Thursday, May 24, 2012

The BAIN Initiative

As the 2012 Presidential election heats up, voters are faced with a critical decision: pick a man who has had great success in the private sector, or pick a man who has had great success in the public sector.

It is first important to note there is a stark difference between the private sector and the public sector. Success in one does not necessarily translate to success in the other. Mr. Romney thinks otherwise.

There is no question about Mr. Romney’s enormous success in the private sector. As head of Bain Capital, his work with the private equity firm has created massive payoffs for his investors and has rightfully earned him respect as a triumphant businessman. However, creating wealth and creating jobs are two very different things.

When Mr. Romney touts his private sector experience as “the main calling card for why he thinks he should be president,” his time at Bain Capital must be examined at a further depth.

What must also be examined is his experience in the public sector, primarily as Governor of Massachusetts. Specifically, during his tenure as Governor, Massachusetts dropped to 47th in job creation. He also advocated that we “let Detroit go bankrupt”, criticizing Obama for his Auto-Bailout. But we can all agree that if we took Mr. Romney’s “business” advice, our recovery would be in a much worse position that it is today. Instead of having two and half years of consecutive private sector job growth, our economy would have lost millions of jobs.

No one, including the President, is criticizing Romney’s success at Bain Capital, the private sector, or private equity firms. In fact, President Obama has supported the principles of capitalism to a much greater extent than his opponent (via Wall Street Reform and the Buffet Rule, which promote equality of opportunity, NOT equality of outcomes).

But when Mr. Romney claims that his business experience is the sole reason why he would do a better job as President than Obama, the American people have a right to ask questions. As President Obama mentioned in his press briefing earlier this week:

"When you're president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. Your job is to think about those workers who get laid off, and how are we paying them for their retraining? Your job is to think about how those communities can start creating new clusters so that they can attract new businesses. Your job as president is to think about how do we set up an equitable tax system so that everybody's paying their fair share that allows us then to invest in science and technology and infrastructure, all of which are going to help us grow.”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Make-A-Wish Foundation

How’s everyone doing?

I first want to thank you all for having me, and for all your help in making the Make-A-Wish Foundation better.

Now, some of you may know me from this year’s Relay for Life event on campus. For others, I probably remind you of a young George Clooney, or that guy from One Direction (you know, all of them). But for everyone else, my name is Ashwani Jain, and I am a 9 year cancer survivor.

When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Because they found my tumor at its early stages, I only had to undergo 4 months of extensive chemotherapy. I say only 4 months because every other child that I met while getting treated at the Children’s Hospital in DC had far worse situations than I did. Many of them were not only younger than I was, but they had to undergo more surgeries and harsher treatments for longer periods of time.

And although their physical conditions made them very weak, their spirits were undoubtedly strong. It was from their courage and exceptionally optimistic outlook on life that I became inspired to give back.

I learned from them that no matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse. At the same time, it is often within your power to make them better, and find the opportunity in every difficulty.

So, I stayed true to the UPS slogan, “what can brown do for you” and I got to work. After I finished my treatment, I began performing charity magic shows for the Children’s Hospital, the Children’s INN at the NIH, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I took to heart what Mark Twain once said, and learned firsthand that “the best way to cheer yourself up is to try and cheer someone else up.”

Today, I am now a volunteer Wish Ambassador and Wish Grantor for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation certainly has a very special place in my heart. One year after my treatments were over, the Foundation gave me a trip of a lifetime. It was early morning, and the foundation sent a limo to pick my family and me up. It was the first time I ever rode one. In fact, I didn’t really understand what to do, so I actually rode in the passenger’s seat in front. For those of you who don’t know, that’s not how you’re supposed to ride a limo.

We then boarded a train to New York City, where we were greeted by a Wish staff member, who gave us a tour of the city and tickets to the Broadway show: Julius Caesar.

After the show, they took us back stage, where we met the cast and crew. Then something happened that made my heart drop. I got a tap on my shoulder and when I turned around, it was none other than the man I had wished to meet: Denzel Washington. Needless to say I was awe-struck. He took us to his dressing room, where he spoke with us for about 15 minutes. And for those 15 minutes, nothing else mattered. Cancer was just another word in the dictionary.

My parents weren’t thinking about the fact that they had almost lost their son; my sister wasn’t thinking about all the pain she saw her older brother go through; and I wasn’t worried about all the scars my surgeries left behind. All I was able to focus on was that very moment, and how my dream was coming true.
This is largely attributed to the work done by organizations such as Maryland Wishes. And it is because of the tremendous work and dedication of people like you, by simply showing up to events like this that make this foundation such a huge success, and keeps me motivated to stay active.

Whether you’re another cancer survivor, had a relative with cancer, or know someone with cancer, we are all affected by this horrible disease. Now, imagine if we can provide the amount of joy that I had to all children suffering from these types of life-threatening medical conditions. If we can do that, then there is nothing that these kids cannot overcome.

Winston Churchill once said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Today, you have all given me and children who are currently facing these uphill battles hope and inspiration.
So, from the bottom of my heart, I’m truly appreciative for your support, for being here today, and for helping wishes come true.

Thanks everyone!