Meditation: More Powerful Than You Might Think

yoga

You’ve heard the hype: daily yoga practice will help you find inner peace.  Meditating daily will help you deal more effectively with stress.  While meditation practices may not be your cup of tea, they are more effective at improving your mental health than your daily coffee or stimulant.   In fact, according to a recent Science Daily article, mind body interventions (MBI’s) such as yoga or Tai Chi, “‘reverse the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression..”  Read on to discover how it works.

Experts concentrated on gene expression, which is, “..the way that genes activate to produce proteins which influence the biological make-up of the body, the brain and the immune system.” 1*  When you are stressed, your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), which is responsible for your “flight or fight response” is activated.  Your SNS then activates a molecule called the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB).  This molecule is in charge of your gene expression.

NF-kB then activates genes to produce proteins called cytokines.  These proteins cause cellular inflammation.  While this inflammation can be helpful with flight or fight responses, its benefits are short-term.  If this inflammation continues, your risk of cancer, accelerated aging and psychiatric disorders like depression dramatically increases. 1*   On the other hand, as many as 18 studies conducted over the past 11 years have found that individuals who participated in MBI’s experienced, “…a decrease in production of NF-kB and cytokines, leading to a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene pattern and a reduction in the risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.” 1*  It turns out, those who do yoga or meditate might be onto something.

According to Lead investigator Ivana Buric from the Brain, Belief and Behavior Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology MBI’s are, “…leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.” 1*

While you may still drink your daily coffee and think you don’t have time for this meditation mumbo-jumbo, these gene-expression benefits just might be too good to ignore.  After all, what’s more important: increasing your life-expectancy or completing everything on your to-do list?  That’s what I thought.  😉

 

NOTE: For more information, please visit Science Daily (or paste this URL into your browser: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170615213301.htm)

 

 

Is College The Right Path?

Many of us have grown up believing that to be self-reliant and have a promising future we must go to college. Liberals continue to believe that college is (as a general rule of thumb) the best way to lead a happy and successful life. However, many Conservatives argue college simply is not worth the time, money, and effort, and claim happiness and success can be found through other paths. While no one path is right for everyone, there is a compromise to be made between these two extremes. As a general rule, I believe college is worth the time, money, and effort. Nevertheless, Conservative concerns such as the huge amount of student loan debt, the skills gap and lack of employment opportunities should be taken into account when deciding whether to attend college. If you are interested in pursuing a very specific career field like medicine or law, college is a great option for you. On the other hand, if you find yourself either unsure about your future career or wanting flexibility in your career options, the Conservative alternatives of vocational schools or starting your own business might just be your best bet.

Both of my parents attended college and received post-graduate degrees. My mother was a high school and college math teacher and my dad was an attorney. With my parents’ educational background, I have never really considered not attending college. My career goal is to become a registered nurse, perhaps in surgery or labor and delivery. Ever since I started high school I have eagerly anticipated going to college. Because my career choice is very specific, attending college is probably my best option.

However, upon researching the costs and benefits of college, I realize it would be naive of me to assume that college is the best option for everyone.   For those unsure about their career paths, college probably is not the best option. Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com, has found that “Eighty percent of college-bound students have yet to choose a major.” Also, according to NBC News, “…Indecisiveness can drain college savings accounts as students restart course sequences or transfer schools — losing credits in the process.” 1* The College Board has found that five and six-year students are not uncommon. They also found that roughly 40 percent of those who start a four-year degree program still have not earned a degree after year six. 1*

The bottom line is this: the sooner you choose a career, the better. The clock is ticking and according to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, your indecisiveness effects more than just you. They claimed that, “…student loans are ‘beginning to have the same effect’ on the economy that the housing bubble and crash created.” 2* This issue must be taken seriously and into account when deciding to pursue a college education.

The skills gap must also be considered. According to a CNN article, employers may be expecting too much of their employees. Colleges are just not equipped to give them the skills companies want their employees to have right after graduation. Patrick Gillespie, a CNN journalist found that, “65% of job postings for secretaries who work for executives require a college degree.” But, according to Joseph Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor, among current executive secretaries, only 19% have college degrees. 3*

“According to the labor department, there were 5.3 million job openings in America in May. That’s better than the meager 2.1 million job openings at the depth of the recession.”

“However, the rise in job openings is running parallel next to a bad trend: the average number of days a job posting remains available is going up”, Harvard professor Fuller says. 3* There is an acute shortage of skills in the U.S. and many Conservatives blame the quality of our college education. Procon.org found that “in 2013 56% of employers thought half or fewer of college graduates had the skills and knowledge to advance within their companies.” 2*

A final consideration is that many colleges are very Liberal. Some claim that colleges may be “brainwashing” students instead of educating them. David Horowitz, MA, conservative activist and author, claims that university, “curriculum has been expanded to include agendas about ‘social change’ that are overtly political.” 2* Some conservatives argue that attending college may not teach you to think and learn things for yourself. These are two very important skills employers are looking for in their employees.

To conclude, there really is no definite answer to the question, “is college worth it?”. I hate to say that, “it depends”, but in all honesty this question should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you know where you want to go, there is a good chance college can take you there. If you have no specific future plans, college very well may end up a waste of time and money. But, ultimately, the choice is yours. As I have discussed, college is not the only way to succeed; but it is my way.

