All posts by Robbie Spencer

In Comes the Inequality: Time to Push it Out

We live in a world dominated by capitalism. It rose to prominence with the end of feudalism and has remained the dominant economic system of developed countries ever since. With the rise of developing countries due to globalization, capitalism is only going to become more a more prevalent (if not the only) economic system in an increasing number of the world’s countries. With that in mind, it is important that we understand the inherent traits of capitalism and to actively seek out a way to develop a sustainable form of capitalism that does not result in negative social change. One of these inherent traits is inequality—we need proper incentives to be productive, to work hard and to be innovative. Therefore, some inequality is inevitable; however, the question is how much inequality is too much and when it becomes a problem. A major form of inequality comes in the form of individual income, which is a much debated topic, as it represents how much an individual is compensated for the goods or services that individual provides.

Income Inequality White Paper


Dream On

A few weeks ago I was sick with the flu and spent the day in bed.  As I lay there, too sick to do anything (even Netflix was out of the question), I faded in and out of sleep.  At one particular moment, I remember staring at the ceiling and drifting into unconsciousness.  The next thing I knew I was on a beach with the cast of Entourage (a favorite show of mine that I had been watching the day before), ready to board a private jet.  I remember how ecstatic and privileged I felt to be living the high life with some of my favorite television characters.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Entourage, it is a show that follows an actor from Queens who moves to Hollywood with his brother and two best friends and makes it big.  In other words, it takes the viewer into the world of a movie star, consisting of eating rich foods, meeting important and powerful people, and attending exclusive events.  The clip below provides a better glimpse into the lifestyle I am referring to: Continue reading Dream On

I’ll Have the Rata-Louie

Louis CK is by far my favorite stand-up comedian.  His sense of humor is extremely sarcastic (and very dark at times), and it is centered around questioning and satirizing the many socially accepted conventions of modern Americans.  He plucks out common every day situations that most people ignore and accept and really lays out in great detail why they are so ridiculous.  Not only is he unbelievably effective at delivery of humor, but his material is also both completely universal and exceptionally accurate.   Continue reading I’ll Have the Rata-Louie

The Great Recession

Mr. Musk,

I propose that you invent a solution to a problem that affects the life of every person who has ever lived, but is rarely spoken about.  It is a problem that worsens as we age and only makes life more difficult as it gets worse, and to be honest I am not quite sure why there isn’t already a good solution to it.  This problem is gum recession.  Depending on how well people care for their teeth and gums and in which behavior they engage, their gums can recede significantly, which can lead to tooth mobility and loss.  Strong teeth (and teeth in general) are such a necessary part of our lives–we can’t eat without them.   Continue reading The Great Recession

One Bison Burrito? $12.62, please.

I came to college expecting the food to be relatively mediocre, as I had heard stories from older siblings, cousins, friends, etc.  So, I was prepared to take on shitty food–however, I was not prepared to pay ridiculously high prices for that shitty food.  There aren’t many dining options at Bucknell–as a freshman, you have unlimited swipes in the caf (so you have no concept of money), but as an upperclassman you pretty much just eat in the bison with “dining dollars.”  You could eat somewhere downtown that takes campus dollars, but trust me–it’s not worth the effort of actually trying to obtain this mystical currency.  Why log on to myBucknell and enter your bank account’s routing and account number in addition to a bunch of other personal information so you can eat at Subway when you can just sign your name on a sheet at the Bison for dining dollars and eat there? Continue reading One Bison Burrito? $12.62, please.

Amateurism: An Excuse to Exploit

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s website states that it is a “membership-driven organization dedicated to safe-guarding the well-being of student-athletes and equipping them with the skills to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom and throughout life.” It is a non-profit association that regulates athletes of 1,281 institutions, conferences, and organizations. In 2014 it generated nearly a billion dollars in revenue, 80 to 90 percent of which was from the Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, commonly referred to as “March Madness.” Since the organization is non-profit, every year it distributes whatever revenues it doesn’t use (about 60% on average) back to Division I member institutions through five separate funds as well as to each conference through a grant.

Technically, each of the five funds is designed to serve a specific purpose—for example, the Academic Enhancement Fund “enhances academic-support programs at Division I member institutions. Common uses include tutorial services, equipment, supplies and additional personnel.” The Basketball Fund is distributed among conferences based on how they performed in the tournament over the past six years, so each team has incentive to perform well. However, the NCAA website states that institutions may “use the money as they choose.” So, although the NCAA designed specific purposes for each of these funds, it does not regulate how each university uses the money received from each fund.

Continue reading Amateurism: An Excuse to Exploit

Amateurism: A Principle Accepted Only By Amateurs

“Amateur competition is a bedrock principle of college athletics and the NCAA. Maintaining amateurism is crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority.”  The NCAA, or the National Collegiate Athletic Association, has long used the concept of “amateurism” as its reason for not compensating college athletes.  It claims that college athletes are students first and athletes second, and that compensating the athletes would prohibit them from “obtaining a quality educational experience.”  However, in recent years there has been much debate about the validity of this claim and whether or not amateurism is truly in the best interest of the students and not the schools they attend.   Continue reading Amateurism: A Principle Accepted Only By Amateurs

Patagonia–My Type of Company

I read a book called “Let My People Go Surfing” for a class on Strategy I took last semester.  It was written by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia.  In it, he explains how and why he started the company and the type of environment he sought to create for his employees.  He started out selling climbing equipment in order to pay his bills and eventually built what is now one of the largest outdoor clothing & gear companies in the world.   Continue reading Patagonia–My Type of Company

Do Great Places to Work Do Great Things?- Blog 6

The idea here is to follow Fran Hawthorne‘s lead in Ethical Chic and check if places we want to associate with, corporations with admirable qualities that we want to associate with, are as great across the board as they are at being good to work for.  (Think: most of us thought it would be good to work for an organization that strives for Kantian practices… those kinds of organizations).

See what you can learn about how well they are ethical and ethically chic? Continue reading Do Great Places to Work Do Great Things?- Blog 6

Taking Advantage of the System

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a television show on the FX network that is about a crew of five people who own and operate a bar in Philadelphia.  The main characters are extremely self-centered and manipulative, and often find themselves devising schemes for their own personal gain (even if it means jeopardizing the well-being each other).  The show has become a cult hit and is often compared to Seinfeld because of the selfish nature of the main characters.  It often uses dark and crude humor to outline some of the issues in modern America.  In fact, since the characters are so corrupt themselves, they often participate in behavior that is a direct result of such issues.  It is one of my favorite TV shows, and every time I watch an episode I can’t help but laugh out loud at the extremes the actors are willing to go to in order to get a message across.  To me, each character represents exactly what not to become and how not to act.

In the episode “Mac Fights Gay Marriage,” two of the characters, Frank and Charlie, take advantage of marital benefits.  In one of the scenes, Charlie and Frank are in the apartment they live in (Frank is the very wealthy, Charlie is not), and Charlie begins to complain about his back pains.  In the past, Frank has paid for Charlie to visit a chiropractor.  However, in this scene, Charlie comes to the revelation that if he and Frank get a domestic partnership, he can get on Frank’s health insurance plan and reap the benefits of marriage.   Continue reading Taking Advantage of the System