Modern Living: Part II of V (Cigarettes & Illegal drugs)

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Living)

Topic: Part I
1.  What happened to the American dream?
2.  Entertainment galore

Part II
3.  Cigarette smoking
4.  Illegal drug use

Part III
5.  Antibiotics and super bugs
6.  Antibiotics in meat
7.  GMO in crops
Part IV
8.  Household Pollutants and Chemical spills
Part V

9.  Infrastructure deterioration

3.  Cigarette smoking

A.   Cigarette Smoking
American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/TobaccoCancer/CigaretteSmoking/cigarette-smoking-who-and-how-affects-health
The 1982 United States Surgeon General’s report stated that “Cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality [death] in the United States.” This statement is as true today as it was then.

Tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States. Because cigarette smoking and tobacco use are acquired behaviors — activities that people choose to do — smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society.

Here is a brief overview of cigarette smoking: who smokes, how smoking affects health, what makes it so hard to quit, and what some of the many rewards of quitting are. For more on these topics, download our free PDF ‘Guide to Quitting Smoking’ at:
<http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/guide-to-quitting-smoking-toc>

Who smokes?
Adults
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 46 million US adults were current smokers in 2009 (the most recent year for which numbers are available). This is 20.6% of all adults (23.5% of men, 17.9% of women) — about 1 out of 5 people.

When broken down by race/ethnicity, the numbers were as follows:
•  Whites                                           22.1%
•  African Americans                      21.3%
•  Hispanics                                      14.5%
•  American Indians/Alaska Natives    23.2%
•  Asian Americans                         12.0%
•  People of multiple races             29.5%

There were more cigarette smokers in the younger age groups. In 2009, the CDC reported 24.% of those 25 to 44 years old were current smokers, compared with 9.5% of those aged 65 or older.

High school and middle school students
Nationwide, 20% of high school students were smoking cigarettes in 2009. The most recent survey of middle school students shows that about 5% were smoking cigarettes. In both high schools and middle schools, white and Hispanic students were more likely to smoke cigarettes than other races/ethnicities.

What kinds of illness and death are caused by smoking?
About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit. Each year about 443,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.

Cancer caused by smoking
Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths. It is linked with an increased risk of the following cancers:
•  Lung
•  Larynx (voice box)
•  Oral cavity (mouth, tongue, and lips)
•  Pharynx (throat)
•  Esophagus (tube connecting the throat to the stomach)
•  Stomach
•  Pancreas
•  Cervix
•  Kidney
•  Bladder
•  Acute myeloid leukemia

Smoking is responsible for almost 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, and is one of the hardest cancers to treat. Lung cancer is a disease that can often be prevented. Some religious groups that promote non-smoking as part of their religion, such as Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists, have much lower rates of lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers.

Other health problems caused by smoking
As serious as cancer is, it accounts for less than half of the deaths related to smoking each year. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema, and stroke.

Using tobacco can damage a woman’s reproductive health and hurt babies. Tobacco use is linked with reduced fertility and a higher risk of miscarriage, early delivery (premature birth), and stillbirth. It is also a cause of low birth-weight in infants. It has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), too.

Smoking can make pneumonia and asthma worse. It has been linked to other health problems, too, including gum disease, cataracts, bone thinning, hip fractures, and peptic ulcers. Some studies have also linked smoking to macular degeneration, an eye disease that can cause blindness.

Smoking can cause or worsen poor blood flow in the arms and legs (peripheral vascular disease or PVD.) Surgery to improve the blood flow often doesn’t work in people who keep smoking. Because of this, many surgeons who work on blood vessels (vascular surgeons) won’t do certain surgeries on patients with PVD unless they stop smoking.

The smoke from cigarettes (called secondhand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke) can also have harmful health effects on those exposed to it. Adults and children can have health problems from breathing secondhand smoke.

Effects of smoking on how long you live and your quality of life
Based on data collected from 1995 to 1999, the CDC estimated that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years of life because of smoking.

But not all of the health problems related to smoking result in deaths. Smoking affects a smoker’s health in many ways, harming nearly every organ of the body and causing diseases. According to the CDC, in 2000 about 8.6 million people had at least one chronic disease because they smoked or had smoked. Many of these people were suffering from more than one smoking-related problem. The diseases seen most often were chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. And some studies have found that male smokers may be more likely to be sexually impotent (have erectile dysfunction) than non-smokers. These problems can steal away a person’s quality of life long before death. Smoking-related illness can limit a person’s daily life by making it harder to breathe, get around, work, or play.

B.  The high cost of smoking
The costs add up: Cigarettes, dry cleaning, insurance — you can even lose your job. A 40-year-old who quits and puts the savings into a 401(k) could save almost $250,000 by age 70.
By Hilary Smith
<http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourHealth/HighCostOfSmoking.aspx>

If the threat of cancer can’t persuade you to quit smoking, maybe the prospect of poverty will.
The financial consequences of lighting up stretch far beyond the cost of a pack of cigarettes. Smokers pay more for insurance. They lose money on the resale value of their cars and homes. They spend extra on dry cleaning and teeth cleaning. Long term, they earn less and receive less in pension and Social Security benefits.

Indeed, being a smoker can not only mean you don’t get hired — you can get fired, too. After announcing it would no longer employ smokers, Weyco, a medical-benefits administrator in Michigan, fired four employees who refused to submit to a breath test. It began testing the spouses of its employees, too, levying an $80-per-month surcharge on those who don’t test clean.

Overall, 5% of employers prefer to hire nonsmokers, according to the most recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, and 1% do not hire smokers. A few examples:
Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan stopped hiring smokers for full-time positions at both its Michigan campuses.
•  Alaska Airlines, based in Washington state, requires a nicotine test before hiring people.
•  The Tacoma-Pierce County (Wash.) Health Department has applicants sign an “affidavit of nontobacco use.”
•  Union Pacific won’t hire smokers.

That same poll found that 5% of companies charge smokers more for health-care premiums. The costs don’t stop with your paycheck. Figures from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids assert that smokers cost the economy $97.6 billion a year in lost productivity.

That’s based on the number of working years lost because of premature death. (The Bureau of National Affairs says 95% of companies banning smoking report no financial savings, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce finds no connection between smoking and absenteeism.)

An additional $96.7 billion is spent on public and private health care combined, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and each American household spends $630 a year in federal and state taxes due to smoking.

Personal financial impact
The cost of a pack of cigarettes averages around $6, including taxes, depending on where you live.A pack-a-day smoker burns through about $42 per week, or $2184 per year. That’s a fat house payment or a nice vacation with the family. A 40-year-old who quits smoking and puts the savings into a 401(k) earning 9% a year would have nearly $250,000 by age 70.

The one place many smokers feel free and comfortable to light up is in their car. Without consistent and thorough cleanings, however, a car that is smoked in will soon start to resemble an ashtray on wheels. The interior inevitably smells like smoke, and stray ashes and butts can burn holes in the upholstery and floor mats.

None of these things has much financial impact until you try to sell the car. Figure a minimum of $150 for a good cleaning with an extractor.
As a trade-in, dealers can easily knock off more than $1,000 on higher-end vehicles. Terry Cooper, a car dealer with seven new- and used-car stores, says he took a 1999 Porsche 911 Cabriolet in on trade for $37,000. That sounds OK, but the owner could have fetched $40,000 for it had he not “smoked out” the car’s interior.

The criteria that apply to cars apply to homes as well, only on a bigger scale. Smokers’ houses often require all new paint and/or wall treatments, as well as professional drapery and carpet cleaning. According to Contractors.com, priming and painting an average-size living room, dining room and two bedrooms would cost more than $2,000. The Carpet Buying Handbook puts the average cleaning cost per square foot at 28 cents, and the average home has 1,000 square feet of carpet. That’s $280. Add $55 to clean a typical sofa and $25 for a chair, says Diversified Carpet in San Diego. Walt Molony with the National Association of Realtors says that “certainly the smell of cigarettes can be a turnoff to potential buyers.”

Insurers weigh in, and they’re not happy
We pulled some online quotes on 20-year term life insurance (a $500,000 policy) for a healthy 44-year-old male through BudgetLife.com. The lowest quote for a nonsmoker was $1,140 in premiums per year; for someone smoking a pack a day, the lowest price more than doubled to $2,571 per year.

The difference in health insurance isn’t as dramatic. According to eHealthInsurance.com, the monthly premium for a policy from Regence Blue Shield with a $1,500 deductible for a 44-year-old male nonsmoker is $292. The same policy for a smoker is $338 per month, or $552 more a year.

A few state governments also charge their employees extra for health insurance if they smoke, and others are gradually joining the trend.

According to the ACLU, a majority of states do not have a state law preventing employers from discriminating against potential and current employees based on non work activities. Thirty-one states do have laws that protect smokers, including Colorado and North Dakota, which ban discrimination based on any form of legal, off-duty behavior.

When shopping for homeowners insurance, nonsmokers can generally expect to receive a minimum 10% discount. The insurer’s point of view: Smokers burn down houses. The most common homeowners insurance policies range from approximately $457 to $1372 per year, depending on the home’s location. With the discount, a nonsmoker would realize savings of at least $45, but most likely more.

Few people set out to cut their life short, but smokers greatly increase their chances of dying sooner than nonsmokers. In his book “The Price of Smoking”, Frank Sloan, the director of the Center for Health Policy, Law and Management at Duke University in Durham, N.C., details the financial impact of a shorter life span on retirement benefits. “Smokers, due to higher mortality rates, obtained lower lifetime benefits compared to never smokers, even after accounting for their smoking-related lower lifetime contributions,” the research says.

Sloan and his colleagues found that the effects of smoking on lifetime Social Security benefits were $1,519 for 24-year-old female smokers and $6,549 for 24-year-old male smokers. This is money paid into Social Security but never collected, because the beneficiary died prematurely of a smoking-related illness. “You could be paying into Social Security year after year, and if you die at 66 because you’re a smoker, it’s money down the drain,” says Sloan.

Keeping up appearances
Numerous studies find that smokers earn anywhere from 4% to 11% less than nonsmokers. It’s not just a loss of productivity to smoke breaks and poorer health that takes a financial toll, researchers theorize; smokers are perceived to be less attractive and successful as well. Bad breath, yellow teeth and smelly clothes are just a few of the personal side effects of smoking, and all cost money to correct.
An extra pack of mints or gum a week adds up to about $50 per year. Need your teeth whitened once a year? Brite Smile, which has offices across the country, sells its service for $400 to $600. Most professional-grade teeth whitening products retail for a minimum of $200.
Dry-cleaning bills are likely to be higher also. Clean that suit one extra time a month at a cost of $12, and there goes an additional $144 every year.
.

4.  Illegal drugs

American College of Emergency Physicians, Illegal drug use
http://www.acep.org/content.aspx?id=26004
Main Points
•  Emergency physicians see first-hand the devastating consequences of illegal drug use.
•  More than half a million (638,484) drug-related emergencies were reported in 2001 – nearly a 75 percent increase over 1990 (371,208). Nearly 20,000 people in 2000 died of drug-related causes.
•  After a long climb, the first significant downturn in youth drug use in nearly a decade was reported among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, according to the 2002 Monitoring the Future study.
•  Illegal drugs exact an enormous toll on society, taking 52,000 lives annually and draining the economy of $160 billion a year. Everyone pays the toll in the form of higher healthcare costs, dangerous neighborhoods, and an overcrowded criminal justice system.
•  Parents are the first line of defense in preventing illegal drug use.
•  The American College of Emergency Physicians in 2003 partnered with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to conduct a national campaign to dispel the myth that marijuana is harmless.

 Q.  How prevalent is the problem?
About 20 million Americans over age 12 reported current use of drugs in 2005, and an estimated 22.2 million persons aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year, according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (2005).
•  Illegal drugs exact an enormous toll on society, taking tens of thousands of lives annually and draining the economy of billions each year. Everyone pays the toll in the form of higher health care costs, dangerous neighborhoods, and an overcrowded criminal justice system.
•  Twenty-one percent of 8th graders, 38 percent of 10th graders and 50 percent of 12th graders to have ever tried any illicit drug in their lifetimes, according to the Monitoring the Future study in 2005. This means half of students today have tried an illicit drug by the time they finish high school.
•  About 112 million Americans reported using an illegal drug at least once in their lives in 2005, and more than 35 million had used an illegal drug in the past year.

Here are some other facts about commonly used illegal drugs:
•  Marijuana. In 2005 an estimated 3.4 million people used marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis. That statistic is about the same as it was in 2004. There were 215,656 emergency department mentions of marijuana/hashish in 2004, almost double the number from 2001.
•  Cocaine. From 2004 to 2005 the number of cocaine users nationally held steady at approximately 2.4 million. There were 872,000 first time cocaine users in 2005. The number of cocaine related emergency department visits has spiked in recent years, from 193,034 emergency department mentions of cocaine in 2001, to 383,350 in 2004.
•  Heroin. An estimated 108,000 new users were reported in 2005, down from 149,000 in 1999, although the number of heroin users has increased by nearly 50 percent since 1994. There were 162,137 emergency department mentions of heroin in 2004, up from 93,064 mentions of heroin/morphine in 2001.
•  Inhalants. There were 877,000 new inhalant users in 2005, down from 991,000 in 1999. Approximately three-quarters (72 percent) of the first-time users were under the age of 18.

Q.  What are the harmful effects of commonly used illegal drugs?
Illegal drugs exact staggering costs on American society, accounting for about 52,000 drug-related deaths and an estimated $160 billion in economic costs each year, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Drug dependence is a chronic, relapsing disorder that takes an enormous toll on individuals, families, businesses, and communities. Addicted individuals frequently engage in self-destructive and criminal behavior. Experts say illegal drugs constitute a threat to the national security of the United States.
•  Heroin. After an initial rush, users experience alternately wakeful and drowsy states, often feeling drowsy for several hours. Due to the depression of the central nervous system, mental functioning becomes clouded, and breathing may become slowed to the point of respiratory failure. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver disease. In addition, pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may also result. Heroin overdose may cause slow and shallow breathing, convulsions, coma, and possibly death. Heroin most often is injected, particularly low-purity heroin.
•  Cocaine. Cocaine inflicts tremendous damage to American society, enslaving 2.5 million hard-core addicts and sending 383,350 Americans to hospital emergency departments in 2004. People who use cocaine can experience increased heart rate, muscle spasms, and convulsions. They often don’t eat or sleep regularly. Cocaine can cause heart attacks, seizures, strokes, and respiratory failure. If snorted, it can permanently damage nasal tissue. It also can make people feel paranoid, angry, hostile, and anxious, even when they’re not high. Cocaine interferes with the way the brain processes chemicals that create feelings of pleasure, so users continue to need more of the drug to feel normal. People who become addicted start to lose interest in other areas of their life, such as school and friends. People who share needles can also contract hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, or other diseases. Cocaine may be snorted as a powder, converted to a liquid form for injection with a needle, or processed into a crystal form to be smoked.
•  Methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is highly addictive, and its effects include psychotic behavior and brain damage. Chronic methamphetamine use can cause violent behavior, anxiety, confusion and insomnia. Users also can exhibit psychotic behavior including auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions and paranoia, possibly resulting in homicidal or suicidal thoughts. The drug can cause damage to the brain detectable months after use, similar to damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or epilepsy. Withdrawal symptoms include depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression and intense cravings for the drug.
•  Marijuana. Marijuana contains toxins and cancer-causing chemicals, which are stored in fat cells for as long as several months. Users experience the same health problems as tobacco smokers, such as bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma. Some effects include increased heart rate, dryness of the mouth, reddening of the eyes, impaired motor skills and concentration, increased hunger and a desire for sweets. Extended use increases risk to the lungs and reproductive system, as well as suppression of the immune system. Occasionally, hallucinations, fantasies and paranoia are reported.
•  Inhalants. Inhalants affect the brain quickly and can cause irreversible physical and mental damage. Long-term use can result in: loss of sense of smell; nausea and nosebleeds; short-term memory loss or impaired reasoning; slurred speech; clumsy staggering gait; escalating stages of brain atrophy; and liver, lung and kidney problems. Inhalants can starve the body of oxygen, forcing the heart to beat irregularly and more rapidly. Chronic use can lead to muscle wasting and reduced muscle tone. Inhalants can be deadly, even with first-time use, causing death by suffocation, choking or vomiting, or heart attack. Inhalants include numerous household and commercial products (glue, paint thinner) that are abused by sniffing or “huffing” (inhaling through one’s mouth). Users experience a short-lasting euphoria and dizziness, followed by headaches and loss of consciousness.
•  Club Drugs. Club drugs, such as Ecstasy (MDMA, methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), and ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride) can damage neurons in the brain and impair senses, memory, judgment, and coordination. The physical effects of Ecstasy include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating. Health risks include severe dehydration and death from heat stroke or heart failure. The drug suppresses the need to eat, drink or sleep and subsequently allows people to stay up all night. Heavy users can have significant impairments in visual and verbal memory. Users may experience increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease. Ecstasy also induces a state characterized as “excessive talking.” Side effects including anorexia, psychomotor agitation, and profound feelings of empathy, result from the flooding of serotonin. Often used in conjunction with other drugs, a growing number of users are combining Ecstasy with heroin, a practice known as “rolling.”
•  Steroids. The repercussions of steroid use are enormous. Among teenagers, steroid use can lead to an untimely halting of growth due to premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes. Steroid users risk liver tumors, high blood pressure, severe acne, and trembling.

[Photo collage above: Before and after Meth users. It doesn’t take long…]

Q.  What are the symptoms and signs of drug use?
Possible signs include:
•  Attitude changes: more irritable, secretive, withdrawn, overly sensitive, inappropriately angry, defiant, euphoric.
•  Extreme mood swings (e.g., depression, and anger).
•  Less responsible: late coming home, late for school or class, and dishonesty.
•  Changing friends or changing lifestyles: new interests, unexplained cash.
•  Physical deterioration: difficulty in concentration; loss of coordination; loss of weight; slurred speech; red or glassy eyes; sniffly 0r runny nose; appearing spaced out.
•  Unexplained deterioration in school performance.
•  Behavior problems: high-risk behavior, such as stealing or sexual promiscuity.
•  Changes in relationships or eating habits.
•  Changes in hygiene.
•  Presence of drugs or paraphernalia (e.g., cigarette papers, pipes, clips, spoons).

Q.  What should you do if you suspect your child is using drugs?
If your child has developed a pattern of drug use or has engaged in heavy use, intervention is key. Contact a drug treatment program in your area or call your doctor, local hospital or county mental health society for a referral. Your school district should have a substance abuse coordinator or a counselor who can refer you to treatment programs, too.

Q.  Is OxyContin a significant problem in the United States?
Many prescription drugs, such as Percocet, Darvon, Valium, and Librium are abused in the United States. One of the newest legal drugs of abuse is OxyContin. A powerful narcotic derived from opium, like morphine or heroin, OxyContin is a time-released tablet, providing as many as 12 hours of relief from chronic or long-lasting pain. While most people who take OxyContin as prescribed do not become addicted, those who abuse pain medications or obtain it illegally may find themselves rapidly dependent on, if not addicted to, the drug. Purdue Pharma LP, OxyContin’s manufacturer, has taken steps to reduce the potential for abuse of the medication. Although far less abused than other prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, and not at epidemic proportions despite reports in the news, the potency of OxyContin sets it apart from other prescription drugs.

After investigating reports of serious side effects, the FDA strengthened the warnings and precautions in labeling OxyContin. Changes include a “black box warning,” the strongest type of warning for an FDA-approved drug. In the most recent “Monitoring the Future” drug survey 5.5 percent of 12th graders reporter using OxyContin, as did 3.2 percent of 10th graders.

End of  Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Death by 1000 cuts/Modern Living Part II of V: Cigarettes &amp; Illegal drugs

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Living: Part I of V (The American Dream & Entertainment Galore)

 (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Living)

Topic:
Part I
1.  What happened to the American dream?
2.  Entertainment galore

Part II
3.  Cigarette smoking
4.  Illegal drug use
Part III
5.  Antibiotics and super bugs
6.  Antibiotics in meat
 7.  GMO in crops
Part IV
8.  Household Pollutants and Chemical spill
Part V

9.  Infrastructure deterioration

1.  What happened to the American Dream?

What Ever Happened to “The American Dream”?
By Geela Parish, Contributing Editor of Geela’s World
<http://www.womensradio.com/articles/What-Ever-Happened-to-The-American-Dream/56.html&gt;

Do you ever wonder what happened to the average citizen’s ability to achieve The American Dream? Is there something about the pursuit of The American Dream that contributes to failing systems and institutions (from an Enron economy to failing education, the deterioration of the family unit, social ills such as senseless violence, suicide, substance abuse and perversion)?

