Are CEOs rewarded more for their perceived success or the success of their companies? In his recent Big Think interview, biographer T.J. Stiles says robber barons like Cornelius Vanderbilt may have been ruthless in their business dealings, but were never compensated based upon anything but the underlying financial outlook of their companies. "Vanderbilt took no salary and no bonuses as a chief executive of his corporations," says Stiles, "The only remonetization he got was in dividends."
Stiles' suggestion of what today's CEOs could learn from Cornelius Vanderbilt is just one example of how leaders and policy makers could use the lessons of the past to not only to inform their decision making process, but to simply appreciate the complexity of some of the largest issues we face. Sometimes, Stiles explains, issues that seem new or pertinent in the moment are actually re-hatched anxieties that run deep in America's past.
"In today's world we have the Tea Party Movement and people are often flummoxed that there's this kind of populism outrage at the government when in fact the great mass of people actually benefit from a lot of so-called government programs like Medicare and Social Security," says Stiles, "But in fact, a kind of fear of a large central government started off in life in American history as a very radical idea because government originally would have intervened in the economy intended to grant favors to wealthy and patrician men."
Although biography is a literary form most often focused on individuals, Stiles says the best biographies explore the larger historical trends that provide context for a person's life. Perhaps the likes of former Big Think guests Congressman Barney Frank and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who are now championing financial reform on the Hill, could find some perspective on taming Wall Street's wizards by reading Stiles' latest book, "The Last Tycoon."
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
- The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
- The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.
- Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
- Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
- Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.
- The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
- The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
- Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
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