The Future of Jobs is Nothing New

Retailers and restaurants across the country are jumping on the bandwagon—the automation bandwagon. Chances are, you may have noticed an influx of self check-outs that are easily outfitted to complete your transaction. That unsurprisingly, is the line with the permanent direction of the future and it is nothing new.

Automation launched the textile and other industries into mass production during the Industrial Revolution. Some of the most notable inventions during that time were the cotton gin, steam engine and telephone. These inventions notably powered society in the past and new and improved versions of this technology still do today.

Large factories still use machines to do a lot of the brunt work of making products that assist daily life. By now, we have become accustomed to using technology to assist us in doing things like pumping gas and calculating change. Many people are thankful for these machines because it saves time, money and keeps us moving everyday.

The same efficiency sentiment has carried through with the introduction of these automated machines. Self check-out and ordering machines have replaced face to face interactions in the name of saving money. In a recent article by Forbes, the new uptick in automation for Mcdonald’s is accredited to companies now meeting the demands of a higher minimum wage.

While some consumers may appreciate the novelty or added convenience, the conveniences come at the cost of entry-level jobs…This trend is nothing new. Chains have responded to rising labor costs and technological advancement accordingly and McDonald’s has been leading the way as a pioneer in productivity among employees, concepts, and machines.

However, with labor costs continuing to skyrocket, it’s inevitable that restaurants and other fast food chains will continuously search for ways to reduce labor costs–particularly as customers get comfortable with new technology.

It is a surprise that this hasn’t happened sooner. Companies of all industries are looking for ways to increase their bottom line—cheaply. Technology has continued to be the answer to that problem. Requiring that customers actually meet with another live person is a courtesy not a necessity. Calling a bank and having to get through the initial pleasant voiced robot, will probably be permanent once voice recognition software has been perfected.

People will eventually need to assert their skills elsewhere, as those who found their jobs taken away in the past did. There is money to be made everywhere and in any evolving industry. Until machines have completely infiltrated society, a living brain is still paramount for them to function.

 

 

The End of Child Marriage is Gaining Traction

Marriage is thought to be a sacred union between two consenting adults. However, in most of the country, you don’t necessarily have to be an adult. New Jersey recently became the second state (after Delaware) to ban marriage for people under the age of eighteen.

Forty eight states still allow children to get married either on their own volition or with the approval of their parents and/or a judge. A hundred years ago someone may not have batted an eyelash at a sixteen year old’s tying the knot but times have changed along with general life expectancy.

The idea behind children getting married used to be attributed to the fact that most people dropped dead by fifty, so it didn’t make sense to wait until 35 to get married and have children. In today’s society, child marriage can mostly be attributed to religious and family preference.

In an article by CBS news, child marriage survivor and founder of Unchained At Last, Fraidy Reiss sheds light on the issue.

“There’s nothing easy about escaping a forced marriage,” Reiss said.

National forced marriage statistics are hard to come by. In a survey of marriage licenses compiled by Unchained At Last, at least 167,000 children under 18 were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010. (That number is likely on the conservative side, as Unchained At Last could obtain age data from only 38 U.S. states.)

The vast majority of those children were girls married off to adult men, Reiss said.

The argument against the forced marriage of minors is clear, it is a distinct violation of human rights. A person should not be forced to enter into a legal contract with another person they do not choose or before they are ready.

On the contrary, if a person under eighteen chooses to get married, should the law prevent them? That depends on how the law measures the aptitude of children to make decisions that affect their lives.

Laws already exist to regulate the  purchase of alcohol and tobacco, voting, serving in the military and gambling. Does marriage fall in the same category? Perhaps it should, since it is a legal contract.

Legislatures in other states seem to agree as California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania are now considering passing bills to limit or end child marriage.

Daily Inspiration: Women in Finance

Lauren Simmons is surpassing expectations at just 23 years old. She is currently the only female floor broker at the New York Stock Exchange.

