Professor Rodney Mock on Tax Preparation Software in the Wall Street Journal


Associate Professor of Accounting and Law Rodney Mock recently contributed to two Washington Street Journal stories on the recent influx in the use of tax preparation software and electronic filing. He discusses the problems arising from the “Turbo Tax defense,” which becomes an issue when taxpayers are faced with penalties from the IRS. When using a tax professional, the taxpayer is protected against errors by claiming reliance on the tax advisor. But, with more and more Americans opting to use tax preparations software such as Turbo Tax, there is no protection for the taxpayer in the case that errors were made by the software. Professor Mock discusses the fact that, while in most cases tax preparation software is beneficial, it can become problematic for more complicated tax returns.

He explains this concept in more detail in this interview with the Wall Street Journal, and in a follow-up article he wrote for the WSJ online:

Orfalea College Professors Win Awards for Excellence in Publishing


Two research papers by three Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business faculty members were selected to receive 2012 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence. The annual awards celebrate exceptional research published in the Emerald Publishing Group’s scholarly journals and books.

Economics Professor Michael Marlow on Government and Obesity


Economics professor Michael Marlow shifted his focus in 2012, starting off the year with the publication of two papers detailing the effectiveness of government intervention in the fight against obesity in the United States. The main question at hand is whether policymakers should step in to enforce healthy decision-making when it comes to eating right and maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity is an issue that costs nearly $170 million in health spending, so Marlow investigates the impact of the fast food industry on obesity rates in the U.S. and explains why intervention efforts from Washington have proven to be unsuccessful.

In the first paper, “FAT CHANCE: An Analysis of Anti-Obesity Efforts,” Marlow and co-author Sherzod Abdukadirov critically examine whether government policymakers can improve social welfare by implementing policies designed to remedy systematic mistakes made by individuals. Such policymakers rely on the findings of behavioral economics research—a rapidly growing discipline that studies individuals’ systematic biases—to justify “nudges” or “shoves” that steer individuals toward choices more in sync with their best interests. In effect, the belief is that they can exploit individuals’ departures from rationality in ways that correct what the policymakers view as irrational individual mistakes. Marlow and Abdukadirov focus on efforts to lower obesity prevalence and argue that government intervention in individual food and lifestyle choices is often misguided and too easily justified on the assumption that elected officials are better informed than the individuals they seek to guide. In addition to taxes, interventions believed to steer individuals toward leaner bodies—and thus improved lives—include regulations requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus and vending machines; bans on children’s toys at fast food restaurants; bans on soda and unhealthy food at schools; and bans on new fast food restaurants. Marlow and Abdukadirov demonstrate that intervention is often ineffective in remedying individual failures and that, in some cases, its actions are counterproductive in producing the desired result.

In another paper, Marlow and co-author Alden F. Shiers (Economics Professor Emeritus for the Orfalea College of Business) examine the hypothesized link between obesity and fast food by examining data on all U.S. states between 2001 and 2009 in their recently published “The Relationship Between Fast Food and Obesity.” The previous literature on this issue leaves open the question of whether fast food causes weight gain, whether overeating causes fast food restaurant availability or some combination of the two. After controlling for other factors that may influence obesity prevalence, they find no support for the view that fast food is a significant causal factor behind the substantial weight gain exhibited by the US population.

To view Professor Marlow’s publications from 2011, click here.

Professor Steven Mintz on the Ethics of Whistle-blowing


Steven Mintz, Professor of Accounting for the Orfalea College of Business, contributed to www.trust.org in an article about the ethics of corporate whistle-blowing in cases of fraudulent or otherwise illegal business practices. Mintz teaches ethics in business and accounting at Cal Poly and manages two popular blogs in ethical issues in business and society (www.ethicssage.com) and in the workplace (www.workplaceethicsadvice.com). In this feature, Mintz raises tough questions about when an employee ought to speak up against corporate malpractice and discusses the various laws that protect whistle-blowers who reveal sensitive information.

“The harm a company does to a community with unlawful practices outweighs the harm an individual does to one’s employer by blowing the whistle after attempting to right the wrong through internal means.” – Steven Mintz

To read the full story, visit http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/blogs/anti-corruption-views/the-ethics-behind-blowing-the-whistle.

John C. Rogers III, Professor of Marketing, 1944-2012


Professor of Marketing and former Interim Dean (1944-2012)

John C. Rogers IIIJohn Calvin Rogers III, professor emeritus of Marketing for the Orfalea College of Business, passed away on February 13, 2012.

Born in Annapolis, Maryland, Rogers was active in sports during his youth. He excelled in lacrosse and went on to play for Penn State University, where he earned his MBA in Quantitative Methods, on a scholarship.

Rogers earned a BS in Management from Point Park College in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Business Administration and Marketing from Virginia Tech. From there, he began his teaching career specializing in marketing research, quantitative models in marketing, and marketing strategies.

Rogers began his career at Cal Poly in 1986, and served as interim dean of the college in 1992-93. During his tenure at Cal Poly, Rogers taught abroad for one year at Kossuth Lajos University in Debrecen, Hungary. He and his wife maintained ties, professionally and personally, with the people they encountered overseas. “John had a passion for international travel. He fostered relationships with institutions that created opportunities for Orfalea College students and faculty,” Dr. Lynn Metcalf, Professor and Area Chair of Marketing, said of Rogers’ international experience. “Moreover, it impressed me that he created opportunities at every possible break to take his family abroad for extended periods and to expose his children to different cultures and habits of mind.”

Rogers is survived by wife Marti, son John and daughter-in-law Victoria, daughter Kristine and son-in-law Brian, and grandchildren Abigail, Lily, and Alexander.  As per his wishes, no services will be held.

To commemorate Rogers’ passion for international travel and learning, which he viewed as a powerful educational tool, his family has established a scholarship fund to assist Orfalea College students interested in studying abroad. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be issued to:

John C. Rogers Memorial Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 0665
Morro Bay, CA 93443

The Orfalea College of Business will also commemorate Rogers’ contributions to the college with a memorial bench, which will be located on O’Neill Green in front of the business building.