TIME society

Is America Still the Home of the Brave?

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

Tracing a national tradition from the American revolutionaries and Amelia Earhart to graffiti artists and venture capitalists

On January 14, 2015, the world waited with bated breath as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson came over the rim of a notoriously steep section of the rock known as El Capitan, the largest single block of granite in the world. Over the course of 19 days, the pair had climbed the Dawn Wall, the most difficult part of the famous rock formation at Yosemite National Park, with just their hands and feet; rope and harnesses were used only to break deadly falls. Caldwell and Jorgeson became the first people to “free climb” the Dawn Wall, a feat many thought could never be accomplished.

The pair had trained for more than five years and encountered serious injuries on previous attempts. In recognition of their arduous and potentially fatal quest, one of them even called this climb his Moby-Dick, after that white whale that taunted—and destroyed—Captain Ahab. When Caldwell and Jorgeson made it to the top with their bloodied, bandaged, and superglued fingers, it was such a quintessential moment of American optimism that even President Obama sent his congratulations, tweeting, “You remind us that anything is possible.”

Could anyone other than Americans have scaled this incredibly difficult granite face with so scant a safety net? Of course—but it was Americans who made the seemingly impossible climb. And many of the world’s elite rock climbers—including the one considered the world’s best, Alex Honnold—are Americans. In advance of the “What It Means to Be American” event “Are Americans Risk-Takers?” we asked scholars and people who dabble in risk for a living: What is it about American culture that encourages risk-taking?

A young mindset for a young country — Joyce Appleby

Risk-taking appeals to the young; it’s only as we grow older that we’re cautioned by the downsides. One of the remarkable aspects of the American Revolution is the freedom won by young people. Both girls and boys escaped the drudgery of farming by becoming schoolteachers, an occupation greatly expanded after the Revolution. Similarly, the union of the states made it possible for boys to become peddlers, carrying goods from the Northern states to Southern plantations. These experiences made youth a time for experimenting in new careers.

Crucial for risk-takers in the early national period was the fact that old colonial wealth withdrew from speculative economic ventures, leaving many opportunities open to ordinary men and women. Old wealth stayed in the city and benefited from the rise in the prices of urban real estate. Early manufacturing centered in rural areas because of the available water power, and a new enterprise could begin with sweat equity and borrowed seed money from family and friends.

The opening up of the lands in the national domain west of the Appalachian Mountains also enticed many—mostly young people—to pull up stakes and move west where they might acquire land and the respect land ownership bestowed. First comers had an unusual chance to capitalize on their labor, clearing land and selling it to those in the second wave of westward adventurers.

Unlike European societies, American society freed its youth to create their own careers. Giving the natural risk-takers such a free scope led soon to embedding an admiration for risk-taking in American culture. It has continued to prevail as a distinctive feature of the culture of the United States.

Joyce Appleby is professor emeritus of history at UCLA who has studied England, France, and America in the 17th and 18th centuries, focusing on how economic developments changed people’s perceptions of politics, society, and human nature. Her recent publications are The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism (2010) and Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination (2013).

You can’t pass up an opportunity — Sket-One

Living in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave gives us a kind of “I can do that” attitude. No wonder we’re the birthplace of Nike’s “Just do it” campaign. Immigrants have brought their hopes and dreams here for a long time.

Growing up a graffiti artist in America isn’t all that free, and you have to be at least a little brave. To hone your skills, you mostly have to make art illegally—most people don’t have large blank walls sitting that they’re allowed to practice on. I remember being a kid and writing all my plans on pieces of paper—what colors to use, how to execute the sketch of the work I planned to do that night. And then I’d have to sneak out and hike to abandoned places like train yards or bridges. I could’ve been caught, electrocuted, or hit by a train or car. I could’ve been fined, had my artwork removed, or gone to jail. But I did it because I couldn’t find any other outlet to express myself. I wanted to create, and be seen creating.

If I imagine embarking on the same journey in a different country, I’m not sure it would’ve been worth the risk. Friends, for example, have told me about punishment for graffiti in Singapore—from huge fines to caning. If I were hit with a punishment of this caliber, I wouldn’t have continued or received any support for my artistic endeavors. Instead, I have a career doing what I love, and a comfortable home for my family.

Sket-One, also known as Andrew Yasgar, is a painter, illustrator, and designer who began as a graffiti artist in the 1980s. His studio is in Long Beach, California.

The ‘self-made man’ is an entrenched story, but a fable to many — Zulema Valdez

With 13 percent of the working-age population, the United States boasts the highest rate of entrepreneurship across 25 industrialized economies. Robert Fairlie, an economist at the Kauffman Foundation, noted that in 2013, the U.S. economy added 476,000 new business owners each month.

