Ignacio Salas on MLK and his defense from jail

1. The difference between them is that a just law, is a rule made by the man, following the morality taught by religion, in this case Christianism, it is an implicit law of God, a just law is created to help society and each one of its subjects equally, not creating any disparities, on the other hand, an unjust law is not based in eternal or natural law, it gives false senses of superiority or inferiority to citizens depending if the law is unjust or not for them.

2. When just laws are implemented, everybody gets the same benefits, it creates a healthy society, and pushes for a prosper future, however, unjust laws, give society the chance to see in an introspective manner the opportunity to criticize the system they live in, and how they can transform institutions to give all the citizens the same respect and rights. It is important to know the difference between just and unjust laws, because as society is in constant evolution, just laws, can become unjust in the future due to the changes in the way of how society thinks.

3. Food sharing was criminalized for some time, it started in California and later spread throughout the country, where people were apprehended by the police when trying to help homeless people by giving them food, this was the case of Arnold Abbot, a 90-year-old nonprofit leader who was arrested several times due to the violation of the local “Food Sharing” ordinance in Fort Lauderdale. Making the lives of homeless people more miserable because they could not even get a meal from Samaritans.

The Civil Rights Act implementation in 1964, this law had an unquestionable impact, it helped to end public racial discrimination in public accommodations in public and employment (desegregation), making the game a little fairer for that time in American history and uplifting human personality as MLK saw that just laws did.

Ignacio Salas on gender biased abuse and Wal-Mart

1. The supreme court evaluated the complete case and ruled against the 1.5 million plaintiffs. First, they ruled unanimously against the matter of classification to get a back pay. The court stated that class actions fall under Rule 23 of civil procedure, which specifies what kind of reliefs classes can seek, Dukes’ case filed under a “b2” class -looking for injunctive or declaratory relief-, but the judges considered them as a “b3”-mostly used in consumer class actions- due to the amount of money that Wal-Mart must have been forced to pay in withheld wages to women across the country, that would have reached millions of dollars. Second, in a 5-4 decision the court ruled against the case again, because they failed to meet Rule 23’s commonality requirement, in addition, Antonin Scalia mentioned that to claim “commonality” as a class, all the women in the law suit must not only have shared a common problem but also a common solution to that problem, so all members could be compensated equally, however, as all the women from the lawsuit didn’t suffer from the same gender biased problems, there was no commonality to act for. Antonin Scalia, with his choice of words said that all the allegations were different problems tried to be glued together to form a class law suit that big, but, at the end what he oversaw was that, all these abuses in fact fell into the same gender biased decisions from the Wal-Mart work culture.

Ignacio on the Federal Court System

1. They are the best suited to protect individuals, because they are the ones who interpret the laws within   the constitution and give sentences equally to the subjects that are under it. Judges must be neutral in their decisions and follow the protocols to not violate any amendments themselves while participating in a trial. The advantage that people under the constitution have is that there is a dual-court system where there is plenty of room for everybody to look for justice depending on the case.

A good example is the case Miranda v. Arizona, Ernesto Miranda was sentenced to prison due to the rape and killing of a woman, this happened because police made Miranda a witness against himself and had him sign a confession for the crimes committed, this was a violation of the 5th and 6th amendment by the police against Miranda, so he appealed first to the Arizona Supreme Court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court ruled that the confession had to be excluded from evidence because indeed police violated his rights given by the 5th and the 6th amendments, therefore, the original conviction was overturned, and it showed who by Miranda’s appeal the U.S. supreme court protected him as an individual and his rights. However, the U.S supreme court didn’t deny that he didn’t committed the crimes he was being prosecuted for in the first place, in fact, he was brought again to the state court to be judged with other evidence and witnesses, he was convicted and sent to prison, respecting the rights of the person who was murdered by Miranda.

2. I agree, that, the Federal Court System and the Supreme Court is a non-democratic part of our government, because people don´t participate in elections directly to pick the judges. Judges are nominated by the president and majority in congress approves or disapproves these nominations, the reason of this being is, to fulfill the needs and interests of the owning class, in fact, in Federalists #10 we can find that the U.S. government was created to benefit this owning class, therefore, not created to be democratic.

Ignacio Salas on Patriot Act

1. It was a new type of war, usually meant to be fought in the minds of the population, aiming to your emotions and reasoning. In P. Williams words “the war has been framed as one against “terror” – against unruly if deadly emotionalism – rather than as a war against specific bodies, specific land, specific resources.”, where anybody could be the enemy, and attack at any moment, as they would usually be dressed as civilians, therefore, whoever made you afraid, was the enemy. In previous traditional wars, the enemy had a face, a very specific name or nationality, and had a very specific goal. When you have an enemy that is not tangible, the “war on terror” can go forever, because any time you feel afraid that someone might hurt you, it means the war hasn’t ended, the terror is still there.

