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Life is a journey; enjoy the trip! I wake up happy everyday and try to share that with a smile to everyone I see.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Final Project - Healthcare: It's our life, it's our right!

It's no secret that healthcare costs are spiraling out of control in this country. On average, we now spend more per person on health care than both food and housing. Insurance premiums are multiplying much faster than inflation, which prevents economic growth and leaves businesses with less money to give raises or hire more workers. While the quality and availability of medical care in the United States remains among the best in the world, many wonder whether we'd be better off adopting a universal government-controlled health care system like the one used in Canada. It is unconscionable that in our rich country—the only industrialized nation without universal health coverage—millions, including children, are uninsured, and, senior citizens are often forced to agonize between paying for extremely costly medicine or food.

Healthcare will grab more and more headlines in the U.S. in the coming months. Any service that is on track to consume 40 percent of the gross national product of the world's largest economy by the year 2050 will be hard to ignore. Business management already feels the effects of healthcare costs more acutely than most consumers. Several recent studies and proposals shed light on the problem and possible solutions. They leave us with questions, too. Americans need to come to grips with the fact that government intervention into healthcare is not the answer and is, in fact, responsible for causing much of the sharp rise in healthcare costs in the United States, which has the highest healthcare costs per capita in the world. Because many of the mechanisms causing healthcare costs to rise are fairly straightforward and within the abilities of Congress to remedy, this revelation could actually be considered good news.

To put things in perspective, “U.S. healthcare currently costs about $2 trillion per year. Of this, more than $600 billion (31 percent) is never seen by recipients. It goes for administration. On a per capita basis, it is roughly $280 billion more than is spent for administration in the other twenty-one countries whose life expectancies exceed those in the U.S., all of whom have some form of taxpayer-financed, single-payer system, the kind that used to be referred to by detractors as "socialized medicine." Worse yet, the current system leaves more than 40 million Americans without health insurance.” Because many are not employed or have very low incomes, programs that provide incentives through employers and tax relief don't help them. With this much room for possible improvement, the incentives should be sufficient to foster changes in behavior.

Health insecurity is not confined to one part of the population. It is experienced by all Americans. Those without insurance as well as those who risk losing coverage; those who are impoverished as well as those with higher incomes who experience catastrophic costs; those who are sick or injured as well as those who are just one sickness or injury away from financial calamity. As health care costs have skyrocketed and the proportion of Americans with stable benefits has eroded, health insecurity has become a shared American experience, felt by those who thought they had it made as well as those just struggling to get by.

If employers and corporations are not somehow regulated or legislated to provide healthcare to its employees and dependents then wouldn’t these same households move into poverty? Then requiring government assistance and healthcare? There was a time, when a working class family could survive and provide their families with healthcare, a home, and even private schooling if they chose. In the last twenty years the working class has been targeted for elimination in my opinion. If employers provide neither a living wage nor benefits then are they not behind the increased government dependency? Do capitalist, the wealthy, and middle class actually subjugate the working class to increased governmental dependency?

Personally, I’d like to see our government provide funding and management for all the reasonable quality improvement and cost control strategies presented in the candidate comparison web site. I’d like this to be done in the most effective and efficient way possible, with all government agencies involved being closely watched and scrutinized by an independent oversight organization whose allegiance is to the consumer.

Many of the problems with today's healthcare system, including high costs and large numbers of uninsured Americans, stem from government involvement in healthcare, dating from World War II to the present. In his book “What Has Government Done to Our Healthcare?”, Terree P. Wasley notes that during WWII, the federal government instituted price and wage fixing, while raising income taxes to pay for the war. At the same time, the IRS "ruled that the purchase of health insurance for workers was a legitimate cost of doing business and could be deducted from taxable business income. The IRS also ruled that workers did not have to include the value of health insurance benefits in calculating their taxable income. These IRS rulings were a giant tax incentive for both employers and taxpayers, and they did much to institutionalize employer-provided healthcare as part of the system." After the war, price and wage freezes were removed, but employers kept the tax deductions. These tax breaks for the purchase of insurance were not applied to individuals who bought their own health insurance, thereby solidifying employer-provided insurance.

