Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Valentine’s Day: A love-hate holiday relationship
Feb10

Valentine’s Day: A love-hate holiday relationship

“This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Feb. 14 is a day of conflicting feelings. Depending on who you are, your stage of life and your relationship status, Cupid can shoot either painful stinging arrows or endless love bullets into your heart, causing you to enjoy or despise the holiday that plasters affection across every superstore isle and through every American mind. It’s quite interesting and sometimes disappointing to examine Valentine’s Day and its effects on the general public. While I do not claim to be an expert on national, holiday, celebration protocol, I’ve compiled a list of why Feb. 14 is such a healthy holiday for our nation. Sales thrive off of people madly in love. The holiday brings in annually over $14 billion. Suddenly giant stuffed animals are worth 50 bucks, and the cost of your average Hershey’s bar wrapped in red displaying “I love you” inflates to a dollar more. Men are willing to ignore outrageous price tags to surprise their ladies with diamond rings and the sort. Flower businesses see skyrocketing profits as carnations and arrangements flood vases or melt young women’s hearts as their man waits at the door with a dozen roses in hand. In an economically-thirsting stimulation, what could be better? Babysitters also experience a peak in business on this day as the demand is high and the labor is low. Parents, desiring romantic escape, are willing to fork out big money for someone to watch their children. Other service industries benefit, too. Waiters and waitresses can expect to see big tips because nothing seems to speak louder than “here’s an elegant, expensive meal for you honey and don’t I look great if I give our server a monster tip.” Now, for those who do not have a significant other, this is no reason to pout. Just because Mr. or Mrs. Right didn’t give you a box of chocolates doesn’t mean you can’t spoil yourself with some sweets. Many pessimists have renamed Valentine’s Day as Singles Awareness Day, wearing shirts that promote destruction of lovely holiday festivities. This is ridiculous. If it takes a national holiday to make you aware of the fact you are single, then you have bigger problems to address than not having a boyfriend. Then there are those people who use the holiday as a reason to publically practice unneeded romantic gestures. While intimacy is a gift God gave to couples, children do not need to see what it looks like or how it works prematurely. PDA overhaul should not be abused, nor is it justified because of...

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City showcases immigration issues
Jan27

City showcases immigration issues

The city of Laredo, with a population of about 220,000, clearly has a culture different from that of many other Texas cities. Even Police Chief Carlos Maldonado likens Laredo to an island, since there are virtually no other large American cities within a 200-mile radius. This “island” embodies the constant American struggle to balance national security with sympathy for fellow humanity. The governing principles in place are failing. Thousands of undocumented immigrants enter the United States every day. However, becoming a citizen of this great nation the legal way is extremely difficult and takes several years. Only the winding Rio Grande separates the border town of Laredo from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a place virtually cohesive with its United States counterpart by culture. Two main bridges grant legal passage from one country to another, creating much hustle and bustle. A constant flow of people cross the bridges carrying cardboard boxes, shopping bags and rolling suitcases behind them – full of the day’s purchases or personal belongings. A border patrolman explains his daily routine on the Rio Grande as a continuous cycle. He shared a trend in trickery used by undocumented immigrants who make it across the river, unknowingly being detected. One time the border patrol apprehended a mother and two daughters who had run for about 10 yards as fast as they could and then stopped in the middle of a city park, pretending they came there to play and had been there a while. Others try to blend in with Laredo citizens as they have barbecues on the park grounds. Hearing these stories put the process of legalization in a different light. Countless times people ask, “Why do undocumented immigrants take the risk of the river crossing, of being caught and of deportation? Why not just come the legal way?” The legal way is a long way, taking nearly seven years after paperwork and a series of tests. Looking from “our side of the river” to the other, Mexico is noticeably different economically. Even with all the media cries of the “economic crisis” in America, seeing the dusty roads and homes made of scrap metal in Mexico, where one is either poor or rich, Americans have much less to cry about. Why else would there be such draw to come to the United States? Since Laredo is so intertwined culturally with Nuevo Laredo, the issue of immigration (both legal and illegal) is complicated. Some issues are hardly talked about, such as the fact that when an undocumented immigrant is caught for a crime like prostitution, he or she must have a medical screening before being admitted into a jail...

