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Political News, Opinion and Commentary

What. WatchBlog is a multiple-editor weblog broken up into three major political affiliations, each with its own blog: the Democrats, the Republicans and the Third Party (covering everything outside the two major parties).
Why. Let's face it, politics is confusing. Sometimes it's difficult to know who to believe, who to listen to and who to support. We're here to help. Posting on a regular basis are editors representing each major party. Stay informed.

Body and Mind: Sexual Harassment, Workers' Compensation, and Labor Rights: Where Are We Now?

Posted by Magnolia on February 6, 2020 at 2:55 PM

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Image Source: Pixabay

No matter how much we love our homes and families, for many of us, the workplace is where we spend most of our waking hours. It should be a safe place. A place where you do fulfilling work. A place where you build your family's future. But for too many of us, the workplace is not a haven but a terror and a dread.

» Continue reading "Body and Mind: Sexual Harassment, Workers' Compensation, and Labor Rights: Where Are We Now?"...

Tips for U.S. Business Travelers to Japan

Posted by jhamilton on February 5, 2020 at 11:02 AM

Japan and the United States have a unique history. However, the power of commerce binds these two nations together in ways few could have expected fifty years ago.

The business ties between Japan and the U.S. grow stronger by the year. Since 2002, Japanese businesses have created 840,000 jobs for American workers. The numbers are significant: Japanese companies employ more American workers than any other country (with the exception of the UK). It's no surprise then Japan is a popular destination among business travelers. What's more, the Japanese government recently opened up its immigration system to attract more foreign workers.

Traveling to Japan or another foreign destination is not like a trip to Toledo. It requires more preparation to not only learn but begin to understand the cultural norms practiced by Japanese businesses and workers. Learning how to socialize appropriately and getting to grips with how decisions get made will not only help you save face in a country that highly values politeness and honor but will make your trips more productive.

Socialization is as Important as the Boardroom

With today's technology, long-haul business trips are becoming less necessary. The use of tools like cloud-based digital signatures means two parties can securely sign documents remotely. Although the technology's use is widely dominated by North American firms, it is growing substantially in the Asia-Pacific region. Even still, the Japanese consider socialization to be an important part of a business transaction. Tech like cloud-based document management has an increasingly important place. However, the Japanese consider socialization outside the office to be as important as the technology used in the boardroom.

When you travel to Japan, you should be ready to put in extra effort to socialize with no regard for your jetlag. In Japan, it's common for the office to leave work and head to a bar to eat and drink for hours after the official end of the business day. These after-hours chats are important for developing personal relationships with your Japanese counterparts, who value relationships with people they know and trust above all else.

While out on the town, you'll want to avoid chatting about personal and sensitive matters: you won't say much more about your family other than you have one and you should avoid politics or other controversial subjects. Instead, come up with other interesting topics that you can talk about confidently or with some curiosity, including those related to the nature of your work or topics related to sports, Japanese culture and history, and local attractions.

Baseball fans do particularly well as it is a popular sport in Japan, but do also ask about Japan's impressive national rugby team, too!

Learn the Meaning of the Word "No"

There is a common myth that suggests Japanese people in general and business people in particular never say "no." They do. In fact, there are hundreds of ways to say "no" in Japanese. And you'll hear them as the Japanese use them to deny compliments or express modesty.

At the same time, it is uncouth to use the word "no" as directly as you might in German or American culture. Instead, Japanese businesspeople will disguise their "no" as an expression of regret or even as a "maybe."

You are more likely to encounter a direct "no" in an informal situation but almost never in a business meeting. As a result, you need to be able to do as the Japanese do and "read the air." To read the air is to read a social situation, which means keeping an eye on body language and other social cues to understand when what they're saying is "no," even if they don't say it directly.

Remember that it's not only important to understand how your Japanese counterparts say no but also to mirror this in your own behavior. A direct "no" is not possible in polite company, even if it's what you're used to. You'll need to learn to express yourself in a circumspect way.

Close Deals by Embracing the Hierarchy

Of course, U.S. businesses have a sense of hierarchy with management levels and structures for decision making. But it differs from the Japanese hierarchical structure, and if you want to walk away from your trip having accomplished your mission, it's important to understand how the Japanese organize their companies.

The Japanese take a hierarchical approach to authority. It's based on the social ethics of Confucianism, which places people in a vertical, hierarchical relationship. Because the stability of society depends on maintaining these relationships, there are clear boundaries for each level. Those at the top provide instructions, and they appreciate talking to other (at least perceived) decision-makers without your organization. At the same time, decision making in Japan happens by consensus. The leader seeks buy-in from the rest of the team before proceeding.

It's important to reciprocate the Japanese approach to hierarchy and decision-making while in their offices. In a meeting, your most senior team member will sit across from their Japanese counterpart and so on. If you are a junior member of a team and you have an idea, your role is to pass it down the line to a senior member of the team to presentation rather than try to negotiate as an equal.

Getting to know these structures will also be important during the social after-work settings outlined above. You won't discuss business strategy or close deals at the bar or over dinner. These are settings for relationship building only. Your understanding of hierarchy needs to inform your situational behavior.

Are You Ready for Your First Overseas Assignment?

Working with Japanese businesses is a rewarding experience that offers insight into your own ways of thinking and working. However, the key to making the most of your first overseas business assignment is to do plenty of preparation before you leave -- not just on the plane.

By getting to grips with how the Japanese build relationships, communicate and make decisions, you'll be much better prepared to embrace the unique relationship that Japanese and American businesses enjoy.

Why Are Americans So Unhealthy?