As “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs” states: “People are motivated by basic needs for hunger and thirst and comfort first, followed by the need for security, then the need for love and belonging followed by the need for esteem and recognition, also aestheticism and learning and finally the need to use ones giftings and abilities for personal fulfillment”. Where do we stand in America today? Our security has been shaken to its foundations by extremists, our very basic needs are threatened by an economy that has failed us; divorce and homelessness has devastated the family.

If the people are healthy then they can think and work effectively. That has in my mind pushed healthcare to the forefront. With all these major issues in the United States today, first and foremost we need a strong healthy population without concern for their basic well-being. If people aren’t healthy it doesn’t matter how much opportunity you provide. I am convinced that the economy would have a positive shift with people being relieved of the expense and devastation that comes with inadequate healthcare. National enemies are often not the flesh and blood kind. Think tornados, hurricanes and disease. If there was a plague in the nation, we would need to address it with full force.

I applaud Hillary Clinton for being the first person to propose universal healthcare - free healthcare for everyone. Unfortunately, she was defeated because of all the money involved. The insurance and pharmaceutical companies have many highly paid, former Congressmen, lobbying in Washington, DC to push the insurance and pharmaceutical company’s agenda. This makes it almost impossible for Congress to change our healthcare policies. The United States Congress will never change our healthcare system to offer universal healthcare. The only way our healthcare system will change is if Americans take to the streets in masses and protest and vote out every member of Congress who doesn't support universal healthcare. The United States government should benchmark the healthcare systems of Canada, France and England and develop our own universal healthcare system. It’s the right thing to do! Every American regardless of "anything" should have free healthcare. Every healthcare insurance company should be dismantled and every pharmaceutical company regulated by the government. It’s time for the United States government to take over our healthcare system and provide free healthcare for all!

I think healthcare should be virtually free, as it is in most other countries past the state of semi-industrialization. It would be funded through taxes and through increased efficiencies in the system which other countries seem to be able to affect but which we seem incapable of accomplishing with profit making entities standing between the care providers and the patients. Until we put our feet down and say "we're not going to take it anymore", the mess will continue - the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies will rake it in, while the poor and middle class will suffer (and in some cases, die) for lack of care. It's up to us.










Frank, Robert H. The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas. New York: 2007.


Wasley, Terree P. What Has Government Done to Our Healthcare? Policy Studies Review; Autmn/Winter92, Vol. 11 Issue 3/4, p423-425, 3p


Maslow, Abraham H. A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review 50 (1943):370-96

Jesus and Commercialization... Would HE really buy?

Adorned with a clerical collar and over zealous southern preacher style, Bill Talen, known as Reverend Billy, doesn't mind making a fool of himself. He is happy to throw himself on the floor in a fit of religious ecstasy, perform cash register exorcisms or go caroling with the 35 members of the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, singing such favorites as "Fill the Malls With Wealthy People," to the tune of "Deck the Halls." The Rev. Billy, an activist who portrays an evangelist-prophet leading the Church of Stop Shopping, is the focus of “What Would Jesus Buy”? He's a fake preacher who traveled the country in 2005 with his choir, thundering against the "Shopocalypse" – that is, the spiritual deadening maniacal consumerism brings to our society. In his mock view of the end times, Christians would take the Mark of the Beast with a smile on their faces if it gave them exclusive access to the must-have holiday toy.

