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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

How to Afford the Biggest Investment of Your Life

A look into the current student debt situation and a proposal for how students could be more educated in the future.

Continue reading How to Afford the Biggest Investment of Your Life

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Website

The issue of globalization and economic inequality has, in the past century been a point of heated debates in which business, government and society have many stakes. The current interconnected global trade climate is a product of legislative, logistical and societal transformations which have allowed companies and consumers flexibility in their distribution of capital and purchasing preferences, respectively.

The benefits that globalization have been multifold: increased economic opportunities for companies, strongly established communication and transportation and increased competition between businesses to satisfy consumer needs at the lowest price possible. There are however downsides in how the current global trade climate that some argue outweigh the benefits. Increased globalization has increased the economic and even political power of large corporations which through their attempt to maximize profits are able to leverage politicians through their economic clout to allow the existence of subpar working conditions. This same financial clout drives local businesses into bankruptcy and drives workers into accepting wages with which they are only barely able to support themselves.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a great resource through which the general stances through which U.S. businesses, major players in the world economy, express their views on the legislation and benefits of globalization worldwide.

From browsing through the articles written by the contributing authors on their website, the general trend is lobbying for decreased regulation on wages, environmental impacts and controls, increasing support of global trade through regulation that reduces the costs of moving capital and offshoring labor. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce argues that business is not a cause of the relative poverty that people in developing countries live in, but a solution to it. It argues that the lower wages are only temporary and as trade will flourish, wages will also rise.  There are also a number of articles that serve to contrast U.S. domestic policy with other countries’s, such as Venezuela 

This resource will contribute by presenting the arguments for the status quo (that of increased, mostly unregulated trade). However, many of the articles found on their website base their argument on anecdotal evidence and only through the perspective of people living in the United States. While I do agree that the primary focus should be U.S. citizens, international viewpoints are not considered at all. In my paper I will use some of the benefits for which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argues and juxtapose them with the drawbacks that other countries face as a result of those policies. The information offered definitely has an agenda behind it, and that it why I will maintain a critical eye and challenge arguments as necessary.

Immigration Makes Prison Complicated

Immigration adds another complicated layer to the privatized prison system.  The article states, “Current U.S. legislation is read by some members of Congress to require that at least 34,000 immigrants be held in detention beds at all times at a cost of $2 billion annually”.

Continue reading Immigration Makes Prison Complicated

Business Resource Proposal

The Live Nation 10K identifies the key financial statistics and goals of the business, as well as their current market position. Live Nation identifies itself as the leading live music producer in the world. “Globally, Live Nation owns, operates, has exclusive booking rights for, or has an equity interest in 148 venues.”

Live Nation also owns Ticketmaster, which is the world’s largest ticketing and marketing company. Ticketmaster is one of the largest eCommerce websites, and combined with Live Nation, provide a strong distribution channel for funding and promoting the concerts. Users will travel to Ticketmaster, the #1 place to buy tickets, and purchase tickets for concerts promoted and produced by LiveNation.

Live Nation considers their assets to be their fans, their artists, distribution networks, employees, and sponsors. These assets drive revenue for their businesses.

Through these listed assets we can see how a company like Live Nation drives revenue: 1. Revenue from concerts, as they own or lease each venue they produce a concert in. 2. Revenue from promoting the concert, as they chop off a percentage of the tickets they sell. 3. As a venue operator, they draw a profit from concessions. 4. As a festival operator, Live Nation books artists to attract fans. 5. Live Nation uses their ticketing site, Ticketmaster to get a cut from the tickets sold. Live Nation also draws revenue from managing the artists and working with sponsors at their event.

This resource taught me the basic business model of Live Nation and its company operations, in order to further analyze how these operations affect other companies in its industry, as well as the industry as a whole.

Live Nation Inc. 2013 10-K Report. Live Nation Inc., 31 Dec 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.