Posted by jhamilton on January 28, 2020 at 12:16 PM

The United States is the world's wealthiest country, but the health of its general population is middling at best. Compared to other high-income countries, Americans live shorter lives and experience higher rates of illness and injury. The difference is so substantial that the National Research Council refers to the discrepancy as a "mortality gap."

Poorer outcomes may come as no surprise to the average American, who struggles to navigate the country's healthcare system. Yet, even wealthy Americans may have worse health compared to their peers in other countries. In other words, even those who can afford access to healthcare in the U.S. are still not enjoying the quality of life found in other wealthy countries.

Why are Americans so unhealthy, and what can be done to help close the gap?

A Lack of Social Programs Means More Americans Get Sick

The ills of the American healthcare system are both many and well-known. Americans spend more on healthcare than any other nation (by far) and yet still see worse health outcomes. While this is a problem, there is even another spending issue potentially at work.

Despite increasing its healthcare spending each year, the U.S. spends substantially less on health-adjacent social programs, like housing, education, food, jobs, and transportation. Instead, the U.S. sinks the vast majority of its money into Medicaid, and it has spent relatively little money on social housing or food access.

There is a wealth of research that demonstrates the ability of social assistance programs to protect public health. What's more, social programs aren't just a policy issue. The medical community (including regulators like the CDC) refer to the areas these programs tackle as the social determinants of health -- essentially, when resources are available to help people overcome potential negative determinants of health, overall population health improves.

Access to Simple Health Tools is Expensive

Let's briefly forget about how much it costs to go to the doctor or the price of prescription medication and return to the core building blocks of health: healthy food and regular exercise. These are the core building blocks of good health outcomes, but it is also a place where the U.S. does poorly compared to other countries.

The high price of healthy food isn't a new trend. It didn't arise with the rapid expansion of Whole Foods, and people have complained about the cost of fresh food for decades now.

It costs money to farm fresh fruit and vegetables, but unlike other countries, the U.S. doesn't subsidize leafy vegetables like it does corn, soy, and wheat. As a result, the cost of vegetable crops gets passed on to the consumer. The subsidized crops (corn, wheat, and soy) are the ones that make up the vast majority of ingredients in inexpensive foods, including junk food.

Americans don't just spend more on fresh food, either. Group exercise classes like pilates can be expensive due to the overall time and energy that goes into curating an effective course and routine, and these expensive classes are dominating fitness opportunities now. Even a barebones Crossfit gym can set members back several hundred dollars each month. At the same time, discount box gyms aren't a one-size-fits-all solution -- one survey even found that 80% of people feel nervous about going to a gym.

The U.S. Funds Care for the Elderly Only

The U.S. provides healthcare funding through the Medicare and Medicaid programs for what are supposed to be the two most vulnerable social groups: the poor and the elderly. However, neither program covers everything, and seniors still spend hundreds of thousands on their healthcare during retirement. Only providing for these two populations so assumes that those who are in full employment and of working age need only preventative care, which isn't true.

Women's healthcare and pregnant women, in particular, are a good example of population groups whose needs aren't fully covered through the current system. Postpartum maternal health is widely neglected both in healthcare research and in coverage, but postpartum recovery is a significant indicator of a woman's future health. Yet, the day women leave the hospital after giving birth is the day they usually fall off the healthcare radar.

The U.S. is the worst developed country for maternal health, not only because other countries provide both prenatal and postpartum care for free but because they provide it at all. And to return to the issue of funding social programs, the U.S. is the only country that doesn't require paid maternity leave, which means many new mothers need to go back to work immediately -- whether or not they are healthy enough to do so.

Public Health Doesn't Begin and End at the Doctor

The U.S.'s expensive and broken healthcare system is only one factor in the lackluster state of American public health. Health is about more than being able to afford to see a specialist -- it includes the total sum of a person's life or the social determinants of health.

Where the U.S. misses out isn't just in affordability, it also fails at supporting public health by ensuring that the population has access to healthy food, housing stability, and clean water. It helps to prioritize healthy foods and exercise by making them affordable. And it recognizes that the elderly aren't the only demographic who need both extra medical and social support.

Until the U.S. takes a holistic view of health, its public will continue to see poorer health outcomes, even with a single-payer or universal program.

Holding Businesses Accountable for Employee Safety

Posted by Magnolia on January 27, 2020 at 12:47 PM

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Photo by Dominik Vanyi on Unsplash

Employers have an obligation to keep employees safe: it's both a matter of ethics and codified into law through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) and among many other laws, like the requirement to carry workers' compensation insurance. At the same time, 1 in 7 American employees don't feel safe at work.

» Continue reading "Holding Businesses Accountable for Employee Safety"...

Safety First? Not So Fast: The Future of Workplace Safety in the US

Posted by jhamilton on January 21, 2020 at 6:57 PM

The United States is the most technologically advanced nation in human history. Our medical systems save millions of lives every year. The scope of our understanding of disease and injury prevention is immense. Yet American workers continue to labor every single day in conditions that value production over safety. Not only this, but the effects of workplace environmental exposures can linger for months, years, or even decades after the worker leaves the job. Some workers never recover. And far too many do not survive. Nevertheless, health and safety regulations continue to be rolled back. In an already deficient and damaged system, the state of workplace safety in the United States will only continue to deteriorate unless dramatic and immediate intervention occurs.

Mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos is one of the most significant and ubiquitous hazards in the workplace today. The risk affects a range of industries, from construction to firefighting to the military. Even workers not directly handling asbestos-containing materials may still be exposed: for decades, asbestos was commonly used as a flame-retardant insulating material.

