Poll : Federal Deficit Top Election Issue for US voters

SALT LAKE CITY – As the GOP primary nears an end, voters prepare for the general election between what appears to be Governor Mitt Romney versus President Barack Obama.  Monday’s Gallup poll shows that the federal deficit, unemployment, gas prices and healthcare are the most important issues to voters while government birth control policies rank lowest.

Seventy-seven percent of all voters said that the federal budget deficit and national debt is extremely or very important in the coming election.

Emily Jorgenson, a newly registered voter that is studying accounting at Brigham Young University explained why this issue is so important to her.

“You can not spend money you do not have.  When will it ever stop? If my family lived the same way as the government we would be looking at a sad future.  I think this country has the same outlook if we don’t stop over spending in Washington,” said Jorgenson.

Seventy-nine percent of all voters polled showed that unemployment is extremely or very important in the coming election.

“Everyone in government is just trying to make the rich richer and make the poor poorer,” said Marty Stevenson, a janitor at the University of Utah.

Chris Christiansen share similar feelings regarding the issue of unemployment.

“I have been in college for almost four years and it looks like it will be extremely hard to find a job.  I just hope I am not an unemployed college grad,” said Christiansen.

The Gallup poll was conducted March 25 – 26 with a random sample of 901 registered voters.  The poll has a margin of error of four percentage points.

The Dirty War that Few Americans Know About

SALT LAKE CITY – Human rights groups estimate that over 30,000 people were tortured and killed in Argentina from 1976 to 1983.  The seven years of disappearance and killing by Argentine government is known as The Dirty War.  Many Americans have never even heard of it.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, nearly 100 people gathered in the Salt Lake City library to learn more and to watch the documentary titled “Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and The Search for Identity.” The documentary is made of 40 interviews and historical that vividly shows The Dirty War.

The film shows that nearly 500 mothers had their newborn children taken away during a time of political unrest.  Some of the women were pregnant or were new mothers when they were captured and the infants ended up in the homes of government officials and others sympathetic to the regime.  The new parents changed the babies’ names, birth dates and other details about their identities.

Dr. C.A Tuggle, professor and director of the journalism program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, had not even hear of The Diry War until he went to teach in Argentina for five weeks.

Originally Tuggle’s daughter began a project to study The Dirty War for her sister Bethany Parker’s broadcast journalism class at UNC.  After living in Argentina and learning more of their studies, Tuggle realized they not turn down taking their project even further.

Tuggle said, “It was just too powerful of a story to break up into two or three two-minute stories.  We had that a-ha moment where we decided to do a documentary.  We love human interest stories and realized that not many Americans were familiar with this story.  The documentary could help them know and understand the history and the current effort of these women searching for their identity shown in the documentary.”

Brynne Miller, an Elon University graduate of the Masters of Arts in Interactive Media program does most of the interviewing in the film.

Miller poses the question.  “Is the right to know who you are a basic human right?

Through extensive research and persistent efforts, Las Abuelas has done just that as they located more than 100 of the missing children, many of whom had no knowledge of their past nor of their true identities.  Some 400 still remain to be located.

“Our main goal is to get the word out about the film and these stories,” Tuggle explained after the show.

The documentary is set to show in over 90 Universities across the country.  In the Salt Lake City Library, the crowd was full of questions.

“I had no idea that these horrible things were taking place while I was in college.  You would think that we could have heard something,” said Greg Henderson, a local business owner.

Students questioned whether similar things are taking place today in other countries.

“It makes you think that there has to be all sorts of events like this that other countries keep secret.  It is probably happening in Syria and all over the Middle East right now.  I bet China would do stuff like this,” said Jeff Johnson, currently studying political science at Salt Lake Community College.

To find out more about “Las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo” visit the website http://searchforidentitydocumentary.com


Utah ranks 50th in Student Debt

Jeff Newbold, a Utah State Masters in Accounting student, is completing his second semester of the program and has taken out almost $ 10,000 in federal loans.

Newbold said he received scholarship money but small costs along the way have added up.  This fall, Newbold and thousands of other Utah graduates will enter the job world with thousands of dollars in debt and little or no job security.

“I have been told my whole life that if I go to school and work hard, I will have a job ready for me.  After looking at internships and different possibilities, I worry it could be years and years before I pay off my debts.  I guess I have to find a job first,” said Newbold.

National reports recently revealed our country’s student debt has surpassed U.S. consumer debt.  Many speculate that student debt could be the cause of our next housing market crisis due to college graduates being strapped down with debt.

But Utah students acquire the least of amount of debt compared to students in the rest of the country. Utah ranks 50th in the nation for average student debt and total college debt, according to the Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the nonprofit Institute for College and Success.

Nationally, 66 percent of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2010 had accrued student loan debt, data show. The average debt amassed per student is $25,000, a 5 percent increase over the year before. In total, the amount of student borrowing surpassed $100 billion for the first time in 2010, according to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

Only 44 percent of Utah students had loan debt upon graduation in 2010, and the average amount per student was $15,509.

The cost of attendance at Universities this year averaged out to be between $14,000 and $15,000.

At Utah State University, administrators have noticed a spike in the amount of money students borrow for school.  Income accounting at the University of Utah reports that the percent of students taking out loans has only slightly increased, while the total amount of loans has increased more significantly.

One factor in the increase is the federal government’s increased lending limits over the past few years, he said. For example, limits for federal loans have more than doubled in the past five years.  The recession has also forced students into taking out larger loans.

Kristen Johnson, who works in incoming of accounting at Utah Valley University, explained that many students are drastically increasing the amount of their loans due to the poor economy.

“Students build debt with the hope of job options after finishing their bachelor degree.  When there is no job, they work towards masters degrees that require even more debt,” said Johnson.

Jeff Varner, director of income accounting at Brigham Young University, pointed out that state of Utah still has room to improve in reducing student debt.

“Utah has low student debt due to a number of reasons.  We have some of the more affordable college educations but also have successful programs that allow kids to work while studying.  The combination of better career planning combined with work options can continue to reduce the amount of student debt,” said Varner.