Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Should Overpopulation be the Target?

Now and again the question of global population moves from the back burner to the front burner. Most of this movement can be attributed to how future increases in global population will influence resource consumption, global warming and food production. Some individuals reason that despite significant energy efficiency gains in recent years a continuously increasing world population helps explain the increase in both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. To bolster this argument proponents cite IEA statistics that from 2004-2008 the world population increased by approximately 5% and ‘in response’ global energy production increased an additional 10%. Unfortunately for proponents this reasoning appears flawed.

Too often when individuals want to reach a specific conclusion they tailor interpretations to fit that conclusion and omit information which would demonstrate flaws in the methodology of that conclusion. For example the contention that world population is a significant driver of global warming is a premise which will always be shrouded in confusion as long as the premise remains so broad. Addressing this particular issue demands specificity to determine how increasing population provides a significant contribution to global warming. The initial cause-effect link between greater population and increased climate change is that an increased population results in increased energy use, which because most energy is generated from fossil fuel source, increases carbon emissions and the probability of detrimental climate change. However, this reasoning is too restricted. It does not consider other avenues of increased energy use such as how the energy consumption behavior of existing members of the global population is changing.

To support or disprove this conclusion it is important to look at three pieces of information: where the population growth is coming from, what capacity for energy use these new members have available to them and the origins of increases or decreases in greenhouse gases. Below table 1 lists information for the ten countries with the largest birth rates, how much total annual carbon emissions the countries produce and their GDP. Table 2 lists information for the ten countries with the largest carbon footprints on an absolute level, their respective birth rates and their GDP. Table 3 lists information for the ten countries with the largest carbon footprint on a ‘per capita’ level and their respective birth rates. The reason ‘per capita’ information is included is for a sense of completeness because overall ‘per capita’ is irrelevant relative to absolute levels of carbon emissions. Such a point is obvious when comparing the absolute emissions to ‘per capita’ emissions between countries like China and Aruba.

Table 1: Highest Global Birth Rates with Associated Carbon Emissions and GDP [1,2,4]

Table 2: Highest Global Total Carbon Emissions with Associated Birth Rates and GDP [1,2,4]

Table 3: Highest Global Carbon Emissions 'per capita' with Associated Birth Rates [1,3]

Note that in table 1 birth rates are defined as crude birth rates which are the number of births over a given period divided by the person-years lived by the population over that period. The information from table 1 demonstrates that of the ten countries with the highest birth rates all but one, Angola (78), are outside the top 100 in absolute carbon emissions. Their GDPs also demonstrate these countries have significantly underdeveloped economies. Comparing countries between tables 1 and 3 there are no commonalities; therefore, based on this information it is reasonable to conclude that in the near future any significant increase in population within these countries will have little impact on the overall level of climate change.

Table 2 demonstrates that those countries will high carbon footprints generally have low birth rates; outside of Iran (96) the other nine all have birth rates outside of the top 100 in the world. An interesting conclusion can be drawn from this result. Based on the high birth rates in lower emitting countries and the low birth rates in the higher emitting countries it can be reasoned that a majority of the emissions generated by increases in global populations come from only a small number of those new births. If accurate this conclusion can significantly influence future policy with respect to global population growth relative to carbon emissions.

Finally table 3 demonstrates another situation with low birth rates, yet high ‘per capita’ emissions. Again even the countries that have the highest ‘per capita’ emission rates have birth rates outside the top 100, except for Brunei (87). Of course one must be careful when dealing with ‘per capita’ because it is a ratio derived from averages and does not include standard deviations. Therefore, ‘per capita’ information could be misleading in the fact that it does not describe a possible wealth gap between socioeconomic tiers within the country where a small portion of the population is responsible for a large portion of the emissions. However, overall when looking at the above information is appears more likely that the driving force behind increasing carbon emissions are not additions to the population, but through members of the existing population having greater opportunities for energy consumption, a hypothesis supported by the dramatic rise in carbon emissions from countries like China, Brazil and India.

Clearly an increase in population will increase energy use because all humans, no matter what their socioeconomic status, will need to consume energy. However, if a majority of these new humans are responsible for a minority of the energy consumption and resultant emissions then a conservation strategy becomes more valid over addressing the overpopulation issue.