This documentary is an examination of the commercialization of Christmas in America while following Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse (the end of humankind from consumerism, over-consumption and the fires of eternal debt.) The film also delves into issues such as the role sweatshops play in America’s mass consumerism and Big-Box Culture. The group storms from place to place, rampaging through Wal-Marts and Starbucks and Staples parking lots and finally Disneyland, but only once are they shown to have made anything more than a fleeting impression on anybody that they encounter. Most of the time, Reverend Billy seems to just be an annoyance and/or source of amusement to those with whom he comes into contact. He does have some entertaining moments, but that doesn’t really translate into anything meaningful.

We spend half our childhood trying to find the spirit of the season, our eyes cast skyward for that fleeting glimpse of Santa, or earthward for that one last seasonal hymn. Yet we grow older, and that blind adoring faith is cut down, string by string, until all that’s left are just the presents on the big morning or the eight crazy nights of gifts, gifts, gifts!

The media, bless them, simply shove down our throats these time-honored tales of hope and magic, of warmth and love, where family is always there and that last gift is always received. Adorable movies peppered with commercials for holiday band-saw sales and the promise that “This Christmas only, a diamond is forever.” Oddly enough, in a world where miracles are defied and disproved daily, there are still the children who believe, go and sit on Santa’s lap, wishing away their little hearts for a bike or scooter, for G.I.JOE’s secret fortress or Barbie and her Malibu convertible.

I will agree that occasionally the commercialization during the christmas holiday season does go a little overboard. There is the insatiable need for parents to run from store to store for days on end so their child gets the "it" toy of the season. People should have fun when they shop for others; it shouldn't be a competition. On the other hand, there is something to say for how much a parent must love their child to go to such outlandish lengths to make that child happy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Autism... God's Misunderstood Children

"Autism: The Musical" opens with the jarring data that autism in America has spiked from 1-in-10,000 kids in 1980 to 1-in-150 today. But instead of dwelling on the cause of autism, the film focuses mostly on five wonderful kids - two boys with very high functioning autism who are brilliant, charming, and yes, "comical"; a teenage girl who sings beautifully; a little boy who rarely speaks, but who can express himself vividly through his cello; and one adopted Russian boy who is completely nonverbal (until he gets a computer) and who will break your heart when you see him.

Breathtaking. Touching. Powerful. Elaine Hall (Coach E) runs the Miracle Project, an initiative that leads theater cast through writing, rehearsing and performing a musical. This musical, though, is comprised of autistic children. The children rehearse and interact with each other as they prepare for their big show within a duration of six months. Watching Coach E unlock some of those doors and windows into the childrens' closely guarded inner lives is as absorbing as hearing their parents' fears and frustrations is heartbreaking. Most revealing, though, we follow the children home. Their parents are candid and we get to know the challenges of getting an autistic diagnosis for their children, the complexity of the living situation and the distance that seems to grow between parents. The documentary unflinchingly shows just how stressful the disorder can be on families. The weight on couples is obvious: One marriage suffers through infidelity, another ends in painful divorce.

The interviews with the children are often the most riveting of the film. Henry is the son of Kristen and Steven Stills (of Crosby, Stills and Nash) and has Asperger's. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things dinosaur. Lexi only repeats what is said to her, she sings beautifully, but has to type on a computer to communicate with her mother. Wyatt is obsessed with the idea of bullies and is on the cusp of understanding how his mind works differently from that of other children. He is a high functioning child; he has perhaps the most self-aware discussion about autism: "You're in your own world. You're not talking to anybody. There's no point to it. You're not going to make friends." He explains how he can see Henry going into his own world when reciting facts and talking about dinosaurs. He even knows when and why he goes into his own world. "Sometimes I don't have anybody else to talk to”.

The children in "Autism: The Musical" deserve a standing ovation, right along with their parents. This film is anything but maudlin; it’s an eyes-wide-open account of tenacity and triumph for parents and children alike. Considering the dramatic rise in the number of children born with autism, I believe it's a film that everyone should see and appreciate.

