Time to think? Universities are starting to self reflect on their contribution to our culture.

Widener Library on Harvard Campus
Widener Library on Harvard Campus
Is the time-honored tradition of Fraternities and Sororities coming to an end?

A committee announced on Wednesday, July 13, 2017, that they recommend that  Harvard completely forbid students from joining “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations.” They feel so strongly about it that they wish to replace existing penalties for members of the social groups that are set to go into place in the fall.

Harvard is not the first University who is grappling with the problems caused by these “private” clubs.  Amherst College, Bowdoin College, and Williams College all prohibited undergraduate participation in fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations in recent years.

Undergraduate Council Vice President Cameron K. Khansarinia, class of 2018 said the proposed policy completely “takes away personal responsibility and choice” from College students—and that it is unlikely to be effective.  “It’s simply going to either force [the clubs] underground or literally dry out any semblance of social life on campus,” Khansarinia said. “It’s really not the right way to go about this.”

The faculty needs to guide Harvard into the present-day realities and prepare students for life in a gender neutral world.  This is an issue that needs to be addressed in most traditional colleges and society at large.

Department of Labor Statistic about workforce participation by sex.
Department of Labor Statistic about workforce participation by sex.

Several of the social clubs, for instance the “Fly Club”  are seeking legal council on how they can fight the effort.

Statistics about rape point in a direction that something really needs to be done.
Rainn provides data that shows that sexual violence on campus is pervasive.

    • 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).2
    • Among graduate and professional students, 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.2
    • Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.2
    • 4.2% of students have experienced stalking since entering college.

Student or not, college-age adults are at high risk for sexual violence.

    • Male college-aged students (18-24) are 78% more likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.1
    • Female college-aged students (18-24) are 20% less likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.
University culture have a profound impact on overall culture around the world.

In June the Harvard Crimson reported:

Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat.

A handful of admitted students formed the messaging group—titled, at one point, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”—on Facebook in late December, according to two incoming freshmen.

In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.”

No one would dispute that people who engage in threatening deaths and child abuse and find it humorous or in anyway acceptable should not be let loose on society, much less on a top notch educational institution.

Is it time to think yet?

The “Fly Club” an all male institution retained an attorney who made some interesting points in an op-ed in 2016.   Silvergate:

"The report acknowledged the correlation between alcohol-fueled partying and sexual assault, which we believe implies that forcing independent organizations to go co-ed would only lead to an increase in the high-risk encounters that lead to assaults. Their proposed alternative is to create a blacklist of non-complying organizations, thereby abridging the freedom of association—a bedrock principle of our nation’s constitution—for its very own students.

This latter course of action is particularly galling: Harvard appears to be moving towards a policy that would expel students simply for membership in a club, while it simultaneously fails to properly adjudicate sexual assault cases. The University is blaming an entire class of students for the condemnable and illegal conduct of a small minority—a clearly backwards approach to community safety."

He later goes on to state:

"We are witnessing a return to the College operating in loco parentis, as it attempts to both dictate social-sexual norms and limit students’ independence. Harvard bureaucrats continue to expand their numbers while also attempting to bring independent single-sex organizations, including the Final Clubs and the growing number of Greek letter organizations, under their control, if not to eliminate them entirely.

Unlike past debates about sexual mores and student liberty at the College, undergraduate students appear unperturbed by, if not supportive of, this assertion of administrative control over their private lives, while the Faculty of Arts and Sciences seems to have little influence with regards to the issue. The administration is leveraging the current political climate to achieve policy goals that will unfortunately do little to prevent sexual assault, but will certainly make Harvard more illiberal."

In my opinion there is much to think about and the trend to have “Big Brother” forbid you to get drunk and rape people instead of encouraging public debates that allow a culture of inclusion, respect and with humanistic values to thrive voluntarily, is a debate that does and should go on and on until we all live in a free society in which everyone is safe from assault, and free to excel at their own personal highest level.

Equality in a society where women make up more than 1/2 of the work force is a must have.  Being able to feel safe is a need that both women and men should be able to enjoy.  How to accomplish that reality should really become part of the public debate.  Forbidding public gatherings of like minded people may just drive the activity underground and it may be unconstitutional. Eliminating “wanna be” and actual racists and rapists should be a must for every educational institution.  Racists and Rapists need therapy not more easy access to victims.  However driving racist and misogynist attitudes underground may not be a long term solution for our society either.

