Columnist: ‘The poor aren’t poor because the rich are rich’

February 3, 2014

Will tearing down the wealthy elevate the fortunes of the poor? Syndicated columnist Robert Samuelson argues that the answer is "no": Unless you are exceptionally coldblooded, it's hard not to be disturbed by today's huge economic inequality. The gap between the rich and the poor is enormous, wider than most Americans would (almost certainly) wish. But this incontestable reality has made economic inequality a misleading intellectual fad, blamed for many of our problems. Actually, the reverse is true: Economic inequality is usually a consequence of our problems and not a cause. For starters, the poor are not poor because the rich are rich. The two conditions are generally unrelated. Mostly, the rich got rich by running profitable small businesses (car dealerships, builders), creating big enterprises (Google, Microsoft), being at the top of lucrative occupations (bankers, lawyers, doctors, actors, athletes), managing major companies or inheriting fortunes. By contrast, the very poor...

Now that’s scary: Venezuela, Myanmar are the least free nations

October 31, 2013

Just in time for Halloween ... When it comes to a free-market economy, Venezuela and Myanmar are the two least free nations in the world, according to the latest rankings from the Canadian-based think tank the Fraser Institute. The Fraser Institute's index of economic freedom, called Economic Freedom of the World, measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. Five metrics are used: Size of government, the legal system and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation. The results for 2013: Hong Kong and Singapore, once again, occupy the top two positions. The other nations in the top ten are New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Finland, Bahrain, Canada, and Australia. The rankings of some other major countries are: United Kingdom (12th), United States (17th), Germany (19th), Japan (33rd), South Korea (33rd), France (40th), Italy (83rd), Mexico...

Applications Now Being Accepted for 2014 Pope Family Eagle Scout Scholarship

October 15, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. OCT. 15, 2013 — The North Carolina-based Occoneechee Council of the Boy Scouts of America is now taking applications for the 2014 Pope Family Eagle Scout Scholarship. The scholarships, valued at $20,000 for each student, will help four young men pursue careers in the free-market system. “We’re excited to assist a new class of young men reach their fullest potential,” said Dave Riggs, Executive Vice President of the John William Pope Foundation. The mission of the Pope Family Eagle Scout Scholarship is to further the course of study for devoted Eagle Scouts who want to become business leaders. The Pope family and the Pope Foundation have invested over $1 million in these promising young men and in the Occoneechee Council. To qualify, scouts must be seniors in high school and must have received their Eagle Scout rank in a troop within the Occoneechee Council territory. The Pope Foundation funds two scholarships, valued at $40,000, and the Occoneechee...

Bringing freedom to the murder capital of the world

September 25, 2013

Our new Achiever Spotlight tells the story of Guillermo Peña Panting, a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, widely considered the most dangerous place on Earth outside of a war zone: What would convince a talented, promising young man to forsake a life of ease in the United States and Europe and return to his home country — a country that’s currently considered the murder capital of the world? For Guillermo Peña Panting, the answer is simple: freedom. Gullermo’s home country of Honduras is enduring a season of drug-induced crime. With a murder ratio hovering around 86 homicides per 100,000 in population, Honduras typically tops charts of the most dangerous countries in the world. And Guillermo’s hometown, San Pedro Sula, is widely regarded as one of the most perilous locales outside of a war zone. Gang warfare and the drug trade have destabilized the country, particularly following a coup in 2009 that deposed the Honduran president. The country is a major drug...

Why profits and social good are not at odds

August 28, 2013

Writing in Forbes, Vivek Wadhwa argues that profits, entrepreneurship, and social good are not incompatible: Why should poor people receive the most obsolete technologies—when their lives can be impacted the most by advances in technology? Should my education and talent be used to make rich and powerful corporations even more so—or to help those in need? These are questions that Alfredo Zolezzi agonized over after achieving early success as a scientist and entrepreneur. Then he read a United Nations report that said that 884 million people are without access to safe drinking water and that 1.5 million children under five years of age die each year as a result of water- and sanitation-related diseases. This pushed him over the edge. He knew this was something that technology could easily help fix—though no one had done anything about it. Zolezzi decided to stop working on products for the oil industry and to instead repurpose his oil-extraction technology to eliminate...

Columnist: Millennials must embrace ‘creative destruction’

June 24, 2013

Writing in Forbes magazine, Maura Pennington argues that Millennials (roughly those born between 1980 and 2000) must embrace Joseph Schumpeter's concept of "creative destruction" in order to thrive in hard economic times: How can a philosophy of creative destruction help [Millennials] find their way? To answer that, I offer advice from my grandfather. He would give me the greatest, pithiest piece of wisdom whenever I came home crying, inflexible in the face of opposition. He’d look me directly in the eyes and say simply, “Adjust.” It was infuriating to hear at the age of twelve, but it’s the word I now live by: Adjust. We have to adapt.  So we majored in the Humanities and companies only want engineers. Embrace the message of Hermann Hesse’s Demian: “Nothing new can arrive unless an old thing dies.” Keep reading novels, but start learning a new skill. It is never too late to course correct. It is certainly not too late when in one’s twenties. Creative...

Givers, takers, and matchers

June 18, 2013

Adam Grant's new book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success discusses the three categories that we all tend to fall into: Givers, takers, and matchers. Takers try to get everything they can, matchers "match" the level of giving from others, and givers are the rare breed that give to others without expectation of return. Writing in Forbes magazine, Steve Denning reviews the book. He shows that givers typically represent both the bottom and top rungs of success. Why is that? The key for givers is maintaining their generous spirit while avoiding the pitfalls of being treated like a doormat: Grant explains in chapter 7 that successful givers employ three strategies: Sincerity screening: trusting most of the people most of the time:  To avoid getting scammed or exploited, successful givers spot counterparts who are takers and fakers. Successful givers need to know who’s likely to manipulate them so that they can protect themselves against people who take advantage...