Ms. Hall's determination, patience and faith are extraordinary. As she guides the kids through rehearsals, she's not really sure that they'll be able to perform the show-but she stays the course, dealing with the childrens' discipline problems and parents who express their anxieties by making demands. In the end, however, the show does go on-and Adam plays the cello beautifully. The real message here is that children with autism are human beings, just like everyone else on God's green earth - with their own hopes and fears, intellects and personalities. They deserve more than our compassion, our love and our dollars; they deserve our respect.

“In the United States, children with disabilities from birth to age 21 are entitled by law to receive a free, appropriate education. States offer free special education, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy to infants, toddlers and preschoolers who qualify. Here is a list of state early intervention offices
(http://www.nichcy.org/states.htm). Click on your state at the bottom of the page. You may contact your local office to refer your child for a free evaluation. In many communities, the Early Intervention Office can be reached by contacting the local school district, health department or developmental disability center. Parents can refer a school-aged child for special education testing and services by contacting the child's school”.


Autism Web. “A Parents' Guide to Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)”

Where to Find Your State's Early Intervention Program. ©
AutismWeb™ 2000-2008.

http://www.autismweb.com/education.htm.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Medicated Child...

Forget Supernanny. If you have an out-of-control kid, your offspring could be suffering from the latest craze in childhood psychiatric disorders: Child bipolar. In the US, more than 1 million kids are being treated for child bipolar and the number is rising, despite the fact hardly anyone knows how to correctly diagnose it and that the prescribed medications of unruly mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics have not been tested on children.

The definition of bipolar is already on shaky ground ... and no wonder. Doctors can say a child is bipolar if she or he suffers rapid mood swings, tantrums and explosive irritability. Yet the stories presented in the film are terrifying and mesmerizing in turn, in particular the heartbreaking tales of the children. Little Jacob was considered a normal boy until he turned three and his teachers started complaining that he had no "impulse control" (Hello… He is three). At four, he was diagnosed as ADHD and placed on several drugs. By the time he was 10, little Jacob was daily ingesting eight different pills and potions and his diagnosis was "upgraded" to bipolar. He is now 16, suffers with an unfortunate neck-roll tick - one of the many side effects of such drugs - and is looking down the barrel of a lifetime on daily medicines.

In one scene a doctor gives advice to his 12-year-old bipolar patient who had been suffering "mood swings" due to the fact her dad had just been posted to Iraq. "There is no scientific answer here about what to do for you," he tells her. "So I think we should try to go up a little on the medicines. Does that sound like a plan?" This is a tragedy of sick kids, desperate parents and doctors on a bender of over-diagnosis and over-medicating.

The statistics of the number of children that are being medicated for psychiatric disorders are alarming. Increasingly, this is the conventional solution of choice for children with behavioral problems. The program barely mentioned alternative approaches which was what was so disturbing to me. Why do you think Americans medicate more than other countries? Is it the marketing by drug companies, or the way our health care system is set up? Why is there not a third party reporting agency for adverse drug effects, similar to vaccine reporting? Everyone I know who has had a bad reaction has just changed medicine. Neither the pediatrician nor the parents reported it anywhere.

I was shocked and horrified and how these kids, who were normal, bright children who were merely rambunctious were given medication that has destroyed their lives. From neurological disorders, to dead personalities, I weep for them and how today there is an entire generation of parents with no clue about how to parent, and kids who have been medicated in order to make up for that lack. I was left wondering how much a parent could do in advance of such problems arising. In essence, I'm sure there are situations where early intervention would have zero effect, but I'm wondering if (like autism) there would be situations where a child who has a pre-disposition towards a condition (like ADHD) might be able to be prevented from developing (entirely or partially) a condition if a parent does certain things ... like developing good conflict management and coping mechanisms in kids, etc.


