Democrats & Liberals

Can Digitization Democratize Healthcare?: Telemedicine and the Future of Aging

Posted by Magnolia on November 19, 2019 at 10:06 AM

The population is growing older, and this graying of the United States is bringing with it a lot of difficult choices and a cascade of painful sacrifices. Everyday in America, another 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age. By 2030, nearly 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 years old or older. As the population grows older, younger generations find themselves torn between the responsibilities of caring for an aging parent and raising their own children.

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Could Improved Smart Car Technology Speed EV Adoption?

Posted by Magnolia on November 12, 2019 at 11:34 AM

While electric vehicles (EVs) are starting to become a more prominent sight on our roads, we are still some way off from their market dominance. Despite the fact that we are teetering on the edge of irreversible climate crisis, we remain dependent on our fossil fuel vehicles. Our hesitation about crossing over to the fully electric method of transport can be linked to a number of reasons.

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What Will Retirement Be Like for the Next Generation?

Posted by jhamilton on November 5, 2019 at 12:01 AM

The millennial generation and Generation Z are facing down a multitude of crises ranging from another impending financial disaster to the ever-present threat of climate change. What's more, millennials have entered the workforce en masse over the last decade and have found that it is far less hospitable to their generation than it was to the baby boomers or Gen X. While retirement has been the ultimate goal for generations past, millennials and Generation Z are finding that the very idea of retirement might be out of reach for many of them.

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How Can Public Health Officials Combat Misinformation?

Posted by Magnolia on October 3, 2019 at 11:54 AM

The internet has helped expand our world on an exponential level, as we can freely share information with a global audience. Unfortunately, that immense amount of information is also a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to misinformation. Fake news outlets are rampant, and misinformation is widely shared across social media and via word-of-mouth.

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Why Students Need to Be Aware of their Legal Rights on Campus

Posted by Magnolia on October 2, 2019 at 8:52 AM

Human rights have long been an important part of cultural discussion. As we see the demand for diversity grow among millennials and Gen Zers, however, the topic is peaking in public conversation. Many in these generations are students, whether as undergrads or clear into their doctorate programs, and thus are addressing their human rights in educational environments. The subject can be tricky to address, but proponents insist that it's necessary to talk about now.

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Has Trump's Presidency Led to More Hate Crimes? New Studies Say Yes

Posted by jhamilton on September 25, 2019 at 4:40 PM

It's been quite the presidency for Donald Trump. He has made headlines with multiple bouts of insensitive language that have earned him accusations of racism, misogyny, and other types of bigotry. Additionally, his policies have been brought under scrutiny for their resemblance to far-right extremism and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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A Few Reasons Federal Legalization Makes A Lot of Sense

Posted by Magnolia on September 25, 2019 at 9:13 AM

With the passage of the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana was regaled to the most restrictive class, Schedule 1, alongside heroin, ecstasy, and LSD. Substances with a Schedule 1 designation are those with "no currently accepted medical use," per the FDA, and that have a high potential for abuse. Over the years, however, legislators, presidential candidates, and advocacy groups alike have called for the reclassification of marijuana, for a number of reasons.

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STDs and the Homeless: What Can Government Officials Do To Help?

Posted by jhamilton on September 4, 2019 at 2:22 PM

In 2013, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS named the homeless community as one of the 12 populations being left behind in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This hasn't changed much in the last six years. Multiple studies have recently noted the correlation between homelessness and at-risk behavior. Unfortunately, the correlation can also be applied to other STDs and STIs.

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Which 2020 Election Candidate Is Best for LGBTQ Rights?

Posted by Magnolia on September 4, 2019 at 1:48 PM

As we inch closer to 2020, all eyes are on the potential Democratic candidates who may be able to put an end to the Trump administration. In the wake of the recent mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, gun control stands out as a hotly debated issue. But Democratic hopefuls have also been sharing their overall platforms to a large-scale audience, which include issues such as the taxation of rich Americans and marijuana legalization. Of particular interest to a wide range of voters is each candidate's stance on LGBTQ rights.

