Ten Ridiculous Habits, Attitudes, and Ideas Most High Schools Teach Students

10. They teach you that being obedient and agreeable will get you ahead in life.  It will not.  It will only reduce the chances of you ending up in jail, especially if you’re from a lower or lower-middle class community/family. It will not help you rise to anywhere near the top of any profession because the higher you go, the more you’ll be surrounded by those who care solely about vision and standards and little about conventions and people’s feelings.  Steve Jobs kept employees working as many as three consecutive all nighters, while reminding them that they’re “Fucking Dickless Assholes” for even considering missing a deadline. Bill Gates broke into computer lab rooms to rig scheduling in his favor.  Jesus Christ screamed and flipped tables when people fucked with his shit.  Marissa Mayer as known as a demanding “bully.” Star surgeons, renown science lab directors, Grammy winners, Micheline star chefs, NBA all-stars, Silicon Valley CEOs, US Senators, NOT many of them are obedient and agreeable. Most are NOT what most would consider “nice.” They’re blunt, concise, and demanding and hold others to high standards. They’re the ones who got into a bit of trouble, who tested and pushed the boundaries of conventional and acceptable behavior.  If you want to get ahead, be responsible, not nice.  Being responsible means telling people things they don’t want to hear, not giving things they want.  It may mean not giving your kid the car he wants because you want him to work for it so he can learn how to be dignified and how to delay gratification.  Or telling your girlfriend that she needs to lose weight and change her diet.  Or not letting your dog eat dinner until he learns a new obstacle course.

9. They insist that you’ll be nothing if you don’t have a high school degree.  That you’ll be poor if you don’t have a college degree.  Bullshit, this is based on someone’s interpretation of statistics he doesn’t understand.  All you need is an 8th grade education.  If that.  The rest of your life is determined by your ambition, desire, and grit. And few schools teach ambition, desire, and grit.

8. They teach you that being “creative” means becoming a writer, or an artist, or a musician.  Which implies that Math and Science disciplines don’t require creativity, just conformity.  This false binary gives students a face saving reason to dismiss Math and Physics when they struggle with them, declaring that “I’m the creative kind, not the robotic kind.”  That’s ridiculous. It takes more creative problem solving skills to build a submarine or an IPod than it does to write a song of questionable value. Point is, it takes creativity to reach the top of any profession.  The reason why people are fooled into thinking that it doesn’t take creativity to build a 10 mile bridge or a rocket to the moon is because most people refuse to put in the effort to figure out how to solve these difficult problems.  They refuse to put in the effort because they can’t handle failure, don’t like being told they’re wrong over and over again.  So many drift to softer sciences like Sociology and  Anthropology, and Humanities (excepting Philosophy), where it’s never clear if someone is right or wrong because the methodologies used in these disciplines are so problematic, unstable.  That’s why an undergrad Sociology major is easy, while majoring in Math is difficult.  Put it this way, a bridge or rocket either works or it doesn’t and the consequences of it not working are deadly.  A painting and musical piece, their value is ultimately determined by collection of subjective tastes and listening to something one doesn’t like usually won’t result in loss of human life.  And there’s always Mommy to tell the kid that her drawing is beautiful, even if it’s not to anyone else.

7. That life is a multiple choice question.  Yeah yeah, most teachers would agree and blame testing system.  But there’s nothing wrong with multiple choice questions.  It’s the teaching that’s the problem.

6.Rote memorization stifles creativity. It does not.  Rote learning stifles creativity.  Rote memorization is often the first step to mastery and creativity. So memorize your multiplication tables because I and others can’t teach you more advanced, creative work if you don’t have fundamentals down.  I nearly flipped a table when I found out that one of my star employees, who graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School with a 3.7 GPA, could not provide correct answer to 7 times 4 and had trouble with 17 plus 7 because some moron, likely with a PhD in Education, decided that it’s ok for them to start using calculators in 5th grade. That’s when I declared war on local schools.

5. That education mostly occurs in the classroom.  That school is the only place you’re going to learn how to read and write.  That you need school to be intelligent and knowledgeable.  Fuck that.  First, being taught by a bad teacher is like going to a bad doctor.  Bad doctor will worsen a condition.  Bad teacher will make a student dumber, kill off the desire to learn, desire to live.  Most will learn more at work.  Or just living life with childlike wonder, exploring what the world has to offer. Even engineers with impressive degrees will tell you that they learned more on the job than in the classroom.  There are very few schools that can teach students to learn how to learn, motivate them to learn outside of the classroom.  They’re only able to teach students to fake fake fake it till parents look happy.

