Author: USC Admin

Blacks Consuming More Media — With Less and Less Control of its Content

Ernest J. Wilson III, dean of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared at The Root on Feb. 17.

Today, in early 2013, American media and entertainment face a curious condition. On the one hand, African Americans and other people of color are flocking to movies, Twitter, television and blogs in ever-greater numbers and percentages. We are huge consumers of media.

On the other hand, the Federal Communications Commission and the Hollywood trade and professional organizations report that the percentages of people of color (and in many categories, women) in senior positions are stagnant or actually declining. Minority ownership is also on the way down. With black ownership and executive ranks dropping, not surprisingly, black-themed shows are falling as well.

How to Slow L.A.’s Rising Rents

RAPHAEL BOSTIC, director of the Bedrosian Center on Governance, Price School.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 4.

Los Angeles, a city where 63.1% of residents rent their homes, is in the midst of a crisis in rental housing.

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development laid out the stark facts. Los Angeles rents have increased, after adjusting for inflation, by nearly 30% over the last 20 years. During the same period, renter incomes have decreased by 6%.

One important part of the problem is an inadequate supply of affordable rental units. Only 37 units are available and affordable for every 100 would-be renters living at the average renter income level.

Successful and Schizophrenic

ELYN SAKS, professor of law, USC Gould School of Law.

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Times on Jan. 25

Thirty years ago, I was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. My prognosis was “grave”: I would never live independently, hold a job, find a loving partner, get married. My home would be a board-and-care facility, my days spent watching TV in a day room with other people debilitated by mental illness. I would work at menial jobs when my symptoms were quiet. Following my last psychiatric hospitalization at the age of 28, I was encouraged by a doctor to work as a cashier making change. If I could handle that, I was told, we would reassess my ability to hold a more demanding position, perhaps even something full-time.

Mickelson’s in a Tax Trap

EDWARD J. McCAFFERY, professor of law, economics and political science, USC’s Gould School of Law.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN on Jan. 25.

Phil Mickelson, aka Lefty, is thinking of leaving California and perhaps America because, according to his own reckoning, he is facing tax rates of 62% or 63%. Mickelson, probably the second-most-famous professional golfer in the world after Tiger Woods, later backed off from his initial comments about making “drastic changes.”

Reports suggest that Mickelson earned more than $60 million in 2012. In that sense, he appears to be doing better than the Romneys, and perhaps you are not all that sympathetic to him.

The Problem With ‘Plug-in’ Volunteering

NINA ELIASOPH, associate professor of sociology, Dornsife College.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 21.

Monday, millions of Americans will honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering for community service. They will collect cans of food for the poor, ladle soup for the hungry and help the homeless. They will talk about their rewarding experiences, and the people they help will express their gratitude. Tomorrow, everybody will return to their normal routines.

The MLK Day of Service represents an increasingly popular form of volunteerism — setting aside a day or so to help the needy. “Plug-in volunteering,” as I call it, is the essence of Big Sunday, Make a Difference Day, Family Volunteer Week and other large-scale efforts. Short-term service accounts for nearly half of all volunteer activity in America. It serves many modern-day purposes: We’re making a contribution without taking too much time from our jobs and families, adding a line to our curriculum vitae or satisfying a community service requirement. And, of course, we’re sometimes giving temporary aid to the needy.

Deconstructing the Sandy Relief Numbers

LARRY HARRIS, professor of finance, USC’s Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 11.

President Obama asked Congress for $61 billion for various relief programs following Hurricane Sandy. The Senate approved the full request late last month, but so far the House has approved just $9.7 billion, for flood-insurance claims. The House will soon vote on the remaining $51 billion in proposed aid.

Sandy was an unusually large storm that did substantial damage to the Eastern Seaboard. More than eight million people lost power and perhaps as many as 100,000 were left homeless. Thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged along the coastline from Maryland to Maine.

Many people don’t appreciate how large these numbers are, in particular the size of the proposed relief. Consider some simple comparisons. The $61 billion aid package represents:

How to Escape the Debt Ceiling Limit

EDWARD KLEINBARD, professor of law, USC’s Gould School of Law.

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Times on Jan. 10.

The fiscal cliff may have been avoided, but an even higher-stakes political standoff — this time, over the federal debt ceiling — is just around the bend.

Congressional Republicans have said they will demand immense cuts to popular government programs in exchange for agreeing to raise the nation’s authorized borrowing limit of $16.4 trillion. The Treasury Department briefly nudged against that ceiling on Dec. 31, but used “extraordinary” financial measures to buy more time. If nothing is done, the government will soon be unable to pay all of its bills in a timely manner. This unprecedented event would profoundly damage the government’s credit rating and send the financial system into a tailspin.

L.A.’s Future Economic Engine: Silicon Beach

LUCY HOOD, executive director of the Institute of Communication Technology Management, USC’s Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 9.

What’s the future of L.A.’s economy? That’s a question that should be at the center of this year’s mayoral campaign. Key to that discussion should be recognition that Los Angeles, despite all its economic problems, is an increasingly prominent home to the next generation of technology companies that will drive the digital revolution in the 21st century.

Los Angeles’ tech awakening is unfolding in a slice of territory — dubbed “Silicon Beach,” which initially referred to Venice and Santa Monica and then expanded to Hollywood and downtown — where established giants such as Google and Apple have opened offices and where some 500 newcomer ventures have taken root. Silicon Beach culture, unlike Silicon Valley’s, is more consumer-oriented, drawing on art, entertainment and commerce to explore the intersections between technology and gaming, fashion, advertising and video.

Schools Are Hardly Gun-Free Zones

RON AVI ASTOR, professor of urban social development, USC’s School of Social Work and Rossier School of Education.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN on Dec. 21.

Last week’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, appears to have at least temporarily changed the debate on gun control and opened the door to new restrictions.

Following up on his pledge to “use whatever power this office holds” to prevent another slaughter at a school, President Barack Obama has said he will submit new gun-restriction proposals to Congress in January. But the obstacles to progress remain formidable, chief among them the political power of the gun-rights lobby in Washington.

The 2,000-Year-Old Prescription to Control Health Costs

DAVID AGUS, professor of medicine and engineering, Keck School of USC.

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Times on Dec. 11.

The inexorable rise in health care spending, as all of us know, is a problem. But what’s truly infuriating, as we watch America’s medical bill soar, is that our conversation has focused almost exclusively on how to pay for that care, not on reducing our need for it. In the endless debate about “health care reform,” few have zeroed in on the practical actions we should be taking now to make Americans healthier.

An exception is Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who is setting new standards that we would do well to adopt as a nation. In the last several years, he’s changed the city’s health code to mandate restrictions on sodas and trans fats — products that, when consumed over the long term, harm people. These new rules will undoubtedly improve New Yorkers’ health in years to come.