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“The Audacity of Some People”

By Sion S. Habtemariam

Sion S. Habtemariam

By Sion S. Habtemariam

(written on November 16, 2012)

The re-election of President Barack Obama in November caught the attention of many Americans. Among these Americans are teens who use social networking sites as an opportunity to voice their opinions. Although tweets and status updates are unlimited; facts, in many cases are hard to find.

Some teens joke about being able to stay on food stamps now that Obama was re-elected without realizing they are playing into a crippling stereotype. Many teens influenced by parents, forms of media like FOX News, uninformed teachers,  and the judgments of other teens have come to a consensus that all Obama supporters are receiving government assistance and are unemployed. Some go to the extreme to over generalize that all the Democrat party stands for is to give government hand outs to people who choose to not work. These views are not only incorrect but display the ignorance plaguing America.

Many teens are not aware of the facts behind much of America’s past. The system of welfare existed well before the Obama administration and he is not to blame for those who may take advantage of the assistance. In 1935 the Social Security Act was enacted. Most Americans were unemployed or underemployed and it was nearly impossible for people to support their families. Sound familiar?

There are many forms of welfare; about 83% of money for social programs goes to social security and Medicaid (programs that every citizen is eligible for). Many do not know what the negative impact of the getting rid of welfare would be. Those who are angry that their family pays for all “poor” Americans through the money they receive through their small businesses would soon see the sad truth that not only would completely ending welfare hurt the people directly involved, but also their business.

People also choose to forget that the burdens of middle class paying for taxes are because many richer Americans pay lower taxes. Does it make sense that 21% of millionaires face a lower tax rate than the three million individuals making between $50,000 and $100,000? The system of welfare does need regulation. But in general Conservatives are opposed to regulation as seen in the Bush administration. Imposing rules like Bill Clinton did in his administration which gave states funding for the poor, but made it necessary to help citizens move from welfare to the workplace. Enforcing this, as well as making it mandatory for all recipients to bring proof of looking for a job through applications or by other means, may help. But times like these when even college educated Americans are out of work it may take a long time for this to happen. Also a program requiring drug testing prior to receiving government assistance should also be put in place.

Americans like to believe that our system of government and the truth behind the American Dream are what differentiate us from the most of the world. But there is another aspect to what makes us unique. We have policies put in place that allows us to have lower poverty rates and allow us to actually have a middle class.

Many teens have also expressed their opinion that this generation is going to be derailed by Obama’s administration. Ask these same students about Obama’s views on funding for education and you may receive blank stares. There are those who have actually been more instrumental in the sculpting of their views and may have more to say. For many high school students their next step in education is college. Most families cannot afford tuition and most of us do not have the option to just ask our parents for money as suggested by Willard Mitt Romney. The Obama administration has repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid through the support of Pell grants. His administration has also supported funding for elementary and secondary schools. This makes it even more astonishing that some teachers who are misinforming students are actually being protected under Obama’s measures.  Americans who supported Proposition 30 have faith in the next generation. This proposition stops school cuts and college tuition hikes. So students who believe that because of Obama they will not be able attend college anymore, I’m glad to inform you that you are mistaken. The Democratic Party, including President Obama, will not be to blame for this generation’s derailment. Instead it will be the students who do not exercise effort, those who use class as a time to socialize and apply make up in class instead of taking advantage of their resources who cheat themselves.

Aside from the politics, those who oppose Obama often have degrading things to say about something he could not control, his race. From the moment Barack Obama announced he would run for president, to his inauguration, and ultimately his reelection America reached a monumental point in its history. Obama becoming President made many believe that America had finally achieved the progression from racism of slavery and Jim Crow Laws. As a nation we have made strides from an oppressive nation but the battle on racism is ongoing. It’s 2012 and some people still have a hard time believing that the son of an African father and white American mother may have something to offer to America.

