Category Archives: prompt 1- past blogs

The Commodification of Love

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” Albert Einstein
In a past blog, one writer highlighted the issues of modern relationships in Japan and the U.S.  In Japan they have created cuddle cafes and have prostitution rings to replace what used to be normal relationships. This essentially has commoditized love and the affection that comes along with it. In the United States, we have also drifted towards a similar trend that is based on convenience. The author goes so far to compare online relationships (hook-ups included) to the convenience of fast food.
In many ways, I agree with the author. More developed societies, such as in  Japan and the United States, have placed love and relationships on a lower level of importance and replaced it with using electronics and time spent furthering one’s career. However I don’ think the root of the problem stems from just the extended use of electronics (similar to the quote above) or convenience, rather its a deeper rooted problem
This problem is linked to the competitiveness of capital and allocating your time optimally so that one is most efficient. I think its the idea that people rather work over time to further themselves in their career, then come home to eat dinner with their family. We are taught to be ambitious, learn to make sacrifices, and eventually become successful, but time is a limited commodity. So people have to find a balance between those two. Somewhere in the equation I think the want to go through relationships, the process of getting to know each other, go on dates, and either become successful relationship or break up (it’s only on or the other if you look at it) is lost. It’s too much of an emotional and time commitment, that people forego it all together because they can’t justify the costs. So the creation of online dating is created because people do not time to meet the “good old fashion way,” since they are stuck at their jobs on a Friday night, or they are working too many jobs.
Lastly, I think disagree with the title “Money apparently can buy you happiness” because happiness isn’t what one would feel after leaving a prostitution ring or a cuddle cafe. So money still can’t buy happiness.

Teaching What Matters

As I was browsing through past blogs, I came across an article with a picture of a checkbook and the title “Teaching What Matters.”  It immediately caught my attention, as I have long wondered why schools and universities choose to omit certain useful lessons in their course offerings.  I read a book over the summer called “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” in which the author offered explained how to become more financially literate.  He described how schools teach everything from art history to literature, but do not offer courses on personal finance, which is a huge part of life.  I’m a finance major, and even I haven’t learned about mortgaging a house, managing my credit, file my taxes, etc.  I am inclined to agree with Dan, who wrote the initial blog.  Rather than learning about it in classes, I have found myself purchasing books on personal finance at Barnes & Noble, hoping to prepare myself well for the real world upon graduation.

Why is it that the American education system finds it so necessary to teach students skills that seem so impractical (such as how to write in iambic pentameter), but refrains from teaching those students important life skills?  I believe that sometime in the future with the decline of our nation’s economy, the education system will be forced to teach students more practical skills so that they can become independent earlier on in life.

Teaching What Matters

This blog from last semester brings up an interesting question that many college students have most likely asked themselves. Over the last four years I have taken several classes that will most likely not directly benefit me in the future. Spending a semester taking French 101 as a sophomore may have been better spent furthering my knowledge of accounting or learning about economic history. Of course many people would disagree with this, since it is generally seen as beneficial to understand other cultures and languages. However, considering two years later I have forgotten just about everything except how to say my name, a skill I could have picked up from a quick Google search, is it still really beneficial?

Dan brings up the point that while a history class is important so that history does not repeat itself, it may be less important than teaching the average student to balance their own checkbook. He continues by saying that technological advancements cannot be made without some students learning high level math, but that this knowledge is the exception. We should be teaching each student to balance a checkbook if they do not wish to take calculus. Instead of wasting their time and energy learning math they may never use, they should take a class that gives them a more well-rounded education through furthering another aspect of their knowledge. Dan makes the great point of introducing skills such as first aid into the idea of a liberal arts education.  At the end of the day, most educators are not going to agree that removing a foreign language or calculus course from the curriculum is a good idea, but with rising tuition rates and frustrated students, this may not matter in the future.

Individual Sustainability.

A past blog post that caught my attention was titled “Sustainability, Redux” which starts off by prompting us “How would you define sustainability?” Then further asks us to examine the relationships between sustainability and capitalism, which are very big issues to tackle together. It then takes us to an older blog post Sustainability & Bucknell, talking about sustainability from a management perspective. When we think about these topics, I think we need look at it on a macro level and the other external factors in our society that capitalism may have caused discouraging our society and people to make unsustainable decisions.

I think in the US culture specifically, there is a sense of individualism that has been instilled within our culture. This creates a culture of people who worry more about their own individual self-interest and success. With the advancement of technology, our society is filled with various technologies, social media, and distractions that create a realm, where we view our own individual selves as the center of our lives. I may be saying that we are living in a society that is selfish, but this ideology is building a greater disconnect between the environment and ourselves. Our culture encourages individuals to be competitive with one another, fostering the need of out-doing the people around you. It is harder for the individuals in our society to look past their own needs unless it directly affecting them. We tend to care more about individual achievement and overlook the big picture of the correlation between humans and environment. Many individuals see social change as a bigger picture, but many who choose to pursue change in society don’t receive the instant gratification or see how it has impacted the bigger picture. This is the point in time when individuals choose to step down from the throne and just conform to our societal norms.

Some questions I have for people to think about are:

  • What are some things that we can do for our larger society to look past our individual needs to see the connection development, sustainability and growth?
  • Are there deeper issues that we need to tackle first for individuals before we address the bigger picture?

1-React to Past Blog

This blog post is about the NFL potentially withholding information about head injuries from its players.  I found this topic interesting because I have followed this issue relatively closely over the years and I am still not exactly sure where I stand.

Of course I think it is terrible for the NFL to hide information from former players, but then again it has been known for quite some time that repeated hard hits to the head cannot be good for someone. The NFL has taken many actions in the form of rule changes of which drastically change the game so as to improve the numbers on head injuries and concussions.  In addition to this, most players love to play the game so much, that they openly accept the negative health effects of the game.

For this reason, I think this blog post should most likely be rephrased in order to create a situation in which you imagine yourself getting an offer for your dream job but you know it will have significant negative effects on your health for the rest of your retired life; however you want the job so much that this may be worth it to you. What would you do?

Who is Accountable for Child Labor: A Response

In her blog, Kelly Pont addresses the issue of child labor. She points to the problem of third world poverty needing to rely on their children to work to provide adequate sustenance juxtaposed with the first world demand for cheap products and consumer ignorance. She sees transparency as a huge step in the right direction to fix this problem.

I completely agree. I believe that our culture is a major factor in foreign child labor. While most Americans would not knowingly purchase products made by children, children provide the cheapest labor and a lot of American companies knowingly or unknowingly purchase raw materials from operations that exploit children. I am definitely not an expert in this issue. However, it stands to reason that a significant part of the problem can be alleviated through knowledge and transparency. US companies must be held accountable for their supply chains and US consumers must be more informed about the products that they are purchasing.

US regulations that mandate companies know the processes by which the materials they need are collected could be a foreseeable solution. More mandates for companies to post this information in a public forum would decrease first world demand for these products. Maybe demand would even increase for more sustainable products that pay third world adults a living wage. That’s idyllic, but not impossible.

The problem with this solution is the timeframe. Big government pact ion such as this is not likely to come any time soon. So for the short-term rather than putting blind faith in companies consumers should look for companies that are sustainable leaders in their sectors. There are responsible options out there. Research into companies before buying a product. Look for companies that are benefitting the universe. Until the government swoops in, we have to act as smart consumers and do our part to decrease demand for products that utilize child labor.

The Prison Wage Problem

Talk about equal labor rights often centers around large multinational corporations exploiting cheap labor in poor countries in Southeast Asia. However, the issue of injustice in prison wages here in the United States is starting to make headlines. From a blog titled “Injustice In Justice,” Colleen examines the issues surrounding labor rights in prisons and makes the argument that low prison wages are the root of a much larger societal problem.

Here are the numbers: about half of the 1.6 million Americans serving time in prison have full-time jobs. The vast majority of these workers, almost 700,000, still do “institutional maintenance” work such as mopping cell block floors, preparing and serving food in the dining hall, mowing the lawns, filing papers in the warden’s office, and doing laundry. Compensation varies from state to state and facility to facility, but the median wage in state and federal prisons is 20 and 31 cents an hour, respectively.

After reading this post, I decided to do some research before making an informed opinion on the topic. What piqued my interest was whether or not prisons are stealing business from private manufacturers on the basis of low wages. I found an article that talked about how certain government-run enterprises that employ inmates are stealing business from private companies. One such enterprise, Unicor, employs over 13,000 inmates with an average wage of 23 cents an hour. With some exceptions, Unicor gets first dibs on federal contracts over private companies as long as its bid is comparable in price, quantity and delivery. This is making private companies like American Apparel very angry, given that the popular clothing brand pays its employees an average of $9 an hour plus benefits. Should Unicor be required to pay prisoners more in order to lower the cost discrepancy between it and private companies? Colleen would argue that this would not only be better for business but help better prepare inmates for life after prison. But as a taxpayer, do we want our taxes to go up because the government has decided to pay prisoners higher wages? For now, it appears that Unicor’s low wages are a very competitive advantage in certain industries.

What the Future Could Hold

From the various themes of past blog posts, I found one in the Ted Talks section that stood out to me the most. Leah Garden wrote “Times, They are A’Changin” about Lord Nicholas Stern’s discussion about climate change and what countries are and are not doing about it. After reading her blog, I watched the Ted Talk so that I could have a greater understanding of what she wrote about in her post. Stern discussed climate change in relation to cities, energy, and land and how all three are interconnected. Both Stern’s presentation and Leah’s post interested me, because I am interested in being a real estate developer with a focus on sustainability. While building buildings has always been an interest of mine, when I went to Copenhagen in the fall of 2013, I took a sustainable design class and my desire to build sustainable buildings became more than an interest, it became a passion.

Both Stern and Leah wrote about their experiences with the smog in Beijing, and how this experience showed them where the world could be heading. While I have never been to a city surrounded by smog, my experience with learning about sustainability in Denmark made me much more knowledgable about the changing climate around the world. In 1973, Denmark had an oil crisis that transformed their entire country into the place it is now: a country entirely dependent on the oil from the Middle East to a country with a goal to be using 100% renewable energy by 2050 (they are already above 40% renewable power). Along with this energy goal, Copenhagen is striving to be the best biking city in the world (it is currently ranked 2nd behind Amsterdam) and they have a 180% tax on cars. With simple goals and new policies, Denmark completely transformed itself into one of the leading countries in sustainability.

Leah mentions in her post some of Stern’s examples of model countries for more sustainable living. However, they both acknowledge that even with several countries taken steps in being more sustainable, the world is moving to slowly to keep up with climate change. I agree with this statement. This is one of the reasons why I have set my life on being a sustainable real estate developer; I want to do my part in creating some incremental level of change in the way we live our lives here in the U.S.

The Misunderstood Millennial

“Your generation doesn’t communicate properly”, “Your generation this”, “Your generation that”… I’m tired of hearing the same phrases whenever alumni come to speak in a class or whenever I go to meetings with people who have joined the workforce 20-30 years ago, and have now reached to successful positions in their careers.

Nowadays, the term millennial carries a negative connotation, especially within the workplace, since managers, who belong to “different” generations than us, seem to think that millennials are not prepared enough to enter the workforce. Some statements that are pulled from Bentley University’s preparedness study, such as “68% of corporate recruiters say that it is difficult for their organizations to manage millennials” or “59% of business decision makers and 62% of higher education influentials give recent college graduates a C grade or lower for preparedness in their first jobs”, summarize the opinions of managers about hiring millennials. These facts may have held true 20 years ago, when the rules were rigid, but the world, as well as the work force and its rules are now changing at a faster pace. As the Forbes articlsuggests, millennials might not be prepared for the 9 to 5 work hours, or the red tape and hierarchical work structures, but that doesn’t mean that we are not “prepared” overall. We are more creative, tech savvy and fast, all of which are characteristics that add value to the workplace. This positive side of the millennials hardly ever surface, and usually is left behind the shadow of all the “lazy”, “unprepared” characteristics. Knowing this, maybe it’s not the millennials who are not prepared to enter to the workforce, but the workforce which is not prepared for the millennials with their new and innovative ideas. Maybe the workforce needs to adapt to the changing generation and get rid of its rigid rules before putting the blame onto this booming generation.

After reading the More Similar Than You Think” blog post, I was curious to find out how millennial I was. I got a score of 91, and I have got to say that I am proud to be a millennial. Even though, on the surface our generation is seen as the lazy and sloppy ones, I believe that we are a very misunderstood generation, which has a lot of potential and positive characteristics that can improve the world we live in. I hope that in time the corporate recruiters and managers will see these better characteristics, which will help to lift the negative connotation from the word “millennials”. In a world where the change is constant, I believe that the rules and norms of the society should be made more malleable and adapt to the changing generations.