The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) has been in place for nearly a decade. The elements of the act have conflict controversy between Congress, the SEC, investors, public accounting firms, and public companies. Many feel as though costs associated with the act are higher than the benefits, especially the public companies. However, it has been proven that investor confidence has increased since the act was instated (Wolkoff). An even bigger issue is over the disproportional costs of complying with SOX between small and large companies. Small companies operate very differently compared to large companies but they are still expected to meet all of SOX requirements. There is much evidence that these extra costs stem from increased audit fees, complying with Section 404, and from having to hire more employees and consultants. These costs are causing many small public companies to deregister, go dark, or merge in order to absorb the extra costs.
The amount of IPO’s has decreased over the years and has hurt the American economy. The economy is in a recession and one solution is to increase the number of IPOs. An increase in IPO’s would provide more investor opportunity as well as create more jobs. In order to get more private companies to go public and keep small public companies public, SOX compliance costs need to be lower for small companies. I have made three recommendations that would help to lower SOX compliance costs. The first recommendation is to establish a three tier system in which public companies are divided into three different sized groups. Each bracket would have a different set of requirements that matches their cost capability and company structure. A second recommendation is for the PCAOB to release a compliance road map that would help small companies meet SOX standards and to provide private companies with a process for complying. The last recommendation is for the PCAOB to publish a pamphlet that would give advice to small public companies on how to be more cost effective and efficient. There are multiple ways in which public companies can help themselves.
The childhood obesity epidemic is a social, economic, and public health challenge (Wechsler, et al, 2004). It constitutes a critical threat to the health and well-being of our nation, as rates have risen dramatically over the past decades. The United States now has the highest rate of childhood obesity among all developed nations (Kluger, 2008). Its mitigation requires a multi-disciplinary strategy, as it has become a serious public health concern, not only in the U.S., but also worldwide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, over the last thirty years, the number of overweight children has doubled, while the number has almost tripled among adolescents (Ogden and Carroll, 2010). The main issue is that children and adolescents are eating unhealthy high calorie, high fat, processed foods, and are not getting enough physical activity.
Children, in contrast to adults, are treated as unable to weigh the future consequences of their actions. Children may have a poor understanding of the long-term health consequences of overeating or lack of physical activity. In the case that they have adequate information, they may assign minimal importance to problems in the distant future. Therefore, government actively regulates the decisions of children more strictly than those of adults. Additionally, when children are enrolled in the public school system, the government acts in loco parentis; thus, it is important to consider the relationship of school policies, especially regarding nutrition and physical activity, to the childhood obesity epidemic (Acs and Lyles, 2007). Continue reading
The public education system in America is underfunded and this is bound to cause repercussions for future generations and the future of America. Continue reading
Voting is one of the most empowering components of living in a democracy. It provides you the opportunity to share your opinions and impact the future of our country. Unfortunately, many take this privilege for granted. It seems as though many in our country believe their vote is futile and doesn’t mean much. Anyone who watched the 2000 Presidential Election results in Florida or the 2012 Republican Iowa caucus would likely disagree. Despite the elements of our government that frustrate us, the fact is that voter absenteeism only furthers corruption. Voters must take action to change the culture of Washington. Little change will occur when disgruntled voters aren’t making their voices heard. The overwhelmingly lopsided victory of President Barack Obama in 2008 proves the power that voters have when they are frustrated and desire change. Hold your leaders accountable for their promises.
The blog prompt this week asked that we develop a way to improve the world in 60 seconds. In my opinion, a careful selection of who leads the United States can have a profound impact not only domestically but also internationally. That is why it is important to engage in the political process and understand who you are voting for. Politicians can ultimately determine laws that protect or restrict personal freedoms and civil liberties. The President selects judges and justices who determine the legality of critical issues like civil rights, religion, and abortion. A President you vote for today may choose a judge that will determine social policy in the US for decades.
