Thursday, October 18, 2012

A man's world


As a woman in BYU’s accounting program, I am one of the few. I’d say I’m part of the…25% or so. I haven’t had any really negative experiences in my time here. A few sexist jokes here and there, nothing more than I’ve heard anywhere else in life.

I have dealt with frustration in terms of not being able to relate to male recruiters and guest speakers, who are almost always men whose wives stay home with the kids. I’ve felt like people didn’t understand the unique issues facing an LDS woman interested in pursuing a career in business. But I’ve never felt like someone was telling me I belonged at home or that I didn’t deserve my place in the accounting program. I’ve never had my peers assume that I won’t pursue a career because I’m married. But, unfortunately, the weirdies do exist.

I’ve heard horror stories of women being explicitly asked by their peers why they took a man’s spot in the business school. I’ve heard people mention conversations they overheard where two students were discussing how it wasn’t fair that women were taking men’s spots. I even heard about a student telling a female professor that she shouldn’t be working, but should be at home.

Apparently the business school has been getting some negative feedback about the behavior of their students out in the field. In particular, a few students have been extremely awkward in interacting with their female colleagues.

In public accounting, you are usually assigned to a peer mentor who is a couple years ahead of you who can help answer your questions and is basically there to help you succeed. Apparently one student told his female peer mentor that No, he couldn’t go out to lunch with her, because he is married and shouldn’t be alone with other women. How. Awkward.

Another student told his supervisor that her low cut tops were making it hard for him to control his thoughts.

Can I just say that these are definitely the exception as opposed to the norm? The fact that these are only stories I’ve heard rather than stories I’ve experienced goes to show that the behavior is not commonplace. But can I also say that this is the type of behavior that results from a culture that hyper-sexualizes women through its lessons on women’s modesty and how it relates to a man’s ability to stay pure? These lessons can succeed in turning women into sex objects who must be avoided at all costs. To tell a female coworker than you can’t get lunch with her because she is a woman implies that you think women = sex. If your wife is so jealous of you interacting with other woman, apparently she also holds the unfortunately belief that women and sex are one and the same.

Anyways, my main point in this post was just to say how wonderful the professors are in handling these situations. This year they cancelled regular classes in the Junior Core and spent the time talking about not being weird (it included interacting with members of the opposite sex among other topics that students seem to struggle with). I’ve had professors completely call out students for making sexist jokes. I’ve had professors remind students that the male:female ratio in our accounting program is not representative of the ratio in the profession and to get used to working with women. I’ve always felt like my professors were my advocates. On top of that, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had teachers bring up the topic of homosexuality and preach about how students need to get over themselves and put their own feelings aside and love everyone.

So can I just say that despite this university being sponsored by the church, I have been so impressed with how progressive my teachers are (well... progressive for Mormons!).

There you have it, a little bit of insight into the business school.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I love going to football games. I am so glad that Greg is into football games, so I have a buddy at every game. I used to end up going to a lot of sporting events by myself... pathetic. I have friends, but none of them are into football, or any other sports for that matter. So I was a humongo loser at every game and always felt so pathetic and lonely. 

Anyways. Greg and I have all-sports passes with our friends. They have a 1 yr old daughter and sweet connections for better seats, so we usually don't end up sitting with them. Meaning we should really have two extra seats next to us and plenty of room. Yet somehow, at every game, we get stuck crammed in between this huge group that just wants to move around, hug, and talk for the whole game. It wouldn't bother me so bad if they actually sat in their seats. But no. They just cram as many people as possible into a row, until we're all shoulder to shoulder and I'm feeling extremely uncomfortable. Hello, I don't know you people. I don't want your butt anywhere near me.

It seriously makes me irate. Like contemplating shoving them down the bleachers irate. Ok, I would never do that... but I did think about it. Instead, I just held my ground, even when the chick next to me kept trying to scoot towards me to make more room for her group. There might have been some minor elbowing. I know the rational response would be to simply ask them to scoot over, but shouldn't they just get the freaking hint? "Hmm this girl was here first and now I'm practically sitting on her lap... that probably means there isn't room for me here." And even if I did ask them to scoot, there was no room for them to go. Plus I'm just passive aggressive like that with strangers.

