Categories
Criminal Justice

Gangs: The Societies within the Society

Article and Ideas

       Martin Sanchez-Jankowski’s 2010 article, “Gangs and Social Change,” seeks to reexamine traditional and/or commonly held perceptions regarding gangs and gang activity.  The author notes at the outset the immense study devoted to the subject, but he loses no time in citing the typical approaches made in all such research; namely, that gangs are viewed as groups of individuals brought together because of similarly deviant or antisocial tendencies, or as groups gathering to engage in some form of criminal or deviant behavior.  What is evident, then, is that the author disputes the motivational cores so frequently relied upon, for he believes that gang structure indicates something more inherently reflective of society as a whole.  This point of view is seen in the two claims, or hypotheses, Sanchez-Jankowski puts forth: that gangs are not viewed correctly when they are approached as randomized assortments of deviant individuals, for their organizational aspect consistently defines them; and that this organizational or structural component is both traditionally successful and necessary in comprehending how gangs function (Sanchez-Jankowski, 2010,  p. 136).  The author then indicates that he will support these ideas through investigating and citing the drawbacks in the greater part of gang research, and subsequently presenting in greater depth the rationales behind his theories.

Prior Literature

       As Sanchez-Janlowski responsibly explores, there is a great deal of research and literature regarding the subject, and he examines important facets of it in turns.  Focusing more on work done in recent decades, the author turns to research which, as he points out in his introduction, promotes the basis for gang activity as resulting from displaced individuals coming together due to the commonality of marginalized experience.  He cites Horowitz and Vigil, for example, whose studies on Mexican American gangs are based on the formations as occurring from loss of individual or cultural identity within the mainstream society; the gang provides a sense of self-worth not afforded by the dominant culture.  Sanchez-Jankowski also presents the thinking in regard to African American and Puerto Rican gangs as evolving due to unstable home environments, typically marked by absent fathers.  The author challenges both schools of thought through identifying similarities employed to validate the gang formations which exist for untold numbers of youths not affiliated with gangs (Sanchez-Jankowski, 2010,  p. 137).  Put another way, the author disputes the validity of the approaches, in that determining factors are attached “after the fact.”  This literature cited, then, relates to the author’s hypothesis only in terms of substantiating his own theories.  Evincing consistent integrity, Sanchez-Jankowski presents multiple theories going to deprivation and deviance as virtually accidentally enabling the gang, just as he systematically points out the shortcomings. 

       More pertinent to the author’s thinking is the work cited by Fromm, which explores how distinctive and intelligent personalities, possessed of strong senses of economic and cultural capital, goes to gang formation.  This “defiant individualist” type, the author asserts, is both typically found from low-income backgrounds and a gang fixture.  Literature and research is only just emerging on this approach, which connects strongly to the author’s theories.  Evidence, nonetheless, exists; Sullivan’s study of Brooklyn gangs reveals a consistent and active presence of this calculating “defiance,” in that intelligence and cooperation within the gang is both structured and a means of “getting over,” or achieving perceived success (White, 2001,  p.  249). 

Furthermore, other work supports Sanchez-Jankowski’s claim that gang study typically relies on results and behaviors of the groups as wholes, ignoring the critical component of individual entry and motivation, aside from the standard rationales of deprivation and deviance.  Most gang research, even today, does not take into account those key variables (Katz, Jackson-Jacobs,  2004,  p. 111). 

Methods, Results

       Sanchez-Jankowski employs a qualitative approach, and one largely observational in nature.  More exactly, to establish his reasoning as to the social validity of the gang as a reflection of organizational strategy, he explores gang trends and activity through a trajectory of eras.  Setting aside the traditional focuses on deviant pathology and specific marginalization as bases for gangs, the author asserts that gangs more ordinarily represent rational forms of human agency prompted by adverse circumstances.  This is then supported by his examinations of gangs as arising under specific and widespread social conditions: immigration, blue-collar expansion, drug deregulation, mass incarceration, and monopoly behavior.  In each circumstance, and citing extensive research pertinent to each, the author makes a strong case for the integral structural aspect, if not impetus, of gangs.  He notes, for instance, that early 20th century immigration virtually encouraged gang formation through its emphasis on the defiant and aggressive individualism necessary to survive in environments typically poor and facing extreme discrimination.  Interestingly, the blue-collar expansion of the mid-20th century is presented by the author as generating an actively intelligent motive going to gang formation, in that the young men comprehended the blue-collar work of their parents as unsatisfying, and organized to create leisure for themselves.  The same processes of an organizational response fused with defiant individualism are presented as evident in the Italian Mafia’s loss of drug trade control; essentially, the young men of the neighborhoods organized in ways calculated to weaken the control and thus secure participation for themselves (Sanchez-Jankowski,  2010,  pp. 136-139).   Drawing upon documented fact and reports, the author traces an irrefutable commonality in regard to gangs over multiple eras and in differing conditions; namely, that the unique social and economic circumstances serve to generate the coming together of the more defiant young people, and in ways pointing to strategic thinking and motivations of actual advantages. 

Assessment and Implications

       It is important in assessing Sanchez-Jankowski’s article to comprehend several factors.  To begin with, and to his credit, the author detaches himself from the moral aspects so inevitably associated with gang study.  This is not to suggest that prior research is tainted, but rather that the violence and criminality of gang activity inevitably influences perspectives and approaches; given the prevalence of deviant activity of gangs, it then follows that this largely fuels investigation, and motivation becomes narrowed.  Admirably, Sanchez-Jankowski distances himself from these associations, which enables him to more clinically examine the organizational elements which, as he proposes, are very much within the motivations.  Then, the author is careful to acknowledge his own reliance upon elements common to gangs and non-gang individuals.  He notes that, as he is dissatisfied with approaches that define gangs in randomized ways, most “defiant individuals” do not join gangs.  More important, however, is that

gangs often contain these types, which indicates a coming together of organizational and individual interests (Sanchez-Jankowski, 1991, p. 29).  Through a uniform commitment to scholarly integrity and what must be termed insight, the author ultimately presents a persuasive and somewhat novel approach to gang study, observing inescapable traits and patterns within gangs reflective of societal organizations of all kinds. 

