Posts tagged with "unemployment"

Kamala Harris illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Win With Black Women

Back in 2016, while campaigning for the office of President of the United States, Donald Trump asked black voters, “What do you have to lose?”

He asked in reference to generations of oppression, violence and inequality, saying, “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed.”

The obvious implication is that things couldn’t possibly get worse for black voters, and Trump thought he had a chance to be the solution to the problem.

Well, in Sept. 2020, it seems that President Trump has his answer, and it comes in the form of a letter penned by Win With Black Women and co-signed by over 1,000 black female leaders.

The letter opens with a direct response to the question posed by Trump.

“Our answer, evidenced by increasingly poor economic outcomes, high racial tensions and hate incidents, the coronavirus, and an overall lack of dignity and respect in the White House, is a lot. And for Black women in particular, it’s too much,” the letter said.

It went on to discuss “sycophantic rhetoric” at the RNC that would lead watchers to believe that black life in America is in a healthier place now than it was prior to Trump’s election. Furthermore, the letter said that rhetoric insisted that anyone challenging that notion was brainwashed.

To refute the points set forth at the RNC, the letter cited the State of Black America, saying black households bring in 41% less than white households, and 60% of the black population lives below the poverty line. The letter also said that black unemployment is double the percentage of white unemployment.

The letter covered the cause of the recent protests throughout the country, saying, “Our lives are in constant threat under your Administration. If you are Black in America, you are three times more likely to be shot by the police,” going on to name Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake as evidence that justice has gone unserved.

It also mentioned that black people are dying disproportionally from COVID-19 while black women, specifically, “lag behind in life expectancy, and maternal and infant mortality.”

Win With Black Women finished by saying that they will fight against attacks on Kamala Harris and proposed a call to action.

“We call on voters, no matter their background, to join us in setting the record straight and to reject your distracting antics, lies and attacks. We call on you and the GOP to focus on the crises afflicting the American people and not to insult every American with petty diversions, outright lies, and by sweeping problems under the rug.  We call on voters to stand in solidarity with Black women and reject your derogatory sexist, racist rhetoric aimed at undermining our credibility, our character, and our achievements,” the letter said.

Before closing the letter, Win With Black Women said they “vow to continue to uplift the issues most important to our families and our communities, keep our eyes and ears open, and to work to restore what is true, just, and decent to this election and to this monumental time in history.”

Win With Black Women has published the letter on Change.org, asking signees of the petition to stand with them in unity. To sign the letter and to see a complete list of co-signing leaders, you can click right here.

United States Suicide Crisis

The United States is a nation currently plagued by many crises. We are facing a public health, economic, and civil rights crisis all at the same time. The coronavirus pandemic alone is changing almost every facet of life for hundreds of millions of Americans. Cases of COVID19 are rising again with fear and anxiety close behind.

Dr. Carlin Barnes and Dr. Marketa Wills – two Harvard-trained psychiatrists and co-founders of Healthy Mind MDs, LLC – a wellness enterprise whose sole mission is to improve the emotional and mental well-being of all Americans. They believe this increased rate of clinical anxiety and depression can lead to another major crisis – suicide. Mental health professionals are concerned that suicide rates will greatly increase over the next few months related to Americans deal with what is happening around them. 

Suicide is not a new national problem. Research has established a strong link between economic upheaval and suicide and substance us In fact, it is a public health crisis that has plagued America for quite some time. Suicide rates among adults in the U.S. were on the rise before this pandemic. In 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide deaths among those age 1 to 64 had increased to 35% in less than two decades. It is evident by our nation’s response, COVID-19 caught us off guard. A study of the Great Recession that began in late 2007 found that every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, there was about a 1.6 percent increase in the suicide rate.

Drs. Barnes and Wills believe it is important that we, individually and collectively, ring the alarm regarding the possibilities of COVID-19 related suicide. They are available to talk about the signs of a loved one who may be contemplating suicide and how to combat it. Signs include:

• Extreme withdrawal from all family and friends from someone who had previously been outgoing and friendly

• Increased use of alcohol and drugs

• Stating that life is not worth living

• Starting to get possessions and final paperwork in order

• Erratic behaviors,  mood swings, increased agitation/aggression/irritability

• Severe changes in sleep (increased sleep or decreased sleep) and appetite (increased appetite or decreased appetite

Given this confluence of stressors, the mental health of many Americans is becoming a major concern as we adapt to absorb the psychologic impact of all these major events. Data shows that one third of U.S  adults have reported symptoms of clinical anxiety and depression related to this public health crisis.

