Harvard Study Reveals Cost of Healthy Diet, Calls for Taxation Reform

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As anyone who has ever shopped at Whole Foods will suspect, a healthy diet of quality whole foods is more expensive than a diet laden with simple carbs and processed junk. But how much more expensive, exactly? The true price gap may surprise you; a recent study undertaken by Harvard University showed that, in high-income nations such as the United States, a healthy diet costs on average $1.50 more per person, per day.

“For 60 to 70 percent of Americans, $1.50 a day is not a big deal,” notes the study author. Of course, that leaves 30-40% of the population for whom the extra $547 per year is at least a deterrent, if not a prohibitive expense, even though the long-term cost of poor health is likely to be greater. How can we, as individuals and as a nation, take steps to bridge this gap?

Taxation Reform

One key idea suggested by the Harvard study is legislation making junk food less cheap and healthy food less expensive-thus putting better options on the table for those for whom cost is a top priority. One way to achieve this would be to tax ‘junk’ or processed foods, a measure which could then fund subsidies on fresh fruits and vegetables. A similar initiative has been used in several countries to encourage citizens to quit or cut back on smoking, with impressive results.

Restructuring of Industry

Part of the problem, noted in Harvard Magazine, is that our global food production systems have been designed for the mass production of a few key food staples like wheat, rice and soy. These ingredients are very cheap and have a long shelf life when processed. Although this system has served us well in the past by providing cheap calories that are safe from spoilage and contamination, with increasing obesity rates and diet-related health concerns continually on the rise, it may be time to re-gear the system towards the mass-production of whole, fresh foods.

Individual Cost-Cutting Measures

While we lobby for such changes, there are a few simple measures that individuals and families can take to bridge the cost gap between a highly processed and healthy diet. If you have a local farmer’s market or produce co-op, cutting out the middleman (retail food stores) can save considerable money on the average grocery bill. For pantry items, avail yourself of discount online health food stores, coupon code offers, and bulk co-operatives. Those with space for an urban garden-even if it’s just a few pots-can save hundreds by growing highly productive plants like herbs, lettuce, chard, and tomatoes. Small measures such as these are growing in popularity, as informed consumers seek to take health back into their own hands.

Is There Something Wrong With Our Political System?

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WashingtonThe United States has been known throughout history to hold to a set of priciples that serve it’s citizens are those around the world with respect and dignity. The nation is known for its values and is depicted in some ways as the ideal and superior country financially around the world. However, many of these things don’t seem to be true of late, especially when you consider that surveys show American politics to be held as less than straight and honest in the people’s eyes. Here I have listed some of the existing problems identified in U.S. politics. The troubled politics of the United States could be one of the most significant threats to the whole competitiveness of the country. It has even been said that the U.S. political system is in a worse shape than various other countries with advanced economies.

The United States is a federal constitutional republic wherein the head of state and government is the President. Today, the country is in conflict with itself. It is also one of the many countries who are having both a financial and moral struggle. There is discrepancy of about one trillion dollars in the annual national budget and this is expected to broaden as a result of changing tax codes. The political system in the United States shows that the congress and political parties are divided more than ever.

Also, budgeting is now in chaos. There is a huge deficit in the U.S. budget. Many people in the U.S. depend on food stamps just to eat. In spite of this, there is still a political party that wants to altogether strip out tax revenue. Another party, on the other hand, is concerned about keeping the rich Americans who they say significantly contribute to the government’s much needed revenue. Individuals with the highest salaries and the 1% of the richest Americans have a higher net worth. With the overwhelming political corruption in America, everything nowadays seems to be about money. Especially now with the coming election, expect that electoral campaigns will be more focused on money than ever. The money will not come from the poor- it will mostly come from big businesses and corporations. Ironically still, the midterm electoral cost has been estimated to be costing a total of about $4.5 billion. Rumor has it that the current President Obama will need to raise more than $1 billion for his upcoming re-election campaign.

They cannot seem to cut the spending on the military so they plan on cutting the budget on areas that provide core support for the poor such as some health benefits and retirement salaries. Clearly, you cannot simply slash away the budget from education or let the public infrastructure weaken. The political parties today are being overwhelmed by the focus on budgeting- hopefully this will lead to better spending decisions and ultimately better care for American citizens.

Obama Meets With CEOs on Job Creation

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Although most of their ideas clashed with President Barack Obama’s policies to provide jobs for millions of Americans, several CEOs from big American corporations are willing to meet with the US president and discuss job creation among other issues.

The Business Roundtable, headed by Boeing Company’s W. James McNerney, Jr., is a group of the top business leaders in the United States. The group has often rammed horns with President Obama on many occasions and on various issues such as healthcare, clean air, and Wall Street reforms.

The group has previously opposed Obama’s plan to employ regulations that are believed to be costly on the side of the big businesses.

The Business Roundtable and President Obama will meet for the third time and hopefully come up with a long-term, permanent answer to the rising unemployment rate in the country. The group already has a list of ideas and proposal that would propel job growth and invigorate the US economy.

Business Roundtable President John Engler stated that he believes “the meeting should produce a valuable and vigorous discussion about the U.S. economy and jobs.”

Among the suggestions posited by the Business Roundtable is giving the go signal to the Keystone XL pipeline project. The endeavor will, according to the business leaders, not only be a key factor in providing job opportunities for Americans. The Business Roundtable argues that the project will also bolster the country’s supply for energy and thus encourage economic growth.

The group will also likely ask the President to recall the Volcker Rule, named after Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. The policy has “far-reaching negative consequences that will impede our ability to raise capital and manage risk,” says the Business Roundtable Group.

The CEOs are also unanimous in giving President Obama their stand on the on-going debate about the corporate income tax reform. Obama has called for a massive tax reform that would require companies to shell out money. The CEOs felt that the administration does not see the whole picture and the implementation of corporate income tax reform might impede and adversely affect their operations and profits.

They debated that the White House made “unstated assumptions that minimized the true tax burden faced by these companies.”

There are several instances where the group has sided with the President. One of which is the expansion of trade opportunities for Americans. Last year, the group also supported Obama’s move to recall a draft that would tighten the policies against air polluters.

Employment And Salary Concerns for the U.S.

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Well, according to the latest news Obama’s popularity is on the decline again, despite official unemployment rates hitting 8.5%, the lowest they’ve been since February 2009. Spectators put the real rate of unemployment much higher, as this figure is skewed by the official factors determining “unemployment,” which have become progressively tighter over the years, producing a lower and more palatable number.

This alarming rate of unemployment comes hand in hand with widespread involuntarily cut working hours, salaries, and benefits- none of which is reflected in this 8.5%. One of the few sectors that remains largely unaffected by this trauma to the workforce is healthcare, which is protected by it’s ‘essential service’ status and an aging, unhealthy population.

As an example, employment levels for medical sonographers is projected to rise by over 10% within the next six years. That’s huge growth compared to, say, positions in the financial sector. The salary of ultrasound technicians is also still on the rise each year, although growth has slowed somewhat since the global financial crisis in 2008.

Only time can tell us what 2012 will bring for employment levels and pay rates into the future. Job seekers would do well to consider getting into a protected industry like healthcare, although at this point there’s no guarantees of a stable job anywhere.

Fresh Politics Today

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Welcome to Fresh Politics, a blog concerned with the most public side of politics- it’s effect on the people in terms of economics, employment, salary, housing and cost of living concerns.

In the U.S. today, where national debt is at an all time high, employment and salaries are deflating and the occupy movement shows no sign of abating, this discourse is more relevant than ever before in history.

We hope you will find this blog of interest and feel free to share your opinions and concerns.