       It seems clear, based on the quality of this article, that the intended audience encompasses serious students of criminology, as well as experts in the field.  Sanchez-Jankowski has certainly provided me with a new perspective, as his thorough examination of gangs in differing eras and conditions convinces me that structure and ambition are as pivotal to the gang, if not more so, than the traditionally held motives of disenfranchisement and deviant personality.  No matter what criminal or violent activities are undertaken, I now perceive a “method to the madness,” and understand that viewing gangs as gatherings of weak, sociopathic, or socially deviant young individuals vastly underestimates the constructions themselves.  This being the case, the implications for the criminal justice system seem to me extraordinary.  In a sense, gangs are more challenging as seen by Sanchez-Jankowski because the formations of them are far more complex – and reflective of normal organizational processes – that has been believed.  These are, criminality notwithstanding, organizations in place to pursue agendas, and consequently no blanket criminal justice policy may be effective in dealing with them.  The crime must be addressed, but it may be that efforts to eradicate the gangs themselves will be seen as futile, for the social conditions will enable them whenever two or more “defiant individuals” choose to defy circumstances in a collective fashion.

References

Katz, J., & Jackson-Jacobs, C.  (2004).  The Criminologists’ Gang.  In  Summer, C., The            Blackwell Companion to Criminology.  (pp. 91-124).  Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Sanchez-Jankowski, M.  (2010).  Gangs and Social Change.  In Walsh, A., & Hemmens, C.,       Introduction to Criminology: A Text/Reader.  (pp. 135-142)Thousand Oaks: Sage      Publications.

Sanchez-Jankowski, M.  (1991).  Islands in the Street: Gangs and American Urban Society.       Berkeley: University of California :Press. White, S. O.  (2001).  Handbook of Youth and Justice.  New York: Springer.

Categories
Healthcare

Medicaid and Medicare for the Organization

Currently, the responsibilities as the CEO of the healthcare facility to provide essential information on the critical importance of Medicaid and Medicare for our healthcare facility. In providing this information to the new board members, they will be able to fully access the significance that these programs provides for the patients, the public, and more importantly to the organization. In absorbing this information, the board members will be more effective in handling the roles and responsibilities of their duties to the organization and to the patients.

Medicare and Medicaid

            Healthcare in the United States has gone through dramatic changes that have left millions without proper healthcare, and organizations without the proper technology, tools, and funding to care for these patients. Only in the last 60 years has there been readily available healthcare insurance for a majority of Americans that were for non-profit. However, once private insurers saw the tax incentives that were available from the government, many private insurance flooded the market, only insuring young, employed, and health individuals, which cause premiums to rise and millions were excluded. Although a national healthcare system has always been a favorable option it has not yet come into fruition. Up until President Kennedy’s presidency was congress mobilizing in that direction, after Lyndon B. Johnson step into the presidency, millions were without healthcare coverage include the poor, the old, and more importantly the children. The best way to go about the process to national healthcare was to step the first steps in insuring the old, low income, and children.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act on July 30, 1965 that created the Medicaid and Medicare federal enacted programs. (Medical News Today, n.d)  Medicare is an entitlement program that was created in order to provide insurance for citizens that are over the age of 65 or who are disabled in any capacity regardless of their level of income. Medicare is a social insurance program that serves more than 48 million enrollees (as of 2011). The program costs over $549 billion. (Gov, n.d) The services they provide include, Part A, hospital insurance, Part B, supplementary insurance that covers home health and outpatient services, Part C that gives seniors the option to enroll in private plans like, Medicare Advantage, and Part D, that covers prescription costs. Medicare is essential in providing insurance for the growing number of seniors who are left without insurance, healthcare bills, and no money to pay for prescriptions or services. The current issues are however that the price of healthcare is increasing, and it is estimated the number of people enrolled will continue to increase. Fraud, waste, and mismanagement are rampant issues with this program. According to Forbes fraud in both programs cost taxpayers billions of dollars. (Matthews, 2012) “Original Medicare isn’t designed to achieve outcomes beyond paying beneficiaries’ claims and guarding against fraud and abuse in the program. Lawmakers built the Medicare program on this limited model in 1965 – and little has changed.” (Humana, 2013)

 Medicaid is another entitlement program that is generally referred as a social welfare program that provides healthcare insurance services for low income individuals, children and families, elderly, and people with disabilities. “This entitlement program is means-tested which means that eligibility for benefits requires the beneficiary to be at or near the Federal poverty level.” (Concord Coalition, 2013)  This program covers over 55 million citizens and costs over $350 billion. (Gov, n.d) There services include providing insurance for children to cover all healthcare expenses, pre-natal care, physician services, family planning services, ambulance services, lab and x-rays, clinic services, and other healthcare services. These services provide a great strength in ensuring that children and their families, along with other groups have access to premium healthcare services for their medical needs.  Issues with Medicaid are similar to Medicare, fraud and the increase in costs are essential in deciding the longevity of the program. “Medicaid is a particular burden on states, consuming on average 22 percent of state budgets… states will be forced to spend another $60 billion on Medicaid through 2021, while another tally estimates the costs to state could reach at least $118 billion through 2023.” (Senate, 2012)

Both government programs are managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is a division held by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Medicare is funded by Federal payroll taxes paid by most employees and employers, beneficiary premiums, and general tax revenues paid on Social Security benefits.  The funds are authorized by Congress which are set aside in trust funds to be used as reimbursements for hospitals, private clinics and insurance companies, and doctors. Medicaid is a joint initiative of the State and Federal governments that are delegated at the state-level. Medicaid is funded by both levels of governments from general tax revenues, where the Federal government matches Medicaid spending dollar for dollar of State spending. Medicaid operates by sending direct payments to the healthcare providers, based on state fee-for-service agreement and pre-arrange payments through HMO’s. States are able to be reimburse from the Federal government of their share of the expenditures, which are dependent on the FMAP or Federal Medical Assistance Percentage and average per capita income level. (Gov, n.d)

Healthcare costs are continuing to rise, and millions are still without healthcare coverage due to lack of affordability and access. Quality care is essential in healthcare organizations, providing the same care to all patients is a significant duty that healthcare officials must make. Quality care is dependent on the share practices and mission of the organization. The way that patients are treated, and the recommend care is a testament of quality care. It is measured in the feedback from patients, the outcome of patients, and the way the staff is treated and treat others. In providing quality care, the organization must remember to put the patients’ needs first in getting to them quickly, accessing the problem, recommending the correct procedures, and ensuring they get the best outcome. Within healthcare organizations quality care needs to consistently monitored, accessed, reevaluated, and drilled into staff on a continual basis in order to ensure that patients receive the best quality care from the organization.