Barnes, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist and behavioral health medical director at a Fortune 500 managed care company. For the past eighteen years, she has practiced child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry—she has a thriving, diverse, boutique private practice with patient clientele ranging from working adults to urban children and  adolescents. She trained in the specialty of psychiatry at programs  affiliated with both Harvard University and Emory University Schools Medicine and attended Texas A&M University College of Medicine, where she received a Doctor of Medicine degree. Dr. Barnes is a member of several professional organizations including the National Medical Association, the Black Psychiatrists of America, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She is originally from Hillside, New Jersey, and currently resides in Houston, Texas, where she lives with her son.

Marketa Wills, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist with a master’s in business administration from the Wharton School of Business and serves as a physician executive at a Fortune 500 health insurance company. She has cared for severely mentally ill patients in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room clinical settings. As treatment team leader and medical director, she effectively collaborated with other mental professionals to ensure that patients with a variety of ailments—ranging from schizophrenia to postpartum depression to substance abuse—were able to live as productively as possible. Dr.Wills earned her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed a residency in adult psychiatry at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital program. In her last year of the program, she served as chief resident. She has received numerous accolades and awards highlighting her clinical and community achievements. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, she currently resides in sunny Tampa, Florida.

The doctors have shared their expertise on numerous news outlets as well as CBS News, NBC Syndication and CBS Radio.
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Drs. Barnes and Wills would be ideal experts to talk about mental health and suicide issues.

Unemployment and Voter Turnout

The “angry voter hypothesis” is a popular narrative that many voters are driven to the polls by economic anxiety. But a new study shows that hundreds of thousands of Americans hit by the 2008 recession actually avoided participating in subsequent elections.

The same phenomenon could happen this November as the United States experiences historic levels of unemployment, said the study’s author, Ben McCartney, an assistant professor of finance at Purdue University and an expert in household finance and voter participation. With so much financial distress on their plate, voting could be the last thing on their minds. “My concern going forward is that this story is going to repeat itself,” he said.

McCartney found that a 10% decline in local home prices decreased the participation rate of an average mortgaged homeowner by 1.6%, amounting to 800,000 potential votes over the course of the 2010 and 2012 national elections. The effect was less intense for renters and particularly severe for homeowners with little to no equity in their homes. He estimated that financial distress from the economic downturn was to blame.

McCartney used North Carolina voter files, housing data and Zillow home values for his analysis. His findings were recently published online as an accepted manuscript in The Review of Financial Studies.

“It’s a case where the opportunity costs now of voting are very high for some people,” he said. “It’s relatively easy for people to say, ‘I’m not going to worry about it this cycle. How do I figure out if I’m registered to vote? Where’s my polling place? Who is running for the various offices? I’ve got too much stuff on my plate, the economy is collapsing and I’m trying not to foreclose. Maybe now I’m taking care of the kids myself instead of sending them to day care, maybe I’m working more hours or working overtime.’ That is the story that I find fits the data better than this angry voter hypothesis.”

Fortunately, home prices have remained stable during the recent economic downturn due to high demand and low housing stock. But Zillow estimates prices to drop by 2%-3% and rebound by next year.

Four of 10 states that held their primary elections on June 2 saw a decline in voter turnout compared with 2016, according to analytics website FiveThirtyEight.com. The expansion of mail-in voting could have contributed to higher turnout in the six other states, according to the report.

McCartney said that potential voters could be more concerned about recovering from closures, furloughs and layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Households hit hard by this crisis are going to turn to credit cards and short-term loans,” he said. “Even if the economic ship is somewhat righted by November, a lot of households’ financial situations will have really deteriorated. And, for financially distressed households, voting is something easy to just drop from the to-do list. The implications for voter turnout are worrying.”

Ben McCartney (Courtesy photo)

McCartney is a faculty affiliate in the Purdue University Research Center in Economics. His research was supported by Purdue’s Krannert School of Management and Duke University.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap here.