On a logical level it makes sense to address an overpopulation issue because of energy gap and food production issues; however, unfortunately monetary resources are not in infinite supply. Therefore, certain goals must be given priority over other goals. The information above demonstrates that investing in conservation and changes in energy generation portfolios should go further in addressing global warming concerns over directly addressing birth rates. One concern with this strategy may be what happens if these countries with higher birth rates begin to modernize which would lead to greater opportunities for energy consumption and more than likely overall higher carbon emissions.

While concern for such a situation is understandable it seems unrealistic on two fronts. First, most of those countries that have high birth rates have yet to significantly modernize in terms of energy consumption and do not demonstrate any meaningful signs that the situation will change drastically in the near future. Second, even if the process of energy consumption modernization begins a wide variety of high efficiency low carbon emission energy providers have been developed and brought to market which could be utilized instead of the more carbon intensive providers from the past. To those that are concerned that these lower carbon emission alternatives will not be adopted due to near future cost concerns, it stands to reason that in the near future high carbon emission providers will see a significant and lasting price increase due to supply shortages relative to existing demand. Clearly modernization will more than likely involve some increase in carbon emissions, but if acted on properly should not mirror the changes which occurred in China and India.

In addition one must address the reason behind high birth rates. First it must be stated that there may be nothing inherently wrong with a high birth rate. Some individuals seem to have an impression that there is something bad about creating a sustainable population. With that said it does stand to reason that with the myriad of personalities in the world birth rates exceeding a certain threshold point can be viewed as distortion. Unfortunately there is no real way to determine that threshold point.

There appears to be four major reasons why a country may have a higher than anticipated birth rate: lack of female empowerment, lack of general sex education in both sexes of the populous, lack of contraceptive availability and large family advantages. The chief advantage gained from having a large family is additional labor. Most of the countries in table 1 still have largely agrarian economies; therefore, birthing children provide additional labor that can work the fields or find work on other farms nearby.

So how could these elements, which distort natural birth rate, be addressed? The most difficult is female empowerment, giving females the confidence to better manage their sexual lives and getting males to cooperate with their potential partners instead of control them. The difficulty in accomplishing this goal is that some cultures have defined gender roles which somewhat to significantly contradict these changes. Therefore, these cultures and traditions that have existed in these countries for centuries are in conflict with this empowerment standing.

The sexual education issue seems easy just put the children into a classroom and discuss what a condom is and how to use it appropriately and how birth control pills and other forms of contraceptive work. If the classroom environment is deemed inappropriate give the tools to parents so they can have these educational conversations with their children. However, this initial ease disappears when considering that even highly modernized countries like the United Sates have trouble addressing sexual education. Also the general disarray of most educational infrastructure in most high birth rate countries adds difficulty to executing this solution.

The most straightforward element is to make contraceptives more available. Unfortunately even if the funds were generated to the point were the contraceptives could be situated in an affordable and easily accessible manner individuals would still have to understand how to utilize the contraceptives properly. Therefore, the second and third elements above are specifically tied together, one fails without the other. Also due to the general poverty that exists in most of these higher birth rate countries charitable or low priced contraceptives have to be continuously supplied. Any call for abstinence is clearly misguided because abstinence programs at their optimistic best have proven to be inconsistent and at worse complete failures. On a cynical note it is surprising a company like Trojan has not constructed a factory and distribution center in one of these countries and employed locals that would then turn around and use their wage to purchase significant quantities of their product.

Finally the fourth explanation can only be addressed through diversification of the economy. However, any diversification would require greater energy use, thus low emission energy sources would have to be introduced in order to eliminate any offset loss of carbon emissions from population growth with greater energy use per person opportunities that may come from diversification. Overall it is reasonable to suggest that at least two of these four elements, which induce distortions in the natural birth rate, need to be addressed in order to significantly balance global birth rates. With respects to climate change focusing efforts on conservation in high emission countries appears to be a much more effective strategy than focusing on lowering global birth rates.


1. Wikipedia - List of sovereign states and dependent territories by birth rate; World Population Prospects, Int2006 revision: Online data (http:/ / esa. un. org/ unpp/ index. asp?panel=2).

