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.
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.
Stem cell research is a topic that has prompted much debate throughout the US in the last decade or so. In particular, it is the use of embryonic cells that has created the most historical discussion, with its opposition claiming that this practice is in direct disregard to legislation which prohibits the creation or the destruction of embryos for the purposes of research. The Bush administration of the US moved to curtail public investment into embryonic stem cell research, forcing private investors to contribute in reproducing the requisite cells.
The current government and its leader Barack Obama is in favor of the research however, and imposed rules in 2009 that allowed these privately funded cells to be used and tested in a controlled and well managed working environment. Subsequently, the Federal court last week gave Mr Obama’s administration the go ahead to continue their funding of embryonic stem cell research, lifting a previous injunction due to the ambiguity of the existing legislation on public spending in the US.
A Matter of Individual Opinion
It is thought that those who oppose embryonic stem cell research may well take their appeal to the supreme court, so the matter is likely to rage for the foreseeable future and beyond. It is a matter of individual opinion, with the previous administration of the US opposed to its practice and the more liberal government of Barack Obama in support of both the research and their role in funding and facilitating it.
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
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.
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.
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.
Not many issues prompt as much discussion as those that surround judicial procedure and criminal rehabilitation, especially in a society that has a serious problem with overcrowded correctional facilities and restrictions in public expenditure. These are social issues with burden the US at this present time, and are tightly interwoven through the vast sums of public money that it currently takes to maintain the crowded and bustling correctional facilities that are currently in operation throughout the country.
Crime has become something of a social epidemic in recent times, with the last 2 decades seeing the prison population rise by over 1 million inmates. This has unfortunately been the catalyst to the inflated levels of public money that have been invested into building and maintaining correctional facilities, while also accounting for rising amount of tax payer revenue to feed and house the criminal fraternity. With both crime and public spending coming under intense public focus, now is the time to tackle the theories of rehabilitation and how convicted felons should pay their debts to society.
A Case in Point
DC Central operates a Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program, which is geared specifically towards homeless and previously incarcerated individuals. This is the kind of initiative which has developed in the wake of increased rates of conviction and criminal behavior, and is primarily conceived to give those with a criminal past an opportunity to grow and refrain from re-offending. As this and many similar schemes have a keen basis in the interests of society, they also allow their employees to repay their debts to the society that they once disparaged.
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.
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.
Alcoholism is something that carries both a national and global concern, and is seemingly becoming prevalent across a younger social demographic. Both the US and UK have had specific incidents recently which have raised concerns about both the attitudes towards drinking and each notions methodology for regulating the consumption of alcohol amongst their citizens. This week was especially prominent, as the US along saw an infant aged 4 treated for alcohol ingestion, while up to 17 states are currently canvasing drinks producers Pabst Brewing Co. to refrain from marketing their beverages to a youthful market.
While the former incident occurred in Chicago and was the latest in a spate of nationwide incidents where children have consumed alcohol in public restaurants, the latter responds to a brand new drink promoted by rapper Snoop Dog. A malt based beverage called Blast, it comes in a variety of vibrant fruit flavors while boasting packaging and marketing material that is suited to a younger audience, yet it actually contains an exceptionally potent 12 percent of alcohol and is stronger than a typical can of beer.
A Lack of Responsible Awareness
The issue of alcohol consumption is not just a problem in the US, and recent events in the UK saw an 8 year old commence treatment for alcoholism after growing up in a family of negligent elders who were heavy and irresponsible drinkers. This may be the formation of a troubling global trend in terms of the social attitudes towards drinking, whereby it may become something entirely anti-social amongst teenagers and young adults. This manifests itself in alternative social issues, such as violent crime and health afflictions.
As Barack Obama addressed the audience at a Town Hall event moderated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week, the significance of social media in the contemporary world was partially revealed. Not only did it afford the US leader the chance to address both influential technological innovators and the sites typically young subscriber base, but it could also be seen as a corporeal example of how the government can use new media to engage and excite the voters of tomorrow and effect social change.
Mr Obama used his hour long address to full effect, highlight the significance of scientific education and immigration reform to the technological innovators present, while discussing the virtues of informing and empowering youthful citizens within the boundaries of a democracy. His use of Facebook as an example to support the freedoms now afforded to citizens was key, as this is vindication for the site and social media as a whole entity. Given the efforts of social media brands to evolve their services, this is a critical signpost in their signpost.
The Changing Face of Social Media
Mr Obama is known to be a great fan of American innovation, as he believed this is the result of a freedom of thought that is synonymous with the US. Having cited Facebook in previous addresses, it is easy to see why he is so positive in his assessment of social media and their benefit to society. In 2010, Facebook became the most frequented online global resource, surpassing Google on the way to securing 500 millions users worldwide. This is a reflection of how it has evolved since its inception in 2004, and its progression from being a social network to becoming a core part of business and marketing strategies.
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.
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.
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.
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.