4. That school learning sucks, is a test of discipline instead of a fun exercise of the senses and mind. No wonder students fake it.

3. That inflating self-esteem (being “nice” to people) is the only way to boost self-confidence and motivation and reduce violence, bullying. Studies are showing that the self-esteem movement may have increased violence and has not improved school performance.  And I argue that inflated self-esteem correlates with LOW self-confidence and poor mental health.  Someone who keeps being told that she’s so pretty, so smart, so wonderful may start believing these accolades are true.  But without achievements to legitimize accolades, this person will avoid situations that may put her sense of self in question.  Like hanging out with those who are smarter, prettier, etc.  But reality strikes at some point, and reality is brutal.  The rejections pile up and she has two options: to retreat back to her inner circle of acolytes or face the truth about herself.  Most choose to retreat — totally uncoachable at work — or turn violent, to erase those who dare challenge her sense of self.  Those with low self-esteem, on the other hand, are more likely to seek higher level competition, where  criticisms are more common and biting.  Female models, for instance, are known for never being satisfied with their looks.  Their low self-esteem makes it difficult for them to handle compliments about their looks, because they don’t match their sense of self.  That’s why they become models.  They CRAVE someone telling them they’re too fat, too short, too ugly.   For those with low self-esteem, the only way they can get people to acknowledge their sense of self is to move into more competitive environments where the standards are set high.  The higher you go, the lower the self-esteem and the higher the self-confidence and tougher the skin.  The lower you go, the higher the self-esteem and lower the self-confidence, thinner the skin.  Those who don’t understand this will never grow.

2. That in order for students to be prepared for STEM economy, they need to be exposed to latest gadgets and technology at an early age.  No they do not.  That’s why Silicon Valley executives will send their kids to schools theat DON’T allow computers, calculators, tablets, etc.  One doesn’t need a calculator to do math. Don’t even need a blackboard, a lot of math can be taught with an orange.  So instead of spending time on laptops watching porn and playing mindless games, let’s have kids go outside and play with sticks and mud.

1. That failure means you’re stupid and being good at something is function of genetics. No wonder so many people give up so easily. This may partially be why so many think it’s ok to laugh at other people’s failures (as a way to boost self-esteem)? This is why most American schools don’t ask the weakest students to work on a problem in front of peers.  Students are taught to jeer at struggling students rather them pick them up and push them, cheer them to try harder.

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Politics of Fast Food Wages, Part V: What Happens at $15/Hour?

Some think that $15/hour minimum wage means everyone earning less than that will receive $15/hour.  The raise will be taken from salary of greedy executives.  Redistribution, that simple.

No it isn’t.

Here’s what happens.  Most who don’t produce at least $15/hour of value will be fired.  Laid off.  Whatever.  They don’t get to work.  In other words, the unemployment rate would go up, way up in poor communities.  Businesses will either downsize operations or search for workflow process improvements so business can run with fewer employees.  Those with no work experience — teenagers — won’t be given a chance.  And for many teens, paid employment is the FIRST TIME they’re asked to be responsible, to be self-reflective, to finally GROW UP.  The last recession left us with a bunch of 20 year olds who act like 15 year olds because they couldn’t find a job when they were 15.  Even at $9.19/hour businesses are reluctant to hire inexperienced workers because it costs so much to train them.  Most start off producing negative value. Most teens should be paying businesses for an opportunity to work, because their fuck ups are financially and emotionally draining.

What happens at Alive Juice Bar?  I reduce hours and lay off those who don’t produce $15/hour. I work more hours.  It’ll be even more difficult to grow into a national chain that challenges competing fast food establishments on price and nutrition. Which means fewer options for consumers, more unemployment, and business owner has less time to spend with family. Few win.  Similar will happen at other small businesses.

(Summary of parts I-IV).

Myth: Most business owners are wealthy, like top 1 percent, and can afford to pay employees more.
Fact: Most businesses fail, sometimes leaving owners destitute and  homeless. Established businesses typically provide owner what most would consider a modest income.  Those who become part of the 1% typically do so after 20 years of 80-100 hour work weeks.

Myth: Business owners always pay themselves the most
Fact: Most business owners pay themselves the least, if at all, when they start.  This is true for most Silicon Valley start-ups, restaurants, banks.  Business owners will also pay themselves less than minimum wage.  Like $25,000 a year while working 15 hour days 365. It can take years before business owner makes $15 an hour (typically 60-120 hours per week).