2. Wikipedia - List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions; United Nations Statistics Division, Millennium Development Goals indicators: Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), thousand metric tonnes of CO2 (http:/ / mdgs. un. org/ unsd/ mdg/ SeriesDetail. aspx?srid=749& crid=) (collected by CDIAC).

3. Wikipedia - List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita; International Energy Agency. "CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion - Highlights" (http:/ / www. iea. org/ co2highlights).

4. Wikipedia - List of countries by GDP (nominal); International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, April 2011: Nominal GDP list of countries. Data for the year 2010.

The Question of Friendship

One interesting characteristic of children is the fact that they seem to make friends and enemies on a rather extreme level. Inherently children get along with one another remarkably well ignoring some of the hallmarks that keep adults apart such as ethnicity, race and intellect. However, when one child wrongs another and no prior strong relationship exists, they seem to form a very powerful dislike for each other that is difficult to reverse in the short-term. How is it that when individuals become adults this grudge trait seems to persist, yet this inherent acceptance trait is abandoned? Also why is it that one five-year old can approach another five-year old with no prior relationship or information and they can become friends, yet it is more difficult for two twenty-one year olds to do the exact same thing?

There are two important issues to address when determining the apparent change in difficulty and willingness to making friends from childhood to adulthood. Interestingly enough simplicity plays a role in both issues. First, for children it appears that the defining act, which starts a friendship, is much easier than for adults. For example when one child gives a cookie to another child the probability that those two children become friends is much higher than the probability that two adults become friends under the same conditions. One explanation for this event is children have much simpler lives and worldviews than adults and do not tend to over-analyze events and situations. To the child receiving the cookie it is just a kind gesture with no pretense of ulterior motive. In a similar situation to the adult receiving the cookie, such an action has the tendency to be analyzed in the context of why would this stranger give me a cookie, what does this person have to gain from such an action, what do I lose by accepting the cookie, etc. So the adult looks at the cookie as not just a cookie, but as a potential means to an end where the end may not necessarily be friendship.

Second, selection of individuals one may want as a friend seems to increase in complexity on an exponential level as we age. Children tend not to put much thought into the attributes and characteristics of their friends, just the fact that they have friends. In contrast adults seem to define certain characteristics that they want in their friends and those that do not have those characteristics they do not approach with an offer of friendship. Sadly enough some very superficial elements are sometimes included in these defining characteristics.

A child's naivety also plays a role in this approach analysis. Children tend not to care about immutable characteristics such as race and ethnicity, but adults, who one could argue should be even less concerned about such trivial things, place more importance on such issues. For example, look at most interracial high schools and other educational environments during free periods such as lunch. Most of the time white students eat with other white students, black students eat with other black students, Latino students eat with other Latino students and so forth. Normally individuals only cross these racial/ethnic lines when they have some long-standing relationship with others from when they are children or if they have some strong universal interests, like membership in a club or sports team. Why are these elements needed for person A to eat with person B when most of the time their only differences are trivial and irrelevant?

One possible explanation may be related to self-importance. As people age individuals have a tendency to believe, whether true or not, that less ‘free’ time exists. Thus if time is devoted to an unfamiliar individual, there exists the need for justification that the time spent was worth it, that there will be some benefit that arises out of using time for this interaction. Unfortunately when considering benefits in respect to costs, human beings look more at short-term gain or instant gratification when evaluating the benefits of a situation. Therefore, although forming another friendship may be beneficial in the long run, for most people if a short-term benefit to this potential friendship is not available then they believe there is no good reason to utilize their time to establish and nurture this potential friendship.

It is somewhat interesting that the same people who refuse to utilize twenty to thirty minutes of their time to make a new friend or decide to run a red light to save one minute on the road elect to sleep for nine and a half to ten hours each day wasting time in sleep instead of ‘wasting’ time when awake. Note that it is unrealistic for an individual to frequently attempt to make new friends on a daily basis on a simple efficiency scale as with anything else in existence, but the complete lack of effort itself is questionable.