It continues to be found in homes and commercial buildings, with owners refusing to incur the expense of eradication--in defiance both of government regulations and the increasing awareness of the lethal risks of asbestos exposure, the most severe of which is the development of mesothelioma, a rare and furiously dangerous type of lung cancer.

Flu

Far too often, the flu is dismissed as an inconvenience. You feel miserable for about a week, but then you get over it and move on. The reality, though, is that flu claims tens of thousands of lives in the US every year. The CDC estimates, for instance, that 80,000 people died from the flu or its complications in 2017, and the 2019-2020 flu season may be even worse.

Despite the risks, though, many US workers are reluctant to stay home when they're sick, either because they can't afford to miss work or because they fear reprisals from their employer or coworkers. The problem is especially significant for workers in the food services industry, which not only puts coworkers at risk but also threatens the safety of the general public. Any worker, but food services especially, should be allowed to stay home when ill in order to keep the flu out of the workplace.

Stress and Burnout

Modern technology has not only changed the way we communicate, play, and get our entertainment, but it's also changing the way we work. Now more than ever, mobile tech allows us to carry our office with us wherever we go. And while that certainly makes us more productive, it also means that we now have nowhere to go to truly be free of the pressures of work, no time to truly relax and decompress. The result is skyrocketing rates of anxiety, stress, and employee burnout, which not only compromise the workers' overall quality of life but also diminishes their performance, affecting customers and colleagues alike.

Environmental Contamination

American workers are not the only ones impacted by hazards in the US workplace. The majority of US businesses, particularly in the manufacturing industries, are reliant to at least some extent on fossil fuels, wreaking devastating impacts on both human health and the environment, as was demonstrated more than a decade ago in Al Gore's groundbreaking documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

Though environmentalists have long sounded the alarm on the necessity of controlling and significantly reducing fossil fuel emissions, the marginal progress made in recent years is now threatened by the Trump administration's environmentally-unfriendly policies, backed by a value system that prioritizes the profitability of the free market over the lives of ordinary citizens or the well-being of the planet.

The Takeaway

The future of workplace safety in the United States is not what it could be, and it is not what it should be. Workers continue to suffer from the debilitating and sometimes life-threatening effects of exposure to harmful substances, such as asbestos. In addition, financial considerations and workplace pressures often discourage workers from staying home when they are ill, contributing to the spread of dangerous infectious illnesses, such as the flu.

The advent of mobile technologies has also exacerbated a host of workplace dangers, including the threat of anxiety disorders and burnout. Finally, the rollback of regulations by the Trump administration has compromised not only the health and safety of workers but also of the environment. Restrictions on fossil fuel emissions are being curtailed, increasing pollution in the air, water, and land and contributing to a variety of human illnesses, from asthma and COPD to cardiovascular disease. Workplace safety is not just about the well-being of employees. The effects of workplace hazards filter out to every man, woman, and child across this vast country and our increasingly interconnected world, impacting our entire human family and the precious, suffering planet we call home.

Is Technology a Concern for Teen Health?

Posted by Magnolia on January 21, 2020 at 3:52 PM

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Image Source: Unsplash

There was a time when your average teen's day didn't consist of much more than school, homework, and hanging with friends. If you think back to your childhood, you can probably remember doing things like riding your bike around the neighborhood with your friends or watching movies to pass the time. However, teens in the digital age spend their time much differently.

» Continue reading "Is Technology a Concern for Teen Health?"...

What's the Current State of Workplace Safety in the U.S.?

Posted by Magnolia on January 7, 2020 at 5:29 PM

No matter our chosen industry, most of us take the concept of workplace safety for granted. After all, wide-reaching workplace accident prevention programs and data collection have been routine since 1913, when the National Safety Council (NSC) was founded. Today, the nonprofit NSC performs a variety of services, such as offering safety training courses for employers that seek to reduce job site injuries and build a culture of safety.

» Continue reading "What's the Current State of Workplace Safety in the U.S.?"...

Labor Rights in the Trucking Industry

Posted by jhamilton on January 6, 2020 at 6:17 PM

The trucking industry is synonymous with American roads and highways. On family road trips, semi-trucks are such a common sight that there's even a traditional signal the kids can use to encourage a truck driver to honk his or her horn. Semi-trucks are so ubiquitous, in fact, that they transport about 71% of the nation's total freight, according to American Trucking Associations (ATA).

Although truck driving is such an integral component of capitalism, drivers themselves aren't always treated with the respect they deserve. The unfortunate reality is that, while truck driving is an inherently dangerous occupation, drivers typically remain overlooked in the realm of labor rights. Further, trucking company owners may engage in unscrupulous business practices that put drivers at risk every time they get behind the wheel.

Stories of roadway accidents involving semi-trucks are headline news on a daily basis in America. Some truck accidents, such as a December 18 Florida collision involving a semi-truck and a cargo van, don't result in injuries. But that crash is an exception rather than a rule, and trucking accidents are often fatal.

History of the Trucking Industry

It may come as a surprise, but America's first semi-truck hit the road in 1899. Ohio-based engineer Alexander Winton needed a way to deliver his company's manufactured cars to buyers across the U.S. without putting wear and tear on the vehicles themselves. So Winton designed a hauler that could handle the transport and delivery of a single automobile. Winton's semi-truck hauler was soon adopted by other car making companies.

But it wasn't until the 1950s that semi-trucks became firmly rooted in America's freight industry. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 allowed for the construction of interstate highways, which allowed for travel between states at high speeds. And it is those high speeds that help contribute to the elevated number of fatal crashes involving large trucks that occur on America's roadways.

