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Gauging the True Effects of Dodd-Frank


Recently the Obama administration and our nation’s politicians signed into office a piece of legislation known as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This act was installed as a response to the catastrophic financial crisis of 2008. While the act is well intentioned seemingly addresses the core failures of the crisis, it is overbearing and far too complex. Specifically, the Dodd-Frank act, with its numerous policies and regulations, will seek to fundamentally undermine small and community banks that have had nothing to do with the financial crisis. Congress must take action to ensure that this does not take place and our community banks, and furthermore local economies, thrive. In its current state, Dodd-Frank does not sufficiently and accurately address the large and complex financial institutions that led to the largest economic downfall since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Moreover, its drastic regulations will seek to exponentially raise operating costs and decrease revenues through increased compliance. Plagued with the new compliance requires much cost that is tough for these small banks to absorb as they do not have access to capital like the larger banks do.

Congress must seek to stop the implementation of the Durbin amemdment which is a new piece of regulation that will decrease the amount of interchange fees charged by banks, thereby drastically decreasing interchange revenue (a significant portion of small bank revenue). Congress must put a stop to this amendment being implemented. Additionally, the large amount of regulation flooding into the banking industry will seek to greatly hurt our nation’s financial institutions. More compliance translates into more cost for banks. Small community banks do not have the access to capital that large banks do and therefore struggle with hiring compliance staff to comply with the influx of new rules and regulations. The effect is a chain reaction. As more regulation floods into the industry, banks must comply which translates into cost. This cost is furthermore transferred over to the consumer as fees must be raised in order for banks to continue to be profitable. As banks spend more capital on compliance, less capital is available to lend and offer financial services to their local customers. As a result, small businesses and communities suffer from stagnant economic growth. Our nation’s small community banks are vital to local economic growth and furthermore the growth of our economy as a whole. Congress MUST take action before its too late. 

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The Importance of Foreign Language Learning in Education


Education is a big problem in the United States, but one of the major issues tends to fall short of receiving the attention it deserves. This problem is the teaching of foreign languages in K-12 education. As our businesses go global, gaining multinational business partners, Americans need to be able to communicate in order to be competitive in this market. Following 9/11, foreign language education also became important for our nation’s national defense. It is now more important than ever to learn the less-taught languages of Chinese and Arabic in order to protect our country and also maintain our competitive position in the global marketplace. These problems will be solved if we enforce more strict standards of education requirements of foreign languages in the early stages of education. Studies have shown that younger children are able to learn new languages faster and develop a more native accent than adults, and it is therefore going to be a crucial move by the individual state departments of education to enforce these standards in order to improve the future of our country.

The Differences Between The International Monetary Fund’s Loan Conditionality And The Actions Of Developed Countries


             The role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become increasingly focused on maintaining stability in the international economy.  The IMF provides financial recourses and education to countries that need assistance in exchange for compliance with the conditionality attached to those loans.  The IMF argues that this is necessary to ensure that those who accept these will pay them back.  My paper does not disagree with the assertion that the IMF needs to take steps to ensure that their loans are repaid.  Instead, I offer a sharp critique aimed at the policy decisions that the IMF forces upon each loanee. 

            The balancing of budgets is the main policy condition that is almost universally included in the conditionality of loans.  This is the opposite of what Keynesian economics and developed countries advocate during economic crises.

            This paper shows that expansionary policies, both fiscal and monetary, result in the best possible outcome during economic crises.  Examples of expansionary policies are increased government spending, lower taxes, lower interest rates, and increased money supply.  These policies usually lead to budget deficits, and therefore should be temporary, for no longer than absolutely needed, and paired with budget surpluses during economic upswings.  The evidence presented in this paper shows examples of when expansionary policies have succeeded, and when contractionary policies have failed.  I hope that developed countries, who control a vast majority of the voting power in the IMF and partake in expansionary policies themselves, will move towards expansionary policies in the conditionality of IMF loans.

Domestic Violence in the US: Not Just A Domestic Problem


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women have experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. 1 Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten. 2 3.3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.3 According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, “232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day.”4 The Bureau of Justice reported in 1995, women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner. On average, intimate partners murder more than three women and one man in the United States every single day. 2 Even more alarming, 74% of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. That means that statistically speaking, you personally know at least one domestic violence victim. It could be your professor or your student, a co-worker or your neighbor. It could even be your mother, your sister, or your daughter.

