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LOOKING AHEAD

The Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal
Issue No. 8, Spring 2015

Thank You To Our Staff!!
Executive Board and Directors
Hilary Gelfond, President ‘16
Natasha Herrick, Events Director ‘15
Hazel Guardado, Foreign Policy Center Director ‘16
Allison Schonberg, Economic Policy Center Director ‘16
Jonathan Levitan, Domestic Policy Center Director ‘17
Ellie Politi, Healthcare Policy Center Director ‘18
Gideon Teitel, Education Policy Policy Center Director ‘17
Michael Herman, Science & Techology Policy Center Director ‘15
Liam Berigan, Energy & Environmental Policy Center Director ‘17

Front Cover: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/FDR_in_1933.jpg
Inside Photo: www.nydailynews.com
Back Cover: www.nbcnewyork.com
Copyright (C) 2015 by the Cornell Roosevelt Institute. All rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed
herein are those of the authors. They do not express the views or opinions of the Cornell Roosevelt Institute.

Table of Contents
About the Roosevelt Institute
Page 1

I. Center for Domestic Policy
Page 2

II. Center for Economic Policy
Page 30

III. Center for Education Policy
Page 44

IV. Center for Environmental Policy
Page 56

V. Center for Foreign Policy
Page 64

VI. Center for Healthcare Policy
Page 78

VII. Center for Science and Technology Policy
Page 93

About the Cornell Roosevelt Institute

The Roosevelt Institute at Cornell University is a student-run policy institute that generates, advocates, and
lobbies for progressive policy ideas and initiatives in
local, university, state, and national government. Members write for our campus policy journals, complete advocacy and education projects in the local community,
host research discussions with professors, write policy
and political blogs, and organize campus political debates and policy seminars.
The Roosevelt Institute at Cornell University is
divided into seven policy centers:
Center for Economic Policy and Development
Center for Foreign Policy and International Studies
Center for Energy and Environmental Policy
Center for Education Policy and Development
Center for Healthcare Policy
Center for Domestic Policy
Center for Science and Techonology
Interested in joining? Contact Us!
Email: curooseveltinstitute@gmail.com
Website: www.cornellrooseveltinstitute.org

I. Center for Domestic Policy
“The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people
strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Director
Jonathan Levitan ‘17
Analysts
Michael Alter ‘16 Delphi Cleaveland ‘17
David Taylor ‘17 Maggie McGrane ‘16
Jared Siegel ‘17 Cris Lee ‘17
Jackson Weber ‘17 Taylor Keating ‘17

Zachary Schmetterer ‘18
Letter from the Policy Director
Minimizing Corruption in Albany: Instituting Term Limits for NY Legislators
Michael Alter‘16
Condom Seizure: The Current Criminalization of Prostitution in the United States
Delphi Cleaveland ‘17
Protecting Privacy: Updating NSA regulations in a digital age
David Taylor ‘17
Individual Taxation Key to Women’s Economic Empowerment
Maggie McGrane ‘16
“Eliminating Gerrymandering”
Jared Siegel ‘17
“Reassigning the Role of Religious Arbitrator: From Accountants to Judges”
Leor Ginzburg ‘18
Nationals, Insular Cases, and Democracy: An Insult
Cris Lee ‘17
Citizenship Through Service: Improving Infrastructure and Creating Citizenship Pathways
Jackson Weber ‘17
Municipal Violations: Funding Local Governments by Ticketing the Poor
Taylor Keating ‘17
Restoring U.S. Income Tax Revenue: A Responsible Restructuring of Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Tax Rates
Zachary Schmetterer ‘18
Meet the Center for Domestic Policy

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am pleased to present the eighth issue of Looking Ahead: The Cornell
University Roosevelt Institute for The Center for Domestic Policy. This has been
my first semester as the Director of this policy center, and I have been constantly impressed by both the effort put in by the analysts and the exceptional
quality of their work. Domestic policy is as broad and diverse as the wide array
of problems we face in this country. Each analyst has devoted ample time to
researching a problem we face and presenting a unique, interesting solution. I
have tremendously enjoyed reading and working with these pieces, finding each
one thourougly thought provoking. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Sincerely,
Jon Levitan

Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR ‘17)
Director, Center for Domestic Policy

Minimizing Corruption in Albany: Instituting Term Limits for NY Legislators
By Michael Alter, Majors: Government, History, Economics ‘16, Email: mca67@cornell.edu
With the huge importance the various States have in the U.S. federal system, state legislatures should be made to
operate as efficiently as possible. Term limits for state legislators, keeping in mind both the need for institutional
coherence and the desire to minimize corruption, should be enacted by NYS.

History:

Term limits for executives is seen as a relatively common and commonsense idea in this country. The
old adage of “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is most easily associated with the executive branch, and the public has been receptive to the
idea that the executive of multiple levels of American
Key Facts:
government should not be able to remain in office
• Since 2000, more than 30 NYS legislators have been charged
indefinitely, even if people would support it. This is
with violating ethics laws. The most recent and most famous
evident by how the Twenty-Second Amendment to the
case of political corruption is against Speaker Silver, who has
been in office for almost 40 years and speaker for over 20 years.5
Constitution imposed a maximum of two terms on the
Presidency. It is also shown in how 36 states have some • Almost ¼ of the current NYS Legislature has been in office for
longer than 16 years, and more than 1/3 of the current Legislasort of term limit on their respective governors.1 The
ture was re-elected unopposed.6
notion that great power should not be invested in one
person for an undefined period of time is well established in American executive government.

This notion is not well established, however, in American legislative government. As is often painfully
obvious, the U.S. Congress has no term limits on its members, and many members of Congress stay in their
respective offices for decades. At the state level, only 15 states have term limits for legislators.2 In addition, there
have been many states where term limits on legislatures were repealed, either by the legislature itself or by the
state’s supreme court. Those court objections were all about the manner in which the limits were enacted, not
the subject of them. 3 What’s more, all the states that currently have term limits on their legislators enacted those
limits between 1990 and 2000.

While it may be true that it is harder for an entire legislature to become corrupt and ready to abuse power
than for one person (i.e. an executive), it is also true that it not only happens but is often more pernicious than in
the executive. A culture of corruption, once it seeps into an organization, is very hard to remove, especially when
many members of that organization stand to benefit from maintaining the status quo. With the lack of action in
Congress on important issues, it has fallen to the states in recent years to do more of the business of governing
than in decades prior. Legislatures should not be beholden to lifetime members.

The Policy Idea:

New York is one of the 14 states that has no term limits at all on its governor, and it certainly has none on
the legislature. The culture of corruption in Albany is nationally famous (or infamous) and, though many have
tried to address it with small reform measures over the years, the state capital remains a by-word for governmental malfeasance. The arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other legislators only highlights the problem.
To address this issue head-on, I would propose a term limit of 16 years total, which can be split any number of
ways between the Assembly and the Senate a person wishes.

Analysis:

Every state that currently has enacted some sort of legislative term limits has set the number of years a
person can spend in the legislature less than or equal to 24. The majority of states have put the number of years at
16, which is why I thought that was appropriate for NY. California and Oklahoma currently have the record for
the lowest maximum years a person may serve in their legislatures: after 12 years, they’re barred for life. Other
states have lower limits but no lifetime ban. Nebraska, for example, has a limit of 8 years, but if a legislator steps
down for one term after those 8 years, he or she may run again the cycle after. Consecutive and lifetime term
limits are different ways to accomplish the same goal.

It is worth looking at their differences, however. The advantage of lifetime term limits is that it completely

removes the possibility of individuals and decreases significantly the possibility of groups having enough power
to sustain their political machines when they are out of office, enabling a simpler return to office. Anyone who
can manage to maintain that amount of power for that long should be suspect to the democratic system. On
the other hand, consecutive limits enable experienced
Talking Points:
legislators who are not corrupt to come back and contin- • State legislatures are where the majority of the governing of
ue to help the legislative process, helping new members
this country happens.

15 states have put term limits on their legislatures, and they
navigate the intricacies of governance and giving more
have proven to be greatly popular with voters and have led to
substance to committees and conferences. Both of these
increased legislative productivity and action.
strategies are entirely valid.
• Present ethics reforms have not achieved genuine reform,

I would prefer lifetime bans because I feel the
and the public remains deeply disenchanted with Albany.
value of experience can be learned on the job if given
Putting hard term limits on members of the Legislature
would go a long way to rooting out the systemic corruption
enough time (and 16 years is still quite a while) and
the state and its people suffer from.
that outside advice from former experienced legislators
is more valuable than advice from those same people
if they were re-elected, as often the constraints of office reduce one’s willingness to be completely forthcoming
about one’s thoughts on particular issues. Sometimes not having a constituency to answer to can lead one to give
more honest answers. Lifetime bans also help reduce the culture of corruption by abolishing lifetime legislators,
guaranteeing more turnover each election cycle and the new ideas that are bound to come with that.

Next Steps:

As this is a change to a requirement for office, the only way this could be done is with an amendment
to the NYS Constitution. There are two main ways of doing this, one of which involves a convention, which is
unlikely to work given the level of attention this issue has and the effectiveness of such assemblies. The other way
it can be passed is with a simple majority in the legislature one term, then another simple majority in the next
term, and finally a simple majority in a referendum. As such, agitation for the legislature to pass such an amendment should begin now.

This is a good time for legislative change, as there is a new Speaker in the Assembly. Also, many New
Yorkers are dissatisfied with the ethics reforms that were passed in this years’ budget, with many saying they did
not go far enough to substantively deal with the corruption problem in Albany.4

Endnotes:

1) “States with gubernatorial term limits,” Ballotpedia.org, accessed April 26, 2015, http://ballotpedia.org/States_with_gubernatorial_term_limits.
2) “The Term Limited States,” National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), last modified March 13, 2015, http://www.ncsl.org/
research/about-state-legislatures/chart-of-term-limits-states.aspx.
3) “Legislative Term Limits: An Overview,” NCSL, last modified March 13, 2015, http://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/
legislative-term-limits-overview.aspx.
4) “Poll: government ethics reforms not enough,” The Associated Press, last modified April 27, 2015, http://www.recordonline.com/article/20150427/NEWS/150429428/101118/ENTERTAIN.
5) Nate Raymond and Sebastien Malo, “N.Y. state Assembly speaker charged with fraud in corruption probe,” Reuters, January 22, 2015,
accessed April 27 2015,
6) “State legislative incumbent turnover in 2014,” Ballotpedia.org, accessed April 27, 2015, http://ballotpedia.org/State_legislative_incumbent_turnover_in_2014

Condom Seizure: The Current Criminalization of Prostitution in the United States
By: Delphi Cleaveland, Major: German & Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies (AS ’17),
Email: rdc226@cornell.edu

Prostitution is illegal across the United States with exception to rural parts of Nevada; yet with the sole emphasis on
illegality, greater human rights and public health implications are being swept under the rug.

History:

In 1910, the Mann Act –more commonly referred to as the White-Slave Traffic Act- was passed in a wave
of progressive era reform. The legislation was designed to address the immorality of prostitution by criminalizing human trafficking, or more specifically the transportation of women and girls across stateliness for sex.
While the act has been amended twice since its initial
Key Facts:
signing–extending specific protections to children
• Prostitution is estimated to generate nearly $14 billion in the
and neutralizing the previously gendered language- it
United States annually. 6
remains the only federal regulation ever to approach • 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV; but 1 in 5
people don’t know they have it.
the multi-billion dollar, yet highly illegal sex-industry

Prostitutes are six times more likely to be murdered than the
in the United States. Criminalization presently falls
general population.
almost entirely under state jurisdiction.1
• In 2004, 30% of single men over 30 had paid for sex.7
Prostitutes are put at incredibly high risk of contract- • 1% of all women ages 13-25 in the United States have particiing and spreading STDs, STIs and HIV. Their death
pated in Prostitution. 8
rate nearly triples the occupational fatality rate of the •
documented highest fatality profession in the United
States.2 The use and dependency of alcohol and other drugs by both parties in a transaction has been regularly
cited in criminal cases. Furthermore under current jurisdictions, the majority of states place criminalization
almost solely on the prostitute, allowing individuals soliciting services off the hook, even under circumstances in
which the individual has been coerced into becoming a prostitute.
The discrepancies in law across state-lines and the limited budget and capacity typically allocated towards the
regulation of prostitution, have lead the police to rely flawed methods such as condom searches and profiling.
Fearing the use of condoms as evidence, sex-workers become less likely to carry contraception with them and
more likely to engage in unprotected sex. Profiling, predominantly of the LGBTQ community, has repeatedly resulted in improper accusations based sole on appearance. Too, this community has been reported to receive the
highest levels of police brutality and disrespect, in cases of suspected sex-work.3
The socially taboo nature of prostitution and the common misconception that it is not a problem in the United
States, has left an estimated 2 million women to practically fend for themselves in America’s most dangerous
industry. When Rhode Island became the most recent state to criminalize prostitution –making it a statewide
misdemeanor- it is time to reflect: is more criminalization really solving any problems?
The Policy Idea:
For the health and safety of women and to prevent the further spread of HIV and other STDs, there needs to be
an immediate halt to the uses of condoms as proof of prostitution. Legislatures in the State of New York, California, and the District of Columbia, as home to cities with consistently prominent industries underground prostitution –i.e. New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco- should be the first to act, thus setting
precedent for others to follow.

Analysis:

The act of prostitution itself remains a highly controversial issue; the present criminalization thereof
however, is discrediting a problem in desperate need of agency.

Due to the unspoken and taboo nature of prostitution as an issue, regulations and protection have remained severely limited, passed the point of its outlawing. Nonetheless, prostitutes are at incredibly high risk of
contracting and passing on HIV and other STDs, and have a death rate 5.9 times higher than that of the general
population.4 The following proposal makes no moral claim regarding the sex industry, but argues instead that

the issue is a matter of public health and safety, and should be ultimately reevaluated to fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. In the mean time, steps can be taken to lessen the current harm being done.
The wide use of the possession of condoms as evidence to arrest a suspected prostitute should be immediately halted. This current methodology scares the most at risk populations of contracting HIV –e.g. sex workers,
Talking Points:
transgender women, and LGBT youth- resulting

While
the
federal
government
under the Mann Act has been within unprotected sex to avoid police harassment.
drawn from issues of prostitution in the past, it should reassess the
This has dramatic implications in the spread of
subject in favor of the health and safety of the United States populaHIV and other infections, not only among prostition.
tutes but also across communities. As cited in a re- • The current criminalization of the prostitution industry is doing
more harm than good; allowing for police misconduct, and lacking
port done by the Human Rights Watch, “The value
agency for prostitutes as well as illegally trafficked individuals.
of condoms for HIV and disease prevention far
• As HIV shows little abatement in recent years steps need to be taken
outweighs any utility in enforcement of anti-prosto lessen its spread and protect the health and wellbeing of American
titution laws.5 Statewide jurisdictions should
citizens.
mandate police not to be allowed to use condoms •
as evidence in convictions of sex-work.

HIV remains an increasing threat to public
health in the United States. Despite millions of dollars being spent annually on promoting the effectiveness of
condoms in HIV prevention, the most at risk populations of contract the diseases and further STDs, have been
scared away from such methods fearing police harassment.

The current criminalization of prostitution endangers the health and safety not only of sex-workers but
the communities while dualistically endangering their health and the health and safety of those around them.

Next Steps:

The majority of efforts to protect the human and health rights surrounding issues of sex-work should be
focused on cities in which prostitution is a highly prevalent problem -such as New York, Washington D.C., Los
Angeles, and San Francisco. These metropolises can act as experimental grounds for further methodology to
mitigate the repercussions of criminalized prostitution and eventually lead as precedent for smaller cities to follow. The State or City Councils should halt the role of condoms in the conviction of suspected prostitutes as soon
as possible.

Endnotes:

1) “Federal Mann Act.” Prostitution Federal Mann Act Comments. Accessed May 2, 2015. http://prostitution.uslegal.com/federal-mann-act/.
2) “U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed May 2, 2015. http://www.bls.gov/.
3) McLemore, Megan. “Sex Workers at Risk: Condoms as Use of Prostitution in Four US Cities.” Human Rights Watch.
July 1,
2012. Accessed May 2, 2015. http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/us0712ForUpload_1.pdf.
4) Potterat, J. J. “Mortality In A Long-term Open Cohort Of Prostitute Women.” American Journal of
Epidemiology 159, no. 8
(2004): 778-85.
5) McLemore, Megan. “Sex Workers at Risk: Condoms as Use of Prostitution in Four US Cities.” Human Rights Watch.
July 1,
2012. Accessed May 2, 2015. http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/us0712ForUpload_1.pdf.
6) “Prostitution Statistics Archives - Havocscope.” Havocscope RSS. Accessed May 2, 2015.
http://www.havocscope.com/tag/
prostitution/.
7) Langer, Arnedt, and Dalia Sussman. “POLL: American Sex Survey.” ABC News. October 21, 2004. Accessed May 2, 2015. http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/News/story?id=156921&page=1.
8) “Sex Crimes.” The Prostitution Statistics You Have to Know. Accessed May 2, 2015. http://sex crimes.laws.com/prostitution/prostitution-statistics.

Protecting Privacy: Updating NSA Regulations in a Digital Age
By David Taylor, Arts and Sciences ‘17, Email:drt53@cornell.edu
The National Security Agency (NSA) collects and stores data from American citizens; the manner in which it is done
is a concerning and dangerous infringement on Americans’ Rights to Privacy. Additional regulation, oversight, and
limitations are needed to protect Americans and their rights in the digital age.

History:

The American People are guaranteed many protections under the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment
States “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable
searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” WithKey Facts:
out any probable cause the Government is restricted
• Data is being seized from “oversees” servers to get mainto these seizures.(4) Our Founders were unable to
tain legality
predict the rapid expansion of technology that allows

Despite not being targeted the information of everyday
for a global network of communication and massive
Americans is being seized. (2)
amounts of data produced and shared by Citizens of
• Emails, Phone calls, Phone location, and more are collectthe United States around the world. Under executive
ed every day by the NSA
order 12333 the NSA is acquiring and holding data
• Executive Order 12333 while providing justification and
from US citizens, the data includes, Emails, phone
legality for the Agencies current action was given before
conversation, phone location, and other personal
the Internet. (3)
information. (3) Nearly every citizen is affected from •
the teacher in Nebraska to the college student at Cornell to the crab fisherman in Alaska. The executive order that allows the NSA to collect this data is antiquated,
signed in 1981 by President Reagan, and is a dangerous threat to the privacy of US citizens. There have been
recent attempts by Congress in the CISA and CISPA acts to better define the relationship the NSA can have with
these massive amounts of data, however these acts did nothing to protect Americans right to privacy and were
defeated before they left Congress. (1)
The Policy Idea:

I propose a bipartisan Congressional Commission to oversee and recommend necessary changes in the
NSA information collection. Along with oversight limits must be placed on how the NSA collects data from
American citizens. I propose new policy redefining data as property; including it in the protections from unreasonable searches outlined in the 4th amendment.

Analysis:

It is understood by a majority of the American people that they enjoy some reasonable right to privacy.
It is understood by a good number of Americans that they have certain rights protected in the constitution. The
actions and procedures by which the NSA is collecting and storing data about United States Citizens is not well
known by the Citizens of this country or even their representatives. The NSA, with no real oversight, collects
enormous amounts of data. Executive Order 12333 gives the NSA the ability to collect this data without any
warrant because the data is collected from overseas. In a global network information can be collected almost
anywhere regardless of its origin. The Order does not take into account the enormous amounts or type of data
collected. The use of the order has gone far beyond its intent, the Internet was not invented during Reagans
Presidency and therefore the ramifications of the order were not foreseen. Concerns over national security some
common sense oversight and more specific targeting to avoid US citizens having their data collected simply by
very small association with a legitimate target. For example, a suspected terrorist using the service Gmail and
you using the service Gmail can get your emails in the NSA data centers spread across the country. In requiring
a warrant to collect data from citizens properly protects the rights of citizens while doing the best to maintain security issues. A more targeted and nuanced approach, while more difficult, protects privacy of US citizens as well
as eases some of the load the NSA data centers have to take on storing this data. Requiring a warrant and placing
data under the same protection as under property does a better job than simply overseeing the agency. It allows

judicial and congressional oversight of the oversight to ensure the 4th amendment is protected. The data that has
been collected from citizens has no practical use to the NSA and is an overstepping of their protective jurisdiction. Private email, phone calls,
Talking Points:
and other data if needed for
• The American People are protected from unreasonable searches and seiactual security concerns can be
zures under the Fourth Amendment, “The right of the people to be secure
obtained with a warrant granted
in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
by a judge. We have a system of
and seizures, shall not be violated(4)
investigation and information • This information is stored and kept by the NSA in Facilities across the
gathering that has protections
United States
for the privacy of this countries • Reasonable Rights to Privacy are being violated by the actions of the NSA
citizens, these protections must • People are disturbingly uneducated by the extent their private data is being
be extended to include current
monitored
advances in technology or it the •
4th amendment will become an
antiquated and outdated section of the constitution.

Next Steps:

In issues concerning the regulation of a federal Agency, it is important exposure of current practices.
Although some information is classified for national Security purposes the method in which information of
US citizens is collected and stored is essential information that Congress and the public must have to make an
informed decision on the legality of actions these data collection methods taken by NSA. A well-informed electorate and representatives are essential in deciding the relationship the government has with its citizens and their
private information. After an intensive evaluation of the information debate must ensue on a reasonable limit
and way to regulate the actions of the NSA. Congressional oversight along with limits on collection and storage
of data collected from United States Citizens. Giving data the same protection as other property is the next step
to continue protecting privacy.

Endnotes:

(1). Heath, Brad. “U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions of Calls for Decades.” USA Today. Gannett, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://
www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/04/07/dea-bulk-telephone-surveillance-operation/70808616/>.
(2). “Dispatches: No More Excuses on Patriot Act Surveillance Reform.” Dispatches: No More Excuses on Patriot Act Surveillance Reform. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/09/dispatches-no-more-excuses-patriot-act-surveillance-reform>.
(3). “Executive Orders.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 28 Apr.
2015. <http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/12333.html>.
(4). “Fourth Amendment.” Fourth Amendment. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fourth_amendment>.

Idividual Taxation Key to Womens’ Economic Empowerment
By Maggie McGrane, Major: ILR ‘15, Email: mkm263@cornell.edu
Levying taxes on families, rather than individuals, results in disproportionate taxation on women, marriage penalties, and ultimately discourages the participation of married women in the workforce.

History:

Currently the United States utilizes a progressive system of taxation, that is, taxation increases in conjunction with income. The unit of taxation in the United States is the family, not the individual. This structure
stipulates that married couples file joint tax returns and as such are taxed at a rate of their combined incomes.
Ultimately, this discourages labor force participation
Key Facts:
among women because their first dollar is taxed at
• Roughly 57% of married couples in the United States pay a
the rate of their spouse’s current income. Marriage
marriage penalty.7
penalties, increases in taxation rates in comparison
• Marriage penalties exceeding $5,000 annually are not uncommon for some couples.8
to that levied pre-nuptials, are also common among
• Salary profiles indicate that stay-at-home mom’s labor amounts
dual-earner couples.1 In stark contrast, single earnto an annual salary of $118,905.9
er couples frequently receive marriage subsidies, or

decreases in taxation after marriage. Our tax code
implicitly discourages married women from entering the workforce by taxing their income disproportionately to
their husbands’. Effects of the current policy are devastating to married women seeking to enter, or re-enter, the
workforce.

The Policy Idea:

Optional joint filing would allow women, and men for that matter, to choose whether or not to file
independently given their risk of incurring a marriage subsidy or penalty. Married individuals choosing to file
independently will be taxed according to the same tax schedule but based on their own, rather than combined,
income. This is a critical step but will not be sufficient alone. The formation of a subcommittee under the Committee on Means and Ways would show federal commitment towards investigating and mitigating other potential gender biases in the tax system.

Analysis:

Economically, women stand to benefit from this policy shift as their earnings would no longer be taxed
disproportionately: ultimately enticing more women to join the workforce, increase labor force attachment, and
encourage female entrepreneurship. The economic independence afforded by this policy allows women greater
social mobility. Financial autonomy is accompanied by the opportunity to escape abusive relationships without
fearing a total collapse in income. Critics of a possible taxation unit shift call upon on the concept of horizontal
equity, the view that households with the same income should be taxed at the same rate.2 Under the proposed
system, a single earner household could theoretically be taxed at a higher rate than a two earner household with
the same income. However, these critics fail to recognize the untaxed work performed in single earner households by stay-at-home spouses: much of this work would need to be substituted by paid professionals such as
nannies, chefs, or maids in their absence – costs that many dual earner households would continue to incur despite a lower rate of taxation. Recognizing the contributions of women outside the labor force is an underscored,
but critical, component of proliferating the view of women as productive and powerful economic agents. With
this caveat considered, the condition of horizontal equity is met while facilitating equal economic opportunities
for women.

Next Steps:

Women’s economic rights are particularly salient issues that present an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation. The Women’s Economic Agenda, an initiative of the Democratic Party, identifies three economic barriers affecting women: pay, work & family balance, and
Talking Points:
3

Lower
income
families
are especially likely to face a marchildcare. All three are certainly impediments but the
4
riage
penalty.
platform could benefit from considering gender biased
• Many OECD member nations levy taxes on the individual
tax policies as well. The Republican Party is an ideal ally,
level including, Canada, UK, and Japan.5
as they have been championing similar but unmaterial- • Research indicates that marriage penalties induce the probized legislation to eliminate marriage taxes since the late
ability and timing of divorces.6

1990s. The current national climate towards achieving
economic and gender equality is conducive to making
these critical steps towards women’s economic empowerment.

Endnotes:

1) Sit, Harry. “Marriage Tax Penalty and Unit of Taxation.” The Finance Buff. November 9, 2009. Accessed April 13, 2015.
2) Sit, Harry. “Marriage Tax Penalty and Unit of Taxation.”
3) “Women’s Economic Agenda - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Accessed April 25, 2015.
4) Alm, James, Stacy Dickert-Conlin, and Leslie A. Whittington. “The Marriage Penalty.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 13, no. 3
(1999): 193-204. Accessed April 12, 2015.
5) Sit, Harry.
6) Alm, James, Stacy Dickert-Conlin, and Leslie A. Whittington. “The Marriage Penalty.”
7) Ibid.
8) “14th Annual Mom Salary Survey: What Is a Mom’s Work Worth?” Salary.com. 2014. Accessed April 12, 2015.

Eliminating Gerrymandering
By Jared Siegel, Majors: Government and History ‘17, Email: jaredsiegel5@gmail.com
Gerrymandering is becoming increasingly frequent. The federal government should mandate the employment of
independent state commissions to perform redistricting in each state after each census.

History:

Throughout most of U.S. history there was no regulation standardizing how many people should belong
in each Congressional district. Article One Section Two of the Constitution mandated that the composition of
members in the House of Representatives would be based on the relative populations of each state and that the
populations of each state would be determined by a census performed every decade. However, there is no provision mandating that the districts within the states
Key Facts:
responsible for electing individual members be equal
• In 2012, Republicans kept a 33-seat majority in the House
in population. This changed with the 1964 Wesberry
despite receiving 1.4 million fewer votes nationally than the
v. Sanders Supreme Court Case. The ruling required
Democrats.4
state legislators to redraw districts substantially so that • According to the Princeton Election Consortium in 2012, redistricting gave Republicans a 1.2% advantage in national popular
their respective populations would be equal.1
vote margin compared with 2010. This translated to a 13-seat

State governments are inherently partisan.
advantage.5
Just like at the national level, constituents vote for an • In 2014, in Pennsylvania, Democrats won 44% of the vote but
executive leader and a state legislator who belongs to
only won 5 out of 18 House seats.6
a certain party. Every ten years, when the state legislature is required to redraw district lines based on population changes, it often does so with the intention of maximizing the number of representatives from their state’s
majority party that their state sends to Congress.2 This process is called gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering occurs in two forms: cracking and packing. Cracking is where a state legislature might
draw lines so that that a minority race or political affiliation will get diluted across several districts. Packing is
where a state legislature draws district lines so that a minority group is concentrated to as few districts as possible
so that it only get to influence the election of one or few members of Congress. In both cases, the gerrymandering party tries to maximize the number of wasted votes by the opposition party.
The Policy Idea:

The federal government should mandate that state governments appoint an independent commission
to create redrawn district boundaries after each census. A bipartisan committee composed of two Democratic
state legislators and two Republican state legislators, each to be selected by a majority vote from their own party,
should choose the members of the commission. The commission should have the goal of creating districts that
are geographically logical and attempt to maximize ideological heterogeneity.

Analysis:

The goal of the commissions should be, first and foremost, to create districts that make geographical
sense. It should draw boundaries accommodating county lines as much as possible and should not divide towns
and cities for partisan purposes. One way to tell that a district is gerrymandered is if it disjointed and not concentrated shape that divides counties, like the North Carolina 12th, Louisiana 4th, Illinois 4th, and Georgia 11th
districts. Therefore, the commissions should also aim to create districts that are concentrated. The Polsby-Popper
ratio measures the ratio of the area of the district to a circle with the same perimeter.3 The commissions should
attempt to achieve high Polsby-Popper ratios so that the districts will be circular and concentrated. Creating
compact districts along geographical lines will limit the capacity for partisan manipulation.

Within these geographically logical districts, the commissions should aim to maximize racial and ideological heterogeneity. Districts to a certain extent should be a microcosm of the country as a whole. Counties
and states have varying ideological preferences, and, therefore, this goal is not absolutely achievable. However,

a Congressman should not only seek to legislate with regards to the interests of his constituents. He should also
attempt to legislate with regards to the interests of the entire country. Having heterogeneous districts creates
greater overlap between the interests of a district and the interests of the entire nation. If a district is very homogeneous, its representative only needs to legislate with
Talking Points:
a single group’s interests in mind to be reelected. This
• State governments redraw Congressional district lines after each
representative can ignore and vote for legislation that
census.
adversely affects other groups of Americans without • They often do so in accordance with their own partisan interests.
fear of repercussions. If a district is heterogeneous, the • Congress should pass a law mandating states governments commission an independent group to perform redistricting in each
representative needs to keep several groups interests
state after each census.
in mind while legislating and the interests of many of
the districts will more accurately represent the interests of the country as a whole.

Next Steps:

One of two courses of action would need to be pursued in order to enact this proposal. The first would
occur if a single party held the majority in the House and the Senate, was represented in the executive branch,
and was negatively affected by gerrymandering. It would be in this party’s interests to pass legislation to eliminate gerrymandering. However, the majority party in the House will most likely have benefitted from gerrymandering. Therefore, this course of action is incredibly unlikely.

The other course of action that could be executed would need to be initiated by the minority party in
the House. If the minority party is adversely affected by gerrymandering it could work to make gerrymandering more of a national issue. Gerrymandering is a relatively unknown phenomenon. If the public knew more
about gerrymandering, there might be more of a degree of public outrage. The minority party could pressure its
candidates and its donor to run more issue advertisements about the partisan manipulation of the redistricting
process. Constituents might, therefore, become more sensitive to the issue and demand their representatives to
legislate to make redistricting a nonpartisan process.