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The Unique Ways That U.S. Immigration Laws Affect Migrant Women

Posted by jhamilton on August 19, 2019 at 7:12 PM

The traditional conservative argument against illegal immigration has always been laden with hints of racist rhetoric. Here and there you would find an unnatural fear of cultural erasure for whites, yet this extremism was somewhat kept under the surface. With the President using terms like "rapists," "murderers," and "invaders" to describe Mexican immigrants, conservatives have become more blatantly radicalized. Many agreed that the El Paso shooting earlier this month exemplified that radical white supremacists now feel emboldened to act due to hateful words espoused by President Trump.

This brings us to the topic of border detainment for those trying to enter America without the proper paperwork. Members of congress such as Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez have spoken out about the nature of border detainment centers and referred to them as "concentration camps." Public figures like Stephen Colbert and Joe Rogan have spoken up about the immoral nature of separating children from parents. Yet despite these examples, there is an aspect of the situation not being addressed by the mainstream media: the unique way in which U.S. immigration laws and the current work of ICE is affecting migrant women.

Conversations around the importance of immigration may have suppressed the story, but the truth is brutal. If we want to understand the far-reaching consequences of the GOP's immigration policies, we can start by understanding its effects on women.

Proper Treatment Within Facilities

Public outrage is not impactful on situations within detainment centers. This could be due to growing paranoia that Democrats are using illegal immigration to grow their voter numbers. This talking point suppresses outrage and contributes to polarization. Those who speak up may be written off as merely part of the "extreme left."

Yet prior to the ICE crackdowns, there were provisions in which non-citizen immigrants could seek healthcare. Their lives still seemed to matter, especially the lives of migrant women. As explained by Fiscal Tiger, "undocumented immigrants can be eligible for emergency Medicaid as well as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs. There are also state-level programs that undocumented immigrants might be eligible for."

While these provisions are still in effect, it does not seem that they are being carried out or offered to those within detainment centers. With the recent deaths of two Salvadorians within the border detainment facilities (one of which was a transgender migrant woman), we see this empathy gone. ICE has never been completely truthful about the amount of people dying within their detainment centers. However, these recent examples may be representative of the attitude held by our government right now.

Wrestling With Abuse

Associate UCLA Professor Randall Akee wrote a troubling piece this last June concerning the effects of ICE's actions on migrant women who experienced abuse. Pulling from a study by Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes and Esther Arenas-Arroyo, Akee discussed the importance of a clause in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which allowed undocumented immigrant victims of abuse to be protected. But the study revealed that the number of women reporting abuse had diminished.

Previously, undocumented women and their children were also able to seek permanent resident status through the VAWA provision. This helped them get legal coverage and protection against their abusers. However, the study in question pointed to migrant women being fearful of applying for green cards and correlated this to recent detainments and deportations.

Summarizing the research, Akee wrote, "In effect, victims of domestic violence are fearful of speaking up or seeking relief from their abusers; they are condemned to endure their abuse for fear of deportation or detention." According to his research, it doesn't seem that there is another reason for the numbers of green card petitioners to decrease.

These impacts can lead to increased rates of homelessness for undocumented immigrants, which carries its own risks. In addition to leaving women open to violence and abuse, inadequate resources and stigmatization often lead to mental illness, imposing yet greater burdens on those affected.

The Oppression of Mothers

Despite the many statistics and success stories that prove immigrants are actually good for the economy, the United States has recently been denying more asylum claims. In addition to this, they ended the DACA, which allowed permits for children of undocumented immigrants to be able to stay in the country. Separating children from their families has had particularly devastating consequences.

Activist Michelle Angela Ortiz recently created the documentary entitled "Las Madres de Berks," about four undocumented mothers who were all once detained at Berks County Residential Center in Philadelphia. The jail held the mothers and their children for different amounts of time respectfully. Ortiz described them to news sources as "heroines."

The Inquirer, upon reporting on the documentary, offered a spoiler that showed the severe effect of these detainments.

"How do the [four] mothers' stories end?," the author posited. "One was deported. One is dead, fleeing violence in her homeland only to find it in her home in this country, stabbed to death last year at age 25 in a family dispute. Two have been released and live freely, fulfilling mandatory check-ins with ICE as their legal cases go forward."

The way that immigration laws are affecting women must be taken into account to understand the consequences of GOP policies. With the facts showing that immigrants are not taking jobs but rather propelling the economy forward, inhumane policies are not quantifiable and should not be justified. Considering the amount of people dying or suffering at the hands of these immigration laws, a more humanist approach is necessary.

