Category Archives: TV

A Modest Proposal to End the “War on Christmas.”

As I write, Christmas is just weeks away.

Frosty the Snowman

Each year the drum beat seems to get progressively louder. Secularists clamor to  water down Christmas displays with gaudy arrangements that must include Frosty the Snowman and candy canes. Then they call for the outright removal of manger scenes and even the Christmas tree. Conservatives have dubbed this the “War on Christmas.”

I have never understood why people who claim not to believe in God are so troubled by others who believe in His existence. It doesn’t trouble me when people believe that Elvis is still alive.  To borrow from Hamlet, the atheist “doth protest too much, methinks.”

Christmas_tree

Last year Governor  Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island renamed the Christmas tree a “Holiday tree” in the name of inclusivity. So in order not to offend anyone, Chafee ignored the obvious fact that the 87.5% Christian population of his state might be offended by this politically correct shot over the bow.  Only 6% of Rhode Island self-identifies as non-religious (thanks, in large measure to Brown University).

“O Holiday Tree, O Holiday Tree” just does not have the same ring. This year, Chafee did it again, but he was smarter. To avoid last year’s protests, he gave only 30 minutes notice before the tree-lighting ceremony. Nothing suggests that public sentiment is on your side more than surreptitious behavior. Never mind that the White House “Christmas tree” was lit just a few days later.

4 Ways We Can Handle the Christmas Holiday:

1. Leave it alone

I celebrate Christmas. Jews celebrate Hannukah or Chanukah (and they can spell it however they like because it is THEIR holiday. They cash in on Christmas shopping deals and I got a day off from public school on Yom Kipper and Rosh Hashanah.

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I may have inappropriately said “Happy New Year” on the Day of Atonement, but my Jewish neighbors didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they appreciated that I was trying to be respectful of their tradition.  This is the way most people feel about the holidays.

2. We have competing holidays at the same time.  

In this scenario, you can’t be satisfied unless Kwanzaa is more popular than Hanukkah or Ramadan (or Ramadan gets more attention than Hanukkah depending on your persuasion). Moreover, all minority holiday celebrants must envy Christmas.

Borrowing the Marxist narrative, Christmas is bad because it is celebrated by the majority, where all of the smaller [proletariat] holidays are self-evidently virtuous.

Festivus for the Rest of Us

Seinfeld-Season-9-DVDFestivus_PoleFestivus has sprung up a humorous alternative to the traditional Christmas holiday.  In the last season of Seinfeld, George’s father celebrated Festivus “for the rest of us.” Festivus is celebrated on December 23. It includes a plain aluminum pole (to distinguish itself from the Christmas tree) and the “airing of grievances.” This was a funny Seinfeld episode, but it highlights the adversarial thinking I am talking about here. Can’t we just be respectful of each other?

3. We have only one standard holiday

This seems to be what the president of the American Atheists wants.

As our society increasingly unhinges from its mooring, someone will always be offended by what another person does. Our default solution is to make it accommodating for all, as if doing that will somehow satisfy all parties. More often than not, this solution leaves everyone dissatisfied.

What would one standard holiday look like? Cross the efficiency of the post office with the effectiveness of the public school system and I think you will have a sense of how bland the Winter Solstice holiday will feel. Just be sure not to bring religion into it–that is not polite.

4. Add a holiday.

Maybe we  should add an extra holiday in January for the rational free-thinkers who are offended by Christmas as a Federal holiday. Sure it will be one more lost day of productivity for the economy, but when we spend billions on non-productive bailouts, this will be a drop in the ocean.

Moreover, free thinkers will have their holiday or “Reason-Day” or whatever they want to call it. And, it should take the edge off of the silly argument that the government is “establishing a religion” by creating a Federal holiday that acknowledges that no one wants to go to work on Christmas anyway.

This is my olive branch to the politically correct atheists and it actually might be a good idea.