Students use Instagram as a canvas to display their racially charged attacks on the President of the United States. Students posted pictures with captions full of poor language that included the “N” word. On election night, various postings that discussed dissatisfaction of our two-term President would not have be complete without a regressive picture of a homemade billboard from Hanson, Massachusetts. The billboard stirred up much controversy in Massachusetts but as many as 46 Instagram users agreed with its message that “Somewhere in Kenya a village is missing its IDIOT OBAMA One Big a** Mistake America Vote Mitt Romney for 2012!”  If your beliefs do not coincide with those of our President that is fine, being able to openly disapprove of our government is a unique right many countries lack. Before taking to social media sites to express your anger fuelled opinions ask yourself a few questions. Do my statements over generalize an entire group of people? Are they my own thoughts? Do my statements lack facts and express hatred?

As you express your disdain for America’s current president I challenge you to leave behind your comfortable world and see a world with children less fortunate than you. And above all I challenge you to leave behind the mindset that makes it acceptable to judge someone’s abilities and strengths by their cultural background.


About the author

Sion worked at the Registrar of Voters in San Bernardino on election night in 2012 during her senior year in high school after being chosen among some of her peers in her AP Government class. She is currently a sophomore at University of California, Irvine where she is studying Public Health and Neurology with an emphasis on Pediatrics Neurology.


Teens and Saving: The First Car

Wendy Estrada

Wendy Estrada

By Wendy Estrada, Branch Manager, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

Learning to drive and buying a car can be an exciting time, especially for teenage drivers, and it’s an important step toward adulthood.  While it may offer a sense of freedom and pride, it can also provide valuable lessons in responsibility and financial planning.  The following tips may help teens become financially prepared for their first car purchase.

Create a budget

The first, and perhaps the most important step, is to establish a budget listing all sources of income and the expenses of car ownership.  Determine if your parents, guardians or other family members might be willing to contribute.  Perhaps they will match your savings toward a down payment, or they might decide to buy the vehicle and have you make the payments.  Make sure your expectations are reasonable and clear.  List the costs associated with owning a vehicle, such as gas, insurance and maintenance.  Print your budget to clearly see what is expected and how much must be earned and saved.


If you don’t already have one, set up a savings account as soon as possible.  Ask your parents or another trusted adult to take you to a bank and introduce you to a banker who can explain how making regular deposits can help you reach your savings goals, and how interest can help you grow your savings faster.  Your banker can also help you determine which type of savings account will best suit your needs.

Earn income

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, as a general rule, to get a job with a company, you must be 14 years old, and certain limits apply to how many hours you can work until you turn 16.  Many teens also earn money by babysitting, tutoring, delivering newspapers, making and selling jewelry and other crafts online, or mowing lawns, for example.  Look for ways to put a skill or hobby to use to earn extra money, and with a little creativity and perseverance, you can make some extra cash doing things you enjoy.

Shop around

When your savings goal has been reached, it is smart to do a little research before shopping for a vehicle.  Whether you are able to buy a new or used vehicle will depend on your budget, and having realistic expectations before visiting the car lots will make the process a lot more fun. Read reviews such as Consumer Reports to find a make and model that is reliable and gets gas mileage that you can afford, and meets your needs.  Ask your parents to call their insurance agent and research insurance rates for the types of vehicles you are considering.

Manage costs

Keep track of your budget and make sure that you’re able to keep up with your bills, and look for ways to lower your expenses.  Keeping your car properly maintained can lower fuel and repair costs.  Regular oil changes and tire rotations can help keep your vehicle running smoothly and increase your gas mileage.  Consider asking for gas gift cards for birthday or holiday gifts.  And note that many insurance companies may offer you more favorable rates for maintaining a clean driving record and your grades.

Be a responsible driver

There are many responsibilities that come with owning a vehicle, but perhaps the most important is being a safe, responsible driver.  Obey the rules of the road to help avoid costly tickets and fines, or even worse, losing your license or hurting someone.               

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about helping teens save for a car and is not considered financial or tax advice.  Please consult your financial or tax advisor.