These numbers are consistent with the strongly held belief by most Americans that the United States is the land of opportunity, where anyone with a good idea, a positive attitude, and a willingness to work hard can own a business and succeed. This ideology is expressed by a higher percentage of Americans when compared to people in other nations. In a 2013 report published by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, fully 47 percent of Americans agreed that good opportunities for new businesses exist, and 56 percent “believed they had the capabilities to launch a business.”

Yet the economic reality for most American entrepreneurs is that most businesses fail. Regardless of personal drive, hard work, and risking it all, successful businesses are generally owned by older, white, middle-class men, who, yes, possess a propensity toward risk.

The idea of America as the land of opportunity—which we can even call the American Creed—sparks risk-taking among a large and diverse population willing to take a leap of faith and start a business. What the ideology fails to reveal, however, is that the U.S. remains a highly stratified society where successful entrepreneurs are rarely “self-made.” The Horatio Alger “rags-to-riches” fable is just that, a fable that exists to reinforce the possibility of the American dream. The reality, however, is that risk-taking, while perhaps a necessary ingredient for entrepreneurship, is not sufficient in the absence of human capital (education and work experience), social capital (business networks), and financial capital (personal savings, wealth, access to credit or loans). Ultimately, these factors trump risk-taking, or perhaps diminish the “risk” entirely.

Zulema Valdez is associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced and the author of The New Entrepreneurs: How Race, Class, and Gender Shape American Enterprise.

Challenging authority and taking chances is in America’s DNA — Susan Wels

From the beginning, independence and self-determination have been essential elements of the American character. As a culture, we tend to challenge authority and take risks to pursue our own convictions and interests.

That history helps shape who we are, and the scope of our expectations. Amelia Earhart—the first woman and second person to fly solo across the Atlantic—is one example. She grew up in a family of risk-takers. Her grandfather, Alfred Otis, moved to Kansas in 1855 to help escaping slaves—hiding them in trunks and covering them with grain in the back of wagons. He raised his daughter, Amy Otis, to embrace risk, travel, and adventure. She raised her daughter, Amelia Earhart, to have boundless potential. She began Amelia’s baby book with a quote from Ruskin: “Shakespeare has no heroes; he has only heroines.” And Amelia was determined to push every limit and break every boundary. Risk was never a hurdle—it was an attraction.

When I was researching my book on Amelia Earhart, I came across an essay she wrote called “Thrill” that was never published. “When I undertake a task,” she confided in the piece, “over all protest, in spite of all adversity, I sometimes thrill, not with the task, but with the realization that I am doing what I want to do.”

Amelia Earhart was an extraordinary risk-taker. But her insistence on self-determination was quintessentially American, and it was worth everything—even the risk of death on her final, record-setting flight around the world.

Susan Wels is the author of Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It.

American life is so predictable we can make ‘educated’ guesses — Alfonso Morales

Deciding whether to take a risk involves thinking about a number of variables—the consequences of a bad decision, figuring out your choices, and understanding how much effort you are willing to exert to gather knowledge about a business opportunity or to continue your education, for example.

The relative predictability and stability of American life helps Americans take risks. While corruption scandals do erupt from time to time, the local, state, and federal governments do function, as a general rule. Supermarket shelves are always well stocked unless there is some kind of super storm. Traffic is always bad at 5 p.m. on a weekday. Largely this is the same in “Western” societies where the rule of law provides predictability, but the U.S. combines an ease of entry with an institutional transparency that encourages new immigrants (and others) to funnel their energy into entrepreneurship.

Our society is stable enough that we can imagine the circumstances that have enabled another person to succeed and then take our own risk to do what he or she has done. Our society is also diverse enough that an interest in business found in one generation might get replicated in a very different way in the next generation. For instance, each adult and child in a family I knew at Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market had his or her own business: The adults sold clothing and recorded music; the children had their own line of toy cars, Rubik’s Cubes, and other novelties. They made choices built on previous experiences, and these experiences and incomes led to new, risky choices. Those risks were moderated by investing in the children’s education. (All four children earned post-secondary degrees, including a Ph.D. and a law degree.) This balancing act is not easy, nor are people always successful, but in the U.S. people can see themselves navigating risky situations successfully, even if it means exerting the effort for years before succeeding or even if their efforts might not bear fruit for a generation.

In short, when we take risks, we make “educated” guesses about what we’re going to do.

Alfonso Morales is an associate professor in the department of urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He co-edited the books Street Entrepreneurs and An American Story: Mexican American Entrepreneurship and Wealth Creation.

Our cultural idols are people who are willing to take enormous risk — Peter Sims

I’m not one for pandering the notion of “American exceptionalism” as politicians do. But after working as a venture capital investor in the United States, then in Europe, I realized one day—while riding on a train through the English countryside—that when it came to risk-taking, there really isn’t anything like the culture of entrepreneurship in America.

