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.
Childhood obesity is at an all-time high as about one-third of the United States children are considered obese. This growing rate is alarming as more and more children are having health problems such as diabetes, liver disease, and cardiovascular problems. These children are learning bad health habits at a young age that will carry over into their adulthood where they further increase the risk of health problems. In order to fix this epidemic, there has been involvement by the government, health institutions, and campaigns. While the government can create laws that regulate what children are exposed to at school, they cannot control their eating habits at home. Thus, the most productive way to change childhood obesity is to have good role models, especially the parents or guardians. Parents can control what they purchase at the store and what they prepare for their children. By constantly supplying children with healthy options, they keep obesity down and teach healthy eating habits for the future. It is also important for parents and guardians to encourage children to play outside and not sit around and watch TV or play video games all day. Technology has provided non-active entertainment for children, making it more difficult for children to be motivated to be active outside. Parents and guardians can also change this by not supplying children with lots of video games and by encouraging children to participate in activities with them.
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
Onslaught of Green
Consumers are finding it more and more challenging to differentiate goods and services that are advertised as environmentally friendly. According to a 2010 study by TerraChoice, an independent testing and certification organization, there are 73% more green products on the market today than in 2009.1They also revealed that roughly 95% of green products are being greenwashed to some degree (based on their seven sins of greenwashing).1 While this study focused on home and family products, the purchasing power of greenwashing is evident across many industries. Greenwashing can be defined as the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.2 Additionally, Wikipedia defines green washing as a term describing the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote the perception that an organization’s policies or products are environmentally friendly.3,4 While most organizations do not outright greenwash, any exaggerated behavior is inappropriate: greenwashing is “an extremely serious matter…it is insidious, eroding consumer trust, contaminating the credibility of all sustainability-related marketing and hence inhibiting progress toward a sustainable economy,” stated in a report by Ogilvy & Mather, a huge advertising firm.5 The Federal Trade Commission does provide guidelines for environmental marketing claims, but these are not enforceable.6,7 It has been the responsibility of corporations to not jump on the green public image bandwagon, spend resources on environmentally sound practices, and inform the public about the truthful environmental impacts of buying and using their products.
A helpful document for corporations is Ogilvy’s guide on brand management: “From Greenwash to Great: A Practical Guide to Great Green Marketing (without the Greenwash).” The guide presents a framework that speaks to an honest green story starting from inside the company, not from a marketing idea that is created and spun for consumers.8 A company that has started in an honest place is Levi Strauss & Co. The company was founded in San Francisco, California in 1853 and created the very first pair of blue jeans in 1873.9 The Levi’s brand has become one of the most widely recognized brands, positioned as the original and authentic jeans brand. It’s merchandising and marketing seeks to reflect the brand’s core attributes: original, definitive, honest, confident, and youthful. It is obvious the company is proud of its history and heritage: “People have worn our products during the seminal moments of social change over the past 150 years.”10 The company has a long lineage of corporate social responsibility: shorter work weeks were implemented to mitigate the massive lay-offs happening during the Great Depression; factories were racially integrated prior to the Civil Rights Act; was one of the first companies to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as remaining committed to the pandemic; established a set of Global Sourcing and Operating Guidelines; and joined the Federal Labor Association (FLA) efforts to improve working conditions around the globe.11,12,13 According to Ogilvy’s brand management guide, environmental improvements and benefits need to be measurable, verified and significant to the product’s real footprint.14 Beyond their corporate social responsibility, Levi’s is considered a pioneer in sustainability, making efforts to minimize their environmental footprint in all levels of their operations. 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.
Social media and social networking sites are becoming more and more popular in today’s world as a means of communication and marketing. The most used social media site that has emerged is Facebook which is used by all groups of society. Approximately 45% of employers (who the exact employers are is inaccessible due to confidentiality issues) are using Facebook as a means for screening potential job applicants (Rosen). Employers have recently started asking candidates for their username and passwords as part of the job hiring process (Castillo). If candidates say no, they are immediately eliminated from the job pool which is detrimental in a time when unemployment rates are relatively high. The process of employers viewing candidate’s profiles and now even requesting their user name and password has brought up ethical and legal questions concerning privacy rights. While employers “believe they have the right to obtain as much information as possible about applicants” by using social networking sites, many others feel it is an invasion of privacy (Byrnside, 458). The legality of the issue is being explored in the courts but the ethics of the employer is still in question. By utilizing Robert Nozick’s Entitlement Theory to understand the ethical issues that stem from this dilemma, I feel as though the employers are not entitled to access candidate’s Facebook profiles. 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
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.”