References

How is Medicare Funded? (2013). Medicare.Gov. Retrieved from http://www.medicare.gov/about-us/how-medicare-is-funded/medicare-funding.html

Matthews, Merril. (2012). “Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Is Costing Taxpayers Billions.” Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2012/05/31/medicare-and-medicaid-fraud-is-costing-taxpayers-billions/

Medicare – Humana Government Relations. (2013). Humana.  Retrieved from https://www.humana.com/about/public-policy/humana-on-the-issues/medicare

Medicaid and Medicare – Tom Coburn. (N.d.). Senate. Gov. Retrieved from http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=4d81849a-33f

Medicare and Medicaid Funding Challenges | The Concord Coalition. (N.d.). Concord Coalition. Retrieved from http://www.concordcoalition.org/medicare/medicare-and-medicaid-funding-challenge

What is Medicaid/Medicare? (2013). MNT. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/medicare-medicaid/Understanding Health Care Quality. (2013). AHRQ.  Retrieved from http://www.ahrq.gov/legacy/consumer/guidetoq/guidetoq4.htm

Categories
Accounting

Imperial Power Corporation

1.         As Assistant Treasurer (International) for IPC in the United States, prepare an     analysis of the exposure of the Spanish subsidiary:

  • using the current rate method,

Exhibit 1

Imperial Power Corporation

Imperial Power of Spain, balance sheet as of March 31, 2000 (in thousands of pesetas).

________________________________________________________________________

Assets

Cash                                                                                       Pts.      6,300   /106.7= 59,044          

Receivable & Securities                                                                    53,763/106.7= 503,870

Inventories                                                                                        41,000/106.7= 384

New Plant & Equipment                                                                   75,100/106.7=703.84

Total Assets                                                                                      176,163= 1651

_______________________________________________________________________           

Liabilities

Account Payable                                                                    Pts.      32,620

Accrued Wages & Taxes                                                                     2,300

long-term Debt                                                                                116,336

                                                                                               Pts.     151,256= 1418

Equity                                                                                    .           24,907

Total E&L                                                                            Pts.      176,163=

Using the current rate method, the subsidiary’s exposure is 0.

b. using the monetary-nonmonetary method:

Exhibit 1

Imperial Power Corporation

Imperial Power of Spain, balance sheet as of March 31, 2000 (in thousands of pesetas).

________________________________________________________________________

Assets

Cash                                                                                       Pts.      6,300   /106.7= 59,044          

Receivable & Securities                                                                    53,763/106.7= 503,870

Inventories                                                                                        41,000/106.7= 384

New Plant & Equipment                                                                   75,100/106.7=703.84

Total Assets                                                                                      176,163= 1651

_______________________________________________________________________           

Liabilities

Account Payable                                                                    Pts.      32,620

Accrued Wages & Taxes                                                                     2,300

long-term Debt                                                                                116,336

                                                                                               Pts.     151,256= 1418

Equity                                                                                    .           24,907

Total E&L                                                                            Pts.      176,163=

Using the current rate method, the subsidiary’s exposure is 0.

2.         Then prepare an analysis of the economic (cash flow) effects on IPC of a             possible devaluation of the peseta.

The possible devalution of the peso (according to the given assumptions) would occur at a 16.6% rate against all foreign currencies.  This means from a cash flow would be negative roughly 25,000 pesos. 

3.         Finally, recommend a plan to present or minimize any losses.

The plan to minimize (potential) losses should focus on the following three points:

  1. A pay-back or minimization in current exposure arising from the two loans to Banco Espanol de Credito and Chase Manhattan Bank.
  • Aggressively using transfer pricing to mop-up existing liquidity to reduce exposure.
  • Eliminate other long-term debts that would significantly increase with a potential devaluation.   

4.         Consider the company’s transfer prices for sales between affiliates. What effect might alternative transfer pricing policies have on the gains or losses from    exchange rate changes?

Transfer pricing can be used as a tactical tool to reduce the Spanish subsidiary’s exposure to potential devaluation. This can be accomplished by raising the transfer price for sales between the Spanish and French/ German subsidiaries, respectively. Although the company might want to diversify away from Spanish Pesos through a (predetermined) allocation to the two different subsidiaries, the tactic should focus on higher prices to reduce exposure. 

Categories
Psychology

Reading Report

Source: Rutter, M., & O’Connor, T.G. (2004). Are there biological programming effects for psychological development? Findings from a study of Romanian adoptees. Developmental Psychology. 40.1, 81-94.

Problem: “The key question is whether, given the high quality of the later environment,

there were any persisting sequelae (among Romanian orphans who were later adopted into British homes) and, if there were, to what they might be due.” (p.81)

Procedure: The researchers began this study with an examination of a selection of children who lived in the difficult and challenging conditions presented in a number of Romanian orphanages from birth to ages four and five. The basic premise of their study was that these children, who were adopted out of these orphanages and into middle-class British homes, made an appropriate group of test subjects for research into what, if any,  effect(s) the difficult conditions in which they lived for their first few years of life would have on their development and behavior in adolescence and adulthood after they were adopted. The researchers considered three possible mediators for persisting psychosocial adversity (i.e.- developmental and/or behavioral issues) among the Romanian adoptees. The first was that ongoing psychosocial adversity, if it was demonstrated,  was a result of current conditions in their new environments; the second was that early-age cognitive processing either would or would not allow children to process and adapt to their early environments in positive ways; the third was that early adversity would bring about lasting physiological, psychological, and developmental changes that would make it impossible (or at least less likely) for these adoptees to avoid psychosocial adversity later in life. The researchers posited several hypotheses based on these three factors, with the aim of determining whether any of the three appeared to provide an adequate explanation for the presence or lack of post-adoption psychosocial adversity

In order to test their premises, the researchers drew from the “324 children adopted into UK families (from other countries) between February 1990 and September 1992” (p.84). Of this pool, 144 children were selected who had lived “in very depriving institutions and who were adopted into UK families at various ages up to 42 months” (p.84). The comparison sample consisted of 54 UK-born children who had been adopted at or near birth into UK families. The study considered a number of developmental measures, including physical measurements of height and weight at birth and at the time of the study, as well as information available about each child’s height and weight at various points in between. A number of psychological tests were administered as well, primarily intended to assess the existence of attachment disorders and psychological development disorders.

