Arms Race No More


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History is meant as a learning tool for the future so people do not make the same mistakes of the past. The Cold War arms race between the United States and Russia for a majority of the mid to late 20th Century is a prime example for the United States to learn that over spending on military expenditures does very little benefits to American life as a whole. However, 20+ years after the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Americas spike in military spending is back and as reckless as ever. President Obama has started cuts that are necessary to decrease the wastefulness, but they are not nearly enough.

I hope to show that over spending on certain departments including weaponry and research and development does not have the positive safety effects that many outsiders perceive it does. A more efficient spending culture will not only be equally as successful, but it will aid the other sectors of the economy through more funding that is usually directed towards the military. The United States has held the position as the World’s military power for some time now and they have no thoughts of giving that up. By cutting down their defense spending, they are not putting America at risk for attack, they are merely helping build the other aspects of American life that are struggling to progress at the same rate as other powerful countries in the world.

Extinction of the Golden Arches


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The obesity stats in America have been well documented for quite some time and still are startling each time I look at them. How is it possible that 15% of our country’s children are considered obese? Many different issues attribute to this fact, but one of America’s biggest crutches shines the brightest: the fast food industry. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to get ride of these evil empires and significantly increase the health of our youth and population as a whole? The McDonald’s and Burger King’s of America sit all along the freeways waiting for travelers to come clog their arteries with cheap poorly made burgers and fries. The statistics out there about these fast food joints show that they are nothing but an impediment on society.

One measly meal at a local fast food restaurant can average out to 37% of a person’s daily calories and 42.6% of the carbohydrates. For a family that stops by their once during the day, this could be corrected by two other healthy meals, but as we all know, that is not usually the case. With some customers coming numerous times a day due to the low prices and great taste, their health diminishes severely as the days go on. As seen in this clip from the critically acclaimed film, “Super Size Me,” the man running the documentary had his health deteriorate significantly after his solely McDonald’s based diet. Quite honestly, I feel shares borderline comparisons with tobacco and alcohol in respect to how they harm the human body.

Obviously since these are large corporations with armies of lawyers that defend each and everyone of their moves, getting rid of this industry is very likely. However, it is interesting to think how the country would fair with the disappearance of the fast food. How drastically would obesity fall and the average life span go up? I realize that the economy would feel the negative effects of their extinction and the government would never back such an event due to this and the many lobbyists that pollute our capitol for the benefit of the industry, but it would be interesting to see if the American people as a whole had a better quality of life without the temptation of their shoddy food products.

Privacy Comes at a Price


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My quiz results as an ambivalent networker comes as no surprise to me. I love technology and all of the benefits it gives to me, but at the same time kind of hope that my privacy was a little more available. With camera phones, social media, and instant access to recent news all in one’s hand, it is hard to escape everyone’s business without turning off all electronics. However, this perceived lack of privacy also aids in more serious efforts such as stopping crime and catching criminals.

The NSA leaked reports from a few months ago show that our technological conversations can be easily seen or heard by government officials at the click of a button. While people cry out for individual and privacy rights, I tend to learn towards the other end of the spectrum. Don’t we want our government to be able to predict and foil attacks on our country before they actually happen? I would imagine texts with a girlfriend or calls with one’s mother are of much interest to National Security. Key terms and watch list individuals are located and followed in order to catch them before terrible actions occur. As can be read in this article about the sabotaged attack on the Federal Reserve in New York City, FBI surveillance aided in stopping the planned bombing. Instances as such cannot be ignored as successes and the people who wish for “more privacy” should remember that their privacy comes at a cost to National Security.

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Drive Your Truck


“I Drive Your Truck,” written by Lee Brice, is a critically acclaimed country song written about the sporadic emotions that happen after a person loses one close to them. The raw emotion in the song is what truly brings the listener in to fully understand the lyrics

I drive your truck
I roll every window down
And I burn up
Every back road in this town
I find a field, I tear it up
Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust
Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck

When looking deeper into the origins of the song, I found that this was not just a song about a countryman driving around to cope with the loss of a friend. It is actually a true tale of a father losing his son to fighting in Afghanistan while serving in the Army. The truck belonged to the son before he was deployed and his father still drives the truck to remember his son that was so tragically killed.

Although this is not specifically a song that entails ethics, it directly relates to modern life and practical virtue. Death is something we all have to deal with and when it comes so suddenly as can be seen in this song, it is tough to handle. The Senators and Congressmen who push so feverishly for war are the same ones sitting in their offices not putting their neck on the line in battle. These men and women that fight overseas to protect our country are true heroes to not only the family members that they leave behind, but everyone else who lives and works freely everyday in the great United States.