The Federal Motor Carrier Transportation Administration (FMCSA) reports that about 4,440 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2016, but that's only part of the overall picture. It's easy to blame truck drivers for these types of roadway accidents, as they drive hefty vehicles and are susceptible to driver fatigue, which can slow reaction times and impair decision-making skills. However, studies show that the majority of fatal car-truck crashes are actually caused by car drivers.

In fact, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that car drivers were found to be at fault for more than 80% of fatal car-truck accidents. Yet truck drivers typically receive the brunt of the blame. It's an unfortunate side effect of choosing a career in the truck driving industry.

What it Takes to Be a Truck Driver

Depending on one's state of residence, the path towards a career as a professional truck driver may differ significantly. But in general, the first step is obtaining a commercial driver's license (CDL) as well as a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Then, professional training is required, most commonly from an accredited truck driving school. Prospective drivers must also pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) exam, which screens a driver's vision and hearing abilities.

Once a driver has successfully passed all exams and completed professional training, it's time to find work. Many truck drivers are employed through a trucking or freight company. Others, however, opt for a more independent work life and become independent owner/operators.

While working as an independent trucking contractor may seem like a good idea on the surface, at least where employee protection is concerned, it comes with a hefty upfront cost. For instance, independent drivers generally must supply their own rig for hauling. On top of the cost of the vehicle itself, maintenance, and gas, there's also insurance to consider.

In most cases, truck drivers who drive their own vehicles are required to carry commercial auto insurance. That requirement in itself effectively puts truck drivers at risk: In the event of an accident, an independent commercial truck driver may ultimately be responsible for associated costs, such as property damage and/or medical bills.

The Future of Trucking Industry Employment

The motor vehicle landscape is constantly evolving, and modern technology is helping to alter the trucking industry even further. Some researchers postulate that alternative transportation may be the future of trucking, reducing emissions on a national level and making our roads safer. Perhaps the mere idea of alternative transportation technology is one of the primary reasons behind America's current truck driver shortage.

There are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S., which sounds like quite a lot on the surface. But many of those truck drivers aren't active, and those who are tend to be middle-aged or elderly men. Although tractor-trailer truck drivers may earn upwards of $43,680 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, young people may be turned off by the industry's long hours and changing safety laws.

For instance, there is a limit to the amount of total time that drivers can spend behind the wheel in a day. But many times, a driver's expected delivery time doesn't account for required breaks or rest periods. The Department of Labor requires that drivers be paid for at least 16 hours in a 24-hour period, but a number of trucking companies have fought against paying their drivers during periods of rest or sleep.

Final Thoughts

Despite rampant globalization and the fact that a significant amount of U.S. goods are manufactured overseas, trucks remain the go-to shipping method across the nation. Unfortunately, truckers are significantly overlooked when it comes to safety rights in an inherently dangerous profession. The trucking industry just isn't an attractive employment option among young people, primarily due to long hours and a lack of overall protection.

Why We Shouldn't Excuse NFL Players

Posted by Magnolia on January 2, 2020 at 4:50 PM

Although it has decreased slightly in popularity over the last decade, football remains America's favorite sport amongst U.S. adults. Millions of spectators attend National Football League games, and millions more watch them on television. The league itself has enjoyed a 5% increase in television ratings in 2019, and last year brought in $3.71 billion in advertising revenue, an increase from 2017's total of $3.58 billion.

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Why Some Individuals Choose Homelessness Over Receiving Shelter from Religious Organizations

Posted by jhamilton on December 30, 2019 at 1:49 PM

Homelessness plagues the lives of hundreds of thousands of people daily. The Department of Housing and Urban Development found that at least 550,000 Americans experience homelessness a night, and in a single year 1.4 million spend time in shelters. This is a dire issue because according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, at least 700 people die from hypothermia annually.

Seeing as temperatures are dropping, it's a good time to begin thinking about how to find solutions to the issue of homelessness in America. A prevalent approach that shelters have been taking is getting volunteers and outreach workers to encourage people sleeping rough to head over to shelters. Surprisingly, many of these individuals tend to refuse a place to sleep, especially when the help is extended from a religious shelter.

This raises questions about why many homeless people aren't keen on receiving help from religious shelters and what can be done about it. The solution may require looking deeper at the perceptions, attitudes, and values that are held by the homeless about religious shelters. It may also be worth exploring whether or not these religious shelters are sensitive enough to the unique challenges and needs of the homeless.

The Struggles of the Homeless

To understand why people choose to be homeless, it's necessary to first understand the struggles that homeless people face. An estimated 144,000 people who are homeless across the United States also face mental illness, making it one of their most salient struggles. The stress and isolation that accompanies not having adequate housing could also impact their physical and mental health negatively.

Another challenge that the homeless have is the condition of the shelters sometimes being less than conducive. Some of the things they're faced with in many shelters include overcrowding, poor hygiene, a lack of regulation, and not having enough personal space. Such challenges can be off-putting for homeless individuals who are already battling personal issues like declining mental health, deteriorating physical health, or addiction.

Shelters also tend to have barriers that sometimes don't take the vulnerabilities and complex needs of homeless people into consideration and keep them stuck in a cycle of poverty. Good examples of such barriers include not being able to receive help if you're intoxicated, not being offered secure treatment, or not having anywhere to store their belongings while they work. Another challenge for many homeless people is that most shelters are communal spaces which means they don't have privacy or personal space.

Why Is Shelter Refused?

A core reason they may refuse accommodation from religious shelters, in particular, could be because of a fear of being judged. The National Coalition for the Homeless has found that 16% of the population is battling severe mental illnesses while others are struggling with drug addictions. Reasons such as these could make individuals choose to be homeless as they're under the assumption that the religious beliefs of such shelters will be imposed on them.