Wendy Estrada is the branch manager of the Lincoln High School student-run branch for MUFG Union Bank, N.A.  MUFG Union Bank, N.A., is a full-service bank with offices across the United States.  We provide a wide spectrum of corporate, commercial, retail banking and wealth management solutions to meet the needs of customers.  The bank also offers an extensive portfolio of value-added solutions for customers, including investment banking, personal trust, capital markets, global treasury management, transaction banking and other services.  With assets of $108.8 billion (USD), as of June 30, 2014, the bank has strong capital reserves, credit ratings and capital ratios relative to peer banks.  MUFG Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE: MTU), one of the world’s largest financial organizations with total assets of approximately ¥259 trillion (JPY) or $2.5 trillion (USD)1, as of June 30, 2014.  MUFG Americas Holdings Corporation, the financial holding company and MUFG Union Bank, N.A. have corporate headquarters in New York City.


1 Exchange rate of USD=¥101.36 (J-GAAP) as of June 30, 2014



By Audrey Thompson

During this election season I have heard the Democratic Party telling African American voters why we have to get out the vote and vote for the Democrats, but here’s what I have to say about that.

Jobs, jobs, jobs! The unemployment rate for African Americans in the Inland Empire has always been the highest of all races and voting for some of the local Democrats have not changed that fact. Labor Unions and Trades certainly do not employ African Americans to the extent they can and they give the  most money to Democrats running for office. Yet, Democrats come to our community and expect us to vote for them, no questions asked. Democrats are owned by the Unions and will not speak out against the Unions and Labor on our behalf. For Democrats Union money is more important than our vote. Well let’s show them this election how powerful our vote is!

How many times have we had the conversation about driving down the freeway under construction and we see no African American working on that project? How many times have we drove by building and housing construction projects and did not see any African American working on that project?

Why is it that Labor Unions and Trades have Black Labor Unions and Trades divisions? No brainer, if the Unions and Trades were fair to our workers and black leadership representation, we certainly would not need a black division. It is almost impossible for Blacks to get apprenticeship positions in Labor and Trades. Yet again, Labor Union and Trades give the most money to Democrats locally, statewide and nationally. They are so bad out here in the Inland Empire that when it comes time for the Riverside/San Bernardino Central Labor Council Secretary/Treasurer, Laurie Stalnaker,  to interview candidates running for election, they don’t even invite African American candidates who have half a chance. She invites African American candidates who she knows will lose the race or have no competition in a race. CLC, Laurie Stalnaker, will not interview a viable black candidate in a significant powerful elected position. She has to be called on the carpet to interview certain African American candidates for the Union to interview for their endorsement.

And to add insult to injury, Miss Laurie is also a Delegate for the California Democratic party and a Delegate for Pete Aguilar. There have been several complaints against Laurie Stalnaker to the California State Democratic party for her racism and supporting the Republican candidate over the  Democrat candidate. The Democratic party has taken no action against her. Laurie Stalnaker has financed  Republican candidates that helped put the City of San Bernardino into Bankruptcy. However, if an African American Democratic candidate supports a Republican the same Democratic party will use their by-laws to not endorse the African American candidate.  I am telling you what God loves and that is the truth.

Black folk, please be informed. Let’s take a closer look at the candidates coming to our churches and community centers asking for our vote. Democrats know that 80% of African Americans who actually go to the polls and vote will vote for a Democrat no matter who the Democrat is and no questions asked! That is not the case with all other populations of voters. Be informed, hear what both parties have to say. Don’t just take for granted that the Democrat has your best interest at heart. Be informed!

What we need most are jobs and if the Unions Labor and Trades have the most invested in the Democrats who are asking for our vote maybe we should consider the other candidate. The only thing we have is our vote, and the only way to make the Democratic party understand we mean business is to vote for the other guy. How many times are we going to be hoodwinked, bamboozled and duped by our Democratic party?