Myth: You need a college degree to become part of the 1%, or the aspirational 14%. Everyone else works dead-end jobs.
Fact: Most degrees are worthless. You don’t need a college degree to become CEO of Microsoft.  Or McDonald’s.  Or Costco.  Or Apple.  Or Goldman Sachs.  People (who don’t know how to read statistics) have been tricked into thinking they need a degree to live well.  Good employers look for grit, ambition, and leadership.  And if you have the wrong degree, employer will think you spent four years extending your adolescence by binge drinking, getting high, and engaging in promiscuous sex.

Myth: One can’t live a so-called middle-class life on current minimum wage.
Fact: That’s assuming 40 hours a week.  Someone making just over minimum wage, $10/hour, can make 40k a year if she works 80 hours a week (two jobs).  The medical doctor doing his five year internship makes $60,000 a year working 100 hours a week and has to pay down $400,000 in debt.  The post-doc at a prominent UW medical lab makes $40,000 a year working 80 hours a week.  Just another perspective.

Myth: Those making minimum wage are underpaid.
Fact: Some are, but most are overpaid because most of them need to be managed.  Those who are reliable will be given raises. Those who don’t need to be managed are quickly promoted and given raises.  Those who can manage…you get the idea. Anyway, I would argue that it’s middle management that’s underpaid.  They don’t get the stock options that executives get and only get paid a bit more than staff they manage.  Each staff employee is responsible for one section.  Manager is responsible for every section.  Consider how much more value a good manager produces in comparison to average staff member.

Final section will be on How to Calculate One’s Labor Value.  Everyone should know how to negotiate one’s own wages.  There’s no reason the government needs to be involved in an exchange, a contract between two private parties.  What next, the government is going to tell people how often they should be fucking because someone decides that sex is a human right?

 

Politics of Fast Food Wages, Part IV: What’s a Fair Wage?

Someone mentioned that we’re obligated to pay Fast Food workers a so called “living wage” because they work dead end jobs.  Bullshit.  former McDonald’s CEO Charlie Bell started working at McDonald’s at age 15.  At 19, he was the youngest store manager ever in Australia.  Managing director at 29, CEO at 42.  Not bad for someone without a college degree.  Say what you want about McDonald’s menu, but they provide far better career opportunities than do small businesses like Alive Juice Bar.  One has a much better chance of making a million bucks a year working for McDonald’s than at Alive Juice Bar.  Or at Tom Douglas Restaurants.  Or as a corporate lawyer for Skadden Arps.  Or as a surgeon at UW Hospitals.  I don’t see the dead-end.  I only hear people wrongly assume that because there are a lot of people who never end up making “living wage” at Fast Food restaurants means they’re in dead-end jobs.

“But these people who aren’t management material still need a so-called living wage,” some argue. “It’s not their fault they don’t have the ability to work their way up to a living wage.”

So stick the bill to the employer.  Blame the business, even though the source of the dead-end mentality that prevents a Fast Food worker from ever rising to management is more likely found at home and in schools. So stick the entire bill to the business even though we’re collectively at fault for producing masses of spiritless and aimless citizens and workers?  To those who want to raise minimum wage to $15/hour, who rail against the injustice of current minimum wage, how about YOU do the right thing and hire minimum wage workers to work for YOU at $15/hour.  The additional competition for their labor will force Fast Food businesses to raise wages, right?  Have them walk your dog, clean your house, wipe your ass, mow your lawn, discipline your kids, feed your cats, suck your dick, whatever, I’m sure you can figure out how to use someone to make you more productive and your life a bit easier.  And be sure to give them at least four hour shifts.

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A McDonald’s manager without a (useless) college degree makes $42000 a year.  A staff accountant fresh out of college makes the same.  Let’s say it took McDonald’s manager three years to reach his position, during which he made $10-$13 dollars an hour and was sent to Hamburger U (this is real school, not trying to be funny) to take business management classes, free of charge. Took accountant four years of college to obtain degree necessary to attain her position.  Accountant has to pay for her degree. The accountant also works 500 more hours a year than does the McDonald’s manager.

Who’s better off, the kid who got a job at McDonald’s after high school and worked his way up to management or the accountant who went to college after high school and is now 50k in debt?  I don’t see how an entry level job at McDonald’s is a dead end.

What about surgeons?  Four years undergrad taking an extremely difficult courseload; a year to prepare for MCATs; four years in medical school, where professors routinely call you a “nitwit” and “dumb fuck.”  Then five to six years as an intern, making $60,000 a year while working 100 hours a week and your boss routinely calls you a “moron.”  You’re $400,000 in debt so $60,000 is actually closer to $25,000 a year.  One hundred hours a week at $25,000 a year is BELOW minimum wage. Sure sure, so the vascular surgeon will make $400,000 a year 10 years after finishing residency.  But Charlie Bell, who didn’t go to college, was making more than that when he was 29 years old working for McDonald’s!