Yes I believe there are children who are prematurely medicated and in some cases it is nothing more than a lack of discipline or the child is not being challenged or the child is held to standards appropriate for adults or there is little quality time being spent between parents and child. In this fast paced world we need to make a special effort to slow down and enjoy our children and allow them the freedom to be children. More so, I agree that too many medications (especially several mixed together) is a really bad idea for children, unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and there is an official diagnosis for their disorders. Quick “fixes” are never wise. Some medications have chemicals that actually inhibit the growing brain from producing the necessary chemicals needed to make it stable. The brain is made ‘lazy’ because these chemicals are introduced by pill into the bloodstream for long periods of time, or worse, for a short period, only to be changed to a new medication which it has to again adjust to, all the while, creating a new disability in that it is getting ‘lazy’, in not needing to produce these same chemicals on its own. Then when someone looks to be removed from meds years later, the brain has basically atrophied in the areas of certain chemical production, and you find your now adult child truly does require medications, where it was supposed to just have helped them when they were little. Be careful. Be wise in selection.

"Who Killed The Electric Car?"

This documentary chronicles the life and mysterious death of the General Motors (GM) EV1, examining its cultural and economic ripple effects and how they reverberated through the halls of government and big business. It was among the fastest, most efficient production of cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry. The lucky few who drove it never wanted to give it up. So why did GM crush its fleet of EV1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert? Was it murder? Or was it natural selection simply weeding out a weakling unable to compete in our consumer world? Or was the electric car just ahead of its time?

The year is 1990. California is in a pollution crisis as smog threatens public health. Desperate for a solution, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) targets the source of its problem: Auto exhaust. Inspired by an announcement from GM about an electric vehicle prototype, the Zero Emissions Mandate (ZEV) is born. It required 2% of new vehicles sold in California to be emission-free by 1998, 10% by 2003 and it was the most radical smog-fighting mandate since the catalytic converter.

With a jump on the competition, thanks to its speed-record-breaking electric concept car, GM launched its EV1 electric vehicle in 1996. It was a revolutionary modern car, requiring no gas, no oil changes, no mufflers and rare brake maintenance (a billion-dollar industry unto itself). A typical maintenance checkup for the EV1 consisted of replenishing the windshield washer fluid and a tire rotation. But the fanfare surrounding the EV1's launch disappeared and the cars followed. Was it lack of consumer demand as carmakers claimed, or were other persuasive forces at work? Fast forward to 6 years later... The fleet is gone. EV charging stations dot the California landscape like tombstones, collecting dust and spider webs. How could this happen? Did anyone bother to examine the evidence? Yes, in fact, someone did, and it was murder. "I've never seen a company be so cannibalistic about its own product before," says actor Peter Horton ("thirtysomething"), the last Southern California driver to have his EV1 taken away in 2004. “Who Killed The Electric Car” is not just about the EV1, it's about how this allegory for failure reflected in today's oil prices and air quality can also be a shining symbol of society's potential to better itself and the world around it.

I liked this documentary because it investigated many different sides of the “Who’s to blame for the demise of the electric car?” question. They didn’t place the blame solely on the car industry, or the oil industry, or unwieldy government regulations; there were many different factors that played a role. They interviewed not only the environmentalists and die-hard electric car lovers (including celebrities like Mel Gibson and Tom Hanks), but also car manufacturers, and people who tried to explain why the cars are no longer sold and why they never became popular in a big way. They also talked to a mechanic who used to work on electric cars. He lamented the fact that he now has to work on regular cars, which means his hands are dirty all the time. With electric cars, upkeep was a breeze. No oil or filters, no exhaust. Owners would bring their cars in every 5,000 miles for a tune-up, and he would basically rotate the tires and add window washer fluid.

Sounds good to me. I’d buy one.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Healthcare - It's our life, it's our right...

It's no secret that healthcare costs are spiraling out of control in this country. On average, we now spend more per person on health care than both food and housing. Insurance premiums are multiplying much faster than inflation, which prevents economic growth and leaves businesses with less money to give raises or hire more workers. While the quality and availability of medical care in the United States remains among the best in the world, many wonder whether we'd be better off adopting a universal government-controlled health care system like the one used in Canada. It is unconscionable that in our rich country—the only industrialized nation without universal health coverage—millions, including children, are uninsured, and, senior citizens are often forced to agonize between paying for extremely costly medicine or food.

