Inspiring new work from Shelby Stephenson: The Hunger of Freedom.
An article in the Carolina Public Press about employment in North Carolina included some very interesting statistics.
While our GOP-led government, with control of both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s office, would like us to believe that unemployment declined in 2013, the first year of their complete control of our state’s economy, the facts prove that is not the case.
In addition to a net reduction in job creation from 2012 (89,000 new positions) to 2013 (64,000)[i], the number of unemployed persons did not significantly fall. North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell due to the large number of people who gave up and left the labor market entirely.
Those of us who have been in the labor market in the last several years are familiar with one significant factor in the unemployment rate: the number of older workers displaced by the economic collapse. An article on Business Insider examines a chart from Reuters, indicating clearly that the inclusion of older workers who have given up on finding work would raise the unemployment rate in the United States from 6.7 percent to 10.8%. (Let us not agree to pretend it was a ‘Great Recession;’ it was for many, if not most, of us a devastating collapse of our financial world.)[ii]
The GOP-overwhelmed North Carolina legislature has instituted many policies that will further harm the state’s people. Among them are the more obvious focus of the new Department of Commerce chairwoman, Sharon Decker, on bringing in more large corporations by granting them the rights not to pay taxes, not to abide by local regulations, and other ‘incentives.’
Governor McCrory and his North Carolina GOP bosses receive their orders from big business through the contributions made to the GOP during the 2012 election. Whether it is wise to trust big business is certainly not an issue that is settled. Many of us have watched these companies’ wanton destruction of the United States economy with distrust at best and outrage at worst.[iii]
Moreover, the North Carolina Legislature chose to cut benefits to the unemployed, particularly the long-term unemployed, as well as turning down Medicaid expansions that would have helped those unable to afford ‘Big Pharma’s’ extraordinary gluttony for more money. With so many large drug firms in the state, there is little doubt who issued those marching orders to the North Carolina GOP.
Only time will tell how deep the damage done truly is.
“John Quinterno, an economist with Triangle-based South by North Strategies, has been tracking the labor force issues as the state’s economy recovers. An analysis released Tuesday notes that the 64,000 jobs created in 2013 was a reduction from 2012’s 89,000 new jobs.”
“While the unemployment rate did fall sharply over the course of 2013, the number of employed persons barely changed, meaning that unemployment fell due to people leaving the labor market altogether rather than finding work,” he said. “None of the 2013 data suggests that North Carolina’s labor market has turned a corner and has moved onto a more robust, more sustainable trajectory.”
“Take a look at this Reuters chart via Twitter user/trader Reinman_MT. When you combine the unemployment rate with the 30 year average labor force participation rate, it shows a vastly worse employment situation (10.8% unemployment!). It’s not age-adjusted, so we can’t tell how much has to do with demographics versus the economy. It’s still a sobering chart for anyone getting too jazzed about the recovery.”
“And though Gov. Pat McCrory talked about economic development in his campaigns, his experience in that area is not deep. Decker and Lindenmuth might have lots of private business experience, but there is a world of difference in the executive suite and the public service arena, most notably the fact that public officials in North Carolina report to the people, not to boards of directors.
McCrory’s breathless enthusiasm for running government like a business is something he picked up as mayor of Charlotte, where the business community didn’t hesitate to offer him marching orders. Government needs to be efficient, to be sure, but it isn’t a business. Its main function is delivering services, not turning a profit.”
Originally posted on Words From There.:
I have learned that the Lord is willing to guide all men into obedience. But I did not learn that at first. Perhaps those who taught me didn’t know. Perhaps I didn’t phrase the question correctly. I don’t know.
But when He speaks to us, it is unmistakable. What He says is pointedly Right and to the moment. He guides actively, anyone who wills to listen and do.
The reason I bring this up is that many (most) rely on the Bible as their guide. There’s nothing wrong with that. Certainly we should know what the Bible says, from cover to cover. But to get stuck in that and think that reading is the sum of what God has to say is foolish. Look what the Lord said:
39 “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that…
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All-or-nothing thinking is a common problem in logic and rhetorical debate. It refers to thinking that sees no middle ground in an argument or person, only bipolar or extreme positions.