           

However, violence in the household does not end with women. The abuse and neglect of children is also a pressing issue that many domestic violence advocates try to address as well. In fact, child abuse in the United States has recently grown worse. In Appendix 1 is a graph displaying the number of child deaths per day due to child abuse in the US; from 1998 to 2010, it has risen from 3.13 to 5. This gives the United States the worst record in the industrialized nation.15 Each year, 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving 6 million children; reports can include multiple children. 16  Other disturbing statistics include the frequency of reports of child abuse, one report every ten seconds, and the estimation that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates. 

The statistics do not lie about the severity of the domestic violence problem on a national and global level. It will affect 75% of American citizens sometime in their lifetime, regardless of their age, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, income level, or gender. For many of these victims, those effects may have life-changing, or even life-ending, consequences. Although the United States has passed a comprehensive set of legislation on domestic violence, I still believe there is much more our government can do to help prevent domestic violence and help victims. In my paper, I will present a comprehensive set of facts on how domestic violence affects our country, what is already in place to help prevent domestic violence, and what more can be done.

How Grand Theft Auto changed video games (and the world). For Ben.


How Grand Theft Auto changed video games (and the world) – http://m.cnet.com/news/57414909?part=pulse&subj=latest-news&tag=related&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

The Antitechnology Movement


In my first blog post in this class, I had to screen Ray Kurzweil to see if he would be a viable candidate to speak about technology at Bucknell.  Ray Kurzweil is a technology futurist, which means he predicts where technology will be at certain point of time.  While reading his predictions, I became fascinated with the speeding up of our technological advancement.  This explosion of technology is a wonderful thing in many ways.  Our life expectancy and standard of living has gone up as a result, but where is technology going to take us in 20 or 50 or 500 years?  Currently, our world revolves around the advancement of technology.  Therefore, I believe that The Antitechnology Movement will soon be the idea that changes the world the most.

Before really think about this dilemma, I would have said there is no way that we should stop advancing technologically.  Here are a couple of predictions that Kurzweil has made that made me second guess myself…

1. 2030: Mind uploading becomes possible

2.  2045: The “technological singularity” occurs, which means that artificial intelligence surpasses humans as the smartest life forms on earth.  This means that artificial intelligence will take over the advancement of technology from humans, and start self improving at an increasing rate.

3. Post-2045:  Artificial intelligence will convert most of Earth’s matter into computer like material, with very few natural resources remaining for the humans that choose to not mechanically engineer their bodies.

4. 2099:  A.I. will have the ability to make planet sized computers.

Sounds a little crazy and conspiracy theory-esque huh?  I agree.  I really don’t think that these will happen in the time frames or to the extent that Kurzweil suggests, partly due to The Antitechnology Movement.  One does have to think about the implications of technological advancement because it is a fact that we are advancing at an increasing rate.  Modern homo sapiens have been on this planet for over 200,000 years.  We happen to have been born in a critical part of our history where things are changing at an almost incomprehensible rate.  I think that as we move forward technologically, we need to temper our actions with reflection about what is best for man-kind.  Despite some adverse effects such as pollution, In my opinion, rapid technological advancement has been good so far.  I just don’t know if this same mentality is best going forward.

Standing On Our Own Two Feet


I have noticed that our generation has been deemed “spoiled” by more and more older generations and this is very alarming. If I can pinpoint one value that has led me to the success I have had in life thus far it is that of independence. I believe that all of us can truly benefit from taking greater strides of independence and better applying a “do it yourself” attitude. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should completely break free of our parents as this would not be beneficial. However, I am saying that we, our generation in particular, would absolutely benefit from fending for ourselves. I am a firm believer that this type of attitude leads to overall success in life as well as teaching life lessons. I have made it a habit since the closing years of high school to not relay on my parents for simple amenities such as cash but also scheduling housing, contacting administration, acquiring jobs/internships, etc. 

Overall, I would like our generation to have a serious makeover in terms of trying to break free from our parentals or authority figure and take the initiative to do things on our own. This sort of attitude will work to benefit our generation and generations to come as a work hard attitude of the 1950’s can be reinstated and erase the notions of a spoiled generation. 

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Library Exploration Awards


Here are the blog council’s awards for the posts on a book you found in the library:

Best Post: Beth O’Brien

Most Timely: Derek Craig

Protestant Work Ethic (Research Driven): Lauren McGuiggan and Joey Martin

 

Congratulations to the above bloggers!