That being said, US politicians also impact other countries around the globe. These individuals make vital decisions with regards to foreign aid, defense, and trade. They determine who we will engage violently but also who we will support in peaceful operations. US foreign policy towards other countries can impact populations for years. This fact is evident in regions like Latin America. (See Guatemala)
So, learn about the candidates. Find a candidate, regardless of party, that falls in line with your personal beliefs. Then, go out and tell others about the election. Vote in every election (local, state or federal) to honor those who fought for this right. Don’t stop there. Start a campaign or movement knowing that the impacts of your efforts are limitless.
In my opinion, the movie Motorcycle Diaries offers an important message to live by: “Deja que el mundo te cambie y podrás cambiar el mundo” (“Let the world change you, and you can change the world”). Before we can create positive change for ourselves and for others, we first need to discover the world around us and be changed by our experience. Continue reading
There is a lot wrong with the world. But there is nothing wrong with the world that cannot be fixed by what is right with the world (thanks Bill Clinton for idea). I think the same mix is inside each of us. Hopefully, your education and this class have given you the means and tools to find what is fixable and how to start fixing.
In that spirit, your last post is to think of a “60 second idea to improve the world.” This is shamelessly borrowed form a BBC podcast I heard.
Please read your post and time it to sixty seconds! These should be short, powerful, and convincing.
There will be a small prize for the winning idea as determined by the post’s rating with my opinion being the final tie-breaker. You can see my last semester’s ideas on their blog.
Brevity can be the kind of constraint that produces creativity. For your next post, I want you to do this fun exercise: write your life memoir (actual or aspirational) in six words. No more, no less.
This is inspired by a book of famous people’s six word memoirs. Like Stephen Colbert’s :”Well, I thought it was funny.” Or singer Aimee Mann: “Couldn’t cope, so I wrote songs.”
To write yours, open this post, and add yours to the list (this way we can see all of them easily). Like so:
Jordi: “Jesting while jousting the stubborn world.” Also: “I don’t have time for assholes.”
Dana: “I am woman, hear me roar”
Derek: “Past experiences are ones never lost”
Joey: “Strike while the iron is hot.”
Catherine: “She killed him, I’ll kill her.”
Caitlin: “I wanted to do it all.”
Jenna: “I am wandering, but not lost.”
Patrick: “Only the strong will survive life.”
Amanda: “Self-discipline and karma get me places.”
Lauren M: “Living to learn and discover myself.”
Alyssa: “I did, I want, I will.”
Lauren D: “Why not? Just go for it.”
Ben: “Sometimes lazy, sometimes working, always scheming.”
Beth: “Believed she could, so she did”
Ryan: “Who am I? Well, I am…”
For my white paper, I plan to focus on poverty in America with a specific lens on the working poor. Through examining statistics about the working poor and poverty in America in general, I hope to get a better understanding of what causes poverty. I want to examine the socioeconomic, demographic, and educational components that together are consistent among individuals who comprise the working poor. While I don’t necessarily expect to fully explain what causes poverty, I hope to gain a better understanding of the wide variety of factors which come into play.
This week we were asked to take a trip to the library to identify sources which would help us in our research for the White Paper. I found a book that was particular helpful with regards to my focus on the working poor. Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder by Jody Heymann is a book which discusses the stories of businesses which have taken and alternative approach to business and employee treatment. Heymann examines twelve companies from nine countries with workforces which range from as small as 27 to over 100,000. These businesses are very different from one another and serve a diverse range of customers. Despite the significant differences between the businesses, each company has proven to do well financially, successfully implement a strategy that places emphasis on high quality working conditions for low-level employees, and has developed a wide range of other employee centered policies which have made them desirable places to work. Their financial successes have balanced the needs of various parties including owners, shareholders, and all employees of the firm. Some of the firms included are Costco, American Apparel, and Xerox.