A recent study reveals that the overwhelming majority of Americans are now experiencing more stress and less true fulfillment and optimism than ever before. They believe that the odds of them winning the lottery are probably much better than their odds of attaining The American Dream. And the current climate of global terrorism coupled with growing uncertainty and failing systems and institutions only makes their faith in attaining The American Dream for success, happiness and fulfillment seems less likely. The American Dream is becoming more and more like the Impossible Dream.

When one looks at the evolution of the concept of The American Dream, it’s hard not to notice the sharp contrast of “before and after” or “this was then, this is now.”

The concept of The American Dream was basically originated from suffering periods of lack, following the Great Depression and WW2 when people had appreciation for work because it was scarce. The main concern was security and basic survival. As such, the focus of The American Dream was on wholesome values such as a strong work ethic, integrity, family, community and moral values. It created joy of life, pride in work and family and a sense of community. In sharp contrast, The American Dream is no longer attainable by most people. How many people can afford a home considering the ridiculously high prices? And decent jobs with stable companies are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Sure, we have accumulated lots of stuff (toys), but they only bring us artificial joy, which is as fleeting as it is cruel.

It was hard work, integrity and wholesome moral values that provided the solid foundation for creating prosperity and economic boom in this country. It was prosperity with integrity and purpose that brought us a sense of real joy and pride coupled with a strong sense of community. However, success has its own trappings, and with success came the desire to “keep up with the Jones’s.” Need eventually turned into greed. The new generation wanted more, in fact they demanded a higher standard of living almost at all costs, even if it meant getting into serious debt. Life was no longer about family and community but instead was more about status (through money and power, with the obsession with fame and fortune for the wrong reasons). And thus began the pursuit of materialism with all the side effects associated with it.

And when need turns to greed, the results are inevitable. The same spirit that created capitalism and prosperity has also created corruption, compromised integrity and the erosion of wholesome values systems that eventually has led to failing systems and institutions.

In a materialistic driven society, where the love of power and money overcomes the power of love, anything becomes fair game. The system, including the media only perpetuated this concept of the newly evolved American Dream for self-serving reasons (to make more profits), while turning us from a nation of producers to a nation of insatiable consumers that made us forget our spiritual roots. Thus, human excellence has given way to human weakness while enslaving us to our own addictions and desires. In fact, we hear so much about the Enron type of corruptions and dirty politics fueled by special-interest money, that it has virtually become an accepted practice.

The prevailing mentality in American society today is that you can get something for nothing. There is a sense of entitlement and an expectation of wanting the good life without having to work hard for it. This is reinforced, glorified and perpetuated by the media with shows like “The Lifestyle of The Rich and Famous.” When all you see is glamour, but not the hard work and sacrifice that goes into achieving success, it only inspires more envy and the desire for a “get rich quick” scheme leading to the erosion of morality and integrity.

Consider the breakdown of the family system. When both parents spend long working hours (sometimes just to make ends meet), their children are left alone, being raised by their peers, gangs and TV. Family values and compromised integrity simply don’t run parallel. By failing to instill good values in their children, children have become corrupted by default, increasingly turning to violence, which in turn negatively affects not only our way of life, but our economy as well. Once again, the culprit is the pursuit of materialism.

Now consider the increased senseless violence at our schools and unchecked crime on our streets. Both can be traced to the pursuit of materialism, which drives people to corruption, compromised integrity and the erosion of wholesome values systems. Violence is a reflection of being away from family and community, an anti-social behavior and a lack of a sense of belonging. After all, how can children feel safe and truly cared for when they are left alone without any clear boundaries? Crime too, is a reflection of the growing frustration and anger resulting from the perception of lack of opportunity, and the equal sharing of prosperity. Call it like it is – it’s a class warfare between the haves and have-nots.

Here is a quick quiz for you:
•  Do you know your neighbors? How about just their names?
•  When was the last time you invited your neighbor to dinner?
•  Why do you build a fence around your home?
•  Have you noticed that the more possessions we have, the more we try to isolate ourselves with an attempt to protect our hard-won assets?

As tough as it is for our national pride to admit it, one can’t ignore the failing of our educational system as evidenced by failing test scores. This too is basically a reflection of the erosion of our moral values, work ethic and our failing institutions. Many politicians are driven by doing what is politically correct and getting elected rather than what’s in the best interest of the community. As the United States falls further behind the world in education, the negative impact on our economy will be felt too. Once we were the world’s leading producers of goods. But now our higher standard of living has escalated wages to the point where manufactures are taking jobs overseas (to places like China and India where cost of living is very low). As a result, we are importing more and more of the goods necessary to maintain our excessive lifestyle. As a result, the foreign trade deficit has ballooned to an all-time high. Our addiction to consumption has forced us to go into debt to the rest of the world. The huge budget deficit we hear so much about is really a deficit in integrity. Our only edge in the world economy has been in technology and innovation. But in the absence of good education, we will lose this competitive edge too. And if we wish to maintain our high standard of living, we must produce something of value in order to remain a valuable player in the global economy.

The break down is not limited to our systems and institutions alone. Our nerves and spirits are just as affected. With growing personal and national debt (with no way out short of a miracle or winning the lottery), out of control violence and crime, environmental and spiritual pollution, extreme stress, frustration, hopelessness, rejection over lack of opportunities, lack of accomplishments, or control of their own lives, send more and more Americans straight to a shrink’s office, take Prozac or worse, get hooked on drugs and other destructive substances as a way of coping. Many simply have reached their breaking point resulting in a diminished productivity at work, a diminished family harmony and enjoyment of life itself.

People are not as free as they would like to believe. The reality is that, knowingly or unknowingly, people are controlled, by virtue of being in debt and by being enslaved by the pursuit of materialism (a by-product of the pursuit of The American Dream as we know it). Perhaps it’s time to reflect on what really matters in life and ask ourselves the eternal question. “Are you working to live or living to work?”

Many feel this country has seen its finest hour unless we develop a new attitude. In the words of a fellow immigrant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, “no more business as usual.” It is a luxury we simply can’t afford. As an immigrant, who came from a different culture and a different values system and achieved The American Dream, not only do I appreciate the great opportunities and freedoms this great country has to offer, but I am able to see the sharp contrast and the cause and effect that contribute to the social and economic ills of our society. Indeed, social ills are an equal opportunity employer. But it is precisely because I care so deeply about this country, that I make my observations and offer innovative solutions in order to preserve the greatness of this country for future generations.

Finally, here is the burning question. How can one be happy and successful and still get a piece of The American Dream? How can we restore our failing systems and institutions and preserve a free and thriving society? What needs to happen is to restore a wholesome values system with integrity. We need to restore the true spirit of The American Dream which was based on perspiration, innovation, risk and reward. That’s when we can once again appreciate simple pleasures and discover that it is “He with the most joys lives,” and not “He with the most toys lives.” And perhaps only when the power of love overcomes the love of power can we finally get back on the yellow brick road to real prosperity, real peace and real fulfillment. Indeed, the best things in life are free, and all you have to do is recognize it.
.

2.  Entertainment galore

The Royal Wedding, American Idol, Dancing With The Stars And 7 Other Ways That The American People Are Being Distracted From Our Real Problems
<http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/the-royal-wedding-american-idol-dancing-with-the-stars-and-7-other-ways-that-the-american-people-are-being-distracted-from-our-real-problems>
Have you caught “royal wedding fever” yet?  The union of Prince William and Kate Middleton is already being called “the wedding of the century” and it will almost certainly be the most watched event in the entire world this year.  The mainstream media is spending endless hours covering every conceivable angle of this wedding.  With all of the hype surrounding this wedding, you would almost be tempted to think that America has now officially adopted British royalty as our own.  Worship and adoration of the royal family is at a fever pitch in the United States right now, which is kind of ironic considering the fact that we fought two wars against the tyranny of that monarchy.  If only George Washington and the boys could see us now.  Sadly, the American people love to be entertained and they are very easily distracted from the very real problems facing this nation.  In past years, celebrities such as OJ Simpson, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears dominated the news.  Today Americans are distracted by the royal wedding, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.  In our entertainment-addicted society, the time for average Americans to set aside the distractions and focus on real issues never seems to come.

During the decline of ancient Rome, average citizens were kept occupied with “bread and circuses”.  Today, we are kept occupied with a dizzying array of entertainment options.  Millions of Americans have become so addicted to entertainment that they literally cannot stand to be alone in their homes without some form of entertainment going on in the background.

Amazingly, the average American now watches 34 hours of television a week.  That doesn’t even count all of the hours that we spend watching DVDs or going to the movies.
When most of us get into our vehicles we immediately turn on the radio or put on a CD.  Artists such as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga are national heroes.

In the United States today, 88 percent of all children between the ages of 8 and 18 play video games.  Millions of them spend so many hours playing video games that they have developed very serious health and social problems.
On top of everything else, tens of millions of Americans are absolutely addicted to the Internet.  It has gotten so bad that “Internet addiction recovery programs” have started popping up all over the United States.

We love to be entertained.  We love to be distracted.  We love to have fun.

Unfortunately, what most of us don’t like is to focus on real issues.

The following are some of the ways that the American people are currently being distracted….

#1 The Royal Wedding – It is being projected that a whopping 2 billion people around the globe will watch the royal wedding.  Women all over the globe are breathlessly anticipating that first glimpse of Kate Middleton’s dress.  Isn’t she just lovely?  Don’t they make such a charming couple?  For many Americans, this will be the most important event of the year.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to bleed jobs at an absolutely astounding pace.  Millions of good jobs are being sent overseas and unemployment in the United States is rampant.  In fact, the United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

As a result of these ongoing changes, the U.S. economy will very soon no longer be the biggest economy in the world.  Ten years ago, the U.S. economy was three times as large as the Chinese economy, but now China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016 according to the IMF.

#2 American Idol – Who is going to win American Idol this year?  Will it be country singer Scotty McCreery?  Will it be rocker James Durbin?  Will the southern charm of Lauren Alaina take her over the top?  It has been a wonderful year for American Idol and the American people can’t seem to get enough of this new crop of stars.

Meanwhile, the average American family is really struggling to deal with soaring costs for food and gas.  In a recent survey conducted by Deloitte Consulting, 74 percent of Americans said that they planned to slow down their spending in coming months due to rising prices.

#3 Dancing With The Stars – Chris Jericho got eliminated from Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday night.  He certainly gave it his best shot.  Let’s have a moment of silence as we remember his journey on the show.

Meanwhile, the U.S. housing crisis just continues to get worse.  Home prices continue to fall with no end in sight.  There just are not many qualified buyers out there right now.  During the first three months of this year, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.

#4 Justin Bieber - Did you know that you can get a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush now?  It’s true!  Now you can have Justin Bieber with you even while you are brushing your teeth.  Did you also know that Justin Bieber was just named one of the top 100 most influential people by Time Magazine?  Life is really sweet right now if you are Justin Bieber.

Meanwhile, as the U.S. economy declines some of our greatest cities are being transformed into hellholes.  In the city of Detroit today, there are over 33,000 abandoned houses, 70 schools are being permanently closed down, the mayor wants to bulldoze one-fourth of the city and you can literally buy a house for one dollar in the worst areas.

All over the nation social services are being cut back and teachers are being fired.  Just this week, authorities in Philadelphia announced that 3,820 school employees will likely be laid off.  That number includes 12 percent of all the public school teachers in Philadelphia.  Other areas of the country are making much deeper cuts.

#5 The NFL Draft – The NFL Draft is this weekend!  Will Cam Newton be the number one overall pick?  Will the Denver Broncos trade the second pick?  Will Mel Kiper lose his temper and start yelling at the camera again?  If you love the NFL, this is a great weekend for you.

Meanwhile, the U.S. health care industry has become a giant money making scam.  The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation.  The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the whole year.

While corporate fat cats are raking in massive amounts of money, average Americans are having a very hard time dealing with healthcare costs.  One study found that approximately 41 percent of working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.  Obamacare is not going to help this one bit.

#6 The Sony PlayStation Crisis – For millions of video game addicts, the biggest news in the world right now is that Sony’s PlayStation Network has been down for 11 straight days.  According to Reuters, it might cost credit card companies somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million dollars to replace all of the credit cards that were compromised.  Many video game addicts have been traumatized as they have been forced to step away from their consoles long enough to rediscover the “real world”.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is involved in three wars in the Middle East with no end in sight.  It is becoming extremely expensive for us to continue to be the police of the world.  The United States already accounts for 46.5% of all military spending on the globe.  China is next with only 6.6%.

#7 Lady Gaga – Lady Gaga made headlines all over the world recently when she released a song entitled “Judas” just before the recent holidays.  In the song, the phrase “I love Judas” is repeated over and over and over.  Lady Gaga also says that Judas is the “demon she clings to” in the song.  But instead of this resulting in national outrage, Lady Gaga has more fans than ever and she is considered a national hero.

Meanwhile, the Japanese nuclear crisis continues to get worse and the Japanese economy is showing signs of seriously falling apart. Radiation levels at Fukushima have now risen to the highest levels yet recorded.  Some scientists are even concerned that significant areas of northern Japan could end up uninhabitable as a result of this crisis.  At the same time, Standard and Poor’s is warning that the cost of rebuilding Japan could hit 50 trillion yen.  They have also downgraded the outlook for Japanese government debt from “stable” to “negative”.

#8 Michael Scott Leaves The Office – Are you going to watch Steve Carell’s final episode of The Office tonight?  I sure will be.  The Office is one of the last great television comedies.  It is going to be the end of an era.  Television will never be the same again.

Meanwhile, the student loan debt bubble just continues to get worse by the day.  The cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent since 1978.  The total amount of student loan debt in the United States is rapidly closing in on a trillion dollars, and millions upon millions of young Americans are being absolutely crushed by devastating debt loads.

#9 The New Harry Potter Movie – Are all of you Harry Potter fans getting excited?  A new trailer and some new photos from the upcoming film have been released.  Thanks to the Harry Potter franchise, we have millions of young boys and girls that love to pretend to be witches and wizards.  More young people than ever are fascinated by “magic” and interest in witchcraft in the United States has never been higher.

Meanwhile, U.S. government debt has soared well past 14 trillion dollars and the U.S. dollar is dying.  Standard & Poor’s has altered its outlook on U.S. government debt from “stable” to “negative” and is warning that the U.S. could soon lose its AAA rating.  Millions of our young people can tell you all about Harry Potter, but very few of those same young people are able to adequately describe what the Federal Reserve is or how money is created in this country.

#10 Facebook – Today, Facebook has over 500 million users.  It has become a worldwide phenomenon.  Tens of millions of Americans are totally addicted.  One study conducted by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research found that 39% of American adults are self-described “Facebook addicts” and that one-third of all women between the ages of 18 and 34 “check Facebook first thing in the morning, even before brushing their teeth or going to the bathroom.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. is becoming more of a “Big Brother police state” every single day.  At one public school in the Chicago area, children have been banned from bringing their lunches from home.  A former Miss America was recently reduced to tears after her private areas were repeatedly touched during one of the new “enhanced pat-downs” that the Obama administration has implemented at U.S. airports.  The sad truth is that we are no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave.

When will the American people overcome their addiction to entertainment and wake up to the horrible things that are going on all around us?

End of  Survival manual/2. Social issues/Death by 1000 cuts/Modern Living: Part I of V: The American Dream & Entertainment Galore

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Gettin’ by when supplies tighten

(Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Gettin’ by when supplies tighten)

A.  Report: Farmers Hoarding Food To Protect Against Currency Collapse
29 Apr 2013, SHTFPlan.com, by Mac Slavo
Pasted from: http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/report-farmers-hoarding-food-to-protect-against-currency-collapse_04292013
silo1

Which asset is more secure than money in the bank?
The answer is simple.
It’s the asset that will still have value when the money or the bank collapse.

All over the world, when people have been faced with the prospect of having their savings wiped out or confiscated they have turned to hard assets – physical goods they could hold in their possession and trade if necessary – as protection.

Argentina, a country that is no stranger to economic hard times and hyperinflation, gives us a prime example of what becomes money when the system collapses.

At an inflation rate of 25%, while their currency loses significant purchasing power, Argentines have made a mad rush into gold, silver, and other tangible goods that retain their barterable value.

Like many Greeks, who have headed to the countryside to grow their own food in the midst of complete economic destruction, farmers in Argentina are hoarding the one tangible investment they know will not lose value, no matter what their currency does.

With world food demand on the rise, growers in the Pampas grain belt are filling their silos with soy rather than converting their crops into pesos, a currency that hit a new all-time low in informal trade this week.

Considering Argentina’s high inflation, clocked at about 25 percent by private economists, “money in the bank” is not as secure as storing soybeans next to their fields, many say.
“We are going to hang onto our soy. One can see higher prices ahead,” said Jose Plazibat, a partner with the firm of Bandurria and Plazibat Brothers, which farms more than 3,000 hectares near the town of Chacabuco in Buenos Aires province.

With their currency in meltdown and food demand around the world rising, these farmers understand where real value comes from.
1.  Their food can’t be lost in the stock market.
2.  It’s intrinsic worth cannot be vaporized in a banking collapse.
3. And they do not need to wait for anyone to deliver it to them, as they hold it in their personal possession.

Hoarding commodities – not the paper receipts that represent your ownership, but the actual physical good – is a powerful diversification strategy, and one that is a natural response to times of uncertainty and government run amok:

Argentina is going through the classic stages of economic collapse.

The government seized all pensions. They are destroying everything that gives the people incentive to be a society that emerges from the cooperation of everyone.

When government turns against its own people, even as the USA is currently doing, you end up with deflation insofar as the economy collapses and wages are not available, while hoarding emerges as does barter.
……….source: Martin Armstrong

This strategy of buying commodities at lower prices today to consume at higher prices tomorrow can be implemented on a micro-economic personal scale in your own home. Doing so, especially with health and nutrition considerations, will not only provide you with long-term cost savings as global currencies continue to lose purchasing power, but insulate you against the possibility of a rush for food in the event of an emergency or widespread economic instability.

Whether you choose to stock your long-term food pantry by going to a grocery store, grow your own food in your traditional or aquaponics garden, learn to preserve it yourself, or prefer to do your own food storage packing, the key is to develop a plan and implement it now.

The US dollar isn’t getting any stronger over the next 10 years.
But the rice, beans, wheat, and pasta you stockpile will still have the same exact intrinsic value a decade from now as they do today.

 .

B.  Bartering Supplies That You Haven’t Thought Of; And Some You Have!
29 Apr 2013, American Preppers Network, by Jalapeno Gal77
Pasted from: http://americanpreppersnetwork.com/2013/04/bartering-supplies-that-you-havent-thought-of-and-some-you-have.html
gettin by tradeWhen I think of bartering supplies my mind automatically goes to a SHTF scenario.  There are a lot of lists out there for such scenes, but ultimately what you choose to barter is up to you.  Many people stock things like silver, gold, cigarettes or alcohol or coffee.  While these can be great items, they are also expensive.

I will admit, stocking up on cigarettes, coffee and alcohol do go against my health and religious beliefs, but it doesn’t stop me from storing it.  I would much rather barter an item that I will never use or need, than to barter precious items I do need.  In the end, what you decide to spend money on is your choice.

