Tuesday, June 3, 2008

There's More to Education Than Smarts

Homeschoolers have developed quite a reputation for being smart. After all, they're winning spelling and geography bees, and colleges are actively recruiting them.

But it's not enough to be smart. I think a look around our society these days shows there is a great lack of good moral character. Think of the people who make the news with their bad behavior: celebrities having affairs and using drugs, corporate CEOs making off with millions while leaving employees and shareholders to suffer, and politicians spending their spare time misbehaving in public restrooms.

Once in a while, the fact that these are immoral behaviors is pointed out. Take an excerpt from this article, for example, describing what happens when a GM stockholder attends the company's lavish annual meeting:

According to an Associated Press calculation, GM chairman and chief executive officer Rick Wagoner received compensation valued at $15.7 million for 2007, up 64 percent from the previous year.

"I came to scold you for your greed," Mary Ann Wiley of Seattle told Wagoner.

Wiley, 77, said she has owned General Motors Corp. stock for 70 years, but that Tuesday marked her first annual meeting. Wiley said afterward that GM has moved far too slowly in developing new and better products and embracing next-generation fuels, and that management should not receive higher salaries and bonuses when the company is struggling.

"If the company does not do well, management should take an equal hit, and I don't think they've taken an equal hit," she said, adding that GM has grown so big that it has lost its humility and its "sense of democracy," not caring about shareholder concerns.

"This was a charade," said Wiley, looking out over the ornate Gold Ballroom of the Hotel DuPont, where GM has held its annual meetings for more than a decade.

"I would suggest they have a stockholder meeting at a factory," she said. "They don't need to rent the DuPont hotel."

Mind you, this is a company that sustained a $38.7 billion loss last year, and just today laid off thousands of people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and yet its CEO had no qualms about accepting a 64% raise. Bravo for people like Mary Ann Wiley, who is not afraid to confront this man and this company.

We need leaders in business and politics who do not put themselves first, but instead try to make things better for everyone. If we can educate our kids to be ethical and moral as well as great spellers, we will have done right by them, and also by our country.


BarbaraLee said...

Well said. The big business hurt our wealth fare way to much. Why does everything have to be shipped over to be made? We have employees who want to earn a living too.
I am not prejudice but if you are going to live here do it legally. Bug Bus. hire people who aren't & once again we suffer. They should be pentalized. Hit them were it hurts their pocket books. I am tired of this. Our fore fathers struggled to make it over here. Now people come over and they get wellfair. Work for it.

Melissa Markham said...

Well said, Barbara.

It is hard to understand when people make decisions like that and layoff people so they can have a huge salary increase...