As with most individuals, homeless people value independence as well as the right to make their own choices. When being approached by volunteers from religious shelters, it may feel as though they're bartering their freedom for support and a place to stay. As a result, they may refuse shelter as they'd rather stay in their zone where they can retain their peace, sense of identity, and not feel judged.

Further reason that shelter may be refused is because of bad past experiences with shelters. It is key to remember that these are vulnerable people who are likely to have a history of bad experiences already, so one more could worsen the state of their mental health. Instead of moral lessons, they often need healthcare professionals who respect their independence and meet their specific mental health needs

Possible Solutions

Religious shelters should attempt to reverse negative stereotypes by ensuring the beliefs and individuality of homeless people is always respected. It may also help if volunteers use relationship building tactics such as talking to them about past encounters with religious shelters and seeing if they can offer them better alternatives. Providing people without a home a range of options and non-religious solutions could help them feel empowered as opposed to children in need of help.

Policies that make it mandatory for shelters to partner with one another could help create a more coordinated approach to tackling homelessness. Putting cohesive information-sharing structures in place could also make it easier to house individuals, regulate, address complaints, and deal with overcrowding. Shelters should also collaborate with social workers, healthcare providers, and housing providers to offer a range of services that will help people get back on their feet.

The lack of personal space was another major challenge, so providing individual rooms or permanent housing for individuals is a solution that could encourage them to accept help. A bonus is that this could reduce the cost of homelessness which a 2006 study by the Denver Housing First Collaborative says would take the cost from $43,239 down to $11,694 per person annually in the city of Denver alone. By shelters allowing the homeless to retain their autonomy and individuality without offering a moral compass, they may be able to get more off the streets.

As charitable people, it is our duty to make everyone feel loved despite their struggles or shortcomings. As the winter season kicks into gear, we should seek to extend a helping hand to those in need. This helping hand must come with a reassurance that our only motives are to offer warm shelter and non-judgmental support.

How Lawmakers Are Addressing the Impact of Addiction on American Families

Posted by jhamilton on December 10, 2019 at 9:11 AM

Addiction isn't something a person suffers in isolation. When one person suffers from addiction, it can affect the people around them in negative ways. Whether it be alcohol or drugs, addiction can disrupt family structures and result in children being uprooted from the home.


» Continue reading "How Lawmakers Are Addressing the Impact of Addiction on American Families"...

Lifelong Health, Organic Farming, and Sustainability

Posted by Magnolia on December 5, 2019 at 10:57 AM

With so many buzzwords out there, it can be difficult to determine which ones to pay attention to. But when it comes to your health, "organic" and "sustainable" are two words you may want to integrate into your life. Organic, sustainably grown foods may become a big part of your diet as well.

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GPS Technology, Privacy, and Police States: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Posted by jhamilton on December 4, 2019 at 7:19 PM

Since entering the mainstream in the 1990s, GPS technology has arguably changed modern life for the better. After all, GPS can help us to receive real-time updates of adverse weather conditions, track down lost pets, and drive cross-country without asking for directions. We can even organize protests and meet-ups, such as teacher strikes, with ease thanks to modern tracking tech.

» Continue reading "GPS Technology, Privacy, and Police States: Where Do We Draw the Line?"...

Health Care Costs in the U.S.: Will They Ever Improve?

Posted by Magnolia on November 27, 2019 at 10:30 AM

Spending on health care in the U.S. is projected to continue to grow 5.6% per year between now and 2025, and by the time 2025 rolls around, health spending will make up 19.9% of the total GDP.

» Continue reading "Health Care Costs in the U.S.: Will They Ever Improve?"...

How Does Mental Health Affect Voter Turnout?

Posted by jhamilton on November 25, 2019 at 7:03 PM

We have a tendency in the US to treat mental illness with a great deal of unnecessary suspicion and fear. Unfortunately, this response has historically led to us making rash, ill-considered, damaging decisions. Our continued widespread refusal to rationally address the issue means that we continue to fail to make progress on providing sufficient support for those experiencing psychological difficulties. This is a baffling stance to take, given that one in four of us will be confronted with mental illness at some point in our lives.

Prejudice often results in impaired access to vital services, leading to serious disenfranchisement of those with mental or emotional difficulty. This extends to political and legislative arenas. The narrative on violence and gun control has utilized mentally illness as a scapegoat. While mental health reform is long overdue, it is misleading to suggest mass shootings are caused by mental illness. Such narratives serve to fuel stigma, and alienate those who need close community support.

Negative bias affects the ability of patients to vote. This is in effect a form of voter suppression, which must be addressed. Studies have shown that those with mental illnesses are more likely to make informed political decisions, and tend to vote for left-wing parties. We live in a time of great political uncertainty, and every vote is vital. We must examine how mental health can affect voter numbers, and what we can do to empower this demographic.

Legislative Stigma

Mental health stigma is informed by erroneous stereotypes of those who experience psychological illnesses. Despite a rise in campaigns to present a more accurate view, these inaccuracies perpetuate. This damaging approach has an insidious impact throughout our culture, from the mentally ill being demonized in horror movies to scapegoating when it comes to violent crime. But how does popular public opinion translate into an impact on voting?

Part of the issue is that stigma can affect the translation of mental competency. Decisions are made using the most extreme definitions of mental illness, rather than a more balanced approach. There are 39 states that have legislation in place restricting those with psychological conditions from voting if they are ruled to be mentally incompetent. Some states even still utilize stigmatizing language in this legislature, such as "idiots", or "insane persons." At times, people who are otherwise able to make well considered decisions are found to be mentally incapable of voting.