Health insecurity is not confined to one part of the population. It is experienced by all Americans. Those without insurance as well as those who risk losing coverage; those who are impoverished as well as those with higher incomes who experience catastrophic costs; those who are sick or injured as well as those who are just one sickness or injury away from financial calamity. As health care costs have skyrocketed and the proportion of Americans with stable benefits has eroded, health insecurity has become a shared American experience, felt by those who thought they had it made as well as those just struggling to get by.

I applaud Hillary Clinton for being the first person to propose universal healthcare - free healthcare for everyone. Unfortunately, she was defeated because of all the money involved. The insurance and pharmaceutical companies have many highly paid, former Congressmen, lobbying in Washington, DC to push the insurance and pharmaceutical company’s agenda. This makes it almost impossible for Congress to change our healthcare policies.The United States Congress will never change our healthcare system to offer universal healthcare. The only way our healthcare system will change is if Americans take to the streets in masses and protest and vote out every member of Congress who doesn't support universal healthcare. The United States government should benchmark the healthcare systems of Canada, France and England and develop our own universal healthcare system. It’s the right thing to do! Every American regardless of "anything" should have free healthcare. Every healthcare insurance company should be dismantled and every pharmaceutical company regulated by the government. It’s time for the United States government to take over our healthcare system and provide free healthcare for all!

I think it should be virtually free, as it is in most other countries past the state of semi-industrialization. It would be funded through taxes and through increased efficiencies in the system which other countries seem to be able to affect but which we seem incapable of accomplishing with profit making entities standing between the care providers and the patients. Until we put our feet down and say "we're not going to take it anymore", the mess will continue -- the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies will rake it in, while the poor and middle class will suffer (and in some cases, die) for lack of care. It's up to us.

"Disability is NOT a death sentence - You define who you are, and you can do anything."

The eye-opening documentary Murderball takes an intriguing idea of introducing people to the sport of quad rugby, only to find even more drama and action taking place off the court. The film’s touches on family dynamics, loyalty, friendship and healing culminate to leave viewers, regardless of their ability status, with a feeling of empowerment and appreciation for the competitive spirit of quad rugby athletes. Murderball is also a great celebration of the astonishing courage shown by these high achievers. It also captures the essence of sport and competition mixed with exposure to the realities of life with a disability, free from patronization and pity-inducing sentimentality.

This is also a film about how people grow and develop as human beings, the things that happen that make them re-evaluate what's important. Many of the players recollect how they came to be in a wheelchair and what their life is like today. Among the more compelling people is Zupan, arguably one of the world's best quad rugby players, who details how a late night of drinking at 18, led to him breaking his neck after being thrown from the back of his best friend's truck into a ditch, where he would remain for more than 13 hours before being rescued. Even after more than 10 years from that day, Zupan looks back on the incident with no anger or bitterness, simply seeing it as the end of one chapter in his life.

The players are quick to dispel a somewhat popular misconception of quadriplegics as people with no use of their limbs. They all have sustained neck and/or spinal cord fractures, but with varying degrees of limb disabilities, with those serving as ratings for the purpose of the sport. For example, someone who has little impairment in their limbs would rate a 3.0, while a 0.5 would be given to a player with little or next to no use of their limbs. Those ratings are then applied during the game, with no team allowed to have the players exceed 8.0 on the court at one time.

By the first time the sport is shown on camera, viewers are given a quick introduction into its excitement, with frequent shots of wheelchairs crashing into each other, occasionally knocking competitors over. But far from being intimidated by the sport's physical nature, these players thrive on it. They want to leave no doubt that they are not handicapped - they are athletes who just happen to compete in a wheelchair. Many of the other players interviewed have similar feelings about their lives, displaying an admirably positive attitude about situations that could easily have had lesser people mired in depression and anger. Not that those feelings didn't ever surface, as one describes his initial withdrawal from society, even being against going out to get the mail, for fear of people staring at him.