We can position Reason Day in late January when most people have already broken their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get out of debt, and generally be a better person. Reason Day will be a stark reminder of our need to be better humans.

Moreover, another highly commercialized holiday would be great for business. If we have learned anything about economics from the mainstream media, it is that shopping helps the economy.

This would be a win-win scenario. The only reason that the Atheists wouldn’t embrace this generous offer would be if  the “War on Christmas” was not about “equal rights,” but about something else–the removal of Christianity from the public square.

I just hope the Reason-Day cookies taste good.

What are your thoughts? I would like to know.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 10, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Filed under Books, Current Events, Leadership, Misc., Poltics, TV

How to Watch TV and increase your Business I.Q.

If you could increase your business I.Q. by sitting in front of the TV, would you do it? What if I told you that as a bonus, it would be entertaining too?

Shark Tank – Friday at 9PM on ABC

Free Education

If you want to get a free business education, watch Shark Tank. Shark tank airs Friday Nights at 9 PM on ABC.

Here is the premise of the show from the Shark Tank Website:

The panel of five Sharks [Venture Capitalists] will hear pitches of the best business and product ideas from some of America’s brightest entrepreneurs, ranging from start-ups from stay-at-home moms and dads, to simple yet brilliant ideas in a wide range of areas including children’s products, music, sports, automotive, and even the nightclub scene….

The entrepreneurs who dare to enter the “Shark Tank” must try to convince the tough, self-made, multi-millionaire/billionaire tycoons to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they desperately need to jumpstart their business ideas. But the Sharks have a goal, too. They want a return on their investment and own a piece of the next big business idea.

In exchange for the Sharks’ cash investment, the entrepreneurs give up a percentage of their companies’ equity. When the Sharks hear a great idea, they’re ready to fight each other for a piece of it. Then the once-desperate entrepreneur can rejoice that the Sharks find value in their product, service or business. But if the pitch is poor, the Sharks will tear into the ill-prepared presenters and pass on the idea with a simple “I’m out!”

What Will You Learn?

These businessmen will teach you how capitalism really works.

Sometimes they expose the dark side of business–as when they attempt to buy a business in order to liquidate it. The sharks are looking to maximize profits even though they may destroy the entrepreneur’s dream. It is not personal; it’s just business.

Sometimes they tell an entrepreneur to stop doing what he is doing. This is merciful, as when the business model does not make sense and doing more will only lead the entrepreneur (who already has a second mortgage on his home) into greater debt.

These VCs do not suffer fools gladly and they do not provide false hope.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversitySometimes they spot a great business. When they do, they fight each other to obtain a stake in the viable business. Pay close attention when they fight  each other for a piece of a winning business because they are exposing the secrets of entrepreneurial success.

By watching the show you will learn:

  • How venture capitalists (VCs) think about money
  • How VCs decide to bet on a successful business
  • How to price a business (business valuation)
  • What entrepreneurs need to do to be successful
  • Why VCs bet on the entrepreneur as much as the product
  • What does not work and why

Now, you can watch passively and simply enjoy the show, but I would suggest that you watch with a yellow pad and take notes. Keep a dictionary handy or Google terms you do not understand. If you do this, you will be taught valuable concepts that we teach in our students in our MBA program.

Look for trends. Within the first 5 shows that you watch, you will begin to see certain patterns emerge (e.g. what makes a business attractive to an investor).

Teach Your Children Well 

Want to teach your children real lessons about economics?

Download full seasons and  watch them together. In 12 hours, you will teach your children more about how the economy works than they learn from 12 years in public school.

The show airs Friday at 9 PM on ABC, but you can watch a few back episodes on the Shark Tank Website. You can also download the first 4 seasons from Amazon. Single episodes are $1.99, but when you buy a season, each episode is only a buck.

Here are the links: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, and Season 4.

What other educational TV shows can you recommend? I would love to hear your thoughts.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

November 21, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Filed under Economics, Management, TV