Mental Health × The Coronavirus Pandemic

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy stated, “It was said, in an earlier age, that the mind of a man is a far country which can neither be approached nor explored. But, today, under present conditions of scientific achievement, it will be possible for a nation as rich in human and material resources as ours to make the remote reaches of the mind accessible.” This sentiment rings especially true today as our country battles one of its most enduring enemies: COVID-19.

As Americans continue to stay at home and adhere to social distancing guidelines to fight the coronavirus pandemic, it cannot be forgotten that social isolation, financial burden, and job loss can be extremely difficult, especially for those who are struggling with their mental health. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly half (45%) of adults in the U.S. reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus. As our nation continues to weather this crisis, mandated public health measures such as shelter-in-place and social distancing, albeit necessary, are contributing to poor mental health outcomes including anxiety, depression, and increased substance use.

We are now at a watershed moment in American history. Will the Administration reevaluate and prioritize the mental health of U.S. citizens? Will they look the other way? Immediate action is particularly important for those who are already in jeopardy including individuals living with disabilities, veterans, and seniors.

To combat COVID-19’s toll on our economy, states have been asked to institute budget cuts, which will in turn cause great harm to programs that support vital mental health services. Furthermore, of the $2 trillion invested in the recent CARES Act, only 0.04 percent of the economic relief package was allocated to mental health programs. During a time when diagnoses and symptoms are mounting, these critical programs will most likely lack the funding needed to survive the pandemic.

Our past demonstrates clearly that nothing will change without power or demand. That’s why renowned, national leaders such as Easterseals and The Kennedy Forum are spearheading a dialogue grounded in advocacy to bolster mental health services and expand access to treatment. Unfortunately, it’s taken a global pandemic to generate conversation about the greater need for funding.

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly spurred change in the way mental health is treated and talked about in our society. It’s no longer considered a taboo subject. In fact, discussion on how to create opportunities for awareness, empathy, collaboration, and funding is now encouraged and celebrated. So, let’s act on this important paradigm shift and do whatever it takes to spark lasting change.

To learn more about how Easterseals and The Kennedy Forum are addressing mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic, we are happy to have the opportunity to share our recent one-on-one discussion. Ultimately, the expansion of, and increased access to, mental health services will continue to be critical to minimize the adverse effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy is the founder of The Kennedy Forum and author of the New York Times Bestseller, “A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.” He also co-chairs Mental Health for US and the Action Alliance’s Mental Health & Suicide Prevention National Response to COVID-19. 

Angela Williams is President and CEO of Easterseals, a 101-year-old nonprofit which delivers high-quality services and powerful advocacy to 1.5 million individuals with disabilities, veterans, seniors and their families each year through its network of 68 affiliates in communities nationwide. Its services include early intervention, autism services, mental health care and support, workforce development and senior services.

Save Journalism Project Launches To Protect Our Press From Big Tech

BuzzFeed Reports on Recently Laid Off Journalists Serving  As Spox For New Campaign To Save Journalism From Monopolistic Power of Big Tech Companies

Today, BuzzFeed reports on the Save Journalism Project that’s launching to raise awareness and engagement about the critical need to save journalism as it faces an existential threat—the monopolistic power of big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple destroying the economic model of the entire journalism industry, whether its traditional circulation newspapers or digital news outlets. At the same time, Google and Facebook have made acquisition after acquisition, gaining a monopolistic position that lets them dominate the digital advertising marketplace and distribute massive amounts of content from news publishers on their platforms without paying to produce the content. Just now are Facebook, Google, and other tech giants facing federal government and Congressional antitrust scrutiny.

Two recently laid off reporters will serve as spokespeople for the Save Journalism Project, Laura Bassett  and John StantonLearn More and Join the Fight at SaveJournalism.org and@SaveTheNews.

BuzzFeed: These Reporters Lost Their Jobs. Now They’re Fighting Back Against Big Tech.

“John Stanton and Laura Bassett are warning about what they believe the tech industry is doing to journalism, as thousands have lost their jobs this year alone.

By Rosie Gray”

Two prominent reporters who were recently laid off from digital media outlets are forming a new advocacy group formed to raise awareness about big tech’s impact on the journalism industry.