An example is the concept of good versus evil. Few people or situations are entirely evil or entirely good. Most are somewhere in the middle, a blend of multiple personality traits and life experiences that results in sometimes contradictory actions and beliefs in the individual.
Other examples might be seeing life as “hopeless” or “perfect,” but not including awareness that life has elements of both perceptions. This black-or-white thinking tends to use words that are opposite in meaning and excludes descriptives that represent the many shades of grey. These extreme viewpoints make compromise, perseverance, and tranquility difficult. They promulgate an extreme approach to living that can make, to use another expression, mountains out of mole hills.
When we only permit ourselves to see limited alternatives, we deny ourselves the many choices and possible solutions of more rational thought.
In logic, the creation of a false dichotomy (also called false dilemma, either-or fallacy, fallacy of false choice, fallacy of the excluded middle) is limiting to discussion. Its opposite is argument to moderation.
Sometimes the characterization of an issue as “either-or” is intentional. It distracts an opponent in an argument from seeing that other options exist. This is seen in many sound bites in media and political phrasings. For instance:
- “If you aren’t for us, you’re against us.”
- “Either you’re progressive or you’re conservative.”
- “If you don’t go to church, you aren’t spiritual.”
- “You always do that. You never listen to me.”
Publishing in Context, a publishing consultancy operated by Martin Wilcox and yours truly, is proud to announce our new collaboration with Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, a publication of the American Psychological Association. Martin will provide developmental publication assistance to prospective authors. CPJ is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal, and is international in scope.
Martin will be working with Robert Kaiser, the incoming editor of CPJ and President of Kaiser Leadership Solutions. Rob has extensive experience in both practical and research areas of organizational psychology. His own publishing experience is impressive.
More on Martin:
More on Rob:
CPJ has a call for submissions out now. The submissions process is clearly outlined on their website, including the process of working with a developmental editor.
Believing in things we cannot see is one of the first things humans learn as infants.Parents and their babies delight in the process, usually some version of ‘Peek-a-boo.’ From hiding behind our hands, to holding blankets between us, to hiding behind doors or furniture, one teaches and the other learns that an object is still there even when we cannot see it. Giggles and delight ensue. Knowing that we may not, in fact, be alone just because the other is not visible brings happiness and sometimes anxiety. Is my baby asleep or is something wrong? Is Mama or Daddy in the other room? If I cry, will they hear me and come play with me again?
Research conducted in the United Kingdom by Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, suggests that this kind of ‘magical thinking’ is developed beginning at birth and may be related to the tendency of humans to develop religious or spiritual beliefs. This powerful psychological force may have been useful in human evolution as people learned to work together at hunting and gathering, thus helping their community to survive.
Other research has confirmed that feelings of spirituality are experienced in conjunction with certain electrical patterns in the brain. (The article from conversationtheology.blogspot.com, below is especially interesting on this. Check the CNN article, too.) One wonders, after reading some of the arguments, whether it comes down to “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Does the brain create religion or does religion make use of the brain’s inclination toward belief in things that are not visible but that provide pleasant feelings?
Does it matter?
I believe in many spiritual ideas. It’s all that multicultural background in my family, combined with experiencing life in all its muddled complexity.
Nothing discourages me so much as listening to those who profess that they have no spiritual beliefs. Most do, but they do not recognize them as such. The most ardent atheists are often quite vocal about their belief system: that no deity exists. There are other groups who do not follow a deity or many deities. Buddhism, for instance, doesn’t follow a deity, though some Buddhists do choose to do so. Spiritual beliefs take many forms, including conceiving of the natural world as a focus for worship and ancestor worship. Many people have deeply-held views of right and wrong behavior. These ethical systems guide them in life and I suspect they are very similar to the systems that many people find in their religions.
How one perceives religion, spirituality, personal philosophy…these are highly personal things. I believe we all have some form of spiritual foundation in our thoughts. I also believe that, if we had another word for ‘religion’ or ‘spirituality,’ more people could discuss them without rancor. That might make it possible for humanity to once again move forward towards showing compassion and charity towards one another.
Resources for further research:
Dr. Emeran Mayer, from UCLA, has been doing some research into the microbes that live in our digestive tract. He is comparing them to the organisms found in the digestive systems of mice.
