Research topic: Dark money and the midterm elections

Voting results in the midterm elections were likely affected by the shear amount of ads placed before the eyes of the voters. In the midterm elections 2014, an estimated $3.67 billion was funneled into media ads. When you’re deciding how to cast your vote on an issue it often helps to look at who supports and who opposes that issue.

Learn how dark money and the midterm elections are related. (Credit: The Westwire)

Learn how dark money and the midterm elections are related. (Credit: The Westwire)

But when issues are funded by dark money, you don’t know for sure who the players really are. Whether you’re a student of economics, political science, or business you might consider looking at the issue of campaign finance for your next research paper.

Capitalism v. democracy

According to author Timothy K. Kuhner, as of 2014 it costs approximately $1 billion to become president, $10 million to become a senator, and $1 million to become a member of the House. When so much money is required to gain elected office, can corruption be far behind?

In his book, Capitalism v. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution Kuhner explains how the Supreme Court has been instrumental in allowing politically powerful companies to gain control of the political system and turn the practice of economics to their favor. As a result, he sees the U.S. gradually changing from a democracy into a plutocracy where society is governed by the wealthy and not the people.

“Much of American democracy as we know it today can be explained by the fact that there is no limit to the total amount of money that candidates and parties can raise and spend, and that virtually all of that money comes from private sources, not the state,” Kuhner said.

Rules of the game

Kuhner isn’t the only one who is raising the alarm about the role of money in politics. Russ Choma provided his own analysis in his November 5, 2014, post for OpenSecrets.org, “Money Won on Tuesday, But Rules of the Game Changed.”

Choma pointed out that in the House races the candidate who spent the most money won 94.2 percent of the time while in the Senate races the figure was 81.8 percent. In many cases Democratic candidates raised more money than their Republican opponents but their funds were primarily from small donors whose identities were disclosed.

“Republicans made the most of their fundraising advantage and routed Democrats in Tuesday’s midterms, but they seized the majority in the Senate and built their lead in the House even as fewer donors participated in the process and more of the dollars came from secret sources,” Choma explained.

Dark money

If you think that none of this affects you then think again. Lee Fang exposed how this dark money can corrupt the political process and affect your financial future. Fang described the process in his November 5, 2014, post for PublicReport.org, “Sallie Mae Lobbyists Control Midterm Election Dark Money Groups.”

First a little background. Historically federal law has placed limits on how much individuals and organizations can donate to political campaigns and political organizations. But ever since 2010 those limits have been eroded.

In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the government could not restrict independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation.

This decision opened wide the door for super PACS (political action committees) to accept unlimited contributions from corporations, unions and individuals without disclosing their identities or the amounts contributed.

How this affects you, a college student loaded with students loans, can be seen in Fang’s article.

“Crossroads GPS and the American Action Network, according to filings, were two of the largest dark money groups in America. Both are organized under the 501c4 section of the tax code, meaning they do not have to disclose a dime of donor money,” Fang said.

According to Fang, these two donor groups are led by lobbyists who work for Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student loan servicer.

Fang questioned the extent that Sallie Mae supported the Republican candidates who gained the House majority in the midterm elections. Many of these candidates oppose efforts to rein in student debt, lower student loan interest rates and making it easier to discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy.

Currently an estimated 40 million Americans are carrying a total of $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. That is an average of $29,000 per person.

You can read more about politics and government at Questia where you have access to millions of full-text books, articles, newspapers and research tools.

Are you concerned about the role of dark money in politics? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Effects of California drought for your research paper

Some good research paper topics could be to write about the current years-long California drought, one of the most severe droughts on record. Farmers are especially hard hit as California is one of the biggest agricultural producers in the country.

This image shows the spread of “exceptional” drought in California. The latest data is from July 30, 2014. (Credit: The National Weather Service)

This image shows the spread of “exceptional” drought in California. The latest data is from July 30, 2014. (Credit: The National Weather Service)

Water shortages are pervasive and water conservation is key. For your next term paper, consider writing about the drought in California and its affects for the state and for the global economy. Read more

Influential business people for your term paper

Good research paper topics for your business class could include writing a biography of a leading or influential businessperson. Many business magazines create lists of top business people of the year.

There are many successful business people to research for your paper. (Credit: Business Review USA)

There are many successful business people to research for your paper. (Credit: Business Review USA)

You can research these lists for successful and interesting business leaders from which to write your term paper. Here are three short biographies to get you started. Read more

Books on the Industrial Revolution worth citing in your paper

Are you searching for books on the Industrial Revolution worth citing in your research paper? Well, you will find a great deal of high-quality, scholarly research on the topic.