 

SOURCES:

1* http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10154383/ns/business-personal_finance/t/college-freshmen-face-major-dilemma/#.WObPaOgrK00

2* Procon.com

3* http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/07/news/economy/us-economy-job-skills-gap/

Conservatives See Better Alternatives to Attending College

Despite many Liberals’ claims, Conservatives believe that a college education is not what it used to be. Good-paying jobs are getting harder and harder to find with young adults graduating with useless or soon to be obsolete degrees like anthropology or psychology. Conservatives believe that many people should consider starting their own business, building their own brand, or attending a vocational school. These alternatives are not only less expensive but help you gain the skills you need to secure a stable job.

First, it is no secret that student loan debt is a major financial burden on college graduates. According to the Huffington Post, “America now holds $1 trillion in student loan debt. This is more than home mortgages, car loans and credit cards….” 1* To add insult to injury, college tuition prices are skyrocketing. In fact, “the cost of college has gone up 1,000% in the past 40 consecutive years.” 1* This growth rate has far surpassed the inflation rate. Those who are college-bound need to be prepared to pay an average of $920/month to $1,840/month of student loans for ten years. 1* Let those numbers sink in for a minute before you decide to earn a degree that will leave you grossly unqualified for the real world job market. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, there is only about 56% percent chance that students who start college will finish earning a degree within six years. 2* Many college students who do not finish their degrees only have large debts in exchange for their trouble.

While Liberals claim more and more jobs are requiring their employees to have college degrees, Conservatives argue that college no longer provides graduates with the skills required for today’s job market. While an annual study conducted by the consulting firm Accenture found that 80% of graduates from the Class of 2014 expected on-the-job training, more than 50% of graduates from the Classes of 2012 and 2013 report receiving no on-the-job training. 1* These statistics demonstrate that employers are looking to hire people with skills and experience: not just those with college degrees.

We are living in a technology-driven world economy. While our technological advancements are amazing, colleges are growing more and more inadequate in their ability to teach students marketable skills. According to Huffington Post journalist Michael Price, “If you obtain a business or marketing degree you will never be anything more than a project manager, and over-time more and more technologies will become available that will automate much of what you do making you completely dispensable.” 1* Colleges just cannot seem to teach the skills that jobs in the real economy require.   Price claims, “Millennials are the most educated generation in human history, which is why they are also one of the most underemployed generations in human history… college graduates can’t find meaningful work because there’s too high a supply of the same people with the same credentials and not enough jobs to fill them all with meaningful work.” 1*

These statistics make going to college sound like a waste of time. While this seems to go against everything we have ever been taught in public schools, there may be a lot of truth to this belief. Michael Price claims that, “[a college education] will never be effective or progressive enough to keep up with the growing needs of employers who look to college institutions for their future employees.” 1* Price suggests starting your own business or attending trade schools which will help you gain the skills you need to obtain stable employment.

Trade or vocational schools are a great option for those not interested in starting their own business or creating their own brand. According to The Huffington Post, “There are an estimated 3 million labor jobs available; 90% of them don’t require a college degree and most of them pay more than white collar jobs. They simply require a skill.” 1* However, Price cautions that many vocational schools are more expensive and less beneficial than traditional universities. Price also suggests that we take advantage of the many non-traditional learning methods, including YouTube and other online education programs. 1*

It is clear that a college education is not required in order to lead a productive and happy life. The question is, are the costs of not obtaining a college degree outweighed by the benefits of saved time and money? The answer to this and other important questions will be addressed in my next post.

 

SOURCES:

1* http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michaelprice/7-reasons-why-you-shouldn_1_b_5501111.html

2* http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/05/30/5-facts-about-todays-college-graduates/

ALSO SEE: www.Procon.com

Is College Worth It? Let’s Do The Math

With college tuition continually on the rise and many degrees failing to guarantee employment, many wonder if college is worth the time, effort, and resources. Liberals are eager to convince us that without a college degree our future is bleak. They tell us to expect very few job opportunities, poor health, and even a shorter life expectancy. While studies have shown that college graduates tend to be “healthy, wealthy, and wise”, this is not the full picture. In this post, I will explore the Liberal’s arguments. In my next post, I will discuss why college might not be the right option for you after all.

Despite the costs of time, effort, and money, gaining a college education does have significant and noteworthy benefits. On average, college graduates have more and better employment opportunities, make more money, and tend to lead happier, healthier and more productive lives. The phrase, “healthy, wealthy, and wise” may be cliché, but in this case, it does apply to most college graduates when compared to their less-educated peers.

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of being a college graduate is that you tend to make more money. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, “…students who receive a Bachelor’s degree or a more advanced degree have, on average, more than twice the income of high school drop-outs and students with just a high school diploma…Bachelor’s degree recipients have estimated life-time earnings that are more than a $1 million greater than the lifetime earnings of people with just a high school diploma.” 1* If being financially self-reliant is important to you, then graduating college should be on your bucket list.

While the financial benefit of going to college is often overstated, it is important to know that the, “cost of not going to college has risen.” According to a Pew Research study, “Millennials with just a high school diploma are faring worse today than their counterparts in earlier generations by almost every economic measure examined.” 2* Keep this and the graph below in mind the next time you are about to dismiss the financial benefits of going to college.

ST_14.02.11_231_HigherEd_Earnings

College graduates also have more and better employment opportunities than those without a college degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher have “…half the unemployment rate of people with just a high school diploma.” 1* The truth of the matter is, more and more jobs are requiring college degrees. In fact, “only 34% of American jobs require a high school diploma or less in 2017, compared to 72% in the 1970s…. According to a June 2016 study, 99% of job growth (or 11.5 million of 11.6 million jobs) between 2010 and 2016 went to workers with associate’s degrees, bachelor’s, or graduate degrees.” 3* More and better employment opportunities also means going to college helps to reduce poverty and the burden on tax payers. College graduates are also more likely to have health insurance and retirement plans. In 2008, 70% of college graduates had access to employer-provided health insurance compared to 50% of high school graduates. 3* This means most college graduates tend to be more economically valuable and less burdensome to society.

