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Archive for the tag “Omaha”

Restore Omaha

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On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the Restore Omaha conference as a volunteer and cover the events and speakers.  Restore Omaha is an annual conference centered on restoring older and historical homes, promoting green energy alternatives, and implementing energy efficient renovations to existing homes.

It was an educational experience, to say the least.  The opening address was given by Arnie Breslow, who recently restored the Cornish residence on 10th and William Street in Omaha.  He detailed how, over the last 13 years, he dedicated his weekends and holidays to restoring the French Second Empire-style house, built in 1886.  The Cornish house is just one of several houses that Breslow has restored in the Omaha area.

After the first session was a lunch break followed by the keynote address from Patricia Gay, Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.  Gay highlighted several similarities, as well as a few differences, between New Orleans and Omaha and their respective preservation and restoration efforts.  She spend a great deal of time focused on federal and state legislation that can aid restoration projects, and how restoration projects can help stem problems of urban blight and actually be a financial boon to a city.

Before and after the keynote address were dozens of mini “breakout sessions,” dealing with a more specific topic related to classic homes and homeownership.  I attended classes on electric safety given by a local contractor, Tom Taylor.  I saw a history of the “modernist” movement in architecture, given by Paula Mohr of the Iowa State Preservation Office, and ended the day with a sneak peak of the newly improved reEnergize program, a collaborative effort between Omaha and Lincoln to improve energy efficiency in old homes.

In between there were plenty of opportunities to meet local merchants and enthusiasts, and lots of networking opportunities.  I happened to meet the son of a UNO alumni who ran the UNO Gateway for many years, and a number of other interesting people.

I spent over seven hours at the convention and it flew by.  I look forward to it next year, and encourage anyone who plans on owning a home or currently owns a home to attend as well.

Warren Buffett Should Not Be a Role Model

Warren Buffett Should Not Be a Role Model

 

“The soul…can’t be ruled.  It must be broken.  Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it- and the man is yours.  You won’t need a whip-he’ll bring it to you and ask to be whipped.  Set him in reverse- and his own mechanism will do your work for you.

Make man feel small.  Make him feel guilty.  Kill his aspiration and his integrity…Kill integrity by internal corruption.  Use it against itself.  Direct it toward a goal destructive of all integrity.  Preach selflessness.  Tell man that he must live for others.  Tell men that altruism is the ideal.  Not a single one of them has ever achieved it and not a single one ever will.  His every living instinct screams against it…Man realizes that he’s incapable of what he’s accepted as the noblest virtue- and it gives him a sense of guilt, of sin, of his own basic unworthiness.  Since the supreme ideal is beyond his grasp, he gives up eventually all ideals, all aspiration, all sense of his personal value.”

-Ayn Rand; The Fountainhead

For a perfect example of this principle in action, you don’t have to look far.  Well, you probably don’t even have to look outside of the room you’re in or the street you’re on; most people have come to accept some version of this attitude and live by it.  But for an obvious, screaming, can’t-be-ignored living example of this, look no further than 3555 Harney Street, at the offices of Warren E. Buffett.

Warren Buffett has experienced tremendous success through his ability to foresee outcomes and recognize greatness and integrity in others.  Some say Buffett got rich through luck, or through no work of his own, but that’s simply untrue.  While Buffett does maintain a team of investors today that do the majority of his work for him, he accumulated his first millions through long hours of dedicated labor.

Anyone with a sense of self-worth and personal integrity would be proud of these achievements.  The man of self-worth would show through example how to achieve success, and attempt to inspire others to reach the same heights as he.  Instead, Buffett preaches the injustice of his success, viewing it as a damnable offense to society.

“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.”

“[The wealthy] have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.  It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

Besides showing an ignorance of and disdain for our armed forces, typical of liberal plutocrats, these statements reveal Buffett’s “sense of guilt, of sin, of his own basic unworthiness.”  Only those who believe in the unworthiness of all of us “get serious about shared sacrifice.”  Those of us who believe in the principled spirit of mankind, the spirit that gave us the power to fly, the power to walk on water, the power to create the wonders of the world, the towers, the symphonies, the sculptures; the power to be prophets and shapers of our own destinies and futures, those of us who understand that THIS is the essence of mankind, would never preach the value of “shared sacrifice.”  We would preach the value of shared success, of our human ability to elevate ourselves out of a pitiable position and into one of honor and fulfillment, such as Mr. Buffett.  A man with integrity would be proud of an achievement such as Mr. Buffett has achieved.

Rather than pitying those who are “below” him, Buffett should encourage and teach.  Rather than giving away his integrity (his money-the tangibility of his ethic and success) to various charities and others he pities and berating Mitch McConnell for not doing the same, Buffett should seek to use his wealth to give the foundation and structure of his success to others who are capable yet have not the opportunity.  Rather than pity, a man of integrity should feel exalted and optimistic that if he can achieve this kind of success, so can others.  Pity is the most disrespectful feeling one man can have for another.

“…pity- this complete awareness of a man without worth or hope, this sense of finality, of the not to be redeemed.  There was shame in this feeling- his own shame that he should have to pronounce such judgment upon a man, that he should know an emotion which contained no shred of respect.

This is pity, he thought, and he lifted his head in wonder.  He thought that there must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue.”

-Ayn Rand; The Fountainhead

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