How Housing Instability Is Inspiring Creative Solutions

Posted by jhamilton on August 6, 2019 at 2:24 PM

It's no secret that the cost of living has skyrocketed in recent years across the country, especially in major cities, and wages aren't keeping up. While increased living costs are problematic on their own, it's also becoming more difficult to find affordable housing. For those unable to afford a traditional mortgage, do alternative solutions exist?

The housing market crash of 2008 did more than just bring housing values down. It also helped spawn the temporary housing boom that made Airbnb a household name. In many areas, the housing landscape is saturated with these short-term dwellings, leading prospective home buyers and renters alike scrambling for solutions. Popular tourist destinations have been hit especially hard by short-term rentals: In New Orleans, for example, there were nearly 5,000 properties listed on Airbnb in 2018. That high amount of short-term rentals has made the affordable housing search even more difficult for local residents.

But it's not all bad news where housing options are concerned. In the wake of widespread housing instability, multigenerational living, co-housing, and DIY home restoration are taking center stage. These creative solutions are fueling a new wave of innovation and may help counteract the impact of the housing crisis.

The Generational Question

When it comes to the current affordable housing crisis, those struggling to survive often look for someone to blame. And rather than the government, which hasn't raised the federal minimum wage since 2009, (and even then to a paltry $7.25 per hour) many within older generations are pointing their finger at millennials. The generation of young people born between 1981 and 1996 have been called entitled, lazy, and worse.

Millennials are also taking the brunt of the blame for effectively "killing" homeownership, even though the generation has been among the hardest hit by the affordable housing crisis. In fact, millennial homeownership was found in 2015 to be 8 points lower from previous generations at the same age. This is due to a variety of factors, most notably the fact that many millennials are living with hefty student loan debt.

But that's only a small part of the picture regarding the millennial housing search. Many young professionals are having to move back in with their parents, or are even taking on the role of caregiver for aging relatives. Multigenerational living gives young people the chance to save money on housing costs, and gives their elderly or infirm relatives a better option than retirement homes.

From Tiny Homes to Cooperative Living

Cooperative living doesn't always mean living with relatives, however. In major metropolitan areas and tech hubs such as San Francisco, co-housing and co-working hubs are becoming increasingly common. Cooperative housing is akin to hostels in the sense that individuals typically sleep in dorms while sharing a kitchen, bathroom, and common area. Rent costs for a cooperative living space tend to be significantly lower than average area rates.

Another alternative housing option that's gaining traction is the tiny house movement. Tiny homes are rooted in the ideas of minimalism and simplicity, typically comprising less than 400 square feet in total. Living in a tiny home may also provide a way to effectively protest capitalism, as your living costs decrease along with your ability to fill your home with possessions.

Home Ownership and Renovation

Along with cooperative living and tiny homes, the renovation of fixer-uppers may be a viable option for those looking for affordable housing. But DIY renovation can be a hefty endeavor. For starters, buying rather than renting likely means securing a mortgage and coming up with a down payment. You'll also want to have your prospective home inspected for issues such as a leaky roof and the presence of mold or asbestos.

Once your mortgage is in place for your fixer-upper, the real work begins. Older homes may require a bit more work than newer construction. For instance, if your home was built in the 1970s or earlier, there's a possibility that your insulation or drywall contains asbestos. Exposure to asbestos is hazardous to your health and can cause scarring of the lungs and various types of cancer, including mesothelioma.

Fortunately, DIY renovation isn't all about potential hazards, but it can be time-consuming as well as rewarding. Everything from updating kitchen appliances to removing old wallpaper may take several days or even weeks to complete. You may also come across road bumps such as switching out outdated appliance hookups or repairing a damaged wall surface prior to applying new wallpaper or paint. Patience and the ability to adapt to potential challenges are key when renovating a home, no matter its age.

Final Thoughts

Whatever your income and lifestyle, you still have plenty of options in today's often-volatile housing market. The modern housing landscape is more versatile than ever before, and creativity reigns alongside traditional home ownership. From cooperative living to DIY renovation, those seeking affordable housing can think outside the box in every corner of the country.

Millennials' New Role as Caregivers to the Elderly

Posted by jhamilton on July 23, 2019 at 7:39 PM

The United States will soon be facing an influx of retired baby boomers, and healthcare professionals are having trouble figuring out how to prepare for it. There are over 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each year, adding a large amount of people who will soon need elderly care. The problem? American healthcare is severely understaffed.