This brings me to my conclusion: people are so incredible unaware of their surroundings and it drives me crazy. Have you ever been walking behind a group on campus who are deep in coversation and keep stopping, starting, changing pace? Or walking towards a group who refuse to move over to give you room on the sidewalk? Or walking down the stairs behind someone who makes an abrupt stop to send a text message? Or people who stop to talk right in front of a door you need to get through?

People of Provo. Wake up and smell the roses. And stop getting in my way. Please and thank you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wealth

It makes me sad and a little bit troubled to see how much people demonize wealth. I think there are definitely people who seek wealth in selfish and greedy ways that hurt the people around them. But wealth in and of itself is not bad.

Wealth is a beautiful motivator. We all like to be able to buy the things we want. We desire to have a house in a safe area where we can be comfortable. We strive to care for our family. We save money for that awesome "thing" we must have. Having wealth allows us to accomplish our goals. It allows us to make donations and serve. It allows us to vacation with our family. Making money allows us to save for retirement, so that one day we can have an income without working. Desiring wealth is something we all have in common. No matter how much money you have, you have to admit that money is very important to you... right? I know it's important to me. I need money to pay the bills, buy groceries, take care of the car, pay for school, and to have fun.

Because we all need money to take care of ourselves, if you take away the ability to gain wealth, you take away motivation. When you tell people that no matter how hard they work, they'll make the same amount of money and have the same opportunity for promotion, they lose motivation. When you tell people who are in an incredibly difficult (and important) line of work that they don't deserve the money they are making and attempt to take it away, you lose a lot of those talented, bright, and hardworking people.

It's interesting that we complain about how wealthy people are while simultaneously enjoying our iPhones, watching the NFL, receiving first class medical care and prescriptions that save our lives, playing on our computers, and checking facebook. Do you think these things would be around if wealth wasn't at stake? Would companies and researchers invest millions of dollars to bring us what we want if there was nothing in it for them?

Many people who hate wealth say teachers should make more money. Why should teachers make more money? Because their job is incredibly important! So why do they need more money? So more people will want to be teachers and so the field will attract more and better people! So we agree - wealth is a motivator.

Here's the thing. With a few exceptions, people don't become wealthy without contributing in some way. People aren't being paid gobs of money to sit around and eat bon bons. They're being paid to run business to bring you what you want. They're being paid to save lives. This is kind of an old statistic, but As of 1996, 80% of millionaires were first generation rich.

As my friend Jessica said, the poverty cycle is real. I know this and I don't think that we should say, "Suck it up, everyone has an opportunity to become rich, and if you're not it's clearly because you didn't try hard enough." No! There is a very obvious poverty cycle that strangles the success of many bright, hardworking people. But I do know that some people do rise up from this cycle. I know even more people rise up from lower middle class and middle class homes to make more for themselves.

But what happens when we as a nation decide that wealth is evil? At that point, who will strive to rise up from their surroundings? Who will be motivated to get an education in order to get a good job? What will happen when we tell people to not worry about working hard because making more money than someone else is bad? Who will try to rise up from poverty then?

If you want to tax the rich to help take care of people who are struggling financially, fine. But don't tax the rich because you think they don't deserve their money.

[As always, I'm very interested in your thoughts. As one person with the insights of only my life, my point of view can be very limited.]

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Supply side economics


By: Greg

In this blog post, I want to look at what is and isn’t “supply-side economics,” also known as “trickle down economics.”

The fundamental idea behind supply-side economics is that investment spurs growth. What do I mean by investment? Investment means spending money now to generate more production in the future – in other words, we choose to consume less today so we can consume more tomorrow. A few examples of investments include: factories, cement trucks, education and training programs, roads, etc. I would suggest that few people buy a factory just because they like factories. They buy them so they can make more stuff. The factory is an investment – it involves spending money today in order to get more in the future. All of these investments increase output per person. If we have more stuff but the same amount of people, then we are all richer.

Read that last sentence a few times until it sinks in.