Henry Bienan, PhD, President of Northwestern University, argues that a college education results in “greater productivity, lower crime, better health, [and] better citizenship for more educated people.” 2* Studies have even found that college graduates are more likely to do volunteer work (43% compared to 19% of high school graduates) and donate blood (9% compared to 4% of high school graduates and 2% of high school drop-outs). 3*   A Pew Research Study found that, “…college-educated Millennials also have lower unemployment and poverty rates than their less-educated peers. They’re also more likely to be married and less likely to be living in their parent’s home.”

SEE GRAPH BELOW

ST_14.02.11_232_HigherEd_Benefits

Psychologist Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity stated, “I think most social scientists would put their money on education as the most important factor in ensuring longer lives,” Scientists and other experts also claimed in a paper published earlier this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Education not only predicts mortality in the U.S., it is also a large predictor of health in most countries, regardless of their level of development.” Experts have found that there is as much as a seven-year gap in life expectancy between high school and college graduates. 4*

SDT-higher-education-02-11-2014-2-08

While college may be expensive and a major sacrifice of time and effort, experts and college graduates alike claim it is a worth-while investment. In fact, “…about nine-in-ten college grads in every generation say college has been, or will be, worth the investment. Despite a steep rise in college tuitions, Millennials agree.” 2* It is true that going to college is not the right option for everyone. But for many people, going to college is a tradition they intend to pass on to future generations.

SOURCES: 

1* www.edvisors.com/plan-for-college/benefits-of-college/why-college

2* http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/11/6-key-findings-about-going-to-college/

3* http://college-education.procon.org

4* http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/04/10/why-learning-leads-to-happiness

Marijuana: Pandora’s Box Has Been Opened

Got pot?  Conservatives do not!  All kidding aside, Conservatives have legitimate concerns about legalizing medical marijuana, such as the gateway effect and lack of needed research into the effectiveness of medical marijuana. However, Liberals also pose arguments that should not be ignored, including the right of an individual to self- medicate. At a minimum, medical marijuana should be legalized for medical research. When, and if, research demonstrates that marijuana is more effective for specific diseases and conditions than existing medicine, marijuana should be legalized to treat those diseases.

Many Conservatives worry about the “gateway effect” and claim that, “There is ample evidence that early initiation of drug use primes the brain for enhanced later responses to other drugs…Establishing it as a third legal drug, along with tobacco and alcohol, will increase the expanding opioid epidemic.” 1*

However, Liberals disagree, and state that marijuana is not a gateway drug. According to a Fact check article, “Though there are correlations between marijuana use and other drugs, there is no conclusive evidence that one actually causes the other.” Liberals make the point that, “Just because marijuana smokers might be more likely to later use, say, cocaine, does not imply that using marijuana causes one to use cocaine.” 2* Careful analysis tells us that just because two things are correlated does not mean that one caused the other.

Indeed, Liberals advance an intriguing argument that medical marijuana is the solution to the opioid epidemic because it is a solution to many people’s problem with chronic pain. Medical research has been severely limited by federal classification as a Schedule One drug. Researchers and doctors are hesitant to seek approval of medical marijuana research projects because approval is rare. They also have legitimate concerns about their licenses and jobs. 3* However, much anecdotal evidence indicates that marijuana is an effective treatment for chronic pain. According to CNN.com, “Some medicines based on cannabis such as Sativex are being tested on multiple sclerosis patients and used to treat cancer pain. The drug has been approved in Canada and in some European countries. In another trial involving 56 human patients, scientists saw a 30% reduction in pain in those who smoked marijuana.” 3*

There are additional Liberal arguments that should not be ignored. For example, why should the government dictate what an individual uses to control their pain or other medical condition?   You would think that Conservatives would argue for individual liberty and less government interference with individual choice but they do not. In fact, this is one of the Liberals’ arguments.

It is clear that both sides of this issue pose legitimate arguments. However, the solution to this issue is not so clear. A compromise must be made between the Conservative and Liberal perspectives. A reasonable compromise would be to legalize medical marijuana for medical research and legalize it as medically appropriate. If existing or new research demonstrates that marijuana is more effective for specific diseases and conditions than existing medicine, marijuana should be legalized to treat those diseases. The FDA should treat marijuana as they do any other drug and can approve its use to treat specific medical conditions.

According to a 2013 survey in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 8 in 10 doctors approve the use of medical marijuana. Additionally, survey results from the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that, “92% of patients said that medical marijuana alleviated symptoms of their serious medical conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, migraines, and cancer.” 4* Many doctors and their patients support the legalization of marijuana for medical uses. To ignore the 23+ states that currently allow for both medical and recreational use would be unwise. 4* Like it or not, the cat may already be out of the bag, and Conservatives may not be able to close Pandora’s box. The majority of our society is leaning towards the legalization of marijuana’s medical and recreational use. 57% of U.S. adults are in favor of the legalization of marijuana. 5* If we cannot stop the use of marijuana, the least we can take advantage of its potential medical benefits.

HelloMD CEO Mark Hadfield claims, “There is overwhelming evidence that marijuana helps to alleviate a range of conditions that affect millions of Americans. If you take into account the relatively benign nature of marijuana—with zero deaths from overdose—and contrast that with this overwhelming benefit, it is really quite an eye-opener.” 6*

Despite an increase in medical research showing positive effects for chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, and many other diseases, marijuana still carries a significant drug stigma. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta said, “It can be tricky to be on the right side of science, but on the wrong side of ideology.” However, this stigma is well worth fighting to overcome. By at least legalizing marijuana for medical research, we can help stimulate the “medical marijuana revolution”. 7*

I must admit that I have a preference bias. I have a disorder that scientists claim would be helped by medical marijuana.   Therefore, who could blame me for encouraging this drug’s legalization for medical use? I hope that future research of the medical uses of marijuana reveals many life-saving and pain-relieving solutions to many conditions, including my own.