Endnotes:

1) “Redistricting by State”, Redistricting in America, Published 2013, http://www.redistrictinginamerica.org/redistricting-by-state/.
2) “All About Redistricting”, Loyola Law School, http://redistricting.lls.edu/who.php.
3) “Congressional District Compactness”, Governing, http://www.governing.com/gov-data/politics/gerrymandered-congressional-districts-compactness-by-state.html.
4) Stephen Ohlemacher, “GOP Gerrymandering Creates Uphill Fight for Dems in the House”, PBS Newshour, Published March 31,
2014, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/gop-gerrymandering-creates-uphill-fight-dems-house/.
5) Sam Wang, “The Very Hungry Gerrymander”, Princeton Election Consortium, Published March 31, 2014, http://election.princeton.
edu/2012/10/04/quantifying-the-effect-of-redistricting/.
6) Lee Fang, “Gerrymandering Rigged the 2014 Elections for GOP Advantage”, Moyes & Company, Published November 5, 2014,
http://billmoyers.com/2014/11/05/gerrymandering-rigged-2014-elections-republican-advantage/.

Reassigning the Role of Religious Arbitrator: From Accountants to Judges
By Leor Ginzburg, Major: ILR ‘18, Email: lbg47@cornell.edu

Abstract:
The Department of Justice should be charged with ascertaining characteristics and activities of a church qualified for
tax-exemption, while the Internal Revenue Service should serve its traditional role as tax collector, the two entities
only converging for the purpose of investigating church noncompliance to new tax code.

History:

From the founding of the United States,
Key Facts:

Annual
government
subsidy
to religious groups amounts to
churches have been exempt from paying federal
82.5
billion
dollars,
including
a 2.2 billion dollar Faith-Based
income taxes. Begun under the Tariff Act of 1894 and
Initiatives Subsidy (Washington Post)
sustained by the Revenue Act of 1896, church tax ex- • 67% support rate for division of Church and State (First
emptions were officially incorporated into the modern
Amendment Center)
American income tax system.
• One-third of U.S. population against subsidies to religious
groups (Pew Forum)
Since then, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
has been tasked with determining which religious
organizations are formally recognized by the federal government and thus eligible for income and property tax
exemptions. The IRS has formulated a description of what a religious institution should look like and has outlined
how church monies can be spent; for example, monies may not inure to private investors or individuals and cannot be spent in support or opposition of a political candidate.
Secular charitable organizations must also adhere to these qualifications and are required to report their income
and financial structure to the IRS using Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax). Meanwhile, churches are automatically granted exemption from federal income tax without having to file these tax
returns.
Afraid to overstep the first amendment, the government has failed to revoke such protective status from many
noncompliant and fraudulent churches. The IRS has only succeeded in withdrawing exemptions from one
church—the Church at Pierce Creek in Binghamton, New York.
In certain cases, the IRS has been influenced by emerging churches such as the Church of Scientology, which succeeded in gaining tax-exempt status in exchange for dropping its 2,400 lawsuits against the IRS.

The Policy Idea:

The responsibilities of setting criteria and conditions for the approval of an organization as not only charitable but also religious should be removed from the United States Internal Revenue Service and reassigned to
the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The DOJ should require churches to file the same annual tax forms as charitable organizations. Also, churches
would be subject to joint audits of the IRS and DOJ in the case that either entity has reasonable doubt to believe
that the church is partaking in ‘fraudulent’ or ‘noncompliant’ practices.
Only those church activities the DOJ deems to directly and explicitly improve the welfare of others should be
protected; yet even these activities must be equally advertised and accessible to all citizens both within and outside the church congregation.
Analysis:

In effect, the Department of Justice would function as the issuer of tax exemptions, while the DOJ focuses on its duties as implementer and regulator of tax policies, including those outsourced to the DOJ. The Civil
Rights Division of the DOJ “enforces a wide range of laws protecting religious liberties,” and thus has the expertise necessary to outline a more constitutionally acceptable definition of a church eligible for tax exemption than
do the accountants and lawyers of the IRS. With the backing of the DOJ, the government would be able to more
easily and confidently revoke tax exemption privileges from ‘fraudulent’ or ‘noncompliant’ churches.
Furthermore, since both the IRS and DOJ would audit and evaluate churches in the case of noncompliance,
decisions regarding churches’ reversals of tax exemptions would be seen as more impartial and legitimate. By
dividing the powers of arbitration and implementation, religious organizations would also find it harder to pressure government officials into granting them exemption with the process dispersed between two separate federal

entities. Though at the expense of simplicity and speed, this more bureaucratic model would depoliticize the U.S.
religion question, empowering an accessible yet unexploitTalking Points:
able administration finally able to hold its ground.
• Middle-ground solution that most justly adjudicates between the public good and religious freedoms
By qualifying rather than stripping tax exemptions from
• Curtails the exploitations of tax exemption system through
religious organizations, the government remains adherent
separation of powers and auditing mechanism
to the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. On • Religious liberties safeguarded through the introduction
of the DOJ while special treatment of churches by the
the other hand, by treating religious and secular charitagovernment removed
ble organizations equally, the government avoids granting
special treatment to churches, hence maintaining the division between church and state.
By only protecting those activities that directly and explicitly improve the welfare of others, the government
avoids inadvertently forcing all American taxpayers to finically endorse religious practices it may not support.
Activities that would be protected include soup kitchens, food pantries, and food drives. Activities that would
not be protected include religious prayer gatherings, sermons, and classes.
Former Chief Justice Rehnquist established in the Regan v. Taxation with Representation case that tax exemptions are a form of subsidy administered through the tax system. The mandate that charitable activities of a
church be equally advertised and accessible to all citizens ensures that since all U.S. citizens technically ‘subsidize’
these charitable activities, they all have the opportunity to enjoy their provisions.
Remaining within the parameters of the Constitution, this policy seeks to more cautiously administer tax exemptions that more U.S. citizens would approve of and benefit from, while allowing the federal government to recoup
as much tax revenue as possible. Though this policy is not ideal for religious groups, eroding some of the annual
finances they previously had at their disposal, they are still empowered to continue their charitable services as
well as religious services free of special government treatment.

Next Steps:

To curry political favor, I would primarily lobby progressive, left-wing politicians from coastal and urban
regions, whose constituencies are, on average, less religious. My team would target Democratic and moderate
Republican legislators while accepting potential bill modifications from the political right, mainly seeking to
appease representatives from the Bible Belt.

In procuring a powerful political coalition, I would convene with high-ranking officials of the Department of Justice, Ways and Means Committees (HOR/Senate), Appropriations Committees (HOR/Senate), Internal Revenue Service, Chamber of Commerce, and Freedom from Religion Foundation. Equally important, I will
employ prominent clergy officials from the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic communities to applaud this policy as
just and righteous for the betterment of our country, lessening the blow to church-goers.

In the case that this bill is passed, budgetary action would need to be taken in order to allocate the employees, offices, and other resources required within the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ in order to execute its
assigned duties. It is vital to put in place a system of checks and balances by which the IRS and DOJ can assess
each others actions in the context of this new system.

Endnotes:

“Churches and Taxes - ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
“Defining Religion in American Law.” DEFINING RELIGION IN AMERICAN LAW. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
“Faith-Based Programs Still Popular, Less Visible.” Pew Research Centers Religion Public Life Project RSS. N.p., 15 Nov. 2009. Web. 19
Apr. 2015.
“First Amendment Center.” First Amendment Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
“Summary of Key Findings.” Statistics on Religion in America Report. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
“USDOJ: Civil Rights Division.” USDOJ: Civil Rights Division. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
“You Give Religions More than $82.5 Billion a Year.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

Nationals, Insular Cases, and Democracy: An Insult

By Cris Lee, Majors: History and International Relations ‘17, Email:cl2272@cornell.edu
The status and ambiguity of nationality as defined in U.S. territories demonstrates a baffling disservice to people
who rely on the U.S. for sovereign protection. There is an immediate need to enfranchise territorial citizens that are
promised to all U.S. citizens.

History:

The United States maintains several overseas territories in the western Pacific and the Caribbean. The
United States’ relations with the territories are governed by congressional laws The most noticeable of these laws
come from something called the Insular Cases: A series of cases that ultimately determined that territorial residents were not subject to constitutional law on the grounds that those who in inhabited territories were of alien
races. Territories are organized into four categories and defined by whether it has a recognizable government and
whether all constitutional laws apply in the territory
Key Facts:

Territorial relations with the United States are • Territorial legislation in the U.S. continues to draw legitimacy
from policies that claim territorial populations are inherently
complicated, but the relationship is based on the fact
alien due to cultural differences.
that the territories are not entirely part of the Unit• Federal elections are basic U.S. duties that territorial citizens
ed States. Though some laws, most notably selective
cannot partake in due to their status.
service, apply to territories, multiple civil rights do
• More than 3 million people live on U.S. territories, which outnumber the population of nearly 20 U.S. states.
not apply at all. Residents of territories are not entirely

U.S. territories are used for federal services and heavily overreppart of the United States, despite the fact that residents
resented in certain aspects of governance, such as military, but
pay taxes and serve in the U.S. armed forces. Puerto
receive very little benefits in return.
Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the •
Virgin Islands send nonvoting delegates to Congress
and their residents are not allowed to vote for presidential elections. These islands are actually the only
places in the universe that do not allow U.S. subjects to vote for presidency, as an astronaut in 2008 was given the
right to vote from outer space. This fact displays a grave reality in the disenfranchisement of more than 3 million
territorial residents.
The Policy Idea:

Territorial citizens have served the duties of U.S. citizens like any other. By that rite, there is a dire need to
reform political rights in the U.S. territories. Basic voting rights for territorial citizens must be restored in order
to give territories their proper representation in the U.S. Congress. Though proportional representation seems
necessary (considering some territories are more populated than some states), but one must recognize that not
all territories wish to become part of the U.S. By that rite, some political representation akin to that of Washington D.C. seems appropriate. In addition, it would be strongly advised that the status of legal U.S. territorials be
treated as U.S. citizens. Substitute political statuses for territorial citizens, such as American Nationals, should be
abolished for those living within the jurisdiction of U.S. sovereignty.

Analysis:

U.S Territories receive a disproportionately small amount of benefits considering its major political developments. U.S. territories provide extensive political and logistical support to the United States, particularly with
regards to military installations. In many cases, there is little to no political say of territorial residents in how
territorial lands are used. Installations are used more to benefit to the United States. Though they are capable of
providing benefits to local populations, the inherent purpose for installations like bases are incapable of providing the local population with all of their needs. If anything, it can be said that populations on islands receive very
little benefits for their sacrifices. The example of Guam shows that the use of nearly 40% of the land as a military
base, something done via U.S. administration. Fund appropriation is also a major concern to be noted. Despite
the high concentration of veterans in Guam, Guam consistently ranked as providing the lowest Veteran’s Affairs
pensions, demonstrating a lack of funds for social ailments in territories. It seems one could remedy the situation
by imbuing the territory’s citizens with more political rights and proper representation in the legislature that

governs it. As it stands, delegates are only capable of
Talking Points:
making speeches to implore congressional action.
• U.S. justification on non incorporation is a poor excuse for
disenfranchisement. Territories are unincorporated due to the
This is an affront to the notion of separation of powInsular cases’ justification that people in the territories are alien.
ers in the U.S. The entire concept of having political
• Territorials have little to no say on what to do with territorial
representatives from federal subjects was in order to
lands. Example: Guam provides 40% of its land to military inaccommodate the interests of those composing the
stallations, which their residents did not have a say in. SimultaUnion. Territories must be given the proper decorum
neously, its Veteran Affairs is severely underfunded despite 1/8th
of its population being veterans.
and power within the Congressional chamber to rep• The 1952 Immigration Act denotes the United States as the traresent their interests as well.

Next Steps:

ditional 50 states in addition to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico
and Guam. Other notable territories, such as American Samoa,
is not allowed on the same footing as other territories due to the
lack of bureaucratic updates.

Stakeholders within Congress and on the national scale would be residents in the U.S. who come from
the territories, territorial citizens, and anyone passionate enough to remedy this offense to democracy in the
United States. Territory populations must pressure congress in order to recognize the rights of territorial citizens
and the dire need for political reform in the areas. The delegates from territories must also be willing to work
with counterparts in Washington in order to begin the lengthy process of reorganizing territories. Major changes
in territorial legislation can only come through Congress. It must be stressed that the current practices that the
U.S. has implemented on territories reflects racial imperialism at its zenith and must no longer be accommodated in modern U.S. governance.

Endnotes:

Hicks, Josh. “Guam: A High Concentration of Veterans, but Rock-bottom VA Funding.” Washington Post. Accessed April 28, 2015.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/10/29/guam-a-high-concentration-of-veterans-with-little-va-funding/.
“Puerto Rico and Island Areas.” Census. Accessed April 28, 2015. https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/12statab/outlying.pdf.
“U.S. Immigration Legislation: 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act).” U.S. Immigration Legislation: 1952
Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act). Accessed April 28, 2015. http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1952_
immigration_and_nationality_act.html.
Birbair, Lana. “The Insular Cases: Constitutional Experts Assess the Status of Territories Acquired in the Spanish–American War (video).” Harvard Law Today.

Citizenship Through Service: Improving Infrastructure and Creating Citizenship
Pathways
By Jackson Weber, Major: Government‘17, Email:jcw236@cornell.edu

Through the expansion of service based citizenship pathways similar to the system currently in place with the military, the U.S. can address pressing infrastructure concerns while also improving communities and the lives of immigrants already within our borders.

History:

Infrastructure and immigration remain two of the biggest unsolved issues in the U.S. currently. As of
2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded the current state of U.S. infrastructure as a D+.1 The infrastructure areas taken into account when compiling this report card were aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water,
energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees,
Key Facts:
ports, public parks and recreation, rail, roads, schools,
• The most recent infrastructure evaluation by the American So2
solid waste, transit, and wastewater. Modern infraciety of Civil Engineers rated the U.S. infrastructure as a D+.10
structure is critical for economic growth and success. • Although infrastructure funding is incredibly scarce, the ASCE
Without updating the nation’s infrastructure across
report card stated that $3.6 trillion is needed to make the desired improvements by 2020.11
the board, it will be challenging for the American
economy to operate at its optimal capacity and it may • As of 2012, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that there were approximately 11.4 million unauthorized
begin to crumble.
immigrants in the U.S., in addition to the immigrants here on
Simultaneously, America’s immigration system contintemporary visas.12
ues to struggle. In 2012, the Department of Homeland • Since 2002, national service has aided over 100,000 immigrants
in becoming citizens and other service opportunities have not
Security estimated that there were about 11.4 million
yet been fully tapped.13
3
unauthorized immigrants in the country. Despite

some calls for immigration reform by members of
both parties, little to no progress has been made. Even
after the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013, the bill died in the House and immigration
policy stood still.4 These immigrants live and work in a state of constant uncertainty and fear of being deported.
Illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children had no choice in the matter and currently may be punished
for their parents decisions. For some, illegal immigration must appear to be the only option given the enormous
backlog of visa applications.5
The Policy Idea:

The federal government should develop a process for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as
children and immigrants with temporary work visas to work on American infrastructure needs and in struggling
communities. Similar to AmeriCorps programs, participants would serve for a predetermined period of time
and receive a stipend to offset their living expenses. As compensation for their domestic service, immigrants
participating would have the naturalization process expedited in the same way that immigrants serving in the
military currently do.

Analysis:

Although modernizing infrastructure is essential to ensure economic success, it is also an incredibly
expense process. As a reference point, the recent ASCE report determined that the U.S. would need to invest
approximately $3.6 trillion in order to make the necessary infrastructure upgrades by 2020.6 The federal government lacks the funds to pay for the large scale improvements deemed necessary.7 Looking at roads, for instance,
and we see that the Highway Trust Fund is dangerously close to insolvency and will be completely dried up after
the stopgap funding ends at the end of this upcoming May. 8 Raising money through tax increases never seems
to be a popular choice politically, so different approaches must be evaluated to raise funds as well as to reduce
the cost of the desired improvements. This policy helps reduce some of the infrastructure costs by reducing labor
costs. Stipends for immigrant service members would not need to be as high as the typical going rate for individuals working on infrastructure needs. The policy would also guarantee a determined pool of people willing to
work for the advancement of their future country.

The other major impact of this policy is on immigrants. Since 2002, over 100,000 immigrants have become citizens through military service.9 Immigrants come to this country for a variety of reasons, ranging from
those seeking economic opportunity to political refugees. For female immigrants specifically, citizenship through
military service may not be seen as a very viable opTalking Points:
tion because of the stigma against women in the mil• Infrastructure and immigration stand as two of the largest and
itary. Other types of service give those not well suited
most pressing unresolved issues of the present day.
for the military an opportunity to serve their adopted • The federal government currently lacks the funding to make
country and become a part of its future success.
the necessary infrastructure improvements and those costs can
be reduced through reducing labor costs and guaranteeing a

This policy benefits not just immigrants, but
committed workforce.
the nation as a whole.

Next Steps:

Our immigration system is broken and even though this plan is
a small step in the right direction of fixing the system comprehensively.

There are potentially a variety of stakeholder
groups invested in various parts of this policy. For example, immigrants, immigration reform groups, and infrastructure related businesses are a few groups who would be impacted by this policy. Those groups should begin
to lobby the members of Congress in committees with jurisdiction over the different parts of the proposed policy. On the House side, the Energy and Commerce, Homeland Security, and Transportation and Infrastructure
committees should be targeted. On the Senate side, the Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Environment
and Public Works, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees should be focused on.
Although the current national political landscape does not lend itself to the success of the proposed program,
supporters should begin to lay the groundwork for the time when a more favorable political climate presents
itself.

Endnotes:

1) “2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.” 2013 Report Card for Americas Infrastructure. American Society of Civil Engineers, 2013. Web. 03
May 2015.
2) Ibid
3) “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States.” Migration Policy Institute. Migration Policy Institute, 25
Feb. 2015. Web. 03 May 2015.
4) Parker, Ashley, and Jonathan Martin. “Senate, 68 to 32, Passes Overhaul for Immigration.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 June 2013.
Web. 03 May 2015.
5) Renwick, Danielle. “The U.S. Immigration Debate.” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 03 May 2015.
6) “2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.” 2013 Report Card for Americas Infrastructure. American Society of Civil Engineers, 2013. Web. 03
May 2015.
7) Flowers, Andrew. “Why We Still Can’t Afford to Fix America’s Broken Infrastructure.” FiveThirtyEight. N.p., 03 June 2014. Web. 03 May 2015.
8) Halsey, Ashley, III, and Juliet Elperin. “House Passes Stop-gap Bill to Fund Transportation.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 15 July 2014.
Web. 03 May 2015.
9) “Naturalization Through Military Service: Fact Sheet.” Naturalization Through Military Service: Fact Sheet. United States Department of Homeland
Security, n.d. Web. 03 May 2015.
10) “2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.” 2013 Report Card for Americas Infrastructure. American Society of Civil Engineers, 2013. Web.
03 May 2015.
11) Ibid
12) “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States.” Migration Policy Institute. Migration Policy Institute, 25
Feb. 2015. Web. 03 May 2015.
13) “Naturalization Through Military Service: Fact Sheet.” Naturalization Through Military Service: Fact Sheet. United States Department of Homeland Security, n.d. Web. 03 May 2015.

Municipal Violations: Funding Local Governments by Ticketing the Poor
By Taylor Keating, Major: ILR ‘18, Email:tmk77@cornell.edu

Federal regulations requiring counties to implement systems allowing low-income residents to settle fines for municipal violations through community service or no-interest payment plans would end the devastating effects these
tickets can impose.

History:

Municipal violations, citations given out for things like traffic offenses and loitering, are viewed by many
as time-consuming annoyances. While speeding and running red lights can result in tickets of several hundred
dollars, most Americans have received or will receive some sort of municipal violation in their lifetime. The fines
associated with these violations can result in immense profits for counties, and in 2013 Ferguson, Missouri accumulated $2.6 million in revenue through its municipal court,1 making the municipal court Ferguson’s second
Key Facts:
largest source of revenue.2 St. Louis County, home to
at $7.25 while tickets
Ferguson and 89 other municipalities, encompasses • The federal minimum wage has remained
and court fees have skyrocketed.9
towns that derive over 40% of their annual revenues
• Over 20% of Ferguson’s revenue in 2013 came from court fines
from fees given out by their municipal courts.3
and fees.10

As local governments face budget cuts and re- • People who do not pay their tickets can be jailed and held for
weeks.10
sistance to tax increases, these fees have become more
4
essential to counties’ revenues. While this method
of funding undoubtedly encourages police officers to
spend more time dolling out hefty fines for minor traffic violations, these tickets disproportionately affect low-income families and individuals who are unable to pay the ever-increasing fines.5 Failure to pay can result in additional fees, suspension of driver’s license, and eventually arrest, all of which add additional burden to someone
struggling to pay the initial fine.6 A worker making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 would have to put forth
a full week’s salary just to pay off a $300 ticket. A survey of low-income drivers in New Jersey with suspended
licenses determined that 64% of these workers lost their jobs as a result of the suspension.6 Furthermore, these
violations have shown to disproportionately affect people of color.1 Refusing to acknowledge differences in ability
to pay perpetuates this unequal system and turns a blind eye to the income inequality within American society.
The Policy Idea:

Although counties determine fees for municipal violations, federal legislation setting minimum standards
would provide an end to this system that unfairly impacts low-income people. For individuals earning between
$25 and $50 per hour, a no-interest payment plan should be offered. For those earning between $0 and $25 per
hour, community service options should be offered as an alternative to paying the fine, in addition to the payment plan.

People who do not meet these criteria should be allowed to petition for a payment plan, and the court
will grant a no-interest payment plan if applicable. These numbers are based on the general cost of living across
America, for both families and individuals. This legislation will drastically modify the current system, ensuring
that unconstitutional debtors’ prisons are not prevalent in today’s legal system.7

Analysis:

Although modernizing infrastructure is essential to ensure economic success, it is also an incredibly expenThe first step in creating federal regulations is acknowledging income inequality and the inability of
low-income people to pay the exorbitant fees associated with municipal violations. The current system fails to
acknowledge the way different groups are affected by these policies, ultimately making it unfair and infective for
punishment. Much of the profit incurred from these tickets is due to late fees resulting from unpaid tickets, and
various counties rely on private companies to enforce this debt collection, adding additional costs to the ticket
holder.5 Payment plans and community service would eliminate the need for these private companies. By mandating compliance with federal standards, the government can ensure that no person will face excessive punishment for municipal violations and that counties will not profit from the suffering of low-income residents.

Furthermore, the current system fails to fit the punishment with to the crime. People facing jail time due
to failure to pay speeding tickets is a failure of the American legal system. To individuals with the ability to pay,
these fees serve as appropriate deterrents to committing smaller crimes, as offenders will attempt to avoid the
fines by acting within the law. To individuals unable
Talking Points:
to afford these tickets, any slip-up could result in jail,
• Low-income individuals face late fines, license suspension, and
effectively resulting in a concept that was outlawed
jail if they cannot pay expensive tickets on time.
prior to the Civil War: debtors’ prisons.8 Regulating • Debtors’ prisons, outlawed hundreds of years ago, are a reality
the payments for municipal violations by will ensure
for people who cannot pay their fines for municipal violations.
• This policy acknowledges wealth disparity and ends the governthat counties adhere to the constitution and afford
ment-established cycle of poverty.
fair treatment to all people of different incomes.

Next Steps:

Counties should begin voluntarily amending their municipal violation policies, implementing payment
plans and community service options based on the stated income brackets. Local governments should restructure their budgets to account for lesser income from tickets. In particular, Missouri represents a state in which
many counties rely on funding from municipal violations for a good portion of the budget, so Missouri lawmakers should push for immediate reform. It is possible that legislators will be hesitant to advocate for legislation
that would cut funding to districts, especially as some of these districts are already underfunded. Legal advocacy
groups, such as The Southern Poverty Law Center and ArchCity Defenders, that currently provide legal aid to
impoverished people indebted by municipal violations should draft legislation that establishes regulations. The
law needs to highlight the presence of debtors’ prisons and systemic inequality towards poor people. Larger
groups, such as the ACLU, can assist in lobbying this legislation and ending the inequality.

Endnotes:

1)Gosztola, Kevin. “Ferguson’s Municipal Court System Makes Millions Off Targeting Black and Poor People.” The Dissenter. 25 Aug. 2014. Web.
<http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2014/08/25/fergusons-municipal-court-system-makes-millions-off-targeting-black-and-poor-people/>.
2) Daly, Michael. “Ferguson Feeds Off the Poor: Three Warrants a Year Per Household.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 22 Aug. 2014. Web.
<http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/22/ferguson-s-shameful-legal-shakedown-three-warrants-a-year-per-household.html>.
3) Balko, Radley. “How Municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., Profit from Poverty.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 3 Sept. 2014. Web.
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/09/03/how-st-louis-county-missouri-profits-from-poverty/>.
4) Khimm, Suzy. “Will the Government Stop Using the Poor as a Piggy Bank?” Msnbc.com. NBC News Digital, 09 Sept. 2014. Web. <http://www.
msnbc.com/msnbc/will-the-government-stop-using-the-poor-piggy-bank>.
5) Shapiro, Joseph. “Study Finds Court Fees Also Punish The Families Of Those Who Owe.” NPR. NPR, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/
thetwo-way/2015/01/29/382380183/study-finds-court-fees-also-punish-the-families-of-those-who-owe>.
6) Schwarz, Hunter. “John Oliver Takes on Big Fines for Minor Offenses.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 23 Mar. 2015. Web. <http://www.
washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/23/outlandish-fines-for-minor-offenses-harm-the-most-vulnerable-in-our-society-john-oliver-says/>.
7) ACLU of Ohio. “Court Takes Swift Action to End Debtors’ Prison.” American Civil Liberties Union. 5 Feb. 2014. Web. <https://www.aclu.org/news/
court-takes-swift-action-end-debtors-prison?redirect=criminal-law-reform%2Fcourt-takes-swift-action-end-debtors-prison>.
8) Shapiro, Joseph. “Civil Rights Attorneys Sue Ferguson Over ‘Debtors Prisons’” NPR. NPR, 8 Feb. 2015. Web. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/
codeswitch/2015/02/08/384332798/civil-rights-attorneys-sue-ferguson-over-debtors-prisons>.
9) NPR and Brennan Center for Justice. “State-By-State Court Fees.” NPR. NPR, 19 May 2014. Web. <http://www.npr.org/2014/05/19/312455680/stateby-state-court-fees>.
10) Shapiro, Joseph. “Jail Time For Unpaid Court Fines And Fees Can Create Cycle Of Poverty.” NPR. NPR, 9 Feb. 2015. Web. <http://www.npr.org/
blogs/codeswitch/2015/02/09/384968360/jail-time-for-unpaid-court-fines-and-fees-can-create-cycle-of-poverty>.

Restoring U.S. Income Tax Revenue: A Responsible Restructuring of Income Tax
Brackets and Marginal Tax Rates
By Zachary Schmetterer, Major: PAM ‘18, Email:zls5@cornell.edu
The United States government should increase the number and threshold of income tax brackets to effectively tax
increasingly higher shares of income at higher rates in order to collect more government revenue.

History:

In 2014, United States Federal government still faced a $492 billion dollar budgetary deficit even after
implementing tax increases and spending cuts that have decreased the deficit by over two thirds since 2009.1
Despite these efforts, the deficit is still unsustainably high and has already started destabilizing our financial
security as observed when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S.’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.2 Economically speaking,
tax increases
have a lower dollar for
dollar effect
on reducing
gross domestic product
because the
expenditure
multiplier is
greater than
the tax multiplier, meaning tax increases should be used as the primary method of deficit reduction.3 Due to the fact that
the U.S. has differing and equally complicated federal tax policies regarding income taxes, corporate taxes, estate
taxes, excise taxes, gift taxes, import taxes, payroll taxes, capital gains taxes ,and etc., the focus of this policy
solution will examine restructuring income tax policy as it is the largest source of government revenue and not
directly allocated for entitlement benefits as are payroll taxes.4 Additionally, this policy proposal aims to analyze
the solution of restructuring the foundation of the tax code rather than closing the tax gap as “potential revenue
gains from proposals to improve enforcement are quite limited” according to the Tax Policy Center .5 In fact,
tax evasion has increased according to the most recent IRS statistics, with the tax gap growing from $290 billion
in 2001 to $385 billion in 2006.6 This statistic makes the point that since current efforts to reduce tax evasion
are failing, new policy changes are not likely to increase tax revenue in a cost effective manner. Thus, changing
income tax brackets and rates is left as the most viable solution to be analyzed. Sample system (chart above)
generates $347,953,097,190 on top of existing income tax revenues.11
The Policy Idea:

This policy entails creating new tax brackets with higher marginal tax rates for levels of income above
$464,850 (highest threshold for an individual’s taxable income) at exponentially increasing interval gaps.7 The
concept of exponentially separated intervals growing in size with income would also be implement upon lower
tax brackets to increase progressivity in the current tax bracket layout. The aim of this policy is to effectively
differentiate higher income earners and capture more overall tax revenue in a progressive manner while limiting
the amount of economic damage.

Analysis:

The core of this policy centers on the notion that Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corp., with compensation of $84,308,755 should not be taxed at the same rate (on income over the highest bracket) as Mike Krzyzewski, Men’s basketball coach of Duke University, with compensation of $6,043,979 because the percentage of
his income taxed above the value of the highest threshold compared to Mr. Krzyzewski is over 14 times higher.
Looking deeper into this proposal, the historical precedent for tax brackets differentiating higher income earners

has a reputable success rate. The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 lowered the threshold of the upper limit
of the highest tax bracket from $544,054 to $203,661 (in 2013 inflation adjusted dollars) while also changing the
highest marginal tax rate from 70.0% to 50.0%.8 This legislation reduced revenues from top earners and decreased progressivity in the tax code. After accountTalking Points:
ing for other variables, the Office of Tax Analysis
• Increase Progressivity and Equity of Income Tax System
estimated that the new policy lowered federal income
• Generate Additional Revenue to Reduce the Deficit
tax revenue by 13% relative to where it would have
• Eliminate Poorly Designed Tax Brackets in the Current System
been in the bill’s absence.9 Additionally, historical
precedent has also shown us that in order to financially support high levels of government spending during economic downturns, tax brackets thresholds and rates
must increase for higher income earners. During the years following the Great Depression, government spending as a percentage of GDP was higher than it was during the years following the 2007-2009 recession; however,
the budgetary deficit in 1940 was $49.15 billion (in 2013 inflation adjusted dollars) while the deficit in 2009 (with
adjustment) totaled $1559.6 billion.10 The difference was that in 1940 the highest threshold was $81,997,857 (adjusted) with income above taxed at 79.0% compared to a threshold of $399,125 (adjusted) in 2009 with a top rate
of 35.0%.8

Next Steps:

Because restructuring income tax policy is only part of reducing the deficit, a specific policy tailored to
meet concrete revenue objectives would have to be created by experts. In this case, economic experts would have
to draft a new income tax bracket system that embodies the historical and progressive spirit of this proposal to
be sent to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis. If effectively designed, a supportive Congressman would
bring the bill to House of Representatives, where it would first be initiated and referred to the Ways and Means
Committee. After receiving committee approval, the bill goes to the full House, where it is debated, amended,
and approved. The bill then goes to the Senate, is review and approved by the Finance Committee. It is then approved by the full Senate and is then sent to a joint House and Senate committee to be compromised upon. The
compromised version is then approved by both Houses and finally signed by the President.12

Endnotes:

1) “A History of Surpluses and Deficits in the United States.” DaveManuel.com. January 1, 2015. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://www.davemanuel.com/history-of-deficitsand-surpluses-in-the-united-states.php.
2) Dextrixhe, John. “U.S. Credit Rating Affirmed by S&P With Stable Outlook.” Bloomberg.com. June 6, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://www.bloomberg.com/
news/articles/2014-06-06/u-s-sovereign-credit-rating-affirmed-by-s-p-with-stable-outlook.
3) Haworth, Barry. “Multiplier Summary.” Multiplier Summary. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://econpage.com/202/handouts/Multipliers.html.
4) Williams, Roberton. “The Numbers: What Are the Federal Government’s Sources of Revenue?” Tax Policy Center. September 13, 2011. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://
www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/numbers/revenue.cfm.
5) Toder, Eric. “The Tax Gap: What Is the Tax Gap?” What Is the Tax Gap? January 3, 2008. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/tax-gap/what-is.cfm.
6) “IRS Releases New Tax Gap Estimates; Compliance Rates Remain Statistically Unchanged From Previous Study.” IRS. February 6, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://
www.irs.gov/uac/IRS-Releases-New-Tax-Gap-Estimates;-Compliance-Rates-Remain-Statistically-Unchanged-From-Previous-Study.
7) Erb, Kelly. “IRS Announces 2015 Tax Brackets, Standard Deduction Amounts And More.” Forbes. October 30, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/
sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/10/30/irs-announces-2015-tax-brackets-standard-deduction-amounts-and-more/.
8) “Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History.” Tax Foundation. January 1, 2015. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://taxfoundation.org/sites/default/files/docs/fed_individual_rate_history_adjusted.pdf.
9) Tempalski, Jerry. “REVENUE EFFECTS OF MAJOR TAX BILLS.” U.S. Department of the Treasury. September 1, 2006. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://www.treasury.
gov/resource-center/tax-policy/tax-analysis/Documents/ota81.pdf
10) “US Government Spending As Percent of GDP.” Intellectual Takeout. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/library/chart-graph/us-government-spending-percent-gdp.
11) Saez, Emmanuel. “Striking It Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States.” Econometrics Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. July 17,
2010. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://eml.berkeley.edu//~saez/saez-UStopincomes-2008.pdf.
12) “Understanding Taxes.” Internal Revenue Service. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://apps.irs.gov/app/understandingTaxes/whys/thm01/les02/ac2_thm01_les02.jsp#score.