Wal-Mart’s Path of Destruction


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Utilitarian minds make their decisions based on which perceived outcome brings the most good[1] . That bears the question to how one can choose between two separate decisions that both have positive and negative benefits. An extreme and very common example of a utilitarian situation is if a person would be willing to take the life of one person in order to save 100 others that would perish if he did not follow through with the killing. A much more real example involves the retail giant Wal-Mart and their growth and effect on the American economy. Are lower wages more important to the consumers than a declining small business sector and sub-par working conditions for the Wal-Mart employees? Between the years of 2000 and 2005 Wal-Mart added over 1,100 stores and in 2004 their net sales were up to $276 billion[2] . An even more amazing stat is that in 2002, 82 percent of United States households purchased something from a Wal-Mart[3] . So what seems to be the problem if a majority of the population buys these goods that save them money for other and possibly more important expenses? The problem is that Wal-Mart comes into small towns and shuts down local businesses while at the same time treating their employees poorly and keeping their wages at miniscule rates. Workers fear standing up to the national giant for they squash any unions that attempt to come together and have shown they’re not against firing employees who disagree with the Wal-Mart way[4]. Wal-Mart’s destruction of local economies and poor working conditions for their employees greatly outweighs the good they do through offering low-priced consumer goods to the public. Their consistent attempts to stop unionization and keep benefits at a minimum for their workers is an injustice to the employees that are a necessity for Wal-Mart’s short and long term success. Continue reading

Light Bursting Through Darkness


My TED talk was given by Mohamed Ali and it involved the link between unemployment and terrorism. It really just stuck out to me while I was scrolling through videos as a very interesting assertion so I watched it to hear what he had to say. The original story he gave of the poor young man who became a car bomber was really quite shocking. With the lack of jobs or promises in communities ravaged by war and poverty, people turn towards groups that will accept them and give their lives meaning. The answer to this problem that he laid out is what really moved me.

The pushing of young people towards entrepreneurship is an interesting proposition in areas where so many business opportunities have yet to be tapped. The story of the boy from Mogadishu and his floral business really puts into perspective the lives that some of the people in these war torn countries live. Having never seen fresh flowers before is really crazy to think about since most of us can see them as soon as we walk outside on a nice spring or summer day. Starting that business not only puts him a great path moving forward, but it brings light to the people who have only seen darkness for so long. More business ventures like this one by young people in these countries can greatly speed up their social and economic movements.

A Trip to Bertrand


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I was quite embarrassed when I went to the library and did not know how the call number system worked. It is crazy to think that a majority of my college research has been from online sources and very few paper books or journals. The Internet has almost entirely removed tangible books from my personal research for papers and that is a huge shame. Luckily when I was looking for a book to fit my topic a friend of mine who works at the tech desk led me in the right direction.

The Bertrand Library catalog held a surprisingly large amount of material on my main paper subject of Walmart.  Many authors have gone into great detail about the monstrosity that is Walmart. Walmart in China by Anita Chan was published by the Cornell University Press and copyrighted in 2011. Chan uses interesting terminology like “Walmartization” and makes claims like, “Walmart’s colossal size enables it to affect the agenda of world production and trade.” I feel it will be of great aid to my paper on how Walmart destroys small businesses to use her research for she digs deep into the company’s growth around the world. The footnotes she uses as well have given me other sources to use since a majority of them are from useful publications like the Wall-Street Journal and the New York Times. Although the experience of searching for a useful book started off slowly, the resulting findings were well worth the trip.

Small Businesses Beware


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I take pride in being informed on major issues that are happening on a domestic and global scale. That is why I am quite embarrassed to say that I was very uneducated about the various nuances of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. My quiz results of six out of ten were not terrible, but in all honesty I kind of guessed on a majority of the answers for I had no idea one way or the other. Many of the answers on the quiz thoroughly surprised me, for they went against some of my perceived notions of the health care bill. Most notably, the fact that the health reform requires that employers with 50 or more employees must pay a fine if they do not offer health insurance. Is this arbitrary number fair? Or does is tie the hands of employers in various instances that include hiring, firing, and the decision to keep people full-time or part-time?

Forbes published an article with a hypothetical situation where a small business struggles with the decision of hiring a 50th and 51st worker that would really help their production, but at the cost of offering every employee health insurance. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? It is a tough question to answer, for every little decision that small businesses make can have drastic consequences on their future success. This also affects big businesses that hope to have a larger full-time workforce. Each new full-time worker is to be provided health insurance in accordance with the new bill. Forbes points out that this could push businesses to hire more part-time workers in order to avoid the insurance payments. The forced benefits for workers are going to have a major effect on job availability when the bill comes into full effect in both smaller and larger businesses.

