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The Relevance of Old Fashioned Medicine in the Contemporary Age

As science and technology advances at a rapid pace, there is a decreasing reliance upon the simple and more traditional techniques of administering and applying medicine. There is some debate to be had however as to whether this is necessarily a good development or otherwise, especially as some studies have revealed the power of basic and natural techniques in treating illness and disease. Should these methods become marginalized, then the scope of available treatments may become reduced and lead to a significant drop in medial progress.

After all, progression and advancement does not need to rely solely on new concepts of methodology. It is simply an application of knowledge to improve a social, technological or medical issue, and it is more the way in which this information is used which is more relevant than its freshness or longevity. Subsequently, established knowledge or medical techniques can remain relevant in the contemporary age, and should not be sidelined on the basis of being traditional or old fashioned.

The Power of Relationships in Healing Disease

Despite the power and increasing diversity of drugs that are available to treat ailments, the power of positive thinking and beneficial relationships have been shown to be key in the recovery of individuals from certain health issues. As a recent study into psychotherapy by the National Institute of Mental Health revealed, maintaining a positive and therapeutic relationship between a therapist and their patient is one of the most effective ways of successfully treating depression, even ahead of modern drug treatments and more cutting edge techniques.

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The Safety of US Citizens in 2011

As the news broke today of the death of Osama Bin Laden, so too thousands of US citizens celebrated a significant victory in the war against terror. The known fundamentalist leader and mastermind of the September 11th attacks was captured and killed in a stand off in the Pakistan capital of Islamabad, after nearly a decade of research and the gathering of intelligence led to US special forces discovering his whereabouts and attempting to apprehend him.

The news was delivered globally this morning, prompting extreme emotion in the western world and in the US in particular. As many citizens gathered outside the World Trade Center and in Washington, there was a feeling that at least partial justice had been handed to the victims and families of those who have lost their lives in abhorrent terrorist attacks. However, while this is a significant step in combating those who perpetrate terror and fundamentalist principles, it should be remembered that the threat to civilized society still remains prominent beneath the social fabric.

The Importance of Recent developments

Osama Bin Laden became a revered and much respected figure in fundamentalist circles after the September 11th attacks of 2001, and his death marks something of a watershed in the war against terror. Its significance is especially important given the reported lack of a natural successor to his role, as any organization is liable to become rudderless and vulnerable without a recognized or charismatic leader. It maybe that recent events make Al Qaeda weakened in the face of renewed pressure from the US and similar nations, and provide an opportunity to take a significant stride towards world peace.

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The Merits of Medical Research and the Population, Part 2

The debate that surrounds the application of embryonic stem cell research is intense and passionately fought, but is in fact just a small part of the wider issue of the role that medical research plays in the contemporary age. Apart from the debate that surrounds its purpose and ethical characteristics, there is also criticism of the amount of public revenue that is invested into it for a supposedly negligible return.

Medical research is something that has the potential to create vast improvements in the living condition and prosperity of those afflicted by illness, and as such has remained a significant beneficiary of public funding. Though the investigations and swathes of research that have been conducted have not necessarily made significant steps towards curing long term ailments, the continued and unrelenting pace of scientific progression suggests that this breakthrough is not especially far away.

Natural Selection vs. Scientific Advancements

The supposed lack of tangible results is not actually the main reason cited for opposition to investment in medical research, and it is in fact a moral principle which creates the most significant objection. This is based on the potential eradication of natural selection, which has for years been the single most influential regulator of global and national population. It is the natural process of death that forms part of the cycle of existence, and helps keep the world from the perils of mass poverty and over population.

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Tackling the Priority issues in the US

As Barack Obama visited the ravaged southern state of Alabama this week, he was confronted by a scene of structural devastation and a local government stretched beyond their means in attempting to support afflicted individuals and families. An estimated 300 people were killed in the series of storms and tornadoes that swept across the southern state belt line last week, with Alabama the most seriously affected ahead of other states including Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia.

