Why is tuition rising and what can we do about it?

                                                                                                          (Source) Tuition is rising at an extraordinary rate. Over the past 20 years, the average tuition and fees have increased by 144% at private universities, and by over 170% at public universities. Over the same period, inflation has only increased by 54%. This phenomenon is not happening due to a single factor. While many theories try to explain how this phenomenon arose, I will explore some of the predominant ones, and then discuss some ways we can try to solve the issue of rising tuitions. The first theory stems from the Bennett Hypothesis. The idea is that the more money students can borrow, the more colleges are able to charge. Currently, the government can give students federal loans up to the cost of attendance.  Since students can borrow up to whatever the cost of attendance is, there is much less demand elasticity due to the price. Thus, [read more]

We Need an Afghan Adjustment Act

(Source) This article originally appeared in the New York Daily News on Apr 9, 2022. Since the fall of the Afghan government in August 2021, the United States’ treatment of our Afghan allies has fallen short of anything humane. Now, while the world’s attention justifiably turns to the devastation in Ukraine, the recent more favorable treatment of Ukrainian refugees highlights how the United States has unacceptably failed our Afghan allies. During the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover, the U.S. military evacuated around 123,000 people from Afghanistan. The U.S. military brought 83,000 of these Afghans into the United States. Others were taken to third countries. These evacuated individuals were our allies in Afghanistan. They supported and joined the U.S. military’s work in the country and worked for American NGOs. They stood with us against the Taliban, putting their lives at risk. Before evacuating these allies, the U.S. vetted them and identified them as being at risk of harm from the Taliban. While those evacuated from Afghanistan were lucky to make it out of the country alive, this sudden departure from their homeland was nonetheless a traumatic experience. Many fled without getting to say goodbye to their loved [read more]

Food Deserts and Food Insecurity

(Source) According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 23.5 million Americans reside in food deserts. While the issue has received copious news coverage and widespread recognition in recent years, researchers and policymakers alike have yet to develop an adequate solution. Beyond the obvious issues posed by such a problem, food deserts are incontrovertible evidence of inequality in the richest country in the world. To remediate this issue in a lasting way, solutions must be multifaceted and adequately account for the experiences of members of these communities. Beyond increased funding, public private partnerships and co-op business models may provide just this sort of solution. I. The Issue By definition, a food desert is a geographical area in which residents live below the poverty line and more than one mile away from a supermarket. The residents of such areas typically lack meaningful access to personal transportation. As a result, they must resort to public transportation to reach the grocery store. According to residents of a notorious food desert in southern Memphis, TN, it can often take upwards of an hour to reach the supermarket even if buses are running on time. Yet, like other Americans, residents of these areas also [read more]

I See You, Survivor: A Call to Dismantle the Troubled Teen Industry

(Source) The “Troubled Teen” Industry is composed of various Congregate Care Facilities or Congregate Care Programs (CCFs/CCPs) that claim to provide housing and treatment for teens displaying “troubled” behaviors such as addiction, eating disorders, low self-esteem, general disobedience, and at times even targeting sexual orientation and gender identity. These facilities are often privately run by various companies, nonprofits as well as faith-based organizations. There are anywhere from 120,000–200,000 teens estimated to be currently enrolled in these CCF/CCPs. Despite the deceptively benign intentions behind the programs, the experiences of the youth forced into these programs are often anything but pleasant.  These programs often limit and manipulate communication between parents and their children, inflicting a form of punishment known as “Code Silence.” This punishment isolates the child not only from contacting their loved ones at home but also isolates them from others residing at the program by not allowing them to speak. The Breaking Code Silence movement is meant to counter the indoctrinated command to remain silent and urges victims to speak out. Social media has long been used as a means of political activism, so it was no surprise when victims of the “Troubled Teen” Industry took to the social media [read more]

The United States Should Place Further Price Controls on Insulin

(Source) Over the last two decades, insulin prices have skyrocketed in the United States. Back in 1999, a single vial of Humalog cost $21. By 2019 the very same vial of Humalog costs $332. According to Vox, the average price for four of the most commonly used types of insulin has tripled. For the most popular insulin, Humulin, an average month’s supply used to cost $258 in 2010. By 2015 an average month’s supply of Humulin soared to nearly $1,100.   Although one might assume that these price changes occurred normally as a result of inflation, that is not the case. The price of insulin has outpaced the rate of inflation. What is more, the cost of insulin in the United States is five to ten times higher than it is in other countries.  So why have insulin prices risen at such a staggering rate? The answer is rent seeking. American drug manufacturers have raised prices in order to extract further profits from insulin formulations that have not been improved in decades. They have also raised prices on newer, improved insulin formulations at rates that do not correspond to their production costs or their increased efficacy. Moreover, manufacturers have raised prices [read more]