Findings: the study concluded that there was a strong association between early deprivation and poor physical, cognitive, and psychological development after adoption. The researchers found that most of the children demonstrated a “catch-up” (p.89) period in the first few years of life in their new homes where they tended to make notable improvements both physically and psychologically. This catch-up period seemed to last an average of 2-2.5 years, with any subsequently-remaining physical, psychological, or cognitive deficits appearing to become permanent.

The researchers concluded that early deprivation was an accurate determinant of lasting physiological and psychological adversity, and that subsequent environmental improvements were not adequate for completely reversing the damage of such early deprivation. Reaction: This study seems to demonstrate in very clear terms how important the first few years of life are in terms of physical and psychological development. When adverse conditions exist in this period of life, the damage can be severe, and regardless of whether later conditions are less adverse, much of the damage done in early childhood cannot be overcome or reversed.

Categories
Business

SWOT analysis for Walmart

Introduction
  Walmart is perhaps one of the most well-known corporations in the world.  Although it started from humble origins, the corporation quickly grew to become one of the most formidable retailers in the world.  Although some analysts see Walmart’s rise as meteoric, particularly in the United States, the retailer’s aggressive overseas expansion has raised concerns regarding Walmart’s business model and internal controls to survive worldwide.     Strengths In order to become one of the world’s largest retailers, Walmart possesses a myriad of strengths.  The first main strength is efficiency in operations, particularly in supply chain operations.  One may argue that the firm’s ability to establish “lean” supply chains and superior inventory are the key planks of the firm’s business model, a business model that has not been replicated by any other retailer.  These operational strengths “feed through” the system to establish another one of Walmart’s strengths: pricing (low prices). While many believe that retailers establish low prices through aggressive purchasing, one of the largest components in costs for retailers is overhead expenses.  By cutting overhead expenses, Walmart has become one of the most efficient operators in the retail space, leveraging its strengths to solidify its competitive position at home and abroad.      Weaknesses   Although Walmart boasts numerous strengths, recent performance has also revealed important weaknesses.  The most important weakness is the company’s internal control system, particularly in overseas operations.  Walmart has been tarred with numerous “corruption” scandals involving local managers paying bribes to governments in order to secure preferential treatment for store authorization permits and preferential tax treatment.  Indeed, although Walmart boasted of increased revenue and profits from overseas, apparently their system of efficiency and internal controls did not follow leading to a larger weakness of overexpansion and inability to replicate their model.  At the same time that Walmart is experiencing unprecedented challenges overseas, it is also experiencing reduced sales at home in the United States.  Although this slowdown is partially due to remaining economic problems and deleveraging of consumers, there are also questions regarding the ability of Walmart to compete amongst a growing cadre of low-cost retailers.  Opportunities Walmart still has several key opportunities to grow its business.  First, if the firm can better manage operations abroad, there are numerous emerging middle class consumers (particularly in Africa) where the firm can build its business.  There are also numerous locations in the United States, particularly urban ones, where Walmart could expand operations to increase revenue streams and profitability.  Another potential opportunity is different ways to sell items. As the sword of Damocles swings over brick-and-mortar retailers, Walmart is expanding online offerings. Threats Due to Walmart’s (previous) success, it has bred larger and more capable rivals. Firms such as Amazon and Costco have tried to replicate Walmart’s model; Amazon has arguably been the most successful replicating essentially all of the products Walmart offers in its store.  If other competitors emerge and are able to compress margins even more, Walmart could face an existential threat down the line.                                         References:  
Walmart.  Available at: http://www.walmart.com
Amazon.  Available at: http://www.amazon.com                      
Categories
English

The Struggle of Human Rights

Introduction

            The speech of Eleanor Roosewelt in Paris, Sorbonne is written in a way that it is able to create engagement with the audience, get people connected and emphasize the importance of preserving human rights. The below essay is going to examine the rhetorical tools used by Eleanor Roosevelt.

            Logos. The main thesis of the speech; the importance of maintaining freedom and human rights is clearly communicated through the speech. The speaker says:

            “I believe, of our chance of peace in the future, and for the strengthening of the United   Nations organization to the point where it can maintain peace in the future “. She clearly wants to ensure that world politics and the United Nations step up against totalitarian dictatorial states like the USSR.

            Ethos. The credibility of Eleanor Roosevelt is also addressed in the speech. As the longest serving First Lady an author and an equality activist. She stepped up several times before against discrimination.

            Pathos. Pathos is the rhetorical tool that is used the most throughout the speech. This is what creates a real connection with the audience. Talking about past historical issues like the French Revolution in front of an audience in Paris is a great choice, just like involving current issues, like the lack of freedom of speech in many parts of the world, especially in the USSR.

            Style of Speech. The speech examined in this essay is definitely written in a Toulmin style, as the moral argument is already decided and one can suppose that the audience already agrees with the statement that freedom of speech and human rights are values that are important for democratic societies. She also confirms: “The decisive importance of this issue was fully recognized by the founders of the United Nations at San Francisco.”

References

Roosevelt, Eleanor. (1948) “The Struggle for Human Rights.” American Rhetoric. 2011. Web. 11          May 2012. School of Liberal Arts. (web) The Rhetorical Triangle: Understanding and Using Logos, Ethos

Categories
English

Banning Smoking in Public Places

The topic of the Rogerian essay is the argument for banning smoking in public places. Bringing in scientific research results, the authors would like to address human rights and freedom issues and argue that everyone has the right for clear fresh air without 3000 different toxins. While smokers’ have the right to enjoy their habit if they choose to, the public’s interest is more important in this case than individual rights.

            Background Knowledge. I have examined newspaper and academic publications regarding smoking ban in America. As a non-smoker, I understand that people with heart and respiratory conditions can be affected by cigarette smoke. With friends who are asthmatic I know that cigarette smoke can worsen several people’s condition. Indeed, if I go to a club or party where smoking is allowed, my clothes and hair immediately need to be washed, because of the smell.

