Category Archives: Government

Food Insecurity in America

Food Insecurity is a public issue that I believe should not exist. Food insecurity is defined as “as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.” This issue affects countless individuals, majority being in low-income families. The community’s food insecurity most affects are seniors, children, rural communities African Americans, and Latinos.

Growing up I was lucky enough to have food provided by my parents, but it’s sad to say we all know someone in our past or present that has struggled with food insecurity.

We all know food banks exist as well as food stamps but how good are these programs ran? I’ve seen how food banks mostly consist of a lot of bread, sugar and not many real food options. By real food I mean fruit, vegetables, and meat.

Food stamps are also an ongoing process that takes time and is not always guaranteed. It’s not right that the government has control over whether an individual will have enough money for food. I know college students have use food stamps which is an amazing resource, but is $150 really a lot of money for groceries per month?

I just believe that there needs to be change. I want to share a Tik Tok that I recently watched, and it provided me with a prospective on food insecurity I have never thought about before.

I don’t know what change needs to happen, but I know that there needs to be awareness first.

 Feeding America

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

The Healthy People 2020

The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

#StopGunViolence

Do you know what one of the most leading cause of premature death in the U.S is? Well, gun violence is one of the most leading cause of premature death in the U.S. Guns kill at least more than 38,000 people and cause nearly 85,000 injuries each year. There is this organization called APHA is a longtime supporter of violence prevention policies, especially with gun-related violence and APHA acknowledges an inclusive public health approach to addressing this growing crisis is necessary for good causes.

The issue of gun violence is complex and deeply rooted in our culture, which is why we must take a public health approach to ensure our families and communities are safe. We must focus more on the emphasis on improving gun injury and violence research. Conducting research will be a good first step in figuring out what is wrong in the present and how to prevent future ferocities. There would need to be ongoing work needed to ensure firearms do not fall into the wrong hands and to allow access to mental health services to the ones who need it most. Mental health is a personal issue but it should be a private issue and it should be shared with the public.

B84BC4CC-FE13-40A1-BE2E-1D51A0D4EEC328EDF8E1-5729-4EC8-8FA3-6B6C8B09C830

To represent and support the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., animator Alex Clark used a bit of humor to explain gun violence prevention and hopefully, it will lighten up the mood of this post, enjoy!:

 

Number of Deaths in 2018
Map of Number of Deaths by Gun Violence in 2018 in the U.S.

In my opinion, guns should not be allowed anywhere in the U.S. because these kinds of weapons can be easily obtained and some people that have the right to carry or not commit suspicious or heinous acts.
To end this on a good not, guns should just go. Period.  #StopGunViolence
SENATE:

Corporate Profits Trump Science

With a new president in the White House, environmental policy and science are on the hot list of topics expected to see major change. Shortly after being sworn in, President Donald Trump had the climate change page on the white house website taken down. The President has repeatedly expressed his view that climate change is not a serious concern. Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t believe in climate change or evolution, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson (former ExxonMobil CEO) doesn’t believe human activity is causing climate change.      

In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) issued a groundbreaking finding that six greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane), “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” This had previously been established as fact in the scientific community, but the importance of the “Endangerment Finding” was it allowed the EPA to regulate emissions from cars and power plants under the Clean Air Act. Lawsuits challenging the finding quickly followed and President Trump’s newly appointed EPA Head, Scott Pruitt, was one of the attorneys that mounted said lawsuits. Yes, you read that correctly. The man selected to lead the EPA has a history of fighting on the side of corporations and has challenged scientific findings of the agency.

To learn more about Trump’s fight against science: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/healthcare/317194-the-war-against-science#bottom-story-socials

How did we get here? How do so many embrace the short-sighted belief that protecting corporate profits is, somehow, more important than the sustainability of our planet? The basis for scientific discovery is fact, facts accumulated through rigorous testing that attempts to disprove them as otherwise. Compared to his predecessor, President Trump and his new regime clearly take a very different stance on science and environmental policy. This new administration stands on the side of protecting and maximizing corporate profits. What needs to be addressed, is the administrations blatant denial of scientific facts regarding the consequences of certain destructive business practices.

This is not a call for the downfall of Corporate America, nor an attack on capitalism and free enterprise. I simply aim to facilitate a discussion about the bigger picture, social responsibility and the future we want to create. The key word here is future, our very existence is contingent upon having a planet capable of supporting human life. Neglecting to recognize facts and take measures to combat climate change jeopardizes the well-being of future generations. Scientific discovery is how we better understand the world around us, how we learn to make better decisions and improve. Science matters.

The good news is, people from all over are taking notice. More than 800,000 people involved in a private Facebook group organized a March for Science and plan to act.

Here’s a link if you want to learn more or get involved: https://www.marchforscience.com/

Kyle Winkelman

Is it getting hot in here?

NASA with all things climate change

Ever since I was very young the environment has been something I have been passionate about protecting. I remember the first time in elementary school that we were all given a Bill Nye the Science Guy tour of how the climate was changing and that there was things we could do to collectively stop it. Well I am sad to say we have collectively let Bill Nye down. Okay we were not the only ones responsible for what is taking place with the earth’s climate but we are definitely contributing to the overall condition of the earth’s ozone.