When studying Victor Frankl someone who has experienced the worst of human kind in person while he was incarcerated by Nazis during the Holocaust, we may learn that we have to raise our expectations of each other and teach our young future leaders to thrive and foster their wish and their ability to create “Lives with Meaning”, people who are happy and content while working on making life better for everyone. This is what moves people to feel content.  Busy and content leaders don’t have time to be jerks.  Most jerks are either unhappy and insecure or are pathologically damaged. As we know from some of our current public leaders being a jerk does not make you popular and the ill manners actually make people more lonely and give them a craving for attention and love that will stay unfulfilled. Nobody likes these lonely jerk or brute. We have to aim higher for our students. We need to encourage them to be the better.

Maybe it is time to bring back the education that is deeply rooted in the Humanities that sets the aim high and encourages students to create a better world.

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Trump Country – An Update Report

President Trump
President Trump, courtesy Politico

During the past five months of Trump being in charge 863,000 jobs were created. During the same period last year 955,000 jobs were added while Obama was still in office.  On July 5th this year, Gallup reported: “Last week, Americans’ confidence in the economy averaged a score of 0, the first time in the 33 full weeks since the presidential election that the index’s weekly average was not positive. ” Full Report

In a recent NYT article of Today, half of American jobs pay about $37,000 or less each year, a quarter pay about $23,000 or less, and a family of four qualifies for SNAP at $32,000 or less. No wonder just over half of all SNAP families work, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. In America, “real” poverty is not about a lack of work, but a lack of compensation.

Trump has run on a platform of addressing this issue by “Making America Great Again” by creating jobs.  So far this has not come to pass and slowly the public are losing faith in his “Art of the Deal.”

The US is in trouble it is no longer the land of the free and it is not the land of opportunity.  Our research shows that in many respects it never had been.  

National Conference of State Legislatures shares that in Oklahoma the minimum wage in 2017 is $2.00 per hour.

Oklahoma Employers of ten or more full time employees at any one location and employers with annual gross sales over $100,000 irrespective of number of full time employees are subject to federal minimum wage; all others are subject to state minimum wage of $2.00 (OK ST T. 40 § 197.5).  National Conference of State Legislatures.

How can people survive and pursue their happiness on wages like that? Meanwhile the cost of living index in Tulsa Oklahoma is only 24.42% lower than in New York City.

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 2,790.93$ without rent (using our estimator).
  • A single person monthly costs: 807.71$ without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Tulsa is 27.42% lower than in New York.
  • Cost of living rank 215th out of 507 cities in the world.

Realtor.com suggests that a 1 to 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment in Tulsa costs between $526 to $2,280 dollars per month which is of course much lower than the monthly rents in NYC $2,815 for 340 sq ft up to $22,000 for 2400 sq ft, or the San Francisco monthly rents of $2,815 for 340 sq ft to $13,500 for 2240 sq ft. The minimum wage is $9.20 to $11.00 depending on employer size in NYC and $14.00 per hour in San Francisco as of the time of this article. It is impossible to find a decent place to live on a minimum wage and it is little wonder that people who were raised believing in the American Dream are turning to suicide as a solution to their life issues at record numbers.

Housing Crisis and Fraud at all time high

Countries with a strong middle class are economically strong.  Only after owners and investor of large companies, and political policies support a strong middle class will the country stop the trend toward becoming a third world nation.

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American Battle: Which is more important? Wealth or Human Rights?

Photo courtesy Hillsdale College http://online.hillsdale.edu/
Photo courtesy Hillsdale College http://online.hillsdale.edu/
The Battle between Wealth and Human Rights is nearly 250 years old.

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoted the ratification of the United States Constitution with articles and essays that were collected and are still available at The Federalist Papers.*

Within these articles and essays these founders outlined their thinking about creating a federal union. They urged people to allow wise and experienced men who have the public good in mind to counter balance the needs, wishes, and desires of individual states. They believed that a federal union would better safeguard national borders, treaties with foreign nations.  National Government would enforce the laws for all people better, instead of having individual states or individuals fall prey to undue influence for personal gain, personal wealth creation, or a desire of personal power, or by foreign powers.

The Federal Papers were used to educate American voters about the benefits of balancing individuals and individual states’ freedoms with the public good and freedom as well as safety and overall wealth for all.

It is amazing how topical these papers are still today when we are engaged in the same exact battle once again.   It is obvious that the current administration and the Congress is not occupied by educated, experienced and wise men who strive for what is best for everyone.  The Constitution which was written with the public good in mind is now under constant attack.

Freedom of the Press is under attack by a President who has falsified Time Magazine covers decorating his golf courses.  He recently stated that the Constitution is “old-fashioned.”