While stigma itself will not improve until the wider public becomes more educated on the subject, we can push for assessment standardization of mental capacity to vote. Such as those currently in place in California and Maryland. The criteria, promoted by the Bazelon Center and the American Bar Association, is straightforward. It asks simply whether the person is able to communicate a desire to vote. This provides equality with every other US citizen; if you can make a choice, you can vote.

Hospitalization

Mental illness can present in a wide variety of forms, with each disorder involving symptoms of variable severity. Each individual tends to experience illness through a very personal lens, which is why treatment is nuanced by necessity. Some find psychiatric medication helpful, while others use alternative remedies such as CBD oil as part of their therapy. In serious cases, a period of hospitalization may be required in order to provide structured care. It is unfortunately the case that becoming an inpatient can have a detrimental affect voting.

Particularly in the case of unexpected hospitalization, the logistical processes to enable inpatients to vote can be complex. This can vary from state to state, but usually involves applying for an emergency ballot, a physician's confirmation of the patient's inability to attend the polls, this must then be notarized and approved by the city. Only then can the patient vote in absentia. Even for long-term patients, keeping up to date with voter registration and polling dates and may not be considered a priority during this difficult time in their lives.

The solution to this issue is usually one of providing patients with sufficient support and education. Provide them with guidance and information on how and where to register to vote in their local area. Make them aware of resources they can use to do so, such as free internet access in libraries. Initiatives like the Penn Votes Project can be effective, wherein medical students take responsibility to work with patients to ensure they are assisted through voting processes.

Living with Mental Illness

Simply navigating your daily tasks while experiencing symptoms of mental illness is difficult, and can take a lot of time to get used to -- if it happens at all. Many patients are able to manage their mental health very well overall. However, there may be periods of unexpected crisis, followed by treatment, changes in prescription medication, and recovery. This can be exhausting, and overwhelming. It cannot be understated how mental illness can have a disruptive influence upon daily life. It should be no surprise that this can also affect the tendency to get out and vote.

A variety of illnesses, particularly mood disorders such as depression, negatively affect self-esteem and espouse a sense of apathy. This can affect patient's ability to see how their actions can make a difference. Juggling between their symptoms and their daily duties, there's often little motivation to vote. Yet, voting is considered a valuable action in recovery from mental illness. Helping patients engage with their citizenship and shape their communities is a vital tool in their ongoing treatment.

Having a personal connection in the support network can often be valuable in helping patients feel confident and empowered to make a difference. Family members of older adults with depression can check in regularly, offering support for day-to-day tasks that can become challenging. This simple act of compassion can be especially helpful on polling days, either by assisting them in getting to the booths, or even helping register for and mail in absentee ballots. By opening a dialogue, and providing encouragement, they may be more likely to enter into this holistically valuable mode of citizenship.

Conclusion

Voting is a key right, and one that those with mental illnesses are too often denied. Widespread stigma, inconsistency of assessments, and lack of information provision are all factors affecting voter numbers among the mentally ill. We must make concerted efforts to reassess our approach to legislation and support structures in order to make sure that experiencing an illness is no longer a barrier to asserting political will.

Wishing President Trump The Greatest Presidents Day Ever

Posted by Roy Ellis on February 16, 2020 at 9:26 PM

Here is wishing President Trump a most happy Presidents Day. And, what a great day he had at Daytona races today. We witnessed an 800 foot flyover of the racetrack followed by a first, I do believe, where a sitting President starts the race.

» Continue reading "Wishing President Trump The Greatest Presidents Day Ever"...

Justice For The Coup A Long Way Off

Posted by Roy Ellis on February 9, 2020 at 9:04 PM

OAN put out a blurb that the FBI lied about the Seth Rich murder. Tom Finton, JW, turned up a couple of emails thru FOIA discussing the Seth Rich case. Says it looks odd but needs more information.

» Continue reading "Justice For The Coup A Long Way Off"...

What Is The Real Reason For The Conspiracy

Posted by Roy Ellis on January 28, 2020 at 9:31 PM

The dims have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at President Trump and missed him every time. I've mused for the longest as to why the globalists and liberals have let it all hang out to claw back power from the populist regime in the WH.

» Continue reading "What Is The Real Reason For The Conspiracy"...

Trumps Wall Repels Them : The Governors Wall Repels Us

Posted by Roy Ellis on January 20, 2020 at 8:30 PM


Yup . . . was an awesome day in Richmond for the 2nd amendment. NBC says some 22k were present for lobby day. I mean, that's a 'Trump Rally' size crowd.

» Continue reading "Trumps Wall Repels Them : The Governors Wall Repels Us"...

Virginia Needs A Militia

Posted by Roy Ellis on January 10, 2020 at 2:13 PM

It is time, necessary, that Virginia counties form and organize militias that are sworn to protect 2nd amendment rights under the Constitution. IMO, this is the best time to stand up for their 2nd amendment rights. Our right to bear arms has, and is being slowly taken from us through years of anti-gun legislation.

» Continue reading "Virginia Needs A Militia"...

Regime Change Necessary To Free Iranian People

Posted by Roy Ellis on January 8, 2020 at 1:44 PM

I'm not disappointed, but I was hoping President Trump would suggest regime change in his words to the press this morning.

» Continue reading "Regime Change Necessary To Free Iranian People"...

Hard To Fix Stupid !

Posted by Roy Ellis on January 1, 2020 at 3:07 PM

Wouldn't you know my first post of the new year would be about immigration?