In today’s video she talks about her journey and the empowerment she feels by accomplishing this goal. She is an inspiration to girls looking to find their place in STEM fields.

Daily Inspiration: Kids Feeding the Hungry

The issue of hunger across America and even the world is a monumental. One girl is doing her part to end it in her corner of South Carolina.

Katie’s Krops was inspired by a homework assignment. She was given seeds and asked to grow cabbage. To Katie’s surprise, it grew to be as large as 40 pounds. With that bounty she went on to feed over 200 people.

Since then she has used gardening as a tool to feed America’s hungry. Currently Katie’s Krops has over 100 gardens and has fed thousands of people.

Daily Inspiration: Get Outside and Enjoy Nature

How many hours of your life do you spend indoors? For many people it is almost all of it.

Today’s video was created by The Velux Group, a company that manufactures skylights. In this video (which reads almost like a commercial) the narrator explains the transitions we have made from nature to an indoor environment.

The downsides of living a life within walls include sickness and depression. Centuries of technological advancement afford us the luxury of remaining indoors, but we should also remember that a world exists out there. Get outside.

Combating Fake News is Simple

Several syndicated news programs are owned by a few large corporations that may tend to favor a specific political view. The days of getting unbiased mainstream news coverage are long gone. These programs no longer just cover the news, they also generate opinions — often swaying the audience watching.

This level of pandering is not a surprise to either side of the fence. Corporations are in business for the bottom line and will follow new trends to get there. That newest trend being — opinion-based news.

The phrase “fake news” was coined by President Trump in an effort to challenge stations that were reporting, what he believed to be, fake news about him. This concept has taken off in the minds of many Americans. People are consistently judging the legitimacy of news coverage provided by major stations such as: Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.

Coincidently, a video surfaced showing that news stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group were having their reporters recite a speech saying that they are dedicated to providing balanced and fair news coverage. Thus, fueling the conversation that the news is just producing propaganda.

Syndicated programs have shied away from investigative reporting in an effort to make sensational news more popular. Modern news doesn’t seem to be dedicated to reporting just the facts. Mainstream media simply finds a hot button current event topic and addresses it according the partisan views of their employer. Seems simple enough.

How can the general population stay informed on real unbiased facts surrounding current events across the nation? By abandoning their typical news outlets. In order to get outside information, one must seek it.

The wealth of the knowledge is at our fingertips. People are doing labor intensive research on topics the general public needs to know the truth about. Professors, scientists and students in academia spend tireless hours doing exhaustive research and studies on current issues.

While the average person, isn’t going to want to tread through an academic journal; other options exist. Believe it or not encyclopedias haven’t retreated to the stone age. Research based organizations are available to feed you factual information without making you feel like you have to pick a side.

Pew Research Center and Science Daily are sites that deliver research based, non-partisan information. Better yet, support your local library by utilizing the plentiful resources it provides.

Independent news organizations have investigative journalists waiting for fresh eyes to absorb their work. Check out Reveal, C-Span, and Al Jazeera English for these types of articles.

The facts are out there, go find them.

 

 

Daily Inspiration: 9/11 Memorial & Museum 5K Run/Walk

September 11, 2001 was indeed a horrific day for the United States of America. Thousands of lives were lost during the events in New York City, Washington D.C. and in Pennsylvania.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City is dedicated to remembering the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in 2001 and in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Honoring the lives of those who were lost is at the heart of our mission. Occupying eight of the 16 acres at the World Trade Center, the Memorial is a tribute to the past and a place of hope for the future.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum serves as the country’s principal institution concerned with exploring the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of those events and exploring 9/11’s continuing significance.

On Sunday, April 22, 2018 the sixth annual 9/11 Memorial & Museum 5K Run/Walk and Community Day will take place in lower Manhattan. This fundraiser is in support of the daily operations of the memorial and museum.

