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“Of all the manifestations of power, restraint in the use of that power impresses people most.”

Explain what you think this quotation means and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with it. Develop your position with reasons and/or specific examples drawn from history, current events, or your own experience, observations, or reading.

This quote means essentially that people admire powerful individuals who do not use their power to the utmost to achieve their goals but rather use only the minimum amount required to attain them. While this view is admirable in the abstract, the statement is inaccurate in that it fails to reflect how people actually behave.

The popularity of “revenge” movies aptly illustrates that many people are not impressed with individuals who use restraint when exercising their power. In these movies the protagonist is typically portrayed as having certain physical abilities that would enable him to easily defeat the various adversaries he encounters. In the initial confrontations with these individuals he typically refrains from using his abilities to defeat them. The audience, however, soon grows tired of this, and when the hero finally loses control and completely demolishes his opponent, they burst into applause. This homey example strongly suggests that many people are more impressed with the use of power than with the restraint of its use.

The Gulf War provides another example of a situation where restraint in the use of power was not widely acclaimed. When the allied forces under the command of General Schwartzkoff showed restraint by not annihilating the retreating Iraqi army, the general was widely criticized by the public for not using the force available to him to eliminate this potential enemy once and for all. This example shows once again that often people are not impressed by individuals who exhibit restraint in using their power.

In conclusion, the examples cited above clearly indicate that, contrary to the view expressed in the quote, many—if not most—people are more impressed with individuals who utilize their power to the utmost than with those who exercise restraint in the use of their power.

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“Corporations and other businesses should try to eliminate the many ranks and salary grades that classify employees according to their experience and expertise. A ‘flat’ organizational structure is more likely to encourage collegiality and cooperation among employees.”

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

Which is a better way to classify and reward employees of a business: a “flat” organizational structure or a hierarchical structure? The speaker prefers a “flat” structure in which distinctions between employees based on education or experience are not used as a basis for monetary rewards. I strongly disagree with the speaker’s view, for two reasons.

In the first place, the speaker’s preference for a “flat” structure is based upon the claim that cooperation and collegiality among employees is more likely under this system than under a hierarchical one. However, this claim ignores our everyday experience in human interaction. Disagreements among coworkers are inevitable. Without a clear authoritative figure to resolve them and to make final decisions, disputes are more likely to go unresolved and even worsen, thereby undermining cooperation, congeniality and, ultimately, productivity and profit.

In the second place, whether or not collegiality and cooperation are best fostered by a flat organizational structure is beside the point. My main reason for rejecting an organizational structure that does not distinguish workers in terms of their abilities or experience is that under such a system workers have little incentive to improve their skills, accomplish their work-related goals, or assume responsibility for the completion of their assigned tasks. In my experience, human motivation is such that without enticements such as money, status or recognition, few people would accomplish anything of value or assume responsibility for any task. A flat system actually might provide a distinct disincentive for productivity and efficiency insofar as workers are not held accountable for the quality or quantity of their work. By ignoring human nature, then, a company may be harming itself by encouraging laziness and complacency.

In sum, the speaker’s opinion that a “flat” organizational structure is the best way to promote collegiality and cooperation among employees runs counter to the common sense about how people act in a work environment, and in any case provides a feeble rationale for the preference of one organizational structure over another.

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“It is unrealistic to expect individual nations to make, independently, the sacrifices necessary to conserve energy. International leadership and worldwide cooperation are essential if we expect to protect the world’s energy resources for future generations.”

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

The speaker asserts that an international effort is needed to preserve the world’s energy resources for future generations. While individual nations, like people, are at times willing to make voluntary sacrifices for the benefit of others, my view is that international coordination is nevertheless necessary in light of the strong propensity of nations to act selfishly, and because the problem is international in scope.

The main reason why an international effort is necessary is that, left to their own devices, individual nations, like people, will act according to their short-term motives and self-interest. The mere existence of military weapons indicates that self-interest and national survival are every nation’s prime drivers. And excessive consumption by industrialized nations of natural resources they know to be finite, when alternatives are at hand demonstrates that self-interest and short-sightedness extend to the use of energy resources as well. Furthermore, nations, like people, tend to rationalize their own self-serving policies and actions. Emerging nations might argue, for example, that they should be exempt from energy conservation because it is the industrialized nations who can better afford to make sacrifices and who use more resources in the first place.

Another reason why an international effort is required is that other problems of an international nature have also required global cooperation. For example, has each nation independently recognized the folly of nuclear weapons proliferation and voluntarily disarmed? No: only by way of an international effort, based largely on coercion of strong leaders against detractors, along with an appeal to self-interest, have we made some progress. By the same token, efforts of individual nations to thwart international drug trafficking have proven largely futile, because efforts have not been internationally based. Similarly, the problem of energy conservation transcends national borders in that either all nations must cooperate, or all will ultimately suffer.

In conclusion, nations are made up of individuals who, when left unconstrained, tend to act in their own self-interest and with short-term motives. In light of how we have dealt, or not dealt, with other global problems, it appears that an international effort is needed to ensure the preservation of natural resources for future generations.

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In some countries, television and radio programs are carefully censored for offensive language and behavior. In other countries, there is little or no censorship.

In your view, to what extent should government or any other group be able to censor television or radio programs? Explain, giving relevant reasons and/or examples to support your position.

The extent to which the broadcast media should be censored for offensive language and behavior involves a conflict between our right of free speech and the duty of the government to protect its citizenry from potential harm. In my view, our societal interest in preventing the harm that exposure to obscenity produces takes precedence over the rights of individuals to broadcast this type of content.

First of all, I believe that exposure to obscene and offensive language and behavior does indeed cause similar behavior on the part of those who are exposed to it. Although we may not have conclusive scientific evidence of a cause-effect relationship, ample anecdotal evidence establishes a significant correlation. Moreover, both common sense and our experiences with children inform us that people tend to mimic the language and behavior they are exposed to.

Secondly, I believe that obscene and offensive behavior is indeed harmful to a society. The harm it produces is, in my view, both palpable and profound. For the individual, it has a debasing impact on vital human relationships; for the society, it promotes a tendency toward immoral and antisocial behavior. Both outcomes, in turn, tear apart the social fabric that holds a society together.

Those who advocate unbridled individual expression might point out that the right of free speech is intrinsic to a democracy and necessary to its survival. Even so, this right is not absolute, nor is it the most critical element. In my assessment, the interests served by restricting obscenity in broadcast media are, on balance, more crucial to the survival of a society. Advocates of free expression might also point out difficulties in defining “obscene” or “offensive” language or behavior. But in my view, however difficult it may be to agree on standards, the effort is worthwhile.

In sum, it is in our best interest as a society for the government to censor broadcast media for obscene and offensive language and behavior. Exposure to such media content tends to harm society and its citizenry in ways that are worth preventing, even in light of the resulting infringement of our right of free expression.

Peer Review: on a scale of 1-6, how would you rate this essay? Please post your ratings in the comments below!

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