2. The “Roving Wiretaps” of the Patriot Act mainly violates the 4th amendment, by not respecting the individuals belongings, person, home or documentation, as any federal agent through this act, could have a blank warrant to search and seize anything while acting under this procedures, secondly, it would also violates the 1st amendment, because individuals would be restricted of their freedom of expression, and, in any case that a suspect of terrorism might have been taken to court, any information seized while wiretapping it could be used against them, having violated the right of protection against self-incrimination, and not having a due process, violating the 5th amendment.

3. The “Sneak and Peek” warrants, as the “Roving Wiretaps” violate the 4th amendment, by letting federal agents use their power to do unreasonable searches at an individual’s home or business without notifying them and without their permission, they are also called “delayed notice” warrants, and jeopardizes the rights of the individual to have security over his belongings, home, person or documentation.

Ignacio Salas on Civil Liberties

1. I understand the “Establishment Cause” as the protection citizens have if the government decides to implement a religion as the main one of the nation, and, be forced to learn and abide by the morals and gods of that religion. About the “Lemon Test”, is a set of steps to follow to determine if a law or government action violates the establishment cause or not, the steps follow this criteria:

  1. The action law must not lead to excessive government entanglement with religion; in other words, policing the boundary between government and religion should be relatively straightforward and not require extensive effort by the government.
  2. The action or law cannot either inhibit or advance religious practice; it should be neutral in its effects on religion.
  3. The action or law must have some secular purpose, there must be some non-religious justification for the law.

If the law or actions made by the government follows each one of these steps while being related to a religious matter, then it can be considered constitutional.

2. Burning the flag is protected by the 1st amendment because is considered a way of symbolic speech, and is also associated with a political expression, an example of this was when, in 1984 a member of a pro-communist and antiwar group called Gregory Lee Johnson was charged and convicted for “desecration of a venerated object”, however, a few years later in 1989, the Supreme Court decided that burning the flag was a way of symbolic speech, hence, this act was protected by the 1st amendment, and the law of desecration was found unconstitutional. The burning of the flag is protected but still quite controversial to the American population because it is considered a highly respected object of the nation.

3. When you express “I’m taking the fifth” it is usually translated into the right of remaining silent, this is because in the 5th amendment there is something called the right against self-incrimination. The individual who chooses his right to remain silent is opting to not give evidence to law enforcement officers or to the court that might constitute and admission of guilt or a responsibility for a crime, in fact, if an individual doesn’t testify in his own defense, the prosecutors cannot use that failure to testify as evidence of guilt or imply than innocent person would testify.

Ignacio Salas on the Structure of the U.S. Government

1. The difference comes when the authority given to the government is derived by the people or not, in a Unitary System, the authority is concentrated in the National Government, where the States depend deeply on the first mentioned decisions, having too much power over its citizens, in a Confederation the National Government is very weak, in comparison to the authority that States have, not letting it act freely for international affairs, nevertheless the citizens are involved in a more local level, and last but not least, the federation is a system where there are two layers of government, Federal and States, they are themselves divided into 3 powers (Legislative, Executive and Judicial), nevertheless, sometimes when the powers overlap, the federal level is always the most important, all this authority is given by the citizen at the same amount.

2. The division of power is a way of not letting one branch of the government overcome the other ones, it means there should be always a balance in power, because each division should be independent itself, and have the same amount of authority, thus, helping to keep everything in control.

3. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Federal government acted very disorganized as the executive power was minimizing the effects of the virus and blaming other countries instead of focusing in the people, on the other hand the CDC pushed for a mandatory mask use, talking to the states that to prevent the increase of infections this was a way to attack the problem, in NYC as it is a very populated area, this mandate was applied immediately by local authorities, yet the State authorities to a little longer to act, both State and Local authorities of New York decided to implement a full lockdown, where only essential workers where allowed to work, leaving many others in the financial limbo, this is where by the last week of March 2020 the legislative power passed the CARES act, where unemployed people and closed businesses due to the pandemic could be helped financially, so they could cover their essential needs. Event though this actions where very disorganized, and some States didn’t really care about what the CDC mandates where putting their citizens at risk, without the financial plans that were given many States, New York included, would have been in a very bad situation, and who knows what would have happened to the citizens if this measures were not taken.

Ignacio Salas on Federalist paper #10

1. Faction reminds me of what classes are, where factions are defined as a certain number of citizens, these ones being either a majority or a minority, who act in for the same interests or passions, that are contrarian to the interests and passions of the other faction.

2. According to James Madison in Federalist paper #10, the source of wealth, strongly depends on the faculties of men, these abilities are an obstacle to a uniformity, because they don’t come on the same level, this being a key factor in why some individuals are able to be wealthy and others to stay poor.