 Below is a list of items I feel would make good barter items if, and only if, I have enough extra to get away with it:
• 
Salt:  We store a LOT of salt.  It has multiple purposes and back in the day, people actually used salt as currency because it was considered such a high trade value and hard to find.  Salt can/was used to preserve food and it helps to eliminate the season availability of certain foods and allowed long distance travel.
• Toilet paper:  Take the cardboard out and put them in a large vacuum sealed bag storage bag.
• Kitty litter or dehydrated lime for sanitation or easy clean up of human waste in buckets.  Can you imagine what someone would trade for this?
• Matches/lighters
• Bleach
• Sugar
• Feminine supplies
• Flu/Cold Medicine
• Allergy Medicine
• Antibiotics/ Pain killers / fever reducer
• Bar Soap
• Seeds
• Toothpaste/toothbrushes
• First aid bandages
• Hydrogen peroxide (You could trade this by the cup or half cup.)
• We store small bottles of alcohol for trade.  We also have bigger bottles for refills if they want to bring it back for more.
• Coffee: We vacuum seal coffee in smaller portions with 1-2 coffee filters in each bag of coffee.  We also have 2 percolators to prepare the coffee if the person has no way to do so.
• Cigarettes: We do not store these but many people use them as barter items.
• Pipe Tobacco: Vacuum seal it to keep it fresh longer
• Spices
• Ramon Noodles: Very cheap and if someone is hungry then this would be good trade value.
• Beans: We stock the 15 bean soup because it comes with a spice packet in the soup.  You could trade these by the bag or by the cup depending on the size family they have or if it’s an individual.
• Razors
• Coats/Warm Clothing: We purchase used coats at goodwill and thrift stores.  All different sizes but especially kids coats.  These can be stored in large vacuum sealed storage bags and hardly take up any room.
• Small candles (or wax , wicks and wick tabs for making candles.)
• Chickens: Chickens produce meat and eggs, both of which people will want.
• Fly tape/mouse traps
• Pesticides
• gel, diapers, formula
• Socks/underwear
• Information on growing food or slaughtering animals.  You could print off some easy instructions and place them in binders.
• Fish hooks, weights, fishing line, bait
• Glow sticks
• Laundry soap powder
• Measuring spoons

These are just a few ideas to help you get started.  Notice, I did not put silver or gold on the list.  While this is a great item to have, I believe that if we are in a grid down situation, not many people are going to barter for something they cannot eat or use to stay alive.  Please don’t misunderstand me, it is alright to have these items for yourself, but for bartering, I just don’t feel it will be helpful in that area.

gettin by battery

[Mr. Larry ideas:
_a) If you develop or buy a 12 volt battery bank (several deep cycle 12 volt batteries) and a couple hundred watts of  PV panels (150-300 watts), solar charger,  inverter, and  a battery charger for AAA and AA rechargeable batteries, you would continue to use your personal electronics during a local disaster or SHTF event.
_b) Additionally, if you stock  an extra 50 to 100  AA and AAA Sanyo Enloop batteries, you would be set to operate a local “rent and recharge” battery service, thereby developing a “for food” customer base during a grid down scenario; it would only take recharging the batteries of maybe a half dozen families batteries to provide a significant portion of your “daily bread” or for the accumulation of other barter/trade items/services.]
.

C.  40 Items to Barter in a Post-Collapse World
28 Aug 2012, Backdoor Survival.com, by__
Excerpt pasted from: http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/41-items-to-barter/

There are a lot of different opinions as to what items will be best for barter in a post-collapse world where the underground economy may be the only viable economy for the passing of goods and services.  That said, consider this a starting point as you begin to acquire goods for barter.

In no particular order, consider accumulating some of the following items for barter purposes.  And keep in mind that in a post-collapse world, the items do not necessarily have to be new, but simply serviceable.

  • Water purification supplies including purification tabs and filters, household  bleach.
  • Hand tools including hatchets, saws, machetes and general fix-it tools
  • Fire making supplies, including lighters, matches, flint fire steel
  • Sanitary supplies including toilet paper, feminine products and diapers
  • Disposable razors and razor blades
  • Fuel, any and all kinds (gas, diesel, propane, kerosene)
  • Prescription drugs, painkillers, and antibiotics
  • First aid remedies such as cough syrup, cortisone cream, boil-ese, calamine lotion and topical pain relievers
  • Spirits such as bourbon, rum, gin, and vodka
  • Coffee and tea (instant coffee is okay)
  • Solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries
  • Standard Batteries
  • Reading glasses
  • Paracord
  • Bags, including large garbage bags as well as smaller zip-close bags
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Tie Wraps
  • Heavy plastic sheets and tarps
  • Toiletries including toothpaste, dental floss soaps, shampoo (tip: save those small sized toiletries that are provided by hotels and motels)
  • Condoms
  • Latex or Nitrile gloves in a variety of sizes
  • Hard candy
  • Fishing supplies
  • Knives  of various types including fixed blades, kitchen knives, and box cutters.
  • Condiments and Spices
  • Paperback books on a variety of subjects
  • Tobacco and cigarette rolling supplies
  • Amusements such as playing cards, crossword puzzle books, Sudoku
  • Pencils & paper
  • Pepper spray
  • Garden seeds
  • Flashlights
  • Vinegar  and baking soda to use in DIY cleaning supplies
  • Empty spray bottles and squirt bottles
  • Hand pumps for both air and liquids
  • Mylar blankets and tents
  • Hand warmers
  • Sewing  and mending supplies
  • Knitting  or crochet needles and yarn

One thing you will notice that I have not included firearms or ammo and for good reason.  In a post-collapse society, you might not know your barter partners well and may run the risk that they will use these items against you so that they can steal the rest of you stuff.  One person’s opinion, anyway.

. .
C.  10 Forms of Currency if Paper Money Becomes Useless in Any Crisis.
18 Mar 2013, EmergencyHomesteader.com, by katalystman
Pasted from: http://www.emergencyhomesteader.com/10-forms-of-currency-if-paper-money-becomes-useless-in-any-crisis/

gettin by dollar burns

.

gettin by PM & ammo

..gettin by water food.
gettin by seeds medical

.

.

.gettin by liquor light

.

 

.

gettin  by camping knowledge

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Freedom of Choice: Death by a 1000 cuts

(Survival manual/2. Social issues/Modern freedom of choice)

Modern Freedom of Choice topics:
1. ‘The Matrix’ (as a metaphor)
2. How Industry Manipulates Public opinion
3. How Propaganda Works in the West
4. Who Really Determines What You Will Or Will Not See On TV, Or Read In The Newspaper?
.  .
1.  ‘The Matrix’
Live Real: Where Science and religion meet common sense
<http://www.livereal.com/movies/matrix_for_real.htm>

_A. “Wake up, Neo.  The Matrix has you.”
So, what is “The Matrix”?
A seriously cool action flick. Stellar visuals. Next-generation special effects. Gnarly fight scenes. Carrie Anne-Moss. Really twisted story. Leather.
But that’s just the surface, the appearance of the movie. That’s all it seems to be.
But there’s something more going on here.
After all, The Matrix movies seem to have a deeper effect on people than that of just another sci-fi flick. What is it about this movie that seems to be speaking to people on such a deeper level? Maybe there is something there to explore…like The Inner Meaning of “The Matrix”

Some quotes from the movie:
“You’re here because you know something.
What you know you can’t explain.
But you feel it.
You’ve felt it your entire life.”
“That there is something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is, but it’s there,
like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.”

 What is the Matrix?
It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”
What truth?
That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”
“You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.”

“The Matrix” – in one sense – is an entertaining adventure movie, with far-out psychological twist. Nothing more.
Keanu, the everyday guy, living the normal life as a computer software programmer, soon is faced with a harsh truth: he’s been living a double life; one by day, another by night. He’s forced to choose which one is really him.
From there, and once he makes a few more key choices, practically everything he believes about himself, his world, his place in the world, fundamental assumptions about him and his identity . . . unravel.
Pretty interesting movie, pretty interesting fantasy, but that’s all it is…or is it?

_B. Views from ‘The Real World’
Consider the following observations from some quite brilliant minds:

•  The first view is from Peter Ouspensky, the 20th-Century mathematician and author of In Search of the Miraculous, in which he quotes philosopher G. I. Gurdjieff:
 “If men could really see their true position and could understand all the horror of it, they would be unable to remain where they are even for one second. They would begin to seek a way out and they would quickly find it, because there is a way out; but men fail to see it simply because they are hypnotized.”

“You do not realize your own situation. You are in prison. All you can wish for, if you are a sensible man, is to escape. But how escape? It is necessary to tunnel under a wall. One man can do nothing. But let us suppose there are ten or twenty men – if they work in turn and if one covers another they can complete the tunnel and escape.”

“. . . Furthermore, no one can escape from prison without the help of those who have escaped before . . . if a man in prison was at any time to have a chance of escape, then he must first of all realize that he is in prison. So long as he fails to realize this, so long as he thinks he is free, he has no chance whatever. No one can help or liberate him by force, against his will, in opposition to his wishes. If liberation is possible, it is possible only as a result of great labor and great efforts, and, above all, of conscious efforts, towards a definite aim.”

      “If a man could understand all the horror of the lives of ordinary people who are turning round in a circle of insignificant interests and insignificant aims, if he could understand what they are losing, he would understand that there can be only one thing that is serious for him – to escape from the general law, to be free. What can be serious for a man in prison who is condemned to death? Only one thing: how to save himself, how to escape: nothing else is serious.”

•  Or the following from Indian spiritual teacher Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
 “Thus is created the world in which we live, our personal world. The real world is beyond the mind’s ken; we see it through the ‘net of our desires’, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner  and outer.
To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do so, for the net is full of holes. Look at the net and its many contradictions.”

  From Plato
“’And now,’ I said, ‘let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: behold human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players put in front of them, over which they show the puppets.’
‘I see.’
‘And do you see,’ I said, ‘men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.’
‘You have shown me a strange thing, and they are strange prisoners.’
‘Like ourselves,’ I replied; ‘and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another .

  Or the words of  philosopher J. J. van der Leeuw
“Our life is like that of the prisoners in the cave; we too see only the back of the cave, the wall of our own consciousness on which dance the shadows, the images cast there by the reality which we do not behold.

We have come to know the play of these shadows so well that we have been able to build up an entire science concerning them. This science is right in so far as the shadows have a vital relation to the reality that casts them, but it is ever doomed to find itself confronted by mysteries which in the world of shadows never be solved, unless some who have seen the real world introduce into these sciences a wider knowledge. But we are impatient and incredulous when anyone would tell us that the world upon which we gaze is not the world of the Real, but only our world-image.

Yet among us too evidence is not lacking of men, who, throughout the ages, have found freedom from their bondage, who have conquered illusion and discovered that world of Reality of which this world of ours is but a shadow or image, cast in the cave of our consciousness . . .” (quoted from The Conquest of Illusion, 1928)

  Or the following from a description of Gnosticism
(Gnosticism was a philosophy that was influential around the time of the origin of Christianity. Many argue that Jesus was a member of a Gnostic sect called The Essenes.)
“. . . gnosticism taught that we are souls trapped in a prison like material world by an evil divinity, kept unaware of our plight by its carnal seductiveness. Only those with the occult knowledge (gnosis) of the true state of affairs can transcend this prison and enter a higher reality. The good divinity dwelling above this evil realm aids the lost souls by sending a messenger of truth to reveal the deception.
Replace archons with agents and magic with machine guns, and “The Matrix” is a virtual, point-for-point retelling of an gnostic concept.”

   Or the following from two psychologists
“The average person is unaware that he or she is living out a negative destiny according to his or her past (childhood) programming, preserving his or her familiar identity…,”
– Robert W. Firestone and Joyce Catlett

   Or the thoughts from Albert Einstein
“A human being is a part of the whole called a universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” [Image at left is an attempt to display the meaning of Einstein’s  4-dimensional universe on a 2-dimensional surface.]

   And from Scientific American
“Our innate perception that the world is three-dimensional could be an extraordinary illusion…results suggest that our universe, which we perceive to have 3 spatial dimensions, might instead be “written” on a 2-dimensional surface, like a hologram. Our everyday perceptions of the world as 3-dimensional would then be either a profound illusion or merely one of two alternative ways of viewing reality…”
– from “Information In the Holographic Universe” by Jacob D. Bekenstein, Scientific American, August 2003 [Image right]

These descriptions are very similar to the core message in the movies: The Truman Show, Jacob’s Ladder, The Thirteenth Floor, The Wizard of  Oz and Waking Life.
“It is not until you awaken that you will realize that you have been asleep, dreaming that you are awake.”Leonard Jacobson

 And If You Want To Go Deeper… - down the rabbit-hole
   It’s pretty safe to say that the vast majority of people who see The Matrix trilogy will more or less enjoy the movies, have a fun couple of hours with each…then move on with their lives, and that’s it. Good flicks.
  Another, smaller group of people, will go see the movies, and afterwards, think about the underlying message and philosophy that pervades the movies. They’ll take it to a slightly deeper level, and get intellectual about it…In a way, they will be like dreamers in a dream who dream that someone told them they were dreaming, and they talked and thought about it in the dream.
  And yet another, much smaller group, will go even further. They will see the movies, like them, and work to understand the deeper message that pervade the movies intellectually… then they’ll get to work.

After all, if the movies strike a chord with people because there’s some truth to them. If we actually are, in some way, living in some kind of illusion, and we’re more or less ‘cut off’ from reality or “IT” or whatever you want to call it, and this is why we suffer from all kinds of deception then there’s a lot of work to do.

And if there is some truth behind the ‘machines’ that we created becoming the enemy that enslaves us, then working to free ourselves from their grip and find ‘The Truth’ is what we need to do, which means, among other things, that we should probably be studying and practicing certain exercises, like a kind of ‘mental martial-arts, and work with others to help win the battle…and then, maybe one day we can all wake up.
.

2.  How industry manipulates public opinion
http://www.healingdaily.com/beliefs.htm
Why you believe what you believe.
PR (public relations) was created to manipulate public opinion. More and more of what we hear, see and read as ‘news’ is actually PR content. On any given day much of what the media broadcasts or prints as news is provided by the PR industry.
There are two kinds of ‘experts’ we’re dealing with:
1)  the PR spin doctors behind the scenes and
2) the ‘independent’ experts paraded before the public, scientists who have been hand-picked, cultivated, and paid handsomely to promote the views of corporations which are involved in controversial actions.

“Third parties” set PR apart from advertising. Stauber and Rampton describe how the tobacco industry first hired movie stars to promote cigarettes and then spent millions of dollars to counter findings that cigarettes cause cancer, a strategy based on testimonials and the so-called third-party technique.


The book, Trust Us We’re Experts also considers the effect big money has on universities and scientific journals, describing instances in which tobacco companies paid 13 scientists $156,000 to write letters to influential medical journals.
People don’t realize how most issues of ‘conventional wisdom’ are scientifically implanted in the public consciousness by a thousand media clips a day.

If everybody believes something, it’s probably wrong. That’s what we call “Conventional Wisdom”. In the U.S., conventional wisdom which has mass acceptance is usually contrived: somebody paid for it. For example:
● “Hospitals are safe and clean”
● “The cure for cancer is just around the corner”
   Pharmaceuticals restore health”
  “America has the best health care in the world”
  “Vaccination brings immunity”
  “When a child is sick, he/she needs immediate antibiotics”
  “When a child has a fever he/she needs Tylenol”
  And many more

Public relations shaping public opinion
In “Trust Us We’re Experts“, Stauber and Rampton point to some compelling data describing the science of creating public opinion in the U.S. They trace modern public influence back to the early part of the 1900’s, highlighting the work of people like Edward L. Bernays, the “Father of Spin”.

[Image at right: Trust Us We’re Experts a book co-authored by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton of the Center for Media and Democracy, shows how the world’s richest and most powerful corporations are involved in the shenanigans of the public relations industry, which pays, influences and even invents a surprising number of those ‘experts’.]

Edward Bernays layed the groundwork for the fledgling public relations industry in the 1920s to the power it wields over public policy today.

In his book “Propaganda”, Bernays argued that scientific manipulation of public opinion is key. “A relatively small number of persons,” he wrote, “pull the wires which control the public mind.” Bernays believed that “somebody interested in leading the crowd needs to appeal not to logic but to unconscious motivation.”

Bernays dominated the PR industry until the 1940s, and was a significant force for another 40 years following that. During that time, Bernays took on hundreds various assignments to create a public perception about some product or idea. For example, as a new member on the Committee on Public Information, one of Bernays’ first assignments was to help sell the First World War to the American public with the idea to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.”

A few years later, Bernays helped popularize the notion of women smoking cigarettes. Not being one to turn down a challenge, Bernays set up the advertising format, along with the AMA, which lasted for almost 50 years proving that cigarettes are beneficial to health. It’s interesting to look at ads in issues of “Life” or “Time” magazines from the 40s and 50s.

Bernays also popularized the idea of bacon for breakfast.

Bernay’s job was to reframe an issue, to create a certain image which would put a particular concept or product in a desirable light. Bernays described the public as a ‘herd that needed to be led.’ And this herd-like thinking makes people “susceptible to leadership.” Bernays never strayed from his fundamental axiom to “control the masses without their knowing it.” The best PR takes places when the people are unaware that they are being manipulated.

Stauber describes Bernays’ rationale like this: “the scientific manipulation of public opinion was necessary to overcome chaos and conflict in a democratic society.” (“Trust Us We’re Experts” p. 42)
Once the possibilities of applying Freudian psychology to mass media were uncovered, Bernays’s list of corporate clients grew rapidly. Global corporations were eager to court the new Image Makers. There were hundreds of goods and services and ideas to be sold to the susceptible public. Over the years, these players have had the money to make their images happen. Some of those players are:

Monsanto
Philip Morris
DuPont
Pfizer
Dow Chemical
Union Carbide
tobacco industry
General Mills
Allstate
Eli Lilly
Ciba Geigy
Goodyear
lead industry
Coors
Chlorox
Shell Oil
Standard Oil
Procter & Gamble
Boeing
General Motors

The best PR is PR that goes unnoticed.

For decades these “players” have created the opinions most of us were raised with, on virtually any issue which has the remotest commercial value, including:

pharmaceutical drugs,
vaccines,
medicine as a profession,
tobacco,
leaded gasoline,
alternative medicine,
dental amalgams,
pollution of the oceans,
forests and lumber,
images of celebrities  inc. damage control
fluoridation of city water,
aspartame,
chlorine,
household cleaning products,
dioxin,
global warming,
cancer research and treatment,
crisis and disaster management,
genetically modified foods,
food additives; processed foods

Bernays learned early on that the most effective way to create credibility for a product or idea is with “independent third-party” endorsement. For example, if General Motors were to come out and say that “global warming” is a hoax invented by some liberal tree-huggers, the public would suspect GM’s motives, since GM’s fortune is made by selling cars.

If however some independent research institute with a very credible sounding name like the Global Climate Coalition comes out with a scientific report which says that global warming is really a fiction, the public begins to get confused and to have doubts about the issue.

So that’s exactly what Bernays did. With a policy inspired by genius, he set up “more institutes and foundations than Rockefeller and Carnegie combined.” (“Trust Us We’re Experts” p 45)

Quietly financed by the industry giants whose products were being evaluated, these “independent” research agencies would churn out “scientific” studies and press releases which could create any public image their handlers wanted. Such front groups are given important-sounding names like:

Alliance for Better Foods,
Temperature Research Foundation,
Consumer Alert,Industrial Health Federation,Manhattan Institute,
The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition,
International Food Information Council
Center for Produce Quality,
Tobacco Institute Research Council,
Cato Institute,
Air Hygiene Foundation,
American Council on Science and Health,Global Climate Coalition,
International Food Information Council

As Stauber explains in “Trust Us We’re Experts“, these organizations and hundreds of others like them are front-groups whose sole mission is to advance the image of the corporations which fund them.

Public relations and the media
The news media regularly fails to investigate so-called “independent experts” associated with industry front-groups. These front-groups all have important-sounding names like “Consumer Alert” and “The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition,” but they fail to reveal their corporate funding and their propaganda agenda.

Industries’s front-groups promote their agenda in part by an endless stream of “press releases” announcing “breakthrough research” to every newspaper, radio and TV station in the country. Many of these press releases read like news, and indeed are purposely molded in the news format. This saves journalists the trouble of researching the subjects on their own, especially for topics about which they know very little. Entire sections of the press releases can be just lifted intact, without any editing, given the byline of the reporter or newspaper or TV station – and voila! Instant news. Written by corporate PR firms

Does this really happen? It happens every single day, since the 1920s when the idea of the Press Release was first invented by Ivy Lee. (“Trust Us We’re Experts”, p. 22) These types of stories are mixed right in with legitimately researched news stories. Unless you have done the research yourself, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Words in press releases are very carefully chosen for their emotional impact. A front group called the International Food Information Council handles the public’s natural aversion to genetically modified foods. Who do you think funds the International Food Information Council? Take a wild guess. Right – Monsanto, DuPont, Frito-Lay, Coca Cola, Nutrasweet – corporations in a position to make fortunes from GM foods. (“Trust Us We’re Experts” p. 20)

Science For Hire
Stauber tells the amazing story of how leaded gas came to be. In 1922, General Motors discovered that adding lead to gasoline gave cars more horsepower.
When there was some concern about safety, GM paid the Bureau of Mines to do some fake “testing” and publish “research” that “proved” that inhalation of lead was harmless. This is where Charles Kettering comes in.

Founder of the world-famous Sloan-Kettering Memorial Institute for medical research, Charles Kettering also happened to be an executive with General Motors. By some strange coincidence, we soon have the Sloan Kettering Institute issuing scientific reports stating that lead occurs naturally in the body and that the body has a way of eliminating low-level exposure.