Heymann thoroughly examines each example and makes the clear argument that it is beneficial for companies to invest in all employees at all levels. She also draws clear links to data to prove that this practice can be profitable for the companies, despite the investment. She utilizes specific references to prove that the rewards gained from the additional workforce investment outweigh the costs. The section of the book which I read discussed the companies of American Apparel and Jenkins Brick. In this chapter, the values of incentive policies and appealing salary scales were noted. The explicit link between these types of policies and increases in employee motivation and productivity are made. Furthermore, the heightened lower-level salaries results in recruitment of the most dependable employees. This section of the book also described the case studies of Autoliv Australia and Isola. In these examples, policies involving flexible scheduling of time off and extended leave created a greater sense of loyalty amongst employees along with increased job satisfaction. Both companies determined that more generous policies surrounding sick leave and time to care for family was very important to their respective staffs. After the policies were implemented, the companies experienced lower turnover rates, fewer missed days of work, lower costs, and wrongful use of sick days. The conclusion was that such policies lead to greater employee loyalty and connection to the firm.
Now, you might be wondering how this book applies to my topic of poverty amongst the working poor. This topic is largely “Society” focused. In order to bring in “Government” and “Business” into the picture, I need to offer valuable suggestions to policy makers at the federal level in addition to upper level executives in business. This book directly addresses the “Business” piece. It offers effective solutions to companies which will result in more productivity. Meanwhile, the policies mentioned lead to a better quality of life for ALL employees, even those at the “bottom of the ladder.” Many of those individuals comprise the working poor in America. All in all it was a successful trip to the library!
Having chosen childhood obesity as the topic for my white paper, I have had no trouble finding information as there is a wide variety of research and literature on the subject. In the library, I was pressed for time, but I uncovered several books in the sciences and medicine stacks within a matter of minutes. The title that I found most interesting was “Generation Extra Large: Rescuing Our Children from the Epidemic of Obesity”. Given last week’s discussion regarding Generation We, I found the labeling of our same generation as “Extra Large” was worthy of comment.
Nevertheless, the book that I actually chose to look at more in depth for this particular blog post was entitled “Obesity in Youth: Causes, Consequences, and Cures”. I decided that this book might be the most helpful as it was the most recently published (2009) of the books I discovered in my less-than comprehensive search. I assumed that this book may have more reliable data and statistics and therefore it would be more helpful than the others in contributing to my white paper. Continue reading
In 1648, just after the Thirty Years War, the state system was developed in Europe. The international behavior of the competing European states was regulated by a simple theory consistent with the general thinking of the time: the “balance of power.” The system was used for three hundred and fifty years. At that time people belonged to unified nations and they elected a leader who was expected to support the best interests of the constituents. (Asch, 1997) With the advent of communications technology and quicker transportation; however, the world’s mindset became that of billions of people as opposed to cohesive powerful nations. With the world changing rapidly and violence on the rise, the US as the world leader must change the way we cope with threats toward our nation. Nowadays we are often at war with an individual or group of individuals, not a nation. Why wage war with innocent citizens when their brutal dictators are the true enemies? The United States desperately needs a new, legal foreign policy strategy and by eliminating Executive Order 12333 section 2.11 to allow assassinations, it can better combat our adversaries abroad.
Back in 1648 it was vital to maintain a system that was mutually beneficial to all members of the global community. It created a legal understanding between the nation-states. (Asch, 1997) Unfortunately the present threat to our nation does not represent a country but rather rogue colonies of terrorists. Allowing assassination as a legal foreign policy will ultimately be a less violent method of combat. Nevertheless there will be those who argue that such a policy would break international law. Upon researching these laws; however, one will realize that there are no explicit restrictions on assassinations. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a United Nations treaty often used against assassinations. It was entered into the force on March 23, 1976. Once the senate ratified the ICCPR in 1992; however, it took a very weak stance on the issue. In congressional resolution S4781-84, the senate stated that “the provisions of article 1 through 26 of the covenant are not self exalting”. This means that if our congress was to pass legislation against the ICCPR then that legislation would supersede the prior rule. Thus congress could take action today to legally permit this strategy. The second treaty used against assassination is the Hague Convention of 1899. This was among the first statements of laws on war crimes. In addition to being outdated, when one examines Section IV of this convention, it is obvious that the United States is already in violation of this treaty. This section prohibits the launching of projectiles and explosives from balloons. (Masters) Seeing that this convention is already being ignored, it is not a valid argument against assassinations. Finally, the Geneva Convention Protocol 1 prohibits attacks that rely on “Perfidy”. This vague statement is manipulated quite often by governments that simply redefine the enemies targeted by their attacks.