Meet the Domestic Policy Center
Michael Alter
Michael is a junior in Arts and Sciences, triple majoring in Government,
Economics, and History. He is a member of the Cornell Speech and Debate
Union, the Cornell Democrats, the Cornell Republicans, and is Vice President of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. From a big Irish family in Westchester,
NY, in his spare time Mike enjoys videogames, tennis, archery, and chocolate.

Delphi Cleaveland
Delphi Cleaveland is a sophomore from Poughkeepsie, New York. She is
in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Government and German Studies. Outside of Roosevelt, she is a member of the Cornell Student
Athletic Council, Big Red Leadership, and competes on both the Women’s
Cross Country and Women’s Track& Field teams. Delphi’s primary interests
are issues involving inequality and the rights of women and children.

David Taylor
David Taylor is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences from
Charlottesville Virginia. He is a member of The Cornell Cross Country and
Track Teams. He is interested in Economic and Domestic Policy.

Maggie McGrane
Maggie McGrane is a junior in the ILR School with minors in International Relations and Inequality Studies. She is primarily interested in human
rights as they pertain to labor and development.

Meet the Domestic Policy Center
Jared Siegel
Jared is a sophomore at the College of Arts and Sciences. He is a government
and history double major.

Leor Ginzburg
Leor Ginzburg is a freshman in the ILR School from Hewlett, NY. Outside of
Roosevelt, he serves as a voting member of the Student Assembly Committee
on Inclusion and Diversity Initiatives and leads as an executive member of the
Translator-Interpreter Program, fluent in Russian and proficient in Spanish.
His interests lie in domestic and foreign policy, particularly as they pertain to
the labor sector.

Cris Lee
Crispinus “Cris” Lee is a rising junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He
studies history and international relations. He enjoys East Asian Policy and
hopes to develop a foreign policy career.

Meet the Domestic Policy Center
Jackson Weber
Jackson Weber is a sophomore Government major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In addition to his work with the Roosevelt Institute, he is a starting
linebacker on the Cornell Varsity Football team and a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Taylor Keating
Taylor Keating is a sophomore in the ILR School from Oakland, CA. Outside of Roosevelt, she works at the Cornell Annual Fund and volunteers with
College Mentors for Kids and Consent Ed. She is specifically interested in
economic and immigration policy.

Zachary Schmetterer
Zachary Schmetterer is a freshman majoring in Policy Analysis and Management from Youngstown, Ohio. Outside of Roosevelt, he is a member of
the Recreational Fencing Club, the Cornell Ski Team, and the New York Beta
Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Some of his interests include politics, fitness,
and traveling.

II. Center for Economic Policy
“The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Director

Alison Schonberg ‘16

Analysts
Anita Li ‘16
Sang Hyun Park ‘17
Victor Zhao ‘16
Alain Chan ‘16
Abigail Hiller ‘16
Letter from the Policy Director
“End the Exploitation: Outlawing Unpaid Internships in For-Profits Companies”
Anita Li ‘16
Unpaid interns are heavily exploited in many ways. The Fair Labor Standards Act should be amended to outlaw
unpaid internships in for-profits companies.
“Protecting Foreign Direct Investment: Improving Transparency in the CFIUS Review Process”
Sang Hyun Park ‘17
The Federal Government should implement reforms in the review process of the Committee on Foreign Investment in
the United States (CFIUS) in order to maintain high levels of foreign direct investment in the economy.
“Reforming Credit Ratings: Implementing Skin-in-the-Game Through Required Co-Investments”
Victor Zhao ‘16
The issuer-pay model in the credit rating industry produces significant conflicts of interest that lead to dangerously
inaccurate ratings. Requiring credit rating agencies to have skin in the game by investing in the products they rate
will resolve these conflicts of interest and incentivize development of better and more accurate rating models.
“A Shared-Goods Credit Score (SGCS) System Can Reduce Social Inefficiency”
Alain Chan ‘16
By proposing a Shared-Goods Credit Score (SGCS) System, defaults and harmful risks of utilizing shared-goods can
be minimized, and the society will function more efficiently.
“Funding More Efficient Ground Water Use in California”
Alison Schonberg ‘16
California is currently facing a critical drought period, with state-implemented limits on water use, rebates on
less-water-intensive home appliances, and conservation-themed media campaigns. In order to supplement the conservation effort, and target previously unaddressed sources of water loss, the state government should reduce leaks in
water mains, and incentivize alternatives to water-intensive landscaping.
“Making University Affordable: Tax Increase and Incentive Based Cuts”
Abigail Hiller ‘17
Increasing taxes and providing incentives for universities to cut costs will make higher education more affordable.

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am excited to present to you the eighth issue of Looking Ahead: The Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal by the Center for Economic Policy and
Development. This journal contains the work of six policy analysts, each of
whom spent many hours doing in-depth research and careful inventing solutions to the problems plaguing our economic system today.

Some students explored reform on a federal level, like changes in labor
rights and unpaid internships, while others explored legislation on a more microcosmic level, like economic incentives for conservation. Each analyst provided a concrete and detailed plan of implementation, as well as a list of potential public resources to implement his or her policy vision.

The amalgam of policy proposals provides an interesting insight into the
most critical issues in the US economy, and innovative solutions to those problems.
Sincerely,
Alison Schonberg

Economics and Government (A&S ‘16)
Director, Center for Economic Policy and Development

End the Exploitation: Outlawing Unpaid Internships in For-Profits Companies
By Anita Li, Major: Policy Analysis and Management‘16, Email: hl536@cornell.edu
Unpaid interns are heavily exploited in many ways. The Fair Labor Standards Act should be amended to outlaw
unpaid internships in for-profits companies.

History:

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, and youth employment standards, which include regulations and guidelines for unpaid internships in the private sector. The Department of
Labor enforces the law and lays out six criteria to be met for an unpaid internship in a for-profit organization:
1. The internship, even though it includes actual
Key Facts:
operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar
• In 2013, among the internships taken by graduating seniors,
to training, which would be given in an educational
52.2% were paid and 47.8% were unpaid.
environment;
• 38% of these unpaid internships are conducted in the for-profit,
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the
private sector.

35 lawsuits concerning unpaid internships have either been
intern;
started or settled since 2011.
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but
• 60% of employers express a preference for hiring applicants
works under close supervision of existing staff;
with internships on their resume.
4. The employer that provides the training derives no •
immediate advantage from the activities of the intern;
and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to pay.
If any of the above criteria is unmet, interns at the private sector must be paid minimum wage. However, very
rarely, private companies don’t derive an “immediate advantage” from an intern’s work. Violations are known
to be widespread, but most interns are afraid to file complaints. Until more recently, unpaid interns are fighting
back. In the court case of two production interns against Fox Searchlight, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled
that the production company violated minimum wage and overtime laws for not paying the interns. Such ruling
has drawn more attention to the legality of unpaid internships in the private sector. Following a student petition
against unpaid internship postings in the school’s career center, New York University has announced that it started to tighten its policies on unpaid internships. In addition, Columbia University has similar actions trying to
curb illegal unpaid internships, including instructing employers to follow the Labor Department’s guidelines on
the school’s career site, as well as stopping giving out “registration credit” to students in internships. Such credits
did not count toward a degree, and mostly used to justify not paying for a student’ work by employers. Other Ivy
League colleges like Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth also do not give such academic credits.
Furthermore, since unpaid interns are not compensated by wages, they are not classified as employees and
therefore are not protected by labor and human rights laws. This means that they are not protected from racial
discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s time to end the exploitation on unpaid interns.

Policy Idea:

Congress should amend the FLSA to outlaw unpaid internships in the private sector, and that all internships
in the private sector are subject to the FLSA minimum wage and overtime policies. For non-profit organizations
and governments, interns are classified as volunteers to do charity work and public services. However, unpaid
interns and applicants from all sectors, including those in private firms, non-profits and governments, should
be protected from discrimination and harassment under human rights laws. In fact, New York State, along with
Oregon and Washington, D.C., has amended such laws to protect unpaid interns or applicants for the internship.
The trend to protect interns should spread across the country.

Analysis:

By the criteria set out by the FLSA, many unpaid internships in the private sector look dubious. Several of

the clauses are vague and firms often fall short of compliance. For example, the internship should be similar to
training, which would be given in an educational environment. The FLSA does not actually provide more details on the definition of such a training and educational environment. In addition, the clause specifying that the
employer should not to gain immediate benefit from the internship can be controversial since private employers
almost always derive immediate benefits from their employees’ work. Providing training and an educational
environment to interns but not deriving any immediate advantage from them is also contradicted to the mission
and goal of a for-profit firm, which is to make profits. And yet, students are often put in the position of “take-itor-leave-it,” and have no negotiation power.
A day’s work should equal to a day’s pay. College credits should not free employers from the obligation of paying their interns. As employers and colleges often claim, students receive benefits from the internships, such as
resume listings, job references, and an understanding of the work function and environment, and such benefits
should exempt employers from paying their interns. However, all these benefits are incidental to working in the
office and are not the explicit and intentional results of the internship. In addition, unpaid internships are discriminatory against students with lower family income, as poor students cannot afford to work for free.
Furthermore, requiring private firms to pay their interns provides employers with an incentive to offer training
programs with better quality to their interns. When firms are paying money, they are more motivated to train
interns to fit in the work environment, rather than to assign them menial tasks. Eventually, employers will value
more of the interns’ work. Firms should take advantage of the opportunity and invest in good candidates for future full time employment. In exchange, students can learn to take responsibility from the work they are paid for,
as well as gain a better understanding of work and industry when they are assigned to more valuable tasks.

Next Steps:

To end the exploitation, Congress must amend the FLSA to illegalize unpaid internships in the private sector,
excluding non-profit organizations and the public sector. All internships in the private sector should now fall under the FLSA minimum wage and overtime standards. All interns and applicants for internships, paid or unpaid,
in the public or private sector, are protected by human rights laws from discrimination and harassment.
The Department of Labor should establish a new Youth Employment Commission to create new procedure
guidelines for colleges’ student career centers, so that the new amendment should be effectively and properly
enforced. The Commission should also conduct annual reviews on student internships, both paid and unpaid.
When violations are found, the Commission should immediately publicize the employers involved, and penalize
them by banning them from advertising on school career sites for two years.
In addition, colleges are no longer allowed to provide such “registration credits” for unpaid interns in for-profit
firms, or post unpaid internship listings for private companies in their career site. Colleges’ career centers must
also follow up with students on their internships, making sure that students are not exploited, and their legal
rights are protected. Colleges can accomplish this by conducting mandatory surveys from students after they
complete their internships. If any violation is reported, the school should immediately investigate the internship,
and file a complaint to the new Commission in conjunction with the student. Students should also be granted
the right to pursue legal justice when their rights are violated.

Endnotes:

“Are Unpaid Internships Illegal?” The Economist. The Economist, 9 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Hickman, Blair. “What We Learned Investigating Unpaid Internships.” Pro Publica. Pro Publica Inc., 23 July 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
“Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act.” Wage and Hour Division (WHD). United States Department of Labor, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
“Good Steps Against Unpaid Internships.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 9 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.
Greenhouse, Steven. “Judge Rules That Movie Studio Should Have Been Paying Interns.” The New York Times. The New York Times
Company, 11 June 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.
Greenhouse, Steven. “The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 2 April 2010.
Griffee, Susannah. “Students Fight Back against Illegal Unpaid Internships.” USA Today. USA Today, 13 May 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Hickman, Blair, and Christie Thompson. “When Is It OK to Not Pay an Intern?” Pro Publica. Pro Publica Inc., 14 June 2013. Web. 16
Apr. 2015.
Minniti, Cindy. “New York State Becomes The Fourth Jurisdiction To Protect Unpaid Interns From Employment Discrimination.”
Forbes. Forbes, 28 July 2014. Web.

Protecting Foreign Direct Investment: Improving Transparency in the
CFIUS Review Process
By Sang Hyun Park, Major: Economics ‘17, Email: sp2273@cornell.edu

The Federal Government should implement reforms in the review process of the Committee on Foreign Investment in
the United States (CFIUS) in order to maintain high levels of foreign direct investment in the economy.

History:

Foreign direct investment contributes significantly to the United States economy as a source of capital, labor,
and technology. In the interests of national security,
Key Facts:
the government regulates foreign investment through
• The United States is the world’s largest recipient of foreign
the CFIUS. Under the 1988 Exon-Florio Amendment
direct investment (FDI), with inflows totaling $1.5 trillion since
to the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act, the
2006.
• Foreign firms employ more than 5.3 million U.S. workers
committee reviews the acquisitions of foreign comthrough their U.S. affiliates and have indirectly created millions
panies and ensures their compliance with national
of additional jobs.
security regulations.
• Foreign firms account for 11% of U.S. private-sector capital
Especially since the September 11 terrorist attacks
investment, nearly 15% of annual R&D, and almost 20% of U.S.
in 2001, the committee has seen a significant growth
exports.
in the scope and authority of its investigative duties. • U.S. share of global FDI has fallen by almost 40% since the
1980s.
President Bush’s 2003 executive order, which created
the Secretary of Homeland Security, initiated a harsher approach in the government’s foreign policy towards foreign investment. In 2007, Congress passed the Foreign
Investment and National Security Act (FINSA) to broaden the committee’s review authority and the scrutiny
involved in their review process.
The CFIUS, in spite of these developments, has approved a vast majority of the acquisitions it has reviewed.
However, in three different instances, the President exercised the executive order to direct divestments, most recently in the case of Ralls vs. CFIUS1 . Moreover, increasing congressional oversight over the committee’s actions
has raised concerns over the politicization involved in the process as well as the confidentiality of their investigations. Such developments can hurt the desirability of foreign investment in the United States, which may result in
major financial losses for the overall economy.

Policy Idea:

The Federal Government can increase transparency in the CFIUS review process in three ways. First, it can
take preemptive measures to avoid unconstitutional seizure of property from foreign companies through proper
notification and early restriction of areas critical to military facilities. Second, it can provide foreign companies
more opportunities to rebut incriminating evidence through the provision of non-classified information to
foreign defendants. Third, the federal government can reform the judicial process to enhance procedural due
process in cases involving foreign defendants through measures such as testing and removing bias among juries
and restrict forum shopping.

Analysis:

This issue primarily involves a consideration of the tradeoff between economic welfare and national security.
In particular, China’s grand expansion of foreign direct investment in the US and the country’s potential to leak
sensitive information in American technology, infrastructure, and intellectual property was the chief reason
for creating the CFIUS. On the other hand, the benefits of increased national security by rejecting the policy
will come at considerable economic costs. From an economic standpoint, the consequence of failing to protect
foreign investment rights can impose detrimental effects on the national economy. Foreign investment contributes a large flow of capital and resources into the economy, contributing to the creation of more than 5.6 million

American jobs and growth in various sectors and industries. The technological innovation that foreign products
bring to the economy stimulates productivity, multiplying production and generating higher income and output.
Moreover, they have come to command an important role in market behavior as actors involved in both the demand and supply sides of various industries. Essential to their vested interest in the United States as a ground for
Talking Points:
their business has been an appreciation for the na•
Foreign
direct
investment
is a critical component of the national
tion’s promised standard of equality. To create an
economy as a major source of funds, capital, labor, and innovation.
upward trend in the inward flow of foreign direct
• Increased regulation by the CFIUS on the activities of foreign cominvestment, it is vital that the nation preserves its
panies has the potential to hurt levels of foreign investment in the
image as an investment-friendly nation by paying
U.S.
• Improving the transparency and predictability of the CFIUS review
due respect to the rights of foreign companies.

Next Steps:

process can help retain investor confidence and maintain high FDI
inflows in the long term.

1. The CFIUS should actively identify properties
that are in close proximity to military facilities and prohibit foreign ownership in such areas.
2. The CFIUS should notify companies well in advance (no later than eight weeks following purchase) with requests for review as a mandatory step in the foreign purchase of any domestic property.
3. The committee should adopt as part of its review protocol the adequate provision of non-classified information to foreign defendants regarding the purpose of their review.
4. Congress should propose the removal of the use of juries in commercial litigation involving foreign entities
and urge states to implement tort reform in their courts so as to limit punitive damages and the practice of forum shopping2.

Endnotes:

Bajwa, Sanjeev. “Apple v. Samsung: Is it Time to Change our Patent Trial System?” Global Business and Development Law Journal 27,
(2014): 77-106.
Congressional Research Service. Foreign Investment in the United States: Major Federal Statutory Restrictions. By Michael V. Seitzinger
Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2013.
Division of Investment and Enterprise. “World Investment Report, Annex table 01 – FDI inflows, by region and economy, 1990-2013.”
World Investment Report 2014: Annex Tables. UNCTAD. http://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World Investment Report.
Moore, Kimberly A. “Xenophobia in American Courts.” Northwestern University Law Review 97, (2003): 1497-1552.
Morrison, Fred L. “The Protection of Foreign Investment in the United States of America.” American Journal of Comparative Law 58,
(2010): 437-454.
Kurland, Philip and Ralph Lerner. “Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures.” The Founders’ Constitution. University of Chicago
Press. http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch4s31.htmlsp
Schott, Charles G. “The U.S. Litigation Environment and Foreign Direct Investment.” USA Department of Commerce. (2008)

Reforming Credit Ratings: Implenting Skin-in-the-Game
Through Required Co-Investments
By Victor Zhao, Major: Applied Economics and Management ‘16, Email: vz38@cornell.edu
The issuer-pay model in the credit rating industry produces significant conflicts of interest that lead to dangerously
inaccurate ratings. Requiring credit rating agencies to have skin in the game by investing in the products they rate
will resolve these conflicts of interest and incentivize development of better and more accurate rating models.

History:

Key Facts:
Credit ratings of risky financial assets have become
a fundamental backbone behind present-day finan- • Roughly 75% of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)
received a top AAA rating from the credit rating agencies;
cial innovation. While ratings agencies have existed
ultimately more than 70% of these CDOs defaulted5
for over a century, the modern system was created
• In February 2015, Standard and Poor’s agreed to a $1.375
in 1975 when the SEC formally established the title
billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department for
of “Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organi“defrauding investors in the lead up to the financial crizations” (NRSRO).1 The SEC initially granted three
sis”6
ratings agencies – Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and
• The “Big Three” credit rating agencies - Moody’s, StanFitch Ratings – with the NRSRO title in 1975, and
dard & Poor’s, and Fitch - together control more than 90%
those agencies have remained the dominant industry
of the market worldwide7
1

leaders today .
Credit rating agencies came under significant scrutiny during the subprime mortgage crisis from 2007 to 2008. Many of the securities rated as investment-grade
by the agencies were revealed to be worthless, as subprime mortgages around the country defaulted at an
unprecedented rate not captured by the risk-assessing models the ratings agencies employed. Moreover, subsequent publications by journalists and writers covering the crisis detailed ways in which financial engineers
gamed the credit rating system for higher grades by repeatedly repackaging sub-investment grade assets to create the appearance of diversification, and criticized the agencies for acting complicit in rubber-stamping securitized assets as safe without truly understanding their composition in order to receive more business and higher
fees from the issuers of those securities2.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act outlined several reforms to the ratings
industry, including separating sales representatives from analysts and requiring greater disclosure of credit information. Yet, the fundamental structure of the credit rating system remains intact and unchanged.
Analysis:

Required co-investments help to reduce the classic principal-agent problems in the industry caused by the
current issuer-pay model. The current model rewards agencies based on volume, and thus provides incentives
for artificially high ratings in order to attract more business. Requiring co-investment in the asset by the ratings
agencies will create the classic “skin in the game” model, incentivizing the agencies to produce more accurate
assessments of risk by exposing them to the liability of losses from those risks3.
Because co-investment transforms rating agencies into investors, a natural alternative proposal is to eliminate
rating agencies altogether and move to an investor-led or investor-pay model for credit ratings. Yet, investor-pay
models may result in underutilization of credit ratings, as investors are incentivized to pay for ratings only on the
small subset of securities they believe a priori to fit their investment goals3. Issuer-pay thus has an advantage in
making more information about the market available and transparent. The hybrid co-investment model retains
the advantages of both issuer-pay and investor-pay while minimizing the downsides of either model.
Co-investment provides a market-based solution to the problem that resolves conflicts of interest while continuing to encourage competition, innovation, and improvement amongst rating agencies. With required skin in
the game, credit rating agencies will be incentivized to devise better models and make continuous improvements
in order to maximize their own profits. This alignment of incentives will shift the primary focus of competition

between ratings agencies from attracting the most customers through high ratings to developing the best and
most accurate risk-assessment models. In turn, this will generate greater social welfare and positive externalities
by reducing the likelihood of a
Talking Points:
financial crisis like that in 2007. • In its final report, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission wrote that,
“The three credit-rating agencies were key enablers of the financial meltdown; the mortgage-related securities at the heart of the crisis could not
The best opportunity for comhave been marketed and sold without their seal of approval”5
prehensive credit rating reform
was in the Dodd-Frank financial • The current credit ratings market promotes conflicts of interest by rewarding volume, rather than accuracy
reform legislation passed in

Skin-in-the-game is an effective solution to principal-agent problems that
response to the financial crihas been implemented in other legislative policies stemming from the crisis. That act, however, failed to
sis, including those targeted towards mortgage originators
produce large-scale or substan•
tial reform of the credit-rating

Next Steps:

industry. Substantial lobbying
and support from stakeholders is necessary to bring this issue into the national spotlight as one both important
and worthy of reform. In particular, large institutional investors with memory of the financial crisis should have
an interest in policies that aim to make ratings better and more accurate.
Some support for reform persists in Congress, with Senator Al Franken advancing a proposal to eliminate conflicts of interest by randomizing assignments of credit ratings through a third-party authority overseen by the
SEC4. The success of that proposal in Congress will be a valuable benchmark for Congress’s appetite in passing
meaningful reform of the credit rating industry.

Endnotes:

1. Report on the Role and Function of Credit Rating Agencies in the Operation of the Securities Markets. Buffalo, NY: W.S. Hein, 2004.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Jan. 2003. Web. 5 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sec.gov/news/studies/credratingreport0103.pdf>.
2. Morgenson, Gretchen. “The Stone Unturned: Credit Ratings.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Mar. 2014. Web. 05 Apr.
2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/business/the-stone-unturned-credit-ratings.html>.
3. Bongaerts, Dion. “Can Skin-in-the-game Discipline Credit Rating Agencies?” (n.d.): n. pag. Erasmus University Rotterdam School of
Management, 30 July 2012. Web. 5 Apr. 2015. <http://www.efa2012.org/papers/f2h2.pdf>.
4. Franken, Al. “Credit Rating Agency Reform.” Credit Rating Agency Reform. Al Franken, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2015. <https://www.
franken.senate.gov/?p=issue&id=280>.
5. Krantz, Matt. “2008 Crisis Still Hangs over Credit-rating Firms.” USA Today. Gannett, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2015. <http://
www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/09/13/credit-rating-agencies-2008-financial-crisis-lehman/2759025/>.
6. Justice Department and State Partners Secure $1.375 Billion Settlement with S&P for Defrauding Investors in the Lead Up to the
Financial Crisis
7. “The Big 3 Credit Ratings Agencies Have a New Competitor.” Investing. Financial Post, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2015. <http://
business.financialpost.com/investing/the-big-3-credit-ratings-agencies-have-a-new-competitor/>.

A Shared-Goods Credit Score(SGCS) System Can Reduce Social Inefficiency
By Alain Chan, Major: Industrial Labor Relations ‘16, Email: kc567@cornell.edu
By proposing a Shared-Goods Credit Score(SGCS) System, defaults and harmful risks of utilizing shared-goods can
be minimized, and the society will function more efficiently.

History:

In order to cope with population growth and urbanization, our society is implicitly evolving into a sharing
economy in the 21st century. As the urban population in the world has increased from 30% in 1950 to 54% in
2014, and the rate is prudently projected to be 66% by 2050 , it shows roughly the reverse of the global rural-urban population distribution of the mid-20th century1.
Key Facts:
Currently, more than 80% of the US population lives • Urban population in the World: 30% in 1950: 30%, 54% in
in cities and 45% in urban agglomerations of more
2014, 66% in 2050 (est.)1
2
than 1 million people . The consequences of people
• More than 80% of the US population lives in large cities
flocking to cities include traffic congestion, inadequate • Car sharers report reducing their vehicle miles travelled by
44%4
housing, and shortages in many economic goods3.

This could only be solved by more efficient use of resources; one potential involves sharing.
As those information and technology based companies like Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit have risen, the idea of
shared goods and services has changed our daily lives. Undoubtedly, people benefit from their affordable goods
and services for convenience. However, as these intermediaries connect ‘semi-screened strangers’ together,
potential risks ranging from defaults to serious crimes could also accompany the benefits. Also, a lack of trust
between consumers could hinder the growth of a sharing economy. A potential solution entails building a reputation data profile for each individual involved in the sharing market. Businesses have been working on similar
initiatives to gain users, but they are not willing to share their data to competitors. This proprietary attitude is a
hindrance to the growth of the sharing economy. Therefore, by proposing a data policy of integrating credibility
scores, the market could sidestep this obstacle.

Policy Idea:

All information and technology based companies that act as intermediaries to connect people together for
any economic activities should share the safety and reputation related data with the Shared-Goods Credit Score
(SGCS) System. The SGCS system should function independently from but monitored by the government. Individuals’ profiles would be accessible publicly, but the data would be managed by the SGCS agent. By proposing a
Shared-Goods Credit Score (SGCS) system, defaults and harmful risks of utilizing shared-goods could be minimized, and society could be more efficient economically.

Analysis:

Governments must implement policies to ensure that the benefits of urban growth are shared equitably and
sustainably. Sustainable economic activities such as shared goods and services would satisfy people’s needs and
meet economic goals only if the risks of defaults and crimes are minimized.
As the sharing economy spreads across various industries ranging from vehicles and space sharing to house
cleaning and personalized service, users and companies could benefit from mass storage of data. The SGCS is
similar to the FICO score for the sharing economy that would let both platforms and individuals know how
trustworthy you are based on your history and activity. For example, if someone signed up as an Uber driver, it
would be useful for Uber and its users to know if that person had been banned from Airbnb.
A successful sharing economy has to be fully reputation-based - one in which users’ behavior and track record
follow them from service to service. At this point, the reputation database can only be established by a third
party (i.e. the federal government), as businesses strive to keep their own data in an early and competitive stage.
Without a third party, the emergence of a sharing economy will stagnate due to lack of data sharing. Once the

SGCS system is established and developed, it will provide the momentum for the a sharing economy to take
hold.

Next Steps:

The mechanics of establishing the SGCS system reTalking Points:
quires a competent, responsive, and accountable agent to • Clearly, if alternatives are convenient and affordable, people
will choose to use technology, reducing impact on the
carry out the reform. This agent needs to eliminate public
environment
concerns for privacy of their data, as it certainly will be
• There is a need for building institutional capacities and apthe first priority, with reliable technicians and high transplying integrated approaches to attain urban sustainability.
parency. Operation of the database should be actively and •
carefully monitored.
Companies do not need to provide full disclosure of
users’ activities, but rather, only safety and reputation related data. This could protect their competitiveness and
eliminate public concerns for possible commercial use of the data.
What’s more, the agent and the government need to educate the public for the use of data by introducing the
vision and ultimate benefits of a sharing economy. The data policy will probably encounter critics and doubts
in early phases of its implementation because we are still at the early stage of entering a sharing economy. It will
take time to propose and implement the policy, but the federal government should be the active leader endorsing
and ushering in a sharing economy to cope with the unignorable problems of urbanization.

Endnotes:

1. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. “World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights.” (2014): 13
2. McKinsey Global Institute. “Urban America: US cities in the global economy” (2012): 2
3. United Nations News Centre. “Preventable Urban Air Pollution Kills More than a Million People Each Year.” http://www.un.org/
apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=39825#.VUwfT86GefS (Accessed April 15, 2015).
4. University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School. “Next Stop, Innovation: What’s Ahead for Urban Mobility?”(2013): 4
Image: https://gpblog230.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/data-network.jpg

Funding More Efficient Water Use in California
By Alison Schonberg, Major: Economics and Government, ‘16, Email: ars283@cornell.edu
California is currently facing a critical drought period with state-implemented limits on water use, rebates on
less-water-intensive home appliances, and conservation-themed media campaigns. In order to supplement the conservation effort, and target previously unaddressed sources of water loss, the state government should reduce leaks in
water mains and incentivize alternatives to water-intensive landscaping.

History:

Water conservation techniques have quickly become California’s most pressing policy issue. From April 24,
2015 to May 4 of the same year, the state’s Central Valley alone lost a net 101,800 acre-feet of water storage in
local reservoirs , one of the area’s primary sources of drinking water1. Likewise, snowpack from mountainous
regions – namely, the Sierra Nevada Mountain range
Key Facts:
– have also reached critically low levels. In January
• An average family of four in California uses approximately
2014, Sierra Nevada snowpack reached only 14% of its
46,000 gallons of water per year; at least 50% of this water is
normal water capacity, and has continued to decrease
used in outdoor landscaping and gardening9
over the following year and a half2. The only remain- • Each year, leaks in water mains are responsible for 700,000 acrefeet of water loss in California8
ing source of groundwater, underwater aquifers, has
• Household water use accounts for 64% of urban water use10
become an increasingly less attractive option for
drinking water, as the amount of available groundwater has also decreased over time, and the water-extraction process has been linked to lower water tables and expensive pumping processes3. Governor Jerry Brown
has already implemented multiple water-saving measures over the past year to reduce consumption, provide
incentives for consumers to buy less water-intensive appliances, and ultimately consume 25% less water4. In spite
of state rebates, media campaigns, and mandates, however, some sources of wasted-water remain unaddressed –
landscaping and water-intensive gardening as well as continued leaks in water mains.

