Mental Health and Economics by Aaron Crosetto

November 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

If we want to actively keep our freedoms, then we must educate ourselves continually to stay on top of the issues we hold most dear in a democracy.  We all owe a great debt to those willing to occupy Wall Street and hold these Wall Street criminals to task.  But people involved on any level also may feel a bit of impotence in our current global union to really be able to get politicians to make change.

Obama said, It is up to the people. Well, we have spoken and continue to speak.  Yet, the wealth for the top 1 % keeps multiplying and we are left with fewer and fewer crumbs.  Money rules all voting, not the people’s vote.  This is the implied message being spread everywhere.

Even back in  1890, a populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease said, “Wall Street owns the country…our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags.  The political parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us…Money rules.”

Corporations, banks and governments are working against the common people and what is left of our welfare.  This causes psychological suffering on pandemic levels.  Sadly, our president is in bed with these destroyers of democratic hope.  Politicians nothing but money launderers.  The corporations see to this.  On top of it all, the wealthiest barely pay any taxes.  Corporations are also paying politicians to kill any and all legislation that might help the common soul. Those trying to help the poor and middle class become marginalized and easily defeated.  Except perhaps by large and small groups like Occupy Wall Street. Bill Moyers writes, “The most consisitent predictor of mental illness, infant mortality, educational achievements, teenage births, homicides, and incarceration, is economic inequality.”

“Vast inequalities of income weakens a society’s sense of mutual concern…The sense that we are all members of the social order is vital to the meaning of civilization,” Nobel laureate economist Kenneth Arrow observed. It is private interest over public duty.  These immense stressors spark mental illness and the depletion of health for everyone but the wealthy who have the riches to help with psychiatry, medicine and counseling.  The treacherous nature of economic crashes and strain and painful toil hurt our health and take our sanity and strengths to lower and lower levels as people desperately try to survive in the wreckage of our society’s social security net which they so need to survive.  Mental health equals quality of life that needs support from the top 1% in today’s stratification of wealth to survive unless by some miracle wealth can be redistributed properly, including through progressive taxation of the wealthy classes.  If this does not happen, the rubble we find ourselves within in America is not unlike that of the book Lord of the Flies. This is a world where no quality of life is possible and would mean death to many.  This would be the end to what we know as mental health.  Please let’s keep up the struggle for human rights and occupying Wall Street, government and banking not just in America but the whole of the world.

The Price of Health by Manny Frishberg

October 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

Sometimes things happen that so shake a person’s world that nothing ever appears the same again. A few years ago, something like that happened to me — I almost died from a lack of health insurance. (and a burst appendix.) This story is far from unique to me. It is, more and more, what those of us who count ourselves among the bottom 99 percent have to deal with. Medicaid is being cut as states struggle to balance their budgets, while people facing layoffs lose not just their livelihood but the insurance they count on to pay their family’s doctor bills.

Delaying care is one reason  why people of color have worse chances of a good outcome with a number of diseases (but that’s another story). I know the cost of my delay in going to see the doctor. My adventure in emergency surgery ended up costing the system close to $90,000.

Probably 95 percent of that, and the fact that I nearly died, could have been avoided if I’d gone in when I first felt ill. But I couldn’t buy health insurance at the time and I did not think I was that sick. I’m grateful to the selfless people who saved my life. But the system paid because I couldn’t.

So for me it is personal  when the politicians’ plans to save money by making it even harder for people who are losing their jobs to get the only health insurance they might be able to afford,. When I hear of them making such nickel-and-dime wise/dollar bone-jarringly stupid proposals. I want to open up my window and scream.

But I don’t. I write about it instead. And as a journalist I am trained to keep my own feelings out of the story. I ask questions that other people don’t have the time or the opportunity to ask, report the answers and try, where possible, fill in the blanks with some background information for context. Then I sit back and wait for it to appear on the website – and for you to open your windows and scream.

Things Must Change from poet Justin Jordan

October 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Occupy movement, which began in New York last month as Occupy Wall Street, is capturing the imagination and passion of many people tired of an inequitable economy and corporate excesses in our nation. Saturday, Oct 15, people marched in more than 80 countries in solidarity. The movement is leaderless, diverse, and decentralized.  Occupy Wall street’s blog claims that more than 1oo US cities are now “occupied.”

I visited with poet, Justin Jordan, at the Occupy Seattle site the week of October 15th.  Here is his poem:

Things Must Change”

The whole country feels like a sinking ship
and that’s why people are starting to trip
Politicians give themselves pay raises but
it’s time for their asses to take a pay cut
You working hard to pay the bills
you start to worry then you fall ill
Some doctors won’t see you without insurance
they say you’ll make it off endurance
The health of this nation
is the wealth of this nation
People are losing their homes and jobs
Peaceful protest turn into an angry mob
Look at our government for a minute
their up to their necks in it
A government of the people I don’t think so
because for big business
our government is a ho
I pledge allegiance to the flag
yo I ain’t tryin to hear that drag
They sent our jobs overseas
high unemployment is the result
of this dastardly deed
Services to help those in need
are being cut to further big business greed
The courts are stripping our freedoms away
The national debt we’ll never pay
They put more burdens on our backs
The more they spend the more they tax
Things continue as they did
at the beginning
but things must change
or we’ll have an unhappy ending
More poems by Justin Jordan include “Soulless City” and  “Lamentation for Haiti

Strategies of Invisibility and Urban Youth

May 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

To make change policy makers and society have to hear you–somehow.  Vote, write an email to officials, boycott or buycott, sign a petition, blog, speak out!  Even an uncaring government can change if you take a stand.

Visibility in numbers works. I’ve seen it happen in my local City Council Chambers. The homeless community packs the chamber when programs are threatened. They generate numbers that make the chamber standing room only and they speak to their Councilmembers.  When they do that their voices move our Councilmembers to protect human services. I saw it so I believe in it. It works.

So, knowing that, I’m concerned about findings that Cathy Cohen reports from interviews for  The Black Youth Project , 2005, regarding strategies of invisibility.  In her Chicago focus groups with young African Americans aged 18-21, those youths, especially those “most vulnerably positioned,” as outlined in her paper, Nihilism and Politics: The Constrained Life Choices of African American Youth, “engaged in a strategy of invisibility, making themselves invisible to authority figures like the police, teachers, and correction officers that they believe are out to ‘get them.'” Cohen writes, “…through a politics of invisibility young people lose any power to hold entities accountable. In a democracy based on visibility and voice, attempts to make one-self invisible have the unintended consequence of silencing discontent. It obscures their lived reality for the public, and in particular, those responsible for responding to such difficulties.”  More on Black Youth Project in another blog…

Why would youth seek to be invisible?  Consider the realities. Nationally, 1 in 3 Blacks and 1 in 6 Latinos born in 2001 risk imprisonment in their lifetime.  Michelle Alexander, winner of the 2005 Soros Justice Fellowship,  expounds on the tragedy  in her troubling 2010 book  The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.   African Americans are also approximately 23% of those in poverty as The Grio laments  however, as The Grio found out, noone posting responses needs to hear the statistics. They want suggestions on how to create change. Invisibility certainly won’t work to change these issues so in need of vocal opposition. It’s understandable. But it won’t work. 

It’s always easier to know what doesn’t work then what does. How does a community move from silence, or the more dramatic complement invisibility, to vocal action? How do people learn to believe change can happen? Have you made a change? What worked in your community?

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