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Unintended Consequences

I was reading this morning about the owners of a bed and breakfast that received an 80,000 dollar fine for not allowing a gay wedding at their facility. Well someone certainly taught them a lesson huh? But in reality, what lesson was learned? Did the owner leave the courtroom and suddenly see the light about his discrimination? I doubt it. Human nature suggests that the wedge of resentment just got plunged a little deeper. Most businesses have signs in their establishments that read “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. I think that is a right of any private business owner. This decision does come with consequences however. Monetary as well as publicity good or bad. The same applies to the consumer, you have the right to spend your money at any establishment you see fit. Did the couple get to have their wedding where they wanted? Probably not. Like the Bakeries that refuse to make wedding cakes for gay weddings and get sued, the cake gets made by someone, as by the time the legal battle is over and done I suspect the wedding and reception have taken place, and the services provided by businesses that choose not to discriminate. Refusing to provide services to someone should not be a legal matter. Discrimination based on religion or sexuality is wrong, but the mindset of the people doing the discriminating will not be changed by a lawsuit.

Now let’s look at this from the other side. You go into a bakery and want to order a cake for your wedding. The baker, instead of simply saying “sorry I’m booked up” tells you it is against his religious beliefs to make you a cake and refuses to provide the service. You go out and hire a lawyer with the “I’ll fix him” mindset and start legal action. Lawsuits are won based on legal precedents that have been set by previous actions for the most part. Attorneys research and find cases with similar outcomes and use these as part of their arguments, if there are none to begin with, then you have a landmark case that will set a new precedent for future cases. In the meantime you still need a cake, and you will get one from someone. You have told all of your friends about the bakery and they tell all of their friends and the publicity effects the business. Months or years down the road you win the case and feel great. “I showed him”. Now you have a big check with the settlement that you won and the business owner has supposedly learned a lesson. With your new found money you decide to open your own bakery. Someone comes in the door one day and wants a birthday cake. You find out while talking with the customer that the cake is for David Duke, you then object and refuse to make the cake based on your feelings that you can’t condone the discriminatory practices of the organization that Mr. Duke represents(rightly so I might add). But wait. Because of the landmark case that you have won, you set a legal precedent. Now because of that they have a legal ground for suing YOU, for discrimination. Unintended consequences for thinking in “the minute”. If you lose the suit, are your feelings going to change about the organization? My guess would be no. (Again, rightly so).

All these legal battles do is clog up the courts.  Discrimination is wrong. But taking a private business into the legal system for not wanting to sell to you is not the right answer. Boycott the business, take your business elsewhere. That is always an option. As misguided as it may seem, the owner, like you, has the right to make the decision as to who they do business with. Those decisions come with consequences at times, but if the owner is willing to accept them, then shopping elsewhere is really the best course of action. If we keep making the resentment stronger, it will never get any better.

Raising the minimum wage. Is this the cure, or the symptom of a bigger problem?

Raising the minimum wage. Is this the cure, or the symptom of a bigger problem?

The sense of entitlement that seems to be the norm these days is creating a lot of problems. Does the world owe you a living? No! If you want a living wage, earn it. Raising the minimum wage to 15.00 per hr. will not work. As the cost of labor goes up, so does the cost of the services and goods the labor force processes. Do you really want to pay 10.00 bucks for a Big Mac? Minimum wage jobs should be a stepping stone. High school kids and first time workers learn skills and work ethic from these jobs (or at least they should). How to show up on time, responsibility, accountability, all must haves to be successful in any career. If you want higher pay, excel and show that you merit a higher wage. Fast food establishments typically promote from within. If you don’t want to make it your career, then go to school and learn a different trade. You may have to work in a minimum wage job while in this process, and after leaving school chances are you will not step into the helm of your new career, you will still have to prove your worth on a daily basis to merit promotion and advancement. That is the way the game works. Pure and simple. If you want it, earn it.

I blame this whole entitlement phase on the “everybody gets a trophy crowd”. The kids that are joining the workforce today have been rewarded all their lives for just showing up. So why wouldn’t they have a sense of entitlement? Reality check time folks that is not the way the big bad world works. You have to learn to go after what you want, and during that journey, knowing the difference between need and want becomes crucial. If you are making minimum wage, live your life accordingly, learn how to budget, how to make smart spending choices. We all have to do it at some point in our lives. You cannot expect things to be handed to you and be a success in this life. Set your goals and then figure out a plan to get you where you want to be. It is up to YOU. Not the government, not mommy and daddy, not your employer or teachers.