In England, you’re considered an entrepreneur if you buy a small company and try to grow it. In Germany, most of the economy is driven by the Mittelstand, large, privately held companies that grow 5 to 10 percent a year. In France, Italy, and Spain, government regulations and high capital costs hamper start-ups.

Yet in many parts of America, especially the valleys and universities, almost everyone is an entrepreneur, willing to tinker, toil, and enthuse about ideas late into the night, perfectly aware that failure is probable, even likely. Our cultural idols are the people who are willing to take enormous personal risk and toil through troughs of defeat. They emerge somehow as stronger human beings, perhaps wildly wealthy, or at the very least wiser and more original versions of themselves.

Some call that the American dream. And the challenge in America today is to ensure that entrepreneurial capitalism doesn’t take a back seat to a kind of crony capitalism that excessively enriches executives while cutting back innovation budgets. We don’t want the kind of capitalism that depends on a cozy relationship with government, where contributions flow from corporate pockets to Washington and back, deteriorating our faith in both government and the functioning of our market institutions. In my opinion, the danger in America today is that we forget the courageous, risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit that got us here, and replace it with a corruption of the ideals that built our country.

Peter Sims is co-founder of The Silicon Guild and founder of The BLK SHP (“black sheep”) Foundation. His latest book is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, which grew out of a long collaboration with faculty at Stanford University’s Institute of Design, as well as his previous work in venture capital.

This article was written for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME World

Here’s How a Germanwings Pilot Reassured Scared Passengers the Day After the Crash

A Germanwings Airbus A320 is seen at the Berlin airport, March 29, 2014. An Airbus plane of the same model crashed in southern France en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, on March 24, 2015 police and aviation officials said.
Jan Seba—Reuters A Germanwings Airbus A320 is seen at the Berlin airport, March 29, 2014. An Airbus plane of the same model crashed in southern France en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, on March 24, 2015 police and aviation officials said.

A woman on board explains a pilot's heartfelt message

The morning after Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps—before any real details were known about the state of the plane or co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’ mental state—Britta Englisch hesitantly stepped onto a Germanwings flight from Hamburg to Cologne.

As soon as she walked onto the plane, she and the other passengers were personally welcomed by the pilot, who assured them that he’d get them to their destination safely. Englisch praised the dedicated pilot and crew on Germanwings’ Facebook page Wednesday night, and her heartfelt post has since gone viral—accumulating some 300,000 likes in less than two days.

“This flight was the morning after the crash—at this time no details were known and everything was mere speculation,” Englisch, who lives in Hamburg, tells TIME via email. “Logically it was pretty clear to me, that Germanwings might have been the safest airline at that morning—they doublechecked every plane and pilots and crew were free to choose if they were feeling able to fly or not. Nevertheless I had this feeling in my stomach. Feelings are not logical, are they?”

But her worry subsided after the pilot personally welcomed people as they boarded the plane. “If someone made an uneasy impression, he talked to them,” says Englisch, a PR manager at Stage Entertainment.

After boarding was complete, rather than going into the cockpit, the pilot took a microphone and began to address his passengers.

“He introduced himself and his crew, talked about how he felt—that some of the crew knew someone on the plane, that he also had a slight uneasy feeling not knowing what happened,” Englisch recollects. “[The pilot continued that] he and the crew are there voluntarily, that the company didn’t force anyone to be on duty that day, that he double-checked the plane this morning. [He said that] he has family, kids and a wife who he loves, that the crew has loved ones and [that] he’ll do everything to return safely to them every evening.”

For a moment everyone was silent.

“No one was checking his phone for the last time or reading the papers,” Englisch says, noting that that is unusual for a commuter flight full of businesspeople. “And then everyone applauded.”

Englisch didn’t intend for her post, supporting the grieving airline, to gain so much attention.

“It was just one post amongst thousand others and it was meant to say thank you to the pilot for not hiding in the cockpit but letting us be part of his feelings.”

Here is her post:

Read next: Here’s What We Know About the Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME society

This Guy Thought He Could Cheat the Carpool Lane by Riding With ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’

He got fined and Twitter-shamed

Police in Washington state recently encountered a most interesting use of the carpool lane.

Washington State Patrol trooper Guy Gill pulled over a driver with a cardboard cutout of actor Jonathan Goldsmith — otherwise known as the “Most Interesting Man in the World” from the Dos Equis beer commercials — in his passenger seat so that he could use the carpool lane along Interstate 5 near Tacoma, Wash.

“He’s my best friend,” said the driver, who got a $124 fine and Twitter shamed by Washington State Patrol:

TIME society

It’s Time We Stop Pretending That All Same-Sex Marriages Are Identical

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

Once again individual members of a minority group are forced to represent their entire collective


This article is a response to this piece in The Federalist.