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There aren’t many jobs that pay well at first (engineering is exception).  Sure sure, the financial analyst fresh out of college makes 80k a year.  She also works 100 hours a week.  Her hourly wage is comparable to that of a security guard.  The McDonald’s manager likely makes more per hour.

The question then: if Fast Food workers need more money to live, why don’t they get second or third jobs?  (Some do, usually immigrants).  Eighty hours a week at $10 an hour, that’s 40k a year.  That’s sufficient, twice as much as grad student TAs and RAs make.  And as pointed out before, there’s room to grow for those who work on their leadership and management skills.   Those who don’t develop adequate management skills, read Part I again.

In a free market (no cartels, no unions), people are paid based on value they produce for a business.  How much one is paid has nothing to do with how gross a job is, or how “hard” someone works.  Produce value that exceeds money paid to you and you keep your job.  Produce value that exceeds many times over money paid to you and you’ll be promoted and given a raise.  Produce negative value — your fuck ups cost money to fix — and you’re fired.  It’s that simple, yet nearly all my applicants don’t know how to calculate the value of their labor.  It’s why so many of them are slowly killing themselves with envy.

 

Politics of Fast Food Wages, Part III: What is a Living Wage.

So what’s a “living wage?”  How much space does one need to live “comfortably?”  In New York City, a 300 sf studio apartment inhabited by one person is considered by some as luxurious.  In Seattle, most would consider such a space as cramped.  Avant-garde architects have been designing 150 sf houses, offering them as appropriate for most people.

How much and what type of food does one need to eat well?  Should shopping at Whole Foods be a “human right?”  Two hundred bucks a week for a family of four?  Or would four dollars per week be enough?

Should everyone be entitled to drive a Lexus, one of the safest cars available?

In another post, I asked:

Imagine a world where everyone you consider poor no longer exists.  Would that be the end of poverty?  Or would those you consider middle-class become the new poor?  Now ask yourself if you prefer to be Charlemagne, who ruled France from 768 to 816 or something, or would it be better to live in the present, in Seattle area, making $20,000 a year as a McDonald’s cook, no children, basically living what many would consider a lower middle-class social and economic life? Would you prefer to be king in a world without plumbing, electricity, autos, planes, modern medical care, or internet, or would it be better to be almost “poor” in present day Seattle?

That poverty is a relative concept and “poor people” is a social construct aren’t new ideas.  In fact, it’s obvious. But too often, how we analyze and interpret the world is framed by academic readings of government created constructs such as race, gender, economic class.  I’m not arguing that these constructs are useless.  Nor am I saying that these constructs necessarily foment racism, sexism, class warfare, nationalism, and so forth. They’re, when used appropriately, very helpful — think about why your doctor asks you to categorize yourself in terms of race, age, gender, etc.  But these constructs can also make it tempting to confuse cause and effect and difficult to find patterns of behavior that traverse social identity and place. It can spawn asinine public policy concepts such as “living wage” that ultimately promote a sense of helplessness among those who identify as or feel poor.

So called  middle-class life today, with its near constant access to the Internet, may be considered unacceptable — perhaps barbaric, uncivilized — to another society. Later in the article:

Being “poor” or living in “poverty” is an attitude, a mindset, not an economic condition.  It has nothing to do with how much money one has.  Someone with poverty mindset may only be able to get a candy bar out of a dollar.  Another person may be able to make a feast of stone soup, enough to feed 10, out of same amount.  There’s no limit to what the human mind can create. The possibilities are endless. There’s no such thing as a “living wage.”  We don’t know what someone can do with a square foot of living space.  We don’t know how many meals someone can make out of a dollar.  By insisting there’s such a thing as a “living wage” and a “poverty line,” we give a lot of people an excuse to be envious, miserable, wasteful, and passive instead of grateful, optimistic, frugal, and creative.

Point is, “living wage” is a ridiculous concept.  I’m ok with socially constructed categories, some of them are useful. Like race, class, and gender, however unstable and problematic they may be.  “Living wage” only serves the interest of the government and gives many yet another reason to beg for life.  It frames and limits what’s possible in life.  It crushes the spirit and will to live of those who don’t make a “living wage.”  And nearly every business owner I’ve met has spent a few years not making a “living wage,” some not able to feed their young children “properly.”

Do business owners deserve a “living wage”?  Absolutely not.