A Quiet Inspiration

In the spring of 1962, I was 15. My mother, my younger sister, my sister’s friend, Wendy, and I were traveling on a Greyhound bus from New York to Florida.

In Baltimore, I saw the first signs of segregation: separate bathrooms and water fountains. I had never been to the South before and my mother explained this to me.

In North Carolina, the bus stopped on the road and a bunch of people, white and black got on. They all found seats except a young, black soldier in uniform. The bus started to move again, and the soldier was standing in the aisle.

My mother looked around the bus, and then she whispered to me, “Don’t make a fuss.” She leaned over and whispered to something to my sister and Wendy also. Then she stood up and walked a short distance up the aisle to an older white man traveling alone. He was sitting on the aisle. The seat next to this man had a big birdcage on it, like a parrot cage.

My mother spoke in a strong, firm voice, not loud, but just loud enough to stop all the conversation on the bus.
“Sir,” she said, “If you will put this birdcage on the overhead rack, this girl (pointing to Wendy), will be able to sit next to you, and this soldier will be able to sit next to my own daughter, who is eleven.”

No one on the bus said a word. The man with the birdcage stood up to move the birdcage and another man stood up to help him.

Then Wendy sat down where the birdcage had been, the men retook their seats, and the soldier sat next to my sister. The entire bus let out a collective breath.

That was my mother — a woman of courage, grace and quiet inspiration.

A Special Poem


by Ilene Leslie Skeen

Glancing at the page below
I wonder what you’ll come to know,
As if my thinking went astray
And I scarce know what I will say.
But listen well and harken this,
A special poem deserves a kiss.
So if there’s a young miss you know,
Take this special poem and go.
But if a kiss will not suffice,
Get some coarser merchandise.
Flowers, candies, clothes or books
Will win your precious lady’s looks.
But I would say to stay at home,
If callous lass cares not for poem.

Ilene Skeen ©1967

 

This Life is Not a Test

  This Life is not a test.

This Life is an Actual Life. It is not a Prelude to another Life or a Reprise of a former Life.

Repeat. This Life is not a test.

If this Life were a test, you would have been given complete instructions on where to go and what to do from Day One.

This Life is the Only Life you will ever have. Make the most of it. Make the best of it. Choose Objectivism.

 

A Career for Heroes

     Although this book is not a How-To type of book, it is better — it could be a Why-To book for someone who is bright, ambitious and looking for a career in which to make a living.

In Pursuit of Wealth: the Moral Case for Finance should interest any person, especially any young person thinking about a career.  Careers in finance include brokerage, commercial and investment banking, corporate finance, hedge funds, private equity firms, venture capitalists, financial planners, public accountants and more. Authors, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins (who’ve written two previous books together), approach finance from a novel point of view: the moral case.

You might exclaim, “Moral case? What does morality have to do with finance?”

To which the correct reply is, “Everything.”

The authors’ idea of morality is not biblical, not about self-sacrifice, and not about rewarding the undeserved.  Their view comes from Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

In Rand’s view, the man who profits thorough productive achievement is doing something moral. He is supporting his own existence and pursuing his own happiness by using his mind to create values – the values that human beings need to live and enjoy life. And this is as true for bankers, traders, and investors as for any other producer.”[i]

Few books before this one have dared to tell the moral story that finance is good.

The book starts with the core functions of finance and explains how finance enriches the world. Finance enables entrepreneurs to offer products, boost their production, and get goods and services to market sooner. Goods and services of all kinds: energy, food, clothing, building materials, computers, phones and countless other values make our lives easier, more productive, and more pleasant – often in ways that we could not even imagine, let alone duplicate.

Finance is a field that you should be able to feel great about while making money. Financiers help entrepreneurs change the world. Their knowledge of markets and money enable them to take risks that average people wouldn’t take.  Using capital (money), financiers help inventors, entrepreneurs and investors turn their own ideas into products to make money. As a result, financiers often reap rewards that most people only dream about.

The authors provide a welcome objective look into the historical opposition to finance. The Bible condemns finance. Islam outlaws finance.  Finance, even from the Enlightenment to today, has a long history of inarticulate apologists ineptly explaining its importance and meaning to human life.

Bureaucrats and politicians generally consider finance a “necessary evil” at best. They love to regulate finance.  Many people despise finance. Others are afraid of finance. Those in the ivory towers of academia and the back rooms of media reporting stigmatize and dismiss finance.

Brooks and Watkins get it right. They say, “We would all be far worse off but for the productive achievements of this maligned and vilified group of individuals.”[ii]

Brooks and Watkins show in clear terms the morality of finance and the vital role finance plays in our modern human life. They also provide an in-depth look at the fallacies of the “inequality” movement and a number of current financial controversies including index funds, insider trading, the so-called taxpayer subsidies of Wall Street, and the killing effect of Dodd-Frank on small business.

There is a fascinating chapter on the cultural stereotype of businessmen as greedy robbers and murderers.  A “real-life” example of this cultural stereotype considers Steve Jobs, the productive genius and Bernie Madoff, the self-destructive fraud, as moral equals.

A career in finance rewards those who pursue it with a good living, and for those who pursuit it with a passion, intelligence and devotion, the possibility of an excellent living, even an astounding living.

If you have the skills and interest, and would like a career that has a long history of making human society better on every level (despite what the ivory tower tells you), you could embrace a career in finance with peace of mind, knowing that the need for finance is inescapable and continuing to increase in modern society.

Finance is a career that offers opportunity at every level – so that the person just starting out has the chance to grow into the hero he or she wants to be.

Whether decide to pursue a career in finance or you are already in finance or are in another career entirely, from reading In Pursuit of Wealth: the Moral Case for Finance, you can gain a fresh, exciting vision of the value of finance to the world, a vision to last a lifetime.


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ii Page v.