Policy Idea:

California’s state government, partnered with the state’s Department of Water Resources, State Water Sources
Control Board, and Energy Commission will: 1) align with the state’s top five home-appliance and gardening
stores to subsidize prices of less-water-intensive plants; 2) reestablish Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credits
of up to $500 for consumers who exclusively purchase less-water-intensive plants (i.e. Mesa Bushmallow and
Desert Mallow)5 ; 3) create new drought maintenance committees that will conduct emergency surveys of water
mains on a bimonthly basis, and determine those which most require repair work.

Analysis:

In order to effectively reduce water-use across California, the
state should not only target household appliances like toilets,
faucets, and dishwashers, but also outdoor landscaping, which
amounts to over 50% of household water use6. In particular, the
average lawn and garden for a California household requires
up to 75,000 gallons of water per year for regular maintenance,
and those with more invasive species and non-drought-resistant
plants require significantly more water7. California’s state government, the Department of Water Resources, and major home-gardening stores could reduce this value by subsidizing a set list of
drought-specific plants, providing a Residential Energy Efficiency
Tax Credit to those who garden only with the preapproved list of
plants, and actively advertise the economic and environmental
incentives in a gardening media campaign. The lower price cou-

pled with a salient media campaign and partnerships with local gardening stores would incentivize Californians
to alter their ecologically unfriendly habits.
In addition, greater funding to pipeline maintenance would reduce the amount of water wasted per year by a
significant percentage, and would target an area of
Talking Points:
water-conservation which has been largely neglect- • California’s water crisis requires immediate attention, and cured by current state legislation. On average, “700,000
rent legislation only addresses rebates for household appliances,
and new economic incentives to reduce indoor water use
acre-feet of water are lost each year” because of water
8

Non-native and non-drought-resistant plants are responsible for
main leaks . New drought maintenance teams – cresignificant amounts of wasted water
ated especially for California’s water crisis – could
• Urban water maintenance crews have limited resources, and
be dispatched to each drought-stricken county and
need additional personnel to address widespread leaks in water
evaluate the quality of local water mains on a monthly
mains
basis, supplementing California’s standard water auditing and maintenance committees that have limited
resources.

Next Steps:

A coalition of relevant government agencies - Department of Water Resources, State Water Sources Control
Board, and Energy Commission – will draft contracts with major home-gardening stores to subsidize prices for
a select list of 10-15 native and drought-resistant plants. Next, the same coalition will lobby California’s legislature to reinstate Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credits of up to $500 for those gardeners who plant only from
the approved list. After lobbying California’s legislature, the Department of Water Resources will authorize the
formation of new maintenance and surveillance committees (one per county) to investigate water mains twice
per month, and determine those that most need repair work. The newly created committees will be responsible
for early-detection of faulty-mains, while those maintenance committees already in place will be responsible for
repair work.

Endnotes:

1) Conditions, Current, and Recent Precipitation:. “Drought Update.” Drought Update Monday, May 4, 2015 (n.d.): n. pag. California
Government. Governor of the State of California.
2) “Water Conditions: Water Conditions.” Water Conditions: Water Conditions. Governor of the State of California, 2015. Web. <http://
www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/waterconditions.cfm>.
3) “Groundwater Depletion.” USGS Water Science. USGS, 17 Mar. 2014. Web. <https://water.usgs.gov/edu/gwdepletion.html>.
4) Bernstein, Sharon. “California Governor Orders 25% Reduction in Water Usage Statewide.” Scientific American Global RSS. Scientific American, 1 Apr. 2015. Web. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/california-governor-orders-25-reduction-in-water-usage-statewide/>.
5) Las Virgenes Municipal Water District. “A California Friendly Guide to Native and Drought Tolerant Gardens.” Las Virgenes Municipal Water District. 2009. Web.
6) “California’s Water: Facts on “Water Efficency Gardens in Full Bloom”” California’s Water: Facts on “Water Efficency Gardens in Full
Bloom” Association of California Water Agencies, 2015. Web.
7) Ibid.
8) “Water Use Efficiency.” Water Use Efficiency. California Department of Water Resources, 2015. Web. 08 May 2015. <http://www.
water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/leak/>.
9) “The 2014 Annual Reports to the Governing Council.” Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 95.4 (2014): n. pag. California
Building Industry Association. Governor of the State of California, 30 June 2014. Web.
10) “Urban Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California.” Urban Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California. Pacific Institute. Pacific Institute, June 2014. Web.
Image: http://austinnativelandscap.fatcow.com/Pictures/Queen_Victoria_Agave_Xeriscape_Drought_Tolerant_Plant.jpg

A Better Alternative to the Incarceration of Drug Users
By Abigail Hiller, Major: Government ‘17, Email: ah869@cornell.edu
Massive increases in the drug user incarceration rate do not align with an increase in users of illicit drugs, pointing
to potential discriminatory drug laws. Rather than being incarcerated, if addicted drug users were entered into a
help program, their behavior would be corrected, they would not be removed from society, and they would become
active contributors to local economies.

History:

Since the 1980s, the incarceration rate in the United States has been growing at a staggering pace. The number
of citizens in United States’ prisons has increased almost 500% in those 30 years1. Ronald Reagan passed the Anti
Drug Abuse Act in 1986, around the same time that he launched his famous “War on Drugs.” This campaign
attacked drug users, and markedly increased the number of convicted drug felons through harsher penalties2.
Since this time, the number of Americans incarcerated
Key Facts:
for drug offenses has skyrocketed from 41,000 in 1980 • Within three years of their release from prison, about 7 in 10 violent releases were rearrested for a new crime; nearly half were
to half a million in 20113. This dramatic increase led
reconvicted, and more than a quarter were returned to prison6
to a higher amount of total incarcerated people, and
also increased the proportion of those incarcerated
for drug offenses to the total number of incarcerated
individuals in federal prison to be 50/504.

Policy Idea:

All drug offenses ought to be investigated. User deemed to have an addiction problem will qualify for mandatory participation in a tax-funded rehabilitation program, rather than be incarcerated. Users not deemed to have
any sort of drug problem will face no consequences.

Analysis:

In the United States, African Americans account for 13.2% of the population, and have a poverty rate of 27%,
almost three times as high as the poverty rate for white people. Also significant is that white Americans are more
likely to use drugs, but African Americans are more likely to be arrested for using drugs.
Given that African Americans make up significantly less of the population, and statistically do fewer drugs, it
is shocking that 58% of those in state prisons for drug offenses are black5. This discrepancy shows that there is a
racist trend in society that leads to more drug incarceration - specifically of black citizens.
The new system would be able to effectively address the issues of incarceration, and more specifically how it
can address drug incarceration. The War on Drugs began in the 1980s, and also marked the start of a dramatic
increase in drug incarcerations. Studies show that the poor are most likely to be incarcerated due to drug use,
and African Americans are almost three times as likely to be in poverty. This leads to more African American incarcerations, and thus more stereotypes against African Americans, placing them in a racist and discriminatory
cycle. These facts lead to the obvious conclusion that the amount of racial drug incarceration is a fault of society.
The solution posed in this paper can easily address this issue. Those people who have already been incarcerated
would be able to receive help from the new system. This help would include more knowledge about drug use and
its dangers, as well as rehabilitation help to break addictions. Many people would need this information because
they are from poor communities where access to education is often limited. This education would allow individuals to reintegrate into society, and be able to use new knowledge to their benefit, rather than fall prey to the
same vicious cycles.

Next Steps:

This policy reform is national in scale, and thus appeals must be made at the federal level. An appropriate next
step would involve an appeal for legislative action to enact this policy.

Action Plan Snapshot:

Talking Points:

Let’s solve the problem, not isolate it, allowing it to fester and
become worse
Discriminatory institutions are illegal
We have a moral obligation to help those afflicted with drug-related problems

Campus and community outreach: gaining local

support will be crucial. By sharing the facts listed

above, people will adopt the philosophy adopted in
this paper, and support the movement toward reducing incarceration rates.
Policy affairs; This policy will be lobbied on a federal level, as it is a national level policy, and cannot be inconsistently applied across different states.
Timeline: The first step toward executing this policy will be to implement a model for the rehabilitation service
provided in place of the current prison model.

Endnotes:

1) “The Sentencing Project Home.” The Sentencing Project Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2015.
2) “Harvard Law Review.” Harvard Law Review Developments in the Law Category. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2015.
3) “FCNL: Race, Drugs and Incarceration.” FCNL. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2015.
4) Ibid
5) “NAACP | National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” NAACP | National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2015.
6) Fitzpatrick, Cara. “Cursive Writing: Lost Art or Useless Skill?” Sun Sentinal. Sun Sentinal, 30 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.

II. Center for Education Policy
“The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Director
Gideon Teitel ‘17
Analysts
Emily Slifkin
Phoebe Keller
Toni-Anne Richards
Elizabeth Clarke
Letter from the Policy Director
“Gender Education in Schools: A Necessity”
Emily Slifkin
Fairport High School suffers from a lack of understanding about gender issues, in their own community and around
the world. Gender education should be implemented into either the health program or the social sciences in order to
create a more open school environment.
“Guiding Students to Success: College-Career Counseling as a State Requirement”
Elizabeth Clarke
The state of Pennsylvania should require that all low-income students in 8th through 12th grades receive individual
college-career counseling sessions at least once a year.
“Expanding College Opportunities for Eager Rural Students ”
Toni-Anne Richards
By implementing ‘fifth-year’ high school programs in rural school districts, Oregon legislators can ensure that these
students consider college a viable option through guidance from counselors.
“Education That Works: Consider Vocational Schools”
Phoebe Keller
For many students, vocational schools are a more pragmatic investment than poor four-year colleges. Rather than
making community college free, increased federal funding should be used to create grants for students attending
occupational schools.
Meet the Center for Education Policy & Development

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am excited to present to you the eighth issue of Looking Ahead: The Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal by the Center for Education Policy and
Development. This journal contains the work of six policy analysts; each of
whom spent many hours doing in-depth research and careful deliberation to
find solutions to the problems plaguing our education system today.

As students at Cornell University, we’ve experienced firsthand much of the
benefits that our education system has to offer. With this, however, we become
more aware of the gaping and ever-incresing inequality that still exists. From
school vouchers to teacher unions to charter schools, one could spend countless hours debating proposed solutions. We all come from incredibly diverse
backgrounds to attend one of the best academic institutions in the world, and
with our varying perspectives we are in a unique position to discuss and search
for solutions that ensure the greatest possible equality in education.

Each proposal in this journal engages with some of the toughest issues
surrounding education reform. Together, they show all that we have the potential to accomplish if we fight hard enough. We’re lucky to be where we are today
because of education; it’s up to us to provide this opportunity to everyone.
Sincerely,
Gideon Teitel

Industrial and Labor Relations ‘17
Director, Center for Education Policy and Development

Gender Education in Schools: A Necessity
By Emily Slifkin Email: ems386@cornell.edu
Fairport High School suffers from a lack of understanding about gender issues, in their own community and around
the world. Gender education should be implemented into either the health program or the social sciences in order to
create a more open school environment.

History:

As a recent Fairport High School graduate, I am strongly discouraged by the lack of attention is given to
gender issues within the school. There are many days and programs devoted to other forms of discrimination,
such as racial and LGBT discrimination, but there is not a program in place that directly addresses issues of
gender discrimination. I do not remember any time
Key Facts:
during my studies when gender issues were addressed.

1
out
of
every
6
American
women has been the victim of an
During my time as a student, two of my friends tried
attempted
or
completed
rape
in her lifetime
to start a feminist club at the school, but their proposal
• 9 out of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003
was not accepted by the administration. Recently, there • 44% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18
have been bullying incidences via social media that
• Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone
known to the victim
have demonstrated how necessary it is to have gen•
In 2013, among full-time, year-round workers, women were
der education be implemented into the high school.
paid 78 percent of what men were paid
One senior at the school had a misogynistic bumper
sticker on his car mocking women’s driving. A girl at
the school posted a picture of it, and in return she received many hateful replies, from boys and even girls. One
reply said, “Women and men are not equal, get out of your little world,” and another said, “Watch out, now she
is going to say you raped her.” Most astonishing was that no other girls stood up to these boys, which I take as a
sign of internalized oppression where the girls in the school just accept the way they are treated. Many colleges
have diversity requirements to graduate, a lot of which are gender studies classes, so why not implement gender
studies in high schools? By addressing the issue of gender discrimination earlier, perhaps changes can be made in
the frequency of sexual assault in college and changes can also be made in the pay gap between men and women.

Analysis:

There is not much research on the topic of gender education in schools because it is often not part of the
curriculum. The program I am proposing is not single-sex classes to allow girls to feel more comfortable in math
or science classes, the program I would like to implement would make everyone in the school more aware of how
to treat sexes equally and with respect. This program would address the domestic issues and include education
on the pay gap between genders and how it can be combatted, it would include sexuality studies to eliminate
“slut-shaming,” it would include research on female leaders and what females can contribute to businesses and
government, and it would include education on sexual assault. Education about these issues could be implemented by the health teacher through a section in his or her curriculum, or by bringing in guest speakers if the health
teacher did not have enough knowledge on the subject. Then, the program would move on to broader issues
including human trafficking, female genital mutilation, the lack of access to schools for girls in foreign countries,
and domestic abuse that occurs all over the world. Again, the health teacher could choose to teach lessons by
him or herself, or bring in guest speakers. One of the most poignant ways to address global gender issues is by
watching documentaries, such as “Half the Sky” and speeches by people such as Malala Yousafzai. This program
could be free of cost if implemented into already existing health classes.

Next Steps: The next step for Fairport High School would be to assemble a panel of administrators and professionals to outline the gender discrimination issues in the school and then develop a curriculum that could
adequately address the issues that are most prominent.
Talking Points:
Then, gender education curriculum would have to be • Creating more awareness about gender discrimination can
implemented into all health classes. This will require
create a less hostile education environment for women
changing the current curriculum of the classes to allow • More awareness about world gender issues is critical to
developing leaders who will solve gender issues around the
for adequate time to be devoted to gender education.
world
The school would also have to research guest speakers
• Teaching students about gender discrimination can reduce
to bring into classes. Lastly, the school should make a
rates of sexual assault and domestic violence
two year trial plan for their program and keep track of •
gender discriminations during the time period so the
program can be adjusted I later years.
My policy will be promoted by putting gender education in the description of the health class. Therefore,
when signing up for classes, students will be aware of what they are going to learn. I would also want to start a
photo campaign that is similar to those done by many women’s rights groups on college campuses. This photo
campaign would include a whiteboard and students being asked to write why they think we need feminism
or why they love the women in their life. To create the curriculum for health classes, women’s rights activists,
motivational speakers, and members from sexual health organizations could be placed on a panel to create a
comprehensive lesson plan to cover gender issues. The creation of a curriculum will have to take place over
the school year when teachers are employed, so this plan could not happen until the school year of 20162017. Then, the new curriculum would begin with the new school year. I would also like to see the members
of health classes at the end of the year put on a special day that promotes gender equality by utilizing the new
information they have at their disposal.

Endnotes:

1) https://www.rainn.org/statistics
2) http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

Guiding Students to Success: College-Career Counseling as a State Requirement
By Elizabeth Clarke ‘18 Email: egc55@cornell.edu
The state of Pennsylvania should require that all low-income students in 8th through 12th grades receive individual
college-career counseling sessions at least once a year.

History:

The presence of high school college and career counselors has been shown to significantly benefit low-income and minority students. However, schools with disadvantaged student bodies are less likely to have counselors in the first place; those with counselors tend to have higher student-to-counselor ratios and are more likely to
Key Facts:
burden counselors with non-counseling duties, such

Only
8%
of
high
achieving,
low-income students apply to
as administrative tasks and test proctoring.
colleges
in
a
manner
similar
to their middle and upper-income
This absence of student-counselor contact is highly
peers, meaning they apply to multiple, selective schools.
detrimental for students of low SES, especially when • 37% of public schools report having a counselor whose main
it comes to college admissions. Research shows that
responsibility is college counseling, compared to 76% of private
schools.
by ninth grade, most students have established some

The recommended counselor-to-student ratio is 1:250. In the
idea about post-high-school plans . A lack of college
fall of 2013, many Philadelphia schools reached 1:3,000.
and career counseling throughout middle and high
school means highly capable students don’t receive the
necessary information to make an educated choice about their post-secondary future.

In Pennsylvania, the college enrollment rate is lowest in urban and rural districts (at 55% and 59.1%,
respectively). These districts tend to serve higher proportions of low-income students, with parents of low
education attainment levels, who would benefit from increased counselor-student interaction. The situation in
Pennsylvania was worsened by severe education budget cuts of 2013 that eliminated hundreds of school counselors, therefore causing counselor-student ratios in some districts to skyrocket. However, Pennsylvania Governor
Tom Wolf recently announced a $1 billion increase in education funding from the Executive Budget for 20152016, with $8 million dollars specifically allocated to middle and high school career counselors.

Analysis:

As part of this increased funding, low-income public school districts should be required to provide
annual individual meetings with a college-career counselor for every student in 8th through 12th grades. Meetings would follow counseling stages outlined by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. In
eighth grade, students should establish goals and plan high school curriculum accordingly. Early high school
meetings should focus on planning classes, clarifying long-term goals, and identifying special opportunities for
further growth. Finally, junior and senior-level meetings should focus mainly on admission testing, the application process, and financial aid guidance. For students who choose not to attend college, counselors should help
them navigate job databases and explore other options, such as technical degrees. College-career counselors
should also supply students with information packets and newsletters to take home to their parents, as well as
contact information and further resources for additional help. The ultimate goal is to increase student exposure
to admissions and career possibilities so that college can become an expectation in low-income communities,
rather than an exception.

School counselors play a fundamental role in helping students plan for successful futures. Research shows
students who see a counselor by 10th grade have two times greater odds of applying to one college, and 3.5 times
greater odds of applying to two or more schools. According to the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis,
increasing the availability of counselors is one of the top three reforms necessary to improve college access.

With its larger education budget, Pennsylvania now faces an opportunity for action in terms of increasing
student resources and college accessibility. This policy would especially benefit high-minority, urban communities – such as those in the School District of Philadelphia – where schools tend to have fewer college planning
and preparation resources. However, low-income rural communities also have a need for college and career
counseling. Studies show that proximity to cities and suburban towns, which rural communities lack, expands

the availability of college enrollment resources. Furthermore, only 19% of rural Pennsylvanians 25 years or older
have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30% of urban Pennsylvanians. This means that rural students may not
have the same community or family resources to guide them in exploring post-secondary options.

This individual meeting mandate will not
Talking Points:
only benefit students, but also help to make the

Low-income
students
often the lack the necessary resources and
school counseling profession more effective. In
guidance to make informed decisions about their post-secondary
public schools, school counselors currently report
future.
spending only 28% of their time on postsecond- • School counselors significantly benefit low-income students by
ary admission counseling. 70% of public school
helping them to explore options and navigate the college application
process.
counselors report being given administrative and

Pennsylvania is home to various low-income districts with very high
clerical duties. Because being a school counselcounselor-to-student ratios and depleted resources.
or requires a master’s degree in Pennsylvania,
this means that one of the most highly educated
groups of people in schools is largely underutilized. Requiring every student to have an annual meeting will
force counselors to utilize their time in an efficient and productive way, and administrative tasks will fall to other

Next Steps:

Key partners (including professional counselors’ associations, school personnel, students, education
NGOs, and state legislators) should work together in order to move this legislation forward. Partners should
collaborate on building an outline for the specifics of the bill, including the requirements for district eligibility
and the suggested length of counselor-student meetings. A budgetary plan should be developed that outlines the
costs of additional college-career counselors in low-income districts in order to serve each student. Legislators
should determine the feasibility of this mandate within current budget restrictions and adjust the legislation
accordingly. Once it gains sponsors, the legislation can then be presented to the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Endnotes:

1) Bryan, Julia et al. 2011. School counselors as social capital: The effects of high school college counseling on college application rates.
Journal of Counseling and Development 89 (2).
2) Bryan, Julia et al.
3) The National Association for College Admission Counseling. 2006. Effective counseling in schools increases college access.
NACAC’s Research to Practice Brief(1).
4) Hoxby, Caroline, and Avery, Christopher. December 2012. The missing “one-offs:” the Hidden supply of high-achieving, low-income students. The National Bureau of Economic Research.
5) Howley, Caitlin, Jerry Johnson, Aikaterini Passa, and Kazuaki Uekawa. October 2014. College enrollment and persistence in rural
pennsylvania schools. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
6) Lee, Trymaine. 2013. “Who is going to help me?” in philly schools, life without counselors. msnbc, September 6, 2013.
7) Governor wolf ’s budget makes historic investment in education. Pennsylvania Pressroom, March 3, 2015.
8) The National Association for College Admission Counseling “How to Use Your School Counselor.” January 1, 2015. Accessed April
25, 2015. http://www.nacacnet.org/studentinfo/articles/Pages/How-to-Use-Your-School-Counselor.aspx.
9) College Board. “Supporting a College-Going Culture.” January 1, 2014. Accessed April 25, 2015. https://professionals.collegeboard.
com/guidance/counseling/culture.
10) Bryan, Julia et al.
11) The National Association for College Admission Counseling. 2006
12) Bryan, Julia et al.
13) Howley, Caitlin.
14) The Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Demographics. 2014Available from http://www.rural.palegislature.us/demographics_about_
rural_pa.html.
15) The National Association for College Admission Counseling. 2006.
16) Sheehy, Kelsey. 2012. Report: High school guidance counselors underutilized. Usnews. November 30, 2012.
17) Hoxby, Caroline and Avery, Christopher.
18) Clinedinst, Melissa. 2008. State of college admission: The National Association for College Admission Counseling.
19) McCorry, Kevin. 2013. In philly schools, when students with dreams or traumas seek counseling, the office is often empty. NewsWorks, September 18th, 2014, 2013.

Expanding College Opportunities for Eager Rural Students
By Toni-Anne Richards, (A&S) ‘18, Email: tr284@cornell.edu
By implementing ‘fifth-year’ high school programs in rural school districts, Oregon legislators can ensure that these
students consider college a viable option through guidance from counselors.

History:

Rural high school students have historically been disadvantaged in terms of the availability of resources
to prepare them for and help them stay in college compared to urban areas. Since 2009, there has been a noticeable, but slowly decreasing gap between rural and urban students in Oregon who enroll in 2 and 4-year colleges.
Key Facts:
For example, 24% of Portland high school students
• Less than 2 percent -- only about 5,700 of the 384,000
enrolled in the university system, while 14% from
in state community colleges -- transferred to public
the rural Jefferson County. About 1/4th of Oregon
four-year universities last year. Most community college
students live in relatively poor rural areas and some
students don’t finish.
of the largest barriers they face to finishing their first
• There are currently 26 districts with fifth-year programs,
year or even attending college are educational uncosting an estimated $9.5 million per year.
preparedness, the fear of crippling debt geographical • About 1/4th of Oregon students live in rural areas
isolation and a lack of guidance about the process
due to parents who never attended college. These factors often push high school graduates to postpone college
until they’ve worked enough to afford it, or forgo secondary education altogether. Many rural districts have
already taken advantage of a loophole in state legislation that allows students who have already met the requirements for a high school diploma to stay on the books for a ‘fifth year’ of high school while the high school helps
them attend a first year of community college. Although the ‘ethics’ of whether K-12 funding should be used to
sponsor students who should have technically graduated has led Senate leaders to consider modifying the bill or
getting rid of it altogether.

Analysis:

Rural school districts should be allowed to partake in the ‘fifth year’ high school program in which state
funding is used to help students transition into their first year of college by essentially making the first year ‘free’
by covering the cost of tuition, books and fees while supplying them with high school teachers or counselors to
monitor their performance and provide academic help. These students would be required to create and academic
plan and take beginner math and writing courses to help prepare them for college.

Variations of this program have been used with impressive results. Dallas High School in rural northwestern Oregon enrolled more than one-third of its 2013 senior class in the Extended Campus Program with
Chemeketa Community College and more than three-fourths who enroll complete a full year of community
college , earning on average 45 credit hours per-student. Expanded Options, created in 2005 by Senate Bill 300,
was particularly geared towards students at risk of dropping out to earn college credits while still in high school
while the schools covered the cost of tuition and fees. The Corvalis School district saw the district’s graduation
rate jump nearly 20% in two years to 84% after beginning a fifth-year program. It is also worth mentioning that
rural districts lack much of the resources that urban and suburban districts have. For example, while there may
be crowding in Portland’s 33 elementary schools, these schools already offer ESL instructors, a counselor, music teacher and technology instructor whereas rural districts like Sweet Home lack all of these. The Beaverton
School District (located in Oregon’s sixth-largest city) is able to offer Advanced Placement classes in 11 subjects
compared to the 2 that the Sweet Home district can. Given the results mentioned and taking into consideration
the disparities between districts, these programs are vital to future success many willing rural students hope to
have.

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

Students in rural school districts are already
disadvantaged in terms of the resources they receive. • For rural students (many who are low-income and
first generation), fifth years programs are the differThe implementation of fifth-year programs would not
ence between college being a possibility and a reality.
only make college a financial reality for many students
who had not even considered it, but also ensure that • These programs offer academic guidance that most
rural school districts can’t afford.
they can manage college by affording them the forms
• The funding used for the programs returns to the
of educational direction and resources that their
state in the form of tax dollars from students who
schools don’t possess compared to urban areas. Withwill have higher paying jobs due to their education.
out a higher education and limited job skills, rural
Oregon students could be on the road to ruin if something isn’t done to make alleviate their access to a college education. It’s important that students, administrators
and representatives from rural/mid-valley school districts continue to highlight to lawmakers the importance of
these programs to districts with the most need, while also being open to alternative sources of direct funding in
order to expand or alter the program without severely disadvantaging the groups who rely on them the most.
Endnotes:

1) Graves, Bill. “Oregon Universities See Urban-rural Divide.” The Oregonian, December 8, 2009. Accessed April 10, 2015. http://www.
oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2009/12/oregon_universities_see_urban-.html.
2) Graves, Bill. “Rural Oregon Sending More High School Graduates to College, despite the Rougher Road.” The Oregonian, March 28,
2011. Accessed April 10, 2015. http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2011/03/rural_oregon_sending_more_high.html.
3) Hammond, Betsy. “Oregon to Revise Definition of High School ‘graduate’” The Oregonian, October 3, 2014. Accessed April 10,
2015. http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2014/10/oregon_to_revise_definition_of.html.
4) Hammond, Betsy. “A Fifth Year in High School: How It Works to Get Students a Free Year of College.” The Oregonian, February 6,
2014. Accessed April 10, 2015. http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2014/02/a_fifth_year_in_high_school_ho.html.
5) Moody, Jennifer. “Fifth-year Programs in Jeopardy.” The Albany Democrat Herald, March 8, 2015. Accessed April 10, 2015. http://
democratherald.com/news/local/education/fifth-year-programs-in-jeopardy/article_ace1a6f3-a4ed-5a5a-b192-7293930fdf59.htm.
6) Moody, Jennifer. “Fighting for Fifth-years.” Corvalis Gazette-Times, March 19, 2015. Accessed April 13, 2015. http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/fighting-for-fifth-years/article_84cc72d5-5cad-54d7-a285-d99b1d8a0606.html.
7) Graves, Bill. “Rural Oregon Sending More High School Graduates to College, despite the Rougher Road”
8) Moody, Jennifer. “Fighting for Fifth-years.”
9) Graves, Bill. “Rural Oregon Sending More High School Graduates to College, despite the Rougher Road.”

Education That Works: Consider Vocational Schools
By Phoebe Keller Email: kellerp37@gmail.com
For many students, vocational schools are a more pragmatic investment than poor four-year colleges. Rather than
making community college free, increased federal funding should be used to create grants for students attending
occupational schools.

History:

We live in the era of the idealized bachelor’s degree. Regardless of ability or skillset, nearly all
students are encouraged to attend a four-year college after high school in order to maximize their earning potential. While it is well documented that a
Key Facts:
bachelor’s degree accounts for an average of $17,500
• The average trade school degree costs $33,000, which, comin additional income per year compared to a high
pared to a $127,000 bachelor’s degree, means saving $94,000.vii
school diploma , college tuitions rise annually, leading • Trade school only takes an average of two years to complete
many to speculate about a possible “higher education
instead of four, which amounts to an additional two years of
income for the trade school graduate, or $71,440.vi
bubble.” In 2014, the average bachelor’s degree in the

Only 54%iii of college students earn a bachelor’s degree in six
United States cost $127,000 . However, 40% of attendyears, while wasting $70,000 in lost wages and educational
ees dropped out before receiving their degrees, and
expenses each year.
64% took longer than four years to graduate, costing • Technical and trade school jobs have a median annual salary of
themselves nearly $70,000 in lost wages and educa$35,720ii, which is not very different than the earning potential
of graduates with bachelor’s degrees.
tional expenses per year. Unemployment and underemployment rates for college graduates under the age
of 25 are nearly double what they were in 2007 , calling into question the true value of the universally
prescribed bachelor’s degree. Additionally, many low-performing or unmotivated students, who are still
encouraged to pursue a bachelor’s degree, attend exceptionally poor four-year colleges with low graduation rates, like Southern University at New Orleans, Louisiana which has a graduation rate of 4% or the
University of the District of Columbia, Washington D.C., which has a graduation rate of 7.7%. For many
students, to chase a bachelor’s degree at any cost is to make a bad investment.

Analysis:

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a community college plan that would entail a total of $34.2 billion dollars of government spending. Rather than making community colleges indiscriminately free, it would be more prudent to sponsor the students who plan to enroll in schools that will give them a
tangible skill. This allocation would retain the same ambition of investing in powerful education by incentivizing
vocational schools for students who would not be well served by poor four-year colleges.

Trade schools are a streamlined approach to education that could help many more students develop tangible skills at a much lower cost. Many other European countries, most notably Germany, utilize a dual vocation
system, which attracts roughly 60% of graduating high school students each year. In this system, students apply
to apprenticeships and, once accepted, enroll in the appropriate training school. Germany’s program illustrates its dedication to pragmatic education, which should be mirrored in the U.S. by encouraging enrollment
in similar trade schools. In the U.S., the average trade school degree costs $33,000, as compared to a $127,000
bachelor’s degree. A vocational education lasts two, rather than four years, which means an additional two years
of income for the trade school graduate, an average of $71,440 . Factoring in another $70,000 in costs for the
many students who take an extra year to graduate from college, and trade school graduates can be over $140,000
ahead from the moment they graduate, making up for over 12 years of difference in income. Trade school graduates also do not have a much lower earning potential, especially because there is a growing domestic demand
for high-precision skills. There is a growing domestic demand for high-precision skills making work like that of
an electrician, mechanic, or pharmacy technician very lucrative. For example, the North Dakota State College
of Sciences has a 99% job placement rate, Horry-Georgetown Technical College has a 97% placement rate and
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology has a 95% placement rate. Many of these technical jobs have
a median annual salary of $35,720, while the predicted earnings for bachelor’s degree holders is roughly $46,900.

