All posts by Stephkurk

#Equality

pexels-photo-678637.jpegIn keeping with my theme about economical issues that affect myself and my fellow classmates, among countless others, I want to discuss in further detail the issue of the inequality gap.

Last time I discussed that the raising of the minimum wage to $15/hour will not bridge the inequality gap, but may cause it to widen.  It is still my stance that this is not the solution.  Now I want to address the problem itself.

“The development charity Oxfam has called for action to tackle the growing gap between rich and poor as it launched a new report showing that 42 people hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion who make up the poorest half of the world’s population.”

https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/jan/22/inequality-gap-widens-as-42-people-hold-same-wealth-as-37bn-poorest

Not only that, 82% of the global wealth generated last year went to the wealthiest 1%.

To put this even more into perspective, 8 billionaires currently hold the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/16/worlds-eight-richest-people-have-same-wealth-as-poorest-50

Some will argue that free markets have helped over 100 million people rise out of poverty in the last year, and while this may be true, when we are talking globally, and this still is not enough.

In this week’s reading; Communication for Another Development, Quarry and Ramirez state, “We have come to believe that it is not communication that makes good development but good development that contains good communication.”

We need to do more, and we need to urge our governments to address this income gap.

OXFAM: “The power of people against poverty.”  Please go to https://www.oxfam.org to read more about the cause and the efforts to end inequality.

Raising Wages to Bridge the Gap?

pexels-photo-259191.jpegIn my last post, I spoke to students, classmates, teachers, and working adults like myself.

I talked to you all about my good friend who has a master’s degree and makes $15/hour working for a major school district and barely gets by with a small studio apartment in St. Paul for a grand a month.

Currently, there are a lot of arguments for raising the minimum wage to $15/hour- the same wage that my friend with a master’s degree is making.  No offense to fast food workers, we all start somewhere, but is it fair that she is paying off a slew of student loans and making the same hourly rate as Joe Blow working at the McD’s drive-thru?

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/minimum-wage-raises-coming-to-18-states-on-new-years_us_5a440992e4b06d1621b6c0e1

At first, I thought it sounded like a good thing, but I read a lot and heard a lot of what both sides were saying and I formed an opinion of my own.

Sure, social Media tags such as: #raisethewage and #handsoff are catchy, but do people really understand what they stand for and what’s at stake?  I will say, they have done a great job of using these tags to market their cause.  In fact, I had a hard time finding hash tags and linked social media for the opposition.  Like Scott says in our text, many news releases now provide a way to include social media tags to make it easier to locate content, so use them! (ch. 18, p. 326).

There are plenty of news releases offering data and predictions from economists and scholars, but we need to get the word out on social media platforms as well, in order to reach those who aren’t Googling scholarly articles on the subject.  People need to be educated at both ends of this issue, and they need to be informed of the repercussions of the wage hike.

Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour will only push for inflation and cause the cost of living to increase and it will be even more difficult to find affordable housing.  It will also negatively impact small businesses and the job market.

This domino effect will only further the gap between the poverty line and the 1%, and eventually, the working class will be eliminated.

The American Dream?

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House For Rent: $1,000/month

I have to gripe about something that I think many of my classmates and other students and working-class adults of any age, can relate to. My goal is to address the issue of fair wages and the cost of living in the United States.

This feels a little like a “first world problem” but it is one that I believe many can relate to. As I stated, I am like many, a working adult, returning to school, hoping to buy a house in the next ten years, and trying to save money while paying astronomical rent, paying for college (again) and changing my profession because my job in the healthcare industry wasn’t paying the bills for me.

I feel that the goals of my generation differ immensely from those of my parents, but there are still similarities. I will tell you I definitely never predicted ten years ago that I would finish one degree and then have to pursue another just for a little increase in pay (or hopefully more than a little; fingers crossed!) so I can afford rent on a single income, or that I would have to change careers multiple times by the time I turned thirty in pursuit of something that makes me happy or at the very least makes me not dread getting up in the morning. At the risk of sounding like a total millennial, why does it have to be so darn hard?!