I personally feel that the specific number of 50 is going to cause more problems than good. Of course for businesses that already house between 100 and 200 employees, this will not be an issue. However, the companies with 45 to 60 employees may start making cuts or demotions to part-time in order to save profits that keep the business afloat. This is a very conservative viewpoint, but the working world can be fickle when it comes to crunch time and jobs can be lost due to owners and managers hoping to save a few extra dollars. This of course is just one of many provisions that Obamacare hopes to accomplish in the upcoming years. Other details such as financial help being given to workers with low to medium income who do not receive insurance through their professions are very noble and have my personal support. It is just difficult to put that pressure on a business owner with such a small workforce and tight budget. However, the fact that a bill has minor details that one may disagree with does not mean the overall act is not worth going forward with. This healthcare reformation will do more good than harm for many people and minor details should not derail the bill.

Both Sides of the Story


With my parents and grandparents being staunch GOP supporters, I was pushed into a conservative mindset ever since I was a young child. The test telling me that I am a Main Street Republican comes as no surprise, for FOX News seems to perpetually be on the television sets in my home. Regardless of my predetermined feelings on issues, I do enjoy hearing the other side of the argument in order to not be ignorant of good details and valid viewpoints. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote a very nice piece on the government shutdown and the Republican faults in the issue. Although I feel at some points he is being very narrow minded, his opinions seem to have a solid backing.

As a historically Liberal writer, Krugman obviously points out many Republican stances that are causing this temporary shutdown. I do agree with him that it would be asinine for Republicans to refuse the raising of the debt ceiling because of their positioning against Obamacare. That can cripple our rebuilding economy and push us back into yet another Depression. I just wish that Krugman would address both sides of the issue a little more rather than just beating down on one party. In every disagreement there are two sides to a story and he is just giving his readers a very one-sided viewpoint. Articles like this are great to read if the person agrees with the stance and wants reassurance on their opinions, but for a person that wants factual information on both sides of the issue, it is not very helpful.

Learn Your Political Strips/The Shutdown-pocalypse (blog 6)


Government Shutdown Averted, The New York Time...

Government Shutdown Averted, The New York Times vending machine, New York City, New York, United States of America (Photo credit: Pranav Bhatt)

From the Blog council of

This week’s topic is the GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. To begin, take this quiz to determine your political stance: http://www.people-press.org/typology/quiz/

Now find an interesting article or opinion piece about the government shutdown that supports a stance opposite of your own. Continue reading

Crisis Management


“Too Big to Fail” is a fantastic portrayal of a dismal time in our country’s financial history. Careers were lost, retirement funds seemed to disappear overnight, and families were forced into frugality on the smallest of purchases. Personally, the crisis affected my family fairly drastically due to timing and unforeseen natural disasters. A year following the fallout, my house took on 5 feet of water and mud from a major storm that devastated my entire town and area. Forced to move into my grandmother’s house for the time being, we took to repairs and renovations that we hoped would get us back into our home in no time. However, still feeling the effects that the stock market crash took on members of my family, we took to working on the house without outside help in order to save money. A six-month job turned into 3 years fairly quickly with us just moving out of my grandmother’s home 2 short months ago. Assets that would normally be in place for such a venture were allocated in more important areas because of the massive hit the crisis took on my family. We are not alone in the climb back from 2008, for everyone was affected in different ways due to careless decision making by people who did not believe any type of crash was possible.

Deceit and the Fallout


How much lying does it take for one to believe their deceit as actual truth? Mike Daisey’s monologue was so believable that it seems as if he truly believes that his words are reality. Bucknell’s own rendition of his monologue casts a shadow over his words, using video breaks in order to display his exaggerations and flat out lies. I specifically enjoyed the Steve Jobs video that involved Foxconn where he states bluntly, “Foxconn is not a sweatshop.” He tells the interviewers that there are restaurants, movie theaters, and swimming pools at Foxconn, far different from Daisey’s dark description of the factory. His addressing of the suicide rate at a working place of 400,000 being less than that it is in America also puts a damper on Daisey’s convoluted words. Daisey’s usage of dramatic pauses during his monologue actually works against him in this rendition, for Bucknell used them to display more truthful facts that he avoided.

This begs the question though, should we completely discredit everything he has said about working conditions in China? Are they exaggerated and should America stop worrying about what they cannot understand? This is where people must look outside of one man’s deceit and see the bigger picture that he was attempting to convey.

Andrew Somers and I interviewed our friend Bo Yao, a Chinese Chemical Engineering Student here at Bucknell. After asking him about the work life in China he had many of the similar stances that Daisey took in his monologue. He says that the working conditions are much worse in China than in the US, and that it is very labor intensive with little job guarantees. The factory shift towards Southeast Asia he states is because of the lower wage requirements in that sector of China. Bo even says that government jobs, although hard to get, are not even that high paying. Health insurance and free traveling are benefits, but it is still not as glamorous as one would believe. Overall, there are obviously labor issues in China that need to be addressed, and Mike Daisey tries to show his listeners that with the powerful usage of verbal imagery. However, his lying has turned people off and the real issues that he wanted people to hear about may not garner the same attention that it should.