In it, the author, Heather Barwick, says she is against same-sex marriage because, despite being raised in what she describes as a nurturing, loving home with two parents, and being left by a father who she describes as having no interest in her, she feels her mother deprived her of a relationship with a father by being married to another woman and that all children raised in same-sex homes are being hurt.

Heather addressed her letter to me as part of the gay community, so mine is addressed to her.

Her point of view comes from her growing up in a same-sex household and raising children in a heterosexual household. My response comes from being raised in a heterosexual household and raising a child in a same-sex household.


First of all, I am sorry you are hurting. I am sorry you feel wronged and damaged by your upbringing. Your feelings are yours and thus are valid and no one can take that from you.

But I do have a problem with what you wrote, and as you said, “it might not be for the reasons that you think.”

You are against gay marriage. Fine.

I disagree with you strongly and think what you wrote is actively damaging to society; especially since you not only insult gay parents, but also single parents, adoptive parents, step parents, and parents of all orientations who use fertility treatments.

But my biggest problem is not your opinion. It is this: once again individual members of a minority group are forced to represent their entire collective.

You say, “Gay community, I am your daughter.”

No, you are not my daughter, Heather.

You can’t speak for my daughter any more than I can speak for your moms.

As a matter of fact, we’re close to the same age. Our kids will inherit the world we are both currently shaping.

But for some reason, you feel totally comfortable saying that you represent my child and your mother represents me. This is something minorities have to deal with all the time.

You are mad that your dad abandoned you. You blame your mom. Your mom is gay. I am gay. Thus, I am your mom.

If I follow your reasoning to it’s logical conclusion then it also applies to kids who have been hurt, or feel deprived and abandoned in the aftermath of straight relationships (which, by the way, happens in higher percentages than the kids of same-sex parents) which would mean traditional marriage should be banned. But you only want to talk about same-sex marriages, since that is your upbringing.

Since you like personal anecdotes, here is mine: I never met my biological father. This was my mother’s choice, not his, but it happened nonetheless. He has since passed away, so I also have no say in this. My mom married a man she fell in love with when I was three, he also raised me as his own until she died when I was 14. He then remarried (a woman) and the home became abusive and was damaging to me. I don’t need to get into details, but it was not the kind loving home that you describe with your mom and her wife.

Yet somehow, I never felt the need to ban all straight marriages because of it. I doubt anyone would ever propose that, because heterosexual marriage is the mainstream, and thus, each individual marriage, and parent, gets to be judged on their own merit.

This is something my wife and I have to deal with a lot. When it comes to our home and our family, we don’t have the luxury of being individuals, we are looked at to represent every lesbian home. It makes my wife angry. She wants to rage at the bigotry and the hate and violence. She has every right to. Change is often brought about by righteous anger. Being polite tends to create doormats.

I tend to handle things in a different way (because, gasp, my wife and I are different people despite both being lesbians). I try to live as what I call an “ambassador gay.” I want to mediate, to bridge the gap, to show how much we are alike, how normal and boring, and just like you I am.

For example, you and I are both moms and I bet our stories of being up at night feeding our infants and changing diapers would sound incredibly similar. I feel a lot of pressure to be the best mom, the best wife, the best person that I can be, not just for myself, but so that I can represent my community well. The reason I feel that pressure, is because of people like you who believe there is such thing as “people like me.” Like somehow every lesbian is just like me. Or every person of color is just like every other.

It’s the reason that when a film starring a woman tanks, Hollywood backs off, but John Carter can bomb without it leading to any shortage of testosterone fueled sci-fi films.

You are hurting and you have a right to voice your own opinion and point of view. Obviously, being raised in a same-sex home made you feel like you were deprived, despite the fact that you say it was a loving home. I am very glad that your husband is a good dad to your kids and you feel they want for nothing. I am sure it will be interesting for you to hear their take when they are grown.

But your experience is your experience and I would appreciate you leaving my daughter out of it and letting her speak for herself when she is old enough to have a voice.

My wife and I are going to make mistakes while raising her. Just like you are with your kids. There will be things that she hates about us and complains about us doing. Our hope is that these will be minor things and that in doing our best we will provide her with a foundation of love and support and some wisdom. She will definitely know that she was wanted, planned for and loved from the very beginning. That’s the best I can do as a parent.

Unlike you, I’m not the kind of person to make judgments about other people’s households. If I were, I’d be more worried about the hurt felt by kids raised in a home that actively belittles and campaigns against families that look different from their own. I’d be worried about a kid whose mother never outgrew the fantasy that somewhere out there exists a super parent who would have never disappointed her. And most of all I would be worried about the hurt caused to a kid who watched their mother project the feelings of rejection and hurt from a willfully absent father onto the person who stepped up and actually did the care giving and the loving.

But, I am not in your home, so I wouldn’t do that to you.