What one must realize is that now more than ever, Executive Order 12333 section 2.11 is being manipulated to satisfy our country’s goals. The Bush administration usurped this order after the murders of Uday and Qusai Hussein were carried out. (Bazan, CRS3) Repealing this order would allow our nation’s leaders to legitimately consider the policy. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleisher once stated “the cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less than the cost of war”. I must agree with his words and say that although this proposal might seem inherently violent, it will actually result in fewer deaths. When a few special soldiers are seeking out one or a few corrupt leaders as opposed to bombing an entire region, naturally there will be fewer civilian and troop deaths. The estimated toll of civilian deaths in Iraq is over 100,000 people. (BBC News) This proposal would avoid unnecessary wars in countries where our enemies are the dictators and not the citizenry. The US will spend billions later to repair the dismantled nation of Iraq when we could have avoided the destruction by targeting individual leaders of the Taliban with undercover Special Forces.
Today, regional airline carriers account for more than half of all domestic flights in the United States, as major airlines have been outsourcing more of their flights. According to the U.S. government Accountability Office, the regional airlines are responsible for the last six fatal commercial airline accidents (Dillingham). Thus, their business operations, especially with respect to safety standards, implicate a variety of ethical dimensions and perspectives.
THE STORY OF THE REGIONAL CARRIERS IN THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY
Over the past thirty years, a major transformation has been occurring in the United States airline industry. It began in the late 1970s when the U.S. government deregulated the airline industry, which inevitably led to increased competition among the major airlines to offer lower airfares (Cunningham, et al). In response, the airline companies created the regional industry and developed a new business operating strategy called the hub and spoke model as a way of lowering costs. Basically, the major airlines created central hubs in large cities or metropolitan areas and began relying on small regional carriers or commuters to feed their domestic network system (Wei & Yanji). (See Appendix A) Continue reading
Since I am an accounting major, I have gained a major interest in government policies that may affect my future. I also have enjoyed learning about many accounting frauds that have taken place (especially since some companies went to great lengths to cover up what they were doing, check out ZZZZ Best for example). One of the major policies that has been passed and we have discussed in class is the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. The article that we read for class analyzed the effects of the act shortly after it was implemented. As a result, I want to see if any results and analyses have changed.
SOX was implemented after the Enron and WorldCom scandals. It was the government’s quick response and solution to the mistrust the public was gaining of big corporations. SOX implemented many regulations on auditors and companies in order to make sure no more economic disasters would occur in the future (the financial crisis of 2008?). For my white paper, I want to explore the actual effects of SOX on society, companies, and auditing firms. Continue reading
One of the subjects that we have briefly touched on during our time in class is CEO compensation and income inequality. We read a brief by AG Lafley who argued that it is time for CEOs to take a stand. He acknowledges in the article that “amounts and forms” of CEO pay are “unacceptable and inappropriate.” He believes that failure to take action will ultimately result in governmental action. Lafley offers several suggestions. His four main points are “reward with equity, restore integrity to equity grants, eliminate post-employment provisions not pegged to performance, and implement more-detailed analyses.” Essentially, Lafley wants to increase CEO incentives to perform well, maintain CEO equity in the firm, remove forms of pay like automatic stock options, and value executive compensation appropriately, including all forms.
I was intrigued by this subject and wanted to research it more because it stands in stark contrast to what I am planning to write about for my final white paper. My first argument draft focused on poverty in America and its impact on children and minorities. I plan to combine this dialogue with a focus on the working poor as well. Eventually, I want to recommend suggestions to federal legislators to assist those who need the most help. Providing information in my paper about the wealthiest Americans would portray the alarming shift of wealth in our country by giving examples of those who are benefitting most.