If you will be in the New York City area and would like to commemorate 9/11 heroes and lost loved ones click here to learn more.

The Infinite War: Skin Color

Skin color is an contentious topic for many. It is truly arbitrary but has evolved to have incredible meaning across cultural and ‘racial’ lines. The literal determination of pigment in skin is simple- it’s the amount of melanin that your body produces. This biological process is purely an adaptation of necessity.

The Smithsonian Natural Museum of Natural History explains the physiological need for different skin tones.

Why do people from the tropics generally have darker skin color that those who live in colder climates? Variations in human skin color are adaptive traits that correlate closely with geography and the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Melanin, the skin’s brown pigment, is a natural sunscreen that protects tropical peoples from the many harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays.

The concept of skin color is just the body evolving biologically to protect itself from the sun. Somewhere along the way, a distinction developed between light and dark skin. The battle of pigment is likely derived from centuries of brainwashing through colonization and segregation for power.

Discrimination against those with different skin is more than skin deep. These divisions have expanded into subconscious perceptions and have real internal and external consequences. Skin color is now a package deal with preset expectations and characterizations of the person it sits on. This rationale is perpetuated in media and among people in everyday society.

Racism is so powerful and systematic that the assumptions that are bred within its culture, have had long lasting effects on there targeted communities. Colorism has taken hold of many communities of color, forever changing the psyche of the people who enact on it.

The conditioning is so elaborate that people with medium to dark skin tones are actually bleaching their skin to become lighter. It is widely believed that lighter skin leads to better opportunities and upward mobility.

Reversing gilded belief systems won’t happen overnight- but some perspective, never hurts. If we as humans have learned anything from modern science, it is not to be weary of the unknown. The mixed bag of genetics is just that, mixed. Appearances are just evolutionary adaptations to the environments of our ancestors. The alarm of fear should not be sounded over aesthetics.

Remove the sentiment associated with the color of ones skin. Skin color is not a determination of character or moral fiber. View it, for its intended purpose, a vessel and protector. In the 21st century, the war the has been waged against it is outdated and futile.

 

 

 

Daily Inspiration: Reforestation of the Amazon

The Amazon is the worlds largest rainforest. It spans over 2 million miles and provides a home for millions of people and various species of wildlife. Since the 1970’s the deforestation of the Amazon has spiraled out of control.

Humans have cleared significant areas of the forest to make room for crops and livestock, which in turn has serious consequences on the balance of our ecosystem.

A new initiative in Brazil is going to bring back 73 million trees to the Amazon. Reforestation is important to the survival of humans and the planet itself.

Learning the Lobby

Corporations have been working since the 1950’s to figure out how to make the government work for them. If therein lies a problem, money will solve it. Lobbyists work tirelessly to keep their clients bottom line parallel to the dealings in Washington.

The American government allows corporations to come in and heavily court our nations representatives with campaign contributions and kickbacks in exchange for more favorable legislation. Corporations have become so effective- that they have created entire agendas in favor of their causes. An article by The Atlantic outlines the metrics:

Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures – more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.18 billion) and Senate ($860 million).

Today the biggest companies have upwards of 100 lobbyists representing them, allowing them to be everywhere, all the time. For every dollar spent on lobbying by labor unions and public- interest groups together, large corporations and their associations now spend $34. Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying, 95 consistently represent business.

Some of the most influential contributors in history came from tobacco, sugar, gun and the privatized prison system. If you think about the campaigns in favor of these specific industries, what are some pitfalls? Millions have suffered from tobacco related illness, obesity or sugar/food related illnesses, have been the victim of gun violence, and private prisons are overflowing with people for petty crimes.