Another explanation to why person A and person B do not simply try to become friends may simply be fear. The primary element that prevents both friendship and more romantic relationships from forming is a simple fear of rejection. No one likes to be rejected at anything because rejection is basically someone telling you that you are not good enough. Unfortunately some handle rejection by generating some level of justification for counter rejecting the individual who rejected him/her. One could logically attack the concept of rejection with a simple best-worst case scenario analysis. For example what is the best result from person A asking person B to be his/her friend? Person B accepts and they become friends. Realistically the worst case is that person A and person B do not become friends. Compare this set of responses to the best and worst results from not asking in the first place, both results are the same, person A and person B do not become friends.

Dry logic demonstrates that one should ask because its worst case matches both cases from not asking; in contrast the best case when asking generates the best result. A skeptic would cite that this initial analysis does not incorporate any possible emotional damage from the rejection when asking for friendship and failing, damage that does not occur when not asking. It is this emotional damage from rejection that produces the apprehension to act. The real question is: is this emotional damage genuine or simply a after-effect of a lack of understanding?

Certain situations of rejection involve only a limited number of openings for a given opportunity due to either financial or occupancy constraints be it a job or something else where some applicants will not be accepted. In these situations certain individuals clearly do not meet some criteria and thus it could be argued those who are not accepted are not good enough. However, there is no inherent ceiling for the number of friends an individual can have. So if one were to adjust the mindset of rejection it would be easier to approach others in effort to facilitate friendships. If person B declines person A's offer of friendship person A does not need to believe that they are not worthy because person B has limited to no information about person A.

Instead in such a situation person B rejects person A based on person B’s own defining characteristics, not on the personality characteristics of person A. As long as person A does not inappropriately characterize person B as a racist or something else solely based on the rejection, neither person should feel bad about the incident, just acknowledge that an opportunity for a new friend was lost. The negative effect of rejection is meaningless if one neutralizes the self-deprecating feelings regarding undesirable character traits. Basically that is just a fancy way of saying ‘do not take it personally because it is not personal thus taking it personally is irrational’. Therefore, there should be no emotional damage from the rejection.

As alluded to above one of the chief elements that might prevent person B from accepting person A's offer is that fact that person B does not know anything about person A. Without any knowledge of person A's personality person B may not think that they would have anything in common or acquire any benefit from such a relationship and the friendship would not be worth the effort. Although it is true that friendships formation is easier between individuals with commonalities, human beings are not static, but dynamic. There is no reason to assume that even if two people do not have anything in common to start their friendship that no commonality will be found in the future. So it is rather foolish not to accept a potential friendship on the grounds that there may be no common ground due to lack of knowledge.

One final significant element that may prevent person B from accepting person A's offer is the general 'creepiness' of a stranger just coming up to another stranger and requesting they be friends. Although there could be situations were it would be wise to be wary of such behavior, there is only a small probability that the individual has negative motivation. For instance at one time most people thought things like body piercing and eyebrow threading were 'creepy', but now both are accepted as valid practices. So to some extent if people were more active in pursuing friends, the 'creepiness' factor would diminish somewhat. Note this is not advocating that individuals simply walk around their neighborhoods asking any stranger on the street to be their friends, but simply questioning what really prevents people from doing so with an increased frequency.

Finally with all of this talk about friendship, what really defines friendship? When stripping it down to its core friendship can be defined as two individuals that care about each other and make themselves available to assist one another on a physical and emotional level even when one individual may not be in the best position to assist either because of available resources or personality. Friendship moves beyond simple altruism because if an individual helps another on altruistic grounds the assistance is more duty based. True friends are grateful for assistance given to them by their friends, but also are not so naïve that they expect their friends to always be there to provide assistance and support. Friends understand each other especially on an emotional and psychological level to the point where they can anticipate problems due to changes in behavior. So why again are people hesitant to have more friends?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Relevance of Third Party Candidacy

The two-party system in the United States is a strange beast. Clearly limiting viable and rational options is not in the interest of a democracy. Given this situation, with each election cycle the question of voting for a third party candidate arises in one section of the population. Unfortunately the debate surrounding the validity of third party candidates has been minimized to simplistic sound bites, which belittles the issues behind the nature of third party candidacy.