To preface, I have no words to describe/explain the destruction brought on this country over the last 30 years thru globalist and open border/amnesty policies. It's so shameful that we the people allowed this to happen. It will take President Trump and a couple more populist regimes of Trump flavor to restore the country, the Constitution, a more decent governing body. But, much of the damage can never be overcome.

» Continue reading "Hard To Fix Stupid !"...

How To Characterize Crimes By The Deep State

Posted by Roy Ellis on December 28, 2019 at 6:27 PM

I have thought about it incessantly and still have no words, or phrase, or level of culpability to form a coherent, intelligent, all encompassing statement as to the level, depth and breadth of the deep state corruption that has gone on in this country throughout the Obama admin and perhaps well before.

» Continue reading "How To Characterize Crimes By The Deep State"...

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO WATCHBLOGGERS

Posted by Roy Ellis on December 24, 2019 at 3:27 PM

HAVE A JOLLY, JOLLY CHRISTMAS

What an exciting Christmas season. By the numbers - - -

The country is at peace.
The economy is doing well
Most people who want to be are employed
Military should be Merry with a 3 ½% pay raise
New Space Dept initiated
Making ready to put people on the moon
Money in the funding bill for border wall
Ten months till the 2020's
And, and, and - - -

» Continue reading "MERRY CHRISTMAS TO WATCHBLOGGERS "...

Giuilani Has Evidence To Sink the Coup D' Etaters

Posted by Roy Ellis on December 21, 2019 at 11:29 AM

So, every criminal and/or conspiratorial act that the Obama admin, the DNC, the msm, and other acolytes have been suspected/accused of has now been proven to be true.

» Continue reading "Giuilani Has Evidence To Sink the Coup D' Etaters"...

The 14th Amendment: Repeal and Replace

Posted by Weary_Willie on December 15, 2019 at 12:59 PM


A discussion

» Continue reading "The 14th Amendment: Repeal and Replace"...

Shut Them Up, Put Them In Cuffs !

Posted by Roy Ellis on December 10, 2019 at 1:02 PM

Wray, you scumbag, I stretch my arse over your head while eating a half gallon of xlax.

» Continue reading "Shut Them Up, Put Them In Cuffs !"...

Lots of political action this week

Posted by Roy Ellis on December 8, 2019 at 8:35 PM

Potentially a big week coming up. Kim Jung needs some attention, House impeachment hearings reach a climax and, and, and, the FISA report hits the street.

» Continue reading "Lots of political action this week"...

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Posted by Weary_Willie on November 27, 2019 at 8:12 PM

What have you gained this year that you are thankful for?



» Continue reading "Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!"...

Solutions for More Efficient and Affordable Healthcare

Posted by d.a.n on November 23, 2019 at 2:52 PM

Free markets (with some regulation to avoid monopolies and abuses due to unchecked greed) offer products and services more affordably than the government can (especially in large countries, and especially in countries with near-open-borders and Democrats who are using massive illegal immigration, more sanctuary cities and states to acquire more electoral votes, money, control, and power).

IF it were not for the fact that such an experiment would be costly to prove that government-run anything is usually a bad idea, it would be interesting to see government-run healthcare and private-run healthcare systems go head-to-head, and see which offers the best healthcare for the least cost.

For some clues about the probable outcome, consider the following government-run systems . . .

» Continue reading "Solutions for More Efficient and Affordable Healthcare"...

Ben Domenech's Crusade & My Cowardice

Posted by Keeley on June 3, 2019 at 1:49 PM

I'm a bit of a coward. I remember a scuffle, not really a full brawl, breaking out in the stairwell as me and 2 or 3 friends sat upstairs in an establishment. I felt trapped because the staircase was the only way out. The fight was quickly broken up, however, and when we hurriedly and discretely left, at least one of the battlers was outside in the alleyway, handing his wallet to his partner as she yelled at him to just leave it be. But he seemed ready for round 2 so to speak.

» Continue reading "Ben Domenech's Crusade & My Cowardice"...

Robert Mueller's 13 Weasel Words

Posted by Keeley on May 30, 2019 at 9:59 PM

Mueller's probe has been a destructive mess from the start, and with 13 weasel words, during his brief, prepared testimony this week, Bob Mueller ensured the mess would remain for some time after he's stepped down.


"Charging the President with a crime was not an option we could consider."

» Continue reading "Robert Mueller's 13 Weasel Words"...

Don McGahn & Congressional Guardians of the Reign of Process

Posted by Keeley on May 23, 2019 at 10:21 PM

Don McGahn is a star. If you're a Democrat Member of Congress looking to drag out the post-Mueller hearings and try to take up the dubious baton that Robert Mueller left at a dead drop in a parking lot somewhere in Fairfax or Quantico. And the White House is having none of it, demanding that McGahn not respond to House Judiciary Committee subpoenas that he testify.

This is about competing narratives, but it's also about far more than that.

» Continue reading "Don McGahn & Congressional Guardians of the Reign of Process"...

Iran - Avoiding Crossed Signals in a Rusty Echo Chamber

Posted by Keeley on May 22, 2019 at 5:31 PM

When the generally pro-Trump Washington Times runs a Bolton-is-dragging-USA-into-war-with-Iran story, you know that the Ben Rhodes echo chamber is back at work, trying to pressure the White House to save what's left of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran Deal, lest Iran begin producing nuclear warheads (or would that be adding to their stock?). Unfortunately, the stakes are high because it involves Iran and the country its theocracy has sworn to destroy, Israel.

» Continue reading "Iran - Avoiding Crossed Signals in a Rusty Echo Chamber"...

Roe v. Wade Challenges - Is Chief Justice Roberts the New Swing Vote?