Through its association with PR giant Hill & Knowlton and The Industrial Hygiene Foundation, Sloane Kettering opposed all anti-lead research for years. (“Trust Us We’re Experts” p. 92). For the next 60 years more and more gasoline became leaded, until by the ’70s, 90% of our gasoline was leaded.

Finally, it became too obvious to hide that lead was a major carcinogen, and leaded gas was finally phased out in the late ’80s. But during those 60 years, it is estimated that some 30 million tons of lead were released in vapor form onto American streets and highways. 30 million tons.

I hope this page will help you to start reading newspaper and magazine articles a little differently, and perhaps start watching TV news with a slightly different attitude. Always ask yourself, what are they selling here, and who is selling it?

If the news is dealing with an issue where money is involved, objective data won’t be so easy to obtain. Remember, if everybody knows something, that image has been bought and paid for.

Real knowledge takes a little more effort, a little digging down at least one level below what “everybody knows.”

We are all “conditioned”. What we are exposed to through the media, especially television, does shape our beliefs. Britney Spears is paid millions of dollars to tell us to drink Pepsi because IT ABSOLUTELY WORKS.
.

3. How Propaganda Works in the West
11 November 2008, Ed Strong blog.com
http://edstrong.blog-city.com/noam_chomsky_how_propaganda_works_in_the_west.htm
The American approach to social control  is so much more sophisticated and pervasive  that it deserves a new name  It not propaganda any more, it’s “prop-agenda”. It’s not so much the control of what we think, but the control of what we think about.
Remember, children. Propaganda works because we don’t know we’re being propagandized.
How could anyone suggest that in this beacon of ‘freedom and democracy’, the magnificent United States of Amnesia, that we are programmed to follow an ideology?

Propaganda for Dummies
In the West the calculated manipulation of public opinion to serve political and ideological interests is much more covert and therefore much more effective than a propaganda system imposed in a totalitarian regime.
Its greatest triumph is that we generally don’t notice the influence of propaganda — or laugh at the notion it even exists.
We watch the democratic process taking place – heated debates in which we feel we could have a voice – and think that, because we have “free” media, it would be hard for the Government to get away with anything very devious without someone calling them on it.
The American approach to social control is so much more sophisticated and pervasive that it really deserves a new name. It isn’t just propaganda any more, it’s “prop-agenda.” It’s not so much the control of what we think, but the control of what we think about.
When our governments want to sell us a course of action, they do it by making sure it’s the only thing on the agenda, the only thing everyone’s talking about. And they pre-load the ensuing discussion with highly selected images, devious and prejudicial language, dubious linkages, weak or false “intelligence” and selected “leaks”.

With the ground thus prepared, governments are happy if you then “use the democratic process” to agree or disagree — for, after all, their intention is to mobilize enough headlines and conversation to make the whole thing seem real and urgent.
The more emotional the debate, the better. Emotion creates reality, reality demands action.

Keeping the People Passive & Obedient
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

Since the voice of the people is allowed to speak out in democratic societies, those in power better control what that voice says — in other words, control what people think.

One of the ways to do this is to create political debate that appears to embrace many opinions, but actually stays within very narrow margins. You have to make sure that both sides in the debate accept certain assumptions — and that those assumptions are the basis of the propaganda system. As long as everyone accepts the propaganda system, the debate is permissible.

One reason that propaganda often works better on the educated than on the uneducated is that educated people read more, so they receive more propaganda. Another is that they have jobs in management, media, and academia and therefore work in some capacity as agents of the propaganda system — and they believe what the system expects them to believe. By and large, they’re part of the privileged elite, and share the interests and perceptions of those in power.

It is much more difficult to see a propaganda system at work where the media are private and formal censorship is absent. This is especially true where the media actively compete, periodically attack and expose corporate and government malfeasance, and aggressively portray themselves as spokesmen for free speech and the general community interest.

What is not evident (and remains undiscussed in the media) is the limited nature of such critiques, as well as the huge inequality of the command of resources, and its effect both on access to a private media system and on its behavior and performance.

Propaganda & the Ruling Ideology
When a leading journalist or TV news presenter is asked whether they are subject to pressure or censorship, they say they are completely free to express their own opinions. So how does thought control work in a democratic society? We know how it works in dictatorships.

Journalists are an integral part of the ruling ideology. They are so well ‘integrated’ that they can’t see outside the ideological box they inhabit. Their journalism is balanced, fair and tolerant of other points of view. But that is part of the ‘value system’ they are promulgating. ‘Truth’ is their version of the world.

To return to the original question. If one suggests there is censorship in the Western media, journalists immediately reply: “No one has been exerting any pressure on me. I write what I want.” And it’s true.  But if they defended positions contrary to the dominant norm, someone else would soon be writing editorials in their place.

Obviously it is not a hard-and-fast rule: the US press sometimes publishes even my work, and the US is not a totalitarian country. But anyone who fails to fulfill certain minimum requirements does not stand a chance of becoming an established commentator. It is one of the big differences between the propaganda system of a totalitarian state and the way democratic societies go about things. Exaggerating slightly, in totalitarian countries the state decides the official line and everyone must then comply.

Democratic societies operate differently. The line is never presented as such, merely implied. This involves brainwashing people who are still at liberty. Even the passionate debates in the main media stay within the bounds of commonly accepted, implicit rules, which sideline a large number of contrary views.  The system of control in democratic societies is extremely effective. We do not notice the line any more than we notice the air we breathe.

We sometimes even imagine we are seeing a lively debate. The system of control is much more powerful than in totalitarian systems. Look at Germany in the early 1930s. We tend to forget that it was the most advanced country in Europe, taking the lead in art, science, technology, literature and philosophy. Then, in no time at all, it suffered a complete reversal of fortune and became the most barbaric, murderous state in human history. All that was achieved by using fear: Fear of the Bolsheviks, the Jews, the Americans, the Gypsies – everyone who, according to the Nazis, was threatening the core values of European culture and the direct descendants of Greek civilization (as the philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote in 1935).

However, most of the German media who inundated the population with these messages were using marketing techniques developed by US advertising agents. The same method is always used to impose an ideology. Violence is not enough to dominate people: some other justification is required.

When one person wields power over another – whether they are a dictator, a colonist, a bureaucrat, a spouse or a boss – they need an ideology justifying their action. And it is always the same: their domination is exerted for the good of the underdog. Those in power always present themselves as being altruistic, disinterested and generous.

In the 1930s the rules for Nazi propaganda involved using simple words and repeating them in association with emotions and phobia. When Hitler invaded the Sudetenland in 1938 he cited the noblest, most charitable motives: the need for a humanitarian intervention to prevent the ethnic cleansing of German speakers. Henceforward everyone would be living under Germany’s protective wing, with the support of the world’s most artistically and culturally advanced country.

When it comes to propaganda (though in a sense nothing has changed since the days of Athens) there have been some minor improvements. The instruments available now are much more refined, in particular – surprising as it may seem – in the countries with the greatest civil liberties, Britain and the US.

The contemporary public relations industry was born there in the 1920s, an activity we may also refer to as opinion forming or propaganda. Both countries had made such progress in democratic rights (women’s suffrage, freedom of speech) that state violence was no longer sufficient to contain the desire for liberty. So those in power sought other ways of manufacturing consent.

The PR industry produces, in the true sense of the term, concept, acceptance and submission.

It controls people’s minds and ideas. It is a major advance on totalitarian rule, as it is much more agreeable to be subjected to advertising than to torture.

4. Who Really Determines What You Will Or Will Not See On TV Or Read In The Newspaper?
http://www.whoownsthenews.com/
In the early years of our democracy the ‘free press’ was all that stood between greedy corporate interests, government corruption and you and I. While many newspapers were controlled by wealthy individuals such as William Randolph Hearst, who influenced the content of the news in his papers, a kind of journalistic ‘Hippocratic oath’ seemed to prevail across the country as reporters and publishers at small papers usually chose to pursue the truth in reporting.

Local papers, TV stations and radio outlets were owned mostly by local individuals with an interest in their community. That began to change as a powerful institution known as the Council On Foreign Relations gained power and the trend toward total corporate media control rapidly accelerated during the Bush-era with media consolidation.

Suddenly the old rule that one corporation could not own all of the town’s news outlets was gone. Companies like Clear Channel Communications suddenly began to buy up every radio station, TV outlet and newspaper in major markets, effectively controlling everything that people read, watched and heard. The pattern of media consolidation has increased during the last eight years to the point that now only a few corporations control the news that we watch.

He who owns the media, controls the media. With such powerful platforms they are able to drown out independent media and control public opinion and government policy. There can be no freedom without freedom of the press and there can be no freedom of the press if only a few powerful corporations own it.

What Liberal or Right Wing Media? It’s Just Corporate Media.
Who really controls the media? Is the so-called ‘liberal media’ that the’ right’ complains about controlled by Hollywood and liberal special interests? Is Fox News controlled by the Republican Party? If you believe any of these generalizations you are dead wrong and the truth will shock you.

Major multinational corporations, Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds and Saudi Princes, all hell-bent on protecting their own interests, choose what you will see on the nightly news and trick you into believing it is unbiased reporting. As we see below all the major news outlets, regardless of what they make you believe, contributed heavily to George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004, so any argument that they are controlled by liberals evaporates. In this case they all supported the candidate that promised to allow consolidation of multiple media companies.

The very news stories that you are fed by the mainstream media are manipulated to mirror the public relations campaigns of companies that operate nuclear plants, sprawling theme parks that gobble up wetlands, defense contractors, oil companies and even Saudi Princes.
Remember the old ‘Outer Limits’ TV shows where the announcer says “We control everything you see and hear, the vertical, the horizontal,” etc? The corporate controlled news media controls all you see and hear.

Below,  are the top twenty media corporations in the U.S. according to mediaowners.com All but two, #18 and #19, are not members of the Council On Foreign Relations.

1. Time Warner Inc.
2. Walt Disney Company
3. Viacom Inc.
4. News Corporation
5. CBS Corporation
6. Cox Enterprises
7. NBC Universal
8. Gannett Company, Inc.
9. Clear Channel Communications Inc.
10. Advance Publications, Inc.

11. Tribune Company
12. McGraw-Hill Companies
13. Hearst Corporation
14. Washington Post Company
15. The New York Times Company
16. E.W. Scripps Co.
17. McClatchy Company
18. Thomson Corporation
19. Freedom Communications, Inc.
20. A&E Television Networks

Question: Who Owns The Media?
Answer:  Industry Giants, Saudi Princes and Australian Robber Barons.
.
Here is a breakdown of the “Liberal” media ownership By Corporations:
..
GENERAL ELECTRIC, -Not Just Light Bulbs Anymore
General Electric – NBC (In 2000  they donated 1.1 million to George W Bush for his election campaign)

_TV Holdings:
 •    NBC: Owns outright 13 stations and many affiliates, Market penetration: 28% of US households.
 •   NBC Network News: Owns The Today Show, Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Meet the Press, Dateline.
 •   CNBC business network, MSNBC 24-hour cable and Internet news service (co-owned by both NBC and Microsoft); Court TV (co-owned with Time Warner), Bravo (50%), A&E (25%), History Channel (25%).
The MS in MSNBC stands for Microsoft, Bill Gate’s Microsoft donated 2.4 million in 2000 to get George W Bush elected.

_Other Holdings:
 •   GE Consumer Electronics and Household Products and components used in military electronics..
 •   GE Power Systems, which makes turbines for nuclear reactors, wind turbines, “clean” coal technology.
 •   GE Plastics: produces military hardware for fighter jets, ships and nuclear power equipment.
 •   GE Transportation Systems: manufactures engines and diesel and electric locomotives.

.

WESTINGHOUSE / CBS INC. -  Not Just Fridges Anymore.
Westinghouse Electric Company, part of the large Nuclear Utilities Business Group of British Nuclear Fuels.
Which is Headed By Frank Carlucci of the Carlyle Group. A group with very strong ties to the Bush Administration.

_TV Holdings:
 •   CBS: Owns outright 14 stations and over 200 affiliates in the US.
 •   CBS Network News: 60 minutes, 48 hours, CBS Evening News, CBS Morning News.
•   Country Music Television, The Nashville Network.
•   Group W Satellite Communications.
Other Holdings:
 •   Westinghouse Electric Company: provides services to the nuclear power industry including owning 4 nuclear plants, waste disposal and transport.

.

 DISNEY – ABC Not just cartoon characters, ‘Worlds’ or family movies anymore.
(Donated $640,000 to George W Bush’s 2000 political campaign)

_TV Holdings:
 •   ABC: includes 10 stations outright, many affiliates, Penetration in the market: 24% of US households.
•   ABC Network News: Prime Time Live, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America.
•   ESPN, Lifetime Television (50%), as well as smaller holdings in A&E, History Channel and E!
•   Disney Channel/Disney Television, Touchtone Television.

_Other Major Media Holdings.
 •   Miramax, Touchtone Pictures.
•   Major Magazines: Jane, Los Angeles Magazine, Discover.
•   Three recording labels, twelve major local newspapers.
•   Hyperion books.
•   Infoseek search engine.

Major shareholders include Sid R. Bass, oil and gas baron.
Disney’s environmental and social record: Source wikipedia.org

The company has been accused of human rights violations regarding the working conditions in factories that produce their merchandise. Numerous environmental groups in Florida and California have criticized development procedures used in building theme parks including damage to wetlands.

An environmental management plan for a zone of Great Guana Cay, in the Abaco Islands, criticized Disney for poor management of a 90-acre (36.4 ha) tract of the island. Disney partially developed, but then abandoned the place, which was to have been a cruise ship resort called Treasure Island. The report, by the University of Miami and the College of the Bahamas, blames Disney for leaving hazardous materials, electrical transformers, and fuel tanks, and for introducing invasive alien plants and insects that threaten the natural flora and fauna of the island.
.

TIME-WARNER TBS – AOL (In 2000 they donated 1.6 million to George Bush’s political campaign)
“Time, Not Just On The Coffee Table Anymore”.
America Online (AOL) acquired Time Warner which was the largest merger in corporate history.

_TV Holdings:
 •   CNN, HBO, Cinemax, TBS Superstation, Turner Network Television, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Brothers Television, Cartoon Network, Sega Channel, TNT, Comedy Central.
•   Largest cable system owner with an estimated 13 million households.

_Media Holdings:
 •   HBO Productions, Warner Home Video, New Line Cinema, Castle Rock, Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera.
•   Music: Atlantic, Elektra, Rhino, Sire, Warner Bros. Records, EMI.
 •   Thirty three major magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, People Magazine, In Style, Fortune, The Book of the Month Club, Entertainment Weekly, Life Magazne, DC Comics, MAD Magazine.

_Other major corporation Holdings:
   Sports Teams and Wrestling: The Atlanta Braves, The Atlanta Hawks, World Championship Wrestling.
.

NEWS CORPORATION LTD. / FOX NETWORKS (Rupert Murdoch, numerous donations. On Board of Directors of Phillip Morris, Phillip Morris Donated 2.9 million to Bush’s campaign.
Why did Australian Rupert Murdoch forsake his native country and become a U.S. citizen? Reportedly it was because he could save on taxes and start over in virgin territory after leaving behind so much scorched earth in the Australian economy as he laid waste to his business opponents and bought up media outlets. Or perhaps it was just so he could get around foreign media ownership laws. (Which no longer exist.)

Does a Saudi billionaire actually have the power to control the news on the Fox network, of which he is a part owner?

_Major Television Holdings:
 •    Fox Television: includes 22 major and many affiliate stations, Penetration into more than 60% of US households.
•    Fox International: extensive worldwide cable and satellite networks include British Sky Broadcasting (40%); VOX, Germany (49.9%); Canal Fox, Latin America; FOXTEL, Australia (50%); STAR TV, Asia, IskyB, India; Bahasa Programming Ltd., Indonesia (50%); and News Broadcasting, Japan (80%), major owner of DirecTV.
•   The Golf Channel (33%).

_Other Major Media Holdings:
 •   Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight.
•   132 major newspapers (113 in Australia alone) including the New York Post, the London Times and The Australian.
•   Owns 25 magazines including TV Guide and The Weekly Standard.
•   Owns Harper Collins books.
.
_Other major corporation holdings around the world:
 •    Sports: LA Dodgers, LA Kings, LA Lakers, National Rugby League.
•   Ansett Australia airline, Ansett New Zealand airlines.
•    Rupert Murdoch is on the Board of Directors of Philip Morris, a major Bush donor.
It’s no surprise that corporate robber baron Rupert Murdoch is a major Bush supporter, but who else owns Fox News?
•   Prince al-Walid bin Talal owns 5.5% of Fox News.  Prince al- Walid bin Talal stated recently that he used his influence to change Fox’s headlines. During the recent riots in Muslim neighborhoods in France Fox was using the term “Muslim Riots” to describe rioting by Muslim youths and Prince bin Talal claims that called Fox News had them change the title of the story to “Youth Riots”.
Source. worldnetdaily.com [Image at left.]

 •   In another instance, where supposedly conservative Fox News should have been up in arms, was the deal by a United Arab Emirates holding company to buy U.S. ports. Suddenly Fox went from being against the deal to very supportive of a deal that would have put US container ports in foreign hands.
A U.A.E. sovereign wealth fund also owns major shares of Fox.

The “good ole boys” that hang on every word that Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly utters might not be so happy when they hear who is whispering in their idol’s ears.
.

The Council On Foreign Relations and What It Has To Do With Corporate Control Of The News CFR Seal.
What do Dan Rather, Barbara Walters, Jim Lehrer, Rupert Murdoch, Tom Brokaw and the late William F. Buckley have in common? They are all members of the CFR, The Council On Foreign Relations. The stated goal of the CFR is to manipulate the News to bring about a new world order or corporate control of everything. This is not some weird conspiracy theory, it is stated in their original charter.
Who else belongs to the CFR, Disney’s Michael Eisner and ABC’s Thomas Murphy, Tom Johnson, CEO of CNN, Time Warner’s Gerald Levine, and many, many more media CEO’s who have merged their empires under the CFR’s guidance.

Freedom of the press is vital to our democracy. We need to prevent things like media consolidation, where one company is allowed to own all the news outlets in any given market. Speak up and stop the corporate robber barons and the CFR from taking that right away from us.

[Sorry to say, but the horse is already out of the barn, the time for prevention has passed. Modern freedom of choice really is part of the milieu we find ourselves in: a slow, social, economic, environmental and democratic death by 1000 cuts. Mr Larry]

2 Comments

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Foraging: Death by 1000 cuts

(Survival manual/2. Social issues/Modern foraging)

Modern Foraging topics:
1.  Junk foods
2.  The school lunch program
3.   Obesity
4.   Diabetes in USA
5. Exercise-energy balance
6.  Same dollars, less food (food cost inflation)
.

1.  JUNK FOODS
.

A.  What is a Junk Food?
•  Any food that has poor nutritional value is considered unhealthy and may be called a junk food.
•  A food that is high in fat, sodium, and/or sugar is known as a junk food.
•  Junk food is easy to carry, purchase and consume.
•  Generally, a junk food is given a very attractive appearance by adding food additives and colors to enhance flavor, texture, appearance, and increasing long shelf life.
• A junk food has little enzyme producing vitamins & minerals and contains high level of calories. When we eat these empty calorie foods, the body is required to produce its own enzymes to convert these empty calories into usable energy. This is not desired as these enzyme producing functions in our body should be reserved for the performance of vital metabolic reactions.

Remember, junk foods are empty calories. An empty calorie lacks in micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, or amino acids, and fiber but has high energy (calories).

Since junk food is high in fats and sugars, it is responsible for obesity, dental cavities, Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.

 Junk Food & Cholesterol
Fried and processed food, particularly fast food, contains high amounts of oxycholesterol.
A healthy diet rich in antioxidants can counter these effects.

Some junk food pictures of beef burger, French fries, Coca Cola, and potato chips and cinema popcorns are given below.

Cinema popcorn: Popcorns are healthy, but the one sold in cinemas are a nutritional horror. The Center for Science in the Public Interest compared in Nov 2009 some popcorn and drinks combos sold at key movie theater chains in USA and found the following:
•  A medium popcorn and soda combo at Regal, the United States’ biggest movie theater chain, contains 1,610 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat.
•  At AMC theaters, a large popcorn contains 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat.
The high calorie counts could be due to the fact that corn was popped in coconut oil. Popcorn cooked in canola oil showed lower levels of saturated fats, but similar levels of calories and sodium.