            Research Plan. In the first phase, I would like to review newspaper publications on the issue; argumentative articles on each side. The second phase would be to check the validity of the claims using peer-reviewed journals detailing research results on second-hand smoking and its effect on people’s health. I will use search terms “second-hand smoking” and “ban smoking in public”. Debate.org would be a good starting point, as it is a website that addresses both sides of the argument. The CDC website would provide facts and overview about the health risks of second-hand smoking on different population groups. It also provides references for future research including scientific study publications. The WHO report covering the statistics of 192 countries would also provide the author with a solid proof to back up the argument for banning smoking in public places.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (web) Smoking and Tobacco Use.                    <http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/general_facts> [Accessed: 12/6/13]

Debate.org Website. History and Debate of Smoking Ban. Web. <http://www.debate.org/tobacco-            rights/> [Accessed: 12/6/13] Oberg, M., Jaakkola, M., Woodward, A., Pergua, A., Pruss-Ustun, A. (2010) Worldwide burden of disease from exposure to second-hand smoke: a retrospective analysis of data from          192 countries. WHO. Web.             <http://www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/publications/smoking.pdf>  [Accessed:

Categories
Ethics

Necessary Justice: The Death Penalty Imperative

       The death penalty, it seems, never rests; controversy surrounds it today as it always has, and arguments rage over the morality and efficiency of it continuously.  If anything has changed, it appears to be a lessening of support, and likely due to media promotion of how minimally capital punishment deters severe crime.  The death penalty is on the wane: “Thirty-six percent fewer states carried out executions in 2012 than in 2011” (DPIC, 2012).  This may also be due to the culture’s determination to see itself as enlightened, which equates to more lenient treatment of extreme offenders.  Added to this is the tendency in people to be unable to fully comprehend the levels of crime that bring the punishment into consideration; when violence is unimaginable, it is then difficult to address such a thing at that level and remain rational.  Nonetheless, and however capital punishment is legislated today,  the reality remains that this is a penalty justified by the very degrees of the crimes calling it into play. 

       The great argument usually opposing the death penalty points to it as failing to deter, and statistics fly back and forth as to the validity of this.   Certainly, many facts indicate that capital punishment does not significantly deter murder.  This, however, ignores the more fundamental issue of degree or state of the deterrence.  On one level, there can be no truly reliable means of determining how many extreme crimes are deterred by the death penalty simply because these crimes do not happen.  Citing a state wherein murder rates are high and capital punishment is imposed by no means translates to an ineffectiveness of the punishment; rather, it may well be that the crimes rates would be even higher without it.  Then, logic dictates that some deterrence occurs whenever a known punishment is attached to a crime (Bedau, Cassell, 2005,  p. 39).  Also, the majority of those who support the death penalty only partially hold deterrence as a reason, and usually express doubts as to the realities of the punishment actually preventing extreme crime (Mandery, 2011,  p. 31).  In all cases and sides, then, deterrence is not a relevant issue in determining the rightness of the penalty, just as some measure of deterrence is inevitable.

       What must be considered is what the public so often avoids confronting, which is that, questions of absolute morality aside, there are actions and behaviors so horrific that they require this form of response.  Kant is helpful here, in that his philosophical approach is both pragmatic and moralistic.  On one level, Kant provides strong support for capital punishment in his view of the scope of what is morally wrong.  That is, even if the act mandating the punishment is not immoral, the forbidding of it by law renders it immoral (Hill, 2000, p. 180).  The society to some extent decides morality by means of law, and the severity of murder, for example, is such that the law must respond to the same degree in order for the morality to be upheld.  More to the point, however, Kant presents retribution, frequently cited as a failing or dubious motive for the death penalty, as a rational and moral drive.  Kantian ideology holds that the evil done by an individual is in some sense inflicted upon that individual, in moral terms; to do evil is to bring evil upon the self (Hill, 2000,  p. 186).  Importantly, Kant here acknowledges the existence of evil as a real force.  This may not be entirely acceptable to modern thinking, but it is nonetheless a view held by a vast variety of cultures of the past and today, and irrespective of religious creeds.  In simple terms, good and evil are real to most minds, and evil at its most active dos not merit the consideration attached to other crimes.

       What is also vital here is comprehending how Kant removes retribution from the modern and negative perceptions of it.  Retribution is only fueled by suspect motives of “vengeance” when it is interpreted as such; otherwise, it exists as a sane and logical form of addressing a great wrong.  Moreover, and even morality aside, it serves to promote the balance necessary in a culture.  If the crime is truly monstrous, then the punishment must be as severe as can be given.  This is society’s way of asserting that certain acts are not subject to debate or validation, which in turn reflects the society’s understanding that some crimes and criminals are completely beyond the realm of normalcy.  It is perhaps an irony, but there is no escaping the fact that what justifies the death penalty is precisely the extremes of crime that call for it.

References

Bedau, H. A., & Cassell, P. G.  (2005).  Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have        Capital Punishment?  New York: Oxford University Press.

Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).  (2012).   The Death Penalty in 2012: Year-End         Report.  Retrieved from http://deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/2012YearEnd.pdf

Hill, T. E.  (2000).  Respect, Pluralism, and Justice: Kantian Perspectives.  New York: Oxford University Press. Mandery, E.  (2011).  Capital Punishment in America: A Balanced Examination.  Sudbury: Jones

Categories
Nutrition

BMI Paper

Body mass index is a formula that factors in a person’s height, weight and age in order to determine a numeric value that can categorize a person as underweight, overweight, obese or within a healthy weight range. Although the BMI scale doesn’t take into account muscle mass, it is an effective way to measure whether or not a majority of people are within a healthy weight range for their height, gender and age.

  To calculate a BMI, one must take their weight in pounds and multiply it by 703, then divide that total by the height of the person in inches squared. Since I weigh 145 pounds, multiply that by 703 and get 101935. At 5 feet 8, I am 68 inches tall, and 68 squared is 4624. That would mean that my BMI is 22.04. That falls within the healthy weight range for my height and age. However, I would not mind to be more physically fit, and to form more muscle mass, so I want to implement a higher protein diet in my daily life, combined with a high intensity workout.