As the local government pleaded for more assistance from their federal counterparts, it drew a sharp focus on the perspective of issues in the US, and also highlighted the problems faced by the government as they try to run a progressive and harmonious country. Tragedies such as the one which beset the southern states of the US require instant and significant attention, and subsequently become a priority regardless of the other relevant issues across society.

The Birther Movement and Political Manoeuvres

As the suggestions of the ridiculous ‘Birther’ movement and speculation concerning Mr Obama’s eligibility as president were finally laid to rest this week, so too a rather ugly chapter of political gamesmanship was consigned into history. However, it was unsettling to see an insignificant and covertly malicious suggestion create such an effortless controversy, regardless of its barely disguised motives of racism and political discontent

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The Age of Cyber Theft for Profit

The act of stealing has always been considered as a form of personal violation, especially when an individuals home or personal space is invaded to obtain their possessions. The various modes of theft have diversified over time however, so that it is now far more likely that citizens will become vulnerable to online predators and the machinations of cyber thieves. The remote and anonymous nature of cyber theft makes it extremely difficult prevent, while also providing a degree of security for those who perpetrate it.

We live in the age of the cyber thief, whose aim is to seek both illicit and significant profit through the collection of personal data and financial information. This can be sourced from discarded household bills, poorly protected personal computers or even through the information contained on company specific databases. These can be stolen and traded between relevant parties, and the information can included can lead to the theft of your wealth and financial assets.

Recent Events and the Rise of Cyber Theft

Just last week the new broke that the personal information of over 77 million Playstation users has been exposed, after a computer intrusion compromised and accessed Sony’s relevant customer database. Although the identity or purpose of the thief has not yet been revealed, the most likely answer is that the database was infiltrated by a cyber thief who wished to use the information for financial gain, whether by using the personal information for themselves or illegally selling it on to interested parities.

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Applying Fairness in a Modern Democracy

With the discussions continuing to rage concerning budget reductions and the correct policy of taxation in the US, the issue of fairness within a democracy is coming under an increasing focus. It is something that is entirely subjective to each individual and their own circumstances, and yet is often cited as reasoning when debates ensue about democratic policy and government rule. The issue of subjectivity is something that is difficult to incorporate when attempting to enforce a policy or law within a democracy, and can lead to complication in terms of the decision making process.

Taxation is a case in point, especially in the light of the suggestion that the US government will increase the tax liability of the rich in order to relieve the burden on lower income individuals and households. Backed by Barack Obama, it has instantly won the approval of an estimated 72 percent of the US society, who are in favor of focusing on the top two percent of earners in the country to reduce the vast national deficit. This is where the issue of fairness becomes important, and influences the thinking of voters and government officials alike.

The Processes of a Democracy

Democracy affords each individual member of a society a voice and opinion on any prevalent social issue, which can influence a government in imposing legislation and policy. However, a government cannot satisfy the requirements of each independent voter, and so must therefore make a decision that best suits the opinions and interests of the vast majority of it citizens. This is a slight anomaly that can complicate the process of a democratic regime, as some individuals can unreasonably expect that a democratic government should cater their their specific wants and needs.

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Meeting the Presidential Criteria in the US

Barack Obama has been forced to face several questions surrounding his exact origin of birth since his inauguration as US President, which either reflects a genuine concern or a unwelcome prejudice that lies beneath the surface of the social fabric. As Arizona governor Jan Brewer this week vetoed a bill that would have required presidential candidates prove their eligibility for office, America took a positive step towards challenging the concept of eligibility and also towards focusing their issues on the key issues that currently bight the US.

Although other states are moving forward with similar bills with a view to enforcing them, they are less likely to succeed in the wake of Jan Brewer’s decision and the inevitable protests against racial prejudice, repression and a specific interpretation of eligibility. Given the Arizona states reputation for backing more radical legislation concerning immigration, their stance came as something as a surprise to those who dispute the merits of the the so called ‘Birther’ bill, and raised relevant questions concerning both the existing law and exactly which qualities are important when running a country.