 List of Junk Foods
Given below is a list of junk food (empty calorie) items that you should avoid. It’s up to you how to  keep your four trillion cells happy.
•  Sugars: Refined foods, like sugar and plain flour based items like white bread and most packaged goods, such as Twinkies and sugar donuts, etc. Our body eventually turns sugars into fat. If you consume just 3 tsp of sugar daily, imagine how much sugar you would have consumed by the time you are 50 years of age; it will be about 600 lbs, about 4 times your weight!
•  Fats & Hydrogenated oils: Are found in cookies, chips, candy bars, fried foods, muffins, bologna, etc.  Many snacks, such as potato chips, cheeseburgers and fries, have high levels of fat, sugar or salt-ingredients that are usually best limited to a small portion of your diet. The saturated fat comes mainly from animal products. Our body has no use for hydrogenated or trans fat. The excessive fats stick to our arteries and cause the blockages leading to heart disease and strokes. They can also aid to cancer, arthritis, PMS and sexual dysfunction.
Some fats like Omega-3 fatty acids are good for our bodies.
•  Salt: Excessive salt is not good for our body (Daily Salt Recommendation). However, sodium in moderate amount, along with potassium, maintains the water balance in our body. But too much sodium can cause high blood pressure. Pretzels, chips and many canned food items contain excessive salt.

Daily Salt Recommendation
There is no sodium intake recommended or Recommended Daily Allowance for sodium or salt. However, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend 2300mg of sodium daily for adults. This is about 1 teaspoon of sodium chloride (salt) in one day. However, most people     take more than the recommended amount a day in diet, almost double the value.
How much sodium is in a teaspoon of salt?
It depends on the type of salt. Roughly, about 6g of salt makes one teaspoonful and approximately 2.4g sodium.

1 teaspoon salt = 6,200mg (6.2g) sodium  chloride= 2,400mg (2.4g) sodium 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1000mg sodium

Note that the salt crystals and sea salt contain the same amount of sodium.

.B.     Junk Food Facts: Not always easy to swallow
http://www.discover-yoga-online.com/junk-food-facts.html
Digesting junk food facts can take a strong stomach. Here are a few facts to chew on before your crack open another can of coke:
.
_1)  What’s in Some of that Junk Food?
•  One teaspoon of sugar is extracted from a stalk of sugarcane one yard in length!
•  A can of cola contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.
•  The metal in the can costs more than the ingredients (mainly water with additives, refined sugar and caffeine).
•  A super-sized order of McDonald’s fries contains 610 calories and 1.02 ounces of fat.
•  A king-sized order of Burger King’s fries packs 590 calories and 1.05 ounces of fat.
•  Artificial ingredients can contain an alarming variety of chemicals. For instance, ‘artificial strawberry flavor’ can contain about 50 chemicals… and no strawberries at all!
•  A king-sized Burger King meal, (Double Whopper with cheese, large fries and large drink) contains 1,800 calories (mostly derived from fat and refined sugar). To ‘burn’ these calories would take nearly 6 hours of cycling (at 20 miles per hour).

_2)  Junk Food Advertising
•  The food industry spends over $33 billion per year in the US alone to advertise food products that could be classified as junk food.
•  The majority of food advertising during children’s television programming is for sweetened cereals, soft drinks, candy, processed snacks and fast foods.
•  The average American child sees around 20,000 ads a year for junk food.
•  Over 90% of American children eat at McDonald’s at least once per month
•  American teenagers drink an average of 760 can of soda pop per year (with boys drinking about 25% more than girls).
•  The average American of any age drinks over 500 cans of soft drinks per year.
•  Nearly 20% of children under 2 years of age are given soft drinks every day in America!
•  The average person today consumes more sugar in two weeks than a person a century ago would have eaten in a whole year. That’s a junk food fact!

 [Image above: Note that the percentage of the household budget spent on food has dropped by over 50% in the last 50 years, however, the quality of what we EAT has declined. The ‘quality’ statement is not documented in the graphic, but is shown in actuary tables for American health, types of disease and life expectancy. Mr Larry . The graphic is from <http://vegetalion.blogspot.com/2010/11/americas-grocery-spending-habits-since.html>]

 _3)  Harmful Effects of Junk Food
•  The regular consumption of junk food is the leading factor in obesity and excess weight.
•  Obesity is second only to smoking as a cause of death in America.
•  46% of Canadian adults are either overweight or obese, with obesity in children increasing three-fold over the past 2 decades.
•  Consumption of soft drinks containing sugar has been linked to weight gain and an increased risk for development of type 2 diabetes.
•  Studies have revealed that obese people have twice the rate of chronic health problems as people of normal weight. This includes a 100% greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, 50% increased likelihood of developing heart disease. Obese men are nearly 90% more likely to get colon cancer.
•  Junk food diet is a major cause of heart diseases.
•  High cholesterol resulting from junk food puts undue strain on the liver, causing long-term damage to this essential organ. •  Research has suggested that diets high in fat may also impair essential brain functions, like concentration and memory.

The junk food facts about soft drinks alone are alarming. There is compelling evidence that regular consumption of soft drinks leads to:
•  Increased rates of bone fracture
•  Increased risk for osteoporosis
•  Increased risk of weight gain and obesity
•  Increased risk for Type II Diabetes
•  Increased risk for kidney stones •
• Increased rate of tooth decay and other dental problems.
Junk food facts are numerous, and the negative effect of junk food on health and wellbeing is undeniable.
.

2.  THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM
.

USDA calls for dramatic change in school lunches
1/12/2011, USA Today, by Nanci Hellmich
The proposed rule applies to school breakfast and lunch, but not to what’s sold in vending machines and school stores. [We’ll cut back feeding you dangerous food products, but if you have cash we’ll sell them to you. lp]

Hold the French fries and salt!

The government is calling for dramatic changes in school meals, including limiting French fries, sodium and calories and offering students more fruits and vegetables.

The proposed rule, being released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will raise the nutrition standards for meals for the first time in 15 years.

This is the “first major improvement” in the standards that “we’ve seen in a generation, and it reflects the seriousness of the issue of obesity,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

About a third of children and adolescents — 25 million kids – are obese or overweight. Extra pounds put children at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other health problems. An analysis in 2005 found that children today may lead shorter lives by two to five years than their parents because of obesity. [This will remove that generation from receiving longer term Social Security benefits, the funds won’t be available anyway.]

Vilsack says addressing the childhood obesity problem is critical for kids’ health, future medical costs and national security, as so many young adults are too heavy to serve in the military.

The new meal standards are designed to improve the health of nearly 32 million children who eat lunch at school every day and almost 11 million who eat breakfast. Overall, kids consume about 30% to 50% of their calories while at school.

Among the requirements for school meals outlined in the proposed rule:

  • Decrease the amount of starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and green peas, to one cup a week.
  • Reduce sodium in meals over the next 10 years [Why not reduce the sodium over summer break, why wait 10 years? lp]. A high school lunch now has about 1,600 milligrams of sodium. Through incremental changes, that amount should be lowered over the next decade to 740 milligrams or less of sodium for grades through 9 through 12; 710 milligrams or less for grades 6 through 8; 640 milligrams or less for kindergarten through fifth grades.
  • Establish calorie maximums and minimums for the first time [No one thought to have a Nutritionist do this in the past?-(smile) – lp]. For lunch: 550 to 650 calories for kindergarten through fifth grade; 600 to 700 for grades 6 through 8; 750 to 850 for grades 9 through 12.
  • Serve only unflavored 1% milk or fat-free flavored or unflavored milk. Currently, schools can serve milk of any fat content.
  • Increase the fruits and vegetables kids are offered. The new rule requires that a serving of fruit be offered daily at breakfast and lunch and that two servings of vegetables be offered daily at lunch.
  • Over the course of a week, there must be a serving of each of the following: green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, summer squash), beans, starchy and other vegetables. This is to make sure that children are exposed to a variety of vegetables.
  • Increase whole grains substantially [Substantially? Why not serve only whole grains? lp]. Currently, there is no requirement regarding whole grains, but the proposed rules require that half of grains served must be whole grains.
  • Minimize trans fat by using products where the nutrition label says zero grams of trans fat per serving.

Vilsack says the government is not trying to “dictate” what people eat but is trying to help parents make sure their youngsters “are as healthy, happy, productive and as successful as God intended them to be.”

Implementing the new meal standards is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 13.

The proposed rule applies to school breakfast and lunch, but not to what’s sold in vending machines and school stores. Those will be addressed later in a separate rule.

Cleaning up the “school nutrition environment” would make a big difference to kids’ diets — and teach them good eating habits that could affect them the rest of their lives, says Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest and an advocate of healthier school meals. “Kids learn by doing, and so serving a healthy meal is such an important part of their education.”

Wootan says the challenge now is for school food-service personnel to make these changes, which will cost more. “They need technical assistance, support, model recipes, model product specifications. They need to know how to make a healthier chicken nugget or healthier pizza.

“There are schools already serving healthy foods that kids really like. The problem is that not enough schools know how to do it.”

Currently, schools receive $2.72 from the federal government for every child who is on the free lunch program. Schools that meet the new standards will get another 6 cents per meal.

Nancy Rice, president of the School Nutrition Association, a non-profit professional organization representing school food-service professionals, says that schools are going to have to “stretch limited food-service dollars. We are going to have to do the best we can and to try to cut in other areas. Everything we are doing is to benefit kids.”

Cutting back on fries could be a shock to some students, she says. Some school systems still sell fries every day in a la carte lines, she says. “But the vast majority of the school systems are already limiting French fries, and when they are serving them, they are baking them.”

The agriculture department is asking for input on the proposed rule during a public comment period that ends April 13. When the regulation is final, schools will be required to meet the new standards to get government reimbursement on school meals. The rule does not need congressional approval.

A current typical lunch menu is seen below.
.


.[Pizza, pizza, pizza, country fried ‘this’ and ‘that’, cold cut meats, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, alfredo sauce (heart attack on a plate)…Once in a while, any of these meals would be alright, but a daily diet is not healthy. It is socially immoral to injure the health of children and the general population with the kind of foods allowed and fostered upon us by people who are supppose to know better.. Well, actually they do know better, it is a profit driven endeavor, even at the expense of the health of your and my children, our grandchildren and of own our own bodies.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government complains that Health Care and Medicare cost too much. What can they expect from allowing us to be slowly poisoned by innappropriate public foods? So,they  turn the blame on to the heads of we sheeple-people.
Please note, if terrorists killed and maimed as many people, and caused as much economic hardship as junk foods fed to our children and offerred through out the core area of the grocery stores, FEMA would be on a permanent Red Alert. So, while we loose our freedoms for the sake of ‘potential’ safety from terrorists, our bodies are destroyed by bad food–and there is narry a word of caution from the governement, nor an advertising campaign, or a punative tax on high fat, high salt, high calorie, high sugar foods. While the terrorist may kill us by the 10’s each year, the bad food is killing us by the several 100,000’s every year…but, that’s business as usual. Mr Larry]
.

3.     OBESITY

A.  Reasons Why So Many People Are Overweight
by Eric Cho
http://www.activefitnessworld.com/articles/food/overweight.php

Obesity has become a huge problem for most people living in developed countries. Today, 30% of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are obese and 60% of all adults are either overweight or obese. There are many reasons for our overweight problem.

Obesity is responsible for increased rates of stroke, heart attack, type II diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. In fact it is responsible for as many premature deaths as smoking. Obesity has now become a threat to our longevity.

On the surface it would seem that the underlying reason is really quite simple. If a person takes in more calories than the person burns, weight gain is the final outcome. These factors certainly play a role in obesity but there are more factors which contribute to this problem.

Modern society has changed a great deal from just a couple of generations ago when agriculture and manual labor were common place. Today people spend a great deal of the day sitting at a desk in an office, driving the car, or relaxing on the sofa at home. All of which has affected the overall health of people living in developed countries.

By the time a person arrives home, the last thing most are thinking about is going for a walk or heading off to the gym. Combine that with the idea that as a nation we eat just as much food, if not more than our ancestors did without nearly as much physical exertion and suddenly the recipe for obesity becomes very clear.

But there is more to it. Statistics show that we have actually doubled our food intake. This is where the fast food industry is to blame. Everything has been super sized and not in a good way either with most of these foods being high in trans fatty acids (the bad fat) and sugar, it is easy to see that weight gain is inevitable.

But the fast food industry cannot take all the credit. Our schooling system has allowed vending machines to offer children fast food and soft drinks with provides no nutritional value and empty calories. School cafeterias that serve food are hardly a step above fast food. Add to that, most parents nowadays don’t have time to cook traditional wholesome foods due their hectic work schedule and as a result buy convenience foods which are also high in fat and sugar and low in nutrition.

As well both children and adults are now more sedentary than any other time in history. PE is no longer mandatory in schools; recess time has almost disappeared, after school play time has been replaced with the Xbox or Gameboy. Now instead of the entire body getting a workout only the thumbs do.

Most adults are too busy or too tired to add an exercise regime to their day and even something as simple as a walk can seem demanding. The result is people do not have time to burn off all those excess calories that they are consuming through the day.

Statistics show that if adults in the home are overweight then chances are that their children will also be overweight. Statistics have shown that when adults in the home are not physically active children in the home will not be active either. Studies have confirmed that both good and bad eating habits are developed in the home. It is a combination of what adults allow their children to eat and what they serve their children which is contributing to our overweight crisis.

The reasons for our overweight problem are complex. Increasing physical activity and improving nutrition are great ways to start to work towards a solution to this

B.  Obesity Epidemic “Astronomical”
The prognosis for the nation is bad and getting worse as obesity takes its toll on the health of adults and children alike.
May 16.2011, WebMD Feature, by R.Morgan Griffin, Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD.
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/obesity-epidemic-astronomical

One of the biggest health stories of the year has been the rise in obesity among both adults and children in the U.S. We’ve all heard so much about the “obesity epidemic” that it’s easy to think the story is being blown out of proportion. After all, people putting on a few pounds may not seem to warrant the proclamation of a national emergency.

But while obesity may not be the Black Death, it is a severe public health crisis. Experts agree that as more and more obese children become obese adults, the diseases associated with obesity, such as heart disease, cancer, and especially diabetes will surge. That will mean a lot of sick people.

According to Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, chair of the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University, the costs of these illnesses will be “astronomical.”

James O. Hill, PhD, agrees. Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, claims that at the rate we’re going, obesity-related diabetes alone “will break the bank of our healthcare system.”

So one has to wonder how obesity got so out of control that we reached this crisis. And more importantly, how do we stop it?

_1)  The Causes
So what’s causing the epidemic? Not surprisingly, everyone agrees that it stems from two things: eating too much and exercising too little. The differences are in the specifics.

Although people may toss around the idea of genetics in obesity, genes can’t really explain what’s happening, Hill says. While a person may have a genetic predisposition toward a certain body type, the fact that each succeeding generation is heavier than the last proves that changes in our environment are playing the key role.

Hill believes the culprit may be a decrease in our physical activity, arguing that because of shifts in how we live and work, we don’t get as much exercise as previous generations did.

Nestle agrees that exercise is important, but she lays more stress on eating habits. In her book Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Nestle argues that recommendations about healthy eating are overwhelmed by the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of advertising for junk foods that we’re subjected to at home and even in public schools. And as fast food companies and chains compete with one another by increasing portion sizes, our waists are increasing proportionately.

[Chart: 1900-2000, comparing the growth of diabetes (red), obesity (blue) and cardiovascular disease (green) during the 20th Century.]

_2)  The Numbers
Despite the new attention paid to obesity by doctors, researchers, and the media, no discernable progress has been made in fighting obesity. According to most experts, it looks almost certain that obesity will get worse before it gets better.

Cynthia Ogden, PhD, a CDC epidemiologist, published the results of a study of weight in the United States that she conducted with other experts. The results were startling: 31% of adults are obese and 15% of children and teenagers age 6-19 are overweight. The proportion of obese people has been growing steadily for the last few decades. Although Ogden stresses that obesity is a problem for all groups and genders, it is particularly severe among certain ethnic groups. For instance, 50% of all non-Hispanic black women are obese.
Did Ogden see anything promising in the results of the study about obesity in the U.S.? “I didn’t see any hopeful signs,” she says.

_3)  Conflicting Recommendations
The seemingly contradictory reports in the media about what people should and shouldn’t be eating almost certainly don’t help things. For instance, proponents of protein diets argue that all of the accepted wisdom about eating a low-fat diet is wrong. Most experts don’t agree with them, but protein diets are being evaluated in studies now.

Where mainstream nutritionists and protein diet proponents agree is that the low-fat recommendations of the 1990s didn’t quite work. “People took the low-fat message and decided that it meant that as long as they ate things that were low-fat, they could eat as much as they wanted,” says William Dietz, MD, PhD, the director of the division of nutrition and physical activity in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC. That isn’t the case, since calories add up, no matter what form they come in. Even worse, many of the low-fat snacks that companies developed actually had higher calories than their regular-fat equivalents, Dietz observes.

According to Nestle, the media also have a tendency of confusing things by reporting the results of scientific studies out of context. She argues that the relative stability of the dietary and fitness recommendations over the years — eat less fat and more fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly — is obscured by the media, which are more interested in exciting stories about radical diets or the effects of particular “miracle” foods or vitamins.

_4)  Surgical Options
An increasingly common treatment for severe obesity is bariatric surgery, such as “stomach stapling” in which the size of the stomach is surgically reduced. It’s gotten a high profile as some obese celebrities and public figures have undergone the procedure with dramatic results. It’s even becoming more common among teenagers. While bariatric surgery is necessary and life-saving in some cases, is it a reasonable treatment for obesity in America?

“Surgery is an effective last resort,” says Dietz, “and many people are so obese, with a body mass index over 40, that they’re at the last resort stage.” However, if obesity continues to worsen, so many people will require surgery that it will become impossible to operate on all of them. “It’s difficult for me to see how we’ll be able or willing to perform surgery on 100 million Americans,” says Hill. Instead, the only real answer is in preventing people from getting to the point of surgery in the first place.

_5)  The Problems With Prevention
As with other public health campaigns, such as the efforts to get people to stop smoking or to practice safe sex, results of the campaign against obesity will come gradually. But Dietz sees reason for hope.
“I think that in the last three years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the attitudes of policy makers toward obesity,” Dietz tells WebMD. “There is now a huge amount of attention being paid to the condition,” he says, and that’s an important first step

_6)  What Should I Do?
While the news about preventing and treating obesity on a national scale may be depressing, it’s important not to confuse a national health problem with your own, individual efforts to lose weight and live a more healthy life. While changing society may be tricky, changing yourself is considerably easier.

For instance, many people are able to lose weight and keep it off successfully, and even small reductions in weight can significantly decrease your health risks. Much of Hill’s research has focused on the National Weight Loss Registry in Colorado, which Hill co-founded, that tracks the progress and habits of people who have lost weight and kept it off.

Hill reports that while people in the registry lost weight on all sorts of different diets, including protein diets, they tended to shift to a low-fat and high carbohydrate diet to maintain their weight loss. And on average, they exercised every day. While Hill stresses that most registry members say it wasn’t easy, they almost uniformly believe that losing weight was worth the sacrifices.
So rather than get overwhelmed by depressing statistics or confused by competing theories of how to lose weight, it may be best to stick to the established recommendations about eating well and exercising regularly. Doing what you can might make a big difference.

C.  Obesity Threatens to Cut U.S. Life Expectancy, New Analysis Suggests
Wednesday, March 16, 2005, NIH News, National Institute of Health, Dollemore contact Doug.http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/mar2005/nia-16.htm

Over the next few decades, life expectancy for the average American could decline by as much as 5 years unless aggressive efforts are made to slow rising rates of obesity, according to a team of scientists supported in part by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The U.S. could be facing its first sustained drop in life expectancy in the modern era, the researchers say, but this decline is not inevitable if Americans — particularly younger ones — trim their waistlines or if other improvements outweigh the impact of obesity. The new report in the March 17, 2005 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine appears little more than a year after the DHHS unveiled a new national education campaign and research strategy to combat obesity and excessive weight.

The new analysis, by S. Jay Olshansky, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Leonard Hayflick, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, Robert N. Butler, M.D., of the International Longevity Center in New York, and others suggests that the methods used to establish life expectancy projections, which have long been based on historic trends, need to be reassessed. This reevaluation is particularly important, they say, as obesity rates surge in today’s children and young adults.