Honestly, I would be thrilled to death with a tiny house, close to the city, with a little green space for my dog. It seems like now more than ever, that is a lot to ask. The housing market is especially challenging for my generation and those that follow, as there is a serious lack of habitable homes in a price range that is affordable for the average human, as wages are not increasing at the same rate as home values, rents and the cost of living.

The minimum wage in Minnesota recently rose to $9.65/hour.  According to the Huffington Post, at this rate, the average American worker would need to log 117-hour weeks for 52 weeks per year to afford a two-bedroom apartment or rental home, in ANY state (known as the “fair market rent”).

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-much-you-need-for-rent_us_5942cc92e4b0f15cd5b9e2ee

My good friend finished her master’s degree over a year ago and makes $15/hour working for a major school district in the Twin Cities; she barely gets by with a small studio apartment that doesn’t even have a full kitchen, in St. Paul, in a slightly less-than-safe neighborhood, for a grand a month!

My hope is that more, frustrated individuals like myself, will join in the fight for fair wages, and eventually bridge the gap that exists between the poverty line, the working middle class and the (now less than) 1%.

I found it amusing, in our reading this week, Mendelson explains his belief that we don’t influence each other as much as we think we do, but more that the media influences us first and we just pass it along (Mendelson Chapter Ten, Page 62).  I would have to agree with that statement.  I think we need to speak more from personal experience in certain situations and just be truthful with ourselves and each other; cut the bullshit.  Because I, for one, am fed up with living paycheck to paycheck while I work my tail off and throw 30% or more of my hard-earned income renting some dumpy place in St. Paul.  I know I’m not alone and that is why I want more people to speak out and call it what it is.

Word?

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As a dental assistant, I recently turned to Google to see what I could find out about something a patient asked me about in the office.  She said she had heard from a girlfriend of hers that she could use activated charcoal as a less expensive and highly effective way to whiten her teeth at home, by brushing with it.  She wanted to know if this was true.  This wasn’t the first time I’d heard of this so I thought I’d look into it.  We advised her that brushing with it likely is too abrasive to her enamel, but didn’t have much else to say about it except to research it before trying it out.

The very first thing Google gave me was a blog post titled, How to Whiten Teeth with Charcoal, written by “Katie- Wellness Mama”, not Dr. Katie, D.D.S. which certainly would have been a more dependable source.  Out of pure amusement, I read the blog, and then oh my gosh, there’s a video, too!  I’ll admit, it was mildly entertaining watching a stranger brush her teeth with black, chunky charcoal in her home bathroom…

https://wellnessmama.com/3662/whiten-teeth-naturally/

As much as I wanted to dislike and rag on Katie, I did appreciate that she did not claim to have all the facts, she literally just told people how to brush their teeth with charcoal, and even showed us.  And she did state, on more than one instance in the post, that she is not a medical or dental professional, but she did consult her dentist friend and mentioned that people should check with their dentist before trying to whiten with activated charcoal.  She also provided links to healthcare sites about the use of activated charcoal for food and other poisoning.  While she seemed more like a salesperson for activated charcoal, she clearly did her research and gave some good background information and explanation of why she thinks it is effective, in many situations.  However, it is still my opinion that this is a totally useless post clogging up the internet,  making it even more difficult for me to find the reputable sources of information I am searching for.

Nowadays, any person can blog about any old thing on the internet, whether it’s putting a particular spin on the facts, spreading rumors, or telling outright lies.  We also have the ability to share and spread misinformation.  It’s getting rather tricky to filter through what’s legit and what’s not.  And to make things even more challenging, there are all these algorithms and ways of limiting your search results to things that are popular or things that the internet deems useful to you based on previous searches, popular searches, and that of your social networks.  This is the age of misinformation and useless information.

Sorry Wellness Mama.

Friends with Benefits

Pets aren’t just our best friends, they are also very beneficial to our health.

After just returning from a week-long ski trip, the one I found myself missing the most was my dog, Gunner.  And with what seems to be a recent “trend” of ESA’s (emotional support animals), I wished I could have taken Gunner with me when I noticed a lady with a cat on the plane on my trip back home.  Unfortunately, another passenger had to move seats due to her allergies.  This caused me to think, where do we draw the line?  Can any animal be a support animal?