-Blog Council

One Word: Stand


Obesity is a major concern for the United States as well many countries around the globe.

I believe this problem can be fixed by one word: STAND.

Lack of exercise, a sedentary lifestyle and junk food are a few reasons for obesity. It is no longer a condition affecting only adults. Childhood and teen obesity are becoming grave concerns today, and technology has increased our sedentary lifestyle since you can talk to whoever you want with the push of a button.

All of these elements have contributed to the main issue at hand here: obesity. Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year.  Also, the annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion.  Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults, so it is important to develop healthy eating and exercise behaviors within the family.

 

Exercise can not only prevent health concerns and awful diseases, but it has been proven to better a person’s mood, increase energy, aid in better sleeping habits, and help with self-esteem issues. Plus, it’s fun! So stand up, go for a run or just take a walk- it may just save your life!

It’s Simple.. VOLUNTEER!


Since I was little, I have always seen my mother volunteer for various organizations, whether it be running the book fair at my elementary, middle or high school, or stuffing envelops or chairing family nights at Gilda’s Club of Westchester. No matter how much she had on her plate, she always had the time to help others in need. Her dedication, selflessness and ability to enrich the lives of others are characteristics I truly admire, and if everyone could have a little bit of those qualities in them, the world would be a better place. Continue reading

Let Students Drink…Legally


The video posted above outlines the debate for lowering the drinking age in the US from 21 to 18.  College campuses are rampant with students drinking illegally – and all are at risk.  The number of alcohol related deaths has increased in recent years, and we have seen a crackdown on campuses regarding student safety.    Even on Bucknell, fraternities have been kicked off and put on probation because of drinking violations, among other things.  Stringent guidelines have been put in place at Bucknell to “register” parties, and yet these rules have backfired, as students have destroyed the downtown area known to Lewisburg locals as the “ghetto.”

Lowering the drinking age to 18 would make the act of drinking less of a taboo action for young people and allow them to be more knowledgeable about alcohol and its consequences by the time students left for college.  More experience and more acceptance of it at home would result in an increased knowledge about the dangers of alcohol.  There are certain drawbacks to the law, but the benefits far outweigh the costs as college campuses would be safer with more students understanding how to safely consume alcohol at a younger age.  Money would not be wasted on town/campus police patrolling students’ homes for parties and illegal drinking.  The current law of having to be 21 to drink is not effective, as we see those younger than 21 drink extremely frequently.  College wouldn’t be thought as a place to go to drink because many would be able to legally drink before attending.  A person can vote, sit on a jury, and go to war for their country at the age of 18.  Why can’t they have a beer?

Thor’s Angels?


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The Hunger Games and Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Treason


Yes, I’m obsessed with The Hunger Games, just like everyone else. I do not get hooked on books very easily, and I can honestly say that I was hooked after about ten pages of the first book. I read the first one on my flight out to Utah, bought the second one when I got into the airport, and read the second book on the ride back. Since then I have seen the movie twice and I am not ashamed to say that it has taken over much of my life.

The book I found relates The Hunger Games to many different philosophical theories. It is an example of how philosophy can be applied to the pop culture of today. As I flipped through a few of the pages, I saw that the author had made connections between specific scenes of the series with particular theories. The characters’ attitudes are related to certain philosophers because the authors believed that their actions were exemplary of these theories. For example, it says that Peeta’s attitude closely resembles the views of Kant, who believed that morality imposes obligations and duties on us that will guide us in our conduct. If you read the

I flipped through the appendix and found a section that was all about the politics of gender- sounds familiar right? This section described how Katniss, the main character and also a female, is a provider for her family as she takes care of her younger sister and mother by hunting and providing the food to put on the table. Her father died when she was younger, but he took the time to teach her basic skills of survival, which would later benefit her in the hunger games. Therefore, Katniss is not the stereotypical woman we see so often portrayed in film and literature.books, you may agree with this argument, though I think his attitude evolves throughout the series.
I thought this discussion of gender politics related to our class very well, especially with a lot of Dana’s writings about feminism. One of the quotes from the book is, “She has no idea. The effect she can have.” (207) I think that women today often have the upper hand in certain businesses that are predominately male because they bring something different to the table. I think women nowadays are becoming more powerful and starting to have an effect that we will see portrayed in history.