The health care bill that is currently proposed by the House and the Senate leans strongly toward wealth creation for the few, instead of the public good and freedom for all.   The desire for individual wealth and power trumps the desire to protect freedom and safety for all.

The current administration who won due to manipulating the voting regions by gerrymandering, does not have full public support. Trump undoubtedly won over a lot of the working white class voters by promising to improve the health care system.  Now instead his party wants to eliminate coverage for millions, lower coverage for those who are sick, and increase the premiums for when the policies are used when needed. This translates to the fact that millions more will either not be able to afford healthcare as soon as they get ill or they will go bankrupt trying to pay for medical expenses. In Alaska for instance Premiums for a 60 years old man will go up to $34,000 per year a high price to pay even in a state that offers above average median wages ranging from from $84,000 to $37,284 per median family incomes.

Clean water is under attack by the chosen head of the EPA.  Millions of acres of public lands are leased to oil and gas companies with a history of causing oil spills ruining the environment.  The Secretary of State, Tillerson has a known history of ignoring, if not supporting human rights offenses, by working with government known to steal from their inhabitants and in some cases killing entire villages to be able to provide Oil companies, like Exxon, with drilling rights.

In an op-ed piece in “The Hill” David Abramowitz, points out that looking for short term wealth for the few often hurts human rights for the many in the long run.

Right now the US is run by people with a history of siding with Human Rights offenders.  Trump is publicly friends with human trafficker and known child molester Jeffrey Epstein, who ended up with very little jail time due to the Trump’s family intervention; Tillerson who was nearly sued by Indonesia for human rights offenses but “let go by W. Bush;” Joe Sessions lost his bid for the Supreme Court for his racist comments and attitudes;  Steve Bannon, known for garnering support of the KKK, Neo-Nazis; Mike Pence, known for his ties with the tobacco industry and support of ultra conservative Christians oppressive and dangerous to LGBT persons; Sebastian Gorka known for his help to Russia overthrow Democracy in Hungary; and of course Manafort, Flynn and  Trump’s own son in law; Guiliani who consulted helped prop up dictators like Duterte, Erdogan and created havoc in Venezuela.  The list is too long for this article.

It may be a good idea to reread the Atlantic Monthly Time Capsules as we watch Democracy, Human Rights, Ecology, Education, and everything that has made this country great in the past under attack.

Will the battle for democracy and freedom for all people, regardless of sex, race, religion and national heritage as outlined in the US Constitution be won – AGAIN?

* Kindle Edition free from Amazon and the Gutenberg Press.

 

 

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Whether you have a plan or not, you will get there.

Company who got funded
Company who got funded
Communication & culture determines business success

Whether I worked with a tiny start up like the one above, or Microsoft when they grew from 24 people to thousands, or major Fortune 1000 companies like for instance HP,  or a brand new entertainment company, it is usually easy to spot who will more likely succeed.

Ironically, it is not how breakthrough the company’s concept or the management team is on paper. It is also not the access the team has to VCs, Customers, and Vendors due to their Alma Mater, Or, even how chic their equipment and office furniture may be and how huge their marketing budget is initially.  Of course, all these factors help tremendously,  and of course without a functioning product or services success stays elusive.

What is so striking to me still, after providing strategic advice to companies during their rapid growth phase for so many years, is how much internal communications affects a company’s overall success.

I found in my many years of assisting people succeed, often from the two guys or ladies’ with an idea on a napkin at an affordable coffee shop phase to literally becoming billionaires. Quite a few of them anyhow and millionaires still count, right?  The success often hinges on the way the teams communicate with each other inside the company.  This is often an underrated success factor.

Are the founders/managers listening and hearing what their teams have to say?  Are they staying informed about what the teams are actually working on? Or, is everyone creating their own little business model without letting the rest of the team know?  Are people and their contributions valued?  Are they encouraged to contribute? Do they feel that they can grow their own career within the company by helping the company grow. Or, do they feel that their ideas are disrespected or worse stolen, are they treated like minions, do they feel used and abused.  Very often when the first or second venture money arrives, it quickly becomes apparent who can handle success without loosing composure.  Attitudes matter.

Companies, no matter how large or how small,  improve their success rate tremendously if they insisted that people communicate with each other in an empowering and honest way. The corporate culture is always linked with top management. Today the HR teams have a lot of influence, not always for the better. Whoever is in charge of hiring has a great influence over a companies’ success or failure.  Every new individual brings their own culture into the enterprise and adds or subtracts from the overall success of the company.  The culture determines if the company stays informed, nimble and quick – yet steady, reliable, and solid. Successful companies typically somehow manage both by nurturing a culture of open and mutually respectful internal dialogue.