It’s definitely not news that animal companionship provides many emotional benefits to humans.  The bond between humans and animals has been proven to reduce depression and anxiety in humans.  Caring for an animal can give people a greater sense of purpose and reduce loneliness, especially for the elderly.  The American Heart Association has also linked pet ownership to reduced risk for heart attack.

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm

Companion animals most often are dogs, but cats and other pets can be companion animals, also, as long as a person has a verifiable physical, emotional or mental disability and a medical professional has determined this to be true, as well as that the animal is in fact beneficial to this condition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_support_animal

Gunner won’t be going on a ski trip with me anytime soon, but I still consider him my emotional support friend (Gunner featured in photo above).

This Flu Season is #NoJoke

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I’d like to think that those of you reading this blog are a lot like myself; human.  We are busy and social.  We likely all go to work, school, the grocery store, the gym, somewhere, every day or almost every day, and we likely interact with people every day.  We all also have the potential to be infected by illness.

I somehow managed to avoid getting a cold or the flu for two whole years.  I thought the Vitamin C I kept taking was enough to make me invincible and I refused to get a flu vaccine for the past two seasons.  I was sure that I didn’t need the flu shot and I’d even begun to believe the people who say that they feel worse after getting the shot, so I was convinced that I could do without.

Well we are now in peak flu season, people, and according to the Washington Post, this is one of the worst flu seasons in a decade.  Children and elderly are being hospitalized and dying because of a strong strain of the flu that is spreading across the country.  Influenza hit almost all fifty states at once and lingered for three weeks and counting.  While the vaccination has proven to be virtually useless against the H3N2 strain that is hitting so many people currently, the CDC is encouraging people to get the flu shot anyhow to protect against the H1N1 and an influenza B strain that are popping up as well.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/01/26/this-flu-season-is-on-track-to-be-among-the-worst-in-15-years/?utm_term=.6a533500975c

So this season, I got a taste of what’s been going around.  It hit me hard around the holidays and at the same time, it also hit literally every person I work with and every member of my family.  So I got the flu shot and I now strongly encourage others to get the flu shot, too, to help reduce the spread of influenza and to avoid feeling awful!

If you are wondering where you can get a flu vaccine, you can call your doctor’s office or enter your zip code in this handy search bar from the CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/freeresources/flu-finder-widget.html

I have also seen a lot of signage outside of Walgreen’s stores and CVS Minute Clinics inside of most Target stores, advertising for flu shots.

Create your own Twitter or Facebook post to help spread the word:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/toolkit/toolkit-social-media-messages.htm

#FightFlu

 

 

Who First?

I was feeling somewhat inspired by Simon Mainwaring’s “Miss America” (mission) statement:

“My wish is that future generations will take for granted that corporations and consumers both have an enduring responsibility to make the world a better place.”

This was somewhere toward the end of the prologue to his book, We First.  Up until that point, I had no clue what I was reading; not because he didn’t open the book well, but because I was only hearing, “Blah blah Capitalism, blah blah ethics…”  As a student, I have been reading a lot of similar material recently, and this just didn’t stand out from the rest for me (please keep in mind I only read the Prologue and Chapter One).

I’m not proud of this, but I am a skimmer.  Maybe it’s because I am borderline a Millennial.  People like myself are probably the reason for this book in the first place.  The “Me First” people, who are so consumed with our own lives and would rather send a #TacoTuesday Snapchat or watch compilations of hilarious dog videos on Facebook for hours on end.  But the Cause is not lost on me.  I agree there is probably no better way than to use social media to raise awareness about social change and poverty and reduce illiteracy and solve all the world’s problems with “creative capitalism.”  I guess what’s ironic to me is that he’s advocating social media to promote social change, but doing so in a long text format.  I may or may not be Mainwaring’s ideal audience but I am a person who uses social media A LOT.  His message would have been better received by ME had it been plastered all over my Instagram feed with inspiring videos and graphics.  I think that’s where we got off on the wrong foot.