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News this week about Warren Buffett’s announcement he will gift some $30.7 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has set the philanthropic world on its ear. This gift, coming over time, will make the already enormous Gates Foundation by far the largest in the world.

Buffett’s surprise announcement follows Bill Gates’ predicted announcement earlier in this month that he will soon step aside as Microsoft’s Chief Software Engineer in favor of a nearly full-time role guiding his and his wife’s philanthropic program.

Whatever one thinks of the ideological leanings or particular program recipients of either Buffett’s or the Gates’s donations, you have to admire their example that perhaps “enough is enough.” They are obviously successful capitalists, creatively, shrewdly, and honestly earning great wealth, creating opportunities and blessings for others, and offering products that have enriched the abundance of the American economy. But now they are saying that giving matters.

I like that. It reminds me of Andrew Carnegie, who gave the equivalent of $7.3 billion at the end of his life. We’ve all seen and benefited from the Carnegie Libraries that resulted from Mr. Carnegie’s munificence.

It reminds me even more of the old Puritan ethic borrowed from and based upon Christian understanding that it’s a disgrace to die with great wealth. It’s not a disgrace to earn or own wealth, only a disgrace not to care properly for its distribution for the public good. John Wesley was another early American example, saying, “Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.”

I make a living in part by asking people to give. That’s what many nonprofit executives do. It’s not crass. It’s a privilege. I meet a lot of very generous people.

I’ve also met my share of people, Christian or not, who are not givers but accumulators. They cannot bring themselves to distribute what it took them a lifetime to acquire and from which they gain not just their security but their identity. They cannot let go. They quite literally die with all their assets, sometimes letting Uncle Sam take half of it. It’s a sad sight.

But oh the joy of giving joyfully. God says he loves the heart of a cheerful giver, and those who learn how to do it before it’s too late are the real beneficiaries.

So while I do not agree with some of Warren Buffett’s or Bill and Melinda Gates’s politics, I salute their example. They’re leading. They’re giving back. The rest of us, no matter our relative wealth, should do the same.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved

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As I write this blog I’m sitting in a Metro Detroit airport Northwest World Club lounge. Once again I’m reminded that cell phone technology has removed all semblance of privacy, quiet reflection, or personal space. Another traveler and I have been sitting in an alcove of the lounge, removed from the ever present CNN monitors and other noise-producers, reading our papers and working on our laptops. I’ve enjoyed my few moments of respite between planes, and he seems to have enjoyed his. Then a woman chose a chair near us. Not two minutes later she begins talking on her cell phone “at the top of her lungs,” as my Grandmother used to say, as if the other two of us do not exist.

I don’t mind the occasional interruption, nor do I think “my space” is inviolable in otherwise public areas. And I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon. But I’ve got to say that cell phone ethics simply don’t exist. People talk anywhere near anyone in anyway they please. The rest of us are supposed to think “It’s a free country,” shrug, and put up with it. By the way, moving to another location doesn’t help. All the other locations are already taken by terminal cell phone users.

Even if you could find a space where no cell phones are in use it will be dominated by ubiquitous monitors proclaiming “the news”—around the clock. You can’t even sleep in the airport between red-eye flights without the white noise of talking heads.

So, where does one go to read a book? Remember that? Reading. Where can you go to simply sit, drink your coffee, and think in a quiet public atmosphere?

I recommend cell phone-free zones, like public spaces now reserved for smokers. If you really need a smoke, you can generally find a place in bus terminals and airports where you can smoke behind walls in a space set aside for you. Why not establish libraries or reading rooms or simply “Quiet Areas” for those who want to unplug?

Northwest World Club tries—one alcove in the club is labeled “Quiet Zone” with a lined-out circled cell phone. But a television monitor still plays on the wall in the alcove and travelers still sit and talk loudly. Apparently “quiet” only refers to cell phones.

All this makes me appreciate country clubs where many of them have outlawed cell phone use in the dining areas and on the golf course. At least there’s one place one can still get away from cell phones. Maybe I’ll take my book and read on the second tee.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

In a very short time, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has become the new poster boy for poor sportsmanship in American professional sports. The National Basketball Association has repeatedly assessed him six-figure fines for his courtside actions, the latest coming during the NBA finals with the Miami Heat. Cuban was recently cited for "several acts of misconduct" that occurred during Dallas’s 101-100 overtime loss to the Miami Heat. He screams at officials, uses profanity in press conferences, and in general is known for his explosive fan behaviour as much as for his ownership of the team.

Since buying the team in 2000, Cuban has earned a business reputation as a turnaround specialist, taking a team in the doldrums and positioning it to double its revenues to $100 million in the past year. Meanwhile, his recent fine is his tenth in the 6 ½ years he’s owned the team and brings his total fines to about $1.5 million. He claims to have matched this fine total with similar donations to charities.

The question is, is Mark Cuban another example of what’s wrong with professional sports—too much greed, too many prima donna personalities, too much unsportsmanlike conduct? Or is he an otherwise nice guy who has shrewdly positioned his fan behaviour as part of a larger marketing scheme to put the Dallas Mavericks on the map? If that’s so it seems to be working. A million and one-half dollar fine doesn’t mean much in financial terms if it’s just one of the costs of running a business grossing one hundred million dollars.

