Category Archives: Columns

The empire of Jeff Bezos

Story by Audrey Boyd

What doesn’t he own?

     From companies like Twitch, to Whole Foods, to the worldwide phenomenon of Amazon.com— Jeff Bezos takes it all. In 2017, he was crowned the richest person in the world. As of Sept. 27, 2019, he holds a net worth of $108.6 billion.

He has stated that there is no feasible way to spend all of his “winnings” and has turned to the extraterrestrial instead, founding his space company Blue Origin in 2000.

     “We are in the process of destroying this planet,” he claims. What he fails to realize is that he could save it. It may be unreasonable to expect a perfect world, but is it wrong to fight for a better one?

     This man has enough money to end world hunger. That is not an exaggeration.

     The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) stated in their 2016 report that it would cost an estimated $22 billion per year, every year, until 2030, to successfully end world hunger. In January of 2019, Business Insider estimated that Bezos makes $78.5 billion every year, and $6.5 billion every month. 

     He makes enough money in just four months to feed every person for an entire year, and would still have more than $52 billion left.

Jeff Bezos could end world hunger and he would still be the richest man in history.

     But that is not his problem, right?

     What about homelessness? The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that it would cost around $20 billion to effectively eliminate homelessness within the United States. Bezos could have that in four months.

     Is that still unfair?

     Then what about his own employees?

     He could simply raise the minimum wage– a seemingly meaningless gesture to him, but something that could mean the world to people struggling to make ends meet. It would hardly even make a dent– Business Insider reported, “Per hour, he makes a whopping $8,961,187 million– that’s roughly 315 times Amazon’s $28,466 median annual worker pay. An Amazon worker earning the $15 [Amazon] minimum wage would need to work about 597,412 hours, or 24 hours a day for about 68 years, just to earn what Bezos makes in one hour.”

     Instead, he profits from their destruction. In 2011, Amazon came under fire after a heatwave struck a Pennsylvania warehouse, causing temperatures to rise to 110 degrees and enough of a health concern that paramedics were called to wait in the parking lot to take immediate action any time an employee collapsed.

     In 2015, The New York Times published an in-depth article about the harsh conditions of working for Amazon titled, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace.” It criticized the impossible expectations held by the company, as well as the encouragement of employees to sabotage each other to get ahead. Bo Olson, a previous employee, quoted,  “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

     This man is capable of doing incredible things, but he actively makes the decision not to. You may argue that it is unfair to hold him to these high standards, but is that not his entire philosophy?

     This man is infamous for being less charitable than most of his billionaire associates. He has yet to sign the Giving Pledge— the commitment to, “help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will,” as quoted directly from their official website. Others of the top 0.01 percent have made the commitment, with names like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet adorning the long list– so why hasn’t he?

     The most recent donation from Bezos was an entire year ago, in September of 2018, where he launched a $2 billion dollar Day One Fund to help homeless families and create preschools.

      That is only 1.84 percent of his total net worth.

     A man with this level of wealth and power should have a moral obligation to use it to better our people and our society. Many of the immeasurable problems we face could be fixed with a snap of his fingers.

     Bad things are happening in our world, and Jeff Bezos is trying to escape it in a rocketship.

     But once he reaches the stars, what will there be for the people left behind?

 

Q&A With Assistant Principal Joe Voelker

The Bagpiper: What is the exact dress code?

Joe Voelker: “I think we’re pretty much a jeans-and-t-shirt type of school. Dress needs to not be a distraction. That’s really what it is; it needs to not be a distraction to others, which is very loosely defined, kind of intentionally. But, basically your clothes need to fit and fit properly. Even if they don’t, we need to see how we can help you with that to make your clothes fit. Your shirt should be down to your belt. We don’t make kids tuck them in, but they should be down to the belt. You shouldn’t have a crop top, or something like that. As far as straps go, it needs to cover you up on top. That’s sort of where it is. Dr. Willman, Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Cerqueira, and [I], we don’t really go around hunting down a lot of dress code things. We do have [problems] that we see, or they come to us, and that we deal with.”

BP: How would you define “muscle shirts” and “bro tanks?” 

JV: “Just, boys shouldn’t be wearing a tank top.”