Proponents for third party candidates use the chief point that both the Democratic and Republican parties are, for all intensive purposes, the same; therefore, when a voter goes to the polls third party proponents commonly attribute the motivating factor in the process as voting for the ‘lesser of two evils’. To these proponents only a third party candidate will be able to break the power exchange cycle shared by this two-party system where one is elected and if performance is unsatisfactory the other is elected and so on and so forth. A second point stems from the ‘protest’ vote mindset in effort to demonstrate to either a Democratic or Republican party candidate that he/she needs to work for the individual’s vote, not just expect it because he/she is not a member of the ‘other’ party. The lingering question with this point though is whether it is more effective to vote for a third party candidate or simply not vote at all?

Opponents of third party candidates generally only use the point that casting a vote for a third party candidate is akin to not voting at all or ‘throwing your vote away’ because the third-party candidate could never garner enough votes to win the election. Interestingly enough the very mindset of the second point above regardless of whether or not the individual refrains from voting or votes for a third party candidate does seem to exemplify ‘throwing a vote away’. The reason this characterization makes sense is because there is no confirmation process that leads the candidate to the realization that voters are dissatisfied; the ‘protest’ voters need to rely on the candidate drawing that conclusion from low voter turnouts or a higher than normal vote count for a third party candidate. However, the candidate can attribute a number of elements to a low voter turnout or higher than normal third party candidate vote, thus it is unclear if the candidate will get the message.

Of course with most arguments there is a counter-argument. Third party proponents argue that if voters voted in a bubble without a presumption of how others would vote third-party candidates would receive many more votes than detractors believe. It is this ‘artificial’ psychological limitation that voters place on society which dissuades them from voting for a third-party candidate, not the candidate him/herself. Therefore, the ‘throw your vote away’ line is not absolute reality, but a perception that becomes reality, a perception that can be overcome. Opponents counter that the general character of third-party candidates typically exists on the more extreme fringes of the standard political spectrum. Opponents seem to believe that the reason most of these individuals draw support is that most of their supporters either occupy that same fringe area or are single issue voters who ignore the more extreme elements of the platform focusing only on the particular issue of interest.

The issue of single issue voting is one of importance when considering the validity of a third party candidate. The concern in the mindset of some third party candidate proponents is that the only element they use to distinguish between one ‘major’ party candidate and the third party candidate is that single issue. Such mindsets are dangerous because while certain candidates may agree with individuals on one particular issue, their opinions, ideas or even lack of experience regarding other issues could make them a much more destructive legislator than a main-stream candidate. It is difficult to take the claim ‘I’m exactly like that guy except for this one issue.’ seriously. Unfortunately for third party candidate supporters most of the time it is this single issue that draws their support to a non-Democrat or Republican candidate.

Even in the realm of single issues there are historical winners and historical losers which seem to define the typical success parameters for third party candidates. Basically not all single issues in politics are created equal. For example some single issues like abortion/right to choose, guns, terrorism or taxes strike a much stronger emotional cord with potential voters than issues like environment, infrastructure development, technology evolution or education whether it is justified or not (oddly enough the last four are more important than the first four in most circumstances). In society today run on one of the issues in the first group and the candidate may have a chance, run on one of the issues in the second group and good luck next election.

Returning to the statement that voting for a third party candidate is akin to ‘throwing your vote away’ clearly such a statement is not accurate in an absolute sense for third party candidates have won statewide elections before (Bernie Sanders in Vermont and Jesse Ventura in Minnesota spring to mind). Note that this premise does not include individuals that were once major party candidates, but simply ran as independents after losing a primary. However, as a general trend regarding the extraordinary low victory probability for third party candidates, especially in national elections, the statement holds true.

In addition the feasibility of the psychological constraint some proponents ascribe to is unlikely, possibly just a product of their own psychological bias and the general nature of voting in the United States. For example the emotional element which ties to the single issue of support frequently creates a mindset of ‘this is important to me so it should be important to a lot of people.’ Unfortunately history has demonstrated that this mindset rarely translates to third party candidate votes.