 

SOURCES:

1* www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/04/26

2* http://www.factcheck.org/2015/04/is-marijuana-really-a-gateway-drug/

3* www.CNN.com/2015/04/15/health/marijuana-medical-advances/index.html

4* https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/10/01/92-of-patients-say-medical-marijuana-works/?utm_term=.dd00d6f2aefc

5* http://www.pewresearch.org/author/ageiger/

6* www.attn.com/stories/6135/how-people-use-medical-marijuana

7* www.CNN.com/2015/04/16/opinions/medical-marijuana-revolution-sanjay-gupta/

Conservatives Claim The Gateway Effect Is A Legitimate Concern

Conservatives believe the legalization of medical marijuana is a slippery slope that will eventually lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. They claim that the money saved by legalizing medical marijuana comes at too high a price. Conservatives also claim that prison overcrowding will not be solved by legalizing medical marijuana and suggest alternative solutions. Finally, Conservatives claim there is not enough research to justify the legalization of medical marijuana.

Conservatives claim that legalizing medical marijuana will lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana. For example, California legalized medical marijuana and then legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Conservatives are afraid that this pattern will spread across the United States. Legalizing medical and recreational use of marijuana will lead to an increase in drug use due to the gateway effect. According to Dr. Robert L. DuPont, President of the Institute for Behavior and Health, “Marijuana use is positively correlated with alcohol use and cigarette use, as well as illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.” DuPont claims that, “…more people who use marijuana consume more, not less, legal and illegal drugs than do people who do not use marijuana.” 3* Conservatives believe the gateway effect is a valid argument against legalizing medical marijuana.

Conservatives claim that societal costs overcome any money made by taxing legalized medical marijuana. In his Huffington Post article entitled, Legalizing Marijuana: The Real Costs, Deni Carise compares legalized marijuana to the legalization of alcohol and tobacco. While these substances are heavily taxed, this revenue fails to compensate for the real costs to society from these products. Carise gives several examples of alcohol’s damaging effects including, “…increased traffic accidents, ER visits, domestic violence and lost work productivity…costly medical problems, and even death.” 1* In 2009, there were 10,839 traffic fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. This statistic only represents the costs to society caused by fatalities: one can only imagine the societal costs caused by, “…those ‘lucky’ enough to just be injured in accidents…” Also, marijuana is “…the second most prevalent drug (after alcohol) implicated in automobile accidents.” 1* Conservatives claim the price of legalizing medical marijuana is simply too high.

Conservatives argue that any relief to the criminal justice system would be minimal and suggest there are better ways to solve prison overcrowding. Charles Lane claims in his Washington Post article that, “ending the war on drugs would not end mass incarceration”. Lane argues that the Liberals’ statistics concerning drug offenders are exaggerated and that, “Drug offenders account for only 19.5% of the total state-federal prison population, most of whom, especially in the federal system, were convicted of dealing drugs such as cocaine, heroin and meth, not ‘smoking marijuana’.” 2* Lane also claims that while, “…the population of state prisons (which house the vast majority of offenders) grew from 294,000 in 1980 to 1,362,000 in 2009… only 21% of that growth was due to the imprisonment of drug offenders, most of which occurred between 1980 and 1989….” Pfaff also claimed that, “More than half of the overall increase [of drug offenders] was due to punishment of violent offenses, not drugs.” 2* Conservatives argue that legalizing marijuana to achieve criminal justice relief is not wise, and claim other solutions such as shorter sentences for drug offenders and giving judges more discretion in sentencing would be more effective. 3*

Finally, Conservatives state that there simply is not enough evidence to justify the legalization of medical marijuana. According to Dr. Stuart Gitlow, former president of the ASAM Board of Directors, “There really is no such thing as medical marijuana…The dangers and risks of marijuana use are well-known by the scientific community, even if they are down played by corporate interests wishing to get rich off of legalization. Apathy, lost productivity, addictive disease, deterioration in intellectual function, motor vehicle accidents, and psychosis are all among the negative outcomes. All from a product that has no demonstrated benefit. For nearly all conditions for which marijuana has purported benefits, we already have existing medications—safe medications—demonstrated to have value.” 4*   For example, the American Academy of Neurology does not advocate the legalization of medical marijuana to treat neurologic conditions because of the lack of evidence. They recommend further research to address concerns such as marijuana’s interactions with current prescriptions. 5* Perhaps some Conservatives would be more willing to consider legalizing medical marijuana once more research has proved its effectiveness over existing medications.

In conclusion, while Liberals claim legalizing medical marijuana will lead to economic and public health benefits, Conservatives disagree. Conservatives argue that legalizing marijuana will lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana. They claim any benefits of legalizing medical marijuana are outweighed by the negative societal costs, such as the loss of life. Finally, they claim that more research is needed to support the Liberals’ claim that the medical benefits of marijuana justify its legalization.

 

SOURCES:

1* www.huffingtonpost.com/deni-carise/legalizing-marijuana-the-_b_3620472.html

2* https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ending-the-war-on-drugs-would-not-end-mass-incarceration/2015/10/14/e08835a4-7295-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html?utm_term=.5a1bca573828

3* www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/08/prison-overcrowding-n-4235691.html

4* www.ProCon.org

5* www.medscape.com/viewarticle/837149

Liberals Claim Medical Marijuana Should Be Legalized

The legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use is highly contested. Most Liberals support the legalization of marijuana, while the majority of Conservatives believe marijuana should remain illegal. In this blog post I will focus on the Liberal perspective; I will discuss the Conservative’s viewpoint in my next post. I will be focusing my thoughts on the legalization of medical marijuana. Liberals claim that the support for legalizing medical marijuana continues to rise and has a potential to offer thousands of people a better quality of life, reduces the demand for narcotics and accidental painkiller overdoses, and has many other benefits to society.

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, 57% of U.S. adults support the legalization of (recreational) marijuana while 37% of U.S. adults believe it should be illegal. Just ten years ago, only 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed. This stark contrast demonstrates a shift in public opinion about this issue. 77% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. 1* This shift is driven by several demographic groups including young adults, Millennials, and Baby Boomers. 2*

FT_16.10.11_marijuanaLegal_table

Legalizing medical marijuana potentially offers symptom relief and may completely eliminate symptoms. Jen Christensen, CNN journalist emphasizes, “…ten diseases where medical marijuana could have an impact.” Results from animal studies show that some marijuana extracts may destroy certain cancer cells and stop cancer growth. THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) was also shown to improve radiation effectiveness on destroying cancer cells. Medical marijuana also helped to reduce side effects of chemo therapy treatments. In fact, a study involving 56 patients found that medical marijuana helped to reduce 30% of their pain. Other studies involving animals, lab tests, and some human patients have shown that medical marijuana can help prevent symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, including muscle spasms, pain, tremors, and stiffness. For Epilepsy, medical marijuana extract was found to reduce seizure frequency by 50% in a study conducted on 213 children and adults at the NYU Langone Medical Center. Liberals claim the medical breakthroughs are only beginning. 3*

Medical cannabis (marijuana) is also a safe solution for chronic pain. Dr. Gregory T. Carter states, “Cannabis has no known lethal dose, minimal drug interactions, is easily dosed via orally ingestion, vaporization, or topical absorption, thereby avoiding the potential risks associated with smoking completely….” 4* According to the Washington Post, 92% of patients say medical marijuana works. Also, nearly 8-in-10 doctors approved the use of medical marijuana. 5*

Legalizing medical marijuana also serves as a solution to the pain and overdose epidemic. Research reveals that the enactment of medical marijuana laws reduce overdose deaths involving heroin and pharmaceutical opioids. Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance states, “The most likely reason [for the increase of marijuana use] is that people are finding marijuana more helpful than opioids in managing different types of pain.” 4*

Dr. Sanjay Gupta claims, “With regard to pain alone, marijuana could simultaneously decrease the number of accidental painkiller overdoses, which are the greatest cause of preventable death in this country…” 4* The legalization of medical marijuana would provide millions of people effective pain relief and save many lives.

Finally, legalizing medical marijuana would reduce crime, decrease mass incarceration rates, and save the government billions of dollars. According to the ACLU, 52% of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana. 6* Also, according to Drug Policy.org, 89% of those charged with marijuana law violations in 2015 were arrested for possession only. 7* The most common use of marijuana is for medical purposes, especially pain relief. Why are we arresting people for trying to reduce their chronic pain? Instead, we should be focusing on the violent criminals that escape punishment because valuable police resources are being used to incarcerate non-violent marijuana users. The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. 8* Drug Policy.org claims that the U.S. spent more than $51 billion dollars on the war on drugs. 7* Economists at The Huffington Post claim that by legalizing medical marijuana the government would save $13.7 billion dollars per year. 9*

To conclude, Liberals fully support the legalization of medical marijuana. The research demonstrates that medical marijuana can help reduce symptoms of diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Medical marijuana is also proving to be an effective solution for chronic pain. Liberals argue that we should not punish people for trying to reduce their pain. Prison incarceration rates would decrease, billions of dollars would be saved, and many lives would be enhanced if medical marijuana was legalized.

 

SOURCES:  

1* www.cnn.com/2015/04/16/opinions/medical-marijuana-revolution-sanjay-gupta/

2* http://www.pewresearch.org/author/ageiger/

3* www.cnn/2015/04/15/health/marijuana-medical-advances/index.html

4* http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/

5* https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/10/01/92-of-patients-say-medical-marijuana-works/?utm_term=.03060a26a991

6* www.ACLU.org

7* www.drugpolicy.org

8* www.prb.org

9* http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/economists-marijuana-legalization_n_1431840.html

Social Services for Children of Illegal Immigrants

Most Americans acknowledge the problems caused by illegal immigration. Sovereign nations have both the right and need to protect their borders. However, what is to be done about the innocent children who were brought or sent to America by their parents? Should these children be provided with social services such as health care and public education? A review of applicable law makes the conclusion clear: children of illegal immigrants have the right to health care and education. Children of illegal immigrants should not be punished for their parents’ choice to illegally immigrate to the United States (Reyes).

There is an important distinction between the laws governing children of illegal immigrants born in the United States and those who were born elsewhere. Children born in the United States are automatically U.S. citizens (L.A. Times Editorial Board). The 14th Amendment of the Constitution states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside” (Library of Congress). Since the U.S. Constitution, as amended, is the supreme law of the United States, there is no higher legal authority (The White House). As citizens of the United States, children born on American soil have the right to social services such as public education and health care, regardless of their immigration status (L.A. Times Editorial Board).

Some argue that the 14th Amendment should be reinterpreted to exclude all children born to illegal immigrants. The editors of Bartleby.com argue that, “Many pregnant immigrant women are illegally coming into the country just to have their babies. These women get free medical attention for themselves and the baby. This is costing the U.S. millions of dollars every year” (Bartleby Editorial Staff). Even if this is true, it does not change the law. Any change in the law would require an additional constitutional amendment or a reinterpretation of the 14th Amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court (Spalding). This is possible but extremely unlikely. Therefore, the law is clear that children born in the United States of illegal parents cannot be denied the benefits of social services.

According to federal law, children born outside the U.S. to illegal immigrants have limited benefits (American Academy of Pediatrics Editorial Board). Services provided include public education and emergency medical care. Some claim that these children should receive no benefits (Bartleby Editorial Staff). In 1982, however, a landmark Supreme Court case, Plyler vs. Doe, held that “…states cannot constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status” (American Immigration Council). The court held that the harm imposed on society would be greater than the money saved by excluding undocumented children from public schools. This ruling was based upon the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment, which states that “No State shall…deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (American Immigration Council). Therefore, children not born in the United States have the right to social services such as public education and health care. Although most states follow the federal model by limiting health care benefits to emergency care only, some states such as California, Illinois, and Massachusetts have expanded their state Medicaid insurance plans to include additional health care services (Lee).

Additionally, critics claim illegal immigrants do not have legal rights because they broke the law by migrating to the U.S. illegally. They claim only U.S. citizens, either natural born or naturalized, have Constitutional rights (Contreras). Others claim that providing illegal immigrants benefits is unfair to those trying to immigrate legally (Gurbanov). Nevertheless, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Zadvydas vs. Davis (2001) that, “…the Due Process Clause (of the 14th Amendment) applies to all persons within the United States including aliens, whether their presence is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent” (Justia Law). Accordingly, children of illegal immigrants have constitutional rights that translate into a right to social service benefits.

The ACLU acknowledges that illegal immigration is indeed against the law. But once these undocumented immigrants migrate to the U.S., the ACLU claims the Constitution, “…protects them from discrimination based on race and national origin and from arbitrary treatment by the government…. Laws that punish [illegal immigrants] violate their fundamental right to fair and equal treatment” (Pro Con Editorial Staff). The ACLU’s argument is based upon the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (Library of Congress) and is supported by Plyeler vs. Doe (American Immigration Council) and Zadvydas vs Davis (Justia Law).

Furthermore, denying undocumented immigrants health care benefits is a public health concern. According to Dr. Jeffery T. Kullgren from Harvard Medical School, “Limiting undocumented immigrants’ access to health services weakens efforts to fight the spread of communicable diseases among the general population….” (Pro Con Editorial Staff). Dr. Kullgren claims that because many diseases are identified when patients seek medical care for unrelated symptoms, “…identifying and treating communicable diseases in their earliest stages requires that undocumented immigrants be able to access services for all health conditions—not just those that have progressed to an emergency level or include symptoms of infectious disease—before others in the community are exposed…” (Pro Con Editorial Staff). Withholding public services from illegal immigrants is also impractical. Public services such as transportation and water facilities are so widely used that denying access to illegal aliens would not be possible. If someone is living in the U.S., regardless of their immigration status, they should be helped to lead healthy lives (Pro Con Editorial Staff). This will also limit the health threat to society.

All children in the U.S. should have access to health care services. A long-standing policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated, “Access to health care services, particularly for children, is important to ensure that acute and chronic conditions are diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, that health and development are adequately monitored, and that preventive services are provided as recommended” (Hernandez). From a medical perspective, early detection of disease is better for the individual and may be less expensive to society in the long run. The AAP’s position was recent reaffirmed in a new policy statement authored by Dr. Giblert Handal as follows: “It doesn’t make sense to have a policy that cares for kids but doesn’t care for other kids. They are kids. They don’t choose where to be born” (Seaman). To reiterate, innocent children should not be punished for their parents’ choices (Reyes).

Many immigrant families are unaware of the benefits their children are entitled to or they do not enroll their children in public schools because they fear social stigma or reprisal (American Academy of Pediatrics Editorial Board). In an attempt to solve this problem, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued the following statement: “Under Federal Law, State and local educational agencies…are required to provide all children with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level” (Pro Con Editorial Staff). These departments also stated in a joint letter to educators that, “Recently we have become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status. These practices contravene Federal law” (Pro Con Editorial Board). Thus, by law and Federal regulations, all children must be provided equal access to public education.

Additionally, withholding education benefits from children of illegal immigrants is simply not right. Denying public education to the children of illegal immigrants forces them to suffer handicaps such as poor health, illiteracy, and poverty (American Academy of Pediatrics Editorial Board). U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan claimed that, “By denying these children a basic education, we deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions, and foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation” (Pro Con Editorial Board). Children need to be educated; a proper education will benefit both the children and society as a whole.

The law is clear: children of illegal immigrants have the right to social services such as health care and public education. Some claim that providing social services for illegal immigrants is unfair and too expensive. Nevertheless, if someone is living in the U.S., regardless of their immigration status, the United States should do everything it can to grant the benefits that education and health care provide.

 

 

WORKS CITED

  1. The L.A. Times Editorial Board. “The Birthright Citizenship Debate.” LA Times. N.p., 26 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-ed-birthright-citizenship-20141026-story.html&gt;.
  2. Library of Congress Home. “14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress).” The Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017
  3. The White House. “The Constitution.” The United States Government, 08 Mar. 2017. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
  4. Bartleby Editorial Staff. “Children Born in the U.S. to Illegal Immigrants Should Not Become American Citizens.” Bartleby.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <https://www.bartleby.com/essay/Children-Born-in-the-U-S-to-F35YCXYVC&gt;.
  5. Spalding, Matthew, Ph.D. “Should the Children of Illegal Aliens Be U.S. Citizens?” The Heritage Foundation. N.p., 30 Aug. 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://www.heritage.org/immigration/commentary/should-the-children-illegal-aliens-be-us-citizens&gt;.
  6. American Academy of Pediatrics Editorial Board. “Providing Care for Immigrant, Migrant, and Border Children.” American Academy of Pediatrics Publications.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, June 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/04/30/peds.2013-1099&gt;.
  7. American Immigration Council. “Public Education for Immigrant Students: Understanding Plyler v. Doe.” N.p., 24 Oct. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
  8. Lee, Esther Yu Hsi. “Thousands of Undocumented Kids Can Now Enroll in Health Care Coverage.” Think Progress.org. N.p., 17 May 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <www.thinkprogress.org>.
  9. Contreras, Raoul Lowery, Contributor. “Yes, Illegal Aliens Have Constitutional Rights.” The Hill. N.p., 29 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/255281-yes-illegal-aliens-have-constitutional-rights&gt;.
  10. Gurbanov, Geysar I. “Obama’s Immigration Plan Offends Legal Immigrants.” Baltimore Sun. N.p., 20 Nov. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-obama-immigration-20141120-story.html&gt;.
  11. Pro Con Editorial Staff. “Should Immigrants in the United States Illegally Have Access to Social Services Such as Health Care and Public Education?” ProCon.org. N.p., 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://immigration.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000811&gt;.
  12. Seaman, Andrew M. “Why All Immigrant Children Should Have Access to Health Care.” Psmag.com. N.p., 24 May 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <https://psmag.com/why-all-immigrant-children-should-have-access-to-health-care-474a8b575f44#.4sabooik6&gt;.
  13. “Zadvydas v. Davis 533 U.S. 678 (2001).” Justia Law. N.p., 28 Jun. 2001. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/533/678/case.html.>
  14. Pro Con Editorial Staff. “Should Immigrants in the United States Illegally Have Access to Constitutional Rights and Protections When on American Soil?” ProCon.org. N.p., 14 Feb. 2008. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://immigration.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000758&gt;.
  15. National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Health and Adjustment of Immigrant Children and Families; Hernandez DJ, editor. Children of immigrants: Health, Adjustment, and Public Assistance. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1999. “Chapter 3, Access to Health Insurance and Health Care for Children in Immigrant Families” Available from: <https://www.ncbi.nih.gov/books/NBK224446/&gt;.
  16. Reyes, Raul. “Immigrant Right to Education Reaffirmed: Column.” USA Today. N.p., 12 May 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/05/12/raul-reyes-immigrant-education/8971407/&gt;.

 

 

 

Health Care: A Compromise Must Be Reached

In my previous two posts, I explored the Liberal and Conservative perspectives on U.S. citizens’ right to health care.  In this post, I will evaluate these viewpoints and express my own opinion on this controversial issue.  Despite major disagreements on the government’s role in providing health care, some Conservatives are starting to agree with Liberal policies.  A compromise must be made between the Liberals’ and Conservatives’ extreme positions. 

 In his Huffington Post article entitled, “Universal Health Care: Socialism or Civilization?”, Steve Nelson claims that, “Someone has to pay. This simple statement is at the heart of the endless politicking over health care reform. It is elephant in the room with whom neither party will dance.”  Nelson argues that Obamacare has devastated America’s health care system and has left 45 million uninsured Americans with limited options when illness strikes.  They may postpone treatment, causing unnecessary pain and likely more expensive care down the road.  They can decide to seek treatment, receiving a devastating bill in return.  Or they can seek emergency care at an even higher price.  Whichever option is picked, Nelson affirms that someone has to pay. 1*  

Nelson argues that among President Obama’s lies about Obamacare, his biggest lie is that there’s such a thing as free lunch.   Nelson claims, “The ACA is so arcane and riddled with loopholes that it will either fail completely or only modestly improve the overall well-being of our citizens.” 1*

Most Conservatives believe that Obamacare does not work, and even Liberals believe it needs to be fixed.  Although subsidies help the elderly and the poor, the viability of Obamacare was based upon the enrollment of large numbers of the young and healthy who would pay the premiums but not use the services.  Many people chose to pay the tax penalties instead of buying insurance.  1*

So, if Obamacare does not work, what’s next— “Trump care”?  It is clear that a compromise must be reached between Liberals’ all-government involvement and Conservative’s no-government policies.  Fortunately, Conservatives are starting to warm up to some Liberal policies, including universal health care coverage.  According to a Forbes article written by Avik Roy, “…the right kind of health reform could cover more Americans while increasing economic freedom.” 2* According to the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, ten nations freer than the United States have achieved universal health coverage.  Roy claims, “What’s striking about the list is that of the eleven countries ahead of the U.S. in economic freedom, ten have achieved universal coverage. Many Americans on both the right and the left subscribe to the myth that the U.S. has a free-market health care system. It doesn’t. U.S. government entities spend more per-capita on health care than all but two other countries in the world.” 2*

English 2010

Forbes Graphic

Roy argues that Conservatives have, “…succumbed to the Liberals’ view of health care.  Philip Klein makes this argument in his new e-book, Overcoming Obamacare, in which he argues that ‘supporting Roy’s proposal would be a huge leap for limited government conservatives’ because they would ‘be expected to embrace the goal of universal coverage.’  Conservatives like Klein have accepted the left’s framing of health care: that the only way to cover more people is to expand the scope and scale of government.” 2*  