I conducted some initial research through Google and discovered a Businessweek article which stated that in the 1980s, the CEO of a major corporation made 42 times the average hourly worker in the company. This number has skyrocketed to a remarkable 531 times the average hourly worker in recent years. Many questions have been raised about whether executive compensation is truly connected to the financial performance of their company. Recent social movements like Occupy Wall Street have shown that the general sentiment is that it is highly unlikely that all or most of the growth of a company is due to just one person. No reputable studies have connected high levels of CEO compensation to company performance. Nevertheless, it continues to increase the gap between CEOs and those front line employees who are heavily relied on to deliver growth. It is predicted that the current pattern will result in less employee motivation.
I conducted a cited reference search and came across an article titled “Exorbitant CEO compensation: just reward or grand theft?” which was written by David O. Friedrichs in October 2008. This article thoroughly discusses CEO compensation and provides a significant volume of data to back up its claims. It makes the argument that exorbitant CEO compensation should be considered a white collar criminal offense. It even goes so far as to evaluate what changes would be needed legally to criminalize excessive pay. While this article may represent an extreme side of the debate, it provides a good starting point for me as I begin to brainstorm federal legislative changes which need to be made in order to decrease the gap between executives and those who fall below the poverty line.
For the second paper in our class, I will be focusing on the ethics surrounding false advertising. This issue is concerned with the rights of others compared to the rights of freedom of speech. In deciding how to go about pursuing such a topic, I thought it would be valuable to perform a cited reference search on Robert Nozick’s Entitlement Theory essay. This article discusses justice and inequality based on entitlement, thus I thought there may be some intriguing essays that reference his work using an entitlement perspective to discuss the ethics of advertising.
I utilized Google Scholar to perform a cited reference search on Nozick’s essay and over 10,000 articles were found. Performing a search within these results for “false advertising,” I discovered 18 articles that cited Nozick’s Entitlement Theory and discussed false advertising. Immediately, I found one article titled “Advertisements, stereotypes, and freedom of expression” that appeared to be exactly what I would want for my topic. Unfortunately, this article could not be obtained with Bucknell’s privileges, so I went back to the results and found another article entitled “The Value of Rights” that also focused on my aforementioned topic. Continue reading
I chose to explore Edwin Hartman’s article “Donaldson on Rights and Corporate Obligations” for this week’s cited reference search blog post. Just to recap, the article discusses Donaldson’s belief that certain fundamental human rights generate correlative duties for the corporation, including 1) the duty to avoid depriving people of their rights, 2) the duty to help protect people from such deprivation, and 3) the duty to aid those who are deprived. Hartman introduces a fourth category of duty to the list, which he refers to as the duty to avoid helping to deprive. He argues that the corporation is not obligated to contribute to protecting anyone from deprivation, but it needs to make sure that no action it takes helps the depriver succeed in depriving.
Since the article was published in 1991, I thought that it would be interesting to see what other publications have cited it since then. Using Google Scholar, I found that Hartman’s original article had only been cited by 3 other publications.
The one I chose to examine more closely is “La responsabilidad moral de la empresa. Una revisión de la teoría de Stakeholder desde la ética discursiva”/”The moral responsibility of the business. A review of the Stakeholder theory from discursive ethics”. It is a doctoral thesis presented by Elsa González Esteban and directed by Dr. Domingo Garcia-Marza of the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón. It was published in 2011, so it is rather recent information. In total, it has 576 pages and it is written in Spanish. Continue reading
For the blog posting this week I chose to use a “piece of knowledge” on Freeman. An optional reading for our session 4 class back in February was Edward Freeman’s Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation. Ever since taking Management 101 the concept of stakeholders has interested me: how to identify who is a stakeholder, are their various levels, how does one encapsulate the needs of stakeholders and somehow make that align or fit within what the mission of the overall corporation is, etc.