There is also the potential for extremely lucrative job opportunities for those who obtain certain technical skills.
The median annual salary for an electrical or electronics repairman is $57,400, and the median annual salary for
a dental hygienist is $62,800 . There is also significantly
Talking Points:
more job security for these technical jobs, because they • Many students are spending needless money at weak fourare harder to export to foreign countries. These vocationyear colleges when they could be utilizing a more affordable
and pragmatic option.
al schools also demonstrate their validity by often sport• Trade schools are a more streamlined approach to eduing higher graduation rates than four-year colleges. In
cation, with curricula focused on developing the skillset
2012, 87% of the Training Academy of Pittsburgh’s class
for a career rather than receiving an unnecessarily general
graduated, and 85% of St. Louis College of Health Careers
education.
, emblematic of a larger trend.
• There is a growing domestic demand for high-precision

Next Steps:

skills making work like that of an electrician, mechanic, or
pharmacy technician very lucrative.
This work has more job security because they cannot easily
be exported to another country.

The federal government allocated approximate•
ly $141 billion on education in the fiscal year of 2014 .
Obama’s community college proposal made it clear that •
increased governmental funds could be utilized to make
meaningful improvements to education. The U.S. Department of Education should invest in trade schools by
creating grants available to students who plan to attend either vocational schools or colleges with occupational
programs. These grants would cover 50-80% of the school’s total tuition, still requiring students to contribute a
certain portion of the cost, and the Department of Education would maintain and oversight role in supervising
the success of these schools. By giving the money to students rather than to schools directly, students, who are
generally smart consumers, will invest in the strongest vocational programs.

Endnotes:

1) “How Much More Do College Graduates Make?” Study.com. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://study.com/articles/How_Much_More_
Do_College_Graduates_Earn_Than_Non-College_Graduates.html.
2) “Projections of Jobs by Industry and Occupation 2012 to 2020.” Idaho Department of Labor. Accessed April 14, 2015. https://labor.
idaho.gov/publications/2022-Idaho-Projections.pdf.
3) “Fast Facts.” National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=40.
4) “Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for States.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.bls.
gov/lau/stalt.htm.
5) Miller, Ben. “America’s Worst Colleges.” The Washington Monthly. October 1, 2014. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober_2014/features/americas_worst_colleges051752.php?page=all.
6) “State of the Union 2015: Full Transcript - CNN.com.” CNN. January 28, 2015. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.cnn.
com/2015/01/20/politics/state-of-the-union-2015-transcript-full-text/.
7) “Inside Germany’s Dual Vocational Training System.” Young Germany. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
8) “Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College - The Simple Dollar.” The Simple Dollar Why You Should Consider
Trade School Instead of College Comments. March 18, 2015. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.thesimpledollar.com/why-youshould-consider-trade-school-instead-of-college/.
9) Ibid.
10) Ibid.
11) “Schools Ranked by Job Offer Rate | OEDB.org.” OEDB.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2015.
12) “Fast Facts.” National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=77.
13) “8 Highest Paying Vocational Careers - Insider Monkey.” Insider Monkey Free Hedge Fund and Insider Trading Data RSS. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.insidermonkey.com/blog/8-highest-paying-vocational-careers-314588/.
14) “College Rankings - Top 500 Ranked Vocational, Technical and Career Colleges.” State University. Accessed April 13, 2015. StateUniversity.com http://www.stateuniversity.com/rank/score_rank_by_vtcc.html#ixzz3X2l59M4u.
15) “Background & Analysis.” Federal Education Budget Project. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://febp.newamerica.net/background-analysis/education-federal-budget.
16) Ibid.

The Write Choice: A Proposal in Favor of Cursive Handwriting
By Matthew Landers, Major: Policy Analysis and Management ‘15, Email: mjl334@cornell.edu
In order to promote virtues such as history, cognitive development and educational equality, policymakers should
strive to revitalize the presence of cursive handwriting in American schools.

History:

Over the years, there has been a substantial decline in the use and popularity of cursive script in the U.S.
With the emergence of computer keyboards and mobile texting as alternatives for communication, many feel
that learning cursive has come to be an inconvenience instead of an advantageous tool. One can observe this in
21st century adolescents: 15% of students who took the ACT exam in 2012 wrote the essay portion in cursive
handwriting1. Even among older generations, only a
Key Facts:
very small fraction of adults write in cursive despite

Only
15%
of
students
who
took the ACT exam in 2012 wrote
learning it for decades2.
the essay portion in cursive handwriting in 2012.

In light of these trends, there have been in• 45 states have initiated steps to reducing the amount of time
cursive is taught in classrooms.
creased measures to write off teaching cursive within
elementary school curriculums. Opponents claim
that in an age of limited class time and high-stakes
standardized tests, learning how to write cursive is
impractical1,5. Not only is it a skill that has no use in the modern job market, but it is also slower than typing and
is often illegible5. These educational reformers seek to modernize the education system to adapt to a changing
society’s demands.

Lawmakers have already undertaken significant steps to eradicate cursive in instructional settings. In
2011, the Common Core State Standards, the institution that regulates educational benchmarks for U.S. public
schools, omitted cursive as a mandatory requirement2. Since this declaration, 45 states have initiated steps to
reducing the amount of time cursive is taught in classrooms3. What is more, states of Hawaii and Indiana have
dropped cursive entirely in favor for keyboard proficiency lessons in public schools2.

Despite this progress, there still remains a significant proportion of the U.S. population that disapproves
of the cursive removal. They argue that cursive creates opportunities to study historic texts, is faster than writing in print, decreases likelihood of forgery, and is ascetically pleasing1,2,3,4. This perspective, however, is scarcely
represented in the government, lacking political influence in debates over legislative initiatives.

Analysis:

Going against recent government initiatives, this proposal contends that the preservation of cursive
handwriting in education remains a worthwhile cause. Firstly, cursive has been proven to develop motor skills
and enhance cognitive development in children1. While typing with repetitive finger movements only minimally
stimulates brain activity, writing in cursive involves executing sequential finger strokes to form letters3,4. As a
result, learners develop key sensory skills and brain regions involved with thinking, language and memory4. This
may be related to the positive correlation between SAT essays written in cursive and higher SAT scores on average2.

There are additional benefits to cursive handwriting that may not be easily perceived by lawmakers. For
instance, a student who can read and write cursive possesses the ability to analyze historical texts written in
cursive that are crucial to modern understandings of the past3. Cursive also discourages forgery and allows one
to write faster than if one relied solely on print letters2. But most importantly, a study by George Washington
University finds that as of 2013, 20% of American households still do not have broadband internet access. Therefore, doing away with cursive and instituting keyboard typing could potentially exacerbate already wide gaps in
educational inequality.

Next Steps:

Those opposed to cursive handwriting falsely assume that advances in technology render the focus on penmanship outdated6. It is possible, however, to apply modern technology to help students write in cursive6. With the
creation of multifaceted devices like smartphones and
Talking Points:
iPads that are available to mainstream consumers,
• Cursive has been proven to develop motor skills and enhance
one can create applications that make writing curcognitive development in children.

Cursive creates opportunities to study history, is faster than
sive more interactive and engaging. These resources
printing, decreases attempts of forgery, and is ascetically pleasshould be factored into school budgets so that stuing.
dents of all socioeconomic backgrounds can have
• Replacing cursive with keyboard typing in curriculums could
access to them.
increase gaps in educational inequality.

But in order for these initiatives to occur,
policymakers and their constituents must be made
aware of the virtues of cursive script. Social scientists can help address this issue by conducting experiments that
provide evidence to support the cognitive and developmental advantages of cursive. More importantly, social
attitudes that view education solely as a means to achieve on tests and perform in the job market must be altered.
School should be perceived as an environment where students learn knowledge and develop skills that foster
personal and social development. Despite its limited utility on a standardized test or a job interview, cursive
remains a useful skill that helps develop brain functions and motor skills. Benefits such as these should be prioritized by teachers and lawmakers; outlooks on the purpose of schooling should be better prioritized to create
more well-rounded students.

Endnotes:

1) Zezima, Kaite. “The Case for Cursive.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 Apr. 2011. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.
2) Lalanilla, Marc. “Is Cursive Writing Dead?” CBS News. CBS, 28 June 2013. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.
3) Valerie, Bauerlein. “The New Script for Teaching Handwriting Is No Script at All.” The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal,
30 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.
4) Hart, Shane V. “Why Teach Cursive.” FightCommonCore.com. N.p., 10 Sept. 2013. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.
5) Joseph, Dravid. “Get Rid of Cursive Already.” DravidJoseph.com. N.p., 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
6) Fitzpatrick, Cara. “Cursive Writing: Lost Art or Useless Skill?” Sun Sentinal. Sun Sentinal, 30 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
7) “20% of American Households Still Offline.” Face the Facts USA. George Washington University, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.

III. Center for Energy & Environmental Policy
“A nation that destroys it’s soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to
our people.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Director
Liam Berigan ‘17
Analysts
Veronica Dickson ‘18
Abhinav Vijay ‘17

About the Cornell Roosevelt Institute
Letter from the Director

“Restoring Mount Everest’s Dignity: Reducing Pollution And Waste Atop The World’s Highest Peak ”
Veronica Dickson ‘18
Complacency and a market driven mentality have created an environment where discarded trash, human waste and
even human bodies are allowed to remain upon Mt. Everest. Assorted ecological organizations and the Nepalese government are working with porters and climbers to ameliorate the culture of pollution and restore the mountain to its
former glory.

“Climate change and invasive species: advocating a more preventative approach towards an ecological problem”
Abhinav Vijay ’17
Currently, the bulk of invasive species management is undertaken at state level and focused on management, rather
than prevention. Control over invasive species management must shift away from state agencies and handed over to
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.

Meet the Center for Energy and Environment

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am very pleased to present the eighth issue of Looking Ahead: The
Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal from the Center for Energy and
Environment. In this, my first semester as the Policy Director and Editor of
this journal, I have had the amazing experience of working with each these
analysts individually on the issues that inspire them. Their talent and innovation never cease to amaze me. Both analysts featured in this journal are
in their first semester of work with the Cornell Roosevelt Institute, and I
am very excited to display their ideas in this issue.

Each analyst has combined creativity and passion with careful research and hard work to produce the policy proposals that comprise this
publication. I have found each piece to be enjoyable to read and incredibly
thought provoking and I hope you will as well.
Sincerely,
Liam Berigan
Biology (CALS ‘17)
Director, Center for Energy & Environment

Restoring Mount Everest’s Dignity:
Reducing Pollution And Waste Atop The World’s Highest Peak
By Veronica Dickson, Major: ILR ‘18, Email: vd54@cornell.edu

Complacency and a market driven mentality have created an environment where discarded trash, human waste and
even human bodies are allowed to remain upon Mt. Everest. Assorted ecological organizations and the Nepalese government are working with porters and climbers to ameliorate the culture of pollution and restore the mountain to its
former glory.

Background and Context:

Key Facts:

Currently there are approximately 150 corpses littering the
slopes of Mt. Everest impeding passage and eliciting a macabre
sensation to all prospective climbers.

The average wait time in the “death zone” (any altitude
higher than 26,000 feet and the last stretch before reaching the
summit) has now reached about two hours. One mile in the
death zone can take a climber 12 or more hours to complete
and with excessive human traffic this creates a deadly environment.

The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee brought
down 25 tonnes of trash from Everest in the spring of 2010,
however even preventive waste conservational techniques are
not feasible as rubbish dumps can be found just minutes away
from trekking trails.

Recent years have been kind to the high-altitude climbing and guiding business. New technologies
allow for safer gear, weather forecasts have never been •
more accurate and experienced guides are readily
available for hire. As positive as these changes may
seem, this has driven relatively inexperienced climbers to the mountain seeking a rush regardless the
monetary cost. Additionally, conditions upon Everest •
are so fickle and dramatic that any human traffic jams
on the way up seriously jeopardize the lives of the
climbers and the hired Sherpas who accompany all
climbers. This has caused considerable strain on the
environment as wealthy clients flock to the mountain •
in droves and often leave rubbish along the way up.
Oxygen tanks, ropes and tents litter the ground as people make their way to the summit, and even more disturbingly, bodies of climbers who perished on the mountain are frequently encountered. There is currently no waste
disposal system in place so pyramids of human excrement are often discarded on the trail, affecting the ecological structure in place. Mount Everest has been deemed the “world’s highest garbage dump” in recent years, thus
prompting cleanup policy from both the Nepalese government and other non-for-profit groups.

The Policy Idea:

The first way to reduce pollution on Mt. Everest is to decrease the number of permits sold to climbers and
Sherpas during the season. A reduction in numbers and more stringent certification requirements (thus weeding
out inexperienced climbers) will create a cleaner, safer environment. The Nepalese government has instituted a
fine for climbers who do not remove and bring down a certain amount of litter with every attempt up the mountain; this includes discarded bodies. To avoid human waste buildup, port-a-potties will be installed at base camp
and other popular destinations on the mountain, the only concern being that port-a-potties need to be emptied
via sewage truck, which are not readily available in Nepalese mountains. Luckily, other hiking trails have a solution: facilities called “moldering privies” help the waste decompose quickly without the need for trucks or maintenance.

Policy Analysis:

The procedures put in place to improve ecological conditions on Mount Everest have been successful.
However, the true problem lies in the culture of mass tourism. The spring of 2012 alone boasted 500 successful
summits. Although a robust tourist season is a boon to the local economy and the cash flow greatly benefits the
local population (one permit costs $10,000), the screening process that grants Westerners permits to attempt
Everest should only certify individuals with experience in arduous climbing conditions in high-altitude situations. 315 permits for Westerners were issued during the 2012 season and with it came 29 climbing teams and
10 deaths. There also needs to be a sense of civic responsibility implemented among the climbing community;

pollution management and biodiversity preservation must become an individual endeavor rather than the responsibility of a large government entity. To aid this effort, the Pollution Control Committee has begun to charge
a $4,000 deposit on equipment in the hopes that climbers make the effort to salvage it all and bring what they
carried off the mountain. The spring of 2014 also marks the trash-related inspection of climbers by Nepali officials at the Everest base camp. Each climber descending the mountain must have with them 18 pounds of trash
upon descent. The benefit of keeping Everest pristine heavily outweighs the cost of a few climber permits, as the
lure of summiting the world’s highest peak will have the local tourist economy running for years to come.

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

It is important for climbers to lobby

The most pressing issue facing Mount Everest conservation now
is
the
abundance of trash and lack of waste disposal management.
for more stringent environmental policy in the


This
is largely due to the mass tourism economy and the inexHimalayan mountain range. Sherpa guides have
perienced climbers who jeopardize their own lives, the lives of their
already threatened an ultimatum to the governcompanions and the biodiversity of the mountain.
ment demanding fair wages for their labor due to • This can be mended through permit reduction, the involvement
the risk they are taking on the mountain. Puspa
of NGO’s dedicated to cleaning the mountain and an increased government presence to advocate for environmental policy.
Raj Katuwal, the head of the Nepalese moun•
taineering department, has handled all points of
contention thus far and has even faced backlash
from high-profile western mountaineers. Legislative action would be most effective if it came from experienced
or prospective climbers rather than the impoverished local population. The Nepal Mountaineering Association
must also monitor the effects of human waste on the mountain and the consequences and health hazards it poses
to the local population dependent on clean water that trails down the mountain.

End Notes:

i Figueroa, Pablo. “Vanity, Pollution and Death on Mt. Everest - Our World.” Vanity, Pollution and Death on Mt. Everest - Our World.
July 15, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/vanity-pollution-and-death-on-mt-everest.
ii Jenkins, Mark. “The New Age of Exploration.” Everest Maxed Out. June 1, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/125-everest-maxed-out/jenkins-text.
iii Jenkins, Mark. “The New Age of Exploration.” Everest Maxed Out. June 1, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/125-everest-maxed-out/jenkins-text.
iv Saul, Heather. “Human Waste Left by Climbers on Mount Everest Is Causing Pollution and Could Spread Diseases.” The Independent. March 3, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/human-waste-left-by-climbers-on-mounteverest-is-causing-pollution-and-could-spread-diseases-10081562.html.
v Sharma, Gopal. “Mount Everest Is Becoming the World’s Highest Garbage Dump.” Business Insider. March 4, 2015. Accessed April
14, 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/r-nepal-tells-mount-everest-litterbugs-to-take-out-the-trash-2015-3.
vi Figueroa, Pablo. “Vanity, Pollution and Death on Mt. Everest - Our World.” Vanity, Pollution and Death on Mt. Everest - Our World.
July 15, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/vanity-pollution-and-death-on-mt-everest.
vii Dewey, Caitlin. “Mount Everest Is Overcrowded, Polluted and Nearing a Crossroads, 60 Years after First Climb.” Washington Post.
May 29, 2014. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/29/mount-everest-is-overcrowded-polluted-and-nearing-a-crossroads-60-years-after-first-climb/.
viii “Everest 2013: Season Recap: Summits, Records and Fights.” The Blog on Alanarnettecom. June 3, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015.
http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2013/06/03/everest-2013-season-recap/.
ix Goldenberg, Suzanne. “The Mission to Clean up Mount Everest.” The Guardian. October 24, 2011. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://
www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/oct/24/mission-clean-mount-everest.

x Saul, Heather. “Human Waste Left by Climbers on Mount Everest Is Causing Pollution and Could Spread Diseases.” The Independent.
March 3, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/human-waste-left-by-climbers-on-mount-everest-is-causing-pollution-and-could-spread-diseases-10081562.html.
xi “Sherpas Abandon Everest Climbing Season after Deadly Avalanche.” The Guardian. April 22, 2014. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://
www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/apr/22/nepal-everest-talks-sherpa-strike-avalanche.
xii Saul, Heather. “Human Waste Left by Climbers on Mount Everest Is Causing Pollution and Could Spread Diseases.” The Independent. March 3, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/human-waste-left-by-climbers-on-mounteverest-is-causing-pollution-and-could-spread-diseases-10081562.html.
xiii Sharma, Gopal. “Nepal Tells Mount Everest Litterbugs to Take out the Trash.” Reuters. March 3, 2015. Accessed April 14, 2015.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/us-nepal-everest-idUSKBN0M00A220150304.
xiv Strangeremains. “The Accidental Graveyard in the.” Strange Remains. March 2, 2014. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://strangeremains.com/2014/03/02/the-death-zone-of-mt-everest-is-an-accidental-graveyard-littered-with-the-bodies-of-adventurers/.
xv Jenkins, Mark. “The New Age of Exploration.” Everest Maxed Out. June 1, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/125-everest-maxed-out/jenkins-text.
xvi Goldenberg, Suzanne. “The Mission to Clean up Mount Everest.” The Guardian. October 24, 2011. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://
www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/oct/24/mission-clean-mount-everest.

Climate change and invasive species:

advocating a more preventative approach towards an ecological problem
By Abhinav Vijay, Major: ES&S (CALS ‘17), Email: anv7@cornell.edu:
Currently, the bulk of invasive species management is undertaken at state level and focused on management, rather
than prevention. Control over invasive species management must shift away from state agencies and be handed over
to Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.

Background:

An invasive species is “an alien species whose inKey Facts:
troduction causes or is likely to cause economic or envi•
Invasive
species
cause
around 127 billion dollars in damronmental harm or harm to humans”i . It is estimated that
ages each year.
around 50,000 non-native species have been introduced in • The federal government spends approximately 2 billion
dollars in invasive species management.
the United States and all 50 states and the various territo•
Current framework results in difficulties in collaboration
ries have some record of invasions. Invasive species are
between states and lack of action from the federal governa widespread problem causing ecological and economic
ment to support state-level efforts.
losses amounting to 127 billion dollars annually.ii These
infestations of invasive plants and animals can negatively affect property values, agricultural productivity, public utility operations, native fisheries, tourism, outdoor
recreation, and the overall health of an ecosystem. Most of the burden of invasive species management is decentralized to the state level. This has led to states applying different approaches towards management which hinder
any form of coordinated effort in invasive species management. In 2012, the federal government spent around
2.2 billion dollars to tackle the problem of invasive species allocating 51% for prevention and early detection
while only allocating 4% of the funds into research. The National Invasive Species Council (NISC) was set up
in 1999 to provide an interdepartmental coordination of federal invasive actions but the agency hasn’t update its
National Management Plan since 2008.

The Policy Idea:

Reform the current structure of invasive species management on the federal level. The federal government must take up more responsibility in dealing with the threat of invasive by species by replacing a state-level
approach with one that focuses on regional ecosystems to address the fact that invasive species have no regard
for political boundaries. This can be achieved by giving more responsibility to Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs)iii which are conservation science partnerships between States, tribes, and federal agencies.

Policy Analysis:

The current model of invasive species management overstresses state agencies who are aided or hindered
by the strength of neighboring states’ policies. The success of invasive species stems from their ability to find a
wide range of sources of food and habitat which aid their rapid dispersal across new areas (eg. snakehead, feral
swine, lionfish). While prevention and early detection methods are in place, most action often takes place after
the species has been established. Hence invasive species management would be more effective through regional perspectives as opposed to state level. This ensures that the “weakest-link”iv problem which occurs through
inconsistencies between different state’s legislation over invasive species management, can be avoided.
This would not involve the disbanding of state agency invasive species programs, just a restructuring that would
facilitate greater collaboration and understanding of invasive species pathways. This lends itself to a much
greater efficiency in terms of costs, as well since the redundant functions of interdepartmental, federal, and state
agencies can be streamlined and use funding more efficiently. More importantly, more focus can be placed in
preventative measures.

Next Steps:

The policy requires the cooperation and collaboration of various stakeholders such as wildlife professionals, anglers, forest service officials, state agency officials. From there, lobbying can be done to ensure the
respective state representatives table a bill for the reform of the invasive species management structure. This can
be done through amendments in the Lacey Act or the National Invasive Species Act. Once the bill is passed, the
federal government must then begin the process of facilitating the collaboration of the various state agencies
through the LCCs that best capture the range of invasive species movement. With this, task forces can be set out
redefining best management practices for invasive species management for the various specific invaders.

End Notes:

i Executive order 13112
ii Corn, Lynne, and Renée Johnson. “Invasive Species: Major Laws and the Role of Selected Federal Agencies.” Congressional Research Service 7-5700
R43258 (2013).
iii “Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Accessed April 28, 2015. http://www.fws.gov/landscape-conservation/lcc.
html.
iv Peters, Jody A., and David M. Lodge. “Invasive species policy at the regional level: a multiple weak links problem.” Fisheries 34, no. 8 (2009): 373-380.

Meet Our Energy and Environmental Policy Center
Abhinav Vijay
Abhinav Vijay is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences, majoring in Environmental Sciences and
Sustainability. Besides the Roosevelt Institute, Abhinav works
at the Blossey Lab in the Department of Natural Resources,
contributing to research on invasive species in New York State.
He is also on the Eboard of the Cornell Chapter of the Wildlife
Society.

Veronica Dickson
Veronica Dickson is a freshman in ILR. Outside of the Roosevelt Institute, Veronica is the publicity chair of Hearsay A
Cappella and has a radio show on cornellradio.com. She is also
a member of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for women.

Liam Berigan, Director
Liam Berigan is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and
Life Sciences, majoring in Biology and concentrating in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He focuses primarily on natural
resources regulation, including oil and gas issues and water
rights. Outside the Roosevelt Institute, he engages in research
on House Sparrow population trends with the Bonter Lab
Group.

IV. Center for Foreign Policy
“In every country the people themselves are more peacibly and liberally inclined than their governments.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Director

Hazel Guardado ‘16


Jennifer Kim ‘17
Frances Yang ‘17
Christopher Hanna ‘18

Analysts

Julie Gokhman ‘17
Gail Fletcher
Matthew McGee ‘17

Letter from the Policy Director
“Targeted Aid: Lessons Learned From The Ebola Crisis”
Frances Yang ‘17
Rather than solely focusing on monetary aid towards building long-term infrastructure in vulnerable countries, international governmental organizations should also work to creating an international reserve force of doctors that can be employed
quickly deal with future outbreaks.
“Promoting Peace: Internationalizing Jerusalem in the Absence of a Two-State Solution”
Christopher Hanna ‘18
Israeli control of Jerusalem has undermined the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and catalyzed extensive political violence.
The city should be placed under an international, United Nations-administered regime until its permanent status is cooperatively and bilaterally negotiated by the Israeli and Palestinian governments.
“Reclaiming a Childhood Lost Through Youth Center Involvement”
Gail Fletcher ‘17
In Colombia, the drug industry is a very present force in society. As a way to curtail children from becoming involved in the
industry, The United States should reassess its Plan Colombia and consider funding NGOs that can develop youth centers in
vulnerable communities.
“Returning TANF Funding to its Original Intent: Aiding Poor Families”
Jennifer Kim ‘17
In order to redirect TANF grants towards their originally intended target population, poor families, the federal government
should reform TANF policies to make it illegal for states to appropriate federal TANF funds for already-existing state functions.
“Changing Their Minds: A Pathway through Cultural Exchange”
Julie Gokhman ‘17
By implementing an exchange program between students at top Russian universities and Cornell University students, the
attitude of the Russian public towards the West will progress to ultimately encourage cooperation.
“No Man Left Behind: Evacuating US Citizens from Yemen”
Matthew McGee ‘17
Following Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Hadi’s ousting by Houthi rebels in January 2015, Yemen has been rapidly dissolving
into a state of chaos, plagued by factional infighting and a Saudi-led air campaign against the Houthis. While most countries
have evacuated their citizens from the country, the US still has yet to do so, a strategy that will hurt the US in the long-term.
Meet the Center for Foreign Policy & International Affairs

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am excited to present to you the fifth issue of Looking Ahead: The Cornell
Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal by the Center for Foreign Policy and International Affairs. This journal contains the work of six policy analysts; each of
whom spent many hours doing in-depth research and careful deliberation to
find solutions to the problems facing the international community today.

A humanitarian crisis in West Africa, increasing tensions between Russia
and the West, the on-going civil war in Colombia, and lack of progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations are just some of the events that inspired these
proposals. Analysts aimed to address these concerns at their core, through
structural solutions that will have a lasting impact. As you read through this
issue, I hope you feel inspired and reflect on how you can create lasting change.
Sincerely,
Hazel Guardado

Anthropology and International Relations (A&S ‘16)
Director, Center for Foreign Policy and International Affairs

Targeted Aid: Lessons Learned From The Ebola Crisis
By Frances Yang, Major: Policy Analysis and Management ‘17, Email: fvy2@cornell.edu
Rather than solely focusing on monetary aid towards building long-term infrastructure in vulnerable countries,
international governmental organizations should also work to creating an international reserve force of doctors that
can be employed quickly deal with future outbreaks.

History:

The most recent Ebola outbreak has crippled countries in West Africa such as Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone,
and its legacy continues to scar the not only the physical but also economic wellbeing of the region.1 As poverty and a lack of resources severely impair a rapid and strong response to a health crisis, it becomes increasingly
important for the international community to provide
the support to developing nations in their efforts to
Key Facts:
contain future outbreaks of fatal diseases like Ebola. • West Africa saw the worst outbreak of Ebola ever, with over
25,000 people infected and over 10,000 fatal cases.17
Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia have been the severely impacted, with their economies suffering with up to 23% decreases in GDP.18
Over 55,000 health workers and nurses from Cuba currently
serve in 66 countries in need


The World Health Organization (WHO) has been
heavily criticized for its poor response to the latest
Ebola outbreak.2 Although the first case of Ebola

in Guinea was identified in March 2014, it took the
WHO five additional months to declare a public
health emergency in August.3 The outbreak had spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone by this time, and one thousand people had died.4 Additional bureaucratic pitfalls slowed the access of initial funding and doctors to the
affected countries.5 Because of early mistakes and the lack of doctors to identify Ebola, the disease spread from
rural villages to major cities and made Ebola increasingly more difficult to track and control.6
The main reason for the WHO’s poor response has to do with the surprise of the epidemic itself in the region.
Although Ebola outbreaks have occurred throughout the continent over the past 40 years, the most recent outbreak was the first in West Africa and its origins are still unknown.7 The strain virus is still suspected to be more
aggressive and virulent.8 Given this unpredictability, African governments themselves and the WHO should
prepare for such unpredictability through building their health systems capabilities to respond to unexpected
outbreaks.9

The Policy Idea:

The gross lack of access to healthcare and medical professionals poses the greatest threat in tackling unexpected
outbreaks like Ebola, the WHO should directly partner with other nations to build a network of doctors who
can serve in an international reserve force. Countries such as Cuba with a large supply of doctors that provided
greatly needed relief can be mobilized more quickly and efficiently.

Analysis:

Currently, the international community has decided to send additional monetary aid to the governments in
countries that were hardest hit with the Ebola crisis. The World Bank estimated in early 2015 that Sierra Leone,
Liberia, and Guinea have lost approximately $2.2 billion USD from their national GDPs as a result of the epidemic.10 Without sufficient economic resources, these nations are unable to contain an outbreak on their own.
But it is also essential to create a supplemental policy to create networks of doctors and government officials
within the poorest and most vulnerable nations help to control initial outbreaks before they spiral out of control.11 Having doctors on the ground early will allow for better contact tracing and identification of the virus.
So although building a country’s infrastructure is crucial in aiding its capability to handle a public health crisis,
ensuring effective and efficient aid in early stages will ensure that the region’s strides in economic development
can be maintained in the future.12

To do so, the WHO should spearhead partnerships with individual countries in creating an international reserve
force in which doctors and volunteers may participate. Doctors are one of the most valuable types of aid that
another country can provide, and they are crucial in the
Talking Points:
early stages of public health crises. Cuba’s response to
• Aid is essential in supporting the region to continue its path
Ebola in 2014 is only one example of how this can be
in development, and given the lack of resources in West
African countries like Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, it
done. Against all expectations in October 2014, Cuba
becomes increasingly important to use this aid wisely.
was the first and only country to mobilize hundreds of
• Given that aid provided in early stages of an epidemic is
healthcare professionals to aid in controlling the Ebola
especially important, it becomes necessary to understand
outbreak.13
ways in which to employ both financial and human capital

Next Steps:

resources quickly
The World Health Organization should consider creating an
emergency fund and reserve force of medical professionals
to ensure to avoid the same pitfalls that occurred with the
surprise epidemic in 2014.

