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)

The Dark Side

Thought this was a fascinating piece in the Wall Street Journal’s Review Section called, “The Dark Triad and The Evolution of Jerks.”


Antisocial Personality Disorder is where people exhibit three primary symptoms:


1) Narcissism – Excessive focus on oneself.

2) Machiavellianism – Manipulating others for one’s own gain.

3) Psychopathy – Overall disregard for others, including impaired empathy and remorse


Together, these 3 traits make up “The Dark Triad” or perhaps they  come across as being from the dark side, because of how badly they can treat others. 


Studies have shown that these three traits are positively correlated with one another, and that more than 10% of the population has these. 


In reading a little more online at WebMD, I learned that the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is that while they share similar traits, a psychopath typically acts as if they have no conscience, while a sociopath acts with a weak conscience. 


“At worst, they’re cold, calculating killers,” while at the less extreme, they may be okay with hurting others to get what they want. 


– Moreover, while psychopaths are more cold-hearted and calculating,” sociopaths are “hot-headed” and “act without thinking how others will be affected.”


Another study found that people with these traits often “experienced low-quality or irregular parental care.” Thus a harsh or unstable childhood may cause these symptoms. 


Whether these people come from the dark side, are going to the dark side, or just are scary and hurtful, it is important to be able to recognize who you may be dealing with.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Window and The Mirror

Thought this was a wonderful story on our perspectives in life. 


And how money can corrupt our vision of what is truly important. 


This is the story:


A rich man became ill. 


He looked out the window and saw his old friend who was a poor man. 


The rich, sick man invited the poor man, his friend into his house.


After talking awhile, the rich man asked the poor man to tell him what he sees. 


The poor man told the rich man to go over to the window and asked:

What do you see?


The rich man said:

I see men, women and children in the street. 


Then the poor man took the rich man over the mirror and asked him:

Now what do you see?


The rich man taken aback for a moment, said:

I see myself.


The poor man says:

Ah, that is the difference. Both the window and the mirror are both made out of glass. But when you look into them, you see different things. The window is just plain glass.  But the mirror is glass covered in silver. When we look through just the glass, we see others!  But when we look through the glass tainted with a coating of silver (i.e. money), we only see ourselves.


Wow! Think about it a moment. Shabbat Shalom!  😉


(Story adapted from Bishvil Ha-Ivrit)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Not Really Yours

You can’t live without money, but you can’t just live for money. 


Didn’t someone say, “Money is the root of all evil.”


Of course, it’s not money itself that is bad, but the greed for it, and the use and hoarding of it for selfish purposes. 


On this topic, my daughter sent me this interesting story:

One business tycoon in China passed away. 
His widow, was left with $1.9 billion in the bank, and married his chauffeur.
His chauffeur said: “All the while, I thought I was working for my boss… it is only now, that I realize that my boss was all the time, working for me!”

We can have all the money in the world, but it’s never really ours. 


It all belongs to G-d, as does our entire life. 


He decides what we have or don’t have (any longer). 


We need to realize that life is ephemeral and all material things are given to us just for the time being. 


We should be generous with whatever bounty that G-d has given to us, because in the end that is all that is truly lasting. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Who Took The Cheese?

So this is a photo from today in the cafeteria of the mac and cheese. 


What I see without fail, day-in and day-out ,is that the people take the yummy crispy cheese off the top of the mac and cheese. 


The result is that just a few people get all the cheesy cheese from on top and everyone else is left with the noodles underneath.  


So for cheese sake, why do they do it?


– For the Love of Cheese – People simply love melted cheese so much, they’ll do anything to get more of it.


– Because They Can Take Cheese – People take the best part, the crispy cheese on top for themselves, because they can and there is only benefits to themselves and no adverse consequences if they do it. 


– They are Very Hungry for Cheese – People take the cheese because they are so famished, only the cheese on top can satisfy their hunger pains. 


– Sense of Cheese Entitlement – People have a sense of entitlement for themselves, and if there’s cheese to be had, they they are entitled to it.


– Cheese Narcissism – People are innately selfish for cheese and they will take and take and take until there is no cheese on top for anyone else. 


– Anti-social Cheese Behavior – People have anti-social personality cheese disorder, so they can’t help but take all the cheese. 


– Not Enough Cheese to Go Around – People feel their is simply not enough cheese to go around; in other words cheese is a scarce resource, which makes it a valuable cheese commodity to scoop up for themselves. 


What is really funny-sad about this whole cheese situation is that every day the food service seems to put out the same leftover mac and cheese with a fresh topping of the cheesy-cheese on top, only for it all to be taken off again–cheesy day after cheesy day. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Can’t People Be Genuine

Why all the phonies, users, shysters, and scammers out there?


It starts perhaps with that big, warm smile.


Maybe a handshake and hug. 


Perhaps, you even get a kiss or two (it’s cultural, I think, LOL).


Colleagues, friends, you’re just like family.


Sometimes it’s real and you truly found something valuable in your life.


There are good people of soul and conscience out there. 


But other times it’s an act, a sham, deception, you’re the fool. 


The other person wants something–cash, control, connections.

Oh by the way, can I ask you for just a “little” favor?

You wouldn’t mind if…?

Just do XYZ for me, I got your back. 

I see you know so and so, would you introduce me?

I have a great investment opportunity for you, let me tell you all about it.

Sure it’s okay and actually wonderful in a real relationship for people to be there for each other and help each others…“that’s what [real] friends are for!”


The problem is where the friendship is only about the ask for the benefit of the other and no care for you as a person. 


Then the smile isn’t a genuine collegial or friendship one of happiness and outreach. but rather it’s upside down to get you to do something legit or illegit for the person pressing their lips up and out into that smile you already know is all about the ask. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nitpicking To Death

It’s funny some people go straight for the kill when they don’t like something. 


Others may nitpick you to death. 


Always! looking for something to henpeck at.


It comes out as you’re stupid, lazy, incompetent, and even worthless.


Why can’t you do anything right (read: the way I would do it)?


If only you would change this, that, or the other thing then it would all be better!


But even when you do manage to change this, that or the other thing–guess what? That just sparks the next round of destructive criticism and never being satisfied.


Hey, since when are you so (f*ckin) perfect?  


Or as the old saying goes, “Who died and made you G-d?”


It should not be about grabbing some sadistic pleasure out of torturing other people with narcissism, judgmentalism, endless criticism and naysaying.


Instead of tearing down, let’s focus on the big picture and what success looks like.


How can everyone contribute to that vision and effort?


Customer service doesn’t mean personal servitude. 


There is such a thing as being a team player, identifying when good is good enough, and driving forward rather than seeking to derail or even go backward. 


Competency is not just for service providers, but for the customers. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)