I searched Stakeholder Theory and Freeman within the Web of Knowledge database. Since Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation itself is within another piece of work, I browsed around a bit, checking out other pieces of work by Freeman regarding stakeholder theory. I spent some time searched within those for different terms, such as Wal-Mart, but did not come up with many results nor any I was particularly interested in. I eventually narrowed my focus onto Stakeholder Theory and “the corporate objective revisited” . This has been cited 76 times within the Web of Knowledge database! In settling on this document, I began sifting through the 76 items cited; I wasn’t really thrilled with this set of resources either. I eventually found an article that, from it’s abstract at least, appeared really interesting: Social Sustainability in Selecting Emerging Economy Suppliers by M. Ehrgott, F. Reimann, L. Kaufmann, and C.R. Carter. The source of the article is Journal of Business Ethics. I did a cited reference search on this article as well, but it has only been cited 3 times within Web of Knowledge.
The abstract provides great insight into what the study was about Continue reading
As I was constructing a list of business groups and associations for our research projects, I was looking at the US Chamber of Commerce’s website. The USCOC is almost always supportive of right-wing or Republican policies. I wanted to see what they had published or even researched about poverty for a student’s white paper argument draft.
Their search engine, ironically, asked me if I meant “property” instead of “poverty.”
During Spring Break of my junior year, I participated in the A.C.E.S. Bucknell Service Trip to the Dominican Republic. The experience was truly eye-opening as it was the first time that I had witnessed extreme poverty firsthand. Some of the areas that the Bucknell group visited were more developed, especially the Colonial District and places closer to Santo Domingo. However, other small villages were extremely poor. The communities where we did the medical clinic and the food drive were rather shocking to me.
The medical clinic was set up at a school and all the participants, including doctors, nurses, and our student group, were volunteers. Many people, both young and old, came seeking medical attention. I remember being in the “dentist” classroom and seeing the instruments lined up on a table. Some volunteers were sterilizing them in bowls of soap and water. One part that I will never forget was holding up a young girl’s head to support it while she had a tooth pulled. She sat in a wooden desk chair and no Novocain was used. I had to look away when her mouth began bleeding and I sensed that she was in pain. After, all I could do was smile and tell her that she was very brave. I recall thinking to myself, “Wow, this is their health care.” Continue reading
Last week during Spring Break 2012, I was lucky to visit the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala. I am working on an interdisciplinary project with a group of Mechanical Engineers to help bring affordable eye care to rural regions of developing countries. Essentially, our goal is to establish a sustainable business in Guatemala (our first stop) that can provide affordable eye care to those who currently can’t afford the high prices. Our business would not conduct surgery but rather focus on diagnostics and prescriptions. Our colleagues in Mechanical Engineering are helping to provide the tools necessary to make diagnoses at an affordable price.
After visiting Lake Atitlan, I was struck by the strong indigenous culture and physical beauty of the region. Lake Atitlan has become one of Guatemala’s top tourist destinations. It is located in the department of Solola in the Guatemalan highlands. The lake is immediately surrounded by volcanoes and mountains which makes travel to the lake a bit more challenging. The three volcanoes which circle the lake are San Pedro, Toliman, and Atitlan. The lake itself was formed about 85,000 years ago as a result of a huge volcanic eruption which created a depression in the landscape. That depression filled with water and became the freshwater lake that we know today. There are several villages that border the lake. I was able to stop in five of them during my stay: San Pedro, Santiago, Panajachel, Solola, and San Juan. Panajachel is the most touristy of the lake villages and has about 14,000 residents. Despite the commercialization, Mayan culture and traditions remain a strong influence in the other towns around the lake.
I want to revisit Guatemala because I feel that I have a lot more to learn. More time in the Lake Atitlan region would be beneficial; however, there is a lot more to see. Cities like Antigua would add to my understanding of the culture. In addition, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see any Mayan ruins. Cities with the ruins, Tikal and Yaxha, are on the other side of the country. Also, our team only spent one day in Guatemala City, visiting hospitals and universities. Additional time in the capital to visit with politicians, lawyers, and micro-finance initiatives would be incredible.
Private Practice is a TV show spin-off of the popular medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. The show follows the lives of doctors at Oceanside Health & Wellness Group in Los Angeles, CA. Charlotte King is the Chief of Staff at St. Ambrose Hospital which is adjacent to Oceanside Health & Wellness Group. The doctors face many ethical dilemmas associated with their patients, but Charlotte is forced to make many tough decisions on behalf of the hospital.