BP: Why are boys not allowed to wear tank tops when girls are?

JV: “Well, the mentality is, in a workplace, a female can get by with a sleeveless type of dress or top. Generally, you don’t go into an office and see guys with a bro tank on, so, that’s the mentality behind that. If you go work in an office, you don’t see guys with a tank top on. But, you may see women with a sleeveless thing on, and that’s where that came from.”

BP: In such a big school, it can be hard to get to everyone who is breaking the dress code, and as you said, you don’t go around looking for it. How do administrators handle the entire school population without it seeming like they’re picking and choosing?

JV: “Generally, if it’s brought to my attention—sometimes I do see it in the hallway, and if I do, I address it. Sometimes a teacher will email either me or a counselor or Mrs. Shaffer.”

BP: Is there anything else that readers need to know about the dress code?

JV: “I think if you have a question about something, just come talk to us. Styles right now are a little better than they were ten years ago. The issue with styles right now are the crop tops on girls, they don’t [go all the way down] and cover the belt. That’s something to cover up. But, we used to have styles where shorts were very, very short for both boys and girls. Now guys got into the longer shorts, now they’re kind of going back up again. For a period, guys always had shorts to their knees, and now they’ve kind of gone up a little bit. About ten years ago, [there was] that, and in-style tops were very, very tight fitting and could lead to being inappropriate. Right now, styles, people don’t wear that kind of thing.”

Previewing the NCAA and NFL seasons

By J.D. McKay

We made it. Saturday Florida and Miami play to start the college football season. Now, to those of us in Indiana, that game does not really interest us. But, it is the first televised game to matter. That should hopefully hold us over to Thursday, when we get to see Clemson and their QB Trevor Lawrence play for the first time after winning the National Championship last January. 

I have already started college football, and it is coming sooner so I will start there. I expect 50 percent of the playoff from last year to be back. It will be the same 50 percent I predicted last year, Clemson and Alabama. The other two spots are much more open. However, Oklahoma has been very good over the past few years and always seem to slide into the playoffs, so they will be my third. The fourth spot is also pretty open. Georgia could get in. However, that would mean keeping the Big Ten out for a third straight year, and their last appearance, Ohio State, in 2016, was forgettable. They were blanked by Clemson, losing 31-0. I really do not think anyone from the Big Ten will get out of the conference. Ohio State has a new coach, so it should take them a year to get going. Michigan is always good until they play Ohio State, where they will inevitably get destroyed. Michigan State has a chance I guess, but when you could compare them to a one loss SEC team, they probably are not in. The rest of the conference has some good teams not typically thought of as powerhouses, like Iowa, Nebraska, or Penn State. However, none of those teams have the prestige Georgia has to get in. 

In the first round, Clemson will beat Oklahoma in one versus four game, and Alabama will beat Georgia in the two versus three game. For the third time in four years, Bama and Clemson will play for the championship, and for back-to-back years, Clemson’s stud QB, Trevor Lawrence, who will be coming off a Heisman trophy winning season, will win the title. 

Moving to the NFL, this will also be at least semi-predictable. The Patriots will win their division. Shocking, I know. The Saints will also win their division behind Drew Brees’ first MVP season in a career that should have produced two or three MVPs. 

I will skip through the regular season, but the playoffs will have the Colts, Chargers, Patriots, and Browns winning their divisions in the AFC. The Wildcards will be the Jaguars and Chiefs. The Chargers and Browns will have the first round byes, but the Browns will go into the bye in a sharp decline after losing their last three and be beat in their first playoff game by the third seeded Colts. The Chargers will lose to the Patriots, and Tom Brady will once again be in the AFC Championship game. However, I might be biased here, but the Colts will get over the hump and beat old man Brady. 

The NFC will also look pretty similar to last year. The Bears, Saints, and Rams will all repeat as division champs. However, the Eagles will win their division instead of the Cowboys. The Wildcards will be the Falcons and 49ers. The Bear and Saints will get the bye. After the Eagles and 49ers get knocked out in the first round. Both the first and second seeded teams will advance to the NFC Championship game. The Bears will somehow quite Brees and go to the Super Bowl XLI rematch. 