Aside from the accidents that changed their lives, their stories are mixed in with the rehab of Keith Cavill, a young man who is only months removed from the accident that led to him becoming a quadriplegic. The uncertainty and fear of his new life is given a genuine jolt of excitement when Zupan comes to the rehab center to introduce the residents to quad rugby. Sure, the collisions of the armored wheelchairs in Murderball are impactful, resulting in numerous metal dents, but it's the personalities of the people in the chairs that will leave the real lasting impression.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY - AN ESTABLISHMENT AND A COMMITMENT

Without employees (and I include management in this category), a business literally could not exist. Profitable companies do not spontaneously form out of piles of equipment, software, and money. More often than not, employees are the group most responsible for a company's success, since a business is essentially nothing more than a collection of individuals gathered together for a common purpose and with a certain amount of infrastructure and capital. Most companies are obligated to behave ethically towards their employees, customers, community, and shareholders, in roughly that order.

With the current rash of layoffs in the face of a slowing economy, we are reminded once again how corporate cultures have changed. Gone are the days of cradle-to-grave employment relationships - washed away with the departure of the "company man". In the new economy, many of the old rules seem to have changed. When the economy slows and budgets are squeezed, cutting the payroll is the first response for many corporations. At the same time, many employees today hop from company to company, in a seemingly endless search for higher pay and better benefits. Sadly, the traditional concept of "corporate loyalty" has eroded on both sides.

In the face of this new reality, what can employers do to hang on to their most valuable resource - capable, hard-working employees? What level of commitment do employers and employees owe to one another, and what can be done to establish that commitment? Much has been made in recent years of the lavish perks some firms offer to attract and retain workers; but when belt-tightening time comes, extravagant fringe benefits inevitably are cut. Unlike these "frivolous fringes," there is one element that is impervious to market cycles - a corporate culture based on a strong value system. And this element is key to the long-term retention of quality employees.
From startups to established corporations, as well, integrity, fairness, and social responsibility should rank high in the spectrum of company values. What better place to start being fair, ethical, and socially responsible than with one's own employees? Employee benefits hit home. This part of the compensation package clearly reveals that the human needs of the individual employee are understood. A comprehensive benefits package has a direct impact on employee motivation and retention. The structure of a benefits package reflects the company's commitment to its employees. A thoughtfully structured and reasonably generous package shows that the company is doing what is right and best for its people - a fact that causes employees to feel valued. Workers who know that they are valued integral members of the company are likely to stay. They are also likely to reflect the company's value system in their work performance, and in the way they treat customers and clients - with respect and fairness.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mark Gerzon – "Manhood: The Elusive Goal"

The search after the great man is the dream of youth and the most serious occupation of manhood. Man can paint, or make, or think, nothing but man. He believes that the great material elements had their origin from his thought. Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds. Each man seeks those of different quality from his own, and such as are good of his kind; that is, he seeks other men.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The writing is an enigmatic journey of a young male into adulthood where there are many encounters of some of the many rites of passage (dilemmas) in the modern society; smoking, drinking, and violence. Mr. Gerzon refers to these as part of the 'masculine code of conduct' an item every male must follow verbatim.

Peer pressure is a major dilemma in that friends or peers try to get a person to do what they, the majority, like and not what the individual likes. Peers create some of the so-called rites, then when one follows more start to follow, then it becomes the scenario of the lemmings following their leader off of the face of a cliff. Some teens think that drinking is a passage into adulthood and the logic of some teens then indicates that if you drink you are considered an adult. Therefore if one teen tries it he is supposedly accepted as a more mature person, so more people will follow.