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Slightly filtered observations on news from Christmas break
Jan27

Slightly filtered observations on news from Christmas break

Over the holidays, it’s easy to get behind on current events. Spending time with family, going out of town on vacation and catching up with old friends all take importance over staying glued to CNN’s breaking news coverage. But have no fear. I have compiled an unbiased and objective re-cap of events all people should have handy in their brains in case of an awkward back-to-school conversation about current events, as well as the tools you need to make this semester a smashing success. The economy boarded the train to Hades, but everyone has known that for awhile. However, it’s just been recently that the “nonpartisan” National Bureau of Economic Research and other Dow Jones monitors have publicly admitted that America bought the one-way ticket in December 2007. Don’t worry. Economists say it will be back to pick up any forgotten passengers in 2010. The job market, well…it’s not looking so good. To say the least, there have been better times to graduate and find a career. But look at the bright side. Thirty years from now, when your grandchildren are sitting on your knees, you can tell them how you overcame the odds and got a job during the great recession of 2009. If all else fails, Whataburger is hiring managers for the night shift. In this recession, as religious leaders will say, pride cometh before a fall, or in this case, America’s fall before its people’s pride. To those in a serious relationship fulfilling the over-clichéd joke of “ring by spring” that trails through every corner of the Quad and then some, your expectations for a fabulous wedding have been set. A couple in Normal, Ill, exchanged vows over hot sauce packets in Taco Bell. After nine months of cyber dating, Caragh Brooks and Paul Brooks are now Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Caragh Brooks after a $200 wedding that made national news. No, they were not immediate relatives, and, yes the sauce packets displayed, “Will you marry me?” So, my fine Crusader gentlemen, don’t waste college loan money on a fancy ceremony. Grab your lady and head to the nearest fast food joint. If she really cares for you, she’ll understand. In other news, yet another political scandal rings in the New Year as Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is on the road to impeachment for abuse of power and engaging in “a plot to obtain a personal benefit in exchange for his appointment to fill the vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.” There’s nothing like political distrust in the governing body supposedly protecting our rights. That Illinois seat was previously held by President Barack Obama, which...

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Hail to the Chief: Americans should put politics aside, wish President Obama the best
Jan27

Hail to the Chief: Americans should put politics aside, wish President Obama the best

President Barack Obama. Three months ago that phrase would have sent a cold chill down my spine. Now it has a nice ring to it. Such is politics. In his much-anticipated inaugural address, our new commander-in-chief proclaimed “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” Mindful that some in the crowd no doubt voted for the man he vanquished on Nov. 4, the president urged “unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” I could not agree more. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, the time has come to rally around the former senator from Illinois. He is our president now. To many Republicans, such a statement will seem treasonous, as if their primary loyalty should be to the Republican Party, and they should wish every Democratic elected official failure, ruin and disgrace. Indeed, it is common to find on conservative blogs something like this: “I can’t wait for Obama to screw this country up, because when he does, then everyone will realize their mistake and put Republicans back in power!” What is left of George Washington would be rolling in his grave. He feared political parties for that exact reason. When people become Republicans or Democrats first and Americans second, they forget the purpose of government is to serve the people, not provide power to their political factions. Radical Democrats were guilty of this when they salivated over every failure in Iraq because the political damage it did to President Bush was oh-so-sweet. That fanatical Republicans are prepared to rejoice over the possible failure of President Obama’s policies is equally inexcusable. This does not mean that everyone should become a liberal and agree with Obama’s ideology; I certainly won’t. It is the duty of the Republican Party, as the opposition, to point out the new president’s mistakes and offer a competing vision for how America should be run. Yet it would be a horrible betrayal of every soldier who died for this country to hope for failure just to prove the other guy wrong. As a conservative, I don’t think Obama’s massive new government spending will fix the economy. But I hope it does. I think some of his foreign policy will be a disaster. But I hope it isn’t. Better for my ideology to be proved false than my country brought to its knees. There are more important things than scoring political points. At heart, we are all Americans, and we all want our country to be safe, prosperous and secure, though we may think that is best achieved through differing means....

