We must vote for those candidates of any party that reflect these values: hard work, self-determination, smaller government, fiscal responsibility and honesty. Look to the character of anyone you chose to support. Their past does matter if they haven't learned from it. Their personal life is as relevant as their public one. We must be able to trust those who will be advising and leading us on what our country must do next. -Glenn Beck

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Racism, Rudy, and Reality

I am currently taking a business ethics class at a local university. The past couple classes we have been having a little role playing mini debate. Let me give you a little background of the debate.

We are taking the role of an admission committee for a medical school. We are choosing from two different students who are on different waiting lists:

  • One, a male named Ben, is at the top of the waiting list in the Traditional Pool. The traditional pool mainly looks at quantitative numbers, such as GPA and entry level test scores. Ben received a GPA of 3.8 from Yale University and scored in the top 15% on the entry level tests. Ben grew up in a family that was well-off and he had a lot of opportunities presented to him (he was well taken care of even before birth, put into nice schools, etc).

  • The other applicant is a woman named Bonita. Bonita is in the top of the list of the Diversity Pool. The diversity pool not only looks at the quantitative numbers mentioned above, but also looks at other factors, such as community involvement, life situation, etc. Bonita didn't graduate from high school. Later in life, her employer suggested that she should go to a local university. Bonita went to the university and graduated from with a 3.6 GPA and scored in the top 30% in the entry level tests. Bonita did not grow up in a great family. She was born with a mild case of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She was not presented with the same opportunities of Ben. She had to drop out of high school to help with her family. She has been involved with and volunteered for many different community activities.

And that’s the basic scenario (if you really want, I could probably get the entire scenario and stick it up here). For two days, we have been debating on this situation and who should be accepted into the medical school.

We got to choose our sides and we are able to switch sides at any point. I chose Ben's side. The point that keeps coming up (from Ben's side) is that he scored higher then Bonita. Plain and simple. Before and after class, I have discussed with Ben's side and this is exactly the reason that everyone on Ben's side is trying to get Ben admitted. He went to a highly esteemed school and got a 3.8. He also scored in the top 15%. Bonita didn't score as high. I can honestly say that I didn't even take race (or any other factors) into consideration, as I'm sure most of Ben's side didn't either.

Towards the end of the debate on day one, we were called racists by one of the people pushing for Bonita. The paper scenario the professor read to us, did not once mention race. The fact that Bonita is a minority, is not a fact, it is just an assumption.

Towards the end of the debate on day two, we were called sexist. A lady in the class asked if the roles were reversed (aka Ben was the less-fortunate who scored lower and Bonita was the well-off who scored higher) would we have chosen the same? Yes we would have. We were looking at the FACT that Ben scored higher (not to mention it was Yale university) than Bonita (who attended a local university). Nothing else. So had Bonita scored higher on both her GPA and entry level tests, I would have been in Bonita’s camp.

Both of these people (the person that called us racist and person that called us sexist) seem to have pretty liberal view points. I don't know if they are liberal or not. But it did get me thinking about liberals. In the case of the debate, they want the underdog to win. There's nothing wrong with that. Having the underdog win is great. It makes for great entertainment. It makes everyone feel motivated that they can accomplish anything. But even though it is great to have the underdog win, in life we have to have some kind of guidelines, rules and benchmarks to live by.

Let's take a couple of movies for example. “Rudy”. Rudy wasn't instantly let into Notre Dame. His grades weren't good enough. So what did Rudy do? He tried harder. He went to a school that he was accepted into and tried to raise he grades. Semester after semester he tried get into Notre Dame and he kept getting rejected. Finally, when his grades were good enough, he was accepted into Notre Dame! He wouldn't have appreciated what he had accomplished nearly as much, if he was just let into the school.

“Pursuit of Happyness”. Chris Gardner came from horrible circumstances. But he wasn't handed the position. He had to fight for it. He had to get the best test scores. Which he did! He turned his life around by his hard work!

These are the best kind of underdog stories. These stories wouldn't have been nearly as good if they didn't accomplish their goals by their own merits and they just had it handed to them. In fact, there probably wouldn't have even been movies or books written about them and their stories.

Here’s another example. Let’s say one of the contestants of the Biggest Loser made it to the Olympics as one of the top competitors in the 100-yard dash. Then on the day of the race, they finished only a few milliseconds behind a contestant that had grown up running (and being in shape) with the goal of making it to the Olympics. We wouldn't give the Biggest Loser the gold medal just because of the journey they had completed. They didn't earn it. But, I would still applaud them for all they had accomplished.

Bottom line, we all want to see people succeed. But we have to live by rules. Rules are what make society possible to live in. And just because we live by rules, doesn't make us bad people. It doesn't make us sexist or racist either.

