Wage Drops & Child Support Payments
USA Today (10-16-09) reported that average weekly wages have fallen 1.4% this year for private sector workers, and wages are expected to stay depressed for quite some time. Colorado recently became the first state to drop its minimum wage, which is tied to the Consumer Price Index. Nearly 80 million people have either wages or benefits tied to changes in the Consumer Price Index, including union workers, food stamp payments and some child support checks. More difficult news for struggling families. The positive: Amidst times like this, it's a darn good thing to remember that money has little to do with happiness. ;-)
The number of people receiving food stamps has jumped from 29.1 million in July 2008 to 35.9 million in July 2009, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recently reported.
Buckle Up . . . Or Loose Your Livestock
Highway safety campaigns across the USA are tailoring messages according to ethnic diversity, as is required of federal laws. Since Somalia essentially has no government, the phrase "click it or ticket" is meaningless, since Somali's generally have no comprehension of the word "ticket." Instead, the safety slogan aimed at Somali refugees is translated as "strap it, or lose your livestock." Seriously? This is the best we could come up with? The NHTSA says that since livestock is a family's primary means of income in Somalia, losing livestock is equated with losing livelihood. I still think there's got to be a better translation out there.
A new survey finds that 40% of teachers in the USA are "disheartened" about their jobs, and that most of this group consists of the older and more experienced teachers. The biggest drawbacks: testing, children’s' "discipline & behavior issues" and poor support from administrators. A mere 37% overall are "contented" with teaching as a life-long career."
Don't Infect Your Kids
Health officials are warning parents not to intentionally expose their children to the H1N1 flu. A September poll by Consumer Reports found that 69% of all parents would rather have their children build a "natural immunity" to the virus by getting sick. Yet when you're talking about a strain that has already killed 100 children nationwide, and hospitalizes around 1% of its hosts (mostly children), this isn't wise. One mother, whose 3-year-old daughter spent 3 months in the hospital with IV needles and a tube down her throat, compliments of H1N1, says to USA Today (10-2109) "I don't even have an enemy I would wish that upon."
A new report by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction says the nation isn't doing enough to protect itself from bioterrorism, warning that a crop-duster spreading anthrax spores could "kill more Americans than died in World War 2." Programs to develop vaccines against such attacks are not being properly funded, and surveillance programs fall short, the bipartisan commission found.
"Baby Einstein" Refund
Disney announced it was offering a full refund on all of its 'Baby Einstein' DVDs. The move comes to stem potential lawsuits over false marketing. The DVDs have been shown to have no educational value for babies, and since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding television exposure in children under 2, critics claim they are harmful by substituting for quality interaction with adults.
Target announced a plan to give customers a 5-cent discount for every reusable bag they use to pack up their purchases. The move is an attempt to prompt customers to use less plastic bags and reduce waste for the environment. Target claims a pilot program claimed to result in a 58% reduction in plastic bags used. But C'mon, Target, 5 cents? If they were serious about this, let's go for something real. How about a 1% discount on total purchases, something that can actually be realized?
Study Less Weight Gain During Pregnancy
A new Kaiser Permanente study aims to see if obese women can eat healthy during pregnancy without gaining any weight. Normally, weight gain is required for a healthy baby, but in obese women, their pregnancy already puts the baby in higher risk because of excess weight. Those extra pounds are associated with numerous pregnancy complications and birth defects.