White Paper Teaser: The Work-Life Balance

Since the 1960s, the United States has seen a wave of social change carry over into the workplace. More than ever before, our society is centered on family life, and the new “necessities” for children, as well as the growing demands of work due to globalization, mean that parents are taking on more and more responsibility. Finding a balance between a career and family has always been tough, but never more so than now. With more women in the workforce, issues surrounding this delicate balance are gaining more attention, as they struggle to find time to manage all of their responsibilities at home and at work. Policies involving leaves for childbearing; support for breast-feeding or childcare; work hours, including flexibility in hours and overtime work; leaves for illness or family care; vacation time; and extra perks, such as food availability, gym accessibility, and other on-site health services can help ease the balance.

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

Just soakin’ up France

Get out there and see the world! Seriously, there is so much to see – and more importantly, to learn.

Some of the biggest issues we find in the world stem from a lack of cultural understanding. Often times, when another culture or way of life is so different from our own, it can be hard to accept those differences. Culturally, what is “right” and what is “wrong” isn’t always clear, and as humans I think we naturally have a desire to decide between the two.

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White Paper, Take 2: The Work-Life Balance

Hillary Clinton, the modern working woman

After attempting to narrow down my previous White Paper topic (climate change), I’ve decided to shift my focus entirely and delve deeper into issues surrounding the work-life balance.

When it comes to matters that affect this balance, the U.S. is far behind the majority of wealthy nations, and even some middle- and low-income nations. According to a study by McGill University’s Institute for Health and Social Policy, the U.S. falls shortest in of leaves for childbearing, support for breast feeding, work hours, and leaves for illness or family care.

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White Paper Proposal: Federal Climate Change Policies

I’ve been interested in environmental issues ever since I first learned of global warming. Over the last hundred years, the earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.4°F, with another increase of 2 – 11.5°F expected over the course of the next century. This may not seem like much, but on the grand scale of things, even the slightest increase can cause large shifts in climate and weather. For a period of time, scientists debated whether or not this warming trend was caused by human activities. While the vast majority of scientists now agree that this is true, the issue has grown into a political dispute, with the left and right wings arguing over the legitimacy and importance of the issue. 

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Cause for Concern?

If you were asked to name a philanthropic company, what would come to mind? Since its founding in 2006, TOMS has grown to become one of the best known “socially responsible” brands, receiving the Footwear News Brand of the Year award in 2010 and the Award for Corporate Excellence from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009.

The concept is simple: for every pair of TOMS shoes sold, another pair will be donated to a child in need. “One for one,” as they call it.

After a trip to Argentina in which founder Blake Mycoskie came across many children in poor areas without shoes, he recognized the problems these children and their communities face without shoes to wear – not just in terms of health, but also in education and future opportunities. For example, providing shoes to children who were previously unable to walk to school would then allow them to do so.

So how is TOMS doing in fulfilling its mission?

In 2010, four years after its founding, TOMS surpassed the one million mark in shoe donations, and by October of 2011 that number had doubled (check out the 2012 TOMS Giving Report). In April of this year, participants at over 3,000 events in 50 countries and on 275 campuses around the world joined in TOMS’ “One Day Without Shoes” movement to bring awareness to the cause. Fueled by the simplicity and tangible nature of its cause, TOMS has continued to grow in popularity.

Some opponents have pointed out, however, that the shoe drops orchestrated by TOMS do little to solve underlying problems. Free shoes, while solving certain issues in the short-term, fail to benefit the local economy or provide jobs in the long term. This video, based on details from a report by Good Intentions, an organization that provides research to donors on charities, claims that shoe give-aways compete with local markets.

In an article with Women’s Wear Daily, however, Mycoskie acknowledged this problem, stating that TOMS hopes to install a factory in one of the areas it helps, and that a test location has been set up in Ethiopia. The long-term goal is “to have shoes made by the people we are serving.” So while the current model provided by TOMS may have shortcomings, it seems that bigger and better solutions are on the horizon.

America’s favorite pastime

As I’m sitting here watching the A’s about to beat the Tigers (wishful thinking), I realized I don’t know a lot about the business of baseball beyond Moneyball. In some sorts, the idea of baseball the game being a business, an overarching corporation, never really crossed my mind. In fact, I hadn’t heard about baseball’s monopoly exemption until today. Having gone to baseball games all my life, it just makes sense to me to have one Major league. It’s a game, not a big business. Except…it is. And a really really big one that’s been allowed to flourish totally unchallenged at that.

So here’s the deal. Despite U.S. antitrust laws, Major League Baseball has been able to completely monopolize the baseball market (that seems so odd – “the baseball market”) since the American League joined with the National League in 1903. With the success of this alliance, of course, other leagues came about in an attempt to challenge the AL/NL partnership. Most notably, the Federal League, which in 1914 was perceived by fans as another major league, filed a lawsuit against the MLB in 1915 on the grounds that the MLB operated as a monopoly. The case was eventually dismissed, and the Federal League was split up into the AL and the NL. No other case has come close to challenging MLB’s dominance since 1972.

My question is, if baseball can effectively have an exemption from antitrust laws, why can’t other sports have their own exemptions? What makes baseball different from, say, football – another all American sport – which has multiple competing leagues? Granted the National Football League is clearly the dominating force in football, other leagues, like the Arena League or the UFL, do in fact exist. What’s keeping baseball, and the government for that matter, from stepping up to the plate on this?