A Shift in the Discussion Regarding the Payment of Student Athletes

(Source) A major issue that has been debated is whether student athletes should be allowed to profit off the use of their names, images, and likenesses. There are several reasons given in support for both sides. Some rationales supporting the payment of student athletes include college athletes expenditure of time towards their sport—an average of 43.3 hours per week, college athletes struggle to make ends meet, paying students would only make the sport more competitive, the money earned from athletics is not automatically reinvested in education and research, the college sports apparel market capitalizes specifically on these players, payment would help athletes leave school with a degree and little debt, and the NCAA is an $11 billion industry which should be able to afford paying people on all levels, including the players..   Common arguments against the payment of student athletes encompass a lack of college athletic programs to  afford to pay athletes, elite college athletes receive athletic scholarships which serves as a form of compensation, there is no fair way to pay college athletes, students are not professionals, paying student athletes will cause cuts elsewhere, and paying college athletes will ruin college sports.   One of the major arguments [read more]

The Twenty-Eighth Amendment?: The Equal Rights Amendment’s Popular Resurgence

(Source)   The only way to tell photographs of Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) advocates from the 1970s apart from the advocates of the 2010s is by the quality of the photo. Recently, women have taken to the streets, the legislatures, and the courts, coming together to change the Constitution. Their advocacy has paid off. This year, the Virginia legislature became the thirty-eighth state of the thirty-eight states necessary to ratify the ERA. Unfortunately, the ratification may be almost forty years too late. The 1982 deadline for state ratification has long passed. Why has the amendment recently resurged in popularity, and what will happen next? The History of the ERA The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first introduced in 1923 in Seneca Falls, New York, the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement. There, celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention, Alice Paul introduced the original ERA. The original amendment stated, “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place in its jurisdiction.” The amendment was introduced to Congress the year it was first proposed, but due to resistance from the labor movement, which called for protective laws treating women differently from men, the [read more]

Supporting the Arts is TAXing: The Difficulty of Establishing Effective Arts Funding Schemes in Creative Cities

(Source) In the United States, the arts and culture industries are massive economic engines. In fact, the arts contribute $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy annually, which is more than both the agricultural and transportation industries. Furthermore, the arts drive job growth and promote cultural tourism in cities across the U.S. This data suggests that, across the nation, the arts contribute value to our communities and “play a meaningful role in our daily lives, including through the jobs we have, the products we purchase, and the experiences we share.” Because the arts are so vital to some state economies, it is important to consider the policies and procedures regarding the funding of this sector. Funding for the arts is a complicated matter due to the breadth of subjects, organizations, and fundraising schemes that fall under the umbrella of the “arts.” From the complex Broadway musical industry with many moving parts to an individual artisan jewelry-making business to nonprofit arts education programs, organizations and artists may face very different operating problems and therefore require different funding schemes. As one commentator noted in an article for Americans for the Arts, “Local Arts Agencies are like snowflakes; no two are exactly alike. Each [read more]

Marketing Meat Alternatives: Does Nomenclature Matter?

(Source) In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved the Impossible Burger, one of the first plant-based meat alternatives of its kind. The Impossible Burger gained nation wide attention for its eerie resemblance to real meat – specifically it’s blood-like color and taste. While the Impossible Burger initially faced some backlash, it opened the door for meat alternatives to become a new normal. After the Impossible Burger’s sales proved successful, a rival brand, Beyond Meat, launched nationwide sales of their plant-based products in June of 2019. Beyond Meat offered plant-based ground beef, burger patties, and sausage. Soon thereafter fast-food chains joined the trend. In August of 2019 Burger King released The Impossible Whopper; in September of 2019 McDonald’s launched their own version of a meatless burger; and in October of 2019 Dunkin Donuts created a Beyond Sausage Sandwich. Within the last year, plant-based meat alternatives have become a mainstream, household product. Sales of these products amounted to $1.5 billion last year, a twenty-two percent increase from the year before. Growing concern about the environmental impact of meat production is largely responsible for the growth in popularity of meat alternative products within the last year. Researchers have stressed the [read more]

What Gives?—A Look at Why Charitable Giving Among Individuals Is Declining

(Source)   By many metrics, the quality of American life has much improved over the last decade. U.S. unemployment has reached roughly its lowest point in 50 years and wage growth for American workers reached a 10-year high in 2019. Additionally, notwithstanding the notable exception of recent market recoil due to escalating fears surrounding COVID-19, the start of 2020 brought with it all-time-highs for the DOW and the S&P 500, both strong indicators of robust stock market health. Moreover, disposable personal income reached its highest point in November of 2019—thus being the likely catalyst of an all-time high for U.S. consumer spending. According to some economic metrics, the average American citizen is generally better off now than ever before—at least financially. Yet, individual charitable contributions are down across the board despite unprecedented economic growth. What gives? According to Giving USA, a nonprofit foundation which seeks to advance public understanding of philanthropy, individual giving declined 1.1% in 2018 and 3.4% when adjusted for inflation. Total charitable giving in 2018 declined 1.7% when adjusted for inflation when compared with 2017. Furthermore, giving by individuals made up 70% of total giving in the U.S. in the year 2017 and made up only 68% [read more]

Strictly Speaking: The Argument for Holding States Strictly Liable in Wrongful Conviction Suits