Lobbyist ensure there place by having a reliable presence; even if the results of their labor have a negative impact on society. Corporations use their clout to influence public opinion and the propaganda that follows is calculated. Long lasting legislation is dependent on persuading the public to believe that what is proposed is legitimate and most of all resourceful.

lobbying table
Money Spent by Top Industries Lobbying from 1998-2017 via Center For Responsive Politics 

Democracy gets lost when civil liberties are for sale to a willing constituent. When effective propaganda is used to favor an entity that has grown bigger than its intended purpose, society is at a loss. Pharmaceutical, insurance,  defense and oil companies have seen tremendous and not entirely ethical profits by accommodating  government officials.

Are we convinced to vote against our own interests? The answer is all around us: on the news, advertisements, and bills. Voting power comes with knowledge, not just what is circulating on televisions and social media. It is imperative to know who is in the pockets of candidates to protect your livelihood. Go beyond party lines and become informed- corporations are betting on it.

Daily Inspiration: Learn Beyond Your Prejudice

Nas Daily is a world traveler that posts videos on Facebook about the people he meets and interesting concepts about those places. His videos are informative and can be fairly moving.

In today’s video he had an interaction with someone who holds a prejudice against people from his home country. He tried to change the view of the people that he is conversing with.

Nas reminds us that no matter what we see, are taught, or experience it is unwise to generalize entire groups of people. You exclude yourself from amazing interactions and relationships when you don’t learn beyond your prejudice.

Convenience To Contraceptives On Campus

It is not a secret that young adults attending college are sexually active. Even though the media has evolved to be extremely sex ‘forward’, the topic of sex is still taboo.

Women and men may still face scrutiny and some colleges are looking to ease that burden; with contraceptive vending machines. Since 2012, Shippensburg University, University of California, Santa Barbara and University of California, Davis have installed ‘wellness’ machines on campus.

Health education programs in high schools vary widely across America. They employ conservative or progressive curricula to inform students about sex. By the time these students get to college, their experiences are different.

Wellness machines provide condoms, Plan B, and pregnancy tests for the convenience of all students. Ultimately, making it a great resource for reserved and liberal students who are engaging in sexual activity to stay safe without judgement.

Earlier this month, Stanford University became the latest school to install these vending machines.  According to an article by the New York Times, more schools are looking to provide these services.

Parteek Singh, a recent graduate who urged U.C. Davis to install the machine, said he had heard from people at more than 30 schools who are interested in learning how to do the same thing on their campuses.

“This will be big,” Mr. Singh said. “It’s just the beginning.”

This appears to be a new trend for schools that are looking to turn this taboo topic into new and improved health services for their students.

Detroit Aims to Break Poverty Cycle

Housing is a significant roadblock for those who cannot create generational wealth. Finding adequate solutions are often met with discussion and debate; making poverty a hot button issue in the United States.  Social programs have been centered around lifting the unfortunate out of desolate situations and making life more affordable. Long term efficacy of these efforts remains to be seen.

In 2017, there is not a state in this country where a person working forty hours on minimum wage can afford a two bedroom apartment. CNBC reported on this issue, highlighting these grim prospects.

That’s according to new research by the National Low Income Housing Coalition covered by The Washington Post. Across the country, it reports, even full-time workers would have to make about or more than twice as much to afford a typical home.

In states such as Alaska, Washington, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Illinois and most of the Northeast, workers would have to make over $20 an hour. Workers in California, D.C. and Hawaii are the hardest hit by the price of housing: They need to earn a whopping $30, $33 or $35 an hour, respectively, to afford a two-bedroom.

Cass Community Social Services in Detroit, Michigan has spearheaded a revitalizing program for its idling communities. Tiny Homes has been launched to fight poverty by using just that- tiny homes. Homes range from 250-400 square feet and come fully furnished. Located in central Detroit, new constructions will be available for purchase after seven years of renting.

Current services have a limit for what they can help people achieve. Unfortunate situations involve a person getting just far enough ahead to price out of a program, but are still unable to afford basic needs for their families. A program like this should- in theory- lift generations above the poverty line. In addition to providing these tenants with an affordable home; tenants have to attend a mandatory monthly financial literacy class. Classes teach tenants about growing income and home ownership.