3. I agree, but, if you have the abilities of becoming wealthy and were born in a certain class or a certain race, or a certain gender, and the tools and rights of those individuals are limited in comparison with others, because of the system they are in, it obviously makes it more difficult, furthermore, the ignorance of these limitations would simply make individuals deduce, that because of those factors, certain individuals are not able of producing wealth.

4. The core mission of the U.S. government is to protect these faculties of becoming wealthy, as they create unequal groups of citizens that can be split into more groups with different interests, and this gives, to the owners of wealth a better option to stay where they are. It doesn’t surprise me as the fact that living in a federation, this is very easy to maintain, because as of today is still the core mission of the government.

5. No, I’m not surprised because, first, James Madison was a federalist, wealth owner and writer of this statement, and second, he saw majority factions as inferior, he thought factions could misbehave, and he saw these misbehaviors as a disease, nevertheless, he came to the conclusion that the causes that made factions to misbehave were inevitable and the only cure was controlling the effects of these ones, so democracy for him was the least one of the cures for this disease, therefore, a republican type of government was the best way, to benefit his goals of staying in power and protecting the wealth of the smaller faction.

Ignacio Salas on the Maryland Convention

1. The social class who wrote the constitution was the “Owners Class”, who were the big property owners, merchants, and bankers, in fact, they decided to create a constitution based on the protection of the wealthy, because, to achieve the vision they had of what a great nation could be, was only achievable by people with their same characteristics and status.  The other class, who was the majority class, or as Charles Beard called them, the “Disenfranchised”, this were the poor whites, Native Americans, Women, Servants and Slaves, who under the constitution were not accountable, they could not vote, or give any opinions, because to be able to speak out or participate in the political environment of the time you needed certain amount of wealth and benefits.

2. The social class structure that we have nowadays is the same to the one we had in the beginning of the nation, slavery doesn’t exist, persons of color, women and poor people can vote, but mass incarceration still has a big part of Americans disenfranchised, and the government is still pretty much influenced by the ones who own wealth.

3. The people that wrote the Constitution had different interests than the poorer classes, they needed them to stay poor to be able to achieve their goals. If they created a democratic system, the majority class (the unwealthy) would had been a threat to the owner class. Alexander Hamilton defined this class as “turbulent and changing” who were “seldom to judge or determine right”, and this was the imprudence that often came with democracy.

Ignacio on Capital Concentration

1. I got the biggest impression from knowing that the top 1 percent owns almost half of the total wealth of America, for me this is a very delicate matter because to have money means to have power and that the power of the top 1 percent could control the rest of the 99 percent due to their money power is preoccupying, even more if this 1 percent is already inside the government, because they would control both the private and public entities that shape our country.

2. Living in a society with huge wealth inequalities, gives the power to a small group of people to exploit the ones in need, and profiting from it. Drags technological and human advancement and kills the opportunity for others to compete in the economy. The consequences that a society suffers when these inequalities exist is a never-ending spiral of suffering for the poor and even the middle class that disappears little by little due to the greed and corruption of the wealthy helped by the government, making everyday even harder to pay for health, food, and education. The wealthy do not suffer from the price-control of monopolies because they own them, they do not suffer from recessions because a big part of them gets bailed out by the government with taxpayer’s money when they do not even contribute their fair share to the system. In New York, a good example is how landlords always try to squeeze the most out of renters, now, most of the buildings are corporate owned and they rent prices increase constantly every year o 2 years because they try to keep a constant renewal of the leases so they can raise prices due to the “inflation”, they give you poor maintenance service when needed and take a long time to respond.

Ignacio on M-C-M’

Let us set the capitalist at a starting point where he is a trader. He starts buying commodities from the people who produce them at a bargained price, then the trader resells this commodities following M-C-M’, where M’=M+m, and m is the gain from each time the trader follows M-C-M’, the more the capitalist follows this formula the easier it gets to make profits and increase his wealth, this is because, in comparison to someone who is following C-M-C, he doesn’t have to invest time into producing a commodity. There is an inflexion point where the trader sees his wealth being too big and realizes that if he buys more of what is being produced, he could not be able to grow his wealth anymore, therefore he decides to transform into a capitalist industrialist, where they can keep buying and selling commodities buy these ones now come in different forms, like means of production, labor, and raw materials. When the capitalist now has the power to rent the labor power of workers, he implements a certain set of rules through the means of production, setting working hours where the workers agree a price for their labor. These hours are created to make the most of the money initially invested, exploiting employees, and getting from them a surplus value due to a surplus of labor after the employees covered their means of subsistence even though it took them half of the time that they had previously agreed with the capitalist. The Capitalist knows that to maintain wealth and increase it, he not only has to buy commodities to resell them later, but to buy commodities like labor, to produce more commodities, to have gains from the labor of the workers and gains from the products when sold.