If anyone has not read The Hunger Games, I simply cannot say enough that it is amazing. You will be hooked, instantly! And for anyone that is interested in philosophy I definitely recommend taking a look at this book because it is really interesting how the authors are able to make so many detailed connections between several philosophers and this specific book.

My Next Step


While perusing the aisles in the library, I felt as though I wanted to truly resonate with the book that I chose. And, let’s be honest, we all judge a book by its cover so I simply glanced over the names and front covers of the books in front of me. While searching for a title and cover to catch my eye, I came across a green-bordered book titled “The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove.” In no way did I want to start “loving the stove,” but I couldn’t help listening to the inner voice in my head reminding me that I will be moving into the city in three months. The intense feeling that I had prohibiting me from renting a cookbook type book from the library was only outdone by my motivation to start learning some simple tricks to save money and make my own food over the coming years. Thus, I proceeded to check the book out, shove it in my bag, and begin the journey of a lifetime.

Ok, it definitely wasn’t the journey of a lifetime, but it did seem to mirror much of what I will be going through in the coming months. Cathy Erway, the protagonist, and I will both be twenty-something individuals trying to make ends meet in the city. Although that’s where the similarities end, but the book continues to delve into the New York City style of “preferring to read a take-out menu than a recipe.” Cathy has had enough of this convenience food, and decides to live out the old maxim that “your twenties are the best years of your life to start saving” so she commits herself to cooking her own food. While she fears such a trend will propel her into perpetual loneliness by not being able to eat out with her friends and socialize over meals, she instead finds a passion in her life that makes her healthier, happier, and greener. While saving a ton of money, she also started entering cook-offs, supper clubs, and even begins her own recipe experimentation.

While this book does not appear to help me in my own food-illiterate plight, it does represent a possible path that I may need to take soon. I have been purchasing food constantly for the past four years, with very few breaks in which my mommy dearest supplied my nutrition, and I cannot imagine the amount of money that I have spent on such expenses. For my own future welfare, as well as applying this book to the class, I will most definitely try and incorporate the story of Cathy Erway and utilize what we have learned in terms of sustainable growth and organic, local grown food to my eating habits. In class we discussed the small cost it takes to purchase locally grown food, and the significant impacts such a change in ones diet could produce, thus implementing those changes into my eating schedule could benefit me health-wise and the local community financially. Maybe I’ll be entering into cook-offs and supper clubs in a few short months!

The Digital Scholar


Found this book in the front of the library - it caught my eye.

Looking at the books in the exhibit area in the front of the library, The Digital Scholar, by Martin Weller immediately caught my attention.  I’ve made no secret on this blog of my fascination with technology, so it’s fitting that I would see a book like this in the front of the library.  While technology is rapidly evolving, and our lives are dominated by these technological advances, there very interesting ways in which scholars can be positively and negatively affected by these extraordinary changes in our society on the part of technology.   Continue reading

“If One Has No Sense of Humor, One is In Trouble”


Upon reading the blog assignment for the week, I actually dreaded it. I have been stuck in the library for the past two weeks straight, cranking out assignment after assignment. Even though I detest the hustle and bustle of the first floor of Bertrand, I quickly skimmed the book selection parallel to the courtyard computers for a title and cover that caught my attention. I was really hoping one would not only peak my interest, but also relate back to class. However, I was drawn to the smiling face of the Betty White. Seeing Caitlyn out of the corner of my eye, I quickly grabbed the book and made my way down to the lower level to begin writing.

The works of the great Betty White that I know are her hilarious skits on SNL, where I literally cannot control my laughter. Despite being 73 and appearing on shows such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Life With Elizabeth, all shows airing even before we were born, she is still a comedic phenomenon in her own right. In her autobiography, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Wont), the seven time Emmy winner tackles topics ranging from friendship, romance and aging to television, comedy and her fans, interjecting her own personal stories into the mix. The book is broken up into chapters and then into shorter subchapters. In reading through the contents, the Hollywood Stories chapter drew me in, specifically the chapter on SNL. Continue reading

