Why did I leave Business to become a Theorist…

Socrates-1-

The Death of Socrates

“…an unexamined life is not worth living.”
 — Socrates

It’s question I’ve gotten a lot when I’ve been bouncing it off the minds of my more intellectual friends…

“Why would you not get a graduate degree in business?”
“There’s more money in business.  You want to study philosophy?!”

I’ve asked myself the same questions a lot, particularly the last year or so.  Yeah…  you definitely don’t get a degree in the humanities or social sciences and expect to make a lot of money — but I found myself going “Businessmen and businesswomen are a dime a dozen in the world today.  Indeed, they’re going to be flooding the marketplace by the time I graduate,” which is true.  Not only do I have my past successes in business as armament on a resume, but I started looking to the future…

With my experience in business, I can still teach business if I so want to; however, I think teaching the basics of political philosophy and ethics in politics could be just as important to preventing the next financial or political calamity as any business professional could be, teaching the equivalent courses.  Indeed, studying our past mistakes and failures makes us better able to prevent another Lehman Brothers‘ or Subprime Mortgage crisis or S&L Scandal.  Teaching the values of a balanced approach to policy in business, and business in policy I think is just as important, as well.

My main goal since I was a kid was to teach — even when I went into the private sector for awhile, first in mortgages, then in security as a manager, now working for a Fortune 500’s Health Safety and Environmental Department while I continue schooling…   I realized that studying our political past and the successes and failures in it lend just as much understanding as studying the great economists and financiers of our past and present does.

If maybe one day, one of the students I inspire goes forth to be a little more ethical, and blows the whistle on an unfair banking practice, or other social justice issue, or even something as simple as being a little more ethical in his or her business practices by having a sense of social responsibility and social justice, but still being profitable in his or her business — I think I’ll have done my part.

More and more the past several years, my drive has shifted from a sense of being educated more in business to more a sense of social justice.  I learned I was more interested in learning about business for the sake of my OWN knowledge, than applying it toward something I could use in the future.  When I found myself studying political or social justice issues…  particularly the work I’m doing right now as a Research Analyst and Intern with The SERO Project…  this is the stuff that actually matters.   The fact I retain information from a Business Communication course doesn’t *mean* anything, aside from the fact I can write kickass resumes and letters.  Helping myself and my friends better themselves is an awesome thing to be able to do…  but, when it comes to social science and social justice… this stuff actually MATTERS.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home in the top 5% of income in the United States.   I’m well taken care of, essentially, the rest of my life, even if I fall flat on my face a dozen times.  I’ve lived in some of the nicest places in the country — I’ve gone to some of the best schools our nation has to offer — including Eastern’s prestigious College of Business.  I have a family who’s always been there, and I have access to many resources and avenues the average person does NOT.  I’ve had everything I’ve ever wanted, essentially…  even if I had to wait awhile for it.  Studying and working on behalf of the social sciences, particularly social justice, I think is not only a calling, but a duty of mine to perform — and it’s something I’m loving more and more, and have more and more a passion for as the days go by.  While I don’t have a wish at this time to be directly “in” politics, I’d love to be a back-office player someday…  maybe a policy analyst, or a Chief of Staff who offers a sounding board to a legislator or other person who’s decisions matter — to be right there, in the thick of it, when the opinions and the research actually count for something OTHER than lining your own pockets.

This is what I’m going to do.  Let’s get it done.

Advertisements

“Intellectual Disarmament”

James Albaugh is president and chief executive...

James Albaugh, President & CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…a phrase coined by Boeing’s James Albaugh, should be a major concern for intellectuals, academics and theorists in the world, in my opinion.

The United States academic system, particularly the University-level education system, is among the best and brightest in the world.  Armed with more Ph.D.’s, Ed.D.‘s, J.D.’s, MBAs and MS’s than in some COUNTRIES, the University system in America is unique — and perhaps, even special.  But we’ve got major flaws that, if not addressed, could wind up becoming our undoing.

Right now, the US has one very special “weapon” in its arsenal.  And that’s the F-1 visa.  Our great nation allows students from other countries to come to our nation, study and achieve a quality education, and then return to their nation and, with any luck, achieve great things.  Not only does our economy benefit from this arrangement, by receiving the tuition and fees from the visiting student, but it would stand to reason the student also eats, buys music or engages in some other forms of recreation — even to a small degree.  All of these things come together to form a fairly beneficial process to both parties.

However, the problem therein lies that that’s exactly what happens.  Often, they don’t have an incentive to stay in the USA.  They receive their American education, and return home.  An education subsidized by American taxpayers.  Now, is there anything “wrong” with this… not “as such,” of course not.  America, in my opinion, has the duty and obligation to the world to be a place where those who want to raise themselves up in the world can come and do so.

But what incentive are we giving those hard working students to STAY in America?  Often, as soon as their Visa runs out, they HAVE to go home.  Other nations recall their students as soon as they finish their course of study.  Why aren’t we, as a nation, saying “Look, we’ve given you the tools to succeed… why not stay HERE, and let us help you succeed anymore?”

Albaugh put it very well: Other nations, be it the nation the student hails from, or others, see graduating students and are actively attracting them.  Why aren’t we, as a nation, offering foreign students and other intellectuals/academics an “easy in” to America, particularly after they’ve spent several years here already?  Will America continue to stay innovative if such  trends continue?

Between government cuts (particularly in Defense) and the hemorrhaging of talented minds that are educated here and otherwise leave — what could this hail in the future?