Ethics at the End of the World

We live in a culture where most commercial, industrial, and residential activities have an impact on the environment around us. At the moment you are reading this post, your computer is using electricity most likely produced through coal, or gas-powered processes. Making choices individually that keep the environment in mind has become impossible in the fast-paced society that we live in. In order to collectively fix the social complications that arise when addressing climate change, we must decide collectively to lower our consumption and combustion of resources that have a negative impact on society’s immediate and long-term sustainability. It is not only necessary for governments to implement this collective change, but it must also be a collective change on the global level.

The United Nations has had meetings at least once a year since the first Conference of the Parties (COP) in 1995. In 1997, a document titled The Kyoto Protocol was created that outlined carbon dioxide reductions goals that each country would have to abide by in order to prevent serious climate change from occurring. Nearly two decades later, the United Nations has failed to create a globally ratified document that could be effective in completing these goals. Indeed “the UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report (2013) confirmed that no significant progress has been made in closing this substantial gap between that necessary for a less-than-2⁰C emissions pathway and developed countries’ pre-2020 mitigation commitments.”

However, plans are set into motion to create such a document in 2015 at COP21 in Paris, France. It is necessary that the appropriate preparations are made leading up to this meeting if any consensus is to be made regarding the policies that would then go into effect beginning in 2020. Thus far, there are mixed views as to whether COP21 will be successful in creating an agreement, despite the serious global need for the agreement to occur.

Denmark is one of a few country that has fully embraced clean technologies already, and therefore has very little economic stake in a global conversion to these same technologies. It’s prime minister, Helle Thorning, seems to be optimistic that other countries will be able to adopt the sustainable technology lifestyle. She believes that education and comprehensive policies are necessary parts of change.

Others like Ian McGregory, who has been an active participant at the COPs, worry that “the lack of progress is a failure to effectively address the overarching issue of each country’s fair share of the global effort required to keep global temperature rise well below the 2⁰C limit.” When addressing the success of COP21, he states that he does not believe all countries are willing to make the sacrifice “given the huge vested interests trying to undermine this agreement in many countries.” Jennifer Morgan, a journalist at the worldwide resources institute, stresses the importance that keeping global warming below 2 degrees C, “two small degrees means either survival or complete devastation for some countries.”

Often discussed is the necessity for leaders of important leading economies such as the United States, China, and Japan to reach an agreement at Paris in 2015. The “vested interests” of some of these economies in oil, gas, and coal could potentially hinder the success of COP21, but Jennifer Morgan points out Germany’s economy as an example of the potential for growth. “Germany, for example, invested in renewable energy to drive technology development. It’s seen significant benefits in terms of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, decreased emissions, and reduced energy consumption.”

These sources represent an array of viewpoints shared by leaders around the world and give good insight into the politicians and upcoming decisions that will make a difference for COP21. The next step will be to look into the identified businesses and government sources (United States, China, Chancellor Merkel, President Dilma, ExxonMobil, and other gas companies) to determine how the COP21 will likely play out. The synthesis of these sources will give a valuable and current viewpoint that would help a reader understand the necessary steps to be successful in Paris in 2015.

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McGregory, Ian. “Global Climate Change Policy: Will Paris Succeed Where Copenhagen Failed?” EInternational Relations. 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 7 Dec. 2014. <;.
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Morgan, Jennifer. “Q&A with Jennifer Morgan: How Do We Secure a Strong, International Climate Agreement by 2015?” World Resources Institute. 6 Nov. 2013. Web. 7 Dec. 2014. <;.
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Thorning, Helle. “How Governments Can Drive the Green Revolution – Forum:Blog.” ForumBlog. 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 7 Dec. 2014. <;.

Service Required

My idea is for military service to be required for all citizens of every country.  By having such required military service, citizens of every nation would have more of a stake in the decisions of their sovereignty.  Moreover, if everyone was required to serve in the military for their country, I think it would promote world peace as most people do not want to go to war. Continue reading Service Required