The Case for Making Election Day a Federal Holiday

                                                                                                            (Source) Although voting is the centerpiece of our democratic process, it is not a right that all Americans exercise. According to a Pew Research Center study of fifty countries, the United States ranks around the middle in turnout in national elections among people of voting age. There are many proposed legislative solutions to increasing voter turnout, but among the most bold is making Election Day a federal holiday. The history of Election Day is actually one of convivence. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was chosen as the date for federal elections back in the nineteenth century in order to facilitate voting. November occurred after the harvest but before the worst of the winter storms, and Tuesday meant that people did not have to vote on Sundays or Wednesdays, reserved for church and market day respectively. However, as modern life has evolved, the [read more]

Is Corporation Book Minimum Tax an Optimal Government Revenue?

                                                                                                              (Source) The Inflation Reduction Act imposed a 15% minimum tax based on an entity’s net income (subject to a $1 billion gross receipt threshold) presented on its financial statement. The payment of such tax (amount in excess of ordinary tax liabilities) will become tax credits. These tax credits can be carried forward to offset future regular corporate tax liabilities to the extent the tax liability is not below the minimum tax. Under the earlier version of the minimum tax provision, the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System significantly increases the temporary difference in cost recovery on certain industries’ tax books and financial statements. Businesses with a higher proportion of fixed depreciable assets would likely be subject to significant tax hikes once the minimum book tax is implemented. In addition, this tax regime might potentially undermine the current administration’s policy objectives, such as affordable housing, green energy, infrastructure, increasing [read more]

Toward a U.S.-Cuba Détente

(Source) The United States and Cuba share a long, complex history—from allies to enemies when, in 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista, President of Cuba’s then U.S.-backed government, in the establishment of a socialist state. During the half-century that followed, successive U.S. administrations economically and diplomatically isolated the island country, most notably through the imposition of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, effectively preventing American businesses from conducting trade with Cuban interests. Under the Obama administration, the alliance was finally renewed in what has become known as “the Cuban thaw.” Then, under the Trump administration, these initiatives were immediately undone. Now, under the Biden administration, it remains to be seen whether President Biden will follow through on his campaign promises to “reverse the failed Trump policies.” However, one thing is certain: “Cuba remains . . . a thorn in the side of US foreign policy.” Upon taking office, President Biden’s commitment to foreign policy was evident, but his commitment to U.S.-Cuba policy less so. Given then-Vice President Biden’s foreign policy achievements under the Cuban thaw and the subsequent “warm[ing] up [of] one of the Cold War’s last icy spots in the Western Hemisphere,” and given then-presidential candidate Biden’s aforementioned campaign promises, [read more]

Foul: The Inadequate NFL Response to Player Violence

                                                                                                       (Source) The NFL has a player violence problem. On June 7th, 2022, the New York Times published a bombshell report, detailing NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson’s extensive sexual misconduct. Over a 17-month period, Watson met, at a minimum, 66 women for massages. Over 30 women have since accused Watson of sexual misconduct in massage appointments. The public reaction to the accusations was near-universal disgust and outrage, however, Watson himself has faced little in the way of consequences. While Watson was suspended for 11 games and fined, his time in the NFL is far from over. In fact, even after the news of Watson’s misconduct broke, the Cleveland Browns offered Watson a fully-guaranteed, $230 million contract, the largest fully-guaranteed contract in the NFL. Deshaun Watson is not the first NFL star to be accused of serious off-the-field misconduct. Punter Matt Ariza was recently cut from the Buffalo Bills due to his [read more]

Dust to Dust: Why We Should Legalize Human Composting

                                                                                                          (Source) What to do with our dead is a question that has plagued humanity for all of its history. Modern Americans most often choose to bury or cremate their dead, but other options are available. An emerging option is human composting, a fairly new alternative to traditional methods of disposition that has gained attention in recent years. A scientific process known as “natural organic reduction” or human composting makes it possible to turn human remains into compost. The process relies on the microbes already in the deceased person’s stomach, speeding up the natural decomposition process. During the human composting process the deceased’s remains are placed into a large steel cylinder (referred to as a vessel) with organic materials like wood chips and straw. The inside of the vessel is heated and oxygen is added to aid in the decomposition process. After some time, the bones are removed, [read more]

