Archive for the ‘Wisdom’ Category

I hope you enjoy this guest article by Glen Graham.

In the real economy privately earned profit is a collaborative effort. The general public contributes to the earnings of the private sector.

In his recent op-ed in the New York Times, Warren Buffet argues that the rich do not pay enough taxes and that the current tax code is therefore unfair to lower income earners. Read the full article here.

Warren Buffett is a very rich man, so his call for higher taxes on himself is noteworthy. However, his article fails to address a basic point. The negative response that greeted Buffett’s article reveals that many well-educated people still have no idea how the real economy works. Many still think that calls for higher taxes on high income earners is simply a way to “screw the rich,” as a recent Washington Post article put it in response to Buffett’s op-ed.

The Washington Post article goes on to argue that “the government should be starved of income and be forced to spend money where it’s supposed to – defending the border, establishing a trusted currency, and protecting property rights.” Whenever the government tries to do anything else “everyone gets poorer.” Social welfare is really a way of stealing from the rich and giving it to the poor. Instead we need to make “people dream of getting disgustingly rich, and then let them go out there and do it. After that, we celebrate them so that more people get the idea of getting rich, too. It’s what makes Silicon Valley work. And everyone benefits, even the people who don’t end up rich.”

The aim of the Washington Post article — to highlight the plight of the rich, who must suffer the wrath of the poor and always remain in danger of getting screwed over by government — is truly ambitious. Look out oppressed rich people! The socialists want to steal your privately earned money; they want to make “everybody poorer.”

The argument is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how the economy actually works. In the real economy privately earned profit is a collaborative effort. The general public contributes to the earnings of the private sector. Every year the public makes huge investments in infrastructure, research and development grants, university education, and various forms of subsidies to private business. This is public money for the benefit of private profit. This contribution is vital to the economy.

How the Public Sector Contributes to Private Business

For instance, private corporations cannot bear all the risks required to invest huge amounts of money in expensive new technology. This is why most recent innovations, such as the development of the internet over the last few decades, have taken place with government involvement.

Another example: Consider the amount of money future generations will have to spend on cleaning up the environment after years of neglect. Will the private sector coordinate and pay for this effort? No, this will be the responsibility of citizens working publicly to protect public goods – something no private entity would ever or could ever initiate on its own. Corporations exist for one reason only: to make money. They are not designed to protect or sustain shared goods.

We may not like our current economic system. But the fact is that the government shoulders the risks of private enterprise and invests in the public goods required for the economy to function well. We simply do not know what it would be like to run an economy as complex as ours without some public coordination and planning.

It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Fair

Governments are not inherently good; they make mistakes. Governments are often influenced by special interests and often make decisions based on political calculation (for instance, take a look at the influence of money on politics under the administration of Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry in Texas). However, in democratic societies the public at least has the opportunity to influence elected officials. The public has very little influence on the behavior of private corporations.

While our economy will continue to reward private initiative, the public must also share in the profits of the private sector. This is because the public contributes to its stability and success in the first place. Warren Buffet’s call for higher taxes is therefore a question of fairness, not a question of “screwing the rich.”

Your Two Cents

Discussions about economic and political systems bring out the passion in people. So share yours with us! Do you agree with Glen?


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With my father
I would watch dawn
over green fields.
by Kobayashi Issa

Lately I’ve been noticing more and more a growing number of dads picking up their kids from daycare and school. They’re on the subway, on the bus, in the street giving them an afternoon nap in their strollers, playing with them in the local park. It fills my heart with joy to see all the fathers so involved in their children’s lives. It used to be – at least it was when I was growing up – that Mom did that while Dad went to work. But I think this way is better – in fact, it’s been proven.

According to a Father Involvement for Healthy Child Outcomes: Partners Supporting Knowledge Development and Transfer (April 10, 2007) by Jessica Ball, M.P.H., Ph.D. and Ken Moselle, Ph.D., there is a lot of research proving the impacts of a father’s involvement on children.

Father’s involvement results in:

  • Enhanced Cognitive functioning and higher IQ
  • Better academic achievement
  • School connectedness
  • Higher educational attainment
  • Resiliency
  • Lower levels of depression
  • Life satisfaction
  • Self-acceptance/higher self-esteem
  • Less stress
  • Attachment
  • Supportive social networks
  • Positive peer relations
  • Empathy
  • Conformity to rules, conventions, values ethical standards
  • Less delinquent behaviour

The above is a summary of research conducted by Allen and Daly (2002) and Ball and Pedersen (2004). Source: www.fira.ca/cms/documents/123/PH_FI_Report_brief.pdf

So here’s to the Dads who’re making better people out of our children.

And no one is more deserving of thanks and respect than my husband, father to our beautiful 2.5 year old girl. Thank you, honey, for all you do for me and for our daughter. We need more Dads and husbands like you in this world!

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The ruby is among the most highly prized of gemstones. Large rubies are harder to find than large diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. As a result, the value of a ruby increases with size more than any other gemstone. In the Orient, rubies were once believed to contain the spark of life – “a deep drop of the heart’s blood of Mother Earth,” according to ancient Eastern legends.

In Praise of Wisdom

“Better Than Rubies” is a strange name for a blog, I’ll give you that. It was inspired by the Wisdom literature of the Bible, part of the Ketuvim (the Writings) of the Hebrew Bible.

For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Proverbs 8:11, New International Version

I think that too many people today have stopped listening to the wisdom imparted by former generations, by literature, by writings of holy books, and by sitting down and just meditating on life and how we fit in it. I know that I myself have gone into autopilot mode for the past few years. And who wouldn’t when you’re working full-time, raising a toddler, maintaining a classical musical training, all while trying to have a meaningful relationship with your spouse and some semblance of a social life. I have stopped meditating or even just sitting down without the TV on and thinking. But that ends now and I hope you will join me in my journey of seeking wisdom.

In Praise of Women

I am also fascinated by the use of rubies as a comparison for “a virtuous woman.” When I read that, I don’t think of the old fashioned notions and roles that women held in past generations. I think of character, strength, independence and fierce courage. I believe that’s what it takes to be a virtuous woman today – a woman that leaves behind a trace of goodness, compassion, and inspiration wherever she goes and in whatever she undertakes. Research shows that empowering girls and women in developing countries yields some of the highest returns of all investments – both private and social benefits that accrue to individuals, families, and to society at large. (Source: http://www.web.worldbank.org) That’s why Care Canada runs an entire campaign targeted to educating girls and women called “I Am Powerful.” When women are empowered, everyone benefits.

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.

Proverbs 31:10, King James Bible

Looking for hidden gems

Finding flawless, large rubies is, I am told, rare. I hope my search for wisdom and my exploration of women’s issues won’t be. I look forward to your comments and to reading your blogs.

How do you define wisdom? What is a “virtuous woman” and is that someone we really need in today’s world?

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