A quote that I often share with C-level managers:  “Whether you have a plan or not, you will get there.”

If the company has a plan everyone has a chance to move forward toward the common goal.  If there is no plan, everyone may very well move in different directions, messing up the chances for success.  If there is a plan that only the top managers know, the company functions as though there really is no plan. Only if everyone on the various teams understands the overall plan, likes and buys into the plan, sticks with the plan or improves and carries out their own part of the plan, has the company a solid chance for success. This is true at every phase of a company’s growth. Lack of mutual respect ruins companies. Sometimes when larger sums of investor money arrive some people get grandiose or create cliques. It is no fun to watch people lose money through foolishness and arrogance.

A small company maintains a solid sense of direction and cohesion by having regular meetings in which people in the various departments share how they move toward meeting their miles stones. An open communication style rooted in polite behavior and mutual respect allows everyone to help improve the companies’ cohesiveness and allows the prompt removal of obstacles to success.  As the company grows it is still needed that hundreds of people share their own progress and concerns on how to improve their abilities for mutual progress.  At that point, having a clear communication flow vertically, horizontally, and across different departments is ever more important. By the time communication flow needs to filter through team managers the corporate communication culture becomes vital to the company’s health.  For many years I heard financial manager say “stay out of the weeds.”  Yet, if you don’t know about an overgrowth of weeds, the growth of the crop may be strangled before top managers or the board finds out about needed fixes. Think Uber CEO!

Strategic governance allows departments to stay focused on future goals while dealing with issues in the here and now.  It helps a company stay realistic and in tune with their vision, mission, the company’s values, and manage available or missing resources.  Team members, whether male or female, will not get defensive if they stay regularly informed about market changes, delivery issues, needs or opportunities in the various departments. In healthy companies there are no problems only solutions! It’s a matter of the corporate culture’s attitude toward issues.

A cohesive team will freely identify and manage challenges, and turn them into opportunities.  They will avoid unnecessary risks and make sure the entire company is legally compliant, while allowing the company’s individual divisions adapt to remain relevant to the overall success of the company.  Company’s who have constructive policies about sharing, evaluating, and acting on new information without getting distracted from their overall plan have a greater chance for success.

 

 

 

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Today, Supreme Court in US decides to support Trump for the first time, twice!

Hungarian Jews arriving at camp being separated
Hungarian Jews arriving at camp being separated
Unlike Comey, Gorsuch must have sworn complete and unwavering loyalty to Trump.

Trump is jubilant.  The now conservative US Supreme Court, supported by his appointee Justice Gorsuch, has ruled that his Muslim ban is partly okay until the time they will look at it in October.  Experts seems to agree that this is a sign that the Court will uphold his ban in October.

He and his son-in-law recently sold $110 Billion dollars of weapons to the ultraconservative Muslim country of Saudi Arabia, which is known to poison young people’s minds all around the world through their state supported Imams who prejudice against women, Christians, and are known to promote ISIS and attacks on Westerners.   But, money talks in Trump land. If you pay you get to play, if you are poor you get prejudiced against.  None of the Muslim nations whose citizens are now bannedhave as many known terrorists as Saudi Arabia.  So why aren’t the Saudi Arabian Muslim’s banned?  Why are only Muslims from oil-poor countries banned? Maybe because they are “useless” to the likes of Trump and his supporters who seem only interested in the Mighty Mammon.

Unfortunately, Democrats don’t seem to have any strategy to change the system, except to ask for their daily demand for small bits of money, as though being willing to ask for small donations is a badge of honor in the money driven world of Nancy Pelosi.  No wonder voters are turned off by both parties.

The second ruling supported by the now conservative US Supreme Court is to abolish separation of Church and State.  Yes, the Lutheran church merely wanted to have the state to pay for their children’s playground protective rubber mats. Seems benign, right?  However, as the Constitution is once more ignored they have now set yet another precedent.  First “Church-going” people don’t have to sell cake, they don’t have to support women’s health, now churches can demand tax dollars, and soon?  Well, it seems we are well on our way back to the Middle Ages.

The news about right-wing success is encouraging others to come out of the woodwork.  Hungarian Leader Orbán today honored Hitler and Himmler supporter Miklós Horthy, who was personally responsible for collaborating with the Nazis in sending over 600,000 Jews to the death camps. Today this mass murderer is celebrated in Hungary as the US lost its way and the Supreme Court ignores the Constitution, again.  This is a sad day in history and soon young people around the world will have to choose between Life and Death, again.