(Source)   The wrongfully convicted are an oft overlooked demographic of the American population because society views wrongful convictions as rarely occurring. But in fact, the numbers are quite staggering. The number of people exonerated in the last 30 years due to actual innocence? 2,500. The combined number of years unnecessarily spent in prison? 22,315. But the percentage of exonerees who ever receive compensation for wrongful imprisonment? Only 39%. Despite the American legal system resting on the fundamental principle of holding people liable for injuries inflicted onto others, fifteen jurisdictions within the United States lack statutory protections that allow the wrongfully convicted to seek civil remedies for the years lost due to their illegitimate imprisonment caused at the hands of the state. However, even in states that do statutorily provide compensation to the wrongfully convicted, it has become common practice for prosecutors to effectively coerce inmates into waiving their right to sue for damages in exchange for a sooner release date. For instance, in 2016, Jimmy Dennis, a man who spent twenty-five years on death row for a crime he did not commit, was offered an immediate release from prison so long as he pled no contest to third-degree murder. [read more]

Ignoring Policy, History, and Humanity: ICE Continues to Deport Veterans

(Source) In November 2019, a group of non-citizen veterans of the United States Military (military) celebrated Veterans Day in Mexico. Many of these individuals enlisted in the military after President George W. Bush signed an executive order fast-tracking citizenship for individuals willing to serve. However, they never officially became citizens and continue to remain vulnerable to deportation. Now, they remain in exile within the Deported Veterans Support House—a safe haven for non-citizen veterans who have been deported. It is common for non-citizens to join the military with the expectation of receiving naturalization. In fact, since the Revolutionary War, legal permanent residents are eligible to enlist, with roughly 35,000 non-citizens serving active duty. Since October 2001, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has naturalized 129,587 members of the military. If an individual meets all of the requirements of either section 328 (One Year of Military Service During Peacetime) or section 329 (Military Service During Hostilities) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), they are eligible for naturalization. By naturalizing through military service, individuals experience shorter residency requirements, no state-of-residence requirement, and waived application fees. Usually, if a non-citizen service member has received an honorable discharge, they are eligible for citizenship. [read more]

Do Not Access – Is Law Enforcement Access to Commercial DNA Databases a Substantial Privacy Concern?

(Source) The use of forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) as an investigative tool for law enforcement has become, “if not exactly routine, very much normalized.” The normalization is in large part due to law enforcement’s use of FGG to identify and arrest the Golden State Killer. The April 2018 arrest gained national recognition, and subsequently, so did the police’s use of FGG as an investigative tool to narrow in on suspects. Forensic genetic genealogy has immense potential to serve as an investigative tool for law enforcement. The technique helps investigators “reduce the size of the haystack” by identifying the suspect’s family—making it that much more probable to find the needle. In the case of the Golden State Killer, law enforcement used GEDmatch, a public website that produces possible familial matches based on users’ genetic profiles. The site allows users to upload genetic profiles from third parties (such as 23andme and Ancestry.com), which is how law enforcement uploaded a DNA profile of the suspect from the Golden State Killer case. GEDmatch produced a partial match to the DNA profile, uploaded under a fake name, which led law enforcement to a distant relative. By narrowing down the possible suspect pool to one family [read more]

Student Loans: An Evolving Balancing Act of Public and Private Lenders

(Source)   As the political circuit heats up, politicians have acknowledged the public’s growing concern for the student debt crisis. The issue has taken center stage, especially among millennial voters, as collective student debt in the United States has hit $1.5 trillion—becoming one of the largest consumer debt categories. The rise of student debt parallels the skyrocketing cost of education in the U.S. as student lending practices and educational costs create a perpetuating cycle of increasing fees. It is important to look back at the policy choices behind student lending practices in the U.S. to understand the current system. Arguably, the public lending practices that have allowed the drastic increase in educational costs were essential to mitigate other negative externalities.   The Path to Direct Lending: Ensuring Non-Discriminatory Education at Lower Costs In attempts to develop a nationwide student loan program in 1965, Congress established the Federal Family Education Loan (“FFEL”) program. Non-discriminatorily guaranteeing student loans served as the program’s cornerstone as long as students were eligible for the program. This was Congress’s attempt to “even the playing field” for students of different socioeconomic statuses. Before FFEL, students would have to turn to the private market for student loans, limiting [read more]

An Examination of Compensation Following Wrongful Convictions

(Source) As mass incarceration continues to plague the United States criminal justice system, improved technology and evidence-gathering techniques seek to identify and exonerate the wrongfully convicted. Those accused of a crime may be wrongfully convicted for a variety of reasons such as eyewitness misidentifications, coerced false confessions, faulty forensics science, incompetent public defenders, and suppression of important evidence by prosecuting attorneys. Organizations such as The Innocence Project have been instrumental in helping to uncover cases of previous wrongful convictions. The increase in exonerations such as with the Central Park 5 (recently renamed the Exonerated 5) brings into focus the issue of compensation for errors in convictions that result in an innocent person time in prison for crimes he or she did not commit. In order to properly examine the issue, it is necessary to first evaluate the current system that is in place on the federal and state levels. In 2004, Congress passed the Justice for All Act which guarantees individuals exonerated of federal crimes $50,000 for every year they spent in prison and $100,000 for every year they spent on death row. This Act specifically delineates the federal compensation scheme; however, from state to state, the exonerated individuals do [read more]
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