Now I know that there will be some that claim there is no opportunity for me. Well guess what? There is always opportunity. I have been working full time jobs since I was 16 yrs old. I think my longest stretch of unemployment lasted about 2 weeks. The difference is I made the choice to do what I had to do to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of my family. If that meant working for minimum wage, so be it. But as I mentioned before, if you prove your worth, even a minimum wage job can lead into more. No one is going to give you a prize in the working world for just showing up. Be a stand out. If you’re flipping burgers, be the best damn burger flipper in the house, and maybe when a higher level position comes along you will be a good candidate for it. And guess what? You just broke the minimum wage barrier.

I guess the whole point of this rant is to say that the mess we have is self-created, and until we learn from these lessons it will not change. Just throwing money at a problem does not help. Raising the minimum wage to 15.00 is doing just that. It will do more harm than good. The sense of entitlement will not go away by using this strategy.

How Self-Esteem Affects Our Confidence

How Self-Esteem Affects Our Confidence

Our self-belief has a profound effect on our confidence and on the quality of our lives. If a person believes that he or she lacks basic skills to solve problems then they may lose heart and give up. In contrast, a person who has lesser abilities but who believes in themselves stands a much better chance of being successful. This is because their self-belief gives them  the confidence to try.

Have you ever wondered why only a few students in a class ask questions? Is it because the others have understood all the points made during a lecture? Or is it because they lack the confidence to ask a question? More often than not, it is the fear of making a fool of themselves that stops students from asking questions. In other words, they lack self-confidence. The only way this confidence can improve is when they start believing in themselves.

This is why self-belief is so important. It gives an individual the confidence to aim for the moon. It overwhelms negative thoughts and drives away the fear of failure. It is the best antidote against self-flagellation, which turns several talented persons into under-achievers. It gives the students the confidence that they have nothing to loose. On the contrary, they realize that they have everything to gain by asking a question, even if it happens to be a silly question.

Abraham Lincoln is a fine example of a man who believed in himself. He lost every election until he went to the Senate and stood for the post of the President. He did not allow his failures in professional and personal life to erode his self-belief. Had he done so, the history of the US would have been different.

Self-belief gives us the confidence to accept failure. It teaches us the importance of positive thinking. Those who have self-esteem don’t talk about failures; instead, they try to find out why they did not succeed. They look for lessons that can be learned from their experience. This is not a simple issue of semantics. It is the power of positive thinking, and it is available to only those who have self-esteem.

Once again it is self-esteem that gives us the confidence to enter a new group, and become a part of it. Those who lack self-esteem are very reluctant to approach a new group. They don’t want to expose themselves to the ridicule of being seen as shy, nervous or ignorant. They would instead prefer to stay in their corners.

In fact, lack of self-esteem stands out like a sore thumb at parties, at meetings, at conferences and at social or official functions. Individuals with low self-esteem avoid introducing themselves to others. They prefer to stay in the shadows, away from the sights of others. However, their colleagues who enjoy high self-esteem dominate the discussions. They are sought after by others for information. They are also invited to other meetings and parties — all because their self-esteem gives them the confidence to open up before a group of strangers. It is the same student syndrome that is reflected in an individual’s working life too.

Low self-esteem also lowers an individual’s self-confidence. He takes to liquor or drugs to boost his confidence artificially. Nothing can be more futile or dangerous. Such behavior further destroys an individual’s self-esteem. The best way to break out of this pitiable situation is to build self-esteem, which is not easy.  The individual has few options but to begin life afresh. The best is to look for a new workplace and a new set of friends because it is easy to deal with people who have no preconceived notions about you.

But nothing will work until the individual develops self-respect, and the self-belief that he or she is as good as others. They must realize that they are not the only ones who have strong and weak points; the others to suffer from the same defects. The only difference is that the others project their strong points whereas they project their weak points. All that they need is to refocus their priorities. They will find the elusive self-confidence.