Amanda Deibert wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

Settlers of Brooklyn Is a Game About the Hipster Millennials You Love to Hate

Most of the jokes are about kale

The Brooklyn edition of the hit board game Settlers of Catan is out — at least according to a new parody by Above Average, the comedy channel on YouTube launched by Broadway Video, which was founded by Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels.

According to the clip, the mission of this “game of settlement and exploration” is to create a “fully gentrified colony,” for “in the early 2000s, the land of Brook-lan was virtually uninhabited by young adults with wealthy parents.” Kale is the subject of most of the jokes, and Lena Dunham is crowned the winner.

While the fake game is about Brooklyn, the jokes could pretty much apply to any city.



TIME Business

The New Recipe for Women Entrepreneurs to Find Success

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One initiative in New York City is boosting female entrepreneurship

Alicia Glen, New York’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, may have found the city’s special sauce: women entrepreneurs. In unveiling Women Entrepreneurs NYC (WE NYC), a new initiative to increase the number of female entrepreneurs from underserved communities, Glen invoked the case of a would-be mole seller in the Bronx: a woman who has mastered, but not yet marketed, her grandmother’s recipe. “We’re going to teach you how to take that amazing mole recipe and get it into the stream of commerce,” Glen explained. Working with Citi, Goldman Sachs, and microlender Grameen America, WE NYC is precisely the kind of public-private partnership that, done right, has the potential to improve the incomes and lives of low-income women, children and families, create jobs, and drive more broad-based economic growth across the city.

The entrepreneur holds a special place in the American psyche. This is true not only of the nation’s iconic entrepreneurs – Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates – but of the millions of unheralded small business owners whose personal livelihoods, and the vibrancy of their communities, depend on the viability of their enterprises. Research now affirms just how important entrepreneurs are to broader employment: in the last 30 years, start-ups and young companies have been the primary engines of net new job creation in the United States.

When it comes to women and entrepreneurship, the story is both worse – and more promising. The gender gap in entrepreneurship is a real and global phenomenon. In the U.S., where women comprise more than half of the educated population, women-owned businesses account for only 16 percent of the nation’s employer firms (at high growth firms, it is only 10 percent). New York’s data bears this out as well. The State of Women Entrepreneurs in NYC, the preliminary findings of New York City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS), released in coordination with the WE NYC launch last week, showed that although there has been a steady increase in women-owned businesses in New York – where women entrepreneur businesses represent 32 percent of all registered companies – a significant “economic impact” gap remains: men still own 1.5 times as many businesses as women, employ 3.5 times more people per business, and generate 4.5 times more sales per business.

New York City is not the first to highlight these discrepancies. Much attention has been paid of late to the gender gap in STEM and STEM entrepreneurship at the engineer and employee, board and venture capital level, in Silicon Valley and in the corporate world beyond. These distortions – and their economic and financial costs – have spurred a new kind of investment thesis, one centered on unlocking the value of “gender capitalism” in a number of ways: investing in companies that provide critical goods and services to women or in those that are women owned, led, governed or promote workplace equity more broadly. Increasingly, and in response to (often women led) investor demand for social “impact,” large financial institutions are creating products and vehicles that employ the “gender lens:” U.S. Trust offers clients a Women and Girls Equality (WGES) investment approach (which in 2013 outperformed its S&P 1500 benchmark); Morgan Stanley’s Parity Portfolio screens for companies with three or more women on the board; Barclays Women in Leadership Total Return Index and exchange-traded notes (WIL) includes companies with a female CEO or women comprising at least 25 percent of directors. Sallie Krawcheck, one of the most successful women on Wall Street and former Bank of America executive, recently launched the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (PXWEX), which invests in companies that advance women in a number of ways. Last week, Pax Ellevate encouraged the companies in its fund to sign on to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative of the United Nations Global Company and UN Women (the Principles includes guidelines for ways companies can empower women in the work place, marketplace, and community).

WE NYC harnesses this gender lens, but shifts focus from board room to barrio. The logic is similar – investing in women makes good economic sense – but the program is concerned with the poor in New York City, where nearly 25 percent of all women and girls are economically vulnerable, and where 40 percent of the households headed by a single mother (raising more than one million children) live in poverty.

The blueprint comes less from portfolio theory than it does from places like Bangladesh, where microfinance proved that small loans and supports to women to start and run businesses could be a pathway to income stability and long-term economic security. Such is the hope of WE NYC and why Grameen America, started by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus to bring the microfinance to the U.S., is a founding partner.