“Forecasting life expectancy by extrapolating from the past is like forecasting the weather on the basis of its history,” Olshansky and his colleagues write. “Looking out the window, we see a threatening storm — obesity —that will, if unchecked, have a negative effect on life expectancy.”

Unlike historic life expectancy forecasts, which rely on past mortality trends, the Olshansky group bases their projection on an analysis of body mass indexes and other factors that could potentially affect the health and well-being of the current generation of children and young adults, some of whom began having weight problems very early in life. The authors say that unless steps are taken to curb excessive weight gain, younger Americans will likely face a greater risk of mortality throughout life than previous generations.

“This work paints a disturbing portrait of the potential effect that life styles of baby boomers and the next generation could have on life expectancy,” says Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., Associate Director of the NIA for Behavioral and Social Research. Indeed, Suzman notes, obesity may already have had an effect. The sharp increase of obesity among people now in their 60s, he suggests, may be one explanation why the gains in U.S. life expectancy at older ages have been less than those of other developed countries in recent years.

“But it is critical to note that the reduced life expectancy forecast by the study is not inevitable, and there is room for optimism,” Suzman says. “Government and private sector efforts are mobilizing against obesity, and increased education, improved medical treatments, and reduced smoking can tip the balance in favor of reduced mortality and continued improvements in life expectancy.”

For instance, smoking significantly reduces the life expectancy of the average smoker, Suzman says, so obesity is just one of many factors that will need to be accounted for, together or separately, in projecting how Americans will age. The NIA supports several projects on population demography that forecast life and health expectancy, research which is critically important to policy makers looking at the implications of an aging population.

According to the NEJM report, studies suggest that two-thirds of American adults are overweight (having a body mass index — BMI — of 25 or more) or obese (having a BMI of 30 or more). One study cited by the authors indicates that the prevalence of obesity in U.S. adults has increased about 50 percent per decade since 1980. Additional research has shown that people who are severely obese — with a BMI greater than 45 — live up to 20 years less than people who are not overweight. Some researchers have estimated that obesity causes about 300,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. In addition, obesity is fueling an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, which also reduces lifespan.

The overall reduction in life expectancy of one-third to three-fourths of a year attributed to obesity in this analysis exceeds the negative effect of all accidental deaths combined, and could deteriorate over time, the researchers said.

“These trends suggest that the relative influence of obesity on the life expectancy of future generations could be markedly worse than it is for current generations,” Olshansky and the authors conclude in their report. “In other words, the life-shortening effect of obesity could rise …to two to five years, or more, in the coming decades, as the obese who are now at younger ages carry their elevated risk of death into middle and older ages.”

The projected decline contrasts with estimates by other leading researchers, which predict a continuation of the historic trend of increasing life expectancy in America and Europe dating back to the 1850s, according to Dr. Suzman. In fact, he points out that the experience of other developed nations is instructive as a barometer of how much room might exist to increase U.S. life expectancy. More than 20 other developed nations, including France, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have a higher average life expectancy than the U.S. Women in Japan, for example, live about 5 years longer than women in the U.S. There is little evidence that life expectancy in these countries is approaching any kind of limit, Suzman says.
.

4.  DIABETES
.

A.  Diabetes costs USA more than wars, disasters, study says
23 January 2008, USA TODAY, By Liz Szabo
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-01-23-diabetes-cost_N.htm

About 17.5 million people in the USA have diabetes, and an additional 6 million have it but don’t know it. Costs associated with the disease: Medical costs: $116 billion, Lost productivity: $58 billion. (Source: American Diabetes Association)

Uncontrolled diabetes wreaks havoc on the body, often leading to kidney failure, blindness and death. A new study shows that the nation’s unchecked diabetes epidemic exacts a heavy financial toll as well: $174 billion a year. That’s about as much as the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism combined. It’s more than the $150 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The incidence of diabetes has ballooned — there are 1 million new cases a year — as more Americans become overweight or obese, according to the study, released Wednesday by the American Diabetes Association. The cost of diabetes — both in direct medical care and lost productivity — has swelled 32% since 2002, the report shows.

Diabetes killed more than 284,000 Americans last year, according to the diabetes association.
Diabetes costs the nation nearly as much as cancer, whose costs in 2006 totaled $206.3 billion, although cancer kills twice as many people, according to the American Cancer Society.

Even those without diabetes help pay the bill. The mounting costs affect everyone with insurance, through rising premiums and copays, says Paul Fronstin of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, who was not involved with the report. About half of diabetics have medical insurance through government programs such as Medicare, the report shows.

Providing routine care — such as doctor’s visits and medications — costs relatively little, according to the report. The real expenses come from uncontrolled diabetes, which can lead patients to require dialysis and kidney transplants, says Ann Albright, a diabetes expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and president of health care and education at the American Diabetes Association, which paid for the study.

About half of diabetes costs go to inpatient hospital care, the study shows. Because diabetes makes people so much sicker, it increases the time that people stay in the hospital for other problems by nearly 50%.
Albright expects the number of people diagnosed with diabetes to increase, given that many Americans are “pre-diabetic,” with problems handling insulin and sugar.

Diabetes “will ruin a generation of Americans,” says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit that represents large employers. Over the next few decades, she says, diabetes will handicap both state and local economies, as communities divert money from education and other important areas to care for patients. “It’s a sad story that should cause us to take action,” Albright says.

B.  Success and Opportunities for Population-based Prevention and Control: At A Glance 2010
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/ddt.htm

_1) What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which the body has a shortage of insulin, a decreased ability to use insulin, or both. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and be converted to energy. When diabetes is not controlled, glucose and fats remain in the blood and, over time, damage vital organs.
•  Type 1 diabetes usually is first diagnosed in children and young adults, although the disease can occur at any age. Type 1 may be autoimmune, genetic, or environmental and accounts for 5% of diabetes cases. There is no known way to prevent this type of diabetes.
•  Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity and physical inactivity, accounts for 90%–95% of diabetes cases and most often occurs in people older than 40. Type 2 is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity, race, and ethnicity. Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being diagnosed more frequently among American Indians, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asians/Pacific Islanders.
•  Prediabetes is a condition in which a person has blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. An estimated 57 million American adults had prediabetes in 2007. People with this condition have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

_2) Diabetes Is Common, Disabling, and Deadly
•  23.6 million people in the United States (7.8% of the total population) have diabetes. Of these, 5.7 million have undiagnosed diabetes.
•  In 2007, about 1.6 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years or older.
•  African American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely as white adults to have diabetes.
•  If current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans will develop diabetes sometime in their lifetime, and those with diabetes will lose, on average, 10–15 years of life.
•  Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, kidney failure, and nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations among adults.
•  Diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death on U.S. death certificates in 2006. Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people without diabetes of similar age.
•  In 1999–2000, 7% of U.S. adolescents aged 12–19 years had impaired fasting glucose (prediabetes), putting them at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

_3) Diabetes Is Preventable and Controllable
Recent studies show that lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes among people at high risk.
•  For people with prediabetes, lifestyle changes, including a 5%–7% weight loss and at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, can reduce the rate of onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%.

Disability and premature death are not inevitable consequences of diabetes. By working with their support network and health care providers, people with diabetes can prevent premature death and disability by controlling their blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids and by receiving other preventive care in a timely manner.
•  Blood glucose control reduces the risk for eye, kidney, and nerve diseases among people with diabetes by about 40%.
•  Blood pressure control reduces the risk for heart disease and stroke among people with diabetes by 33%–50%. It reduces the risk for eye, kidney, and nerve diseases by about 33%.
•  Detecting and treating diabetic eye disease with laser therapy can reduce the risk for loss of eyesight by 50%–60%. Comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45%–85%.

C.  Recognizing the signs of Diabetes
While diabetes was once recognized as an unfortunate disease that only affected a small number of people, today statistics indicate that more than 18 million people in the United States alone suffer from this disease. Perhaps even more startling is the fact that almost one-third of those individuals may remain undiagnosed, largely to the failure to recognize the most common warning signs related to this disease.

One of the reasons that diabetes symptoms can be difficult to recognize is the fact that they can appear either gradually over a long period of time or dramatically and suddenly. Some of the symptoms that may be noticed include fatigue, frequent urination and excessive thirst. In some cases, sudden weight loss, urinary tract infections and blurred vision may also be noticed.

Due to the fact that diabetes can lead to a number of serious health issues such as blindness, heart disease and nerve and kidney damage, it is extremely important that you be tested for diabetes if you suffer from symptoms associated with the disease. While these symptoms are commonly associated with diabetes, keep in mind that in some cases diabetes presents absolutely no signs or symptoms. Therefore, if you are over the age of 45 or fall into a high risk category, you should make a point to be tested for diabetes at least once every couple of years.
.

5.  EXERCISE-ENERGY BALANCE

.
A.   Exercise trends
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_trends

Worldwide, there has been a large shift towards less physically demanding work. This has been accompanied by increasing use of mechanized transportation, a greater prevalence of labor saving technology in the home, and less active recreational pursuits. At least 60% of the world’s population does not get sufficient exercise. This is true in almost all developed and developing countries, and among children.

These exercise trends are contributing to the rising rates of chronic diseases including: obesity, heart disease, heart disease, stroke and high cholestrol. Active transport such as walking and bicycling, etc. have been found to be inversely related to obesity in Europe, North America, and Australia. Thus exercise has been associated with a decrease in mortality.

One of the causes most prevalent in the developing world is urbanization. As more of the population moves to cities, population over-crowding, increased poverty, increased levels of crime, high-density traffic, low air quality and lack of parks, sidewalks and recreational sports facilities leads to a less active lifestyle.
Physical inactivity is increasing or high among many groups in the population including: young people, women, and the elderly.
A number of factors has been associated with physical inactivity at a population level including: female gender, older age, living with a partner, smoking, little schooling and poverty.

Studies in children and adults have found an association between the number of hours of television watched and the prevalence of obesity. A 2008 meta analysis found that 63 of 73 studies (86%) showed an increased rate of childhood obesity with increased media exposure, and rates increasing proportionally to time spent watching television.

Americans have become less physicallyh active overall between 1955 and 2005. While the rate of leisure-time physical activity has not changed significantly there has been a decrease in work-related activity, human powered transportation, activity in the home, and increasing sedentary activity. During 2000 and 2005 the number of adults who were never physically active increased from 9.4% to 10.3% while the number who were engaged in the highest level of physical activity decreased from 18.7% to 16.7%. Pertaining to leisure-time physical activity, people involved in no activity increased from 38.5% to 40.0% while those who spent most of their day sitting increased from 36.8% to 39.9%.

In 2000 the CDC estimated that more than 40% of the US population was sedentary, another 30% was active but not sufficiently and less than 30% had an adequate level of physical activity. There has been a trend toward decreased physical activity in part due to increasingly mechanized forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization. Obesity rates have increased in relation to expanding suburbs. This has been attributed to increased time spent commuting, leading to less exercise and less meal preparation at home. Driving one’s children to school has become increasingly popular. In the USA the proportion of children who walk or bike to school declined between 1969 (42%) and 2001 (16%) resulting in less exercise.

 B.    Warning: Lack of Exercise Is Detrimental To Your Health
By Jim O’Connor
http://ezinearticles.com/?Warning:-Lack-of-Exercise-Is-Detrimental-To-Your-Health&id=110610
Jim O’Connor, A Beverly Hills celebrity fitness consultant, has conducted thousands of personal fitness consultations with celebrities, business executives, and highly motivated individuals throughout Los …

You just put in a good 10 hour day in front of your computer screen, and the last thing you want to do is exercise. Let’s see, exercise, and improve your fitness level, or sit down with a glass of wine and watch your favorite evening television show. What would you do? Seventy percent of individuals know they should exercise, but choose the wine and the television program instead.

Do you know this simple daily decision can end up being detrimental to your health? According to the CDC, 54.1% of adults don’t do the minimum level of exercise or physical activity recommended for wellness. The slogan “use it or lose it” has never been more true.

The simple innocent choice of not exercising has shown, in studies, to promote 10 serious health conditions you don’t ever want to develop. The bottom line is physical inactivity has a lot of unhealthy implications even at our bodies cellular level. At the cellular level, inactivity decreases the ability to transfer oxygen from your blood stream to your cells, and also decreases the number of power activating mitochondria. However, the worst cost of not exercising or being physically active can result in the following 10 devastating conditions:
_1)   Cancer – Studies have shown that fitness enthusiastic men and women who are physically active have a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of colon cancer compared to individuals who are inactive.
_2)   Diabetes - Studies show lack of regular physical exercise increases insulin sensitivity. Diabetes is considered the “sedentary disease” which is striking people at an alarming rate. If it is not controlled, it can destroy the body’s organs.
_3)   Heart – Lack of consistent physical activity, over time, decreases the function of the heart muscle, affects the blood vessels, including the large aortic artery to the veins and small capillaries. According to many studies, scientists have good reason to believe that regular exercise protects the heart.
_4)   Stroke - Regular exercisers are 25% less likely to have a stroke than their sedentary counterparts. Being fit lowers blood pressure, raises HDL cholesterol, and reduces the risk of blood clots.
_5)  BrainPeople who are physically active, according to solid evidence, are at lower risk for cognitive decline and dementia.
_6)   Muscles – If you don’t exercise on a regular basis, you are at risk of losing some 6 percent of your muscles mass every decade of life from the age of 30 on. This also translates into a 10 – 15 percent loss of strength per decade. Once again, if you don’t use the muscle, you will lose the muscle quickly.
_7)   Osteoporosis – Fragile bones cause more than 1.5 million fractures each year in the U.S. Bone is like muscle, if you stress it, it responds. If you don’t, you gradually lose its strength, and increase your chances of breaking them. Regular weekly strength training can help prevent osteoporosis, and decrease your chances of breaking a bone.
_
8)  Mental Health – People who don’t exercise on a regular basis are more prone to develop depression. According to a recent study, people who were more active were nearly 20 percent less likely to be diagnosed with depression over the next five years than less active people. Fitness conscious individuals also generally display an improved self esteem, or self image.
_9)
   WeightIf you are inactive, year in and year out, you will eventually gain weight and lose fitness which increases the chance of a heart attacks, and diabetes.
_10)  Immune SystemModerate amounts of exercise reduces the risk of upper respiratory infection. Regular exercise may boost immune function.

Now I would like to ask that same question I asked above. What would you do? Wine and television, or physical activity? Now for the good news! In as little as 30 minutes of exercise or fitness work each day, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing any of these horrible conditions mentioned above. This is the best “medicine” any doctor can possibly prescribe!

C.  Aging and What To Do About It – The value of exercise
http://www.faqs.org/health-encyc/The-Lifetime-of-a-Human-Being/Aging-and-What-To-Do-About-It-The-value-of-exercise.html
As you grow older, exercise can help you look, feel, and work better. Various organs and systems of the body, particularly the digestive process, are stimulated through activity, and, as a result, work more effectively.
You can improve your posture through exercise that tones supporting muscles. This not only improves appearance, but can decrease the frequency of lower-back pain and disability.

Here are some other benefits of exercise:
•  it can increase your ability to relax and tolerate fatigue;
•  it improves muscle tone; reduces fat deposits;
•  increases working capacity of the lungs;
•  improves kidney and liver functions;
•  increases volume of blood, hemoglobin, and red blood cells, leading to improved utilization of oxygen and iron.

Also, physically active people are less likely to experience a heart attack or other forms of cardiovascular disease than sedentary people. Moreover, an active person who does suffer a coronary attack will probably have a less severe form. The Public Health Service studied 5,000 adults in Framingham, Mass., for more than a decade. When any member of the group suffered a heart attack, his physical activity was reviewed. It was found that more inactive people suffered more fatal heart attacks than active members.

_1) Walking for Exercise
Exercise need not be something you must do, but rather something you enjoy doing. One of the most practical and enjoyable exercises is walking. Charles Dickens said: “Walk and be happy, walk and be healthy. The best of all ways to lengthen our days is to walk, steadily and with a purpose. The wandering man knows of certain ancients, far gone in years, who have staved off infirmities and dissolution by earnest walking—hale fellows close upon eighty and ninety, but brisk as boys.”

The benefits of walking were revealed in a recent Health Insurance Plan study of 110,000 people in New York City. Those who had heart attacks were divided into two groups—walkers and non walkers. The first four weeks of illness were reviewed for both groups. At the end of the time 41 percent of the non walkers were dead, while only 23 percent of the walkers were. When all physical activity was considered, 57 percent of the inactive had died compared to only 16 percent of those who had some form of exercise.

Walking is as natural to the human body as breathing. It is a muscular symphony; all the foot, leg, and hip muscles and much of the back musculature are involved. The abdominal muscles tend to contract and support their share of the weight, and the diaphragm and rib muscles increase their action. There is automatic action of the arm and shoulder muscles; the shoulder and neck muscles get play as the head is held erect; the eye muscles are exercised as you look about you.

_2) Other Types of Exercise
Swimming and bicycling exercise most of the muscles, and gardening is highly recommended. The fresh air is beneficial, the bending, squatting, and countless other movements exercise most parts of the body.

Surprisingly, most games do not provide good exercise. According to a physical fitness research laboratory at the University of Illinois, the trouble with most games is that the action is intermittent—starting and stopping—a burst of energy and then a wait. The bowler swings a ball for two and one-half seconds and gets about one minute of actual muscular work per game.
Golf is a succession of pause, swing, walk—or, more often, a ride to the next pause, swing, and so on. Also, you spend a lot of time standing and waiting for the party ahead and for your partners.
Tennis gives one more exercise but it too involves a great deal of starting and stopping, as does handball.
No game has the essential, tension-releasing pattern of continuous, vigorous, rhythmic motion found in such activities as walking, running, or jogging.
For formal exercises, you could join a gym, but you might find your enthusiasm waning after a few weeks. You could also exercise at home; there are many excellent books on exercise that provide programs for you to follow at home on a daily basis.

[For readers of the 4dtraveler blog: I have been doing exercises 7 days a week for the last 4 years since my retirement. My early morning, before breakfast regime includes: A not too difficult exercise of 16 minutes Tai Chi, 14 minutes of walking and 11 minutes Yoga. That 14 minute walk amounts to 2,000 steps which is about 1 mile distance. During mid morning, I walk another 1,000 steps (1/2 mile) and take another short 1,000 step walk later in the day. These exercises are in addition to any normal activies about the house, an do not include any form of shopping, all of which are extra.]

.
6.     SAME DOLLARS, LESS FOOD  (food cost inflation)

.

A.  Objects in store are smaller than they appear
November 09, 2008, Los Angeles Times, staff writer Jerry Hirsch
<http://articles.latimes.com/2008/nov/09&gt;

It is hard to spot what happened this year in the peanut butter aisles of local supermarkets.

But a careful look at the jars of Skippy on the shelves may reveal a surprise. The prices are about the same, but the jars are getting smaller.

They don’t look different in size or shape. But recently, the jars developed a dimple in the bottom that slices the contents to 16.3 ounces from 18 ounces – about 10% less peanut butter.

The only way to know you are buying less is to look at the weight on the label and recognize it’s lighter than before Unilever, owner of the Skippy brand, switched out containers.

Across the supermarket, manufacturers are trimming packages, nipping a half-ounce off that bar of soap, narrowing the width of toilet paper and shrinking the size of ice cream containers.

Often the changes are so subtle that they create “the illusion that you are buying the same amount,” explained Frank Luby, a pricing consultant with Simon-Kucher & Partners of Cambridge, Mass.

To shoppers it may seem like getting less, but companies say cutting quantity is a common way to avoid raising prices.

It’s an age-old dilemma for manufacturers juggling prices, container sizes and profits — at the same time coping with rising prices for ingredients and greater competition on supermarket shelves.

At international food giant Unilever, “we have chosen to reduce package sizes as one of our responses” to rising commodity and business expenses, said spokesman Dean Mastrojohn. He said the new smaller sizes are clearly marked on labels.

Shoppers understand the manufacturers’ dilemma, but also say they feel deceived at times.

Kathy Yukl of La Crescenta says she’s tired of going to the store and finding dimples in the bottoms of jars — she buys Skippy only when she has a coupon. She is annoyed that containers that once held half a gallon of ice cream, or 64 ounces, now have only 48 ounces. And she’s frustrated that cereal boxes are shrinking. “What these companies don’t realize is that their chronically deceptive marketing ploys tell us loud and clear that we absolutely cannot trust them for anything,” Yukl said.

Other shoppers agree. “I think the whole thing is deceitful, and yes, it does irritate me, and I do feel they are tricking the consumer,” said Bill Stone of Long Beach. “This practice, however, has been going on for many years and apparently the manufacturers feel it is to their advantage to try to slip these changes by the customer rather than announcing it.”

B.   Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags
March 28, 2011, New York Times, By Stephanie Clifford and Catherine Rampell.
<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/business/29shrink.html&gt;

Chips are disappearing from bags, candy from boxes and vegetables from cans.
As an expected increase in the cost of raw materials looms for late summer, consumers are beginning to encounter shrinking food packages.

With unemployment still high, companies in recent months have tried to camouflage price increases by selling their products in tiny and tinier packages. So far, the changes are most visible at the grocery store, where shoppers are paying the same amount, but getting less.

For Lisa Stauber, stretching her budget to feed her nine children in Houston often requires careful monitoring at the store. Recently, when she cooked her usual three boxes of pasta for a big family dinner, she was surprised by a smaller yield, and she began to suspect something was up.

Whole wheat pasta had gone from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces,” she said. “I bought three boxes and it wasn’t enough — that was a little embarrassing. I bought the same amount I always buy, I just didn’t realize it, because who reads the sizes all the time?”

Ms. Stauber, 33, said she began inspecting her other purchases, aisle by aisle. Many canned vegetables dropped to 13 or 14 ounces from 16; boxes of baby wipes went to 72 from 80; and sugar was stacked in 4-pound, not 5-pound, bags, she said.

Five or so years ago, Ms. Stauber bought 16-ounce cans of corn. Then they were 15.5 ounces, then 14.5 ounces, and the size is still dropping. “The first time I’ve ever seen an 11-ounce can of corn at the store was about three weeks ago, and I was just floored,” she said. “It’s sneaky, because they figure people won’t know.”

In every economic downturn in the last few decades, companies have reduced the size of some products, disguising price increases and avoiding comparisons on same-size packages, before and after an increase. Each time, the marketing campaigns are coy; this time, the smaller versions are “greener” (packages good for the environment) or more “portable” (little carry bags for the takeout lifestyle) or “healthier” (fewer calories).

Where companies cannot change sizes — as in clothing or appliances — they have warned that prices will be going up, as the costs of cotton, energy, grain and other raw materials are rising.

“Consumers are generally more sensitive to changes in prices than to changes in quantity,” John T. Gourville, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, said. “And companies try to do it in such a way that you don’t notice, maybe keeping the height and width the same, but changing the depth so the silhouette of the package on the shelf looks the same. Or sometimes they add more air to the chips bag or a scoop in the bottom of the peanut butter jar so it looks the same size.”

Thomas J. Alexander, a finance professor at Northwood University, said that businesses had little choice these days when faced with increases in the costs of their raw goods. “Companies only have pricing power when wages are also increasing, and we’re not seeing that right now because of the high unemployment,” he said.

Most companies reduce products quietly, hoping consumers are not reading labels too closely.

But the downsizing keeps occurring. A can of Chicken of the Sea albacore tuna is now packed at 5 ounces, instead of the 6-ounce version still on some shelves, and in some cases, the 5-ounce can costs more than the larger one. Bags of Doritos, Tostitos and Fritos now hold 20 percent fewer chips than in 2009, though a spokesman said those extra chips were just a “limited time” offer.

Trying to keep customers from feeling cheated, some companies are introducing new containers that, they say, have terrific advantages — and just happen to contain less product.

Kraft is introducing “Fresh Stacks” packages for its Nabisco Premium saltines and Honey Maid graham crackers. Each has about 15 percent fewer crackers than the standard boxes, but the price has not changed. Kraft says that because the Fresh Stacks include more sleeves of crackers, they are more portable and “the packaging format offers the benefit of added freshness,” said Basil T. Maglaris, a Kraft spokesman, in an e-mail.

And Procter & Gamble is expanding its “Future Friendly” products, which it promotes as using at least 15 percent less energy, water or packaging than the standard ones.

“They are more environmentally friendly, that’s true — but they’re also smaller,” said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner for retail systems research at Focus.com, an online specialist network. “They announce it as great new packaging, and in fact what it is is smaller packaging, smaller amounts of the product,” she said.


[1] Adequate exercise: a) 30 minutes moderately intensive exercise daily,  b) 30-45 min/day 5 days a week, c) 150+ minutes aerobic (walking, cycling) exercise /week

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Competition: Part 3 of 3 (Illegal Immigration & Free Trade)

(Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Competition: Part 3 of 3)

Topics:
Part I
1.  College and future income

2.  Consumer debt

Part II
3.  Wage slaves

Part III
4.  Illegal (Mexican) immigration
5.  Free trade & globalization
.

4 . Illegal (Mexican) immigration

A.     Illegal Immigration
1 Sep 2010, SHTF Plan.com
“…With a 10% unemployment rate, nationally, estimated by the government; it means there are more than 35 million Americans out of work. At more than 16% unemployed based upon Shadow Stats analysis, it means that more than 50 million Americans are out of work, while presumably, 30 million Illegal Latinos are still working. If these 30 million Illegal’s are not working in American jobs, what the hell are they doing here to survive? And if they are working in American jobs, why is this acceptable to our federal government?

Many false arguments arise with respect to the employment picture. The biggest fallacy is that these Latino foreign nationals are taking jobs Americans don’t want. Does any American citizen really believe that there are 30 million Latino “lettuce pickers” in the United States?

 

A.  “Legal vs Illegal
(–from the web: anonymous)
You have two families: “Joe Legal” and “Jose Illegal”. Both families have two parents, two children, and live in California . Joe Legal works in construction, has a Social Security Number and makes $25.00 per hour with taxes deducted. Jose Illegal also works in construction, has NO Social Security Number, and gets paid $15.00 cash “under the table”.

Ready? Now pay attention . . .

Joe Legal: $25.00 per hour x 40 hours = $1000.00 per week, or $52,000.00 per year. Now take 30% away for state and federal tax; Joe Legal now has $31,231.00.
Jose Illegal: $15.00 per hour x 40 hours = $600.00 per week, or $31,200.00 per year. Jose Illegal pays no taxes. Jose Illegal now has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays medical and dental insurance with limited coverage for his family at $600.00 per month, or $7,200.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $24,031.00.
Jose Illegal has full medical and dental coverage through the state and local clinics at a cost of $0.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal makes too much money and is not eligible for food stamps or welfare. Joe Legal pays $500.00 per month for food, or $6,000.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $18,031.00.
Jose Illegal has no documented income and is eligible for food stamps and welfare. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays rent of $1,200.00 per month, or $14,400.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $9,631.00.
Jose Illegal receives a $500.00 per month federal rent subsidy. Jose Illegal pays out that $500.00 per month, or $6,000.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $ 31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays $200.00 per month, or $2,400.00 for insurance. Joe Legal now has $7,231.0
Jose Illegal says, “We don’t need no stinkin’ insurance!” and he still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal has to make his $7,231.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, etc . . .
Jose Illegal has to make his $31,200.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, and what he sends out of the country every month.

Joe Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work.
Jose Illegal has nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family.

Joe Legal’s and Jose Illegal’s children both attend the same school.
Joe Legal pays for his children’s lunches while Jose Illegal’s children get a government sponsored lunch.

Jose Illegal’s children have an after school ESL program.
Joe Legal’s children go home.

Joe Legal and Jose Illegal both enjoy the same police and fire services, but Joe paid for them and Jose did not pay.”
..

B.  Income Gap Growing in Texas, Group Says. Illegal Aliens and a Spineless Government the Cause, I Say!
Friday, May 16, 2008
<http://theunloadingzone.blogspot.com/2008/04/income-gap-growing-in-texas-group-says.html&gt;

The Dallas Morning News recently did an article on how the gap between Rich and Poor in Texas is growing. REALLY? You’re just noticing that now?
In Texas the gap between rich and poor is growing. Not only is it true, but they define “rich” as $124K per year and poor at $16K per year. Texas rich is upper middle class up north….barely. And Texas poor, well you tell me how anyone can support a family on $16K a year.

The article ends: “You can either live in Texas, where you may be poor but you have lots of job opportunities, or you can do what these people propose and turn us into Michigan or Illinois, which are hemorrhaging jobs,” he said. “There, if you’re poor, you stay poor.” .

That’s because they’re not over-run with millions of illegal aliens working below the minimum wage for cash. That’s because employers get away with hiring them every day.

It’s because Governor Perry and TxDot are turning every road and highway in what was middle class Texas into “lucrative” toll roads. And that’s their plan for the future…..toll, toll, toll. Why?
We have Fund 6 where all the gas tax money is SUPPOSED to be going, but instead is being siphoned off for other “projects”. Gas prices are 2 weeks away from $4/gallon for regular. In Collin County, STATE HIGHWAY 121 (not supposed to be a toll road), when complete, will cost the average user $1800 a year for their work commute.

The middle class is systematically being wiped out. Sales taxes are at 8.25% and, unlike most States, food and clothes are not exempt. What was the middle class has no discretionary income; no dinners out; no movies. The solution? BRING IN MORE Illegal Aliens! But at least we can brag we don’t have a State Income Tax.

It’s because Texas is re-fighting the Mexican-American War alone and losing. Texas is losing its identity, it’s heritage, it’s culture, and it’s standard of living. Crime rates are up, taxes are up paying to educate, feed, house, and provide free health care for people not legally allowed in this country in the first place.

The Feds don’t care. The Dept. of Homeland Security is such a tangled bureaucratic mess that even divisions like ICE don’t know what they’re responsible for. And the politicians: all they know is Hispanics will be the majority racial group in this country by 2060 and they want those votes at any cost.

They talk about “amnesty”. Ronald Reagan, a giant of a man, badly miscalculated when he gave a million Hispanics amnesty in 1986. I spoke to the Regional Director of ICE recently: they are STILL trying to process those illegals from 22 years ago!
How are we going to give amnesty to 12-18 million more illegals? That will take centuries!

And Texas is losing because it’s culture is passive-aggressive. With a very few exceptions, people and towns take action. Most just smile and say how wonderful diversity is in public, and then go home and rant and rave. So much for the myth of the “plain-spoken Texan”.
Meanwhile, half the jobs advertised require bi-lingual language skills, there are Spanish-Only billboards and signs popping up every day, and the people do nothing.…while the small to medium sized business community cashes in.

And now even the big box retailers are joining in. Walmart has more Spanish signage than English in many of their stores. And you can walk the entire length of the store and never hear a word spoken in English. So much for the melting pot theory.  What a Great TV Ad for Texas this article would make! I’m sure all the local Texas Chambers of Commerce loved it too.
.

5.  Free Trade

A.  How “Free Trade” Ruined America
28 February 2011, The Drifting Ship: The U.S. and Global Economy
http://fsuchick86.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-free-trade-ruined-america.html

The one question that is running rampant in class is, “Where are the jobs, professor?”
How will America get jobs back in America? How do we jump start the American economy without deficit spending? It appears that all economists — at least the ones teaching — haven’t an answer. It’s all about finding the right “incentives” and “business environment” and BAM… back to the booming 1980s. But perhaps it’s due to the entire economics profession selling out to Wall Street interests or corrupted by age-old economic doctrinaires that DO NOT work in the “real world.”

I, however, offer a different take on why there are no jobs in America and it has to do with “free trade” and the practice that Wal-Mart aka “the Temple of More” is notorious for… outsourcing.

[Image above: Our exports]

Today, economists are blind to the loss of American industries and occupations because they believe these results reflect the beneficial workings of “free trade.” Whatever is being lost, they think, is being replaced by something as good or better. This thinking is rooted in the doctrine of comparative advantage put forth by David Richardio in 1817. In sum, it states that, even if a country is a high-cost producer of most things, it can still enjoy an advantage, since it will produce some goods at lower relative cost than its trading partners.

Today’s economists leading the pack and teaching in academia can’t identify what the new industries and occupations might be that will replace those that are lost (manufacturing), but they’re certain that those jobs and sectors are out there somewhere. We just have to look a little bit harder. What does not occur to them is that the same incentive that causes the loss of one tradable good or service — cheap, skilled foreign labor — applies to all tradable goods and services. But there is no reason that the “replacement” industry or job, if it exists, won’t follow its predecessor offshore.

For comparative advantage to work, a country’s labor, capital, and technology must NOT move offshore. This international immobility is necessary to prevent a business from seeking an absolute advantage by going abroad. The internal cost ratios that determine comparative advantage reflect the quantity and quality of the country’s technology and capital. If these factors move abroad to where cheap labor makes them more productive, absolute advantage takes over from comparative advantage.

This is what is wrong with today’s debate about outsourcing and offshore production. It’s not really about trade, but about labor arbitrage. Companies producing for U.S. markets are substituting cheap labor for expensive U.S. labor. The U.S. loses jobs and also the capital and technology that move offshore to employ the cheaper foreign labor. Many economists argue that this loss of capital does not result in unemployment but rather a reduction in wages. The remaining capital is spread more thinly among workers, while the foreign workers whose country gains the money become more productive and are better paid.

Economists like to call this wrenching adjustment short-run “wage adjustments.” But when the loss of jobs leaves people with less income but the same mortgages and debts, upward mobility collapses. Income distribution becomes more polarized to the upper tiers of society, the tax base is lost, and the ability to maintain infrastructure, pension funds, and public commitments is reduced. Nor is this adjustment just short-run. The huge excess supplies of labor in India and China mean that American wages will fall a lot faster than Asian wages will rise for a long time. That is economic reality.

Until recently, advanced economies retained their capital, labor, and technology. Foreign investment occurred, but it worked differently from outsourcing. Foreign investment was confined mainly to the world’s advanced economies. Its purpose was to avoid shipping costs, tariffs, and quotas, and thus sell more cheaply in the foreign market. The purpose of foreign investment was not offshore production with cheap foreign labor for the home market.

When David Ricardo developed the doctrine of comparative advantage in 1817, climate and geography were important variables in the economy. The assumption that factors of production were immobile internationally was realistic. Since there were inherent differences in climate and geography, the assumption that different countries would have different relative costs of producing tradable goods was also realistic.

Today, acquired knowledge is the basis for most tradable goods and services, making the Ricardian assumptions unrealistic. Indeed, it is not clear where there is a basis for comparative advantage when production rests on acquired knowledge. Modern production functions operate the same way regardless of their locations. There is no necessary reason for the relative costs of producing manufactured goods to vary from one country to another. Yet without different internal cost ratios, there is no basis for comparative advantage.

Outsourcing is driven by absolute advantage. Asia has an absolute advantage because of its vast excess supply of skilled and educated labor. With American capital, technology, and business know-how, this labor can be just as productive as American labor, but workers can be hired for much less money. Thus, the capitalist incentive to seek the lowest cost and most profit will seek to substitute cheap labor for expensive labor. India and China are gaining, and America is losing!
Until outsourcing is reversed one should not expect jobs to return to America any time soon. That is just something I like to call the harsh economic reality of 2011!

B.  Cost of US ‘free’ trade: collapse of two centuries of broadly shared prosperity
April 1, 2011, The Christian Science Monitor, By Ian Fletcher
http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/0401/Cost-of-US-free-trade-collapse-of-two-centuries-of-broadly-shared-prosperity

It’s time to face a brutal truth about the American economy: Even if rising gas and food prices don’thasten a double dip recession, our 200-year tradition of broadly shared prosperity is over. That’s because the great American job machine has been destroyed by a reckless free-trade policy.

Since the end of the cold war, and accelerating after NAFTA in 1994, Washington has pursued a globalized economy made possible by ever-expanding “free” trade agreements. This policy is a major factor in America’s increasing inequality, our rising indebtedness, community abandonment, and the weakening of the industrial sinews of our national security.
.

[Photo above: Our imports]

About to crumble
The good news is that this global order of free trade is about to crumble – within the next 10 years at most. The unsustainable American trade deficit alone makes this a near-certainty.
For now, though, America’s economy continues to struggle because our trade deficit – fluctuating around $500 billion a year for a decade now – acts as a giant “reverse stimulus.” It causes a huge slice of domestic demand to flow not into domestic jobs but foreign wages.

Our trade deficit helps Guangdong, Seoul, Yokohama, even Munich – but not Gary, Indiana, Fontana, California, and the other badlands of America’s industrial decline. Washington’s response? Yet more stimulus, leading to an ever-increasing overhang of debt, both foreign and domestic, the cost of whose servicing then exerts its own drag on recovery.

Despite the 216,000 jobs added last month, the American economy has, in fact, entirely lost the ability to create jobs in tradable sectors. This cheery fact comes straight from the Commerce Department. All our net new jobs are in non-tradable services: a few heart surgeons and a legion of busboys and security guards, most of them without health insurance or retirement benefits.

These are dead-end jobs, and our economy as a whole is being similarly squeezed into dead-end industries. The green jobs of the future? Gone to places like China, where governments bid sweeter subsidies than Massachusetts can afford. Nanotechnology? Perhaps the first major technology in a century where America is not the leading innovator. Foreign subsidies are illegal under WTO rules, but no matter: Who’s going to enforce them when corporate America is happily lapping at their very trough?

Part of the problem is that today’s free-trade order is in reality a curious mixture of genuinely free trade practiced by the United States and a few others with the technocratic mercantilism of surging East Asia and Germanic-Scandinavian Europe. It wasn’t always like this.

A history of protection
From 1790 to 1945, America grew and prospered in a largely protected economic environment. Our trade then was not “free.” But after World War II, we wandered away from Alexander Hamilton’s vision of a relatively self-contained American economy in order to win the cold war. We threw our markets open to the world as a bribe not to go communist. If we fail to return to a policy of strategic, not unconditional, economic openness, we may lose the next cold war – to a Confucian authoritarianism no less opposed to the idea of a free society than Marxism, and considerably more efficient.

There is an appropriate policy response. For starters, the US should apply compensatory tariffs against imports subsidized by currency manipulation, an idea that originated with Kevin Kearns of the US Business and Industry Council and was recently passed by the House of Representatives. Also essential is a border tax to counter foreign export rebates implemented by means of foreign value-added taxes.

The fundamental reality of free trade is that it relieves corporate America from any substantial tie to the economic well-being of ordinary Americans. If corporate America can produce its products anywhere, and sell them anywhere, then it has no incentive to care about the capacity of Americans to produce or consume. Conversely, if it is tied to making a profit by selling goods made by Americans to Americans, then it has a natural incentive to care about American productivity and consumption.

Productivity and consumption are prosperity. [Think about that. The US has lost productive capacity,  there are less production jobs, unemployment has increased considerably and become a structural problem (very long term), the US dollar is declining in value–prosperity is slowly evaporating, like soil moisture before an expanding drought . Mr Larry]

C.  Globalization and American Wages: Today and Tomorrow
October 10, 2007, EPI Briefing Paper #196 Globalization and American Wages
Today and Tomorrow,  by L. Josh Bivens
<http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/bp196/&gt;

The continuing integration of the rich United States with a far poorer global economy has provoked much anxiety among American workers. Because it is well-known that basic economic theory predicts that global integration leads to gains for all nations, this anxiety is often treated as a political puzzle. A once again fashionable explanation for this puzzle is that globalization’s benefits are huge but diffuse (primarily, lower prices for imported goods), while its costs are small but concentrated (workers displaced by imports); hence, the gains are hard to see, but the losses are all too visible.1

This Briefing Paper reexamines what conventional economics actually predicts about the effects of integrating the rich United States and poor global economies. Contrary to popular rhetoric, there is no puzzle to be explained: conventional economic theory argues that American workers will indeed be harmed by this integration—and their anxiety is well-founded.

The paper also provides rough empirical estimates of integration’s effect on American wages and inequality. Lastly, it uses some prominent forecasts about the future potential reach of service-sector offshoring to make a very rough guess as to the future wage implications of these forecasts.

The key findings indicate:
•  In 2006, the impact of trade flows increased the inequality of earnings by roughly 7%, with the resulting loss to a representative household (two earners making the median wage and working the average amount of hours each year) reaching more than $2,000. This amount rivals the entire annual federal income tax bill paid by this household.
•  Over the next 10-20 years, if some prominent forecasts of the reach of service-sector offshoring hold true, and, if current patterns of trade roughly characterize this offshoring, then globalization could essentially erase all wage gains made since 1979 by workers without a four-year college degree. [A couple decades ago, wives went to work to supplement the erosion of a one income family, that 2nd income is now rapidly eroding; over the next decade or so, lower class  and less fortunate children may again need to return to work ‘to help make ends meet’. Mr Larry]

[Before 1938 (when the US Child Labor Laws were enacted), a great many American children worked to help support their families. More recently, because of the loss of substantial numbers of good paying US production jobs, increasing energy prices as we decline from Peak Oil, the US household donsumer debt structure, and erosion of income from 2 income families–we may again see pictures comparable to the one above. When Amazon and Apple market shares tank and Walmart scales back it inventory and floor space, look for a line of ‘Made in USA’, young teens ‘rough and ready work dungarees’ at your favorite clothing retailler.]