It will be a match up of a great Colts offense versus a great Bears defense. That often does not go well for the offenses. But Frank Reich, one of the NFL’s best coaches will figure out the Bears and win the Colts third Super Bowl, and second against the Bears in my lifetime.

 

We need to put the death penalty to rest…again

 

Art by Sam Haney

Story by Gracie Vanover

For many countries world wide the death penalty is not something inmates fear anymore. In the last 16 years the death penalty has been a true rarity. But now those numbers are going to see a tremendous rise.  

President Donald Trump reinstated the federal level of capital punishment just a few days ago. In reversing the death penalty hiatus Trump has caused people to line up already to face their end. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) 62 people are on federal death role and approximately 2,600 for state death penalty. Although some see this as an eye for an eye, it appears to be more of an improper solution. 

In seeing this punishment as an eye for an eye many forget a crucial part. The inmate’s backstory. In many cases details of abusive childhoods or other factors are thrown out the window and forgotten in a trial. For example, in 1994 a man named Scotty Morrow murdered his ex-girlfriend and other women. To no surprise he was sentenced to death row, but there are, of course, always complexities. 

In Morrow’s case he was violently treated as a child and never received therapy or any form of mental health booster, leaving him unstable. In the 20 or so years he spent in prison he became a rehabilitated man and would have been released back into the world had it not been for his lethal injection. Many officers in the prison said he was the best behaved inmate and was one of the kindest people they had ever met. 

Of course, Morrow is just an example of many other prisoners in the states. Had it not been for his death penalty he would have been free to go back into the world a changed person. In using these lethal punishments second chances of life are completely squandered. 

In revamping the death penalty we are stooping to the level of serial killers or murderers. We are no longer fighting for justice and in the end doing exactly what the accused are. What makes us so much better than them? 

Many supporters of the death penalty, like Trump, claim to be pro-life. If pro-lifers are fighting for an unborn life, then why are they trying to end one that is well on its way? Sure this life commited a crime but is one life not as precious as another? If an unborn life is worth as much as people draw it out to be then why is an inmate’s worth less? The simple answer is if the unborn life is precious, then so is the inmate’s. 

As a society we should condemn this distasteful penalty and work towards better solutions. We in no way have authority to take the life of someone even though they took someone else’s. Rather than ending their lives we should try to turn their lives in the right direction. Morrow corrected himself but never saw the light of day again much like others charged with the death penalty. So what exactly stopping us from amending these prisoners’ lives? Nothing but our own laws.

 

Predicting the MLB season with 50 games left

By J.D. McKay

Next week is when competitions at FC really start, so I will write my preseason column next week. However, right now there is not much happening in sports. The MLB is nearing the end of the season. The NFl preseason is starting, and just about every other league is in the offseason. My NFL preview will be the Wednesday after Labor Day, so I guess it is MLB. 

There are about 50 games left. The trade deadline has come and gone. I think the Houston Astros won the trade deadline. They traded for Zach Greinke, one of baseball’s best pitchers. Pitchers are the most important players in the post season and that will make them very competitive in October. The Reds seemed to be selling at the deadline, despite still being one winning streak away from really being in contention. They traded fan favorite Scooter Gennett and Yasiel Puig. However, they got my preseason pick for AL Cy Young, Trevor Bauer, for Puig. My trade deadline loser was the Yankees. Their starting pitching has being terrible for the past few weeks but the did not trade for a pitcher. That could prove to be fatal. 

The post season is going to be here in two months. Unfortunately, I do not think the Yankees will win the World Series despite being the best team in baseball. Starting pitching is too important and, as I said above, theirs has been poor. Unless their pitchers pull it together, it may be a quick exit. I like the Astros to be the American League representative in the World Series because of their trade for Greinke as well as Justin Verlander. Those two should be able to win enough games in the playoffs to get to the World Series. 

The National League I see as a toss up. The Dodgers are good, they have two great starters. However, the NL Central has been the toughest division in baseball this year. I could see a team coming out of that division and excelling against teams that are not constantly playing top teams. 

Earlier this year I predicted Astros vs Dodgers in the World Series, and I am sticking with that. However, I predicted the Dodgers in six games. But after the Astros trades, I am expecting the Astros to win the World Series in five games.