After calculating my BMI, I have decided to change my diet from a carbohydrate based diet to a protein based diet and to start working out at least five days a week. I want all of my three main meals to contain at least 28 grams of protein, with sides of complex carbs and vegetables to help give me energy and maintain muscle growth. I also want to rotate my workout schedule between cardio and weightlifting. Since my goal is to increase my muscle mass, I want to aim for three days of high intensity weight lifting, separated by two cardio days and two days for rest.

Categories
Religion Sociology

How does religion influence human being

Religion plays an important role in everyday life. A person’s religious beliefs can affect various aspects of his/her life. Religion is not always about accepting or living by a certain set of beliefs, but it can be about the way those beliefs indirectly influences one’s life. Religious beliefs may instil morals and values in a person that will in turn influence the decisions he/she makes about the type of life he/she leads. Religion is defined as a set of beliefs, cultural systems, or views of the world that relates the human being to the supernatural realm. Numerous studies have been conducted to determine why religion plays such an important aspect in society. Great debates have been pursued about various religions and the people who practice them. Religion has a much greater impact on society than the average person realizes. Human society is built on religion, so even if one doesn’t believe in a particular religion, he/she is still inadvertently affected by a religious society. Consequently, almost every aspect of one’s daily life is influenced in some way by one religion or another. One of the greatest influences that religion has on everyday life is the fact that many of the laws and social and cultural beliefs that are practiced are based upon religious teachings. These laws are the foundation of the society that humans know. Because these laws govern our daily behaviour, in essence humans are behaving according to religious doctrine. Religious beliefs are an intricate part of each human being that shapes their social interaction, family life, type of job they work, whether or not they attend religious services, the role they play in society as a female or male, and their economic life.

Religious beliefs help to keep and maintain order in society. Religious practices also help to comfort humans and explain why tragic events happen. By nature humans are naturally sociable creatures. Humans learn from each other and often work better with the help and ideas of others. Without religion, people would not be able to live together and function in society. Religious beliefs govern the way people interact with one another in society. Religion is used by society members to comfort one another in time of crisis. Religious groups ban together to pray when tragic events happen. Many religious people admit that they are able to face a world of crime and violence because of their strong religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are used in to comfort bereaved families. Funeral, wakes, tributes, memorials, and other rituals all have their foundations in one religion or another. Many of the Ten Commandments are actual state laws that one could be penalized for violating. Nonetheless, most cultures have vowed to separate church and state. One religious belief can also affect one’s social status. Many time in small town when someone is seeking political office, one of the aspects of their lives that is mentioned is their religious affiliation. In order to live productively in society together, humans must be able to resolve conflict in a peaceful manner. Again, religion plays a role in conflict resolution. Must religions have a set of guidelines that govern how conflicts should be resolved among believers. Most religious believers follow these guidelines and only revert to state law when no other actions can be taken.

Religion also affects aspects of family life. The act of marriage is a religious convention. Whether or not a couple gets married, has children, divorces, use contraceptives, or attends some type of religious services each week all depends upon religion. With nearly fifty percent of all marriages today ending in divorce, many scholars are examining whether or not a family’s religious beliefs has an effect on its cohesiveness. Marriages end in divorce over many dilemmas from money to the best way to raise and discipline children. Many studies have concluded that families that practice religious beliefs and rituals together tend to be happier and more loving. When couples have religious grounding in their relationship they tend to not argue as much as couple who do not because many religions have the role of each person in the relationship outlined. If each person is willing to abide by the guidelines set for him/her, the possibility of arguing of the general government of the family is slim. Statistics also show that children who come from loving, two parent homes have a better chance at success than their counterparts. Religious people feel that these statistics are no mistake because a higher being designed it that way. Many religions have guidelines as to the role of the mother and father. Many religions convey that the role of the woman is to bear children, while the role of the man is to provide the finances. Disciplining children has become a huge controversy lately. The law says that whipping is a crime, while many religions teach that discipline is necessary. Nonetheless, it is quite obvious that in order for a marriage to work, the couple must be operating under some type of guidelines.

One’s profession may be influenced by religious beliefs. Many people were taught that an honest dollar was a good dollar, but many people refuse to work certain types of jobs due to their religious beliefs. There have been many heated debates in the news lately about abortions and casinos. Many religions teach that abortions are wrong because it is murder. As a result, people who support this will not work for physicians or clinics that perform abortions. They may feel that if they work in a place that performs abortions that they are somehow condoning the action. Likewise, many people will not accept the services of a doctor or nurse that performs or assists in the act of abortion. Religious people often ask their doctor or nurse these questions before eliciting their services. Likewise, many religions profess that gambling is wrong too. Consequently, no matter how desperate a person may be for a job, he or she will not take a job at a casino because of religious beliefs. Another example is massage parlours. There are an endless number of religions that convey that the woman’s body should be covered properly and not seen by strange men. Most women at massage parlours wear very skimpy clothing to elicit male customers. Likewise, some women do not patronize massage parlours out of fear of being stereotyped.

Attending some type of religious service is a religious ritual. Surveys have confirmed that a high percentage of people attend some type of religious service on a regular basis. In some instances, people don’t attend religious services because they believe in the particular religion, but because it has become a routine for them. They grew up attending a service and they continued when they were grown. As a result, they now attend with their family. Or, attending a religious service may be expected by the community in which they live. Many people attend services because everyone else in their neighbourhood does or because people they work with attend the same service. Whatever the reason may be, people seem to go. Some people even attend more than one service per week. Although many people are unaware of it, in some denominations people hold offices in their religious establishments. With these offices comes societal and economic prestige.  Some religious organizations demand that their member donate a certain percentage of their family’s earnings.

The role of males and female in society has been determined for years. As children, humans are taught that some roles are feminine, while others are masculine. Female children are given dolls and male children are given trucks. These teachings stem from the false assumption that women are naturally passive and men are naturally aggressive. Nonetheless, societal roles are being transformed in today’s society. Women are going out and working while men stay home and take care of the home and children. There are men who decide to become school teachers and women who want are professional truck drivers.  The way people teach their children about these roles are rooted in religious beliefs. As a result, humans grow into the roles they will have later in life. Sadly, those people who do not fit into the cookie cutter design are ostracized by society. The religious connotation of these roles is still state law in many places. The institution of marriage is defined as a woman and man in many states today; the same way it is defined in most religions. People who object to these rules are deemed deviants and trouble makers.

