All posts by Shaun Epstein

Why ALEC Needs to Change: A Message to the IRS

Since the formation of the United States constitution, lobbying has been a vital part of our political system. The rise of the interest group has helped fill in gaps in representation of diverse interests in ways that the system of party politics cannot. However, there is one group that bypasses this organized system of interest group lobbying. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) takes the corporate entity and places them on the fast-track. Under ALEC, members of the private and public sector co-draft model legislation, which is then paid for by state legislatures and passed into law. There is no other nonprofit organization like them in American politics today.

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I know it’s not ordinary. But who ever loved ordinary?

The Imitation Game

Alan Turing is anything but ordinary. A pioneer in the fields of computer science, artificial intelligence, and cryptology, Turing also works for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking center. There, Turing is placed on a team whose secret project is to break the “unbreakable” secret code behind the Nazis’ communications machine,  Enigma.

Continue reading I know it’s not ordinary. But who ever loved ordinary?

Lunch with Mr. Moynihan

As I sit here working on my investment pitch for Bank of America for the SMIF class, I can’t imagine a better person to have lunch with right now than Bank of America’s CEO, Mr. Brian Moynihan. Mr. Moynihan is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Notre Dame School of Law. In his 20+ year tenure at Bank of America, he has held a number of different leadership positions before assuming the title Chairman and CEO in 2010.

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From SolarCity to…Solar Cookers?

The Global Risks 2014 report from the World Economic Forum assesses 31 of the world’s most important risks that have the potential to cause widespread damage across societies and industries. The third highest risk on the top 10 list was the water crisis. Also on the list was access to high quality foods in developing countries. You can download the full report here.

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An Ethical Review of the American Legislative Exchange Council

The Powell Memorandum

The early 1970s were a rough time for American businesses and the economy in general. Abnormally high levels of inflation and unemployment, two oil price shocks, and the depletion of US gold reserves contributed to the demise of the “Golden Age of US Capitalism” (Reuss, 2009). President Richard Nixon, who was regarded at the time as a no-nonsense politician who attacked his running mates in elections, got to work immediately with a set of neoliberal policies to try and help the United States out of this mess. In order to address the inflation issue, Nixon removed the gold standard by repealing the Bretton Woods System in 1971. This ended the system of fixed exchange rates around the world. Nixon also passed laws maintaining wage and price levels, which led to ridiculous wage demands by workers that outpaced the rate of productivity growth, driving up unit labor costs for businesses. In 1973-1974, the first of two major “oil shocks” increased the price of petroleum four-fold, dramatically raising energy costs for both consumers and businesses (Reuss, 2009). Feeling beaten up by macroeconomic events and changes in the political realm, America’s largest businesses were in need of a platform to have their voices heard. Continue reading An Ethical Review of the American Legislative Exchange Council

No More Floods: The Science behind Rain Gardens

Hurricane Irene was an extremely large and destructive hurricane that hit the east coast of the United States hard during September 2011. Threats of possible flooding as side-effects of Irene’s wrath caused panic amongst faculty and students on Bucknell’s campus. Due to Bucknell’s close proximity to the Susquehanna River, administrators forced Bucknell students in downhill residence halls to seek alternative accommodations. The destruction of Irene was apparent in the startling photos of entire streets in two feet of water. People were seen in kayaks on 6th street. I was simply blown away. Continue reading No More Floods: The Science behind Rain Gardens

If there’s nothing wrong, then why can’t we take a look?

Open government is a doctrine which holds that citizens have the right to access documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight. Would a nonprofit organization with ties to state legislature and corporate interests count as a quasi-governmental agency?

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Aflac: Ask About it at Work

Most of us have seen the famous Aflac commercials featuring the Aflac Duck who frustratedly quacks the company’s name to unsuspecting prospective policy holders. But did you know that Aflac Incorporated is one of the world’s most admired insurance companies? Founded in 1955 and based in Columbus, Georgia, Aflac underwrites a wide range of insurance policies. It is most known for its payroll deduction insurance coverage, which pays cash benefits when a policyholder has a covered accident or illness. In 2012, Aflac was listed as one of the Top 40 Best Companies for Diversity for the ninth consecutive year. It has also been on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for 15 consecutive years.  Continue reading Aflac: Ask About it at Work