The Lingering Effects of Trump’s Family-Separation Policy

(Source) “They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands,” one Border Patrol agent told The Washington Post. The man, Marco Antonio Muñoz, was initially placed in a chain-link detention cell, but, so agitated over the separation of his family, was later taken to a local jail. “He yelled and kicked at the windows on the ride,” the agent said. The next morning, Muñoz was found dead in his cell, “a small pool of blood by his nose” and “a piece of clothing twisted around his neck.” This was May 13, 2018. Muñoz’s tragic death is not a standalone incident, but rather part of a long history of complex and escalating policies surrounding immigration. The genesis of family separation can be traced as far back as 9/11, with the Bush administration’s creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), tasked with, amongst its overarching missions, “ensuring the safety and security of our borders while managing a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.” The genesis of family separation as a way to deter migration to the United States can be traced to Tom Homan, who Caitlin Dickerson describes, in The Secret History of Family Separation, as [read more]

Decades-long waits for green card if you were born in the “wrong” country

                                                                                                                  (Source) The Immigration and Nationality Act (“the Act”) (8 U.S.C. §1152) promulgated that no country could receive more than 7% of the total number of green cards under each employment-based preference visa categories in a fiscal year, in addition to providing for an annual numerical worldwide limitation on permanent residency issuance. The original intent of the provision was to ensure a diverse immigrant pool. However, the per-country cap generated decades-long backlogs for immigrants born in countries like China and India. Legislation aiming to eliminate the per-country cap has been repeatedly introduced to Congress. The 116th Congress passed Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act in both chambers but could not reconcile the two chambers’ bills before the expiration of the 116th Congress. A similar EAGLE Act has now been introduced to the 117th Congress and cleared the House Judiciary committee. In this article, I will only explore [read more]

Turning Americans’ True Crime Fascination into Action

                                                                                                              (Source) The true crime industry has been significantly on the rise over the past decade.  However, the genre has been criticized for causing prolonged harm to victims’ families, reinforcing the carceral state, and increasing fear of crime without analyzing the shortcomings of the criminal justice system or providing ongoing support for victims.  Instead of simply consuming true crime stories to become amateur detectives or to escape the monotony of everyday life, Americans interested in this genre should redirect their focus to advocacy. An interest in reading about violent crimes can be traced back as early as the 16th century in Great Britain when morally ambiguous leaflets were consumed by the literate artisan class and above.  However, the advent of the tabloid magazine in the Roaring 20s packaged true crime stories into “cheap, handheld entertainment,” making the genre more accessible to the masses.  Today, true crime [read more]

The Insanity Plea Problem

                                                                                                             Source To some, the expression “not guilty by reason of insanity” evokes ideas of a Get Out of Jail Free card. Many Americans perceive the insanity defense as a way to commit crimes and evade any punishment. However, a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity can yield a punishment even greater than a guilty verdict. Researchers have described those found not guilty by reason of insanity as “cursed twice as mad and bad,” as they must grapple with both the stigma of mental illness and the societal vitriol directed towards criminals. The pitfalls of the not guilty by reason of insanity verdict, though severe, are not given sufficient scrutiny. With the exception of strict liability crimes, for a finding of guilt, the American criminal system requires both an unlawful act, actus reus, and unlawful intent, mens rea. The insanity defense is rooted in the [read more]

Job Retraining and the Future of Work

                                                                                                            (Source) In recent years, the face of work in the United States has been rapidly changing. As the nation begins to adopt new technologies and automation in the workplace, the demand for unskilled labor is simultaneously declining. With the expansion of alternative energy sources, the American tech sector, electric vehicles, etc., the need for technical workplace skills and advanced training is becoming more prevalent. While this new industrial revolution offers convenience and utility to consumers, it presents the national labor force with an interesting predicament. Absent some sort of intervention, one would imagine that this change could drastically increase unemployment, particularly in those who lack the skills or educational backgrounds required to perform the skilled labor high-tech firms will demand. To adequately address this evolving issue, the federal government may be forced to explore various solutions including job retraining programs or perhaps, universal basic income. The [read more]