The World Bank needs to further delegate exactly how its
$600 million aid pledge toward the region will be used.14
Rather than focusing its efforts more broadly across areas
of education, agriculture, and public health measures, the
money should be specifically targeted towards ways that relate to a swift response that will contain the initial outbreak.
The WHO should work on internal reforms that will permit it to better respond to a health crisis itself and avoid bureaucratic pitfalls.15 The WHO should set up and emergency fund and reserve force of medical professionals who can be deployed in the case of a health crisis.16

Endnotes:

1) “Ebola: World Bank Group Provides New Financing to Help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone Recover from Ebola Emergency.” The World Bank. April 17, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/04/17/ebola-world-bank-group-provides-new-financing-to-help-guinea-liberia-sierra-leone-recover-from-ebola-emergency.
2) Ostin, Lawrence. “Reforming WHO After Ebola.” JAMA Network. April 15, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://jama.jamanetwork.
com/article.aspx?articleid=2247133.
3)“Ebola Crisis: WHO Accused of ‘failure’ in Early Response.” BBC News. October 17, 2014. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://www.bbc.
com/news/world-africa-29668603.
4)Ibid.
5) Ostin, Lawrence. “Reforming WHO After Ebola”
6) Sun, Lena, and Brady Dennis. “How Ebola Sped out of Control.” Washington Post. October 4, 2014. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://
www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/10/04/how-ebola-sped-out-of-control/.
7) Sun, Lena, and Brady Dennis. “How Ebola Sped out of Control.” Washington Post. October 4, 2014. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://
www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/10/04/how-ebola-sped-out-of-control/.
8)Ibid.
9) Ostin, Lawrence. “Reforming WHO After Ebola”
10) “Ebola: World Bank Group Provides New Financing to Help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone Recover from Ebola Emergency.”
World Bank.
11) Ostin, Lawrence. “Reforming WHO After Ebola.”
12) Sun, Lena, and Brady Dennis. “How Ebola Sped out of Control.”
13) Taylor, Adam. “In the Medical Response to Ebola, Cuba Is Punching Far above Its Weight.” Washington Post. October 4, 2014.
Accessed April 22, 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/10/04/in-the-medical-response-to-ebola-cubais-punching-far-above-its-weight/.
14) “Ebola: World Bank Group Provides New Financing to Help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone Recover from Ebola Emergency.” The
World Bank.
15) Ostin, Lawrence. “Reforming WHO After Ebola.”
16) Ibid.
17) Faron, Dina. “West Africa Unprepared for Future Health Crises Despite Ebola Aid.” Scientific American Global RSS. April 14, 2015.
Accessed April 20, 2015. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/west-africa-unprepared-for-future-health-crises-despite-ebola-aid/.
18) Ibid,

Promoting Peace: Internationalizing Jerusalem in the Absence of a Two-State Solution
By Christopher Hanna, Major: Development Sociology ‘18, Email: cjh327@cornell.edu
Israeli control of Jerusalem has undermined the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and catalyzed extensive political
violence. The city should be placed under an international, United Nations-administered regime until its permanent
status is cooperatively and bilaterally negotiated by the Israeli and Palestinian governments.

History:

UN General Assembly Resolution 181, passed in 1947, called for the internationalization of Jerusalem due to
its shared importance to disparate religious, political, and ethnic factions.1 The armed Arab-Israeli conflict resulted in the resolutions’ immediate implementaKey Facts:
tion failures; the predominantly Jewish West Je2
rusalem and predominantly Arab East Jerusalem • Jerusalem is home to nearly 800,000 persons
came to be occupied by Israeli and Jordanian forces, • Israel has controlled the city fully since 1967

respectively.2 Since the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel has enforced unilateral political and military control over the entire city in the absence of international approval. The Israeli government — a decidedly sectarian body that self-identifies as Jewish — maintains that it
possesses permanent and absolute sovereignty over Jerusalem, including its Arab neighborhoods and non-Jewish holy sites.3 The UN Security Council Resolution 478 of 1980 declared Israel’s Jerusalem Law — which proclaims Jerusalem as the “complete and unified” capital of Israel — a violation of international law.4 The illegal
enforcement and institutionalization of the Jerusalem Law is manifest in the State of Israel’s policy of expanding the Jewish Israeli presence in the historically Arab East Jerusalem through sectarian construction and development.5 The effects of this have been twofold. Firstly, Israeli control of Jerusalem has scuttled peace Palestinian statehood and de-occupation talks; Israel refuses to negotiate the area’s status, while Palestine demands
that East Jerusalem be the future capital of a sovereign Palestinian state.6 This dispute has contributed to the
repeated breakdown and cessation of negotiations. Secondly, Israeli control of Jerusalem and its non-Jewish holy
sites has exacerbated religious and political tensions, resulting in dozens of terror attacks and violent incidents.7

The Policy Idea:

The UN should assume immediate control of Jerusalem. This can be facilitated by the passage of a UN Security
Council resolution authorizing the deployment of international peacekeeping forces to replace the Israeli polito-military infrastructure governing Jerusalem. The Jerusalem City Council would be replaced with a UN-directed, popularly elected City Council that is responsive to the demands of all Jerusalem’s inhabitants. Sanctions and
other forms of concerted international pressure may be employed to combat objections or a refusal to de-occupy
the city by Israeli authorities. International control would continue until an internationally recognized bilateral
Israeli-Palestinian accord is reached on the permanent status of the city.

Analysis:

The internationalization of Jerusalem has fallen out of favor in international political and diplomatic circles, as the focus has shifted to reaching a permanent peace agreement that produces Israeli control over the predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem and Palestinian control over the predominantly Arab East Jerusalem. However, negotiations have repeatedly failed to produce this outcome, in part due to continued Israeli control over and
construction efforts in non-Jewish sectors of the city. Internationalization of Jerusalem would stall Israeli expansion in Jerusalem, thus enabling a climate more conducive to fruitful bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations
over the future permanent status of the city. Further, it would contribute to a reduction in the sectarian violence
currently engendered by grievances over the political status of the city. Thus, the detriments to human life and
negotiations engendered by Israeli control over the city would be partially solved. Jerusalem’s 801,000 residents
would receive international passports, including those possessing Israeli or Palestinian citizenship. The 200,000
Jews living in East Jerusalem settlements considered illegal under international law would retain their residences,
though the international regime would impose a freeze on settlement construction.

Next Steps:

The Obama administration should initiate the submission of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the deployment of peacekeeping forces to Jerusalem. General Assembly resolutions positing the materially codified international status of Jerusalem and re-affirming the illegality of the current Israeli occupation could be passed so as to
legitimize the proposed UNSC action. The U.S. government should contribute its political, administrative, and military expertise in directing the internationalization of Jerusalem. Sanctions and other measures designed to challenge
potential Israeli intransigence should be prepared for execution if necessary. The U.S. government should also consult religious and community leaders in Jerusalem in anticipation of potential violence during the transition phase.

Endnotes:

Talking Points:

Israeli control over Jerusalem has undermined the peace process and
engendered violence
The placement of the city under international control would facilitate fruitful bilateral negotiations over its permanent status and stem
the tide of violence
International action is necessary, given decades of failed negotiations

1) “United Nations Resolution 181 | Palestinian Histo•
ry.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. November 2, 2014.
Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1695871/United-Nations-Resolution-181.

2) Lapîdôt, Rût, and Moshe Hirsch, eds. The Jerusalem
question and its resolution: selected documents. Martinus
Nijhoff Publishers, 1994.
3) “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel - Adalah.” Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel - Adalah. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://
www.adalah.org/en/law/view/520.
4) “S/RES/478 (1980) of 20 August 1980.” S/RES/478 (1980) of 20 August 1980. August 20, 1980. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/DDE590C6FF232007852560DF0065FDDB.
5) Lapîdôt, Rût, and Moshe Hirsch, eds. The Jerusalem question and its resolution: selected documents
6) Kuttab, Daoud. “Status of Jerusalem May Again Scuttle Peace Talks - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Al-Monitor. January
20, 2014. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/jerusalem-stall-peace-talks-israel-palestine.
html#.
7) Miller, Elhanan. “Terrorism In Jerusalem Is Rattling Israel.” Business Insider. November 19, 2014. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://
www.businessinsider.com/terrorism-in-jerusalem-is-rattling-israel-2014-11.

Reclaiming a Lost Childhood Through Youth Center Involvement
By Gail Fletcher, Major: History & Government ‘17, Email: gaf55@cornell.edu
In Colombia, the drug industry is a very present force in society. As a way to curtail children from becoming involved in the industry, The United States should reassess its Plan Colombia and consider funding NGOs that can
develop youth centers in vulnerable communities.

History:

Beginning in the mid- 1960s, the Colombian conflict has since become the longest civil war in Latin American
history. Recent peace talks appear to signify that the
Key Facts:
decades-long battle is coming to an end. Throughout • Nearly 90% of cocaine seized or purchased in the U.S
the war, there have been several human rights abuses
stemmed from Colombia.6
perpetuated by major actors. Included amongst these • Previous U.S drug policies have led to the “balloon effect”
abuses is the recruitment of children into the war
in Latin America.
effort. The FARC and the ELN, leftist guerilla groups •
in Colombia, have utilized child soldiers extensively
to strengthen their power and they are not the only perpetrators of this violation of international law.
A report released in 2005 estimated that twenty to thirty percent of FARC combatants were children.1 Following pressure during peace talks and from human rights advocates, the FARC announced that it would end
the recruitment of children under 17.2 Despite the end of conscription efforts and the dwindling war, children
remain vulnerable to the violent drug industry that is tied to the war in Colombia.
Drug cartels recruit children to further their illegal endeavors. They prey on the weakest in society, enlisting
them to serve in positions such as lookouts and, at times, to murder. Children from poor areas are prone to a
life of violence, a tendency that perpetuates the drug problem that has plagued Colombia since the 1970s.

The Policy Idea:

The United States should redirect the financial assistance that it provides to Colombia towards NGOs stationed
in the country to aid in the improvement of or implementation of youth recreational centers. The youth centers
will aid in the prevention of recruitment efforts into drug-trafficking and in the rehabilitation of youth who were
once child soldiers or involved in drug trafficking. They should then monitor the centers and how the aid is used
to ensure that its principal is upheld.

Analysis:

The United States has provided billions of dollars to the Colombian government to fight the drug industry.3 The
majority of the funds from Plan Colombia, the title given to U.S aid packages to Colombia, go towards the military and police forces (amnesty).4 Despite the aid, human rights abuses continue to be rampant in the country. A
more efficient avenue is to provide aid to NGOs, as the organizations are more aware of the needs of local people.
Of course, there are risks associated with relying on NGOs to improve a community. One being that their dependence on foreign assistance can lead to low survival rates once the aid is no longer given. However, the US should
provide money to the NGOs for a long enough period of time that will enable a recreational center become a
stable entity in a community. Recreational centers will aid in preventing children from being susceptible to from
joining the drug industry. Studies have shown that being a member of recreational centers and youth organizations makes it less likely for a child to slip into a life of crime.5 Building youth centers is a preventative measure
that can also help weaken the drug industry.

Next Steps:

Talking Points:
Even though one war might
• Children, especially those in low-income areas, are vulnerable to the illegal
soon be over, another is far
drug industry in Colombia
from finished. The United States
• The U.S should send more aid towards NGOs rather than security meashould begin readjusting the
sures and it should reconsider cutting funding as the drug problem continbudgets in the Plan Colomues to present in Colombia.
bia instead of sending money
primarily to security efforts or • Involvement in a youth center makes a child less vulnerable to enter the
drug industry
reducing the funds all together.
After doings so, it should identify existing NGOs in Colombia
with a history of stability and begin sending aid to them. Following this, it should closely monitor the development process of the centers.
Endnotes:

1) “Colombia: Armed Groups Send Children to War.” Human Rights Watch. 2005. Accessed April 14, 2015.
2) “Colombian Farc Rebels ‘will Discharge Fighters under 15’ - BBC News.” BBC News. February 17, 2015. Accessed April 14, 2015.
3) “U.S. Policy in Colombia.” Amnesty International USA. Accessed April 25, 2015.
4) Ibid.
5) “The Positive Effects of Youth Community Engagement.” Texas School Safety Center. Accessed April 25, 2015.
6) “World Drug Report 2010.” United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. January 1, 2010. Accessed April 24, 2015.

Returning TANF Funding to its Original Intent: Aiding Poor Families
By Jennifer Kim, Major: Government & Statistics ‘17, Email: jennik.133@gmail.com
In order to redirect TANF grants towards their originally intended target population, poor families, the federal government should reform TANF policies to make it illegal for states to appropriate federal TANF funds for already-existing state functions.

History:

The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created in 1996 as a replacement for the
Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), which previously provided cash welfare to poor families with
children since 1935. Under the program, the federal
Key Facts:
government provides a block grant to states that they • As of 2012, the gap between the median state TANF benefit and
the poverty line was at a high of 73%. That is, the median state
can then use to their own discretion on programs
benefit for a family of three with no income was at $427-- only
for needy families, provided that they contribute a
27% of the monthly $1,591 poverty guideline.8
portion of funds themselves as well. TANF funds are • In 2011, on average states spent 29% of combined federal and
meant to be used for four purposes: 1) assist needy
state TANF funds on basic assistance-- and nine states spent
less than 15%.6
families with children; 2) end dependence of parents
on government benefits by “promoting job prepara- • In 2013, $2.5 billion worth of federal TANF funds were transferred to other federal-state programs.5
tion, work, and marriage”; 3) reducing out-of-wedlock

pregnancies, and 4) encouraging the formation and
maintenance of two-parent families.1
Unfortunately, TANF has been increasingly failing as the safety net it is meant to be, an issue with far-reaching
consequences. In 1994-95, almost half of all states had a TANF-to-poverty ratio above 75; that is, over 75 families out of every 100 with children in poverty received cash assistance. In 2009-10, however, no state had a ratio
above 75. In 1994-95, not a single state had a ratio less than 25; in 2009-10, approximately half of the states did.2
Two primary reasons exist for this drastic decrease: the decline in the TANF caseload and the increase in the
number of poor families. While the national TANF caseload declined by 50% between 1997 and 2011 (from 3.94
million families to 1.95 million in 2011),3 the number of families with children in poverty increased by 17% between 1995 and 2010 (from 6.2 to 7.3 million).2 The consequences are severe: in 1996, only 28% of families with
children in poverty lacked benefits; in 2012, that proportion soared to hit a record of 74%.4

The Policy Idea:

In order to combat the sharp decline in take-up of TANF benefits without drastically increasing spending, it is
imperative that the federal government forbid states from misappropriating federal TANF funds for already existing state functions-- even those that are currently eligible under TANF goals. With this reform, states would be
required to use all federal TANF funds on their intended target as opposed to other, unrelated state services.

Analysis:

Since 1996, the federal government has been allocating a steadfast amount of $16.5 billion a year in TANF
grants. While state contributions have fluctuated, they have remained fairly similar to the federal amount, as
in 2013 total state contributions amounted to around $15 billion.5 So why is this immense amount of funding
so vastly insufficient? The answer lies in a simple loophole: while TANF grants are meant to help poor families,
states have found a loophole by using the grants to replace existing state funds that meet TANF goals, thereby
freeing up those funds for alternative state uses unrelated to families in poverty. Hence, states are increasingly using a significant portion of both federal and state TANF funds in order to cover other state services. As found by
the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2011 a mere 29% of combined federal and state TANF funds went
to basic assistance for poor families, as opposed to 70% at the onset of TANF’s creation.6
In 2013, states spent a total of $31.6 billion federal and state TANF funds as follows: 28% for basic assistance, 6%
for work program expenditures, 16% for child care, 7% for administration, 9% for other work supports, and 34%
for “other expenditures”. Upon recognizing these facts, it becomes clear as to why in 2013, only 26% of families

with children in family received TANF benefits, as opposed to 72% in 1996 upon TANF’s creation (and 82% on
AFDC in 1979).7

Next Steps:

It is now the duty of federal legislators to pass a bill
that would reform TANF to ensure that states do
not misappropriate funding meant for needy fam•
ilies. It would need to not only be drafted but also
read and voted upon in the main Congress floor as
opposed to being shafted to a committee, where it
might die in stagnation. The bill would specifically •
forbid states from using TANF funds to replace existing state services-- even those related to TANF goals. •

Endnotes:

Talking Points:

The majority of TANF funds are not spent on traditional cash assistance, but on supplementing or even replacing funds for other
programs.9
While states are limited in the areas in which they can use the
TANF block grant, they have frequently replaced existing state
functions with TANF funds and used the formerly-allocated
funds for other, completely unrelated state programs.6
The proportion of families in poverty receiving TANF benefits
has plunged to an all-time low, making it no longer a suitable
“safety net” as originally intended.4
In order to prevent TANF funds from being consistently misdirected, the federal government must forbid states from using
TANF funds to replace existing state programs

1) ”Major Provisions of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.” Office of Family Assistance.
December 16, 1996. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/law-reg/finalrule/aspesum.
2) Pavetti, LaDonna. “TANF Weakening as a Safety Net.” Center of Budget and Policy Priorities. March 14, 2012. Accessed April 14,
2015. http://www.cbpp.org/blog/tanf-weakening-as-a-safety-net.
3) Loprest, Pamela. “How Has the TANF Caseload Changed over Time?” Urban Institute. March 8, 2012. Accessed April 25, 2015.
http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/412565-How-Has-the-TANF-Caseload-Changed-Over-Time-.PDF.
4) Covert, Bryce. “The Failure Of Welfare Reform Hits New Records.” Think Progress. February 21, 2014. Accessed April 25, 2015.
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/02/21/3316531/welfare-reform-failure-record/.
5) “Fiscal Year 2013 TANF Financial Data.” Office of Family Assistance. July 1, 2014. Accessed April 25, 2015. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/
sites/default/files/ofa/fy_2013_expenditures.pdf.
6) Schott, Liz, Ladonna Pavetti, and Ife Finch. “How States Have Spent Federal and State Funds Under the TANF Block Grant.” Center
of Budget and Policy Priorities. August 8, 2012. Accessed April 12, 2015. http://www.cbpp.org/research/how-states-have-spent-federaland-state-funds-under-the-tanf-block-grant?fa=view&id=3808.
7) Talk, Gene. “The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: Responses to Frequently Asked Questions.” Congressional Research Service. September 19, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2015. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32760.pdf.
8) Casey, Tim. “A TANF Misery Index 2014 Update.” Legal Momentum. February 19, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2015. http://www.legalmomentum.org/resources/tanf-misery-index-2014-update.
9) Hahn, Heather, Olivia Golden, and Alexandra Stanczyk. “State Approaches To The TANF Block Grant: Welfare Is Not What You
Think It Is.” Urban Institute. August 22, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2015. http://www.urban.org/research/publication/state-approachestanf-block-grant-welfare-not-what-you-think-it/view/full_report.

Changing Their Minds: A Pathway through Cultural Exchange
By Julie Gokhman, Major: Government ‘17, Email: jig43@cornell.edu
By implementing an exchange program between students at top Russian universities and Cornell University students, the attitude of the Russian public towards the West will progress to ultimately encourage cooperation.

History:

From the 1950s to 1989, international politics were defined by a contentious fight for power between democracy and communism. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, relations between the United States
and Russia improved beyond what could have even been imagined during the Cold War.1 While this alliance at
one point led to increased cooperation in fields like space exploration and nuclear nonproliferation, these two
countries now face a deterioration of diplomatic ties as
Key Facts:
a result of its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. But the
• 57% of the Russian public believes that Russia is “on the right
Russian public’s disapproval of the U.S. and approval
track” and 85% approve of Vladimir Putin.5
for Vladimir Putin has been steadily increasing since • Funding a program similar to Fulbright but on smaller scale
Putin’s rise to power.2 Economic sanctions imposed
would cost $20 million a year; Congress gave $237.6 million to
the Fulbright program in 2012.6
on Russia for its action in Crimea has further affirmed
study abroad experiences;
the Russian public’s position. The United States must • 27% of Cornell students have had
10% of all students go abroad.7
take initiatives to stop and ultimately reverse the down•
ward spiral current U.S.-Russia relations are facing.

The Policy Idea:

To change the Russian public’s opinion of the United States and the West as a whole, a cultural exchange
program should be initiated for Russian youth and their American counterparts. Russian students from top universities in their country would be matched with students at partner institutions in the United States. The pairs
would exchange home lives, school work, and friends in order to achieve a greater understanding of American
and Russian life and ultimately of how to improve U.S.-Russian relations. Because the study abroad programs to
Russia already provided by American universities are not very popular, this experience would be incentivized by
either seriously decreasing the cost of this program relative to other study abroad programs or by subsidizing the
program entirely.

Analysis:

Through this cultural exchange program, future generations of American and Russian policy makers will
have a better understanding of each other’s daily lives and will be more likely to collaborate with one another.
This policy will go beyond the typical study abroad experience because its will require an exchange to another
family rather than simply coming to the other country for an extended period of time. The average study abroad
program to Russia currently costs about $20,000 per semester.3 If 1,000 students are chosen every year to participate, this program will cost approximately $20 million to operate annually. While the initial impact of this
program may be small in simply establishing a small amount of cooperation between the American and Russian
governments, the future influence that this program will have is immeasurable. To examine the possible effects
of initiating this policy, the current Fulbright program can be viewed as an example. The proposed program
would allow a wider range of young individuals to achieve this cultural exchange experience than the Fulbright
program currently does; the successfulness of the aforementioned program points to the need to expanding
upon the Fulbright program into something more accessible to today’s college students.

Next Steps:

The U.S. State Department must impress onto Congress the importance of America’s youth achieving
a greater understanding of the Russian public in order to secure funding for this program. This new exchange
program would learn from the past failure of a similar
Talking Points:
program – Future Leaders Exchange or FLEX – and
• Due to the current international political climate, diplomatic
would be recognized as completely separate from any
relations between the United States are deteriorating to a point
U.S-Russian foreign relations; the exchange will be enbeyond repair.
tirely apolitical with very clearly defined rules for the • This new policy would allow the Russian public to achieve a new
perspective on the ideals and pursuits of the West.
participants about returning to their home countries.4

By utilizing young college students as the catalysts for change,
The U.S. government must reach out to the Russian
there will be a progression towards the rebuilding of cooperation
government to ensure that Putin will not only allow
between the United States and Russia.
but also support students from his country to attend •
an American university under specific guidelines.
Top American and Russian educational institutions that college students would be interested in attending must
then be sought out and informed about the benefits of this program. Once the funding and the participants have
been secured, this cultural exchange can be fully implemented.

Endnotes:

1) “200 Years of U.S.-Russia Relations,” Under Secretary for Political Affairs, accessed April 13, 2015.
2) “Indexes,” Levada Analytical Center, last modified 2015, accessed April 13, 2015.
3) “Study Abroad in St. Petersburg,” Russia Area Studies, accessed April 13, 2015.
4) Michael Gordon and Neil MacFarquhar, “Russia Cancels Exchange Program After a Student Seeks
U.S. Asylum,” New York Times, October 5, 2014, [Page A18]
5) “Indexes,” Levada Analytical Center.
6) “Funding and Administration,” The Fulbright Program, accessed April 13, 2015.
7) Joe Wilensky, “Cornell to build on top 25 study abroad ranking,” Cornell Chronicle, last modified November 13, 2013, accessed April
13, 2015.

No Man Left Behind: Evacuating US Citizens from Yemen
By Matthew McGee, Major: China and Asia-Pacific Studies ‘17, Email: mem366@cornell.edu
Following Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Hadi’s ousting by Houthi rebels in January 2015, Yemen has been rapidly
dissolving into a state of chaos, plagued by factional infighting and a Saudi-led air campaign against the Houthis.
While most countries have evacuated their citizens from the country, the US still has yet to do so, a strategy that will
hurt the US in the long-term.

History:

The Western-backed Sunni government of President Hadi has efused to meet Houthi demands such
as reinstating fuel subsidies and establishing a more
Key Facts:
representative government reflective of the agree- • There is currently no plan for the US to evacuate American
citizens from Yemen.
ments of the country’s National Dialogue Confer•
Yemen is becoming increasingly violent as Saudi Arabia
ence, which was held for 10 months following the
leads an air campaign against Houthi rebels.
Arab Spring uprising in Yemen in 2011. After Hadi • Inaction on the part of the United States erodes our credibilrefused to meet these demands, an uprising started
ity in terms of both global reach and concern for citizens.
with rebels attacking several government buildings in •
Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Despite a UN brokered “unity government,” the rebels continued their push through Yemen’s provinces and ultimately forced Hadi
to flee to Aden, and then to Saudi Arabia.1 Even before Hadi left Aden for Saudi Arabia, as the country seemed on the brink of civil war, Saudi Arabia began an air campaign in Yemen targeting the Houthis.2

In the wake of this violence and instability, many nations have evacuated their citizens, with the notable exception of the United States. In fact, Russia has evacuated more US civilians from Yemen than
the US itself has, with a Russian ship evacuating 18 Americans in mid-April.3 However, the US has stated that the situation in Yemen made it “too dangerous” to send in aircraft or ships to evacuate US nationals.4

The Policy Idea:

As violence continues to escalate, the United States should evacuate its citizens from Yemen. At least eight countries have done so, and with the US already having military forces in the
area, it seems logical that the most powerful military on earth should be able to evacuate civilians who are otherwise trapped in a country that is rapidly falling apart.5 While the exact number of
Americans in Yemen is unknown, if the US were to send C-130 military transport planes to airstrips, perhaps
in coordination with Saudi support, it is likely that the US could evacuate at least some citizens fairly easily.6

Analysis:

With 4,000 US and allied forces stationed at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, just across the Bab-el-Mendeb from
Yemen, the US would not have to deploy its ships and aircraft far in order to launch a rescue operation. With
the violence in Yemen not likely to improve soon, conducting an evacuation from a military base only several
hundred miles from Yemen would not involve a lengthy or costly operation.7 If needed, advice on how exactly to
conduct this evacuation could be sought from countries that have evacuated their nationals from Yemen, such as
India and Turkey. In addition, the US should cooperate with Saudi Arabia to create an opportunity for US military
ships and aircraft to be able to safely enter the country and evacuate US citizens. Already, at least one American
has died in the airstrikes by Saudi Arabia, and if no action is taken others will almost certainly also be killed.8

Next Steps:

Consultations with Saudi Arabia should begin immediately in order to best determine the situation on the
ground in Yemen and how an evacuation would unfold. Then, naval ships can be sent to Aden and military
aircraft can be sent to Sana’a to rescue Americans. In order to alert the Americans of the evacuation, email and
phone contact should be made with them by the State Department. In the event that there is no Internet or
phone service, the US can work through NGOs currently in Yemen to contact the Americans at their last known
residence. This could possibly involve contacting family members in the United States to determine exact addresses. If necessary, the US could work with a foreign country to have them evacuate US citizens.

Endnotes:

Talking Points:

Currently, Yemen is disintegrating into violence and there
is no hope of a peaceful outcome being created anytime
soon. While the armed conflict is increasing between both
Yemeni factions as well as Saudi Arabia’s coalition and the
Houthi forces, the US has failed to evacuate its citizens.
While most other countries evacuated their citizens in
mid-April, the U.S. has claimed that the situation is too
dangerous to conduct an evacuation, and thus American
citizens in Yemen are essentially left on their own.
As there seems to be no American plan at the moment
to evacuate its citizens, the plan outlined is the best one
available. If action is not taken immediately, then American lives are increasingly at risk, the US’s image in terms of
ability to go anywhere to conduct a mission is tarnished,
and the US will further alienate its Arab community.

1) Batati, Saeed. “Who Are the Houthis in Yemen?” - Al Jazeera
English. Al Jazeera, 29 Mar. 2015. Web. <http://www.aljazeera.
com/news/middleeast/2014/08/yemen-houthis-hadi-protests-201482132719818986.html>.
2) Mazzetti, Mark, and David D. Kirkpatrick. “Saudi Arabia Leads
Air Assault in Yemen.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25
Mar. 2015. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/world/middleeast/al-anad-air-base-houthis-yemen.html>.

3) “US, UK Thank Russia for Evacuation of Their Citizens from
Yemen.” - RT News. RT, 15 Apr. 2015. Web. 04 <http://rt.com/
news/249345-yemen-evacuation-russia-gratitude/>.
4) Allam, Hannah. “Desperation for Americans in Yemen as U.S. Refuses to Mount Rescue.” McClatchy DC. McClatchy DC, 9 Apr. 2015.
Web. <http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/04/09/262695/desperation-for-americans-in-yemen.html>.
5) Ibid.
6) Chakraborty, Barnini. “Americans Stuck in Yemen File Suit Demanding State Department, Military Rescue Them.” Fox News. FOX
News Network, 10 Apr. 2015. Web. <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/04/10/state-dept-sued-for-failing-to-evacuate-us-citizens-

Meet the Foreign Policy Center
Frances Yang
Frances is a sophomore Policy Analysis and Management major
from the Boston area. Last summer she interned at WorldTeach’s
Cambridge Office as an Education Program Assistant, an experience
that inspired her to pursue a future in non-profit management, consulting, and public health. She hopes to apply qualitative and quantitative evaluations to bridge public and private sectors to create
solutions to social issues. Outside of the Roosevelt Institute, she is
also a Consultant for Social Business Consulting, a member of APO,
and an avid animal lover.
Julie Gokhman
Julie is a sophomore from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the College of
Arts and Sciences studying Government and International Relations. On campus, she serves as the Fundraising Chair for Guiding
Eyes for the Blind, volunteers with YOURS Mentoring, plans the
Spartan Race College Classic, and spends her weekends walking
backwards as a Cornell tour guide. She is also a heritage Russian
speaker, a member of a social sorority, and has an unmatched penchant for cheese.

Matthew McGee
Matthew is from Chesapeake, VA, and he is majoring in China and
Asia-Pacific studies. Besides Roosevelt Institute, he is also very involved with the Cornell International Affairs Society.

Christopher Hanna
Christopher Hanna is a freshman majoring in Development Sociology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In addition
to his role as a policy analyst at the Roosevelt Institute, he writes
editorials for for the Cornell Daily Sun and belongs to the CacresNeuffer Genocide Action Group. His areas of interest include
human rights, social policy, development, and international politics.

Meet the Foreign Policy Center
Hazel Guardado, Director
Hazel is a junior majoring in Anthropology and minoring in International Relations. She is particularly interested in international human
rights and refugee law. Hazel has interned for the Committee on
U.S.-Latin American Relations, a non-profit refugee organization in
France, and the Foreign Service as an e-Intern. She is passionate
about languages and speaks Spanish, French, and Russian.

Gail Fletcher
Gail is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University studying History and Government. Her research interests relate
to international relations and peace and conflict studies.

Jennifer Kim
Jennifer is a sophomore in the School of Arts & Sciences, currently
double majoring in Government and Statistics. She is particularly interested in studying welfare politics and the construction of marginalized groups in public policy, with a focus on methodological approaches. Aside from the Roosevelt Institute, she is working on research in
the Department of Government and is involved in the Cornell International Affairs Society, where she is a competitive Model United Nations
team member and staffer.

IV. Center for Healthcare Policy
“Neither the American people, nor their government, intends to socialize medical practice any more than they plan to socialize
industry.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Director
Ellie Politi ‘18
Analysts
Nha-An Annie Bui
Alexander Gomez
Matthew Hersman
Rebecca Shohet
Philip Susser
Letter from the Director

“Boosting HPV Vaccination: A Case for State (and Federal) Mandates”
Nha-An Annie Bui
Nearly all men and women who are sexually active will contract the human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in
their lives. Though a majority of these strains are harmless, many are linked to certain types of cancer. State governments across the board should mandate a minimum level of policy that serves to increase the uptake rate of the HPV
vaccine among schoolchildren, especially young adults.

“The Use of Social Media to Promote Health in Low-Income Areas”
Alexander Gomez
The implementation of government sponsored social media resources would help provide important health information to low-income populations and promote healthy lifestyles.

“The Two-Midnight Rule Negatively Impacts Hospitals and Patients Alike”
Matthew Hersman
In 2013, CMS implemented a rule that required patients to spend two nights in a hospital in order to qualify for
in-patient hospital rates. This rule has had a negative effect on patients and has had a costly impact on hospitals.

“Ending Food Deserts: Going Beyond MIchelle Obama’s ‘Supermarket Push’”
Rebecca Shohet
By calling on individual states to create specific responses tailored to their own districts, the U.S can finally see an
end to food deserts.

“Changing The College Drinking Culture”
Philip Susser
Systemic change, focused on increasing alcohol prices could potentially reduce the number of alcohol related incidents on college campuses and reduce binge drinking.
Meet the Center for Healthcare Policy

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am very pleased to present the tenth issue of Looking Ahead: The
Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal from the Center for Energy and
Environment. As the Policy Director and Editor of this journal since Fall
2012, I have had the amazing experience of producing this journal for the
past two semesters, and the talent and innovation of each analyst never
ceases to amaze me. I have also had the pleasure of welcoming four new
analysts to the Center for Energy and Environment this semester and am
very excited to display their work in this issue.

