This was originally published on Off The Main Page on April 19, 2017.
Have you ever wondered how your Congressman decides how to vote? Do your calls or emails or letters matter? According to a new study, they don’t matter. Your Congressmen are more influenced by lobbyists than the opinions and input of their constituents. Some people voted for President Donald Trump because they thought he would get rid of establishment politicians, which he referred to as “draining the swamp.”
The study took data from 2,000 people. It compared their ideas and opinions to the laws that actually get passed. It turns out that public opinion does very little good in influencing the laws that get passed. The opinions of 90 percent of Americans have little to no impact on policy. The opinions of the top 10 percent of Americans have more influence over the laws that get passed.
From the study:
“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
This video gives a rundown of the study and the findings. There is one graph, in particular, that is very informative and shows how our government should work versus how our government actually works.
Here is the video from Represent Us:
This was originally published on Liberal America on April 18, 2017.
We have been struggling with our healthcare system since the Orange Menace, President Donald Trump, was elected into power. We are one of the only first-world nations that doesn’t have single-payer healthcare. This would be the equivalent of having Medicare for everyone in our country instead of having to deal with private insurance companies.
Under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, over 20 million people have gotten insurance who did not have it before. Former Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said:
“When it comes to the key metrics of affordability, access, and quality, the evidence shows that the Affordable Care Act is working, and families, businesses and taxpayers are better off as a result.”
What Is It And How Would It Differ From Our Current System?
Single-payer healthcare is a system in which one entity finances all of the healthcare costs for a country. Usually, it’s the government, but that is not always the case.
Currently, we have a hugely complicated healthcare system. There are various networks of doctors and hospitals and pharmacies. Most of us have to go through middlemen insurance companies to get coverage. There are high premiums for care, then you still have to pay copays when you actually go to the doctor. We have some public programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
A single-payer system would make this easier by disconnecting our coverage from our jobs or our parents’ jobs or our partners’ jobs. If we implemented it here, it would be covered under the federal budget that is earmarked for Medicare and Medicaid.
Could It Happen Here?
We currently have a single-payer legislation in Congress. It would:
This was originally published on Liberal America on April 17, 2017.
Some countries in Europe and a few states here in the U.S. have experimented with universal basic incomes for its citizens. However, could this work across the entire country here?
What Is Universal Basic Income?First off, a universal basic income is similar to Social Security in that everyone gets a fixed amount of money on a regular basis. It can be provided by the government or some other public organization. It is provided unconditionally, whether a person works or not. For people who work, it is given on top of what they already make.
The goal is to let everyone have a chance to attain an adequate quality of life.
Has This Been Tried Anywhere?There have been multiple experiments at basic incomes. In 2009, London did a small experiment of giving homeless people money. They thought that doing so would save them the police expenses, court costs, and other hassles of dealing with the homeless people. After a year-and-a-half, seven of the thirteen people had rooves over their heads!
It was tried here in the United States in a few places in the 1970s.
As Canadian professor Evelyn Forget put it:
“The political right is afraid people will stop working and the left doesn’t trust them to make their own choices.”
Then-President Richard Nixon supported it, but the universal basic income didn’t survive the bureaucratic process. In the experiments, Forget found that young people put off getting married when given a basic income. Also, hospitalizations dropped eight percent. Wouldn’t it be amazing if people who needed it could get assistance without the reams of paperwork and years of bureaucracy?
Finland is trying a similar program with a group of unemployed people. The hope is that it will cut the unemployment rate and reduce poverty. The income is paid even if they find work. Working and self-employment are also encouraged. However, that safety net is wonderful for someone who is unemployed.
Other BenefitsIn addition to the obvious benefits of cutting poverty and unemployment, there are other benefits to a universal basic income as well. It could lead to a more efficient use of natural resources. The citizens will know what resources their country has. Also, this gives citizens an incentive to look at how their taxes are being spent. This can be seen in the oil-rich countries of Africa.
