Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Season for Giving

I give all credit to this post to Professor Larry Iannocconne from GMU. Although, I had never had a class from him; listening to podcasts, his debate with Professor Caplan(GMU), and other sources helped me to understand the reason for giving gifts.

We spoke before upon the issue that gifts are not efficient. If you don't remember you can find it here. Now it is true that it is inefficient because we do not have perfect information; but what is it about the winter holiday season that gives it a name like "The Season for Giving"?

We have one season, one season for as individuals in a capitalistic society to break off time in order to help others. Why is that? Shouldn't we do it year round? And the thought of not giving presents on birthdays and holidays had simply left some with a foul taste in their mouths. Is it because they wished to receive gifts, or perhaps, the pure enjoyment of giving? It is actually more than selfish reasons of wanting to receive or give.

We give gifts in order to show others we care. It is inefficient upon the lens of individuals, but as a community, as a family. It unites the individuals to not look only upon themselves, but to others in hope of being something more. Some families do not need to give gifts because there is no need as they are already so close, but then there are those who live distant from one another, who once a year get a moment to unite and show that they care. The gifts are shared not necessarily to make yourself feel good or make someone else feel good, but to bring everyone closer, to build the community/family. We are social beings after all...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Peak Oil

I know that peak oil has been an interesting topic in the comments on this blog, so while doing some research I found an interesting website for all those who believe the world is running low on peak oil. Hope it helps. You can find the website here. Don't forget to watch the 3 minute interview with Daniel Yergin, one of the co-authors of Commanding Heights, also made into a PBS movie.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The End to the Academic Achievement Gap?

It has been a few years since the No Child Left Behind Act was introduced. It was meant to close the gap between the minority and the white students, yet according to many articles like the one I linked in the title above, the gap has not closed as it had been projected. I won't enter a rant on the government's efficiency in accomplishing their projections, but I will deter from all the journalist who are writing articles to bring light upon the No Child Left Behind Act which has not accomplished its task. Instead I want to discuss something that is directly involved with the students whose test scores are looked upon with curious eyes.

I think we have to begin with some questions, are minority students terrible students? Are whites and asians better students than others? Or perhaps it refers back to family. I think the data is a bit misleading. There are great hispanic, black, indian students. I have met them, studied with them, even enter into conversations full of depth with them.

The case though refers to family. A hispanic family, whose parents work jobs in order to maintain the household, do no have time to speak to their children about the daily news or minor teachings. While as the white family has parents with more free time to support and nurture their children through their school days. I am not going to stereotype the minority groups and explain the theories behind why each group's stereotypical family does not have time to encourage their children in school. Not that they do not want to, but sometimes there is a higher need. Perhaps both parents work leading to the eldest to not worry about school as much as his/her siblings. Other times the parents are never there allowing the child to do as he pleases. There have even been studies upon white families give their children incentives (money, car, others goods) for doing well in school while as, the minority groups usually can not afford to give such incentives to their chidlren.

The No Child Left Behind is a kind a thoughtful policy, but let us face it. You can have all the opportunities you would like, but without allowing the children to have an incentive to study, you only have an open door that leads to an empty room. The tests do not prove that the children of minority groups are less intelligent than the whites and asians. The tests prove that families that are well off create children who study better and have better test taking skills. Yet, if we alter the test and create a test that would test upon survival skills (not neccessarily in the middle of the jungle, but what is needed to survive); we may find the minority students to perform better. It would only make sense as most minorities have spent time and gained experience developing the skills. Now I am not preaching to create policies to close the income gap, only wished to deter the topic from No Child Left Behind. A cute policy, with no gain due to problems it was not meant to solve.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Giving to the Needy

This past weekend a religious group went into the Nation's Capital to give food. They were not going to spread the Word of God, but to spread the love that they could give to those who felt had none.
What occurred was miraculous. Many were grateful for the giving without any cost. The poor, the well off, who ever was walking down the street was encountered by a warm smile on a chilly, rainy day. There was no preaching, only a giving of love. Loneliness was something that almost died that day to those walking in the city. The giving of food, the listening to stories shared while huddling under a form of shelter, to even a chat over if the Redskins would win that day(they unfortunately lost).
Yes, I know this is getting long, but here it is, the main event. While going through the city, the group had encountered another religious group giving out warm food, but the other group was spreading the Word of God and not allowing anyone to receive or eat until after their plan of the day was complete. The cost of time to the needy for food was high. They could have been working. As the group spreading love approached the site of the preaching, they encountered a few people who were hungry. Soon after the needy found that the group full of love had food. The numbers that were waiting for the warm food came in a flood towards the group who only wanted to spread love. The point is give to give. Don't give in search of getting something in return. That is a payment for work. If it is salvation of the people you seek to spread do not give them incentives that would make the people even worship the devil such as food to the hungry, or medicine to the sick. There was a well spoken gentleman who approached to get a bag lunch. He had a sign in his hand to which he huriedly returned to since he had work to do. He was holding a sign at the intersection. The sign read of a store's final closing sale. He did not have time to listen to the lecture or wait in a long line for warm food. He had work to do. The cost is high. Give to give. Learn from the group who only wished to love. Love is not spreading of wealth evenly as it does not give incentives, but of giving as to allow them more time to work in achieving their goals and receiving their incentives. You give to show your love, to show you care. Mother Teresa continously gave, and in return the whole world mourned to her death. Give to give not in hopes of a return of your investment. If it is an investment you want, then it is not a giving, but a trade. A trade of goods, services, faith, etc.