Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Reason to Vote Democrat

This is really an attempt to reach any friends and family who normally vote Republican, or who are considering voting Republican in 2012. I know we don't normally discuss the sensitive issue of politics. For all I know, everyone may be voting Democrat in the next election. But I suspect not.

Forgive me if this comes off as a lecture--I am just trying to expose you to some of the things I have seen, read and heard over the past few weeks. I am not an economist or a political commentator, but I will do my best. I feel very strongly about the future of this country, and feel protective of its most vulnerable citizens (most people).

I am an American adult who faithfully went to college and got good grades, and have not been able to find a decent paying job in ten years. I have no savings, and am deeply in debt. I don't take vacations except for Christmas with family and weddings. I can't afford to go snowboarding with friends or go to concerts. I have been living without health insurance for about nine of the past ten years. I know there are a lot of you out there like me, who are in debt and scared shitless about being able to retire, and who never go on vacation. But nobody talks about it because it's considered inappropriate to discuss personal finances.

The fact is, $8, $10, $12 an hour--what so many jobs pay right now, is not enough to survive. Even jobs that pay a little bit more are not enough for people who have children. Many of us would be going hungry right now if it wasn't for credit cards and student loans. I believe that's why there's not a mass uprising right now--because access to credit cards, combined with the myth of being able to achieve the American Dream one day, keeps people comfortable, even if disappointed. It is not our fault that we don't have savings, if what we earn is not even enough to cover basic costs.

The key issue drawing people to the Republican party seems to be the promise of job creation, achieved through keeping tax rates low for the wealthy and corporations, combined with likely deregulation of the business and finance worlds. This may create more wealth for the very richest individuals and corporations, but will likely result in the creation of more jobs that pay $8 or $10 an hour. It may result in a stripping of rights for these workers, making them even more vulnerable than they already are. Look at what is happening in Wisconsin right now with public workers, something that can set a precedent for the rights of workers in both the public and private sectors for years to come.

I have heard that there are entrepreneurs right now who are trying to start businesses, which would definitely create some new jobs, but I have also heard that banks are refusing to grant start-up loans to these potential businesses, squelching growth. It is not a question of banks not having the money, because they are sitting on more money now than they have had in years. It is a question of banks having much more power than American citizens, and being able to control their money to suit their own financial interests. From what I understand, they are waiting until interest rates get higher to start doling out loans.

If you have a moment, please spend some time looking at this graph that shows the history of the gap between the rich and the poor in this country. The top line represents the top .01 percent of people, and the bottom line represents the bottom 90 percent of people, or most of us.

You can see that the gap was wide in the 1920s, before banks were regulated, and that things started to get better for most people in the 1930s and 40s, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. He put in place many regulations for banks and corporations, raised taxes on the rich and corporations, and created a lot of jobs. He was also a Democrat.

A lot of these regulations and tax rates lasted for most of the last century, in combination with unions becoming stronger. Look at how healthy the middle class was in the 1950s, when unions were at their strongest. This supports my argument that it is not tax breaks for the rich, but ultimately giving rights and a voice to the poor, that creates job security for Americans.

You may remember a posting I wrote a couple of years ago, The American Nightmare, in which I compared the life of a bread truck driver in the 1930s (able to buy a home and support a family), to the life of a bread truck driver today (unable to afford his own apartment). If you'd like to read it, you can find it here.

Now look at the graph again, and look at what begins to happen in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan takes presidency. He begins to cut government spending and cut tax rates for the rich and corporations, all in the interest of economic growth. And the gap begins to widen again. The rich got richer and the middle class got poorer. And it continued. And from what I understand, those tax rates were never raised again to what they once were. Yes, the economy grew in terms of the wealthy in the country prospering, but most people remained secure if lucky, or became worse off.

Obama does not want to raise taxes on the poor and middle class. He wants to raise taxes on the very wealthy and corporations, in order to bring about some sort of security that we had in the last century. And in the Republican debate last week, all candidates vowed to not raise taxes during their presidency. They believe they can fix the deficit by cutting spending in vital programs for poor and vulnerable Americans, and improve the quality of life for most people by simply hoping that businesses will create jobs. But who wants to work at Wal-mart or McDonalds?