Additionally, this raises the quality of life for the poorer people of the country. The person will also be more empowered being given the money and being able to choose how they spend it.
A universal basic income may also come in handy in the future when many jobs may be eliminated due to advances in technology.
Here is a Ted Talk on the subject:
This was written by Zoe Grey.
It was originally published on Mean Left Hook on April 3, 2017.
Stephen King wrote a brilliant article for The Guardian about President Donald Trump and how he influenced so many people to vote for him. Although we were all convinced Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would win, King knew that Trump might win. Trump influenced so many people, and a lot of people didn’t vote because they were so convinced Clinton would win.
King himself compared Trump to a few characters from his books. For example, Greg Stillson from The Dead Zone was a charismatic politician who worked his way up. The precognitive protagonist predicted that he would start World War III.
Jim “Big Jim” Rennie from Under the Dome is a car salesman turned leader when a dome comes down over the small town he lives in.
King then does an interesting analysis of Trump voters using characters he made up. He made up six characters, three women and two men, who are similar to real-life Trump voters and gave them “truth serum.”
They told us what they were really “thinking.” They were asked about why they voted for Donald Trump. They talked about their really racist views that they would usually hide. They also called Hillary Clinton a bitch among other things. It is an interesting analysis of Trump voters.
This was originally published on Off The Main Page on April 4, 2017.
This week, students at Harvard will start their first day of Resistance School. According to the website, the class is:
“Resistance School is a free four-session practical training program to sharpen the tools we need to fight for our values at the federal, state, and local levels.”
“Our goal is to keep the embers of resistance alive through concrete learning, community engagement, and forward-looking action.”
The sessions will be live-streamed, but they will also be recorded to view later. It’s free and anyone can sign up to view them.
Shanoor Seervai, a student at Harvard’s Kennedy School and one of the co-founders of Resistance School, said:
“Resistance School started with a couple of students chatting with a couple of professors, having a sense of outrage and despair and beginning to feel overwhelmed and exhausted with the question of ‘What are we going to do after the election?'”
The four sessions are:
You can enroll in groups or individually. Over 10,000 people have signed up for the first session. Check them out over the course of the month.
This was originally published on Liberal America on April 3, 2017.
Last night on his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver discussed the issue of marijuana and marijuana legalization, or as he called it “catnip for people.” One highlight of the election was medical marijuana being legalized in eight states. However, many people trying to get legal marijuana still have trouble getting it and keeping it.
Oliver said this about election night:
“One small bright spot on election night was pro-marijuana referenda passing in eight states. It’s a little weird that celebrations happened on the same night Trump was elected. It’s like celebrating your baseball team winning on the deck of the sinking Titanic.”
At the federal level, it is still on the Schedule 1 classification (the same as cocaine and heroin). Research suggests that marijuana is less dangerous than even legal drugs such as tobacco.
One man was fired for using legal medical marijuana because he failed a drug test. One couple even had their child taken away because there was marijuana in the house. The father was using it to treat his seizures.
As Oliver says:
“That’s like driving exactly the speed limit and getting pulled over by a cop, who tells you ‘Sorry, the federal speed limit is three, and the legal age to drive is 62, and also you have to be drunk.’ ”
The Obama administration made marijuana state laws okay; however, those rules are not permanent. Our new Attorney General Jeff Sessions is against marijuana, so these laws could go away.
Sessions once said:
“I think one of [Obama’s] great failures, it’s obvious to me, is his lax treatment in comments on marijuana. It reverses 20 years almost of hostility to drugs that began really when Nancy Reagan started ‘Just Say No.’ ”
“… Knowledge that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about . . . and to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Check out the segment below:
Today (4/7/17) is World Health Day according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The theme this year is Let's Talk About Depression. They have the hashtag, #LetsTalk, to commemorate the day.
From their press release:
"Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives."
Here are some of the best tweets from the hashtag and the video advertisement from the WHO:
Here are some important signs of depression that you should not ignore: