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It's Not the Milk that's Spoiled

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Covey Youth Conferences for Leadership & Empowerment
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A community for developing and uniting the next generation of principle-centered leaders
Dear Youth, (the young ones and the young once!)
You've heard about the Chinese milk scandal.  But think about this for a moment.  What could be the connection between Chinese milk, unstable oil prices and the US economic crisis?  As you read through the short descriptions of these events, see if you can find patterns in how some people think...
Got Milk:  Why do people put melamine in milk even when they know it's toxic?  Because melamine makes milk appear to have more protein by increasing the milk's nitrogen levels.  So some companies use it to fool government quality tests and make their products more marketable.  The contaminated milk has already afflicted more than 50,000 children.  This is the third product scandal in China in the last 15 months.  Last year, some Chinese toy companies were found guilty of using paint that contained high levels of lead, which is also very toxic.  These companies used lead paint to lower their costs of production and make their toys appear glossier.  Prior to that, we heard about people selling dumplings filled with cardboard.  Hmmm...
It might seem very tempting to judge the Chinese people and look down on them for disregarding ethical business practices.  But look at what's happening in other parts of the world...
Oily Bubbles:  How did the price of oil reach so high so suddenly?
  Although there are many factors, a major contributing factor to the oil price bubble is oil speculation.   An oil speculator is someone who purchases oil stocks, anticipates oil prices, and then resells the stocks at higher prices.  Oil speculation causes prices to increase by artificially increasing demand.  The real demand is actually much lower, but oil speculators keep demand high by trading among themselves, then selling the stocks at higher prices, thus making a profit for themselves while everyone else pays more than they should.  These oil speculators are found all over the world...
Selling it Short:  Why did the US government ban short selling in the stock market?  One of the interventions to address the US economic crisis was to temporarily ban short selling.  Short selling is similar to speculation in that it can also manipulate the market; but instead of betting on prices to rise, short sellers bet on prices to go down and then profit from it.  For example, a short seller can make money simply by "borrowing" 100 stocks and selling them at 2$ in the morning, then buying these back later in the day for 1$ and returning them to the owner.  Short sellers profit when stocks drop.  So with the current crisis, it really doesn't help when you have people betting on you to lose and making money when people lose.  But even without the crisis, short selling offers no real economic benefits to anyone other than the people making the trades.   
So, what patterns did you see?
Even in cultures with supposedly high ethical standards, people with selfish interests still find ways to fill their pockets.  They might use different strategies, but the troubling patterns are the same.  It's just a case of different names for the same thing. 
Greed.  Deception.  Desire for immediate gratification.  Going for short term gains at the expense of long term stability.  Profiting at the expense of others.  Acting for oneself alone without considering how it affects the big picture.
At the end of the day, it's not the milk that's spoiled...it's the people.  
The best thing about being youthful is having the power to recreate and rejuvenate.  To rejuvenate means to give new life and vigor, and to restore something spoiled to a brand new state. 
Did you know that 'Juve' literally means youth?   It almost seems that, as youth, we are meant to keep the hope for change alive.  Perhaps, if we care enough, we can be the generation that breaks the old patterns and creates new ones. 
All the best,
the CYCLE Team
7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens Workshop 
October 4 & 5
Let us know about your youth events so we can promote it here! 
Quotes for the week:  
"Age is just a number.  It's totally irrelevant unless of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine."
- Joan Collins
"The power and Light is in you.  Keep hope alive.  Kid, you'll move mountains." 
 - Sean Covey

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