A common fallacy is to think “Well, all that extra stuff we’re making will just sit on the shelf because people can’t afford it!” But remember, if there is more stuff and the same number of people who want it, the stuff gets cheaper and we buy more. If this doesn’t make sense please comment and I will explain further.
So what government policies would encourage increased investment in the economy? Most economists (http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/07/19/157047211/six-policies-economists-love-and-politicians-hate  proposal three) agree that one of the best ways to promote investment and hence growth is to cut or remove corporate taxes. Businesses are the world’s investors, so if you like to promote growth, tax them less. Many people think we should tax corporation because they are led by greedy, overpaid executives and we don’t like that. But, if you think someone is overpaid, tax them, not the company they run.
Another policy would be to decrease the capital gains tax rate (a special, lower, tax paid on earnings from stocks). The impacts of this policy are harder to see, but when we buy stocks we are investing in a business which allows them to invest that money as they choose. Advocates of supply side economics are highly against capital gains taxes.
Notice that we didn’t mention giving heavy income tax breaks to the super rich. This practice is not true supply side economics! Though it can be argued that they are the most likely people to invest the money which would in turn grow the economy, this is a more indirect and sloppy approach. Though there are other reasons why we wouldn’t want to tax the heck out of the rich, they don’t relate to supply side economics.
100% pure, unadulterated supply side economics would go so far as to advocate getting rid of the income tax for all income levels. Why? Any form of income taxation discourages work. (You might wonder how the government would be funded under this practice – tax revenue would come from increased consumption taxes like sales taxes).

As a review, supply side economics holds that economic growth first requires investment. Investment is choosing to consume less today so we can consume more tomorrow. Good investments increase output per person which makes us all richer because there is more stuff for less money. Supply siders believe that we can promote investment by reducing corporate and capital gains tax rates.

That’s it! Let me know if you any questions and I would be happy to explain anything that doesn’t make sense.

Coming next: an explanation of demand side economics

Monday, October 8, 2012

Megan does ballet!

We take time to film each other for our midterm in ballet and because I'm just that conceited, I decided to post some here. Perhaps I will post more if I learn how to rotate videos. It's really nothing special but I think it's fun!

video

In this one, the girl who was filming me started late
video

I'm not quite sure why the videos have such an unflattering part of the video as their opening picture... awkward.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Great Clips

My hair has been driving me crazy because it looked really boxy and plain. This past week, I was craving a hair cut. So I went to Great Clips. I know what you are thinking, but I honestly love getting my hair cut at Great Clips. I've only had one "bad" experience, and it wasn't even that big of a deal. It probably helps that I usually want pretty simple things done to my hair, but either way I almost always leave happy. And a haircut is only $13 plus the tip! I told the girl I wanted more layers so my hair felt lighter, and she recommended "thinning" to make my hair even lighter. I've never had my hair thinned before but I agreed to it and I LOVE it. If you have thick hair and want a change, I definitely recommend thinning. My ponytail is almost half the size now and my hair is so smooth and light. I cannot stop touching it. They're doing a deal right now where you get a $7.99 haircut if you have a football ticket. If you don't go to the games, I can give you my ticket if you want a haircut!

I got a new job! My main job is a TA for the junior core. My new job is only a few hours every week, like 8 or so. Its pretty exciting. My boss is working to set up a personal finance center on campus and I'm helping out. Personal finance is something I really enjoy and it's interesting to be in the planning and start-up phases of a project. Confusing and frustrating, but interesting.

I cannot believe I graduate in April. I'm already getting nostalgic about some of my favorite things about BYU and Provo. Walking to the stadium on game days. Being able to walk so many places. The bell tower music at noon. Leaving devotional with a mass of college students who left behind all the other things they needed to get done in order to nourish their souls. Greg's hockey games at Seven Peaks. My wonderful friends being so close by. All the wonderful resources on campus. This unique opportunity to be around people who believe in the same things as you but yet are still so different from one another.

So far I've applied for full time jobs with John Deere (haven't heard back from first interview), Johnson & Johnson (didn't get an interview), Union Pacific, and Dell (interviews this week). Life's moving fast! Before you know it, I'll have three kids and a minivan!