Globalization’s real costs: not just unemployment or adjustment
Some readers may think these results are obvious. Nobody, for example, denies that, say, U.S. steel workers displaced by import competition face hardship from trade. These costs, however, are often thought to be small and manageable with temporary government assistance.

This is, however, a radical understating of globalization’s costs. Note that the above example did not take into account the adjustment cost of workers’ unemployment spell between jobs. These adjustment costs are, of course, real and should be of concern to policy makers, but they are not the first-order costs of globalization to American workers.

Rather, the losses identified above are permanent wage-loss suffered by labor in this simple economy. Empirical studies in the trade and wages debate have generally used production and non-supervisory labor as a proxy for labor in the United States, and non-production and supervisory labor as a proxy for professionals. Occasionally, workers with a 4-year college degree stand in for professionals, with the rest of the workforce standing in for labor.

Production workers constitute roughly 75% of the entire U.S. workforce, and workers without a four-year college degree constitute roughly 70% of this workforce. Hence, while gross gains may exceed gross losses in the U.S. as global integration proceeds, it is not necessarily the case that winners outnumber losers. Global integration, in short, has the potential to inflict permanent harm to most American workers, and the scale of this harm is much larger than commonly realized.

[Sooner, or later, we’ll return to the time honored, ‘old fashion way’ of competing – by production, work, scrimping to save, investing wisely and personal responisbility…Mr. Larry]

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Competition: Part 2 of 3 (Wage Slaves)

(Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Competition: Part 2 of 3)

Topics:
Part I
1.  College and future income
2.  Consumer debt

Part II
3.  Wage slaves

Part III
4.  Illegal (Mexican/Central American) immigration
5.  Free trade & globalization
.

3.  Wage Slaves

A.      What is a wage slave?
<http://www.whywork.org/about/faq/wageslave.html&gt;

So what exactly is a wage slave? It’s doubtful that you’d be exploring this web site if you didn’t have some idea at least, but for the sake of ease, we’ll clarify further.
Here are some brief and incomplete definitions from CLAWS members:
•  “Wage slavery is the state where you are unable to perceive choices and create courses of action different from the grind of the job.”
•  “Wage slave: A wage earner whose livelihood is completely dependent on the wages earned.”

The point here, of course, is that we don’t have a single agreed-upon definition of wage slavery. Many of us prefer to focus on wage slavery as a state of mind, while others prefer to focus on the external aspects of wage slavery such as the wage economy. But overall, we seem to sense something rotten at the core of what we’ve been taught about “making a living”, and that’s the place to begin our questioning.

Have you ever noticed how many of us seem to live “lives of quiet desperation”, as Henry David Thoreau puts it? We feel trapped by forces beyond our control, trapped in a mindless job, for the sake of money, status or recognition. We complain that we never seem to have the time for what’s really important to us, because our jobs take so much energy and focus that we hardly have anything left over. We plod along day to day; sometimes we even dread getting out of bed in the morning.

We see the futility of the standard, socially approved path in America. It goes something like this: Go to school, get good grades, so you can get a “good” job, make lots of money, get a mortgage and a car and a spouse, keep up with the Joneses, and be “successful”. We know it’s not the path for us; we want to define success for ourselves. But we don’t know how to forge a new path for ourselves, because, well, what would we do for money if we quit? How would we support ourselves? Sometimes there’s a glazed look in our eyes; it’s as if some part of us has died. We are just doing time, working hard and hoping for the next promotion, waiting for the day when we can throw off our shackles, quit our dull jobs, and finally live life. Everything gets put on hold until we have more time, or more money. Meanwhile, life is passing us by.

Perhaps you are one of these people. If so, CLAWS (Creating Livable Alternatives to Wage Slavery) was created for your benefit. We have news for you: You do not have to live your life that way. CLAWS is here to inspire you to greater fulfillment, and to help you figure out how to get out of the endless cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and feeling chained to a job you don’t care about.

We have other news, too: It won’t necessarily be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. You have a choice, but you may have to re-examine your way of thinking very thoroughly. The pull of the socially accepted way of doing things is amazingly strong, and trips up the best of us despite our good intentions. It takes a certain kind of independent thinker to be “job-free”. We use that term rather than “unemployed”, in an effort to convey to people that we’re proud, not ashamed, of not having regular jobs. We also make an important distinction between jobs and work. All of us do some kind of work, though not necessarily for monetary compensation.

Another thing you’ll need if you decide to rethink your beliefs about jobs and money is the willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. It will take perseverance, and a commitment to throw out the limiting beliefs you may have unwittingly adopted. This is not the path for everyone. If your priority is comfort or social approval, or if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t rock the boat, CLAWS probably won’t meet your needs.

If you embark on this path, it’s important to know what it will ask of you. It may require you to disassemble, dissect, and tear apart your old beliefs, let go of some mighty persistent and tempting illusions, and build a new foundation for your thinking, sometimes from scratch. Are you prepared to do this? If so, you’re in the right place.

Even if you have seen through the false sense of “security” a normal job offers you, and already questioned that approach to life, you may not really believe you can do it. You may still have questions about how to bridge the gap from the old way of life to a new one that you envision. That’s where we can help, dear reader. CLAWS would like to see you devote yourself to the life you’ve dreamed of, the life your heart desires. We don’t want to see you waste your precious days any longer. Life is short, and the time to pursue your dreams is NOW.

In the words of Norman Cousins:
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
“The debt and work cycle is an ingenious tool of subjugation. Make people think they need all these things, then they must have a job, and they give up control of their lives. It’s as simple as that. We live in one of the most free countries in the world, but we fix it so we are not free at all

Larry Roth
“Capitalism only supports certain kinds of groups, the nuclear family for example, or ‘the people I know at my job’, because such groups are already self-alienated & hooked into the Work/Consume/Die structure.”

Hakim Bey
“Supposing we suddenly imagine a world in which nearly everybody is doing what they want. Then we don’t need to be paid in order to work and the whole issue of how money circulates, how we get things done, suddenly alters.”

Robert Theobald
When survival or mere subsistence is at stake, a society can focus only on the overwhelming needs of the moment, and questions of meaningful work and leisure are considered purely academic. But we believe that the world has enough wealth to move all of humanity above survival and subsistence.”
.
.
B.  Modern Day Slavery, or Debt Slavery
Saturday, January 3, 2009, by Patent Attorney Robert Platt Bell
http://livingstingy.blogspot.com/2009/01/modern-day-slavery-or-debt-slavery.html

When I discuss Modern Day Slavery, or Debt Slavery, some people freak out, or even say such talk is racist, or some such nonsense. In reality, Slavery has existed for millennia. In the old days of Leviticus and such, slaves were not necessarily Black, but merely folks, who, for one reason or another, found themselves indentured. Typically, invading armies would enslave foes, usually people they deemed to be of lesser intelligence and value.

It was only until the 18th Century that Slavery became associated as a Black-only thing. But the roots remained the same – a view by the slave-masters that they were superior to the enslaved. And even then, the enslavement of Africans was a follow-on to the practice of indentured servitude, which was promulgated in the New World. Once the settlers in the New World ran out of indentured servants, taking Africans as slaves seemed like a natural next step. Debt-slavery conditioned people to accept actual slavery – which is troubling, given the conditions in the world today.

Even today, slavery exists in the world, albeit in a much smaller scale. Oppressed people are coerced into slave-like conditions. The traffic in human misery continues, as women are forced into prostitution, or the poor are kept as virtual hostages as housekeepers and servants in some countries – sometimes even in the US!

But that is not what I am talking about here. While those types of modern-day slavery exist and are deplorable, they are not as common as what might be called Debt Slavery – the defacto condition of servitude that many in this country (and others) find themselves in as the result of economic conditions and consumer debt. While Debt Slavery is certainly not on the level of the traffic in human flesh, it can be debilitating and devastating to its victims. And since it is far, far more widespread, one could argue that Debt Slavery is a greater harm overall.

The conundrum of Debt Slavery is that most victims willing fall into it, through their own actions and by yielding to easily-offered temptation. And like traditional slavery, it disproportionally affects minorities, the poor, and the less educated. However, even white, middle-class folks can end up selling their souls to “the man”.

What is Debt Slavery?
In England in the 1700’s, one could literally fall into a real form of Debt Slavery. If one failed to pay the bills and went bankrupt, not only would you lose all your worldly possessions, one could be forced into the workhouse or jail (debtor’s prison) until the debt was considered “paid” or a prison sentence served. Like in antebellum slavery, children were often separated from their parents (as in Dickens’ Oliver Twist) and literally sold.

Reforms brought about in part by stories like Dickens’ have made bankruptcy less harsh. We no longer throw debtors into prison or take them to the workhouse. However, even a lavish prison is still a prison, and many folks in modern America find themselves in perpetual debt. If real slavery were legalized tomorrow, within a few years, a staggering proportion of Americans would end up as slaves, all because of the inability to control spending. People would literally sell themselves into bondage, all for a wall-screen TeeVee.

Debt Slavery might be defined as a condition of perpetual debt, which in turn forces a person to perpetually work in order to pay off this perpetual debt. It is a condition in which a large percentage of a person’s labor (one third or more) is devoted to servicing debt – most of which is payment of interest on debt. A person in Debt Slavery never gets ahead, since as soon as one debt is paid off, another is incurred. A person in Debt Slavery never owns anything, they only owe.

And while reforms since Dickens’ time have made the poorhouse and the debtor’s prison things of the past, recent “reforms” to bankruptcy laws have made it nearly impossible to get out from some debts, particularly student loan debts. The old days, where debts were “wiped clean” are largely past. And as a result, we have created a nation of perpetual debtors, who are forever trying to “work out” their past debts, never to get ahead.

How Do People Become Debt Slaves?
One of the most puzzling thing about Debt Slavery is that most, if not all, people who fall victim to this condition willingly sign up for it. In exchange for shiny consumer goods (cars, boats, televisions, clothes, etc.) they sign their lives away, so that they can have it all “now” rather than later. Often this means paying two, three, or four times as much for an article than its actual retail price.

So, for example, a person buys a brand new car, signing up for three or four years of car payments. With interest, they easily pay 1-1/2 times the retail price of the car. Compared to the same car purchased used, they pay double the value of the car. Throw in the added cost of collision insurance over the life of the loan, and (for young people in particular) they can end up paying four or five times the value of the car.

They signed up for this to satisfy the need of the ego to have something new and shiny – and because of weakness – the inability to say “no” to a persuasive salesman. It also is a result of ignorance, or lack of experience or training. Car salesmen and dealers are not going to point out the economic folly of such a transaction. And yet the victim sees all his peers doing the same thing, so he thinks, “This must be an OK deal, right?” Wrong, of course.

Once the process starts, it worsens. Paying too much for one item, like a car, leaves the victim with less money to spend on other essentials, such as car maintenance. When the car is finally “paid for” (or even before) it is in such bad shape that the victim goes back to the dealer to “trade in” – often on onerous terms. Since the car may be worth less than the balance of the loan, sometimes the “negative equity” is folded into a new loan. As the creditworthiness of a Debt Slave is always suspect, and the balance on the loan exceeds the value of the new car, the terms of the loan (interest rate) are staggering.

But the debt slave, seeing only a monthly payment and a shiny new car, signs the papers and kids themselves they are “ahead” of their neighbor who owns and older, paid-for car.
The car scenario is only one major example, and an example of how debt can snowball out of control. Granted, most people don’t end up being scammed as badly as in my example above. But that example is based on the real-world experiences of a friend of mine, so I can say that it does happen.

How Do People Remain Debt Slaves?
Once people get into Debt Slavery, it is very, very difficult to get out. Institutions cater to the Debt Slave and continually entice them to staying in its grasp. Once a credit rating is shot, only the worst sort of financing is available to the Debt Slave – interest rates of 20-30% or more.

Catering to the “I have to have it NOW” mentality, enterprises such as Rent-To-Own furniture and appliances sell consumer goods to the Debt Slave for 2-3 times their real market value. A recent trend and extension of this concept is the Rent-To-Own Rims (car wheels) that enslave their victims in exchange for what is literally bright shiny and cheaply made trinkets. The Manhattan Indians were tricked in a similar manner, swapping the Island of Manhattan for $24 worth of beads and trinkets. In the cities today, young men do the same thing for cheap Korean-made “bling” rims.

Of course, once the process starts, the Debt Slave is short of money. Financing companies fill in the gap by providing payday loans, often at interest rates of 300% or more. Each payday loan is folded over into another loan, and never paid off. Tom Wolfe wrote about this practice back in the 1930’s in Look Homeward Angel, in which an unscrupulous local lawyer would loan $20 to the poor, having them pay it back in $1 weekly installments perpetually – to cover only the interest. Once trapped like this, the victims never paid the loan back. In over 70 years, not much has changed.

Pawn Shops, Car Title Loan shops, and other enterprises separate the Debt Slave from the meager consumer goods that they have managed to pay off. For pennies on the dollar, they sell off what little they have in exchange for getting money NOW.
Even if the Debt Slave manages to get ahead somewhat in payments, or gets a raise or promotion, they often fall back into slavery by buying yet another new car or purchase.

Credit Cards merit special mention. Credit Card companies have been very aggressive in recruiting new customers, oftentimes customers they know cannot pay off large debts. They offer large credit lines, knowing that the victims will indulge themselves with purchases of food, clothing, and other consumer items. Once they reach their limit, they will be charged over-limit fees and the like. Since the Debt Slave cannot manage their finances, they may pay a card late, which in turn jacks the interest rates to 20-30% or more, making paying off the debt nearly impossible. And the Credit Card companies have successfully lobbied to pass new laws limiting a debtor’s rights in bankruptcy. The one weapon that debtors had in the past has been severely blunted.

Why Do People Remain Debt Slaves?
Peer Pressure is one reason many people remain in Debt Slavery. By this I do not mean the type of pressure to conform faced by high school students. Rather, I mean the tendency of human beings to judge their own actions by the actions of others. If a suburbanite sees that his neighbor is in debt, but has a new car and other desirable consumer goods, then he/she thinks that such indebtedness is a “normal” part of modern life.

Unfortunately, we, as humans, tend to judge our actions this way – by what our peers are doing. And this negative tendency can explain some of the most egregious human behavior. If all your neighbors join the Nazi party, then it certainly doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. Germans were not being particularly evil, they were just being particularly human. The scary lesson here is that any behavior can be adopted on a mass-scale, once people view it as a “norm”.

Or take cigarette smoking – and the campaigns against it. When everyone smoked, the idea of lighting dozens of small, hand-held fires in an aircraft surrounded by aviation fuel seemed “normal”. Today, the “norm” is to be anti-smoking, so smokers can be ostracized. Homophobia worked the same way. Today, homosexuality is accepted as part of the “norm”, but in the not-too-distant past, it was not. What is viewed as a “norm” in society can change, and change very rapidly.

For this reason, the Debt Slavery industry does not want to change what is perceived as normative. Here in Georgia, for example, laws were passed outlawing payday loans. The payday loan industry has fought this, arguing that they are a legitimate business, and that in certain instances, people need such loans to get by – and that the government should not interfere in what is, essentially, a private transaction. Usury laws and the like were also repealed on similar grounds.

The Debt Industry advertises heavily. You probably know the catch-phrases and jingles of most major credit card companies (“What’s in YOUR wallet?”). Payday loan places, Rent-to-Own furniture stores, and the like, all heavily advertise on Radio and TeeVee. Unscrupulous home refinancing deals also advertise heavily, offering the Debt Slave a “way out” – but one paved with toxic ARMS, junk fees, and loan points.

For many people, however, the TeeVee is the source of their normative cues. Most Americans watch 6-8 hours a day, believe it or not. They wake up to the TeeVee, watch it at a restaurant during lunch, turn it on after work, and shut it off before they go to bed. The TeeVee is the ultimate propaganda machine, and if you keep watching it, you will end up brainwashed, no matter what. The best thing to do, is turn it off entirely.

So long as Debt Slavery can be viewed as a “norm,” it will continue. The best thing you can do is stop taking your normative cues from television and your dimwitted neighbors, and learn to think for yourself.

One interesting aspect of Debt Slavery is that on many blog sites and other discussion boards, you will see postings from people who actually defend bad financial decisions that lead to Debt Slavery. While some of these postings are no doubt shilling from the debt industry, others appear to be from genuine individuals who want to self justify their own bad behavior, by convincing themselves that leasing a brand new car every three years or running up debt on an ” airline miles” card really isn’t such a bad thing after all.

So Why is Debt Slavery a Bad Thing?
Some might argue that Debt Slavery affects only its victims. And by being in debt, the victims of Debt Slavery have a motivation to go to work every day, and thus it encourages productivity from the masses. Debt Slavery results in a massive transfer of wealth from the people in our society who can afford it least, to a small minority of people and institutions who need it least.

But just as secondhand smoke affects non-smokers, Debt Slavery harms society as a whole, not just its immediate victims. Debt Slavery creates a permanent underclass in our society, an underclass that feels it has been lied to and taken advantage of. The Debt Slave tends to believe, with good reason, that the system is fixed and the game is rigged – that there is no legitimate way to win.

And with ” reforms” in bankruptcy laws, the debt industry has been emboldened to lend money more and more to people they know in advance cannot pay it back. They count on “workouts” and other means of getting their money back, plus copious interest payments. By the time most Debt Slaves think about bankruptcy, they have paid for their credit card purchases at least twice over, with interest charges. Any workout money is a pure bonus for the debt industry. Compare this to the old days, when banks and credit card companies were reluctant to loan money to people they knew would default – as there was a real risk of not being paid back!

Creating a permanent disgruntled underclass degrades our entire society, not just the underclass it affects. Once a person comes to believe, either from personal experience or by watching the experiences of others, that they cannot get ahead legitimately, then criminal activity seems all the more legitimate. The next time you are robbed or your car stolen, ask yourself if the motivation of the robber or thief was pure laziness or merely a sound economic decision based on the perceived choices available to them.
The wealthy have far more to lose by creating a permanent underclass than does the underclass itself.

How do You Avoid Debt Slavery?
The key here is to redefine your normative cues. This can be difficult in a city or suburb, or even in the country (Many a farmer has gone bankrupt buying the latest and largest tractor, just because his neighbor has one). Bucking the norm will open you up to ridicule and abuse. But life at the center of the herd is never the richest. Most of the grazing grass at the center of the herd has been eaten down, trampled and pooped upon. The edge of the herd is dangerous, to be sure, but that’s where the prime grazing is.

      If you buy a second hand car and then keep it for 10 years, you can be sure that a shallow neighbor will rib you about having an “old car”. This is to be expected, particularly if the neighbor has a shiny new car and a string of car payments (or worse, lease payments). You are challenging their norm, and it scares them. They want to reassure themselves that being in debt is good, and that you are the one who is wrong.

In other cultures, it may be different cues. In Gay communities in major cities, many young men bankrupt themselves trying to appease a mythical “norm” which involves spending enormous amounts of money (all on credit) on clothes, bars, and oftentimes, drugs. Those who challenge such norms will be ridiculed for not having “stylish” clothes and $200 haircuts.

The list goes on and on. Regardless of whether you live on a 1,000 acre farm, an Army barracks, a tract home, or a school dorm, you will be pressured to get involved in many forms of self-destructive economic behavior. It takes strength and resolve to fight these trends and have your own ideas – and follow through with them. Once you have that resolve the rest is easy.

The procedural techniques of what you need to do to get out of debt and stay out of debt are well-known and obvious, and can be summed up in one simple statement: spend less than you make. That is not the hard part. Like a diet, the hard part is willpower.

It is also a good idea to understand the politics of Debt Slavery. Payday loan operators spend a lot of money supporting candidates who want preserve their line of work. Credit Card companies pay lobbyists millions of dollars to get Congressmen to pass laws in their favor. If you vote for such politicians based on their position on “social issues,” for example, but fail to recognize the real dangers to yourself and society, then it is you, not the slave-masters, who are to blame.

Debt Slavery is deadly serious, and nothing to take lightly. And anyone can fall victim to it, without thinking. If you follow the herd and take your cues from the television, chances are you are on your way to becoming a debt slave, if you are not already one.

“Money is the new form of slavery” - Leo Tolstoy 1900 AD
End of part 2 of 3.

Continued in Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Competition: Part 3 of 3.

Leave a comment

Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues