The Joy of Election Day

Election day is like an unofficial holiday. Going to the polls isn’t just about casting your vote, its about celebrating America.  For me at the Superior Township Town Hall, the atmosphere was joyous as the volunteers all wore huge smiles, helping people along, taking them step by step first through the identification process, and then handing them their ballots. The man who checked my photo ID scrutinized my check in form, putting a little touch up on one of the numbers in the date box. I could tell that he, as well as all of the other volunteers, believe wholeheartedly in the American civic process, and were so proud to be a part of it. I couldn’t help but feel the same way. To think of what has to happen in order to have a nationwide vote that is as efficient as ours. One-hundred and fifty million people, all having their voice heard, all in the course of a few hours. It is seriously impressive.  It makes me think of and be thankful for our nation’s forefathers, and everyone who has come after them, from active citizens, to politicians, to the volunteers, who have made all of this possible.  It is a time that for me, for just a few minutes, partisan divisions are non-existent, and we are all Americans, just sharing and enjoying our freedoms. Its such a great feeling.

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USDA MyPyramid – Not Exactly Organic

MyPyramid, the USDA’s most recent (2005) guide to a healthy lifestyle was a definite improvement to the previous USDA pyramid, responding to a great deal of research that had come out since the last USDA update in 1992.  The new pyramid touts the benefits of whole grains as opposed to refined carbs, and shifts away from flour-based carbohydrates as the recommended base of the diet, to a more balanced approach inclusive of all food groups.

But while improvements were obviously made, the 2005 MyPyramid is still very questionable in it’s accuracy, contradicting some popular scientific findings.

Dairy is Necessary (??)

One of the most controversial aspects of the 2005 pyramid has been the abundance of Dairy in the recommended diet, and relatively weak and inconspicuous way that MyPyramid suggests limiting saturated fat intake.  Represented by the blue color on MyPyramid, the USDA urges individuals to consume 3 cups of dairy every day.  The picture associated with the ‘MILK’ section depicts a range of dairy including two large depictions of cheese, which is almost always high in saturated fat.  Most nutrition experts seem to agree that dairy can be part of a healthy diet when saturated fat is largely excluded, but agree that dairy is by no means necessary, and is in fact largely absent from many examples of an ‘ideal’ diet, including the Mediterranean diet.

Meanwhile, more and more scientific evidence has emerged pointing to the benefits of vegetables and other plant-based foods.  Many nutrition scientists recommend consuming vegetables “in abundance”, choosing not to put a limit on daily consumption.  The USDA recommends only 2.5 cups, 1/2 cup less than dairy.

The only nutrition-based reasoning behind this push to consume dairy is based on the fact that humans between the ages of 19 and 50 need roughly 1000 mg of calcium daily (1).  Three cups of dairy equals somewhere around 800 mg of calcium.  What many people don’t know is that other foods are also calcium rich, enough so that you don’t have to consume dairy if you don’t want to.

1 cup of cooked collard greens – 266 mg calcium

1 orange – 76 mg calcium

1/2 cup of cooked spinach – 123 mg calcium

1/4 cup of almonds – 92 mg calcium (2)

Why does the USDA recommend 3 cups of dairy per day?  Maybe because it is the easiest way to ensure that the average consumer get enough calcium in their diet?  Maybe so that the U.S. dairy consumption, and therefore the U.S. dairy industry, which produces 95% of all dairy consumed in the U.S. (3), stays stable.

Though dairy seems to provide numerous health benefits, and is one of the easiest ways to get your recommended daily dose of calcium, the USDA is skewing nutritional science to say that humans need 3 cups of dairy per day, and only 2.5 cups of vegetables.

Make Half of Your Grains Whole (??)

MyPyramid also recommends 6 oz. of grains per day, and encourages at least 3  oz. to be whole grain.  It is widely believed that refined carbs are not as good for us as whole grains.  They are not only stripped of many of the most valuable parts of the grain which provide the bulk of the fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, but they also spike blood sugar levels, leading to lethargy in the short term and type 2 diabetes in the long-term.  Whole grains, on the other hand help, to stabilize blood-sugar levels, reduce bad cholesterol levels, which help prevent heart-disease, and have been shown to help prevent cancer.

Why only recommend half of grain consumption to be whole?  It seems to be further proof that the USDA is making concessions to industry at the expense of our health.

 

 

 

 

 

The Harvard School of Public Health has issued its own ‘Healthy Eating Pyramid’ in response.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/calcium.shtml

(2) http://nutritiondata.self.com/

(3) http://aic.ucdavis.edu/research1/DairyEncyclopedia_policy.pdf

Education – The Nutrients of Society

In the constant search for social welfare, everyone has their specific social problem that they would like to alleviate, and their specific solution(s) for alleviating it.  Usually the focus of the betterment efforts center around the problem as we see it.  I.e. for food deserts, build more grocery stores; for crime, increase the police force; for chronic unemployment, provide unemployment assistance.  While all of these will help the situation at hand, in the long term, the resources put into short-term, pointedly specific fixes will be costly, while the return on investment over the long-term is low.

OK, I realize that many welfare programs are very successful, and helpful, and I applaud them, but you cannot argue with the fact that most all of our society’s social inequalities and ills are created not because there is no grocery store, or because there aren’t enough police, or because there aren’t enough jobs, or any other situational occurrences that can be completely alleviated through special programs.  Problems are often created by people who have not had the resources available to them throughout their lives to enable them to become responsible, skilled, hard-working citizens.

I agree with the development of initiatives in poverty stricken areas to provide more resources where currently there are little to none.   I feel that everyone deserves a chance to succeed.  But at the same time, are we catering to a group of people who for the most part will not take advantage of the newly provided resources?

In order for community development to occur, there has to be motion not only from the side of the enablers (resource providers), but also on the side of the community members.  There is no doubt that in poverty stricken areas, there is a group that will not make any effort to better their lives, and it is that group that will be poverty stricken their whole life, and effectively a drain on society.

What we should be doing is focusing on the roots of all of these problems.  I.e. what makes an individual unmotivated to take advantage of opportunities presented, or unable to get hired because of a lack of vocational skill, or unaware of ways that they can better themselves?  In my opinion, it is their upbringing.

Is it any wonder why children from wealthy, educated, loving families are often successful in their life as well?  Is it because they are born to good genes?  I strongly think not.  It is because from a young age they are taught all of the virtues that are necessary for a successful life.  The importance of hard work, respect for others, working hard in school, including doing your homework and going to class.  Those who fail in life are also ones who failed in school, as a result of poor educational resources (teachers, etc.), and lack of familial support.

If we poured significant funds into education and parental involvement today, the benefits 30 years from now would be tremendous.  The education gap would close significantly, and would continue to close as time went on.  A well-educated and productive individual contributes positively to society, bettering the world around them, and mentoring their kids and others, so that the cycle can continue.

Education and mentoring are the nutrients that we are feeding our society.  We must help ourselves into thinking in the long-term.  While it will be politically difficult to fund a project that will take 20+ years to reap results, we must get beyond that, and recognize that we need to address our society’s problems from the roots.  It will pay itself back hugely in the future as the capacity of society will grow exponentially over time.

How To Do It? (please comment)

Increase Teacher Salaries so as to attract the most talented people possible.

Monetary Incentives for Parents who help their children succeed?

Forbes Magazine and the Media

So by now many of you have read the cover story from the formerly reputable Forbes magazine titled How Obama Thinks. The article is a smear piece.  But not just any smear piece, this one is extra special, special like the meat in your middle school cafeteria.  Forbes magazine and Dinesh D’Souza went all out, putting down every attack, and every skewed half-truth that they could fit within their word limit.  Beginning with baseless claims about the Obama Administrations policies and decision-making, and later claiming that our president is fulfilling the anti-establishment (anti-American) dreams of his father (who he met only one time after the age of 2).

So I read this article last week, and have since been through a series of intense emotional stages.  They are as follows:

1.  While I was reading – Laughing hysterically. “This is ridiculous, and funny…It can’t be from Forbes, they are a respected publication, right??”

2. After I finished – Confused – “OK, that got a little weird…and wait, that really was Forbes Magazine???”

3. 2-3 days following – ANGRY – “What is with these low-blow punches???”

4.  4th day on – Realization, reflection, fright:

Is our media’s sole strategy to manipulate us????  Am I just learning that power corrupts?  I realize there is conduct within the media, but where do they draw the line?  I try to read carefully and objectively, but articles and op-eds still make broad claims regarding everything under this sun…can I trust any of it?  Obviously it’s possible to spend all day scanning article after article, then reading reports from left, middle, and right think tanks, and then reading reports from the Office of Management and Budget.  If this is the only way, something needs to change.  Can we get some morals?  If you are in the media, don’t stoop down, don’t drink the kool-aide, be unbiased.

In the short run, manipulation by the media might sway public opinion, and affect changes in the political realm, but in the long run, I feel it will only be counterproductive to the betterment of our country.  Democracy is set up to represent the needs of the people, assuming they have fair and unbiased information.  When the Steve Forbes of the world use their power to sway public opinion in their favor, democracy is no longer wielding a fair representation of the people.

Generation Y – doesn’t our opinion matter?

Gen Y.

def. – The generation born in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Yep, we are all grown up.  In fact, some of us are apparently now 30.  We make up a significant portion of the American voting public.  We are well educated.  We care about issues.  Our voice is heard (sometimes).

Generation Y is a new group of United States citizens.  Taught by our radical baby boom parents and grandparents to not be afraid to reject the mainstream, or on the other hand to accept the ideas of those who are doing good for our world.

We are independent.  We are smart.  We have compassion.

We are Potential.

This blog provides a platform for young people of Generation Y to put their ideas forth.  To get our ideas heard, so that we can make a bigger difference.  So much is being done by young people today, from idea generation to community development to political debate, to acceptance of the equality of all living things.  From local culture to global culture.

We are a new generation for a new world.  This is our platform.  Go.

If you are part of Generation Y, and you want to have your voice heard, send posts to pburger8@gmail.com.

If you have comments to or about Gen Y, please feel free to do the same.