Deciding to live meagrely or extravagant is also rooted in religious beliefs. Most people who are religious practices decide to live meagrely. Living extravagantly is seen as a waste by most religions. Donating to charities, volunteering, tithing, and helping the poor in general are seen as wealth to religious people. In most religions, the main teacher was of poor upbringings. For example, in Christianity, Christ was poor. He didn’t own anything and live the life of a nomad, moving from place to place. As a result of this teaching, and others like it, many people believe it is a sin to be wealthy.

The roots of religious practices are manifested in various aspects of human life. Even people who profess that they are not religious are still inadvertently affected by religion. Every member of the civilized world is subject to societal laws, and depending upon where one lives those laws could come directly from some religious teaching. Some type of religion has been present to humans from the very beginning of existence. Many practices have evolved and changed over time, but can be traced back to one particular religion or another. Much research has been conducted to try to uncover the meaning of it all, but one definitive meaning has remained elusive. People who practice religious beliefs seem happier, content with life, and more purpose driven than people who do not practice at all. Religion affects how members of society interact with one another. It determines if one will get married or cohabitate. Religion determines the type of job or career one pursues.  Religion affects all aspects of one life both directly and indirectly.

Categories
English

Overcoming Obstacles

A Turn of Events

My early experiences in life led me to adopt a motivated mindset to overcome daunting obstacles and achieve my goals. If there is anything I have learned to realize about the reality of life is that, ‘nothing is naturally that easy to accomplish’. Through the years of struggling to achieve my dream of becoming the first one in the family to finish a college degree, I found out that nothing is free in this world and every single matter that gives one a sense of achievement should be handled with proper application of effort and hard work.

Everything was going smoothly. My mother had her job and was able to put me in school thus providing me the education that I need to achieve my dreams. I thought then that everything would remain as ‘easy’ as it seems. However, everything changed one my single mother came in the house one night looking drenched and powerless. She lost her job. She looked at me with no words, but it was as if I can hear her say “how can I support you now?”  I was speechless, all I could do was try to figure out how I would be able to ease her paid. The hardships began to come in like flood. It became hard to put even just the simplest meal in the table for the family to share. I realized that at this point, I had to stand up for my own sake and be stronger as I am to face larger challenges as these problems come sweeping our family.  I knew that this was the only thing I could do to make sure my mother’s pain could be eased somehow.

Part of my step towards achieving my goal is dedicated to putting my attention focused on my studies. I admit it was not easy to keep my attention on my studies amidst all the different conditions I had to deal with in relation to my mother and my family as a whole. I needed all the help I can get. Sadly, my teachers were preoccupied with their own problems. I had to learn matters on my own and become dedicated to my studies. Financial problems became the main hindrance to my goal but I pursued my dream any way I could anyway.

As I entered college, my dream became even harder to achieve as the financial support I needed pressured me at an even harder cause. I then resorted to searching for the most possible scholarships available that I could apply for; working while learning also became a stepping-stone towards the completion of my goals. Relatively, nothing was easy; but I know I do have to undergo all these trials. I always keep in my mind the words of my mother as she says ‘nothing comes from nothing, every good thing comes from another good thing’, I figure, if I keep on choosing the good path then perhaps I would finally be able to reap the fruits of my efforts later on in life. My determination apparently was not enough for me to achieve my dreams. Every single desire should be worked upon, every single step towards my goal should be seriously taken into consideration and every obstacle should be realized as opportunities towards growth and a closer bridge towards what I want to achieve.

Through the years, I realized that with one twist of events in my much easier life when I was younger, everything could take another phase and my determination immediately grew. It was as if I was forced to become a lot more mature at such an early age. To some, such an experience might seem specifically devastating. To me though, such part of my life became the turning point of everything, a realization of what I really want and a source of indication on the path that I want to take as I grow into age. My mother, my inspiration, gave me the most compelling source strength allowing me to see through the bright side of life even though everything started to seem shattered. As my mother never gave up on me or on the idea of giving me what I needed as an advancing student, I learned not to give up on myself either. I knew I had to stand up and it was not only for me nor for my dream, but for my mother and my family who I want to lead in a much better state of living as I tend to graduate from college and gain a better job that would allow me to give them the American dream that my mother longed to realize for us when we were still young.

Categories
Accounting

Independent Auditors of the organisation’s accounts

The role of the independent auditor is to plan and perform the audits in order to obtain reasonable assurance of the financial records of the business and ensure these records are free from material errors. The independent auditor assesses the effectiveness of a company’s internal control system and its financial statements in order to develop an opinion as to the accuracy of these systems. Additionally the independent auditor’s task aims at addressing the risk of material errors and misstatements in the company’s financial records. The primary goal of external auditing conducted by independent auditors is to determine the extent to which the company adheres to managerial policies, procedures, and requirements. The independent auditor then forms an opinion as to the fairness and dependability of the statements of the company. This opinion is communicated to the appropriate body or board in the form of a report.

An independent auditor’s report is a formal opinion or disclaimer issued by the auditor concerning the accounting records, financial position, and the internal control system of a company. These reports are not evaluations but merely opinion as to whether the information existing is accurate and free from errors. These reports can contain unqualified opinion and this implies that the auditor’s opinion is that the financial accounts give a true and fair representation of the company. On the other hand, a qualified opinion report indicates that the auditor identified a few areas that do not comply with the required standards but the rest of the financial statements are presented fairly. An auditor can also give an adverse opinion report where the auditor establishes that the financial reports of the company are materially misstated and when considered in its entity they do not conform to the required standards. However, an auditor can fail to form a formal opinion usually due to various reasons and such an opinion is termed as a disclaimer of opinion.