John Stanton, a longtime congressional correspondent and former BuzzFeed News Washington bureau chief, and Laura Bassett, a former culture and political reporter for nearly 10 years at the Huffington Post, have teamed up to launch a new initiative called the Save Journalism Project. The two have first-hand experience with the troubled state of the news industry: Stanton was laid off from BuzzFeed News during a round of layoffs that affected 200 people company-wide this winter and spurred a unionization drive among the news staff. Bassett lost her job in similar fashion in January after Huffington Post laid off 20 employees as part of larger cuts at its parent company, Verizon Media.

This year has been one of the worst in recent memory for journalism jobs. Across the industry, thousands have lost their jobs: from BuzzFeed News, Vice, CNN, and others across the country at local publications. Media organizations have been imperiled by crashing advertising revenues as Facebook and Google vacuum up available ad dollars.

Their new project will be set up as a nonprofit, according to Eddie Vale, a Democratic consultant whose firm is providing the man-power to launch the effort. Vale pitched Bassett on the idea, and the two of them brought in Stanton. Vale said initial funding had been secured from “someone who doesn’t want to be public so Google and Facebook don’t go after them,” and the group plans to continue to fundraise. So far, the pair have co-authored testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee highlighting the tech giants’ impact on the news industry — “since being laid off, we’ve made it our mission to understand how the digital marketplace works and how Big Tech is killing the journalism industry,” they wrote — flown a plane above Google’s I/O conference, and authored op-eds.

A key part of their goal is to get journalists, who aren’t known for showing a keen interest in the business side of their publications or for engaging in advocacy themselves, to take an active role in defending the future of their jobs. In an interview, Stanton said they were “trying to educate the public and members of Congress and also start encouraging our colleagues to speak up.”

“Reporters are not generally super interested in speaking about their own problems and about things that affect them directly because they feel like it becomes a conflict of interest, and in certain ways that’s true,” Stanton said. “But when the future of the free press is being pretty seriously endangered by something, I think it’s incumbent upon us to stand up for ourselves.”

Like many reporters, Bassett said she had “never really had to pay attention to the financial side of journalism.”

But “after getting laid off, I started to become really interested in why all of these amazing news publishers were sort of going under, having to lay off staff, why we were losing local newspapers. It’s a tragedy, it’s really bad for democracy.”

Their effort comes at a time of increased scrutiny of the tech industry on the part of the federal government as well as Congress as public concern mounts over repeated privacy scandals, technology companies’ role in spreading misinformation, and their dominance over certain industries. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission reportedly made a deal to divide potential antitrust investigations between them; Apple and Google will fall under the purview of the DOJ, while the FTC took Facebook and Amazon. The House Judiciary Committee announced it would “conduct a top-to-bottom review of the market power held by giant tech platforms.”

The Save Journalism Project’s founders are hoping to steer the public conversation around the negative effects of Big Tech towards its impact on journalism.

Stanton, who lives in New Orleans, mentioned examples like that city’s local paper, the Times-Picayune, which laid off its entire staff last month. Around the country, Stanton said, “local reporters are so overtaxed. They’re doing as good a job as they can but there’s not enough of them.”

At the moment, Stanton and Bassett are more focused on warning the public and the industry about the issue than on proposing solutions.

“I do think that everyone is starting to see a need to break up and regulate these companies or something along those lines,” Bassett said. “And with regards to how they’re going to make journalism viable again, I don’t frankly know…I think right now we’re starting with just getting this conversation out into the public and making people aware of exactly what’s going on. I do hope at some point we graduate into saying, ‘here’s a list of policy proposals, here’s exactly what needs to happen.'”

Stanton and Bassett plan to interview elected officials, candidates and colleagues in the media about the industry’s crisis, and started with conducting on-camera interviews with Reps. Mark DeSaulnier and Ruben Gallego. They plan to circulate a letter with which media companies can sign on to their cause. And their first official event will be at the annual Congressional Baseball Game, where they plan to distribute a physical newspaper laying out the problems on their agenda.

“The DC press corps is a really powerful constituency within our industry,” Stanton said. “If we can get our colleagues [there] to start talking about this it will help more broadly.”