It is a scary time to be pro-environment in this country as the rhetoric has definitely fallen on the side of apathy and denial throughout the current majority legislature on this topic. Here is the thing, I am all for having an opposing opinion then myself. The argument in this case that is being opposed however is against facts. Climate change is something that can be proven it is happening all around us. When the president of the United States denies climate change it makes me question his logic (I questioned it long before that but  that is a discussion for another time.)

Trump has proven by his recent EPA appointment that environment is about the last thing he is thinking about currently on his presidential totem pole of responsibility as he appointed Scott Pruitt a man who has his hands in the fossil fuel business to spearhead the job. Let me write that again just so everybody doesn’t miss it, a man who’s primary stake of business involves fossil fuel is taking a job to at a government agency that hinges on limiting fossil fuel emission.

Seriously read this Washington Post article on Scott Pruitt and if you have any care for our environment you will have a very similar reaction to Ron Swanson down below..

Scott Pruitt-Washington Post Article

ron-swanson-computer-throw-out-parks-and-rec

I guess my end all in this is we have to be combative about this. There had been significant strides made in legislature especially through Obama’s tenure that many of us felt was a good foundation to build on. Trump is attempting to come in and bulldoze that foundation right out from underneath us. Talk to your legislators if this is something you are passionate about through social media avenues, or email. Sign petitions when they are available, just use your voice and try and help maintain the progress that has been achieved in the field of environmental protection. Visit the link at the top of the page Nasa for some substantial evidence on what is happening with our planet according to NASA. Too really keep yourself up at night I recommend checking out the effects tab once you have clicked on the link.

The government and its discontents

The Day Dodd-Frank Stood Still

By Bob Gross 10/2/2013 10:48 a.m.

As the United States federal government faces its first shutdown since 1995 -1996, the standoff between the Obama administration and Republicans may have more far-reaching implications than what is currently being reported. In fact, data suggests that the proverbial Pandora’s Box of unscrupulous and illegal behavior in American  financial markets might have just been opened with the near-closure of a little-known U.S. regulatory agency by the current government shutdown.

The shutdown coincides with a last-ditch lobbying campaign of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) by the derivatives industry to delay the mandated new rules of Dodd-Frank that were scheduled to go into effect on October 2, 2013.  The new rules would have made the swaps market more transparent, as well as to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis when the market was thrown into chaos.

According to reports on CNN and Bloomberg, the CFTC will be hobbled by the government shutdown. Out of the six hundred-eighty people employed at the CFTC, six hundred forty-three people would be furloughed due to the shutdown. This ends up leaving the CFTC with a skeleton staff of thirty-seven people that would conduct the agency’s daily business.

Thirty-seven people simply aren’t enough staff to keep the lid on Pandora’s box closed, much less, implement the new rules created by the section of Dodd-Frank regulating derivatives. As the headline of an article in Bloomberg Businessweek suggested, it’s a Madoff moment in the making.

This isn’t merely my idiosyncratic musing.  In describing the ramifications of a government shutdown, CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton himself said, “[G]overnment regulators will be handcuffed in our ability to go after crooks who are trying to evade our oversight and protection of markets.”  He added, “The dark markets that Dodd-Frank brought into the light of day will go dark again.  The lights will go out.  Given the huge growth in the derivatives industry and our new oversight of swaps, CFTC’s market oversight functions are more important than ever.”

Given this lack of government oversight, many investors in the market may become the victims of manipulation and insider trading practices. What is also concerning is the fact that some Capitol Hill staffers and lawmakers might use the shutdown to bypass the already weak reforms of  the 2012 STOCK Act, championed by Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota.

The 2012 Stock Act prevents lawmakers and staffers from using information garnered from their positions on Capitol Hill in order to gain an unfair advantage on the stock and commodities markets. However, if no one is around to monitor and ensure that these practices aren’t occurring, save for a few stressed CFTC employees and the computer programs recording transactions, then we may be looking at a possible outbreak of business breaking bad–and the politicians who love them as well.

Was this recipe for mischief accidental?  As Francis Urquhart, the protagonist  of the British version of “House of Cards”, was apt say, “I couldn’t possibly respond to that.”

The Right Thing To Do

Eric Holder was ruled in contempt of Congress this week due to his not being fully forthcoming with regards to “Fast and Furious”. This NY Times editorial writer seems to think that the contempt ruling was a “pointless partisan fight”, in which he accuses the GOP of trying to make a pretty serious situation nothing more than political jockeying in an election year. I don’t feel like he’s on target. Think about what we’re trying to find here: The *top law enforcement officer in the land* is possibly hiding facts from the American public, in order to save face.

What about getting the truth? What about cutting through corruption? It’s okay to “maybe” be corrupt in order to not get caught? I think I deserve to know what exactly happened, and the President’s last minute “executive privilege” order only solidifies the fact that there’s something to hide. Why can’t our politicians start working for their constituents for a change?