Many adolescents fear their peers because of the fact that the peer group may have set certain ideals yet the individual may or may not have the resources to obtain the ideals. If there is a lack of resources then the individual may have a low level of self esteem. Many individuals do not care for the ideals yet they allow themselves to be converted to the majority and this can also create a problem with ones self-esteem.

We cannot begin to understand our own history without understanding manhood. Even those with the most uncertain understanding of the past cannot fail to see the influence of the male in our society. It is no wonder, then, that men lean toward dominance, authority, and control. Men believe (or earnestly wish to believe) that the future depends on them; that deep within them rests an inherent ability to sire, or mentor, great men who will become the heroes of sons yet unborn. As men, it is their quiet longing that even his own sons might become, or at least associate with, such heroes. In every generation, manhood has been at the center of life and progress. It constantly strives to uphold its own traditions while anxiously trying to redefine itself. It is their nature to search for new frontiers, to be different than their fathers. How men do this, while staying within the bounds of manhood, has always been their deepest challenge.

Today we live in a complex world of few norms where gender roles are increasingly difficult to define. The meaning of manhood is determined by each man, in his experience; they are no longer formed in molds. Manhood is constantly under siege by feminists, religious fundamentalists, political and gender stereotyping and governmental decisions. Still, man endures. Manhood, as stressful as it is, does not change his genetic nature. He must always be about consciously understanding his role as a man and taking responsibility for his actions. It is now known that how males play out their roles as men in their own time will largely determine the kind of quality of life that succeeding generations will have.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Arguments - Setting the Environment

If arguments take place in an atmosphere of acceptance and respect, conflict typically gives way to the calmness of understanding and acceptance. First and foremost, it is usually best to sit down before you begin talking. You can then focus better on each other and it is not nearly as easy to escape, as well, neither party can use dominating body gestures. Try to hear without interrupting and resist temptation to throw your two- cents worth in while the other is presenting their viewpoint. More importantly, avoid interrupting a person silently. This occurs when you use body or facial gestures such as turning your head away from a person. You interrupt when, whether with words or not, you block or screen what others are trying to say to you.

Decide between satisfaction and righteousness as these may be in conflict with each other. Righteousness creates problems. If you are right, others who may see things differently and, in your eyes must be wrong thus concluding righteousness only leads to one-ups-man-ship. Satisfaction leads to negotiation and mutual respect between people who do not totally agree on an issue. It is best to state your opinions as fears or concerns. Rather than being judgmental about an issue, express the feelings you have about what you are discussing. Concern for others should be a key ingredient behind many disagreements and arguments. Let your concern come out in a positive way; you will then focus more on your relationship with that person and not on the issue that you disagree about.

Clearly communicate positively with your eyes. Your eyes carry a message. If you don't think about something you appreciate about the person you are arguing with, your eyes will communicate tension instead. Let your eyes say: "I disagree with your views, but I care for you as a person." Think of something positive you can pass onto the other person. For example, it may be a thought from the past or a little thing of the moment that you appreciate. We all appreciate something about everyone. If a person is being highly stubborn, you could say: "I appreciate your persistence in sticking to an issue which must be very important to you. Also, know where you are going.

An argument has a purpose - to bring people to the point where they can reach some type of agreement. You need to know your goal or objective in an argument. If you wander from position to position, you and the other person never reach a point of agreement, and they will become increasingly exasperated with you. More so, once you get where you want to be, do not reconsider. Decisions need time to prove themselves. An agreement needs to be open for review but at a later date. Once you've taken a positive move in dealing with an argument, do not backtrack. Put a time limit on agreements and decisions. If the other person has accepted an agreement, without totally liking it, it will be easier to live with if they know it won't last forever.

Arguments can be peaceful or warlike. Peaceful arguments respect people and promote respect in relationships. Warlike arguments hurt and alienate. You can't avoid arguments, but you can choose the kind you end up having.