Each analyst has combined creativity and passion with careful research and hard work to produce the policy proposals that comprise this
publication. I have found each piece to be enjoyable to read and incredibly
thought provoking and I hope you will as well.
Sincerely,
Ellie Politi
Policy Analysis and Management, College of Human Ecology ‘18
Director, Center for Healthcare Policy

Boosting HPV Vaccination: A Case for State (and Federal) Mandates
By Annie Bui, Major: Biology and Society (Hum Ec), Email: ntb39
Nearly all men and women who are sexually active will contract the human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in
their lives. Though a majority of these strains are harmless, many are linked to certain types of cancer. State governments across the board should mandate a minimum level of policy that serves to increase the uptake rate of the HPV
vaccine among schoolchildren, especially young adults.

History:

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and has the potential to cause a number of
health issues if left untreated, such as genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vagina and the back of the throat.1
Is it estimated that almost a quarter of all Americans — approximately 79 million — are currently infected with
HPV, with 360,000 people in the U.S. contracting genital
Key Facts:
• Vaccination rates for young men are much lower than
warts annually and an additional 11,000 women being
that of women (14 percent for men in 2013, versus 37.6
diagnosed with cervical cancer. However, available vaccines
for women).4
on the market such as Merck’s Gardasil (approved in 2006) • percent
HPV vaccination rates dramatically increased in four
and GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix (approved in 2009) target
states (Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina)
the strains that commonly cause cervical cancer.2 Because
that adopted policies and initiatives related to public
education and campaigns.4
an individual’s risk of contracting HPV during the course of
his or her lifetime is so high, it is vital for state and federal • Nearly half of new HPV infections occur in women aged
15-24.4
governments to push for methods that will increase take-up
rates of the vaccine. Though the prevalence of the disease
dropped 56 percent from 2003 to 2010 due in part to vaccination efforts, the percentage of adolescent females
ages 13-17 who received all three doses of the HPV vaccine only hovered around 37 percent in 2013.3 At present, 21 states have policies in place that fall into one or more of the following categories: vaccination mandate for
school entry, funding for the vaccine, and required public education for students and parents. However, only one
state — Virginia, along with Washington, D.C. — mandates HPV vaccination for school entry.4

Idea:

Following the footsteps of Virginia and Washington, D.C., other states should introduce a HPV vaccination mandate for all students entering public school. Policies, such as required education and subsidies, can serve
as a supplement to the main vaccination mandate but should not be standalone policies as it currently is in many
states if policymakers want to ensure that the uptake of HPV vaccinations will increase.

Analysis:

As policies across the nation currently stand, a hurdle which policymakers and public health professionals may face when trying to increase the uptake of HPV vaccination is the unwillingness or lack of knowledge
from parents to let their child receive the vaccine. Some may believe that it is unnecessary to vaccinate their
child because they are not sexually active, or because of the adverse effects associated after receiving the vaccine.
However, the CDC reports that clinical research conducted before and after the licensing of the HPV vaccines
currently available on the market indicate that they are safe, with no serious side effects.5 That being said, an
HPV vaccination mandate for school entry, a stringent and “top-down” approach, may be required in order to
see a dramatic climb nationwide in uptake of the vaccine. Though the debate surrounding the HPV vaccine is
more controversial because parents and caregivers may bring up issues with having to vaccinate their child even
if they are not sexually active, individual states can honor exemptions submitted by the parent. Policymakers
and officials should also not discredit the importance of other policies regarding the HPV vaccine, such as public
education and subsidies, both of which serve to inform and increase access to vaccination.

Next Steps:

State legislators across the nation should enact a uniform mandate for the HPV vaccine for school
entry, specifically for middle school and high school students because they fall into the appropriate target
age for the vaccine. In order to address the potenTalking Points:

Given
that
most
sexually
active adults will contract HPV at some
tial backlash that may arise from parents and other
point
during
their
lives,
it
is important to take early action and
groups, the policy should allow parents to submit an
inform the parents of adolescents and young adults about the
exemption and elect for their child not to receive the
benefits of HPV vaccines such as Gardasil and Cervarix
vaccine. Additionally, policymakers should pursue • The vaccination rate among young women for the HPV vaccine
supplemental policies such as subsidies and public
stands at only 37 percent, compared to other vaccines required for
school entry which have almost full vaccination rates
education programs to keep parents and their chil•
Mandating the HPV vaccine for school entry may help to boost
dren informed of the benefits and potential drawuptake rates in a short period of time, and exemptions for relibacks from receiving the vaccine. Public financing
gious or moral reasons may be submitted by parents if they object
initiatives, such as the Vaccines for Children (VFC) •
program, covers the HPV vaccine, while Medicaid
pays for vaccines for all children through the age of 18.4

End Notes:

1) “STD Facts - Human Papillomavirus.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/
hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm#a4
2) “HPV Vaccine Information for Young Women.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.
gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-vaccine-young-women.htm
3) Markowitz, Lauri. “Reduction in Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Prevalence Among Young Women Following
HPV Vaccine Introduction in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 2003–
2010.” The Journal of Infectious Diseases. (2013). http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/18/infdis.
jit192.short
4) “The HPV Vaccine: Access and Use in the U.S.” Kaiser Family Foundation. February 26, 2015. http://kff.org/
womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/the-hpv-vaccine-access-and-use-in/#footnote-126366-4
5) “HPV Vaccine Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/vaccinesafety.
html

The Use of Social Media to Promote Health in Low-Income Areas
By Alexander Gomez, Major: Policy Analysis and Management (Hum Ec), Email: akg67
The implementation of government sponsored social media resources would help provide important health information to low-income populations and promote healthy lifestyles.

History:

In an age where the intersection of healthcare and technology often leads to innovation, one prevalent
resource is being underused. Social media, used by 74% of the United States population, has the potential to provide important health information to demographic groups that have been traditionally less accessible . 80% of US
adults have used the Internet to research health-reKey Facts:
lated information . However, 67% of these adults re• The majority of the population uses social media. 74% of the total
port being dissatisfied with their findings because the population uses it and this proportion increases to 89% for ages 19results tend to be either inaccurate or unregulated . 29 and 82% for ages 30-49 .

Misinformation disproportionately affects
• 80% of US adults have reported using the Internet to search for
low-income populations. Low-income groups, who answers to health related questions. 67% of these respondents report
may not have access to traditional means of informa- being dissatisfied with the results of their search .
• 80% of respondents of a US survey of urban pediatric health
tion, would benefit substantially from using social
centers reported that they had Internet at home, with 71% of the
media resources to supplement their current health respondents owning smartphones. Of these respondents 78% of
knowledge. A survey of users of urban pediatric
the respondents used Facebook and 27% used Twitter. 70% of the
primary care centers in the United States found that respondents also indicated that they would use digitally supplied
health care information approved by their child’s medical provider .
80% of respondents had access to the Internet at
home, with 71% of the respondents owning smartphones . Furthermore, 78% of the respondents used Facebook, and an additional 27% used Twitter . Of these respondents, 70% indicated that they would use digitally supplied health care information approved by their child’s
medical provider .

This survey shows that there is an interest in using social media to promote healthy lifestyles, but only if
this interest were met by a reputable source, such as a government agency.

Idea:

Legislation should be introduced that appropriates funds to create a comprehensive government presence
(in conjunction with current government agencies, such as the National Institute of Health) on social media for
the purpose of promoting public health. These funds should be used to create a platform that can be integrated
into current social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and be responsibly used to provide general information to low-income populations, as well as an interactive forum ran by qualified health care professionals to offer
more specific, personalized information.

Analysis:

The platform would solve the problem of inaccurate health information on the Internet by using social
media to tailor and provide specific information via reputable sources to the populations that request them. This
policy goes beyond traditional information sources, as it requires low cost to the user and is highly convenient.
Informational resources can be concentrated and then distributed electronically amongst large groups of people.

Currently, government agencies, such as the National Institute of Health, have funds available for the
promotion of health in the United States, including interventional strategies. These funds may be appropriated
to create an official government presence on traditional social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter,
which will later provide a venue for providing regulated and accurate information.

Funds would be used to staff a team to run and market the platform, to gather relevant information, to
evaluate the effects of the program, and to make any necessary improvements upon implementation. On the
consumer side, the platform could be accessed at a minimal cost, with the only required service being Internet
access. Because of this low cost, a large group of people may take advantage of these services, including those
who do not have access to other costly information sources.

Next Steps:

In order for this policy to be enacted, health professionals, such as doctors and nurses, must advocate on
behalf of their patients and help officials identify the diTalking points:
rect health benefits of additional informational resources. • Technology is essential to improving health outcomes.
This information will help lobby for this policy and show • Social media has been largely underused in providing accurate
legislators that there is a reason to mobilize and support information to patients.
legislation. Once support is gained for this service, legis- • A large proportion of citizens have an interest in and the
lators must decide where funds will come from and what means to use social media in order to improve their health
government agency will champion this effort. Eventually, outcomes
a beta of this service can be rolled out and troubleshooted to optimize its effectiveness.

End Notes:

1) “Social Networking Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Centers Internet American Life Project RSS. 27 Dec. 2013. Web.
27 Apr. 2015.
2) Peregrin, T. (2013). “Sharing about Sharecare: RDs Reveal How the Q&A Social Platform Boosts Visibility.”
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 113(6): 763-765.
3) Ibid.
4) Demartini, T. L., A. F. Beck, et al. (2013). “Access to digital technology among families coming to urban pediatric primary care clinics.” Pediatrics 132(1): e142
5) Ibid.
6) Ibid.
7) “Social Networking Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Centers Internet American Life Project RSS. 27 Dec. 2013. Web.
27 Apr. 2015.
8) Peregrin, T. (2013). “Sharing about Sharecare: RDs Reveal How the Q&A Social Platform Boosts Visibility.”
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 113(6): 763-765.
9) Demartini, T. L., A. F. Beck, et al. (2013). “Access to digital technology among families coming to urban pediatric primary care clinics.” Pediatrics 132(1): e142

The Two-Midnight Rule Negatively Impacts Hospitals and Patients Alike
By Matthew Hersman, Major: Biology and Society (Arts and Sciences), Email: mbh85
In 2013, CMS implemented a rule that required patients to spend two nights in a hospital in order to qualify for
in-patient hospital rates. This rule has had a negative effect on patients and has had a costly impact on hospitals.

History:

Key Facts:

In 2013, CMS implemented the Two
• More than 55% of physicians surveyed disagreed or strongly disMidnight Rule. This rule stated that in order for
agreed that the “Two Midnight Rule” promoted hospital workflow.
a hospitalized patient to qualify as an inpatient,
• Recent reports show that up to $4000 in revenue can be lost per
the patient must spend at least two full nights at a case.
hospital.1 CMS implemented this policy in order • Less than half of respondents expressed confidence in determining
to better regulate Medicare payments to ensure that patient statues on their own.
the payments they make accurately reflect the hospital treatment. By requiring physicians to provide documented reasons for a patients stay, this was seen as a way
to better monitor physicians’ treatment over patients. However, rather than promoting effective patient treatment
and appropriate compensation, the “Two Midnight Rule” undermines the clinical authority of a physician over
his or her patients and drastically cuts much needed revenues for some hospitals.
Idea:

The Two-Midnight Rule leads to an unfair loss in revenues for some hospitals over others and has been
shown to directly affect the type of care a patient receives. Recent reports show that up to $4000 in revenue can
be lost per case.2 This can lead to losses in million for some hospital systems. Monetary restrictions like this
should never compromise a patient’s care. The Two-Midnight Rule has caused a wave of protest and controversy
in the healthcare field since its inception and for good reason. It is a rule that needs to be removed by restructuring the payment system to reflect the actual diagnostic treatment given to patients, rather than relying on an
arbitrary time-based policy to provide funding.

Analysis:

Inpatient rates are typically three times greater than those of outpatient rates. The difference in the cost of
payments as a result of the “Two Midnight Rule” can lead to a loss of thousands of dollars per patient. This rule
negatively impacts some hospitals more than others. These cuts disproportionately affect low-acuity community
hospitals in which the majority of patients require short hospital stays. These low-acuity hospitals are typically
smaller and lower-rated and as a result are less able to handle the loss in revenues when compared to other larger
hospitals. The Two-Midnight rule also negatively affects all hospitals that rely on inpatient care much more than
hospitals that do not.3 As a result, tertiary
Talking points:
hospitals and academic medical centers have • The cuts that result from the “Two Midnight Rule” affect smaller low-acuity
seen the greatest hit, as they tend to focus on community hospitals the most.
• These hospitals less able to handle the loss in revenues when compared to
inpatient care.

In addition, due to the funding cuts, other larger hospitals.
• The legislation results in healthcare decisions as a result of time rather than
hospitals are also much more likely to send
sound clinical judgment.
patients to observational outpatient care.
Studies have shown that because this is strictly
a time-based policy with no relevance to sound clinical judgment, a patient’s hospital status is influenced by the
time of day a patient gets sick rather than by his actual clinical needs.4

In a survey asking doctors about their abilities in determining inpatient or outpatient patient status on their own,
less than half felt confident in their ability to do so.5 Yet that is exactly what this model forces physicians to do.
As a result, more patients are shipped to observation status in order to save costs rather than because it is the
correct clinical decision.

By replacing this system with one that solely focuses on diagnostic treatments rather than the time
spent in the hospital, physicians will be more accurately compensated for the time spent on patients. This would
remove the guessing game that the “Two Midnight Rule” forces upon doctors and ensure that patients are being
treated with the correct care they require.

Next Steps:

The next step is to work with representatives for areas most affected by the Two Midnight Rule. Oftentimes these are lower-income and rural areas, so collaboration between healthcare workers is necessary. By organizing physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers in these areas, their voices can be heard and real action can be
made. This legislation has received widespread nuance in the medical community, yet not enough unified action
has been taken on to repeal this legislation. By banding together, healthcare workers can make their voices heard
and have a real impact in what occurs in Congress.

Action Plan:

The “Two Midnight Rule” discourages effective patient treatment and undermines sound clinical judgment. There is widespread dissatisfaction with this new legislation and calls for its repeal. By organizing healthcare workers together to speak to their representatives and demand action, real impact can be made. By working
together to replace the “Two Midnight Rule” with legislation that focuses on diagnostic treatments rather than
time, hospitals and patients alike will experience benefits.

End Notes:

1) Worth, Tammy. “Two-midnight Rule a Double-edged Sword.” Healthcare Finance News. N.p., n.d. Web. 01
May 2015.
2) Jackson, Joe. “TWO MIDNIGHT RULE.” (n.d.): n. pag. Strategic Healthcare Services. Web.
3) Adamopolous, Helen. “Moody’s: Most Hospitals Will See Less Revenue Under Two-Midnight Rule.” Becker’s
Hospital, n.d. Web. 01 May 2015.
4) “New Study: CMS’s New 2-Midnight Rule Increases Hospital’s Use of Observation Status || CMA.” Center or
Medicare Advocacy, n.d. Web. 01 May 2015.
5) “The Observation Status Problem.” Society of Hospital Medicine, n.d. Web.

Ending Food Deserts: Going Beyond Michelle Obama’s “Supermarket Push”
By Rebecca Shohet, Major: Human Development (Hum Ec), Email: rs993
By calling on individual states to create specific responses tailored to their own districts, the U.S can finally see an
end to food deserts.

History:

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food deserts as areas of the country lacking access to fresh, nutritious food options such as fruits and vegetables. To be considered a food desert, these
areas must be located a certain distance from the nearest large supermarket. Urban areas must be more than one
mile away, and rural areas must be more than ten miles away. Food deserts negatively affect both short and long
term health, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. As an extension of her “Let’s Move!” campaign, aimed
towards eliminating childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama hopes to eliminate food deserts with the
adoption of the White House’s 400 million dollar project called the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. The major
policy that spearheaded Michelle Obama’s multi-million dollar initiative was the introduction of supermarkets
to food deserts across the country. By
Key Facts:
2011, the First Lady recruited massive • According to a study conducted in 2009 by the USDA’s Economic Research
supermarket chains like Walmart, Wal- Service team, approximately 8.4% of Americans, roughly 23.5 million, live in these
greens, and SuperValu to get on board food deserts.
with her campaign and open up 1,500 • In a 2008 USDA study, counties with the most food deserts had an obesity rate of
9% higher than counties with the least food deserts
stores in these food deserts (white• After an entire six months after the supermarket’s grand opening, only 26.7
house.gov, 2011). Studies conducted by percent of people within one mile of the supermarket actually ended up using it as
their “main food source”
the CDC to test the First Lady’s pilot
program concluded that proximity to • The introduction of supermarkets into food deserts decreased wages for employees by “around 1.3 percent”
supermarkets had no significant cor• Only 33% of bodegas sell reduced-fat milk, compared with 90% supermarkets.
relation to BMI or healthy food intake
(Jeffrey et al. 2006). Not only did the
HFFI fail to increase consumption of healthy foods in these food deserts, it actually had a detrimental effect on
the economy of these communities. Opening up these large-scale supermarkets actually hurt the smaller momand- pop shops in the area.

Idea:

Policy makers must “bridge the gap between perception and action” (Copari, 2014). Although the HFFI
has been unsuccessful in eliminating food deserts, each state on its own has done an incredible job implementing
various, exciting programs which have, for the most part, all been successful. Instead of the federal government
trying to implement such an enormous project and attempting to bring in giant players like Walmart and Walgreens, it should leave the eradication of food deserts to each state to handle at its own discretion. States have
implemented their own initiatives to combat food deserts such as the “Fresh Works” in California and “Garden
on the Go” in Indiana. Individual states can learn from other previously implemented state-level programs to
find the best method to end food deserts in their own state. Each state is different from others, and has varying
populations of people who have different needs and expectations when it comes to food resources.

Analysis:

The main issue with First Lady Obama’s “Supermarket Push” was the flawed logic behind thinking simply building a grocery store would be enough to fix the problem. This step alone is not enough for individuals to actually
frequent these whole foods stores. The federal government can create as many of these supermarkets as they’d
like, but at the end of the day, people are not buying these produce, even when it is readily available. Instead,
policy makers must “bridge the gap between perception and action” (Copari, 2014). Although the HFFI has been
unsuccessful in eliminating food deserts, each state on its own has done an incredible job implementing various,
exciting programs which have, for the most part, all been successful.

Instead of the federal government trying to implement such an enormous project and attempting to bring in
giant players like Walmart and Walgreens, it should leave the eradication of food deserts to each state to handle
at its own discretion. For instance, New York City-based gardening advocate Daniel Bowman Simon created the
SNAP Gardens. In conjunction, the American Community Garden Association (ACGA) has worked tirelessly with Simon’s SNAP Gardens program to create and support over 18,000 community gardens in the U.S and
Canada (Proppe, 2013) and 500 in the five boroughs on New York City alone. Another effective initiative was the
education and advancement of already present neighborhood bodegas by the NYC Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Physical Activity and Nutrition Program. Specifically, the most successful of these
Talking points:
programs was the Healthy Bodegas Initia•
The
main
issue
with
First
Lady
Obama’s “Supermarket Push” was the flawed
tive, which encouraged interested bodegas
logic behind thinking simply building a grocery store would be enough to fix
and small mom and pop stores in Harlem,
the problem.
the South Bronx, and North and Central
• By allocating this money to each state separately, each state would get the
Brooklyn to sell more healthy options (nyc. freedom to choose their own methods for allocating funds
• Each state can learn from others the best way to end food deserts.
gov, 2010). Unlike Michelle Obama’s supermarket push, this initiative was effective
because profit was generated by the bodega owners who were actual residents of these food deserts. As a result,
money stayed within these communities and was not outsourced into the hands of large supermarket corporations.

Next Steps:

Lobbyists should begin pushing each state to brainstorm innovative ways to battle food deserts. They
should refer to previous ideas that their states have tried in the past and see if the statistics of food deserts improved in any way. They should also research to determine whether any ideas were particularly successful in
eradicating food deserts and see if they can adopt a similar plan, tweaking it to match their state’s people’s needs
and wants specifically. Politicians from different states should come together to discuss their goals and to collaborate a plan of action.

End Notes:

1) “Agricultural Marketing Service - Creating Access to Healthy, Affordable Food.”
Agricultural Marketing Service - Creating Access to Healthy, Affordable Food. Accessed April 11, 2015. http://
apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/fooddeserts.aspx.
2) “Neighborhood Food Environment and Walkability Predict Obesity in New York City.” Environmental Health
Perspectives, 2006.
3) Proppe, Colleen. “Five Innovative Solutions From “Food Desert” Activists.” May 3, 2013. Accessed April 11,
2015. http://foodtank.com/news/2013/05/five-innovative-solutions-from-food-desert-activists.
4) Torres, Alec. “Studies Undermine Michelle Obama’s ‘Food Deserts’ Campaign, by Alec Torres, National Review.” National Review Online. N.p., 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
5) Philpott, Tom. “Is Walmart the Answer to ‘Food Deserts”?” Mother Jones. N.p., 12 Jan. 2012. Web. Accessed
22 Mar. 2015.
6) “Garden on the Go’ Expands Route, Surpasses 5,000 Sales.” Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. N.p., 14 Nov.
2011. Web. Accessed 23 Mar. 2015.
7) Chinni, Dante. PBS Newshour. June 29, 2011. Accessed April 10, 2015. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/the-socio-economic-significance-of-food-deserts/.
8) Introduction, 1. Healthy Bodegas Initiative A Program of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
(DOHMH) CEO INTERNAL PROGRAM REVIEW REPORT (n.d.): n. pag. DOHMH. Web. Accessed 23 Mar.
2015. http://www.nyc.gov/html/ceo/downloads/pdf/BH_PRR.pdf
9.) Mitchell, Stacy. “Why Is Michelle Obama’s Food Initiative Promoting Walmart?” N.p., 21 July 2011. Web.
Accessed 23 Mar. 2015. http://ilsr.org/why-michelle-obama-s-food-initiative-promoting-walmart/
10.) “Taking on “Food Deserts”” The White House. The White House, 24 Feb. 2010. Web. Accessed 23 Mar. 2015.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/02/24/taking-food-deserts

Changing the College Drinking Culture
By Philip Susser, Major: (), Email:
Systemic change, focused on increasing alcohol prices could potentially reduce the number of alcohol related incidents on college campuses and reduce binge drinking.

History:

According to the NIH, approximately 1,825 college students die of alcohol related injuries annually. Other harmful effects of college drinking include non-fatal injuries, assaults, sexual abuse, and academic struggles.
College is a particularly vulnerable time
Key Facts:
for many incoming students, making the
• College binge drinking on college campuses is facilitated by low pricing and
first few weeks of school ripe for alcohol
high volume sales.
related incidents. A particular problem • Policy action that prevents low price “happy hour” specials could potentially
reduce binge drinking
with drinking on college campuses is

Lowering the drinking age could potentially result in high school students
the quantity of consumption. Approxihaving easier access to alcohol – a main argument against the lowering of the
mately 44% of college students are binge
drinking age.
drinkers, according to a Harvard study,
and oftentimes, Greek organizations
help fuel such activity. Recent action to
curb binge drinking included a large scale, $17 million project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
aimed to collaborate with surrounding communities. For example, they thought discouraging local bars to offer
happy hour or reduced price specials for drinks could limit excessive consumption. Many of the colleges did not
comply with the study — they each individually utilized their own cocktail of methods to reduce drinking (from
server training to increased law enforcement).

Idea: Increased restriction on “high volume sales” would discourage excessive alcohol consumption.

Analysis:

An argument in favor of decreasing the minimum drinking age is that it would prevent the sort of unmonitored
and unsafe illegal drinking that occurs on college campuses. While lowering the drinking age nationwide would
come with a slew of offsetting behaviors, such as possible alcohol “spillover” into high school networks, restricting legal underage alcohol consumption to college campuses, where professors could drink alongside students at
local bars, or schools could monitor provision of alcohol, could prevent binge drinking and alcohol related injuries. While lowering the drinking age has been dubbed as attempting to “put out a fire with gasoline”, restricting
bulk sales of alcohol is a simpler method to restrict excessive alcohol consumption. A 2003 Harvard study noted
a relationship between low priced, high volume alcohol promotion and binge drinking on college campuses.
They found that students who paid one dollar or less for an alcoholic drink were significantly more likely to be
binge drinking than someone who paid less than a dollar. Other factors that they found associated with binge
drinking were involvement in Greek organizations and whether or not a student was enrolled in a so-called
“wet” campus. Additionally, NCAA Division I status was linked to binge drinking rates.

Next Steps:

Considering possible Collegetown restrictions to limit happy hour specials or liquor store pricing could
potentially curtail binge drinking. Additionally, discouraging or limiting the purchase of massive quantities of alcohol would prevent the sort of environments
Talking points:
that are conducive to unhealthy and excessive
• The main issue with First Lady Obama’s “Supermarket Push” was the flawed
drinking. Some states have restrictions such as logic behind thinking simply building a grocery store would be enough to fix
these. For example ten states have regulations the problem.
that prevent the distribution of free drinks
• By allocating this money to each state separately, each state would get the
freedom to choose their own methods for allocating funds
during happy hours.
• Each state can learn from others the best way to end food deserts.

Action Plan:

Ithaca should strongly consider discouraging happy hour specials at bars and the sale of high volume
amounts of alcohol. Increased regulation would prevent binge drinking on college campuses. The city government could consider implementing a local law which would restrict such pricing.

Meet Our Healthcare Policy Center
Nha-An Annie Bui

Annie Bui is a junior in the College of Human Ecology studying Biology and Society with minors in Health Policy and
Business. She joined the Roosevelt Institute in fall 2014. Her
interests include healthcare policy — particularly pharmaceutical policy — and she hopes to go into healthcare or hospital administration in the near future. In addition to Roosevelt, Annie
is the Managing Editor of The Cornell Daily Sun. Contact her
at ntb39@cornell.edu.
Alexander Gomez
Alexander Gomez is a sophomore majoring in Policy Analysis
and Management at Cornell University. He loves keeping up
with new technology and watching soccer and is also an avid
outdoorsman. Contact him at akg67@cornell.edu.

Matthew Hersman
Matthew Hersman is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Biology and Society with minors in Health
Policy and Business. He is a Health Policy Analyst for the Cornell Roosevelt Institute. Aside from the Roosevelt Institute he
is also the Vice President of the Drug Information Association
and a Team Leader for the Cornell Undergraduate Health Cooperative. After graduation he will be working as an Associate
Health Professional for Compass Professional Health Services.
Contact him at mbh85@cornell.edu
Rebecca Shohet
Rebecca is a freshman in the College of Human Ecology
majoring in Policy And Management with a concentration in
Health Care Policy and Management, and a minor in Business.
Her strong passion for public heath has lead to her interest in
the writing and implementation of health policy. At Cornell,
Rebecca is also a member of the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board, the College of human Ecology's Undergraduate
Advisory Council, and the Into the Streets Executive Board.

IV. Center for Science & Technology Policy
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Director
Michael Herman ‘15

Analysts

Letter from the Policy Director

Elizabeth Zelko ‘16
Marc Alessi ‘18
Alexander Maisel ‘18
Arielle Tannin ‘18
Daniel Oudolsky ‘16

“Encouraging Responsibility: On Effectively Policing and Reducing Online Harassment and Cyberstalking”
Elizabeth Zelko ‘16
Private internet companies should be held liable and responsible for harassment on their sites and should enact policies and devote more resources toward reducing online harassment.
“Leveling the Playing Field: Tax Credits and Renewable Energy Growth”
Marc Alessi ‘18
Nonrenewable energy industries have had an unfair advantage over renewable industries for the past fifty years.
As the world enters a new energy era that focuses on clean energy, the United States must continue its support for
renewable energy production by providing incentives to businesses that invest in the energy, paving the road to a
country that relies on clean energy rather than fossil fuels.
“Strengthening the IAEA: An Integral Step in Averting a Nuclear Iran”
Alexander Maisel ‘18
The recent talks in Switzerland have the potential to prevent Iranian nuclear proliferation. However, this progress is
meaningless if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not given the resources and power to enforce the
deal.
“Bitcoin: Regulation and Utilization”
Arielle Tannin ‘18
Bitcoin presents an innovative way of conducting exchanges and transactions that could drastically improve the way
consumers and merchants interact. Not only would these transactions have economic benefits due to of significantly
lower fees, they could be faster, safer, and more direct.
“The 21st Century Agricultural Revolution: How the Usage of Drones is Poised to Transform the Way we
Farm”
Daniel Oudolsky ‘16
FAA regulations should be reformed in order to allow use of unmanned aerial vehicles ( UAV’s) for commercial
entities in the agricultural sector. This will allow for more effective use and harvesting agricultural fields. thereby
increasing agricultural yields, reducing negative externalities such as pollution and saving millions of dollars for
businesses.
Meet the Center for Science & Technology

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am excited to present to you the second issue of Looking Ahead: The
Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal by the Center for Science & Technology. This journal contains the work of five policy analysts, each of whom spent
many hours doing in-depth research and careful analysis to propose solutions
to the diverse array of science and technology problems in our society.

It is an exciting time to study the impact that science and technology have
on our daily lives; now, more than ever, we are in a time of exponential scienctific growth, with policies being shaped around technologies of which we have
not even unlocked the full potential. This Center, in its first iteration nationwide, has successfully brought together a group of individuals from a wide variety of college majors and scientific passions. We hope that this journal will shed
light on a handful of important, yet underacknowledged policy issues.

Each proposal in this journal engages with some of the toughest issues
surrounding innovation in our world today. These are the topics that will shape
the future, from renewable energy to cyberstalking. As Cornell students, we
are in a lucky position to be able to bring these issues to national attention. As
I move on from Cornell and our Center continues to grow, I wish nothing but
the best of luck to our hard-working analysts, both with Roosevelt and beyond.
Sincerely,
Michael Herman

Applied Economics and Management (CALS ‘15)
Director, Center for Science & Technology

Encouraging Responsibility: On Effectively Policing and Reducing Online Harassment and Cyberstalking
By Elizabeth Zelko, Major: Computer Science ‘16, Email: efz4@cornell.edu

Private internet companies should be held liable and responsible for harassment on their sites and should enact policies and devote more resources toward reducing online harassment.

History:

While the internet and social media sites in particular provide a useful medium for easy, fast communication, such forms of online communication also have great potential for abuse. This often manifests itself in
the form of online harassment and cyber-stalking. The most common examples of cyber-stalking include threats
of violence, spreading false information asserted as
fact, posting private or sensitive information online
Key Facts:
and technological attacks, such as hacking.1 In 2011, • According to a Pew research survey, 4 in 10 internet users are
the federal stalking statute was updated to address the
victims of online harassment6
use of “any interactive computer service or electronic • The most frequent victims are women between the ages of 18244
communication service or electronic communication
system”2 for the purposes of stalking and harassment. • Among those who have experienced online harassment, 60%
decided to ignore their most recent incident while 40% took
The language of this statute is broad enough that it
steps to respond to it
leaves interpretation up to the individual states, and
today 38 states have their own laws regarding cyber-stalking and 41 have laws addressing cyber harassment.3 Unfortunately, even those states with laws in place
have struggled with enforcement. Ease of access and the guise of relative anonymity means the volume of online
threats is far greater than those made in-person or via phone-call. Additionally, most law enforcement agencies
are not well-versed in cyber laws and are often not equipped to investigate forms of online harassment. In the
vast majority of cases, attempts to report such crimes are simply dismissed.4

Policy Idea:

The federal government is still struggling to formulate a plan for regulating the internet as a whole in an
efficient and manageable manner, and, as a result, many areas of the law which are strictly regulated and enforceable in reality are almost completely unregulated in cyberspace. Instead of allowing online harassment to continue to spiral out of control, the responsibility for regulating the online behavior of users should be placed on
internet companies themselves rather than lawmakers or the police.