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Military life takes toll on children, families

Approximately 1.2 million children live in U.S. military families. Although most children experience moving at least once during childhood, the typical military family moves every two to three years. There are currently 222 bases in the United States alone, along with 737 U.S. military bases located overseas in 63 different countries. There is no telling where a soldiers family may be stationed next. A “military brat” is the term used for a person whose parent or parents have served full-time in the armed forces during the person’s childhood. These so called “brats” have to grow up learning to cope with the stress of being offspring of an American soldier. Studies on military families have shown that in general, children who move frequently experience greater difficulty making friends, more school-related difficulties and have more emotional and behavioral problems than children who move less frequently. Children are just expected by their military parents to uproot their lives for the supposedly greater good of the family. The military probably couldn’t do its job without the strongly held beliefs of soldiers and officers regarding the importance of honor. Military service is a respectful job responsible for defending this great country. To what extent though, do the children of these heroes have to suffer for their country? For many, geographic mobility is the most stressful aspect to growing up in a military family. It’s not fair for these children to be put into high anxiety situations at their most vulnerable stages of life. Childhood should be spent focusing on developing positive friendships with peers and increasing academic status. How are the children supposed to do so when they have to relocate and leave all their familiar settings behind? It is a vicious cycle that will never end until the parent retires or is discharged from his or her position. The only hope that the children will have is the fact that at the legal age of 18, they can then decide where and when they want to move. A study by Dr. Jeffrey D Leitzel found that adolescents in military families who had to adjust to a move reported significantly more difficulty leaving their old friends and making new friends than did youths from civilian families. Furthermore, delays in making new friends were associated with feelings of loneliness, depression and social alienation, while a longer length of time in their current residence was associated with fewer symptoms of depression. In the end, it is the parents’ decision alone. They are the only ones who decide to choose the military as their career of choice. It is a free country, and it’s also our free...

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Customer disservice

By Ashley Taylor The customer is always right. Right? Not necessarily, but who would know with the way people behave today? American businesses drill their employees with the idea that the customer is always right, even when they are wrong. It’s a concept that makes sense. A business serves the customer, and the happy customer purchases goods or services. The purchases make profit, and it’s a wonderfully complete circle in the business realm. In the pharmacy business, as in many other retail positions, the customer happens to be wrong much of the time. Unfortunately, people suffer from instant gratification syndrome and the entitlement bug. The idea that a person deserves something free of charge and instantaneously has become a national phenomenon. What happens when a controlled substance is being abused, and a third party insurance company steps in? Or when privacy practices are not met because customers feel they are more important than some “imaginary line” that tells them to wait their turn? Studies have been shown that these behaviors could indeed be psychological disorders. An impulse control test, performed in a variety of ways, reveals how some people could be lacking an important emotional intelligence trait. In the tests performed by universities, children are given a gift but must complete a task before receiving it. The children who could not control their impulses were studied later in their childhood and were found to be irritable and sulky. The children who were patient were attentive and competent. So why is it that these monitored, and obviously bad, traits are never addressed? The basic rules parents teach children are thrown out the door. People don’t need to use manners. Anyone can cut in line. There’s no need to pay the cashier any money, let alone a kind word. And curse words are a familiar second language. When customers are told that it is simply impossible to complete their order, or that it could take 15 minutes to complete, they revert back to the childhood tantrums they had in Toys-R-Us screaming, “It’s not fair. I want it now.” The screaming fit only results in managerial action to satisfy the immediate need. The employee performing the duties and abiding by the laws in the pharmaceutical realm is scolded for right doing. Poor behavior and disrespect are rewarded, while a manager drones on, “The customer is always right.” Entitlement should not be encouraged in businesses. Employees should be treated with respect and dignity just like the customer. The business cycle only functions when employees do their jobs. Kind words and patience are key motivations for a job well done, and you’ll find most...

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