(And p.s. you can apply this to anything: health care, welfare, immigration, etc.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Letterman & The Great Depression

I watched Rand Paul on David Letterman the other night. I have to admit I was not really impressed with Sen. Paul. It was the first time I'd heard him speak, and he seemed pretty unrefined. I felt like he didn't represent the conservative viewpoints really well. He came out of the debate as the loser in my opinion. The worst part is that he didn't need to be the loser.

I found myself wishing I could be sitting in the chair responding to the points Letterman was making. Here's the full clip:



I have watched Letterman a lot over the years, and I personally think he falls into the category of a liberal whose heart is in the right place, but who is misguided on how to arrive at the correct outcome.

RAHAL LETTERMAN

Most of Letterman's points have to do with the fact that there are a huge amount of middle class people who are unemployed, and the conservatives want to cut taxes for the wealthy to solve the problem.

Letterman framed the tax cuts as being some sort of a reward for the wealthy. The frustrating thing was that Rand Paul responded with figures about how much tax the wealthy pay, which just reinforced Letterman's argument.

If I could have responded in that moment, here is what I would have said:

"Dave, Let me ask you a question. You are obviously among the top 5% of income earners in the U.S. Think for a second about what you do with your money. You obviously buy goods like houses, cars, food and such. But where does the rest go?

"My guess is that you invest the bulk of your money, and the money that you invest allows businesses to employ workers. I happen to know that one place your money goes is to the Rahal Letterman Racing Team. It's one of your passions, and you have invested a lot of money and time in creating a racing team that (according to your website) now employs at least 65 people.

"You also started a production company called Worldwide Pants that has produced shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, and currently produces the Late Show and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, among other projects.

"How many people does the Late Show employ? How about the Late Late Show? How about Worldwide Pants? Between all of your investments over the years, how many jobs have you, as one wealthy person, created? All of these people wouldn't have jobs if it weren't for your investments.

"The reason we want to give tax breaks to the wealthy is that those tax breaks will lead to an increase in investment in business. Businesses will be more wiling to take risks because the opportunity for reward is higher. The economy will be spurred on by investment."

1929

My mind was wandering as I was driving home today, and I had a thought come to me that I felt proved this principle. I was thinking about the state of the economy and that led to thoughts about the Great Depression. What was it that caused the Great Depression? The major cause, as we know, was the stock market crashing in 1929.

But that always confused me as I was growing up and studying history. How many middle class people do you know right now that have a ton of money tied up in the stock market? If you're like me, there are very few. Most of us in the middle income bracket are just trying to make ends meet.

To me, it made sense that really wealthy people would have lost out big in a stock market crash because they had so much money tied up in investments, and they would be hurting. But I felt like if the stock market crashed right now, it wouldn't affect me at all, because I relatively little money invested. So the middle income earners in 1929 with no money invested should have been just fine, right?

Well, as we know, that was not the case. Unemployment rose to 25% during the Great Depression. How did that happen? The wealthy people and businesses who were creating the jobs had lost everything and no longer had the ability to invest.

The thought I had as I was driving home today is: So if the wealthy losing money leads to losing a ton of jobs and a nation descending into a ddepression (as history has proved), would it not also stand to reason that the wealthy gaining income through tax cuts would lead to an increase in jobs and the wealth of a nation?

Someone explain to me where I'm wrong.

GIVE A MAN A FISH...

I really do believe that Letterman is a kind person at heart. He currently makes $38 million each year. If he were to decide that he wanted to help some unemployed families out at an average household U.S. income of $45,000/year, he could help out 844 families.

Better yet, if Bill Gates decided that he wanted to dedicate $38 billion for the same purpose, he would help out 844,444 each year. The only problem is is that there are currently 6,200,000 people unemployed.

Handing money to people is not the solution. It is simply unsustainable. That is why a wise businessman like Bill Gates choses to take his money and form the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that provides computers to underpriviliged nations. They understand that by raising the education of nations, there will be more individuals who are income-producing and less who are income-consuming. The individuals will get better jobs and earn more income, which will give them more income to spend, and the ball starts rolling. They are trying to create a sustainable model that will not take a $38 billion invesetment... only to require another $38 billion the next year... and the next year... and the next year...

CONCLUSION

The true way to create wealth in a nation is to create jobs, and that is not going to happen through giving money to low income earners or by the middle class. It is going to happen through the wealthy, as the Great Depression ironically proves.

What Letterman doesn't understand about the conservative call for tax cuts is that the outcome we desire is the same -- That there be no poor among us. We want everybody to be wealthy.

The station we all want to get to at the end of the track is the same. But the train conservatives take is named "Sustainability", and the train liberals take is named "Handouts". One of these two will run out of fuel and never arrive at the station.