Industrial Revolution sequence from London 2012 Olympics. (Credit: Jon Smith)

Industrial Revolution sequence from London 2012 Olympics. (Credit: Jon Smith)

The Industrial Revolution is a term usually applied to the social and economic changes that mark the transition from a stable agricultural and commercial society to a modern industrial society relying on complex machinery rather than tools. It is used historically to refer primarily to the period in British history from the middle of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th century. Read more

Research topics on “The Roosevelts” documentary

Theodore Roosevelt. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt. It may be hard to believe that so much influence and social good came from one family in the first half of the 20th century. But as Ken Burns’ documentary, The Roosevelts, spells out, these three individuals uniquely shaped the path the U.S. took during their lifetimes, as well as in the years since their deaths.

Family photo of the Roosevelts. (Credit: Library of Congress)

Family photo of the Roosevelts. (Credit: Library of Congress)

The PBS documentary offers a range of research paper topics on FDR, Teddy Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, including topics in politics and economics, social causes and women’s issues. Read more

Quality circles resemble a traditional organizational pyramid

If you are looking for management paper topic ideas, you might want to consider writing about quality circles. However, it may amuse you to know that their structure resembles a traditional organizational pyramid with a steering or executive committee at the top.

Learn how quality circles and pyramids resemble each other.

Learn how quality circles and pyramids resemble each other.

A quality circle is a device or tool used in businesses to improve productivity and job performance at work. Quality circles were first developed in post-war Japan as a means to boost the recovery of industry. Read more

Women in the Revolutionary War: From Boycotts to Battlefields

Are you searching for research paper topics for a U.S. history class? How about writing a paper on women in the Revolutionary War?

The Pentagon opened combat roles to women during the Revolutionary War. (Credit: Currier & Ives, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons)

The Pentagon opened combat roles to women during the Revolutionary War. (Credit: Currier & Ives, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons)

Women played a crucial role in the American Revolution (1775-1783) in a variety of ways, including boycotting goods to fighting on the battlefields. This was a period marked by controversies for women. On one hand, their roles were limited by the traditional stereotypes and regulations, while on the other, women felt the influence of the revolutionary spirit. Read more

Research topic on labor unions: Market Basket strike

In an unprecedented case, the 99% went on strike to help a 1 percenter get his job back. Good research paper topics for your business, economics or labor relations class could involve the case of the New England-based grocery store chain Demoulas Market Basket, which was paralyzed by striking workers demanding that their CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, be reinstated. Labor unions are nervous as non-union Market Basket employees were able to accomplish their goal on their own.

Non-labor unions rally outside a Market Basket, July 25, 2014. (Credit: WBZ-TV)

Non-labor unions rally outside a Market Basket, July 25, 2014. (Credit: WBZ-TV)

Business at the 71-store Market Basket was reduced to a trickle after non-union warehouse workers, clerks, and even store managers walked off the job, picketed, and discouraged customers from shopping at the store. Read more

SpaceX Dragon as your aeronautics research topic

Have you heard of SpaceX? Short for Space Exploration Technologies, SpaceX is a leader in the field of commercial space flight. NASA has purchased SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ships to resupply the International Space Station. Recently, the company, headed by Tesla Motors exec Elon Musk, aired a live broadcast of the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket on its way to put a new commercial satellite into space.

The SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: SpaceX.com)

The SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: SpaceX.com)

The company is looking to build a launchpad in Texas, supported by state and local funds. With NASA out of the space shuttle business since 2011, it has begun relying more and more on commercial space flight companies to support its missions. If you are looking for a good research paper topic in aeronautics, astronomy, or aviation, consider looking into SpaceX and other commercial space flight companies. Read more

Research paper topic ideas on immigration

The U.S. Congress missed its August 1, 2014, deadline for dealing with the thousands of child refugees at the U.S.-Mexican border. On Thursday, July 31, it became apparent that debate on immigration had stalled, leaving the asylum seekers with no resolution.

'Time Is Now' Immigration Reform Rally. (Credit: David Sachs / SEIU / Flickr)

‘Time Is Now’ Immigration Reform Rally. (Credit: David Sachs / SEIU / Flickr)

In July 2014, President Obama had asked Congress for $3.7 billion in supplemental funding to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the border. Yet the Republican-controlled House of Representatives could not reach an agreement on the passage of a $659 million funding proposal backed by the House leadership. For your next research paper, look to some ideas including illegal immigration, immigration reform or immigration policy for help. Read more