Opening doors for the working class that would otherwise remain closed is the highlight for this Detroit community. The advantages that come along with home ownership can change the outlook for current and upcoming generations. The education that will be provided to sustain this lifestyle is a step that is overlooked in other social programs. While longitudinal data on Tiny Homes will provide a better insight to its successes and failures, right now it gives needy families a new lease on life.

 

 

Does Winning The Rat Race Change You?

Most people have heard the expression ‘that money changes people’. As children, we are socialized by the world around us. The core of who someone, is largely determined by what has been relayed through childhood experiences. Socialization takes places in a myriad of ways but mostly through, race and gender. What about class?

Class differentiation is avoided in conversations like the plague. Everyone may not like to talk about money, but it is still present. Attaining and maintaining money is the goal of every person that lives in the first world. This does not take long to see once we are re-configured to the world as adults.

Without it, one of two things may happen: 1) quality of life may be severely impaired or 2) survival is doomed. This is the point where someone who doesn’t buy the hype would say, “money isn’t everything” or ” money can’t buy happiness” but in reality it is everything.

The golden ticket to exist is reliant on paper and coins. Under those rules society ends up back in the rat pack, following the norm to make the money to buy the house, feed families and buy the clothes. In that respect, people are equals until comparisons begin between the sizes of these homes, the quality of the food and the labels that come attached to those flattering clothes. Then, something changes.

In an article featured in New York Magazine, the author developed a piece based on research that suggested, individuals with higher income have less empathy toward others. The psychologists used in this article presented several different experiments correlating wealth or perceived wealth with empathy by citing emotional cues or actions to determine overall empathy toward others. What makes this article interesting is that the changes in attitudes among those who just had ‘perceived’ wealth or status just for the study.

In experiments she published in the journal Science in 2006, Vohs “primed” her subjects to think about money, which is to say she planted the idea of money in their minds without their knowledge before observing their social interactions compared with a control group. In one case, she asked participants to wait alone in a room at a big table, which happened to be strewn with gold, green, and burnt-orange Monopoly bills. After ten minutes, she’d get the subject, take him to a different room, and ask him to fill out piles of questionnaires seeking detailed psychological ­information. The point was to muddle the subject’s mind: He knew he was ­participating in an experiment but had no idea what he was being tested for.

Vohs got her result only after the ­subject believed the session was over. Heading for the door, he would bump into a person whose arms were piled ­precariously high with books and office supplies. That person (who worked for Vohs) would drop 27 tiny yellow pencils, like those you get at a mini-golf course. Every subject in the study bent down to pick up the mess. But the money-primed subjects picked up 15 percent fewer pencils than the control group. In a conversation in her office in May, Vohs stressed that money-priming did not make her subjects malicious—just disinterested. “It’s not a bad analogy to think of them as a little autistic,” she said. “I don’t think they mean any harm, but picking up pencils just isn’t their problem.”

The article continues with other more brazen experiments that are aimed to show how and when money factors into social connections and attitudes. It points out some markers that individuals are socialized to live by and may not even realize. Overall, individuals in society pride themselves based on what they have accomplished or can show for their existence up to that point and judge others accordingly. Status is not only something to aspire to, it is a classification. Through this classification, people conduct themselves by how it is believed they should. The man standing bone straight, walking confidently in the power suit walking down the street versus the homeless man cowering as he shyly asks for extra change are all examples of this very classification.

Everyday interactions with the mailman, the waitress, person holding a screaming baby, or retail clerk are all indications of  your own personal markers and perceived status.  While it may seem unfair to judge those who have a higher status as callous, this perception may have validity. Regardless of how one is raised, the introduction to a better status and the aspect of an increased quality of life is more likely to change that person’s attitude . The scope of the change is completely relative. The best way to tell, is to observe it personally. How do you feel and act on a day that you have a pocket full of cash?