The Right to Set Presidential Qualification Requirements

Of course the US constitution does afford states the right to determine how its representatives are elected, while also allowing them to ensure that their candidate meets existing constitutional qualifications. What it forbids is any state attempting to impose new legislation that forces qualified candidates to refrain from standing for election, as this addition of criteria is unconstitutional and opposes the democratic foundation of the US. What has further confused recent issues is that the relevant article in the US constitution is open to interpretation in terms of being a natural citizen of the United States.

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Taxing the Rich to Aid Recovery in the US

It is a known and accepted fact that Barack Obama’s preferred policy with regards to tax is to increase the liability of the wealthy, while easing that which rests upon the shoulders of low and middle income households. This is a measure that is apparently well supported within the US government, with a vast majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independent representatives all in agreement that individuals or households who earn more than $250,000 per year should bare the brunt of plans to reduce the national deficit.

Not only this, but US citizens also seem to agree that this is the most positive step that their government can take with regards to taxation. The New York Times recently revealed in a poll that an estimated 72 percent of adults approve of increasing federal taxes on households earning $250,000 per year or more, which is a significant portion of the voting demographic in the US. Though this suggests that the government and its subjects are in accordance, there are economic and ethical issues concerning such a practice within a free and democratic land.

A Thriving Economy

From a purely practical standpoint, there are two significant reasons why increasing the tax liability of the rich would be either inconsequential or potentially detrimental to the economy. Firstly, given the effects of the global recession and subsequent recovery, there are a paucity of individuals and households who earn more than $250,000 in the US. This means that by targeting this demographic as opposed to imposing a 1 percent increase on each level of household income, the government will acquire far less reveneue over the next decade than they have the potential to.

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Why Patience is a Virtue When Securing National Prosperity

It is a long standing theory that patience is a virtue, but it is also one which is not readily available in our contemporary culture. As technological advancement has improved the speed and ease with which everyday tasks can be performed, so too an entire generation has become accustomed to being achieving instant gratification and satisfaction. This impatience and demand for swift resolution has influenced our feelings concerning less relevant aspects of our lives, such as relationships, career advancement and also the governments approach to social issues.

Subsequently we live in an age where we expect to see any issue resolved both swiftly and efficiently, regardless of its complexity or significance. Whether we address social problems such as obesity or look to improve the level of diversity within a range of professional or academic fields, society is fairly impatient with regards to the amount of time it is prepared to afford those who seek to effect change and improvement. This not only does a disservice to a nations problem solvers, but also serves to increase social tension and discontentment.

The Current US and Desires for Growth

The current economic and social circumstances that afflict the US undoubtedly need resolving, but these changes must be effected gradually and with a view to long term prosperity. While it is healthy for a nations citizens to desire both local and national growth and advancement, these feelings cannot be allowed to manifest themselves in short term solutions and an over eagerness to ensure a speed rather than a quality of resolution. For any social change to reap benefits, it must be implemented and cultivated over a significant period of time.

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Taking Charge of Social Conduct Part 2

If we accept that the US government do not do enough to change their laws to combat social conduct, then it is important to understand a corporeal example of this. Perhaps one of the most relevant is the rise of cyber bullying, which sees young and vulnerable individuals threatened and abused by anonymous offenders. It has come to prominence in the wake of increased technological advancement and the unlimited access that individuals have to it, and has afforded bullies the opportunity to operate remotely and beneath the guise of anonymity.

A recent case in North Andover has exemplified this perfectly. A young girl who had both suffered from and beaten cancer before the age of 11, she began to receive texts and emails which threatened both her mental and physical well being. After missing a period of school and finding herself cowed by fear, she eventually discussed the situation with her parents and dismissed their fears that she was once more unwell. After reporting the details to the police, an investigation revealed that the perpetrator was one of the victims closest friends, who had used technology to disguise her contact details to harass and intimidate her.

A New Threat to Personal Security

This is a prime example of a relatively new but significant threat to individual safety and well being, and one that has no accepted precedent as a consequence. In this particular case, the perpetrator received a course of counselling and a set amount of community service, although this has been dismissed by the parents of the victim as inadequate and derisory. Regardless, a clear and stringent consequence for those found guilty of cyber bullying must be implemented, both to protect potential victims and act as a deterrent to those who look to perpetrate it.

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Taking Charge of Social Conduct

If the citizens of a democratic nation begin to abuse the liberties they are afforded, at what point should a government take decisive action? Undoubtedly the US federal government exist to regulate society through law and guidance, and have a duty to protect the social fabric from the actions of individual citizens. So in instances where accepted laws or freedoms are being taken advantage of to the detriment of society, there is an argument that the government should take steps to change their rules of operation.

Creating a More Structured Social Environment

It should be said that changing laws to create a more structured social environment does not change the approach of a democracy. What it does is still empower citizens but in a far more considered way, and introduces an element of accountability for individuals and their actions. The act of restructuring the social element of the US would help to tackle many health and behavioral issues, notably those concerning smoking, obesity and anti-social conduct, and ultimately create a more productive and content generation of citizens.

Smoking is a relevant example, especially given the level of statistics and information that exist on its practice and consequences. Despite the fact that the decline in the number of high school children and adolescents who smoke has slowed in the last 3 years, and the eminent research that suggests that smoking addiction is more likely to develop during these formative years, most US states employ a minimum purchasing of 18. This, like the UK’s legislation that allows individuals older than 16 to buy cigarettes, is outdated and not reflective of the damage that smoking can do.

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Obesity as a Worldwide Epidemic

If there were any proof needed to support the current epidemic of obesity that is sweeping the globe, then it can be found through a recent case reported in China. A four year old boy, who weighs a staggering 136 pounds, has been offered free and potentially life saving treatment by a clinic in Hong Kong, with a view to preventing any long term health issues in his future. Doctors have stepped in after the case was brought to national attention through the media, and have ran an extensive number of tests to determine the existence of any underlying causes for the child’s condition.

Despite conducting an investigation that was both labored and considered, doctors have found no medical condition that could have acted as the trigger to the child’s obesity. While this is good news in terms of the child’s long term potential for recovery, it places the responsibility for his state of being firmly at the door of his parents, who allowed him to gradually eat his way into obesity. Yet there appears to be a reluctance to scrutinize his parents conduct throughout the affair, despite the fact that their behavior has put the health and well being of a young child at risk.

The Worldwide Growth of Obesity

The issue of obesity is a global one, and it is becoming increasingly prominent in numerous cities worldwide. It is estimated that obesity has risen to as high as 20 percent in some Chinese cities, as well as continuing to increase in other advanced and educated countries such as the US, UK and France. Its rise is worrying in the extreme, and if this trend continues it may well challenge tobacco as the single largest threat to individual health for the next generation.

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When a Society Mistrusts Their Government

Trust is one of the key facilitators that allows a government to prosper, as it is the trust invested by voters that brings a regime into power and enables them to serve the needs of a society. Where this trust becomes diminished, there is a severe danger that citizens will become cynical towards the government and political function as a whole, and create an environment where every political movement is viewed with mistrust and apprehension. It is not only government and politicians who contribute to this situation however, as modern and new media types play an increasingly significant role in the forming of opinion and political viewpoint.

With the online revolution and the subsequent explosion of news websites on the World Wide Web, there are a vast number of daily bulletins and articles for a user to absorb. The competitive nature of these sites and their output can occasionally take hold however, and see content that is published with a view to generating interest rather than educating the reader. This can lead to a situation where stories that cover a similar topic are published on different sites, and contradict each other both on the basic facts and the subjective view of their individual writer.

Mistrust for Political Powers

Senator Jon Kyle’s assertion concerning Planned Parenthood and their function was at the heart of recent controversy, as he claimed that abortions accounted for 90 percent of their overall work. However, as this figure was vehemently disputed and revealed to be closer to 3 percent than Mr Kyle’s original suggestion, his office rallied to issue a support of his actions. They claimed that his words were ‘not intended as a statement of fact’, and caused a public and media outcry that has resonated since.