Cashless Tolling: A Burden on Long-Term Travelers without an E-ZPass Tag

(Source) In 2020, New York made its entire tolling system cashless. Instead of paying cash at a toll booth, now drivers just have to drive under a gantry that automatically bills any car with an electronic tolling device, known as the E-ZPass tag. Drivers who pass through a gantry without an E-ZPass tag are billed under the “Tolls by Mail” method: they receive a paper bill through mail in about 30-40 days. In addition, tolls by mail will cost 30% more plus a flat $2 administrative surcharge. The new system places a heavier burden on long-term interstate drivers who do not have an E-ZPass tag. The extra mailing work could possibly justify the extra fee, but the fee is not a fixed number: it grows with time and becomes a burden to people’s right to free interstate travel. Those billed while away from home for longer periods might not be able to pay the bill on time, and may therefore have to pay a fine: the so-called “administrative fee.” This fee could potentially impose an unfair burden on travelers who plan to go for a vacation, a long trip, or any business trip away from home. To address this issue, New [read more]

West Virginia v. EPA: Will the Supreme Court Defer to Chevron?

(Source) I.     Background  In 1970, with the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), Congress enacted the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), which marked the first step towards federal regulation of air pollution. Section 111(d) of the CAA authorized the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Based on this provision, the Obama administration and the EPA promulgated the Clean Power Plan (“CPP”) in 2015, which assigned individual targets to each state for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. However, due to concerns that the CPP transcended the EPA’s mandate under the CAA and intruded states’ rights to regulate electric power, the Supreme Court stayed its implementation.  In 2019, under the Trump administration, the EPA repealed the CPP before it could take effect. Instead, it issued a weaker Affordable Clean Energy Rule (“ACE”), which directed states to “set standards of performance for each plant, essentially allowing plants to decide the amount of pollution to emit.” The EPA’s own data revealed that the ACE may result in increased carbon emissions because it “created incentives to burn more fossil fuels.” Two years later, in January 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the ACE rule while holding that [read more]

Reforming Stock Trading Inside the Beltway

(Source) Insider trading carries with it the possibility of civil and criminal penalties for members of the general public. Yet, members of Congress have enjoyed freedom from punishment for engaging in the misappropriation of information they receive in the service of their jobs. The complex history of securities law is built upon case law which has failed to reach congresspersons due to the lack of a binding fiduciary obligation between them and the general public. The existing structure of representation—where legislators are expected to act in the best interest of their constituents—is irrelevant in the application of insider trading law to members of Congress. In order for there to be a binding obligation to refrain from engaging in insider trading, there must first exist a fiduciary duty between a trader and a communicator of material, nonpublic information. In the case of members of Congress, that relationship does not exist since their duties to the American people are based on representation as opposed to a fiduciary obligation.  This glaring loophole left open by case law has allowed some members of Congress to outperform the market, the general public and even some hedge fund managers for decades. This, along with the fact [read more]

Lasting Effects of Prohibition

(Source) America as a nation has a long and intertwined history with alcohol as the pilgrims relied on beer for a sterile drink in the same way that the founding fathers did days before signing the Constitution. The alcohol industry and attempts to regulate it have led to rebellions, prohibition, and a Supreme Court ruling. As attempts to regulate the lucrative and profitable industry continued and have given rise to multiple sets of rules, the industry and its many consumers have experienced many changes along the way. The largest and most well-known of the changes was prohibition, brought forth by the 18th Amendment as a result of the temperance movement. While the success of prohibition was limited, the eventual repeal gave rise to the modern system today.  The 21st amendment repealed the 18th amendment and allowed states to determine how they would handle liquor distribution. As states now had specific authority to control different aspects of alcohol rules, the system became more complex with different laws, as seen in Pennsylvania compared with a state like New Hampshire.  With the myriad different laws making it confusing for customers, manufacturers, and distributors the efficiency present in a direct system disappears. The three [read more]

Courts Should Continue to Offer ODR In Civil Disputes

(Source) Court-annexed alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) is a process by which courts assist parties in resolving their legal disputes. Any method of dispute resolution that is hosted or supported by a court and does not involve litigation is considered court-annexed ADR. Examples of ADR include: negotiation, arbitration and mediation. Since the 1990s, ADR has been available online. Virtually conducted ADR is known as online dispute resolution (“ODR”). During ODR, parties meet by video conference. Some of the first courts to adopt ODR were located in Singapore, the Netherlands and Canada. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, courts in Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Kentucky, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California utilized ODR. By 2019, 66 courts offered ODR in the United States.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, courts across the country increased their reliance on ODR. Most federal courts allowed a greater number of ADR conferences to occur online. Many state and local courts also utilized ODR. The New York State Unified Court System held all of their ADR conferences through Microsoft Teams. In California, the Superior Court of Placer County conducted their civil settlement conferences through Zoom. Over the course of the pandemic, millions of civil court proceedings – including [read more]
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