In the Federalist No. 2, “Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence” for the Independent Journal, written Wednesday, October 31, 1787 we find:

"It has lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object. But politicians now appear, who insist that this opinion is erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and happiness in union, we ought to seek it in a division of the States into distinct confederacies or sovereignties.  However extraordinary this new doctrine may appear, it nevertheless has its advocates; and certain characters who were much opposed to it formerly, are at present of the number.  Whatever may be the arguments or inducements which have wrought this change in the sentiments and declarations of these gentlemen, it certainly would not be wise in the people at large to adopt these new political tenets without being fully convinced that they are founded in truth and sound policy.  

It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, wide-spreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty."

Perhaps there is hope in this text that was written so eloquently nearly 230 years ago.  Apparently the debate about State Rights and Federal Cohesion of the USA has been going on for a very long time. Maybe this great country will survive this latest onslaught of personalized greed and stay democratic after all – eventually.

 

 

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Travel industry will suffer, consumer prices will go up, cyber crime will go through the roof.

No more laptops on planes with the US as destiny

Making America great and relaxed again. Cut off from the world and with diminished numbers of enthusiastic  international business people bringing money and customers to the US the economy will suffer. Perhaps Americans should embrace the Amish life style?  Plant a garden and live life without any connection to the crazy media world?

But since when there is a will there is a way, government sponsored terrorists will simply use private Jet Planes. They are terrorists and they are funded, ironically by countries who have often held long and close relationships with the US government.  Europeans are not on the top lists of global terrorists.  They are too busy working, drinking beer at local festivals and going to the opera.

As international business people are forced to use public cloud systems, cyber crime will rise to an all time high. Which is a risk that many companies will not wish to deal with.

When computer illiterate people are in charge this may seem like a good idea, since they are completely unaware of the unintended consequences.

As imports are strangled and business customers can’t shop in the US anymore in a convenient way, both B2B and consumer prices will skyrocket. It may create local jobs for some of the basics.  There is always perfect balance in the world. Gardening equipment will go up as people have to grow their own food, due to loss of income.

Business internationally will be forced to reorient and Jean-Claude Juncker who recently got in trouble for stating that the “English language” is loosing its importance – just may become right with the help of some computer illiterate leaderships around the world.

It probably would be less costly and much more effective to just have a public relations campaign that promotes: “Buy Made in the USA” or “Assembled in the USA” products.

The fall out of such a decision will negatively affect the travel industry, tech industry, most exports, and it will practically force nations around the world to deal with each other and forgo business with the US, until this country’s business leadership comes to their senses.  While corporations are people and they can clearly sponsor anyone into power, they have chosen some real doozies lately.  They have eroded the middle class to an all time low since World War II.

The people in charge seem not to realize that trade is a two-way street. You cut off one way and you automatically cut off the other way as well. There are a lot of nations who will love to step in to fill the void.  US lifestyles will suffer but international business people from around the world will always find a place to their investment dollars.

Out of 7,347,000,000 there are only about 321,000,000 Americans and only about 58 Million Brits. That means that over 7 Billion people and their business élites are not controlled by the US government. The reason why the US and England were so successful in the past, is that they were fairminded business people who wanted to create mutually beneficial financial relationships.  Clearly that is no longer celebrated or even supported by the US government, except in genuinely international businesses like Space Travel and the development of life in space.  NASA is entering into more and more genuinely international relationships as the support in the US is diminishing since several administrations in a row.

International business execs are not controlled by anyone, since the can simply move to another country that is more supportive of their business ventures. I imagine this will be great news for Canada, Scandinavia, Brasil, and of course China, Vietnam, Japan, and India, and even Russia and the ex-Soviet States as the Silk Road gains importance.  Enterprising Europeans will look elsewhere for business that is enjoyable and profitable.  Theresa May was annoyed when Jean-Claude Juncker snubbed her about the English language loosing importance.  And he is often quite arrogant!  But unfortunately lately his arrogance is not entirely unreasonable and occasionally even understandable.

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Meditation is known to soothe wild hearts

It is a fact that meditation will help us lower high blood pressure. Lie down or sit with a straight spine. Get comfortable and listen to this wonderful music.

One of our favorite tuning services is Amplifield out of Marin County, California.

Amplifield.com has been founded by Jason Todd. It is such a valuable service.

You can attend classes, purchase seminars, or join like-minded people to meditate with you, or even support your mediation or you can support others’ intentions.

Check it out.   www.amplifield.com

 

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