Posted by Keeley on May 21, 2019 at 4:43 PM

Do you remember Chief Justice Roberts' confirmation hearings about 15 years ago? How bright and bushy-tailed and darned affable he was? Treating each senator's question as if it was a profound truth uttered during a fascinating conversation?

It worked. He got the job.

» Continue reading "Roe v. Wade Challenges - Is Chief Justice Roberts the New Swing Vote?"...

A Reasonable Plan with Little Chance of Becoming Law

Posted by Keeley on May 20, 2019 at 3:44 PM

Liberals are dismissing Trump's proposed immigration plan because it doesn't prioritize family reunion which apparently now should be the guiding light of America's and any humane nation's immigration policy.

» Continue reading "A Reasonable Plan with Little Chance of Becoming Law"...

Josh Hawley Has Our Attention - Can He Sustain it?

Posted by Keeley on May 17, 2019 at 1:45 PM

He doesn't have Beto's Kennedyish toothy, fleeting glamour, or Pete Buttigieg's too-smooth-by-half comebacks, but Missouri GOP frosh senator Josh Hawley is the real thing. What do I mean by that? His ambition, which is overwhelmingly evident in the dizzying pace of his climb to Senator at 39 years old, is actually backed up by policy smarts and not just platitudes. Whether you agree or not with his bold but considered populism.

» Continue reading "Josh Hawley Has Our Attention - Can He Sustain it?"...

Trump and China - What Should America Do?

Posted by Keeley on May 16, 2019 at 2:29 PM

How does America deal with China? It depends on how you perceive the country. Or on how you chose to portray the country, whatever your actual views on the politically communist and economically mercantilist state might be. Both Victor Davis Hanson and Jim Geraghty at National Review had a few thoughts on this over this past week. They're worth considering.

» Continue reading "Trump and China - What Should America Do?"...

Is Trump Pushing Back Too Hard Against Subpoenas?

Posted by Keeley on May 14, 2019 at 5:00 PM

One suspects that Philip Klein - editor at the Washington Examiner - is not a big fan of Trump but he's nowhere near as explicit or vicious as a Rick Wilson. Call him an elegantly moderate Republican with a Masters Degree in Journalism from Columbia and a fair bit of experience in conservative media. Phil is worried about the White House's assertion of executive privilege with regard to both the unredacted Mueller report and to any other documents, like Trump's tax returns, that Democrats are demanding and seemingly willing to subpoena people to obtain them.

» Continue reading "Is Trump Pushing Back Too Hard Against Subpoenas?"...

Two Clowns & a Booming Economy

Posted by Keeley on May 10, 2019 at 2:05 PM

First the two clowns: Burkman & Wohl. Yes, they're the same ones who tried to concoct sexual assault allegations against Robert Mueller last year as if that would be helpful to then-Supreme-Court-nominee Kavanaugh. Their press conference back then was a pathetic slice of theatre of the absurd. You really couldn't make that stuff up. They should have slunk back to their other jobs: Burkman as a rather strange GOP lobbyist and Wohl as a wannabe financial scam artist who managed to get himself banned from National Futures Association as a teenager for apparently diverting money from an investor's account into his mother's investment account.

» Continue reading "Two Clowns & a Booming Economy"...

Will Putin Help Turn Venezuela into Another Syria?

Posted by Keeley on May 8, 2019 at 5:08 PM

After a series of bombings in Russian apartment complexes in several cities in September of 1999 - ones in which around 300 people died and about a thousand Russians were wounded - Vladmir Putin began his final ascent to the Presidency of Russia.

» Continue reading "Will Putin Help Turn Venezuela into Another Syria?"...

Mueller's Letter - The Civil War Continues

Posted by Keeley on May 3, 2019 at 11:58 AM

They say there is nothing uglier than civil war. Consider Rick Wilson, a political consultant who worked for both Bush 41 and Rudy Giuliani during the 90's and into the first years of this century. He apparently was on Jeb Bush's side in the 2016 primaries and the Florida native has a visceral hatred of Trump that goes beyond what even an Adam Schiff reveals to the public. Although one can be sure that Representative Schiff harbors a whole lotta ill will towards the President as well.

» Continue reading "Mueller's Letter - The Civil War Continues"...

Uncle Joe Biden - King of Hutzpah

Posted by Keeley on April 30, 2019 at 12:21 PM

Almost 4 years ago, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July of 2016, then Vice President Joe Biden leaned into the microphone with conspiratorial relish and avuncular wisdom and said, "Now I want you to listen closely because this is NOT political."

» Continue reading "Uncle Joe Biden - King of Hutzpah "...

Islamic Terror - And Now Sri Lanka

Posted by Keeley on April 24, 2019 at 4:23 PM

In Sri Lanka it has been a couple of days since the horrifying bombings of Churches and hotels that have resulted in a death toll of around 300 so far. That it occurred on Easter Sunday and was almost certainly a suicide attack, has led authorities to single out a radical Islamic group, NTJ, which splintered off some time ago from another group SLTJ - an Islamist organization.

» Continue reading "Islamic Terror - And Now Sri Lanka"...

Mueller - A Noble Public Servant or A Sleaze Job Report-Maker?

Posted by Keeley on April 19, 2019 at 2:35 PM

As legal experts like Andrew McCarthy at National Review and former law clerk and professor Margo Cleveland at The Federalist have pointed out over the last year or two, there is a special procedure with rules and regulations governing a special counsel like Mueller and key to those rules and regulations is this:

» Continue reading "Mueller - A Noble Public Servant or A Sleaze Job Report-Maker?"...