If you have another moment, please take a look at this graph that shows taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans. You can see that most of their wealth comes not from job earnings, but from investment income. And the tax rate on these investments was cut during the Bush years. And despite that tax cut years ago, we still have a high unemployment rate. There is much more money in their pockets now, but they are not setting about creating new businesses with decent paying jobs. Another interesting note is that the article says the deficit could be fixed by simply raising this capital gains tax. But Republican lawmakers have refused to do just this.

If you are a low wage-earning American, or if you care about people who earn $8, $10, $12/hour, please consider voting Democrat in 2012. It will create a better quality of life for us in the long run.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

There is a Cure for Cancer

I'm sharing this information because I think a lot of people don't know it. And it's important.

There are cheap and effective methods of curing chronic diseases without surgery or medications with uncomfortable side effects. And it simply has to do with the food you put in your body.

I attended a nutrition talk the other day put on by a raw vegan man who is 60 years old, and looks to be 40. I met him through a friend who has a chronic, debilitating skin condition, and he had much improved her condition by getting her to change her diet. At the talk, he showed us pictures of a man whose severely deteriorating foot was about to be amputated due to his diabetes. Not wanting that, the man had come to Lou because he had heard good things. Lou put him through a rapid detox and a strict healthy diet, and within a week, the man could stand on his foot. Soon later, his diabetes was gone.

There was a young woman my age in the audience who talked about how she had had severely painful kidney stones, and doctors couldn't figure out the diagnosis. She had seen several. When she heard about Lou, she met him, started following his advice, and the stones disappeared. She now is healthy, positive and glowing.

I can attest to this food/illness connection. I used to have chronic neck tension, and when I stopped drinking 1-2 glasses of wine each night, it went away. I also was beginning to get pain in the joints of my hands, and when I stopped drinking soda, it went away. Most importantly, I had eczema on and off from childhood--an irritating, itchy skin condition. I spent many hundreds of dollars on doctors visits and creams over the years trying to control it. I remember going to a health food store in Boulder once when I didn't have insurance, looking for something, and the man said, "try cutting down on dairy. Dairy is a major cause." I didn't pay any attention, because I liked dairy, and that seemed to simple. Surely a doctor would have told me that years ago?

When I began working in the health industry, I learned a little more about the other effects too much dairy has, and I naturally began to cut down. Lo and behold, my eczema disappeared. What was a chronic, annoying mystery turned out to be a simple dairy allergy. Cost of cure? $0.

There is something terribly wrong with the medical industry when doctors can't diagnose kidney stones or a dairy allergy. I know there are good things about the medical industry--powerful antibiotics that work, life-saving surgery--but I'm also upset that it doesn't focus enough on nutrition. From what I understand, medical students are only required to take one class in nutrition. One class. And what we are discovering now, and what natural healers have always known, is that what you put in your body day in and day out is the most important factor in health.

It seems crazy that cures exist for degenerative conditions like cancer and diabetes, but they do. If you have an open mind, you should check out the first few minutes of this documentary on Harry Hoxsey. He was a doctor who cured thousands of cancer patients with herbs and diet, and he was also labeled as a criminal by the medical industry. They had to move his clinic from the U.S. to Mexico because it was outlawed.

And then if you want to be sad, compare that video to the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article on Hoxsey Therapy. This is why using Wikipedia pains me--it discredits alternative ideas that threaten the economic powers that be as if there was a war on. And there is.

It seems like the world would be a good enough place that if there were cures for degenerative illnesses, we would know about them, right? NO. If a cure cannot be patented and controlled by huge corporations, it will be framed by the mainstream as dangerous and quacky.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adventures in Health Food

A story from my job at a health food store in a yuppie area of Los Angeles.

I had seen the white paper bag full of goodies tucked away in the corner of the counter in the vitamins department. Clara finally brought it up.

"Do you want these?" she asked.

I looked inside. They looked like cool Bavarian Old World crackers, chock full of whole grains and nutrients. Maybe I did want them.

"Andrew asked me if I wanted them yesterday, but they just look dead to me. I don't even know what they are. I told him I didn't want them, but for some reason, he left them there."

