Not A Level Playing Field

Yesterday, dozens of wealthy parents were charged in a pay-to-play scheme.


To get their kids into choice colleges, prominent lawyers, business people, and Hollywood stars paid millions of dollars for bribes, bogus exam scores, and fake athletic achievements. 


Uh, let’s give Bobby just a little extra advantage and he’ll do just fine…


But while some people pretend to be so shocked that this is going on, the truth is that we all know that it’s definitely not a level playing field.


All I have to do is drive by the local Mansions in Potomac, Bethesda or Chevy Chase, Maryland or in Northern Virginia and see the extravagant homes, schools, shopping, and neighborhoods, and you know there are the forever haves and the have nots. 


As the old adage goes, “Money makes money!”


If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth in the U.S., the chances are you will stay that way


Having the assets, information, connections, and opportunities seems to bode quite well for those who leverage it.


The worst part is that those who have these things often really believe that they are better or more deserving than others.


Can you see the nose elevated and those snooty eyes staring down on you? 


Wealthy parents cheating the system and paying off others to get their kids into the best schools–a surprise?  


Not a chance.


What the real surprise here is…that this time, they got caught.  😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Number Are You?

This is an amazing video that has won 15 awards and was translated into 27 languages.

It is an animation film and moves a little slowly from my perspective, but the message is terrific!

The short film is about us–all people–we live in the ever present “caste” society, not of yesteryear, but of all time.

It is about where people are (or aren’t) in the pecking order of life and that despite our “place,” we can still find success.

Some are born “Zero’s” and live a life of prejudice, persecution, bullying, and torment.

Others are born high numbers, and they are the elites in society–given the best educational and professional, materialistic, and networking opportunities.

Many in our age have recognized that this trend continues unabated–only now it’s called things like Occupy Wall Street and referred to as the 99% and 1%.

In the past, it was variations of slaves and masters; fiefs, vassals, and lords, and now-a-days even average workers and the C-Suite.

In the video, “A Zero is a zero”–he is bullied in school, and thrown into the gutter as an adult by “the higher numbers.”

I am certain that many of us can relate to this…in fact, this video has been viewed almost 1.3 million times on Youtube already.

Only when Zero meets another zero and has a baby–who is born an “infinite,” does everyone else stop and literally bow down.

While I believe that we all need to work hard and contribute and in no way, believe that anyone who is able to contribute should be given a “free ride,” I do believe firmly that we are all human beings, G-d’s children, and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Everyone has a value in society and from nothing (or Zero) can come something amazing, if we only give people a fighting chance.

Personally, I am a child of Holocaust survivors, and my family came over with nothing. My grandmother cried that they didn’t have a chair to sit on when they came to this country.

The Nazis took everything, lives and things. As the presumed high and mighty “Aryan race,” everyone else was zero fodder for the ovens in the concentration camps or to be shot through the head while begging for mercy on their knees.

Like my grandparents, my uncle by marriage and his brother came over on a children’s transport train, alone and completely on their own, to try and “make it,” after being orphaned by Nazi murderers.

In the holocaust, the Nazis treated all their victims as Zero’s by tattooing numbers on their arms to dehumanize them.

This is part of a long historical plot of the strong and the weak, the haves and the have nots–the high numbers and the zeros in this world.

When as a 10-year old, we moved to Riverdale, New York, a very affluent neighborhood in the Bronx bordering Westchester, most of my classmates lived in million-dollar mansions, while we lived on “the other side of town.”

I grew up understanding that I had to be determined, work hard, and pray hard to try and climb up the ladder and it’s numbered stairs–in fact, like “Rocky,” I used to run the stairs–hundreds of times!

But to me, determination and hard work seem to come natural–thank G-d–but even more important to me was not monetary success but decency, integrity, speaking truth, and working for the advancement of all on as level a playing field as we can get.

I will not bow to “infinity” as the others in the movie and in real life have done, but I will try and help make infinity a place that we all can aspire to.