Daisey Retraction


Mike Daisey’s original monologue was so deep and detailed that it forced me to develop a strong opinion about the labor conditions in Chinese factories, specifically Foxconn. It was the jaw-dropping facts such as the workers jumping to their deaths, the guards threateningly holding guns around the property, and the worker he met that was poisoned by hexane that made me feel so angry about how Apple ignores the people who work for them in order to turn a profit. After listening to the Retraction and Mike Daisey’s admission to lying about those facts, I feel cheated as a listener. He can call himself a man of the theater, but when you fabricate major details in order to better prove a point, you are just a poor journalist and a liar.

 

Daisey wanted people to hear something they have never heard before about Apple and their dirty secrets. He desired the audience to leave his passionate monologue with disgust in respect to Apple and how they police what goes on in their factories overseas. At no point in his speaking did he once tell people that he was an actor and information that he is giving may not totally be true. If he did that, he would lose all credibility with the audience and his point would not have the same effect on how people felt. By taking such drastic measures, like telling the radio station that there was no way to find his translator, to hide that his “journalism” was solely “acting” he turns from creative researcher into an unethical reporter.

 

As a member of the audience, I expect the speaker to respect that I gave my time to listen to him or her and be truthful. I should in retrospect fact check in order to have an informed opinion, because my initial response was premature. By taking Daisey at his word, I formed an opinion on lies that sounded so powerful, but in reality had no validity. He used death, disease, and human rights issues to create a picture that would force people to have strong opinions. People want to believe what they are told, but sadly in reality that cannot always be the case.

 

 

Daisey Apple Post


            Mike Daisey’s monologue about the dreary lives of workers in the factories of Zhenjiang, China seems like a plot to a modern horror film. The constant surveillance, whether it be in the twelve by twelve dorm rooms with thirteen beds, or the hallways and warehouses where thousands upon thousands of people work, is a real life version of the Big Brother defined in novels like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. The ominous nature of the massive factories described, specifically Foxconn, is very hard for a listener to ignore. The nets put up to deter suicide attempts makes me feel as if that these workers are in borderline prison like circumstances with little freedom and an even lesser amount of hope for progression in the workspace. The number one fact Daisey said that stood out to me is that 430,000 workers are employed and perform services in the Foxconn factory. That is like a small city cramming into one warehouse every day in order to handle assemble small products that are not even sold to their own locality.

            Daisey’s original assertion that Apple is a religion to people is more true than false when I think about it. People are always out to find and buy the newest product and spend most of their lives using these devices. IPhones, IPads, and Macbooks have almost completely taken over everyday activities and without them some people are completely lost due to their developed dependency. We lose sight of the atrocities that happen in order for these tiny devices to be created. People lose physical functionality, their free will, and in some circumstances, their lives in these factories of that a majority of the time, only benefit the Western World. Like Daisey inferred, do we really need more things to be handmade when these workers give their lives to create our personal devices by hand? Is a man dying from working a 34-hour shift worth a singular phone or computer?

Friedman Freeman Blog


Lauren’s First and Goal is a non-profit organization directly funding brain tumor and cancer research. It was created in 2004 by the Loose family in honor of their daughter Lauren who is a pediatric brain tumor survivor. This organization gained notoriety in my area of Northeast Pennsylvania because of the phenomenal football camps it runs that many local high-school football players would attend. It was a great way to get noticed by the college coaches that helped at the camp, but most importantly, it was a way to donate money to fund the research that cancer sufferers desperately need. Instead of just asking for donations and hoping for people’s good will, the Loose family gave young people an incentive to give back by combining one of America’s most popular sports with cancer research funding

            In Edward Freeman’s article, “Business Ethics at the Millennium,” he talks about how business ethics and trade should be directly correlated. He feels that business should not be only about furthering profits, but helping stakeholders, and those less well off along the way. For that reason, Freeman would be extremely supportive of this organization. Lauren’s First and Goal is meant only for good, and the profits are all given to a cause that is much more important than personal monetary gain. It is an example of stakeholder managing, for people are depending on this research that provides them with the chance at a longer and healthier life. Freeman states, “We need to develop the stakeholder framework more fully to help revise the process of value creation and trade, to make business an even more fruitful institution in bringing about good and raising up the least well off in the world.” (p. 178) This quote fantastically sums up his feelings on an organization like Lauren’s First and Goal. He would feel that this organization is doing great things for society and that is one of the most important activities a business can partake in.