Mr Kyle has subsequently become the subject of much political discussion and satire, and prompted a serious debate as to the integrity of political assertions in the contemporary age. If his words, issued through CNN and with the purpose of making a serious argument to reduce the organizations federal funding, were not intended to be factual then it is very difficult to understand their exact relevance. More likely, it appears that he has made an ill informed and generalized statement in the belief that there would be no significant consequence.

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The Right to Vote and US Citizens

The right to vote is a freedom afforded by democratic rule, and has seen many civil conflicts fought to establish or maintain its integrity. While different social demographics have historically been denied this right on the grounds of race or sex at some time or another, the contemporary idea of democracy is inclusive of all individual factions and their belief systems, and seeks to discriminate against no single group or social circumstance. However, if we accept that the idea of voting is a privilege afforded by democracy, then there is an argument to ensure that citizens have earned and appreciate this right.

Balancing Democracy With the Well Being of the Country

While it is undoubtedly undemocratic and abhorrent to discriminate against voters on the generic grounds of race or sex, this is because it degenerates a specific social group without genuine purpose or foundation. However, this does not necessarily mean that every individual should automatically be afforded the right to vote, especially where they have chosen to segregate themselves from general society or hold divisive views that oppose the principles of democratic rule.

A similar logic applies to those who have a minimal interest in or knowledge of politics, who although retain the right not to vote are often pressurized by social expectation to do so. In this instance, individuals may vote without a broad or appreciable understanding of the prevalent social issues, which means that their input is misdirected and that the chosen government of the US may not be a reflection of their true support. Put simply, the drive to ensure that citizens vote could prove to be detrimental to the integrity of the final result.

Any of these circumstances can deter the course of democracy, and create a situation where the elected government regime is either unrepresentative or reflects the interests of those opposed to democracy. What the US and other democratic nations therefore need to assess is whether allowing everyone the right to vote is in the interests of society as a whole, and whether creating stipulations for eligibility could ever be enforced in a liberal rule. What must be elevated above all else is the integrity of the election process, and the importance of selecting a desired government.

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Rising Gas Prices and the Cycle of Economic Growth

With gas prices set to rise beyond the $4 mark across the US, citizens are finding themselves trapped within a vicious cycle of economic hardship. The current price, which is based on the inflated cost of oil, has already risen to its highest point since July 2008, and economists are predicting that that $4 price for gas may take hold nationwide throughout July and August. This, in line with high unemployment and increased cuts in public expenditure, is creating the likely prospect of the nations economy grinding to a shuddering halt.

The Factors in Economic Growth

There are two significant factors which drive capitalist economic growth. The first of these is enterprise, and the investment in businesses that to allows them to expand their operations and hire new staff. This then follows in to the second factor, which is consumer activity and the revenue that citizens reinvest into the economy. By itself, this is the single most important influence on the financial growth of the US, but it is in part reliant on an environment where people are able to work and earn a regular salary.

In an environment where both independent enterprise and consumer spending is hindered, it creates a distinct cycle of economic hardship. This is debilitating for both the federal government and private sector growth, but also has a deep and perpetual impact on the day to day existence of citizens. As is typical with these types of circumstance, one factor often influences the other, so as long as citizens are unable to find employment and earn any semblence of disposable income, so too they are forced to reduce their levels of expenditure and tighten their financial belts.

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The Rights of Local Government to Influence Law

The model of American government is fairly unique, and significantly different to other democratic nations across the western world. Though the federal government retains ultimate power, beneath its wings are the law makers and governors of 50 individual and somewhat independent national states, who are able to wield an influence that is shaped by their own perceptions and ideals. While this may be generally seen as something positive which prevents the federal government from imposing an authoritarian will, it has and will continue to cause issues where local legislation differs vehemently from the values of the Whitehouse.

Tackling Arizona’s Immigration Law

This internal conflict was reflected by recent events in Arizona this week, where a federal appeals court affirmed a previous injunction imparted on the states much debated immigration law. The law, which would empower local law enforcement officers to detain suspected illegal immigrants and help in their eventual deportation, was delayed last year after Barack Obama’s administration sued while claiming that the process of apprehending and deporting immigrants is the sole responsibility of the federal government.