This kind of collaboration will be critical to WE NYC’s success. In creating the program, the SBS interviewed women entrepreneurs across the city to better understand the obstacles they faced in setting up and expanding their business. The response: access to capital, business education and support systems, gender discrimination, and the challenges of “going it alone.” Accordingly, WE NYC will focus on these fundamentals. With the help of Citi, SBS will target women for existing entrepreneurship programs. Grameen America will provide free business building services to their community of 27,000 women borrowers, most from the city’s low-income communities. SBS will also work closely with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, a program once run by the Deputy Mayor Glen, which too provides entrepreneurs with technical assistance and access to capital. SBS will also continue to draw on existing partners like Brooklyn based Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade and artisanal goods that has participated in “microbusiness” workforce development programs. Etsy, which in 2014 facilitated nearly $2 billion in sales from microentrepreneurs across the globe and has recently filed for IPO, transcends the gender gap: 88% of its sellers are women.

WE NYC aims to serve 5,000 women entrepreneurs over three years. Partnerships are critical not just for the resources to make this possible. They remind all of us about the shared responsibility – and rewards – of broad-based prosperity. Or what Sally Krawcheck calls “the big idea 2015: inclusive capitalism = a more prosperous capitalism.

Georgia Levenson Keohane is a Senior Fellow at New America and Director of the Program on Profits and Purpose. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Money

Our March Madness Office Pools Should All Be Legal

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

The U.S. government doesn’t see it that way, but everyone could benefit from the $9 million Americans wager on college hoops

Roughly 40 million Americans are expected to fill out a total of 70 million brackets and bet $9 billion on March Madness this month, according to data from the American Gaming Association.

And all of them will be criminals in violation of up to three federal laws.

The most commonly violated law will be the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which passed through Congress in 1992 at the behest of the four major pro sports leagues (NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL) and the NCAA. It effectively prohibits sports gambling outside of the four states that had previously allowed it.

Yet it should surprise no one to hear that betting on the Super Bowl or March Madness doesn’t take place only in Nevada (the only state where it’s legal to make a bet on a single game), and that Federal agents don’t bother to descend on your workplace to arrest everyone who entered the office pool.

Gambling—largely legal and heavily regulated throughout Europe—has swept American sports culture. Lines and spreads are impossible to miss in media coverage. The most popular sportswriter in America, Bill Simmons, hosts a weekly NFL gambling podcast where he discusses the bets he’d “place if gambling were legal” (wink, wink). Sports betting is no longer some underground habit. It’s mainstream.

Gallup polls say 17 percent of Americans have wagered on sports in the last 12 months. In 2010, the FBI spent taxpayer resources to arrest 10,000 of those gambling Americans. Instead of spending some rounding up a few of us gamblers, imagine how much money Washington could collect for more worthwhile pursuits –like healthcare and education, and even gambling addiction treatments – if it legalized and taxed our sports betting.

Let’s be clear: the debate over gambling legalization is not a debate over whether or not to allow gambling. That’s already happening, whether you like it or not. It’s estimated that the amount of money wagered illegally on this year’s Super Bowl was 38 times greater than the amount wagered legally in Vegas casinos.

With the explosion in fantasy sports—many of which are played for money—over the last decade, more and more Americans are coming face to face with the folly of gambling “prohibition.” Even a strong supporter of the initial PASPA bill, Arizona senator John McCain, is now calling on Congress to rethink the law.

The discussion has become so animated that NBA commissioner Adam Silver penned a November New York Times op-ed arguing for a Congressional framework for states to legalize and regulate gambling, taking the activity take illegal gambling “out of the underground and into the sunlight.” Silver doubled down on these words in a February ESPN The Magazine story, calling himself not necessarily a gambling advocate but merely a “realist.”

Anti-gambling proponents will argue that legalized gambling will lead to more match-fixing and point-shaving – akin to what happened with the University of San Diego basketball team during the 2009-10 season. This could not be further from the truth.

Toreros guard Brandon Johnson was able to go undetected taking money under the table from bettors to deliberately not cover point spreads for so long specifically because gambling activity in California is kept in the dark. Had such odd fluctuations in San Diego lines been in the view of the public and regulatory officials, the shaving would have been nipped in the bud much sooner. In fact, there’s a good chance the greater risk of detection would have prevented any game manipulation attempts in the first place.

And in the pro ranks, athletes making millions simply aren’t going to risk their already lucrative careers for a tiny cut in match-fixing bribes. In any case, the general principle applies that it is easier to police and regulate activity happening in the open than what takes place in the shadows.

Some anti-gambling proponents are also concerned about the potential for increases in problem gambling. Given the extremely easy access to sports books and bookies, not to mention office pools and fantasy leagues, most experts are unconvinced legalization would actually increase gambling much, if at all. If you have a problem gambling, you’re already susceptible.

If anything, legalized gambling would remove many of the stigmas that prevent problem gamblers from speaking out about their issues and getting them the help they need sooner. Also, legal sports books do not allow wagers on credit, which can lead to dangerous situations in which bettors become heavily indebted to bookies.