Roy claims that Conservatives are starting to accept the government’s role in health care.  The government should help pay for health care for those who truly cannot afford medical treatment.  However, those who can afford to pay for their own health insurance should do so.  2* 

A U.S. News article by Timothy Callaghan states that, “The United States remains one of the only advanced industrialized democracies in the world without universal coverage.  While this in and of itself is not a problem, the United States also spends more on health care as a percentage of GDP than any other advanced country in the world and has worse health outcomes – with lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and higher obesity rates than comparable countries like Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan.” 3* I believe the government should have a role in providing health care to the elderly and poor.  Reducing the cost of medical care and drugs would greatly reduce the U.S. government’s and citizens’ economic burden.  Other solutions require comprise on the Liberals’ part.  For example, enacting tort reform legislation would reduce litigation costs and reduce the financial burden on the medical industry. 

Obamacare has made health care services more expensive and less accessible.  The Heritage Foundation found that,” …the right kind of health reform could cover more Americans while increasing economic freedom.”  The ten countries listed in the Forbes graphic above (other than the U.S.) have both universal health coverage and higher economic freedom than the United States.  Conservatives once thought this was impossible.  While we may not be able to find a permanent solution to the problems within our health care system, reaching a compromise between Conservative and Liberal policies would be a great start. 

SOURCES:

1* http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-nelson/universal-health-care-soc_b_4349077.html

2* https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2015/01/27/conservative-think-tank-10-countries-with-universal-health-care-are-economically-freer-than-the-u-s/#7041af14137e

3* https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2016-10-26/3-reasons-the-us-doesnt-have-universal-health-coverage

PLEASE ALSO SEE: www.procon.org/healthcare

Conservatives Contend That Universal Health Care is a Commodity, Not a Right

In my previous post, I examined the Liberal viewpoint which is strongly in favor of universal health care. In this post, I will discuss the Conservatives’ viewpoint which is strongly against universal health care. They fear that universal health care will lead to increased debt, taxes, a decrease in doctor’s pay and quality of medical treatment and ultimately to socialism.

First, Conservatives claim the purpose of the Constitution is to “promote the general welfare”, not provide it. According to Ben Shapiro, JD, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Wire, “Medical care is a commodity, and treating it otherwise is foolhardy.” Shapiro contends that profit incentive and freedom of labor are required to make a commodity cheaper. The government destroys both of these elements in the health care industry. Shapiro claims the solution for poor people is, “not to declare medical care a right” and declares that “markets are the solution in medical care, just as they are in virtually every other area.” 1*

The Conservatives also fear that providing universal health care will increase U.S. debt and taxes. Then US House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan stated that government health care programs are, “driving the explosive growth in our spending and our debt”. Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid have gone from 10% of the federal budget in 1985 to 21% of the federal budget in 2012. 1*

Another economic consideration is taxes. In European countries with universal health care policies, taxes have increased to compensate for wider coverage. For example, in the United Kingdom payroll taxes average 37%, which is much higher than the 15.3% payroll taxes paid by the average U.S. worker. According to the Hoover Institution, financing a universal right to health care in the U.S. would cause payroll taxes to double. 1*

Conservatives also believe that universal health care will result in a decrease in the quality of medical care. Universal health care usually results in a decrease in doctor’s pay, which often leads to a shortage of doctors and rationing of medical services. A 2002 study conducted by the British National Health Service found that the United Kingdom (which provides universal health care) was, “critically short of doctors and nurses.” In fact, as of 2013 the United Kingdom had 2.71 practicing doctors for every 1,000 people. That is the second lowest level of the 27 European nations. Conservatives believe the United States would be wise to learn from the United Kingdom’s mistake in providing universal health care. 1*

Universal health care could also lead to rationing of medical services. For example, countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, all ration health care using methods such as controlled distribution, budgeting, price setting, and service restrictions. According to a 2009 Wall Street Journal editorial, “once health care is nationalized, or mostly nationalized, medical rationing is inevitable.” 1*

Perhaps Conservatives’ biggest fear is that universal health care will lead to socialism. According to U.S. Representative John Campbell, “A ‘right’ to services without charge, that forces someone else to provide for you, does not and should not ever exist. No one in a free society should have a ‘right’ to anything that requires others to toil against their will on behalf of those unwilling to provide for themselves.” In a Wall Street Journal article, John Mackey compares health care to food and shelter, stating that, “it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges.” 1

At the heart of most Conservative positions is the belief that smaller government is better. Conservatives believe that government provided universal health care is a huge and unnecessary increase in the size of government. Conservative Matt Canovi, President of the American Defense Academy Firearms Range and Training Facility, affirms that, “When the government starts declaring commodities to be a ‘human right’ they assume redistribution powers that are not afforded to them by the Constitution.” 1* Under a single-payer system, health care is paid for through taxes. This means people who work hard to pay those taxes are forced to subsidize health care for those who are not employed. People do have the right to purchase health care, but they don’t have the right to receive health care for free.

There is also a ‘moral hazard’ associated with universal health care. “When people are provided with universal health care and are not directly responsible for the costs of medical services, they may utilize more health resources than necessary…. Since Medicaid provides a right to health care for low-income individuals, expanding this right to the full U.S. population could worsen the problem of overusing health care resources.” 1*

In conclusion, Conservatives affirm that health care is not a right and that health care should never be given to people for free. They also claim universal health care will lead to an increase in U.S. debt and taxes and a decrease in the quality of medical care. Perhaps most importantly, Conservatives argue that universal health care is a big step down the slippery slope of socialism.

SOURCES:

1* healthcare.procon.org