I looked again. Three of the crackers were a sickly gray color, and three were a more normal brown. Different flavors, evidently. On second look, they looked like a cross between an old sheet of dryer lint and cat food. I don't think they were moldy--I think this was just one of those cases where the food was so healthy that it becomes horrifyingly disgusting.

"Oh, wow," I said. "You're right. I don't know if I want that. What is it?"

Clara soon left and I had the rest of the night to contemplate whether or not I wanted these crackers. I looked at them a third time, and touched one of the grey ones--it bent like a fruit leather. So it obviously had some sort of fruit in it, but why was it grey? This time it reminded me more of one of those plastic barf circles you can buy at a gag store.

I have lower standards for health food than Clara does--she is one of these rare people who eats for health and pleasure at the same time, which I think is hard to do. She makes most of her food, and a lunch for her might consist of an avocado sandwich with sprouts, potatoes sauteed with turmeric, and a protein shake loaded with blueberries. Not only does her food have to be healthy--it has to be delicious.

As I was saying--most people lean more towards one of two camps, eating for pleasure or eating for health. I think most people just eat for pleasure or convenience. Now that I've been at this job I eat more for health, strategically building my diet throughout the day. For example, inside my head it looks like this:

"Hmm, I'm low on minerals and I also haven't eaten any greens today. I think I'm going to have a seaweed salad."

The problem with eating this way is that you can forget a lot of the joy of eating. Many people who work in the health industry eat this way. At Whole Foods, I ran into a highly respected nutritionist I used to work with, and he was eating an organic salad topped with raw grass-fed beef. "They know me here, and so they let me just buy a little for my salad," he said. This guy shines like Krishna himself, and he looks a lot younger than he is, but I wonder if he ever lets loose and eats hot dogs when he goes to a barbecue. I don't get the impression he does.

I had another coworker who I was teasing one day. He would just eat straight bee pollen or spirulina from the jar. "When was the last time you had fast food?" I asked him. He really had to think about it. "I think I had Taco Bell about six months ago," he said, with concentration on his face. On the upside, he never got sick.

You will see some of the most beautiful people in this industry, but their diets are very restrictive, and they end up sacrificing flavor and pleasure in food for nutrition.

There was a woman who regularly used to do demos for an organic green powder. She looked like she stepped out of a Boticcelli painting, and the powder she was selling was also lovely--a wide mix of organic greens and herbs. The problem was, she would mix it with only water when she gave samples, and she thought it tasted good, but nobody else did. It didn't have any flavoring. There was another woman who demoed a similar product, but mixed it with apple juice, and she would sell much more, because the apple juice masked the taste.

After the Boticcelli woman was done each day, she would divide up the rest of the mix into cups for the people in our department to have. She didn't want to throw it away, and in a way I don't blame her--it's such a nutritious product. But I would feign enthusiasm, and say, "oh, thanks," and then that green drink would sit there and stare at me all day. We'd have a showdown like in an Old Western. I would try and conquer it--about once an hour I would take a sip, but then I'd just say "ugh." The green drink always won.

About twice a week I go next door to the juice bar and get either a wheatgrass shot or an E3Live shot (a special type of algae that's chock full of nutrients and prevents Alzheimer's). The first tastes like eating a lawn and the second tastes like licking the side of a dirty fishtank. I know that they are so good for me, which is why I get them, but they're torture to drink. I make a face like I've been shot when I drink it, to the entertainment of a couple of the people who work there.

And I guess this is what I'm telling you. That eating this way kind of sucks. A lot of health food proponents will tell you that eating this way is delicious. Some of it is--when you're craving greens, there's nothing better than a salad with extra virgin olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, and sea salt. But some of it is not, especially when you're doing it day in and day out. This is the big dirty secret.

I know why Andrew didn't throw out those "crackers." He is in the strategic eating camp, and like the green drink lady, he probably thought it was a pity to throw away something so good-for-you.

I really hope the "crackers" are still there when I go to work today. I hope we can leave them there, on the counter, like they do with the McDonald's fries in "Supersize Me." In a week, will they still be bendy? Will they shrink in size? What will happen? Maybe we can put them in a time capsule, so in the future, they will think, "Wow, they must've had it bad."