After being prevented at the 11th hour last year and now delayed for the longer term, Arizona state officials are considering their options and are expected to issue a petition to the Supreme Court of the US. Their argument remains strong and considered, and claims that their proposed legislation is a response to the inability of federal government to secure the nations borders and effectively manage immigration. Given the negative consequences that illegal immigration can reap within communities, they clearly feel that they have a duty to protect their citizens accordingly.

However, they appear to be in a minority, and even influential

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Capitalism within a Democracy

As a budget agreement was finally reached at the 11th hour on Friday, so too the US nation breathed a collective sigh of audible relief. While public sector workers and the families of military representatives celebrated the late resolution, so too government officials assured citizens that they would learn from the lessons of a poorly administered budget. However, given the revelation that top senate officials would have continued to receive pay while those beneath them felt the force of any partial government shutdown, questions have been raised about the influence of capitalism within a democracy.

Capitalist Values in a Democratic Society

The idea that the powerful should continue to receive their pay while those who they serve are left temporarily without salary epitomizes the very worst of capitalism, where influence dictates the distribution of a nations wealth. This notion is troubling enough in a focused and dedicated democratic power, but it is even more worrying when you consider that these individuals in question were responsible for the prolonged budgetary negotiations in the first instance.

Now, this does not mean that capitalism or its principles are divisive in society, or entirely opposed to those which exist in democracy. After all, capitalism supports the freedoms of of enterprise and unlimited trade, and affords individuals the tools to design, create and operate their own business entity. Not only this, but such a concept gifts these individuals the opportunity to shape their own financial destiny, and take tentative steps to becoming the job creators of the next generation.

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Investing in Education Rather than Correction

Once the US emerges from its current financial circumstances, and strives once more for economic prosperity, the hope remains that its government can carry with them the lessons learned from their experiences. As negotiations continue to stall and fail reach a budget resolution for 2012, the law makers and politicians of the country must resolve to never let such a state of affairs develop again, and create an expenditure plan that is both considered and reflects the best interests of society.

Interestingly, there are certain factors of government who are looking to do this at present, by attempting to reduce the funding for prison and correctional facilities and reinvesting this capital into the nations education. As California governor Jerry Brown this week signed a bill to transfer thousands of non violent felons from state prisons to more relaxed county jails, so too a significant step was made to close certain correctional facilities and redirect government funding into educational programs and schools.

A Time for Change

The spending statistics are damning indeed. In the 2 decades between 1990 and 2010, the US prison population has soared by over 1 million individuals, and prompted even more funding to be invested in building and expanding correctional facilities to handle the increasing capacity. Within this period, state spending on prisons climbed by nearly 130 percent, which is an astonishing and troubling six times higher than the total rate of expenditure committed to education.

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The US Government Facing Federal Shutdown Part 2

Yesterday we discussed the current stalemate facing the US government, and the potential for a federal shutdown that would have a discernible impact nationwide. However, while opposing factions of government and personal persuasion are having a stalling effect on the negotiations, it is interesting to consider exactly what the consequences would be should a resolution fail to be reached by midnight on this coming Friday.

Of course he concept of a federal government shutdown, whether it be partial or more widespread, is one that causes great concern for citizens. However, it is a rather vague and ill defined notion, and one that gives little indication as to the exact implications for society at large. So, what would be the immediate or long term consequences of enforced government inactivity, both in terms of the nations financial performance and the welfare of its workers and citizens?

The Financial Implications for a Nation

Financially, the partial closure of government institutions would be especially troublesome, and would create specific issue with regards to tax assessments and the funding of public sector ventures and small business enterprises. In a depressed fiscal climate, the forced inactivity of public sector bodies and their workers will only serve to slow the processes of economic recovery, and create an unhealthy cycle of increasing unemployment and subsequent closure of small and independent businesses.

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