Volume IV, Issue 5: February 2012
Campus Events


Do 'super PACs' pose a danger to democracy?

Richard L. Hasen
Richard L. Hasen

"Super PACs," private political organizations that can raise and spend unlimited funds to support or oppose federal candidates, have played a crucial part in the presidential election season, and that has UCI Chancellor's Professor of law Richard L. Hasen worried. "I am concerned that super PAC spending will influence the outcome of close Senate and congressional races," he wrote in a CNN opinion piece. "And I am greatly concerned that when Election Day is over and the public will stop hearing about super PACs, contributions to these groups will skew public policy away from the public interest and toward the interest of the new fat cats of campaign finance, as members of the House and Senate thank their friends and look over their shoulder at potential new enemies."

Richard L. Hasen feature »

Memo to Greece: Quit the euro

Stergios Skaperdas
Stergios Skaperdas

While policymakers and foreign leaders struggle to keep Greece from going bankrupt and dropping the euro as its currency of choice, UCI economist Stergios Skaperdas has taken a different view: Default and return to the drachma, he advises the Greeks. In one widely quoted op-ed piece in The New York Times, Skaperdas argued that defaulting would allow Greece to become master of its monetary destiny and lead to a more sustainable debt burden and lower unemployment. "Greece must contemplate, and then undertake, an exit from the eurozone. The sooner a transition occurs, the better for everyone," he wrote.

Skaperdas feature: "It's all Greek to him" »

A call to investigate more suspicious elder deaths

Dr. Laura Mosqueda portrait
Dr. Laura Mosqueda

A recent report by ProPublica found that suspicious deaths of the elderly were often overlooked by coroners and medical examiners. Laura Mosqueda, director of UCI's Program in Geriatrics and co-director of Orange County's Elder Abuse Forensic Center, shed light on the problem: "Coroners will say, 'We don't have enough money to autopsy every old person who dies.' … [They] are using the fact that they can't autopsy all older people who die as an excuse not to autopsy any older person who dies." Mosqueda trains coroners and their investigators to recognize signs of elder abuse.

"Improving care for older adults" »

Neumark on making the minimum

David Neumark
UCI economics professor David Neumark is the co-author of "Minimum Wages."

Whenever the minimum wage rises, arguments over the increase's effects become more heated. While supporters say that bumping up the income of the lowest-paid workers is a step toward wage equality, opposing economists say that it forces businesses to cut jobs. David Neumark, director of UCI's Center for Economics & Public Policy, sides with the latter group. "I don't think there's any sensible economist who thinks you could double the minimum wage and not throw a lot of people out of work," he told NPR. The real debate, he said, is over the effect of smaller incremental raises on mostly unskilled workers: "The consensus from a lot of studies I've surveyed — including my own — says that a 10 percent increase in the minimum reduces employment of those very-low-skilled groups by about 1 to 2 percent."