Analysis:

Those responsible for reviewing reported content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter,
much like law enforcement, often ignore or dismiss explicit, threatening, and disturbing tweets and messages
with the justification that their senders will likely never act on them.5 At the moment, such companies put relatively few resources into monitoring and curbing harassment on their sites since they have little incentive to
do so. They handle only cases in which there is tangible evidence that substantial harm has been done or could
likely be done to the victim. The vast majority of harassers, unfortunately, go unpunished. By holding companies
liable and requiring them to take certain measures, however, lawmakers could place internet regulation in the
hands of those with the resources and access necessary to handle it. In one case study, Riot Games, developer of
the popular video game League of Legends, put together a team responsible for reducing harassment and creating a safer environment for its users.6 The company allowed users to turn chats off and on at will, issued bans and
warnings for bad behavior with a clear explanation of why, and instituted a system where a “jury” of users could
vote on punishments for cases bad behavior. The Riot staff initially reviewed all cases decided by “jury” and
found that they agreed with the outcome for 80% of cases. All these measures drastically reduced the number of
reported cases of harassment in the game, and in many cases deterred users returning from a ban from further
harassment.

Next Steps:

Lawmakers should start by working to hold social media companies liable for harassment on their site and requiring them to have a separate team, with a size proportional to the size of the site or company, responsible for
the policing of the site. Sites should do away with the idea of substantiated harassment so that users do not have
their complaints dismissed solely based on lack of concrete evidence. They should additionally come up with a
better mechanism for filtering and reviewing reported content and users so that all legitimate cases are
Talking Points:

The
rates
of
stalking
and harassment online now exceed the
reviewed and investigated before they are dismissed.
rates
of
physical
stalking
and harassment, however, most local
Another option, if there are limited resources, is to
law enforcement is not trained in or equipped to deal with
use the concept of a user “jury” to determine penalfederal cyberstalking statues nor state laws7
ties for certain case. Possible penalties could include a • Internet regulations regarding harassment would be more easily
warning, ban, addition to a site-wide watch-list, report
enforceable and more effective were internet companies themselves held responsible and liable for policing their own sites
to the FBI, or adding an indicator to a user’s profile

Devoting more resources toward reviewing and taking acsignifying negative behavior on the site.

Action Plan:

tion on reported content, inflicting penalties on any users for
inappropriate or hostile behavior, and incorporating the idea
of user “juries” would be more effective and realistic means for
reducing and preventing online harassment

• Community Outreach: Prepare leaflets with information on cyber stalking and harassment with potential actions victims can take and leave them with the Cornell police to be distributed to affected students
• Policy Affairs: Communicate with representatives on campus from companies such as Facebook and Twitter
to express concerns over their policies and lack of action on reported content
• Coalition: Contact members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to discuss my ideas about preventing and responding to online harassment
• Communication: Start an online petition for Facebook or Twitter to devote more resources and be more
thorough in their review of reported content and policing of their sites, promote it on-campus
• Timeline:
• December: Get in touch with the Cornell police, ask about their policies on cyberstalking and harassment
• January: Work with them to create a leaflet with useful information
• February: Speak with representatives from Facebook and Twitter when they come to campus
• March: Create online petition and contact the EFF to ask for their support
• April: Work with the EFF to add to my proposals May: Contact my local representative, discuss my proposals and online petition, and encourage him to re-open the conversation on the ineffectually of cyberstalking
statutes in Congress

Endnotes:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Sweeney, Marlisse. “What the Law Can (and Can’t) Do About Online Harassment.” The Atlantic. November 12, 2014.
“18 U.S. Code § 2261A - Stalking.” Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute.
“State Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Laws.” National Conference of State Legislatures. January 12, 2015.
Kayyali, Nadia, and Danny O’Brien. “Facing the Challenge of Online Harassment.” Electronic Frontier Foundation. January 8,
2015.
5. Hudson, Laura. “Curbing Online Abuse Isn’t Impossible. Here’s Where We Start.” Wired. May 15, 2014.
6. Duggan, Maeve. “Online Harassment.” Pew Research Center. October 22, 2014. Accessed April 28, 2015.
7. McVeigh, Karen. “Cyberstalking ‘now More Common’ than Face-to-face Stalking.” The Guardian. April 8, 2011.

Leveling the Playing Field: Tax Credits and Renewable Energy Growth
By Marc Alessi, Major: Atmospheric Sciences ‘18, Email: mja244@cornell.edu
Nonrenewable energy industries have had an unfair advantage over renewable industries for the past fifty years.
As the world enters a new energy era that focuses on clean energy, the United States must continue its support for
renewable energy production by providing incentives to businesses that invest in the energy, paving the road to a
country that relies on clean energy rather than fossil fuels.

History:

Since the dawn of the modern era, nonrenewable energy has had a continued unfair advantage over renewable
energy. While the technology necessary to spur renewable energy production may not have been around fifty years
ago, the 21st century has proven otherwise with wind
and solar energy production skyrocketing and becoming
cost-competitive with fossil fuels.1 Unfortunately, the
Key Facts:
• Fossil fuel industry has given $4 billion in tax breaks every year,
fossil fuel industry still receives an over $4 billion tax
compared to $370 million (previously) for renewable energy
break each year, compared to the measly $370 million

The incentive for renewable energy has expired since 2014,
per year renewable energy receives.2 Even still, the $370
meaning the industry has no help from the government
million tax incentive per year expired at the end of the
• With tax incentives, renewable energy accounted for over 30%
2013 fiscal year.3
of new energy capacity in the U.S.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 started the Federal
Production Tax Credit (PTC) Incentive which provides financial support for the development of renewable energy facilities. The policy provided a 2.3 cent per kilowatt-hour incentive for the first ten years of a renewable energy facility’s
life.4 The incentive was met with large-scale growth in the wind and solar industries. From 2007-2012, wind energy
provided over 30% of all new United States power capacity as a direct result of the PTC.3,5 As aforementioned, the
incentive expired at the beginning of 2014 and has since not been renewed. Because of this, initiatives to build wind
power facilities decreased by 92% in 2013.3 Another tax incentive for renewable companies, the Advanced Energy
Manufacturing Tax Credit, expired in early 2014 as well, ending millions of dollars given to private industries investing
in renewable energy.

Although renewable energy production is growing much faster than fossil fuel production,6 Congress continues to rely on fossil fuel energy by subsidizing it more so than the pollutant-free, non-climate change causing renewable energy. The fact of the matter is that incentives for renewable energy growth should be at the same level, if not
more than those given to the fossil fuel industry.

Policy Idea:

I propose a policy that reinstates and strengthens tax incentives and tax breaks for the renewable energy industry. After a bill passes congress to provide these incentives to these industries, renewable energy will grow exponentially, one day replacing fossil fuels as the top energy provider in the United States. This policy would help the U.S. reach
its climate energy goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020.7

Analysis:

It is clear that tax incentives for the renewable energy industry helped contribute to significant growth in
clean energy production. With the expiration of Federal incentives, investment in renewable energy is less appealing to private industry. However, as the world approaches a new energy era, the United States should be one of the
leading countries supporting growth in the renewable industry. Congress must act on the opportunity to continue
the remarkable growth in renewables. Letting tax incentives expire and the failure to reenact the policy will not
help the United States switchover to clean energy; it will further continue its reliance on fossil fuels. The future
reliance on fossil fuels will come as a direct result of not giving tax incentives to renewable industries.

Since 1950, over 80% of tax incentives for the energy industry has supported non-renewable energy. These
tax incentives have made oil and gas companies rich, allowing them to outcompete all solar and wind companies. If
the government enacted a long-term extension of the PTC and increased the amount of incentives for clean energy
business, it would generate a considerable amount of money. In just one year, analysis has shown that growth in the

clean energy industry will increase tax income by $4.3 billion.2 Compared to the $3.5 billion spent on the incentives each year, Federal and State governments will be making money, not losing it. Since 1950, over 80% of tax
incentives for the energy industry have supported non-renewable energy.

Next Steps:

Congress must come together to discuss reenacting the PTC and strengthening it, or create new legislation that
will give incentives to the renewable energy industry. The bill must extend the PTC out to at least more than a decade
so that renewable energy companies have time to plan, invest, and build new facilities. Once a bill has been created
and passed, private energy companies will invest
in renewable energy production. Leveling out the
Talking Points:
energy production playing field will no doubt result

Simply
reenacting
the
Federal PTCH will result in a net gain of $700
in higher investment in renewable energies because

Action Plan:

million in funds for the government
Previous support of the non-renewable energy industry has proven
to make oil and gas companies prosperous. Incentives for the renewable industry will do the same
The United States will continue its reliance on fossil fuel energy if
this policy is not addressed

• Summer, 2015
• Lobby key climate senators to consider propos- •
ing a PTC bill that is similar to the previous one
that expired, but lasts longer and gives more
incentive. Consider working with all political parties and educate both on the cost benefits of providing tax incentives to renewable energy.
• Fall, 2015
• Pass a bill that enacts a revised Federal PTC and have signed by the Executive branch.
• Winter, 2015
• Put the stronger, longer-lasting PTC into place. As shown in the past, the private industry will take advantage of
the tax incentives and successfully increase renewable energy production to higher and higher levels.

Endnotes:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Diane Cardwell, “Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.
com/2014/11/24/business/energy-environment/solar-and-wind-energy-start-to-win-on-price-vs-conventional-fuels.html?_r=0.
American Wind Energy Association, “U.S. Energy Incentives,” Siemens Energy, Inc., http://www.awea.org/Resources/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=5039.
American Wind Energy Association, “Federal Production Tax Credit for wind energy,” Siemens Energy, Inc., http://www.awea.org/
Advocacy/content.aspx?ItemNumber=797.
Union of Concerned Scientists, “Production Tax Credit for Renewable Energy,” http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/smart-energy-solutions/increase-renewables/production-tax-credit-for.html#.VTVldSFViko.
Mari Hernandez, “What The House GOP Doesn’t Want You To Know About Wind Vs. Oil Tax Credits,” Climate Progress, http://
thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/17/1882241/what-the-house-gop-doesnt-want-you-to-know-about-wind-vs-oil-tax-credits/.
Chris Mooney, “Here’s how much faster wind and solar are growing than fossil fuels,” The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/03/09/heres-how-much-faster-wind-and-solar-are-growing-than-fossil-fuels/.
Executive Office of the President, “The President’s Climate Action Plan,” The White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/
files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf.

Strengthening the IAEA: An Integral Step in Averting a Nuclear Iran
By Alex Maisel, Majors: Statistics & Economics ‘18, Email: acm277@cornell.edu
The recent talks in Switzerland have the potential to prevent Iranian nuclear proliferation. However, this progress is
meaningless if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not given the resources and power to enforce the
deal.

History:

The IAEA was created in 1957 with the goal of promoting the safe, clean use of nuclear energy while
guarding against its weaponization.1 Over time, the IAEA has become the global watchdog for states that are
pursuing nuclear weapons.
Recently, its attention has been primarily fixed on
Key Facts:
Iran. Over the last three decades, Iran has continued

Iran’s
nuclear
program
started with American funding
to grow its substantial nuclear infrastructure, causduring the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi
ing Western powers to fear that Iran is constructing
• Iran is believed to have 17 functional uranium enricha nuclear bomb.2 Iran has built several facilities that
ment facilities
are capable of enriching uranium beyond the levels
• Enrichment is the process of increasing the number of
required for peaceful purposes. Instead, such highly
uranium atoms which can undergo nuclear fission
enriched uranium is an integral component in a nu- • The current talks are between Iran the the “P5+1”: The
clear weapon.3
U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany
To deter the Iran, global powers have levied sanctions
on the nation while engaging in multilateral talks with Iran’s leadership. After several preliminary rounds and
agreements, these talks culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA). In this plan, sanctions
will be lifted in exchange for several Iranian concessions, including not building additional enrichment facilities
and capping its maximum uranium enrichment level.4 An additional provision of this deal is increased IAEA
access to Iranian facilities, many of which had been off-limits. However, no mechanism exists to force the Iranians to give full transparency to the IAEA. Meanwhile, there are concerns that the IAEA lacks the financial
resources for a thorough investigation of Iran and other potential nuclear states.5

Policy Idea:

As part of the final draft of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the IAEA must receive full, unrestricted access to Iranian enrichment facilities and nuclear reactors. This provision, combined with increased
IAEA funding, will allow the agency to conduct the thorough investigation required to assure that Iran is meeting its end of the nuclear deal. Once the IAEA has conducted this investigation and found adequate progress on
the Iranian side, the West will immediately lift its crippling sanctions.

Analysis:

The IAEA is the world’s most reputable, independent source for information about the Iranian nuclear
program and thus its compliance with the JCPOA. However, the plan fails to address the pitfall that has consistently plagued the IAEA: a compelling reason to comply with its requests and to consider its findings. The deal
vaguely grants the IAEA “enhanced” access to Iranian enrichment facilities.6 However, the specifics of this access
have yet to be defined, and the Iranians and Americans presently express opposing interpretations of this point.7
To rectify this, the final form of the JCPOA must be altered so that sanctions will only be lifted once the IAEA
has received full access to Iran’s nuclear reactors and enrichment facilities. Then, and only then, can the international community feel confident in Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

Additional IAEA funding will compound this effect. Currently, states are not obligated to contribute
funds to the IAEA; they simply do so on a voluntary basis.8 This has certainly allowed the organization to conduct some groundbreaking work. However, many experts believe it no longer has the resources or abilities to
detect unreported nuclear material.9 In the case of Iran, this is especially pertinent, since the nation has become
notorious for its attempts to build secretive reactors and enrichment facilities.10 Consequently, it is imperative
that the JCPOA not only include the necessary provision of maintaining sanctions until the IAEA receives the

access it requires. The plan must be attached to an international effort to revitalize the agency’s budget and technology.

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

Thankfully, the JCPOA • The JCPOA represents definite progress in the Iranian nuclear situation
has not been finalized in many • However, the deal is far less useful without Iran being fully transparent to the
respects, and the issue of IraIAEA
nian transparency to the IAEA • The sanctions on Iran were only lifted if the IAEA is given the complete access to
Iran’s facilities
has not been fully decided. The
United States and its negotiating • The IAEA is lacking the crucial funding it needs to detect unreported nuclear
facilities
partners must include provisions in the plan to make the
removal of sanctions dependent on Iran’s complete cooperation with the IAEA. This, if coupled by an increase in
funding to the IAEA by its members, will surely be integral in making the JCPOA an effective step toward ending
Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Endnotes:

1. International Atomic Energy Agency, “Our Work,” Accessed April 11, 2015, https://www.iaea.org/ourwork.
2. Ibid.
3. Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, “Iran’s Nuclear Timetable,” Accessed April 12, 2015, http://www.iranwatch.org/
our-publications/articles-reports/irans-nuclear-timetable
4. US Department of State, “Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear
Program,” Accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/04/240170.htm
5. Trevor Findlay, “Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog: Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA,” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, modified June 2012, accessed April 12, 2015
6. US Department of State, “Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear
Program,” Accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/04/240170.htm
7. Louis Charbonneau, “Iran Deal Could Stumble on Sensitive Nuclear Monitoring,” Reuters, April 10, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/
article/2015/04/10/us-iran-nuclear-monitoring-idUSKBN0N11MN20150410.
8. Trevor Findlay, “Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog: Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA,” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, modified June 2012, accessed April 12, 2015, http://www.belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/22126/unleashing_the_nuclear_watchdog.html?breadcrumb=%2Fproject%2F44%2Fscience_technology_and_public_policy.
9. Ibid.
10. Carol Morello, “Exile Group Accuses Iran of Secret Nuclear Weapons Research,” The Washington Post, February 25, 2015, Accessed April 12, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/exile-group-accuses-iran-of-secret-nuclear-weapons-research/2015/02/24/ad8d64d6-bc5a-11e4-8668-4e7ba8439ca6_story.html

Bitcoin: Regulation and Utilization
By Arielle Tannin, Information Science ‘18, Email: adt56@cornell.edu
Bitcoin presents an innovative way of conducting exchanges and transactions that could drastically improve the way
consumers and merchants interact. Not only would these transactions have economic benefits due to of significantly
lower fees, they could be faster, safer, and more direct.

History:

Bitcoin is the world’s first decentralized, peer-to-peer virtual cryptocurrency. It is revolutionary in large
part due to its ability to secure virtual transactions. Every Bitcoin transaction is processed and recorded in a
virtual ledger called a transaction blockchain, which is
publically broadcasted to the entire Bitcoin network,
Key Facts:
so it would be extremely difficult to commit fraud.1

Only
21
million
Bitcoins
can ever be in existence
Bitcoin is a self-funding and participatory currency.

Dishonest
users
would
have
to out-compute all the honest users
New Bitcoins are created by “miners” who are usto successfully commit fraud
ers that compute a complex series of mathematical
• One Bitcoin is currently evaluated at approximately $240 USD
functions to verify the authenticity of new blocks in
the transaction blockchain and are awarded a certain
number of Bitcoins for their efforts. Miners are awarded Bitcoins successfully completing this process. What
differentiates Bitcoin from its digital predecessors is its reliable solution to how to behave trustworthily in a system with many users and no central authority. The system operates in such a way that it would actually be more
beneficial for an individual to mine Bitcoins than attempt to defraud the network. This is because the benefit of
mining for new Bitcoins is greater than attempting to “double-spend” one’s own.

Bitcoin achieves its security with a system based on complex mathematical computations that directly
involves users. Bitcoin miners assign a “proof of work,” a seemingly random series of characters, to represent the
complexity of the computations involved in verifying the transaction. Once authenticated, the rest of the Bitcoin community then uses this proof of work and builds on it. This system operates in such a way that trying to
commit fraud and spend Bitcoins you do not have would be more arduous than mining and receiving the transaction fee as a reward. Bitcoin was created in 2009 by a person or group under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto
and has recently become an accepted method of payment by approximately 39,000 merchants across the world.2
Its major advantages over other fiat currencies include better transparency, identity protection of users, inability
to be forged, no risk of inflation, and lower transaction fees. Bitcoin has not been widely accepted by the public
because it is difficult to use and merchants are hesitant to adopt it due to its current volatility.3

Bitcoin’s decentralized structure protects the identity of its users but is problematic when trying to apply
regulation and taxation. Individuals in the Bitcoin system are identified by a randomly generated username, so
there has also been concern about it being used for illegal purposes.4 Nonetheless, the decentralized nature of
Bitcoin is promising because it would prevent negligent economic intervention by governing entities and mitigate the cumbersome and expensive process of using a middleman to facilitate exchanges.

Policy Idea:

The first step in taking advantage of Bitcoin is recognizing it as a legitimate currency. The fact that Bitcoin
is not subject to inflation makes it a viable option to stabilize the money supply (similar to gold). After Bitcoin is
recognized, it can be regulated to protect both consumer and government interests.

Analysis:

One of the major concerns about Bitcoin is the volatility of its value. Among the largest surges in Bitcoin
value occurred during the Cyprus Economic Crisis in 2013. After the banks lost a tremendous proportion of
their deposits, citizens began to buy Bitcoin, causing its price to increase substantially.v Public speculation has
also caused the currency to fluctuate in recent years. The average rolling 10 day daily volatility has been 3.5%, and
approximately 60-70% of the time, it has been between 1-5%. While Bitcoin has yet to achieve consistent stability,
it appears to be heading in that direction. More importantly, Bitcoin’s past behavior has shown that the more

people utilize it, the more stable its price becomes. Therefore legitimizing Bitcoin would ameliorate its volatility.6

Legitimizing Bitcoin would have large effects on small business trying to get off the ground. Without
hefty transaction fees, emerging companies would have more economic freedom to focus on innovation. Transaction fees typically range from 2-3%. Many new companies have a profit margin of less than 5 percent, so this
seemingly negligible charge is actually quite significant.7

The issue of Bitcoin’s ability to provide criminals with an easily accessible “black market” remains contested. Due to the inherent anonymity of the system, criminals have used Bitcoin for these purposes in the past. One
must also consider however, that as an alternative to cash
Bitcoins are easier to trace. Therefore if the proper regulaTalking Points:
tions were instituted, this threat of illegal activities being
• Bitcoin eliminates high transaction fees that are negative
conducted with Bitcoin could be mitigated.
for both consumers and merchants

Next Steps:


Anonymous system prevents identity theft
Decentralized nature eliminates risk of negative or corrupt
intervention

Lobbyists and Bitcoin advocates should adopt a
strategy of education and collaboration in enacting this
policy. More merchants and businesses should be encouraged to accept Bitcoin as a valid form of payment to stabilize the currency. Additionally, Bitcoins platform should be modified to be more easily accessible to everyday
consumers who currently lack an understanding of Bitcoin’s potential and purpose. Lawmakers should discuss
how regulation and taxation could be applied to Bitcoin. It is insufficient to expect consumers to be responsible
for determining what they owe in taxes on Bitcoin purchases (which is currently the case). In order to accomplish this, the government should involve Bitcoin stakeholders in the lawmaking process to balance their needs
with the realities in which Bitcoin operates.

Finally, legitimizing Bitcoin as a valid currency will nullify the current hazy definitions that have been
ascribed to Bitcoin. A FineCen report published in May 2013 stated that Bitcoin, “does not have all the attributes
of real currency” while in August of 2013 U.S. District Court from the Eastern District of Texas deemed, “Bitcoin
is a currency or form of money.”8 Having a unified definition of Bitcoin is critical to its success.

Endnotes:

1. Marc Andreesen, “Why Bitcoin Matters,” NYTimes, January 2014. Web April 2015 <http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/
why-bitcoin-matters/?_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=tw-share&_r=1>
2. CoinBase <https://www.coinbase.com/clients>
3. This volatility would drastically decrease as more people start using Bitcoin. Thomas Alcorn, Adam Eagle, Ethan Sherbondy, “Legitimizing Bitcoin: Policy Recommendations” <http://web.mit.edu/alcorn/www/Legitimising_Bitcoin.pdf>
4. Paula Rosenblum, “Bitcoin: The Currency of the Future” Forbes, January 2014. Web April 2015 <http://www.forbes.com/sites/paularosenblum/2014/01/27/bitcoin-the-currency-of-the-future/>
5. Ibid.
6. Gordon Grant, “Bitcoin Price Dynamics: A Basic Statistical Analysis” Web. 2015 <http://obsidianexchange.com/bitcoin-price-dynamics-basic-statistical-analysis/>
7. Marc Andreesen, “Why Bitcoin Matters,” NYTimes, January 2014. Web April 2015 <http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/
why-bitcoin-matters/?_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=tw-share&_r=1>
8. Thomas Alcorn, Adam Eagle, Ethan Sherbondy, “Legitimizing Bitcoin: Policy Recommendations” <http://web.mit.edu/alcorn/
www/Legitimising_Bitcoin.pdf>

The 21st Century Agricultural Revolution: How the Usage of Drones is Poised to
Transform the Way we Farm

By Daniel Oudolsky, Major: Industrial and Labor Relations ‘16, Email: dro32@cornell.edu

FAA regulations should be reformed in order to allow use of unmanned aerial vehicles ( UAV’s) for commercial
entities in the agricultural sector. This will allow for more effective use and harvesting agricultural fields. thereby
increasing agricultural yields, reducing negative externalities such as pollution and saving millions of dollars for
businesses.

History:

Drones are quickly moving from the deployment in the battlefield to the fields of agriculture. While
much of the attention regarding drones has focused
recently on Amazon and UPS seeking to use them
Key Facts:
to deliver packages or that little robots may be
• The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the
used to deliver pizza, m fuch of the future usage for
trade group that represents producers and users of drones and othdrones is expected to come on the farm, in agrier robotic equipment, predicts that 80% of the commercial market
cultural sectors. However, the legalities behind the
for drones will eventually be for agricultural uses5
• Once the Federal Aviation Administration establishes guidelines
civilian usage of drones has been quite murky. In
for commercial use, the drone industry said it expects more than
2007, the FAA adopted a policy which stated that
100,000 jobs to be created and nearly half a billion in tax revenue to
any person who operates a unmanned aerial vehicle
be generated collectively by 2025, much of it from agriculture.
(UAV) in the U.S. airspace for commercial, business • The usage of drones in agricultural fields would create $2.3 billion
or government purposes must be granted explicit
in California in the first three years, more than in any other state,
leading to the creation of more than 12,000 jobs in this state alone6
operational authority, or an Certificate of Authori1
zation (COA). This excluded people who operated
a UAV for recreational or non-commercial purposes. Following this implementation of policy, the FAA granted
authority to only a few private companies since then. Such inaction caused Congress to intervene in 2012 by
passing the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, requiring the FAA to devise a more comprehensive plan for
fully integrating UAV into domestic airspace by 2015.2 Because of recent sequestration cuts in the federal budget, The FAA has experienced a series of delays and hindrances that have prevented the agency from formulating
a definitive policy on UAV usage by citizens and businesses alike, which has spurred state legislatures to draft
their own legislation starting in 2013.

Policy Idea:

Although current usage of drones in U.S. airspace is very restricted, many nations across the world have
relaxed laws and regulations for how drones can be utilized. Drones are being used for agriculture in nations
such as Canada, Australia, Japan and Brazil.3 I propose that the Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with
relevant departments within the Federal government, implement policy initiatives that allow for the usage of
unmanned drones on agriculture fields. Firstly, the FAA must allow more widespread use of unmanned aerial
drones for certain commercial industries, including the agriculture sector. Lawmakers must work closely together with industry consultants, farmers, business owners and the FAA to create the best piece of legislation that
effectively serves commercial and private interests, whilst also delegating the proper authority to both the FAA
and farm operators over usage of the aircraft and protecting the nation’s domestic airspace in the most efficient
way possible.

Analysis:

Today, satellites, manned planes and walking the field are the main ways farmers monitor their crops.
But these current methods have many flaws, such as being incomplete or time consuming. Data collection is a
lengthy and expensive process. As a result, it can be difficult or impossible for the farmer to react to a problem
like a disease outbreak before it’s too late or the costs to treat it have soared. Drones range from $3,000 for a custom-made plane put together to $160,000 for an advanced prototype. They are equipped with a variety of devices- infrared cameras, sensors, heat markers and other technology are remotely controlled controlled by a pilot on
the ground. The drone can carry out many practical everyday functions of farmers- identifying pest and locust

problems, irrigation and water issues, assessing crop yields and tracking down cattle. Though the unit cost and
maintenance upkeep is quite expensive, the functions it performs help farmers recover their investment in no
time. Utilizing a drone in agriculture allows the farmer to better optimize crop production because of the increased availability of such information and data. Through a technique known as precision agriculture, farmers
may use drones to better adjust their use of pesticides and fertilizers based on how much is needed in a specific
area of the farm.4 This saves the farmer capital
and
allows for efficient optimization of resources,
thus
Talking Points:
reducing the occurrence of negative externalities
• The Internet was designed with the intention to be open and
of farming such as overuse of land and environavailable to everybody, which is why it has been successful.
mental pollution.

Action Plan:

Without net neutrality, this innovation will be stifled if ISP’s are
allowed to control or block content access
Reclassifying internet services under Title II of Communications would classify internet services as a public utility- something like water and electricity. ISP’s would merely be providing
internet services, and thus would not be not be able to control,
screen or filter who has access to content and any decisions
about where it goes.
Promoting Internet freedom will also encourage competition
and innovation by prompting service providers and developers
to make effective products that will improve bandwidth services
for consumers.


• Policy Affairs: Work with the FCC and
lawmakers at Congress to lobby to amend
the
Communications Act of 1934, amending Title II
that will make the Internet into a public utility.
This will reclassify ISP’s into “common carriers”

preventing any one company from having
a
monopoly on internet service access and the
ability to charge firms for “tiered” service.
• Business-Government coalition: The FCC
should work together with Internet Service
Provider (ISP) companies, telecommunication companies whilst heeding the concerns of the general public
through open, transparent dialogue to ensure that effective implementation of this law takes place and that
both businesses and consumers thrive in a free and open internet. A tripartite coalition can be established to
ensure that effective implementation of any legislation is thoroughly analyzed and drafted beforehand.
• Communication: Reach out to media outlets and other such public forums of discourse to ensure that the
citizenry is properly informed of developments in this policy

Next Steps:

President Obama and the FAA must work together to enact laws and regulations to ensure that agricultural use of drones is well-regulated, consistent with other air traffic regulations and balances civilian privacy. For
example, the FAA may pass regulations that drones have to fly below 500 feet, during daytime hours and within
sight of the operator. There should be a ban on flying the drone near airports, military bases and private homes.
It is essential that citizen’s concern for privacy are taken into account by the FAA when creating such regulations.
Strong penalties and fines should be established in order to discourage businesses and farmers from violating
these rules.

Endnotes:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Powell, Michael. (2004) “The Digital Broadband Migration: Toward a Regulatory Regime for the Internet Age”
Tatel, Judge. (2011) “Comcast Corp. v. FCC, 600 F.3d 642”
Policy Statement released by the Federal Communications Commission. FCC 05-151 (2005)
Obama, Barack (2014) “Statement on Net Neutrality”
Basu, P & Chakraborty, J. (2011) “ New technologies, old divides: Linking Internet Access to social and locational characteristicsof U.S. farms. GeoJournal, 76(5), 469-481. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.or/stable/41308635Pew-Zickhur and Smith

Meet the Science & Technology Center
Elizabeth Zelko
Elizabeth is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in
Computer Science. She is particularly interested in data and technology journalism in addition to software and web development.

Marc Alessi
Marc is currently a freshman at Cornell University studying Atmospheric Science. Other than being involved in the Cornell Roosevelt Institute, he is a brother of the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor
Fraternity and a member of the Cornell Chapter of the American
Meteorological Society. In the future, he hopes to work with computer models and research tropical cyclones or work for the National Weather Service.

Alex Maisel
Alex is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, studying
Statistics and Economics. Aside from the Roosevelt Institute, he is
heavily involved in the Cornell International Affairs Society and
enjoyed serving on his residence hall council this year. Inside and
outside of the classroom, Alex involved technology in all of his pursuits, and he hopes to work in data analytics after graduation.

Arielle Tannin
Arielle is a freshman studying Information Science. Sheis very
interested in the intersection of human-centered design and public
policy, as she believes that the changing technological landscape
calls for more innovative policy and government strategies than in
the past. On campus, she is a member of the project development
team on Cornell University Sustainable Design, an interdisciplinary
design-build project team.

Meet the Science & Technology Center
Daniel Oudolsky
Daniel is a junior at the School of Industrial Relations also pursuing a
minors in Law & Society and Business. He comes from Brooklyn, New
York. On campus, he is involved in WVBR radio, cornellradio.com,
Worker’s Institute Research Fellow, Cornell International Business
Association, and the Cornell International Affairs Society.

Michael Herman, Director
Mike is a graduating senior in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences studying Applied Economics & Management. Outside of Roosevelt, he is an Officer of the Cornell Digital Gaming Alliance’s League
of Legends subsidiary and your favorite employee at Temple of Zeus
Café. After college, he will be joining Microsoft as an Associate Consultant and anticipates a future in social entrepreneurship.