The overall quality of patient care is suffering from this dilemma. Hospitals do not have enough hands on deck, so this problem isn't exactly new. Of course, this isn't the only way American healthcare is lacking -- it's no stranger to needing more diversity and would be more effective if it was more accessible.

But while those things are also urgent, there is an immediate threat to elderly lives simply from a shortage of resources. Where healthcare providers have been unable to act though, the millennial generation have stepped into the fold.

Why Are Baby Boomers in This Situation?

There are two significant reasons that baby boomers are in this situation. The first is simply that there are a lot of them. Additionally however, financial habits have a place in the conversation. CNBC reported that a third of boomers have $25,000 or less saved for retirement. This leaves the responsibility on others to take care of them, and the healthcare industry simply isn't prepared for that.

In the short term, the healthcare system needs more medical educators that can train fresh healthcare staff. If there's a massive insertion of new patients into the system, there comes a call for multiplied resources and help, which begins with new employees. In the long-term, younger generations need to budget and finance better. Not only that, learning how to age in place is also crucial to remain independent for as long as possible and keep costs down. If they can set themselves up for retirement well, this issue won't be so urgent in the future.

When Can Millennials Care for Aging Family Members?

For a millennial who is coming to terms with the fact that they may be a loved one's care provider, the notion can seem daunting. Taking care of their own personal finances is one thing but using their own resources to take care of someone else can feel nearly impossible.

The remote-work age has increased caregiving ability for millennials, however. As with television writer Jennifer Levin, who reportedly spent time to take care of her father with a rare brain disorder, job flexibility was crucial to adequately take care of her dying family member.

Due to technology, this is easier to come by in 2019 than it was a decade or two ago because people can now work from home. However, job flexibility can still be hard to find depending on someone's credentials and field of interest. Before a millennial takes on a caregiving role, they need to know they can support themselves financially, in addition to having the right skillset.

For this reason, there are organizations such as the AARP that have decided to enact a caregiving leave program for employees that find themselves in this situation. It has yet to be determined if other companies and organizations will follow suit. But it may become necessary with the boomer influx, and if it does, the digital age may be the most efficient time for it.

What Struggles Should Caregiving Millennials be Prepared For?

Millennials who have stepped into caregiving roles should be prepared for the realities of attending to an aging family member who may be sick or facing dire health conditions. Many boomers will face chronic pain due to symptoms like arthritis or back injuries. This may put some millennials in the position of ensuring these family members take their medication and are physically active.

Additionally, these situations can be quite stressful for those who choose to take on caregiving roles for friends and family. The emotional and mental impact of watching a loved one struggle with their health or live in chronic pain is not easy. It may be helpful for these caregivers to educate themselves on healthcare issues, from physical and mental ailments to insurance costs.

Improved health literacy could potentially save billions of dollars in annual healthcare costs. It would also allow for healthy routines to set in among those who have taken a family member in. However, time to learn vital health information may be scarce for those splitting their efforts between aging family members and a full-time job.

Millennials adjusting into these roles therefore should try and prepare. The number of trained health professionals in the United States is just not enough to handle the boomer influx into the healthcare system. But luckily, technology and job flexibility make it more possible. Hopefully, there will be more health workers to take this load on in the near future as well.

How Can Companies Help Combat Climate Change?

Posted by Magnolia on July 11, 2019 at 6:42 PM

Last week it was revealed that Chennai, India's 6th largest city, has almost run out of groundwater. According to the last available census, over 7 million people live in this area. Despite the fact that Chennai has a number of beach resorts and tourist attractions, it seems that their people are suffering. In fact, tourist attractions often have a hand the depletion of local natural resources.

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Are Federal Medicinal Marijuana Bans Hurting Patients?

Posted by jhamilton on July 3, 2019 at 3:16 PM

Marijuana is somewhat of a paradox in the U.S., at least in the legal sense. At the federal level, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, a classification reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and addiction that also have no accepted medical use. However, the majority of state legislatures disagree.

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What Role Does Domestic Violence Play in the #MeToo Movement?

Posted by Magnolia on June 21, 2019 at 9:45 AM

The #MeToo movement has brought a tremendous amount of awareness to sexual violence. The movement has created a community of advocates across the country that are willing to have challenging conversations to find solutions to sexual abuse and harassment.

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