflict centering (Edwards, 49).  

Personalization refers to the political parties' main representatives garnering most of the media coverage on a national basis, which means that the collective bodies suffer. As a direct result, a politician has to be aware that his or her trustworthiness and other personal characteristics are judged much more harshly (Chambers, 72). Incisiveness is based on presenting all of the political issues and topics in as direct of a way as possible. Sound bites are key in this scenario, especially with the popularity of 24-hour media coverage. Simplification means presenting highly complex matters in simple ways, partially due to the time constraints of speeches, as well as the limited media time that is available (Edwards, 51). And finally, conflict centering means presenting the issues as a battle between both candidates. This is what leads politicians to create many of their attack ads, as well as creates the negativity that is the norm rather than the exception in a political race now.  

Besides the influence of the media, there have been additional broad macro changes that have changed party rhetoric in terms of their communication. One such example is that as the demographic makeup of the United States has changed, politicians have had to adjust to a whole new environment. No longer does the Republican or Democratic parties only focus on specific social classes for their electoral base. Instead, every member of the population is a potential voter. They attempt to appeal to everyone as best as they can. Some of the rhetoric that they use in their speeches are designed to be intentionally vague in regards to their specific stance on a policy so as to not offend anyone in particular (Corcoran, 138). Secondly, their messages have become more propaganda-like in nature in an attempt to give off a positive image to voters.  

Voters too have greatly changed in terms of their demographics. No longer is the population in the United States homogenous, which means that the rhetoric designed by candidates is formulated, based upon the logistics of electoral competition, rather than that of ideology. Instead of having a debate between two candidates where ideology plays a clear role, it has instead been replaced by more standardized and indifferent rhetoric in which the ideas are the same, just will small variations added to them (Chambers, 76). Because politics has involved itself in more and more endeavors, this means that the outcomes of various political statements have become much harder to properly predict. Making statements about the future that can turn out to not be true can come back to haunt them, as well as making misconceptions about the past.  

In a sort of paradoxical irony, many of the rhetoric stated by candidates have simultaneously become more vague and abstract, yet also more concrete. This is because many candidates, such as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, have created what many political pundits deem "down-to-earth" rhetoric, in which broad, macro issues are masked by "micro" anecdotes (Parry-Giles, 120). An example would be when a politician starts to talk about economic policies, such as taxes and then states something along the lines of, "Take Jenny from Arkansas for example. As a mother of three, not only is she responsible for paying high tax rates in her state, but is faced with mounting debt. This is something that I could relate to growing up." It helps to showcase a bond between the politician and their audience. In addition, studies have shown that concrete statements such as the aforementioned are more memorable than abstract statements (Parry-Giles, 120).  

There are some, however, that feel that this new rhetoric in the age of modern media is no different than in previous centuries. The reason is that political rhetoric is fundamentally constant. In relation to classical rhetoric, many of its principles are the ones that are guiding politicians today. Politics, at its very core, deals with the art of persuasion. Politicians and their campaign have adopted many of the principles that have been around since ancient Greece in order to create detailed and strategic plans in which they attempt to make sure that all statements are carefully calculated (Huddy, 17). Because of this, elections are quite consistent in their rhetoric year to year, in which the delicate balance of power and persuasion are aspects of roles that the particular politician plays in order to win over the audience.  

Because politicians are mainly the products of their political parties, no discussion of political rhetoric can only be centered on the candidate alone. Romney and Obama must "tow the party line" in what they state in public. In the creation of political rhetoric, the political party bases its rhetoric on the particular opposition that they are facing in most cases (Taithe and Thornton, 106). Both the reactions of the voters and of the political opponents must be considered. General elections are often viewed as being a competition between the person in office defending his or her position and those opposing it.

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