One reason for the lack of success for third party candidates involves the issue of how many individuals vote with an informed understanding about a given candidate’s platform beyond the very basic sound bite material. It is reasonable to presume that a significant number of voters vote with the mindset of ‘well that particular individual has a R/D by his/her name and I’m a R/D so I’ll vote for that individual.’ Basically the prevalence of straight ticket voters largely eliminates the realistic expectation of third-party candidates winning with any level of consistency no matter how frustrated a certain group may be with a particular candidate/party.

Of course third party proponents also appear to forget that other individuals may actually support the Democratic or Republican parties on a wide variety of issues and that is why they vote for them; the potential ‘wooing’ pool of voters may just not be that big regardless of psychological issues. Also there is the historical psychological effect of winning; George C. Scott as Gen. Patton in ‘Patton’ said best, “Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser…” third parties have no real track record for winning, thus there is an inherent psychological avoidance for many voters which perpetuates the ‘throw your vote away’ mindset because that is generally all a vote for a third party candidate has accomplished in the past.

So how can third party supporters improve the probability that a third party candidate is elected? Based on the above analysis one method appears to be increasing voter awareness of all candidates. One of the more effective ways to accomplish such a task is the suggestion made here. This type of information availability allows voters to genuinely see the differences between candidates which would help them determine how those differences affect their lives. Also in such a system potential platform similarity between the major party candidates will be more prominent allowing third party supporters to demonstrate more legitimacy to the claim of ‘lesser of two evils’.

Another method is to demonstrate a personal similarity between similar individuals and the third party candidate on a myriad of issues. Too many television spots are either too broad (I fought to save jobs, lower taxes, etc.) or not personal enough. Running a television spot with five average looking individuals with one saying, ‘I support candidate x because he wants education reform that supports our children and teachers with a real world learning curriculum not belittles them by demand more tests…’ another one saying, ‘I support candidate x because he wants to increase the funding for the National Science Foundation so the U.S. can continue developing advancements in technology…’ and so on and so forth using small specifics to highlight differences between the candidate and other major party candidates. One of the best things a third party candidate can do is force major party candidate to abandon the broad policy base of their party for a more specific argument.

Finally a passing issue for supporters of the Green Party, it may be time to consider whether or not changing the party name is necessary. It is no surprise that of the two major parties a Democrat is much more likely to vote for a Green Party candidate than a Republican. However, there continues to be an obstacle for potential Democratic converts due to the 2000 Presidential election. Whether justified or not, a vast number of Democrats still hold Ralph Nader responsible for George W. Bush being in the position for a Supreme Court decision to decide the 2000 Presidential election. This continuing animosity, especially when considering the overall quality of the Bush Presidency, very well could prevent a number of Democrats from voting for Green Party candidates despite a desire to do so.

Green Party supporters try to explain away the influence of Ralph Nader by citing that a number of registered Democrats voted for Bush as well, but this argument is silly. Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush had significantly different overall policy platforms; therefore, any Democrat voting for Bush or, for that matter a Republican voting for Gore, would be better characterized as an independent voter over holding true to their ‘party of record’.

Thus it stands to reason that more Democrats view voting for Nader as a greater ‘betrayal’ than voting for Bush. Basically those Democrats that voted for Bush were not real Democrats, but those that voted for Nader still were. So does the Green Party need to change its name in an attempt to cut ties with the Nader legacy once and for all before it can become a legitimate contender with a meaningful win probability percentage in the political arena or would abandoning the Green Party name be too risky because regardless of Nader it is at least a known commodity in the political world?

Overall despite the prevailing sound bites for both proponents and opponents of third party candidates, the future success of third party candidates on a general level depends on third party supporters actively demonstrating the differences between the third party candidate and the major party candidates instead of relying on frustration or single issues. In short third party supporters need to get voters to want to vote for their candidate and their entire platform, not just a single issue, over voters viewing a third party candidate as the ‘lesser of three evils’.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lingering Issue Regarding Payment of College Athletes

While a previous post addressed the issue of paying college athletes beyond their scholarships, there is still a lingering issue that was not addressed. Unfortunately in their zeal to attempt to apply an inappropriate solution to the question of student finances proponents of paying athletes have failed to seize a genuine opportunity to improve the future lives of these athletes.