But even if we give him the benefit of the doubt that he might be a decent person in his “other life” out of the arena, and even if we bought the idea that his antics are a part of some marketing scheme, his fan behaviour is a form of leadership pointing in the wrong direction. Unsportsmanlike conduct, cheating, drug abuse, and even violence are increasingly defining sports culture in America and globally. One more example of a person who misuses and abuses his notoriety and position is not something American sports culture needs. A “Bobby Knight” in the owner’s box isn’t very appealing.

While the Dallas Mavericks are winning, people will tolerate Cuban’s bad example. Some will even point to it as a supposedly necessary part of their winning organizational formula. But sometime, as it comes to all teams, the Dallas Mavericks will lose again, and when that happens people will not likely celebrate a choleric, fickle owner. His actions won’t be amusing. They’ll be annoying.

Cuban could learn to evidence passion and enthusiasm for the game and his team in a way that models sportsmanship for young players on his team and even younger players and fans across America alike. He could yell for his team, not against the other team or the referees. He could promote wearing team colors. He could literally wave their logo flag or dance with their mascot. He could compliment the opposing team, coaches, and owner during press conferences. He could do silly fan-atical things that otherwise do not illustrate negative attitudes, language, and actions.

He could do all this and more in a positive way and be even more effective in marketing his team than he has been as a shrewd businessman and poor fan. If he did these things, others in professional, intercollegiate, and interscholastic sports would respect him. Now they just think he’s a flash in the pan like other misbehaving sports figures have been in the past.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle accident this week was serious and unfortunate. The youngest quarterback ever to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory required fairly extensive facial surgery, and I wish him the very best toward a quick and full recovery.

Whether or not Ben’s head injuries could have been avoided if he had worn a helmet cannot be definitively answered. But we can speak from patterns and experience. Helmets are required in 20 states and the District of Columbia. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states that have repealed such laws have counted significant increases in injuries, deaths, and medical costs. The same organization tells us that the fatality rate per million miles traveled by automobile is 1.23. For motorcycles its 38.93. Motorcyclists are always at greater exposure and greater risk.

On June 7, 2006, the Michigan State Legislature repealed Michigan’s 37 year old mandatory motorcycle helmet law. Only a veto from Governor Jennifer Granholm will stop the newly endorsed bill from becoming law. The old law required a helmet for all riders whereas the new law would allow those over 21 years to make a choice.

A 2004 study by the Michigan State Police contends a repeal of the current law would result in 22 additional fatalities next year, along with 742 additional injuries and $140 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens.

I’m both a political conservative and a parent of two sons who ride motorcycles. The conservative in me is sensitive to arguments that government should not function as “Big Brother,” telling adults what they must wear when they ride motorcycles. But the father in me doesn’t buy it. The “Big Brother” argument could be applied to virtually every traffic law on the books, but we maintain them because our collective need for public safety outweighs our concern for minimal intervention in individual rights to do whatever one chooses.

To me the motorcycle helmet law simply makes common sense. I must part company with some of my conservative friends and say that I hope the Governor vetoes the Michigan State Legislature’s bill.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

It was good to see that a federal judge in California rejected atheist Michael Newdow’s lawsuit contending that the words, “In God We Trust.” on American coins constituted a violation of his First Amendment rights. Newdow is a Sacramento doctor, but he’s become something of a professional anti-God slogan complainant. He’s also involved in an ongoing effort to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from public schools because it contains the phrase, “Under God.”

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr. based his ruling on the fact that “In God We Trust” has been recognized as a kind of national motto, not a governmental promotion of religion.

Despite what atheists and secularists would have you believe, the Founding Fathers never intended for American life to be sanitized of all religious expression. Their main concern was that religion not be allowed to control government and that government not establish religion. They wanted freedom of religion and liberty of conscience, which Dr. Newdow enjoys as a citizen of this free country. He is free not to believe as I am free to believe.

Some 98% of the American population consistently says they believe in God. So atheists are indeed a small minority. Praise God for this, and let’s pray it remains that way. In God we trust.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

For children, and for that matter, for teenagers, the Internet is not a harmless toy. In fact, like many other features of modern life, people need to exercise a degree of spiritual discernment and maturity when the access the Net. Since all children, most teenagers, and many adults do not possess the requisite maturity, the Internet can become a pathway to trouble.

Gambling is the number one cash transfer business on the Internet, out-pacing pornography by about two and one-half to one. Both gambling and pornography can seduce people to ever higher levels of involvement to the point of addiction and to the point of emotional, financial, and other forms of harm.

Young people are particularly susceptible to new youth websites like or Not that there is anything especially wrong with these sites in themselves. But young people often naively post personal details that attract pedophiles, perverts, and pornographers.

Sometimes the danger is a relational one. This week, a 16 year old Saginaw, Michigan girl lied to her Mother about why she needed a passport, then ran away from home, caught a flight to the Middle East, and finally was detained in Amman, Jordan. She was on her way to meet a 25 year old man she met through her account. Thanks to U.S. government customs officials, she is apparently well and will be returned to her home in the States.

Young people have posted nude pictures of their friends, not realizing they could be committing a crime. Youth have been accosted by sexual deviants because of what the adult learned from the teen’s website. Students at a Michigan high school posted party pictures of friends involved in underage drinking and were later suspended from high school and barred from attending the senior prom.

Unfortunately, we are probably going to hear more of this. Access to the Internet is too extensive and too easy to think otherwise. At the very least if we are responsible for young people we need to warn them about the danger of unfettered expression on the Internet. We should not teach them to “live scared,” but we do need to make our youth aware of the evil that lurks within and around any human endeavor. Learning this and learning to identify it when they see it is one step toward maturity.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at