Teaser: The Wrath of Photoshop

Ever turned flipped through a magazine and felt significantly less confident about your appearance? Or walked by the mall’s giant store displays, complete with chiseled abs, protruding hip bones and the oh-so-coveted thigh gap, just to realize you weren’t hungry for that warm and delicious Cinnabon you JUST bought? Continue reading Teaser: The Wrath of Photoshop

California Prison Reform: Overcrowded, Overcapacity, and Out of Control

The California prison system is out of control.  From a prison population pushing the limits at just over 200% of the state’s prisons designed capacity in 2006, California has embarked on a path to meet the mandate of the Supreme Court: get prisons to 137.5% of designed capacity… or else. There is no debate that tough-on-crime laws have led to unnecessary imprisonment and excessive sentencing.  However, reformation attempts following the Supreme Court’s mandate have revealed the politics of reducing a prison population are not quite as simple as letting almost 40,000 prisoners free. While initial strategies focused on expanding the prison system in order to humanely accommodate their swelling numbers, recent policy legislation has focused on normalization and rehabilitation as better ways to get imprisonment, and in the long run, overall crime levels, down. My paper examines the major policy actions taken since the 2006 prison population peak, the motivations and outcomes of these policies, and finally, suggests a way for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to get their prison population growth rate under control for the long run.

Paper: Semeraro_White Paper Final California Prison Reform

Fat America: The Obesity Epidemic

The obesity epidemic in the United States has grown out of control. Over the past 35 years, obesity rates have more than doubled. The average American is more than 24 pounds heavier today than in 1960. Continue reading Fat America: The Obesity Epidemic

The NFL: Did It Withhold and Lie about Head Injuries?

Imagine graduating from college and accepting an offer from your dream job. At your job, you work on a computer the majority of the time. After a long and successful career at your company you start to experience health issues. Your vision starts to fade from staring at a computer screen for so many years and you start to get headaches. At first the headaches are manageable, but they get worse and worse resulting in memory loss. You can now barely function as a retired adult. Now image that the company that offered you your dream job knew the entire time that you would suffer during your retirement, but chose to withhold that information so that you would continue to work for them and earn money for company shareholders. How would you feel?

This is the same scenario that thousands of former and current NFL players are facing. Retired players have been suffering with brain damage as a result of their NFL careers, and the players believe that the NFL knew about the medical problems that would arise in retirement, but didn’t tell the players out of fear that they would stop playing the game.

Stakeholder White Paper

United Nations Climate Discussions: The Current Proposal is Weak but Necessary to Gather Momentum

In my white paper, I examine the ability of the United Nations to influence national policies regarding climate change. After examining the Kyoto and Montreal Protocol, I search more in-depth into the issues that have hindered the current proposal from reaching the success that world leaders and climate scientists agree should happen. I point to 4 key considerations that need to be met for a successful agreement; political, environmental, economic, and enforcement. While the proposal is not likely to change much in the upcoming year, world leaders should do their best to combat their individual emissions, setting the elimination of climate change as a priority for the 21st century.  Continue reading United Nations Climate Discussions: The Current Proposal is Weak but Necessary to Gather Momentum

The United States Should Lower the Minimum Legal Drinking Age

The role of government preventing the consumption of alcohol began with the Prohibition era. In the current day, we have found ourselves in a neoprohibitionist era where those deemed ‘adults’ are unable to purchase and consume alcohol due to government regulation. In this paper I attempt to argue why reducing the minimum legal drinking age to 18 would be more beneficial to the safety of the young adults in America. By making the drinking age 21, we have forced over half the drinking population in United States college universities into drinking situations where they are more likely to drink heavily and are forced to drink in uncomfortable and unsafe conditions. The 21 minimum drinking age also makes it extremely difficult for university administration and campus safety officers to properly protect their students from unsafe drinking as they have to constantly flirt around the minimum legal drinking age law.

Complementary video on the topic:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufXLSRtsCGQ

Link to my paper: White Paper

Resource Proposal- Business

While “Before the Fall: Lehman Brothers 2008” is a Harvard Business School case, it features several lengthy direct quotes from Erin Callan, the CFO of Lehman Brothers. The case contains the direct responses given by Callan during a CNBC interview in April, 2008. Callan faced questions regarding Lehman’s need to raise additional capital that spring following the acquisition of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan a month before. The reason Lehman needed to raise capital was that they were facing a liquidity crisis as the housing bubble began to burst. There was balance sheet was loaded with mortgage-backed securities and CDOs, which were now failing as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Callan’s responses during the interview further drive home the fact that Lehman was seriously in trouble. In hindsight, its clear that the prestigious firm was falling hard in the wrong direction. However, at the time Lehman’s struggles were looked at more as a bump in the road, not the tip of the iceberg of the Great Recession. The interview supports my argument that Lehman was facing a serious crisis, which was caused by extremely risky mortgage investments.

The information is certainly reliable, as it comes directly from the transcript of Callan’s CNBC interview. It emphasizes the severity of Lehman’s situation, foreshadowing the end of the firm that would come just 5 short months later.

Rose, Clayton S., and Anand Ahuja. “Before the Fall: Lehman Brothers 2008.” Harvard Business School (2011)

Resource Proposal- Society

Too Big to Fail, by Andrew Ross Sorkin, is a 2009 novel that focuses on the events leading up to the demise of the financial industry in September, 2008, and the actions that were taken by the Federal Reserve in the months that followed. Too Big to Fail begins in March, 2008 with the acquisition of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan with the help of the Fed. The novel supports current thinking about the financial crash, and it does so in tremendous detail. As a result, the reader gets an excellent feel for exactly what went down in the months leading up to the crisis, specifically the crash of Lehman Brothers and merger of Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.

Current thinking generally focuses on how the Fed “let Lehman fail”, despite the prestigious firm potentially being “too big to fail.” However, the novel goes in depth about exactly what happened behind closed doors leading up to Monday, September 15th, 2008, when Lehman collapsed. Sorkin supports my broader goal of showcasing a systemic problem with the financial industry as a result of deregulations that took place in the decades before. He highlights the extensive risks investment banks were taking, which enhances my argument.

Sorkin is a renowned journalist who was won many awards over his young career. Working for the New York Times and CNBC’s Squawk Box, he has established a history of credibility and consistency regarding financial reporting. He is a credible source who greatly improved the evidence featured in my White Paper report.

Sorkin, Andrew Ross. Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis–and Themselves. New York: Viking, 2009.

"we're gonna lie to a lot of people…"

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