Potential college athletes are clearly presented with the information that the college scholarship will be the compensation for their participation in a given collegiate sport. Nevertheless some proponents believe that for the more skilled athletes the utility of a scholarship is lacking, similar to giving a coupon for 10 free car washes as payment to an individual who does not own a vehicle. If these athletes do not accept the scholarship as adequate compensation there are other avenues to acquire requisite experience before attempting to enter the professional level of their desired sport: semi-pro, overseas, private workouts, etc. No professional league has a requirement demanding a prospect plays in college. Therefore, the availability of these alternatives (regardless of their equality or development) and the intern argument neutralizes the chief argument made by the proponents regarding additional compensation to athletes.

Instead of trying to fight against the scholarship for the 1-2% of students critics believe does not suit them, it would be more productive to work within the scholarship to help these athletes. For example anyone who rejects the usefulness of an education that can be acquired with a college scholarship is a fool. However, both proponents and those that support the status quo rarely assess how useful the education is to these individuals. Therefore, it is rational to ask the question: how can the athlete receive the maximum value from the scholarship if he does not plan to graduate from college?

In the given scenario most of these athletes will elect to forego their college eligibility to enter the professional ranks for their respective sport. One of the primary purposes of education is to develop the practical reasoning and communication skills an individual will need to be a productive and effective member of society. This purpose still applies even if an individual elects not to pursue a degree in favor of moving to the professional ranks in a given sport. The time spent in the classroom under these circumstances should focus even more on this primary purpose because there will not be instruction in a particular career pathway.

At first glance one may question the belief that colleges should establish, what a cynic would regard as, a major in ‘Going Pro’ as silly; when raising this concern it is important to consider the value college athletes, who will leave early, receive from their existing majors. When looking at college athletes in high profile sports like football and basketball a large number claim to be majoring in ‘Communications’, ‘Sociology’ or some uncommon major like ‘Undergraduate Studies’. It is difficult to ascribe a real value to these types of majors (or any major for that matter) when these athletes have more than likely selected them because of their perceived low difficulty to ensure continuing academic eligibility, not because they find any kinship with the courses that make up the major. It is reasonable to contend that a major specifically designed to aid these individuals as professional sports athletes as well as provide the necessary support to become well-rounded individuals in society makes more sense than the current system.

Assume for a moment that this proposal moves forward, what course work should make up the bulk of the major. One problem that adults have, especially young adults that come into a large amount of money that is commonly only available over a short period of time, is effectively managing that money. Therefore, one course in this major would focus on finance, investment, budgeting and various other accounting elements. Another element in the career of a professional athlete is conducting interviews and expressing ideas. This requirement lends itself well to including a public speaking/debate class in the curriculum. In addition to helping prepare the athlete for these interviews, the debate class should also assist the individual in developing a basic strategy regarding how to process different ideas and judge their validity. The ability to properly judge the validity of different ideas is important for an individual that wants to be a useful member of society.

Another class that would be useful to these specific types of athletes is a class on basic biochemistry with a focus on energy generation. Basically the class would focus on how various aspects of nutrition and training translate into biological and biochemical changes in the body. Such an understanding would be useful for athletes both in development and maintenance of physical attributes. Also due to the high stress and high ego world of professional sports, instruction in conflict resolution through various diplomatic strategies would be useful as well. Finally a fifth course would involve civics/government, so the athlete would have a better understanding of both how their professional league is structures as well as how government influences their lives as well as others.

The above five courses should not be remedial type courses, but legitimate courses with legitimate instruction because the point of this major is to give these athletes tools to succeed at the ‘next’ level, not an easy path to ensure college eligibility. These courses should also be available for non-student athletes to ensure that these courses do not devolve and so non-student athletes can acquire the same skills if they so desire.

Overall the prospect of paying college athletes is still incredibly small, especially with Title IX, the NCAA code of conduct and basic rationality on the side of not paying them. While the specified courses above are merely suggestions, the development of a specific set of course work for individuals that are viewed as highly probable to make a professional sports league would be an important step in allowing these individuals to better optimize the scholarship benefits that are provided in exchange for participating in athletics. It definitely seems like a better strategy to outfit early departing athletes with the tools to succeed both at the professional level and in life more than throwing a couple of thousand dollars at them, even if that were viable.