The independent auditors make these reports on the fair presentation of the company financial records in accordance with any professional standards. The standards that govern independent auditors are either the Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) or International Standards on Auditing (ISA). The independent auditors make reference to these standards in forming an opinion on the company’s financial presentation and in coming up with the auditor’s report. The purpose of these auditing standards is to provide engagement standards for the profession, outline the procedures to be followed, establish a guideline on engagement and set out professional ethics. The Generally Accepted Auditing Standards provide for the qualifications on an auditor and provides for the standard of work expected from an auditor. It also provides for the performance of the audit report and sets out the prerequisites necessary for the auditor to act independently. In essence, these standards govern the engagement of an auditor in conducting the audits. Similarly, the International Standards on Auditing governs the engagement of the auditor   in forming an opinion on the financial position of the company.  In addition, these standards provide for the responsibilities of the auditors and provide standards for the performance of audits. Conversely, the standards set out how audits are conducted including planning of audits, the collection of evidence, working with experts and the formulation of audit reports. Simply put, these standards define how auditors should conduct audits

Categories
World Literature

Christine de Pizan and Advice for Widows

Writing became a form of therapy for Christine de Pizan following the death of her husband when she was 25 years old. Her efforts to expel the pain of widowhood through lyric ultimately resulted in the formation of a distinct style based on the recurring subject matter. However, rather than simply describing the sorrows that are often experienced as a result of becoming a widow, de Pizan offers structured perspectives from a consistently female perspective and even provides advice on the treatment of widows by other members of the greater feminine society. Additionally, the message is extended to widows from all social classes through a focus on challenges of the situation that apply to women of all economic statuses. The first issue is the indifference of men to the plight of a widow. This is compounded by the stress of the many pieces of paperwork and lawsuits that will be brought upon the widow in response to their husband’s remaining debts and dealings. The third key challenge faced by all widows according to de Pizan is the evil gossip that will fuel unfair criticisms and judgements of those who have lost their partner. The author offers several pieces of advice that are meant to help women to protect themselves from the negative effects associated with the three primary trials of widowhood. In response to apparent cold-heartedness from others it is suggested that widows turn to God, focus on being a kind person to others, and if all else fails to sequester themselves from those who seek to cause harm. These approaches are also meant to help widows avoid lawsuits and criticisms that could ultimately ruin their lives.

            While de Pizan’s pieces of advice for widows were likely helpful in the time of their conception, they appear to be too dated to have practical implications for widowed women in developed contemporary societies. Similar challenges still exist in the form of gossip, paperwork, and a lack of empathy, but the standing of females in most modern regions has risen to a level that is no longer compatible with the environment in which the advice was developed. It is true that women are still unfairly treated as the lesser sex on an almost universal basis, but the degree of disparity based on sex in lawful and other judgements has been substantially decreased throughout modern systems. The threat of lawsuits and similar demands are thus less pressing on widows than had been the case in de Pizan’s especially repressed time period. However, it is still true that legal matters must be taken care of following the death of a spouse, and this applies as much to a widower as a widow. Unfortunately de Pizan’s advice is useless to both sexes under current law systems as these matters cannot simply be avoided through kindness or by going into hiding. Neither sex would be faced with the same legal threats today that would have existed when this work was written and so there is no need to be concerned with having no representation or acknowledgement as human beings.             The above relates to the situation for widows in most developed countries, but there are still many cultures in which females find themselves in circumstances that are sadly similar to those faced by de Pizan. It is possible that the advice offered in this piece would have some relevance to current widows in such cultures, though there would certainly be limitations specific to the sociocultural environment that would also need consideration. For example, the spiritual beliefs of a culture may overrule any constructed principles of law, requiring the advice to be reframed within the spiritual perspective so that it can counter the challenge at the most appropriate and impactful level.

Categories
World Literature

Everyman Lessons and Contemporary Communication

The primary lesson in The Summoning of Everyman is that the only aspect of life to accompany a person in death is their ledger of good deeds. The play symbolizes Good Deeds as a person, along with several other aspects of Everyman’s life, who represents his interactions with each as if recounting a personal relationship. In the Christian framework of this play, the characters serve to demonstrate that commonly misplaced values will ultimately be useless or even harmful to a person when they are called before God for judgement. For example, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Wits are revealed to dissipate with age while Knowledge cannot make the trip past life’s end. Relationships with people as represented by Fellowship, Kindred, and Cousin demonstrate that they are in the same situation as Everyman and cannot aid him without letting their own ledgers suffer, thus showing them to be unreliable in death. However, no factor is as obviously negative as Everyman’s relationship with Goods. The play begins with God openly upset about the reliance of mankind on material objects. This displeasure is the motivation for the summoning of Everyman to judgement through Death. Everyman learns that bringing Goods on his journey would only make the situation worse by emphasizing his lack of charity in life.         Though Good Deeds is the only character available to strengthen Everyman’s case before God, there is another that is vital to the cause by providing the energy to survive the journey and to be a significant factor upon their arrival at the judgement. Everyman had not established a strong relationship with Good Deeds through his life, and thus required the absolution available by begging for Penance in the presence of Confession. Doing so allowed Confession to declare Everyman absolved and greatly boosted the impact of Good Deeds as a ledger component             As a standard morality tale, Everyman is still easily relatable to Christian values and should be clearly interpreted as a warning against materialism in combination with the promotion of charitable acts as vital components of the faith. The use of allegorical characters remains an effective means of conveying these and other important messages within the play. Materialism is perhaps more prominent of a moral issue today than it has ever been, and this piece presents the issue in a uniquely Christian manner by contrasting the matter with the impact of good deeds during judgement by God. Also, the often misunderstood role of confession and penance in the religion is perfectly demonstrated in this work, giving it an enduring quality of relevance that stands out among the wealth of complex religious adaptations found throughout the history of performance art. However, one of the emerging topics in all of academia is the need to use a multicultural perspective when forming current and future hypotheses. This issue has arisen as the world continues to undergo a mixing of cultures that is changing the nature of previously assumed standards based on ethnocentric perspectives. Accordingly, it is necessary to consider the contemporary effectiveness of Everyman in delivering traditionally Christian values to the modern multicultural society. An immediately noticeable concern from this viewpoint is that the notion of discounting other people in the assessment of personal value through judgement or any other form is in direct conflict with the ideas held by most collectivist cultures. However, the importance of good deeds is perfectly in tune with collectivist values. This inconsistency could pose a threat to the widespread impact of this work or it could motivate the viewer to more closely inspect the particular Christian views that underlie the apparent discord and may actually lead to a better understanding of the religion.