Making bets on the Super Bowl or March Madness is a form of entertainment that is far more social and interesting than buying a state-sanctioned lottery ticket. Millions of Americans engage in this entertainment without harming anyone, including themselves. And as a society, haven’t we reached a consensus that we don’t ban things because a few of us will become addicted to them? Or would you also embrace prohibition for fast food, Netflix, and Candy Crush too?

Gambling is here to stay, and it is deeply rooted in our sports fan culture. Acknowledging this reality once and for all would be a smart bet.

Jim Pagels is a regular contributor to Forbes whose work has appeared in Reason, FiveThirtyEight, ESPN, and The Atlantic. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

Read next: The Staggering Numbers—and Dollars—Behind March Madness

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I Eat Garbage to Save Money and Help Reduce Food Waste

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

America throws away up to 40% of its food supply—I’m doing my part by diverting trash to my table


There are few things in the world that I love as much as good bread. Toasted and spread with golden butter and sweet raspberry jam, sliced and piled high with tangy tomatoes, savory cheese, and crunchy pickles, it’s pretty much the perfect food.

Good bread is, however, expensive. The kind of artisanal bread I favor, made lovingly by hand and devoid of the myriad dough conditioners and preservatives found in most commercial loaves, is considered unsellable after a single day on the shelf.

I first became aware of the staggering amount of bread that ends its life in a dumpster from a college roommate. He drove a delivery route for a local bakery, getting up at 3 a.m. to load a van full of freshly baked bread and deliver it to various grocery stores around town.

Sometimes I rode along, braving the obscenely early wake-up just to spend time in his presence (I was hopelessly in love with him, despite his proclivity for wearing a blanket in lieu of pants).

At each store, he would exchange fresh bread for day-old, filling several black garbage bags in the course of a single shift. As a result, our household of broke college kids always had plenty of delicious bread to eat.

Despite our best efforts, though, there was simply too much for us: lots of it ended up in a dumpster anyway. Seven years later, the same dumpster continues to yield its starchy fruit: I am never without good bread.

Although bread is one of the easiest, most reliable items for which to dumpster dive — it’s thrown away all the time, it’s dry, non-perishable, and relatively non-pathogenic — I also scavenge produce, chocolate, and flowers from the garbage.

Sometimes it can be pretty icky; various slimes attend the decay of vegetables and fruit, and dumpsters are occasionally coated in unidentifiable goo. But for every mold-dappled orange and liquefying cucumber, I’ve encountered pristine clusters of grapes, whole heads of cabbage, onions and potatoes and bunches of celery discarded for minor cosmetic imperfections.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, $165 billion worth of food is thrown away every year in the United States, representing a staggering 40% percent of food produced. At the same time, an estimated 1 in 9 people worldwide lack steady access to food — including about 14% of Americans. These numbers are absolutely mind-blowing, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg: This Washington Post article presents a good summary of the chilling statistics.

Although I’m not by any means rich (after earning an expensive college degree, I am, like many of my generation, right back to where I started: in the service industry), I’m not so poor than I can’t afford decent food. Eating well is a top priority for me; I forgo cable TV, a nice laptop, professional haircuts, and many other luxuries in favor of organic milk, pastured eggs, and organic produce.

But, still, eating well is not cheap. I couldn’t afford as much of the fancy bread and chocolate I love so much if I bought it at the store; dumpster diving lets me enjoy high-quality food while diverting a tiny bit of our nation’s insane food waste to my table.

But, you might protest, (as have many of my more squeamish friends), you’re eating out of the garbage. Gross! It’s true. Dumpsters are not particularly sanitary places. Although many bakery dumpsters, for instance, are just used for bread, and thus aren’t likely to contain contaminants like raw meat or chemicals, others can get pretty shady.

That’s why I usually stick to fruits with thick skins — oranges, melons, mangoes — or vegetables that I plan to cook, and wash everything thoroughly before I prepare it. Grocery stores without trash compactors (they’re pretty rare these days) can be a great source of packaged food that’s just a day or past the expiration date.

Besides the “ick” factor, dumpster diving does take a lot more work than simply going to the store and laying your money down. But, for me, the cost-savings, combined with the satisfaction that comes from playing a small part in reducing food waste, is totally worth it.

Emily A. Klein wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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I Don’t Feel Guilty for Not Tipping My Waitstaff

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

Tipping should be a reward, not a right


Recently, an old “high school friend” turned “Facebook-friend-I-forgot-I-had” posted a photo of a receipt, and it popped up in my newsfeed. This receipt wasn’t hers — it was for an unknown diner at a restaurant-that-shall-remain-nameless where Facebook friend works. She captioned this photo: “Not even a 10% tip?! #cheated.”

I spent the next couple of hours feeling irrationally irritated after I saw that photo, but not at the customer who failed to give what this waitress felt she deserved in a tip. I was annoyed at her for feeling entitled to complain about it.