What he is finding has promise for new treatments for a wide array of ailments, from psychiatric problems like bipolar and anxiety disorders to autism. Mayer believes that the bacteria in our gut may affect the development of our brains as we grow and develop, with consequences for our brain function and health.
His sample size is small so far, about sixty volunteers, and involves MRIs and comparisons between the populations of bacteria found in the subjects.
Other scientists, including Stephen Collins of McMaster University, have found that altering the types of bacteria in mouse digestive tracts does seem to affect both brain chemistry and behavior. Anxious mice have different bacterial populations than calm mice. If some of the microbes are moved from an anxious mouse to a calm mouse, the calm mouse displays more anxiety. This works the other way, too. Calm mouse bacteria can help calm an anxious mouse. The researchers also tried feeding probiotics to the mice with similar results.
At this point, the evidence suggests that the bacteria produce neurotransmitters that communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve runs from the brain to the abdomen and is large. If this nerve is cut in a mouse, the effects of the bacteria in the digestive tract on brain chemistry ends.
Resources for more study:
Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds
by Rob Stein
November 18, 2013 3:07 AM
FOR IVY, SUSAN, NANCY, JEFF, KIM, JINNA, MIKE, and all those who expressed their concern for my family. You made a difference for us. Hope is to be treasured and not always easy to come by.
I gave up this year.
Despair and disillusionment festered in my soul and I lost the will to fight back. Sometimes getting up from the blankets on the floor that serve as my bed seemed more effort than it was worth. Facing each day required a will to go on, a belief that things would get better. I think it was in June that I realized that each day was worse than the one before. I saw that no matter how hard we worked, no matter how much we did without, things would not change for us. The daily struggle to keep a roof over our head, to find at least one thing to eat each day, or to provide gasoline for the transportation we needed from our rural home to town was overwhelming.
I took time away from most of the activities I have used to stay part of the world. My personal journal grew fat with musings about why I felt what I did, how my life had reached this point, and whether I cared if it ever improved. I ripped my life to shreds and cried. God, how I cried. I berated my mistakes, convinced that mine were more significant than those others made. My failures were more than mere burdens; they were demons waiting to pounce whenever I fell asleep.
Insidious resentments turned my behavior into that of an angry and unpredictable creature. How dare anyone ask what we would eat for dinner? The cupboards were bare; surely they could see that as well as I. Responsibilities were opponents demanding my immediate forceful attention. I turned inward and pushed away the people I believed I had failed.
Autumn brought new concerns. Health issues for our little family were more urgent. We struggled to survive financially. At one point, the electricity was disconnected and we had neither power nor water as a result. Adding insult to injury, the first freeze of the year arrived the next evening. Ten days and nights we went without warmth or cooked food. Only one peanut butter sandwich each and water from the city park fountains constituted our one meal each day.
We faced the loss of the last of our material belongings, ones we cling to as fiercely as the memories they evoke. I understand a little more now what the loss of a home to fire or flood must mean. So many things of no monetary value hold everything that is delightful to hold close. Yes, it is true: The memory will never be lost. Yet sometimes the tangible brings great comfort.
I couldn’t bear the loss of those last physical mementos of our former life. I cast all propriety, all sense of shame and embarrassment, aside. I sent out pleas for help, yet felt so isolated I had no expectation of help or concern.
Within hours, people I knew offered prayers and stepped up to help me financially. To say I was astonished is so inadequate as to be meaningless.
Convinced for months that I was alone, even within my own family, I found that people knew I existed. That is not insignificant. One of the worst things about poverty is the complete isolation that swallows your life and, even harder to accept, that of your loved ones. There is something within all of us, I think, that makes us want to believe we would be missed if were absent, that our existence matters to someone in this world.
My friends enabled me to salvage something of my past. People need a past and a future. The present may be enough; it may be all that is required. Yet, without both past and future, existence has little meaning or purpose. My friends, and I use that beautiful word with great respect and appreciation, saved the evidence of my prior existence and that gave me hope now for a purpose in the future.
You gave me hope.
I have much to be thankful for this year. I want to thank you all again. You have no idea what you have done for me. I can never adequately repay any of you. You were the answers to my tears.