A Dark Place: Abu Ghraib and Its Ethics


Summary of Events

          Abu Ghraib was a symbol of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny in Iraq, a pillar that stood for misrepresented imprisonments, unwarranted cruelty, and deadly torture. Accounts have been posited that over fifty thousand men and women occupied this prison at one time, forced into “twelve-by-twelve foot cells that were little more than human holding pits.”[i] Descriptions of bodies being eaten by dogs, electrodes displaced from walls, and an overarching sense of evil permeated the building under Hussein’s leadership. As evidenced by CIA Bureau Chief Bob Baer in a 60 Minutes interview, “If there’s ever a reason to get rid of Saddam Hussein, it’s because of Abu Ghraib.”[ii]

            In April of 2003, American forces successfully overtook the huge prison following the destruction of Saddam’s command. Converting the massive complex into a prison operated by coalition forces in August,[iii] military personnel took charge of incoming prisoners. The prison operated under Army reserve brigadier general, Janis Karpinski, who also looked after two other large jails and had never experienced any training in handling prisoners. Under Karpinski’s watch, Abu Ghraib became a place where terrorist suspects—discovered at security checkpoints or aggressively captured during military fights—came to be imprisoned. There were three categories differentiating the prisoners: 1) generic criminals, 2) individuals who undermined the coalition, and 3) insurgents who may be leading against the coalition.[iv] The prison occupancy increased quickly as did the knowledge that many Iraqis who opposed the American forces lived within Abu Ghraib’s walls.

            As one may expect, Abu Ghraib sits in a particularly hostile area within Iraq. A Newsweek article discusses the adrenaline producing events the prison guards had to work in, citing snipers firing on U.S. patrols, landmines placed around the road to the prison, gun battles throughout the night, and constant mortar attacks.[v] Such dire circumstances set an ominous stage when one is dealing with enemies of the United States hoping to kill American soldiers. This high stress and intense pressure on American soldiers, accompanied with the inability to receive sufficient information to help America’s cause, led to the implementation of many personnel changes. For example, Major General Geoffrey Miller (the former commander at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba) was put in charge of increasing interrogation means to procure more information from the prisoners.[vi] In doing so, Miller dictated his plans to Karpinski in which he wanted to “have control, and [let the prisoners] know it.”[vii] Miller initiated his desire for control at Abu Ghraib, and proceeded to use Karpinski’s military police to positively impact the intelligence effort.[viii] Continue reading

Citizen’s United: An Ethical Exploration


“The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation.  The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.”

-Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissenting opinion on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (“Citizens United”)

“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

-Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (“Citizens United”)

“Money isn’t speech and corporations aren’t people”

-David Kairys (Kairys)

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Through These Gates Lie a Bounty


Within the past month, the National Football League has completed and launched new investigations regarding the New Orleans Saints “BountyGate”. This comes in light of allegations that former Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, instituted a slush fund that paid out bonuses for players that brought intentional harm to an opposing player. The investigation has received heavy coverage from the media and has sparked controversy given the penalties that were imposed on the Saints; namely, the suspension of Sean Payton and loss of a second round pick in the 2012 and 2013 drafts. Underlying the scandal is the NFL’s recent initiation of more stringent rules geared at protecting the players. The following case examines the actions of Gregg Williams and applies general morality and the ethical reasoning of Immanuel Kant to arrive at a clear course of action or solution. Continue reading

The Show Must Go On: The Case of Mike Daisey and The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs


This American Life, a weekly public radio show, featured a podcast on January 6 from Mike Daisey’s highly acclaimed Off-Broadway show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. Ira Glass hosted the podcast. Mike Daisey is a self-proclaimed Apple worshipper. He is obsessed with technology products, and he is particularly obsessed with Apple’s technology products. One of the main questions that Daisey addresses in his show is where do all of these technology products come from? Who actually physically makes them? To answer these questions, Daisey took a trip to Shenzhen, China to talk to factory workers at the Foxconn plant. During his time in China, he also posed as a businessman to receive private tours of the factories. Daisey then came home, wrote his play, and delivers his monologue across the country by giving his audience a dramatic account of what he learned and what he saw. Daisey was positively reviewed not only for the content of his story, but also the way he tells his story. He delivers the monologue in a powerful and dramatic way. Even Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, was reached by email after seeing the show and commented: “I will never be the same after seeing that show” (Carstensen). The excerpt on This American Life received 888,000 downloads, which was the most in the history of the show (Stanglin). After Daisey released the script of his show to public, over 60,000 people downloaded it in just a couple of days (Rao).

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BLOG INSTRUCTIONS

Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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