Social Issues and Creative Solutions

  1. Are we merely avoiding social issues by making them into personal troubles?

More and more people are starting to place society’s issues on individuals. Many great public issues are becoming ignored and  dealt with wrongly because people neglect to connect both individual and public connections. Mills describes trouble as a private matter or when a value cherished by an individual becomes threatened. On the other hand, an issue is a public matter or when a value cherished by the public is felt to be threatened. However, people neglect to recognize that an issue is the aggregation of personal troubles.

For example, look at the education debate in America. Many people place the blame on students or teachers not trying hard or caring. These people ignore both the personal limitations and boundaries of the education system.  They merely place the blame on the INDIVIDUAL. Rather than thinking critically and gathering all the information, they avoid problems of modern society. They neglect to ask “Why are teachers not trying hard?”, “Why are students not caring about education”, “Why do teenagers work rather than go to class?” If they were to ask these questions, they would notice both personal and public restrictions like public school’s limited funding, students forced to help their parents with finances, student’s unhealthy family life, peer pressure, drugs, racism, and many other topics.

Overall, instead of placing the blame on individuals, people need to recognize that public issues are not caused by one simple explanation. But, rather they need to seek more in-depth explanations for the issue by looking at both the issue and the troubles to obtain a valuable solution.

  1. How much did the Mortgage industry really change?

Reading Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk about How to Do it Right by Linda Trevino and Katherine Nelson, I had an intuition to talk my father for the first time about his 15 year experience in the mortgage industry.  When I asked to talk to him about the 2008 crash, he immediately laughed and said “it was a shit show.” Starting in 1994, he said it started to dramatically change in the late 1990’s. Every year there was a complete change in both State and National regulations.  For example, in 1997 Texas permitted home equity loans that allowed a person to barrow up to $80,000 on the house.

One of the biggest changes was that receiving a mortgage became easier and easier. Before, it was practically impossible to obtain a 100% loan even if you had great credit. However, when banks and mortgagors started to make more money, mortgages restrictions decreased. My father explained one of the biggest changes was that usually people had to make a 20% down payment and if you had bad credit, you simply were denied a loan. But by the late 1990’s, banks were  handing out 100% mortgages to people with bad credit merely because the more loans they approved, the more money they  receive.

My father then explained how this was all based on greed with in the industry. Luckily, owning his own company allowed him to maintain his moral standards. However, he still constantly competed with the big banks and companies that ignored ethics. For example, many clients would claim that the other banks offer them a better mortgage and my dad would have to explain that they were offering an “improper loan.” This means that the mortgagor was leaving out valuable information or actually lying about the loan. One of the most common ways mortgagors tricked clients was by neglecting to inform them of the variable rates. This allows them to qualify for a low down payment, but after a year the rate would double or triple and the person would be forced to pay.

All of this is out of the name of greed. Banks and mortgagors were only concerned with making money through giving out as many loans as they could; as a result, they gave loans to people who cannot afford to pay them back. My dad was fortunate to never have one bad complaint about his business ethics and loans. He exemplifies how not all businesses choose to act unethically. Overall, ever since the late 1990’s, the increasing lack of registration in the mortgage industry no doubtable contributed started the financial crisis in 2008.

3. How does social imagination apply to businesses?

Mills explains that social imagination is the ability to adapt and develop reason to not only understand the world around you, but also understand what is happening within themselves. By utilizing his imagination, a person can gauge his own fate rather than be controlled by outside circumstances. For this reason, I believe that there is a creative solution to almost anything.  Many people blame the event or outside factors for problems in their lives; however, it all comes down to creating the solution. Since most of the time you cannot change the event, you have to create a solution to obtain your desired outcome.

Just like individuals, businesses too have to discover creative solutions that help them achieve their goals. For example, Whole Foods created a solution to sell sustainable fish without impacting their sales negatively. Another example of a social imagination used in a business environment is Chipotle.  Chipotle founder, Steve Ells, started his restaurant with the intention to change the fast food industry. His goal was to show the world that sustainable farming is possible on a large-scale. Through creative marketing and business strategies, Chipotle has become a unique leader in the fast food industry that illustrates sustainable farming methods. When everyone thought they would not be able to offer organic fast food at their expensive price, they found a way to control their own fate and succeed. They show that businesses can use social imagination to control their fate and reach their goals as well.


4 thoughts on “Social Issues and Creative Solutions

  1. I enjoyed your first question. I agree, in today’s society everyone is putting blame on others and saying it is someone else’s issue to deal with. They blame individuals and wonder why they are not fixing the problem single handedly. I think we, as a nation, need to recognize that change can not be made unless society tackles the issue together. What will it take for American’s to finally stand up and say we need change? How bad do situations have to get before individuals start to take action?

  2. First of all, Chipotle…yummmmm. On another note, I definitely agree with everything that you said. The world we live in today is completely driven by greed. Everyone wants as much money as possible, with the least amount of effort. It is no wonder that so many companies are caught acting unethically.

    In response to the previous comment, I think that it will be very hard for Americans to demand change. Many people say that they wants change, but when push comes to shove they probably would not. If all businesses acted ethically, they would probably have to increase their prices that they demand for their products. Americans are notoriously cheap, and want the best quality at the lowest prices. It’s a vicious cycle that will most likely never be broken.

  3. 1) That is a good example of how SI thinking applied to education. For example, one issue that I encounter that we have yet to address as a public issue is the tension between wanting an educational system that provides equal opportunity to all students even as each family wants “more” or “better’ for their own kids.

    2) Can we have your father come guest lecture? Do you know if he felt he “paid” for resisting the trends in the industry?

    I hope over this semester we can learn about positive and negative examples of businesses or other organizations being ethical.

  4. I also really liked your first question and your example of the education debate. I think this is a public issue that needs to be addressed; we need to set the bar for education standards in the U.S. a bit higher . I think making these improvements will lead to more driven, motivated, and successful students in the long run. Obviously, not all students, teachers, and school systems will change over night, but maybe with more support, the ball will start rolling. It is important to think about how these students could affect our society later down the road. Who knows…one of them could be a revolutionary innovator if given a push in the right direction!


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