The art of tipping is, for most people, really freaking annoying. How much is too much? How much is too little? Is this the only reason I had to learn how to calculate percentages in 5th grade? Am I really supposed to tip this floral delivery guy when I didn’t even know he was coming to deliver me flowers that I didn’t even buy? Also, I don’t carry cash anymore, so, crap.

And I could write a whole separate article on “Automatic Tips.” There is no such thing as an “automatic” tip. If it’s “automatically” included, it is “automatically” just part of the regular price. The very definition of tipping suggests it should be extra. It’s a reward, not a right.

But the bread and butter of my tip annoyance is the mandatory tip of your server in a restaurant. Why do I owe someone extra money just for doing their job? I work retail, and get paid crap for it. I’m expected to be courteous and helpful and provide “excellent customer service” with absolutely no possibility of a tip or commission. Why should it be any different for someone working in a restaurant? The way I see it, the restaurant is paying the employee, not me.

Disclaimer time: I live and eat 98+% of my meals in Washington State, one of 7 states that doesn’t have a different minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped employees. The waiter or waitress in whatever restaurant I am in makes at least minimum wage which, coincidentally, is what I make in my retail job. And sooner or later, that minimum wage is going to jump to a staggering $15/hour. But we are still expected to tip people on top of that wage, just as we would in states where waitstaff are making less than $3 per hour. That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Let it be known, I personally do not believe that a tipped minimum wage should be allowed. That just lets the employer off easy while asking the customer to pick up the slack on what should be an employer’s expense. It isn’t fair to the worker or the customer, and I would advocate for the tipped minimum wage to be abolished.

I do not want anybody living in poverty, but I don’t think that the wage of someone should depend on the whim of a customer, either. Servers and bartenders deserve a solid minimum wage just like the rest of us.

And yet, we live in a society that customarily mandates tips, and businesses go out of their way to make customers feel uncomfortable if they don’t tip. From tip jars that practically smack you in the face when you’re ordering a coffee to the new tablet payment trend that “suggests” you add a $1-2 tip to your transaction, even if you all bought was a $2.50 cup of tea, you sometimes have to go out of your way NOT to tip.

Never mind that these “opportunities” to tip often come before you have received much service at all. The quality of service isn’t even what matters anymore — it’s just expected.

Thanks to Instagram and Twitter, we now live in an era of “tip shaming.” I’ve seen pictures of receipts that shame celebrities or other wealthy people for not providing some grotesque tip. As though Mark Zuckerberg is obliged to tip you more than I am even if we receive the same service: the amount of a tip doesn’t depend on the percent of our income. We don’t owe you anything but decency, respect, and the listed prices we’ve agreed to pay.

Food is a good like any other. I don’t ask customers to throw in 10% for buying clothes from me, and I resent the implication that a food service worker is working harder than I am, and therefore deserves a tip. The truth is that tips are an outdated tradition doing absolutely nothing to improve the livelihoods of people in the food-service industry.

For all these reasons and more, I’ve finally gotten over the guilt that goes with not tipping. I don’t eat out often- maybe three times a month, including ice cream and coffee runs — but when I do, I rarely tip. The last time I tipped my waiter it was because he offered me a free refill on my cocktail when I clumsily spilled it on the table, adding to the mess he already had to clean up. And yes, I felt he deserved it. But the person scooping my ice cream cone? Mixing my hot chocolate? Or the person delivering my steaming bowl of pho?

No, to me, the 60 seconds you spent serving me doesn’t merit an extra dollar. I simply don’t believe in it. And I’m not apologizing for it.

Editorial note: The original image has been removed from this post.

Sarah Bartlett wrote this article for xoJane.

Read next: The Insulting Names That Businesses Call You Behind Your Back

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Man Who Was Mistakenly Invited to Bachelor Party Definitely Going Anyway

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He raised money on crowd-funding websites and is going

A Seattle man who was accidentally copied on an email chain about a Philadelphia bachelor party is going anyway.

Joey DiJulio of Seattle got the first email from these people he didn’t know on Feb. 11. After a few weeks of messages about Jeff Minetti’s bachelor party in Philadelphia at the end of the month, he replied, explaining that they mixed him up with someone else. That started a whole new email chain, with Minetti’s friends saying he should totally come anyway, and the groom confirming, adding that DiJulio should come to the wedding, too.

According to Q13 FOX’s play-by-play of this saga, DiJulio set up a GoFundMe page “Random Bachelor Party” earlier this week to raise $1276 to fund the trip and surpassed the goal within 24 hours. Now he is raising money to go toward the couple’s honeymoon.

This comment on DiJulio’s crowd-funding site seems to sum up the overwhelming turnout for this unusual cause: “Strangers really are just friends we haven’t met yet.”

Read next: This 104-Year-Old Woman Says Dr Pepper Is What’s Keeping Her Alive

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