Archive for category Musings
Health Technology Forum connects people worldwide, with an aim to make affordable and quality healthcare accessible for all people. Recently, at Innovation Conference, under the theme of “Platforms for the Underserved”, many prominent physicians and others interested and working in this arena, gathered to discuss and advance the agenda of affordable healthcare. Below are highlights from inspiring keynote by Gavin Newosm, Lieutenant Governor of California and panel session moderated by Dr. Moira Gunn, host of National Public Radio program, The Tech Nation.
Gavin Newsom – Keynote at Health Tech Forum Innovation Conference
“Once the campaign is over, we politicians stop listening to you”, said Gavin Newsom in his luncheon keynote address at Health Technology Forum www.healthtechnologyforum.com conference. Newsom peppered his talk with crisp sound bites, and made a case for thriving, in what is “no longer a connected world, but a hyper connected world.” Much can be achieved if people get together with determination and commitment. “Organized people are whole lot more powerful than organized money”, said Newsom. Proud of his moral and ethical stand on issues, Newsom said, he voted to oppose death penalty, legalize marijuana, rescind the three strikes rule, and in support of gay marriage. “You may not agree with me,” he said, “but I sleep well.” He urged people to exercise their moral authority, to step up and say what they believe in, to be authentic, stand by their principles, to shake things up. “The world demands it”, said Newsom and brought the house down. Newsom concluded by quoting Churchill, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another, with no loss of enthusiasm”.
Dr. Moira Gunn of NPR’s Tech Nation at Health Technology Forum Conference
Dr. Moira Gunn, Host of Tech Nation, moderated the luncheon panel. Dr. Jessica Evert, Executive Director at Child Family Health International, said, humility and technology are both essential in improving health on a global scale. Asset based community development model is based around deploying technology and coordinating around existing cultural and geographic strengths, not around deficiencies. Dr. Gary Heit, cofounder of AMCANI, an organization that seeks to support modern neurosurgery in developing countries, concurred. During his numerous experiences in developing countries, he has observed, that often they are not lacking in skills or intellectual capacity but in equipment and resources. Dr. Mainul Islam is COO of Medic Mobile, a company focused improving health care in challenging settings, through the utilization of technology. Islam shared about their work in 16 countries. Gunn applauded all these efforts to make a difference.
I read in the museum’s “Inside Out” magazine that the OMCA trains the staff to follow the GOLD standard of service – GOLD standing for Going the extra mile, having an Outgoing personality, Learning what the museum offers, and Delivering a welcoming experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this is in fact true, not just in the service offered by the staff, but in the content, in the painstakingly created interactive exhibits, in showing the works of art in a brand new way, and in blending art, history, and natural sciences to give a seamless learning experience. The OMCA’s collections comprising of more than 1.8 million objects include historical artifacts, ethnographic objects, natural specimens, seminal art works, and photographs. OMCA recently reopened after a massive transformation of almost every aspect of its 300,000 square-foot space.
My visit with some wonderfully inquisitive friends, began at the Blue Oak café with a menu that featured delightfully delicious items such as a chickpea salad sandwich made with mashed chickpeas and sundried tomatoes, cold soba noodles with seared tuna and cilantro and ginger lime dressing, and golden beet salad with cheddar and pumpkin and pomegranate seeds that was as delectable as it was artfully presented. Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Claudia Leung is totally enthusiastic and dedicated to serving the museum’s growing community of members and warmly welcomed us. We then toured the 26,400 square foot gardens. Who would have thought that there is a masterfully created oasis with beautiful landscaping, striking sculptures, and a quiet Koi Pond in which a heron has made its home, right in the heart of Oakland? Cedars and redwoods provide shade and the plants and flowers include azaleas, camellias, Australian bottle brush, olive trees and more. The view from the garden terraces of boats sailing at Lake Merritt is breathtaking. But it was also the sculptures which got me and my friends excited. My favorite was ”Viola Frey’s 1994 sculpture, American Nude Series (Woman with Elbow on Raised Knee)” and the sunny yellow peace sign made out of steel by Cuban born artist Tony Labat seemed just perfect in the spot overlooking Lake Merritt. The Koi Pond, surrounded by dodar trees, was filled with Koi and water lilies and other California native plants and offered an opportunity for absolutely quiet, reflective moments.
My friends and I then headed for our pre-scheduled docent tour of the Art Gallery. The art collection, one of the largest and most comprehensive exhibits of California art in the world, dates back to 1916 and features over 70,000 works of art, many of them from the early 1800s. This is an amazingly living, breathing space filled with interactive exhibits and ideas fueled by visitors’ energy and actions. The diverse works include different media side by side, with some exhibits offering viewers opportunities for reflection and thought-provoking discoveries. The Gallery of California Natural Sciences will reopen to the public after a 3-year multi-million dollar renovation and transformation, on May 31, 2013 and is presumed to be brilliantly put together by a team of designers, scientists, artists, and community members and depicts the state’s diversity of climate, geology, habitats, ecosystems, and wildlife. The gallery has over 100,000 research specimens. Through interactive media, it also explains environmental conflicts around the contemporary conservation projects. The 30,000 square foot Gallery of California’s History provides a platform to bring to life the state’s rich history. Millions of individuals through successive waves of immigration with a range of contributions through different periods in history, have shaped California and breathed life into this diverse, rich, creative, imaginative, innovative state. There is nothing static in this gallery, where the story of California is told through evolving, mutilayered, and interactive exhibits.
This museum is a hidden gem which preserves and shares the richness of California’s art, history, and its biodiversity and scientific innovations in a style that is novel, engaging, interactive, interesting, and seamless. See www.museumca.org for more membership, and more information on special events and exhibits.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals
For me, a big theme this year has been water. Hurricane Sandy once again reminded us of the destructive power of water. Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, (http://bit.ly/XizQZL) a challenging water movie, depicting life sustained in and by water, was a treat for the senses at every level. And to borrow a water metaphor, if our eminent leaders (in the so called free world), do not quickly resolve the fiscal cliff, then there is a chance we will all fall of the cliff, and drown in high taxes. I loved reunion with my college buddies, near the ocean in Orlando, and yearly visit with my mother, in India, despite the monsoons. For me, the highlight of the year was visiting the floating village in Cambodia, on the shores of Lake Tonle Sap (http://bit.ly/TPGLE2), near Siem Riep. The visit generated many conflicting emotions. Gawking at the people, as they went about their daily lives, seemed voyeuristic and clearly an invasion of their privacy. While the abject poverty of the people living on the water and living off of whatever the water provides, was heart-wrenching, it seemed strange to buy junk food from mothers at highly inflated prices and donate it to their kids. Neesha (my sweet child and my loveliest travel companion) and I were glad to visit an orphanage where children were happy and smiling, and make donation there. Visit to Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields (seeing rows upon rows of skulls neatly lined up) and Toul Sleng Genocide Museum with cells, interrogation paraphernalia etc., was a gut wrenching, soul searching, thought provoking, tear streaked, heart rending experience. Why do people do horrible things to people; brother to sister; child to mother? Out of about 7M population at the time, Cambodia lost close to 4M people; due to war, rebellion, man-made famine, genocide, and politicide, including over 2M in mass murder by Khmer Rouge. Every family perhaps had someone who was killed and someone who was responsible in some way, for the killings.
And speaking of the horrors, people in Syria have been suffering at the hands of the brutal dictator, for too long, now. By now, almost 50K are presumed killed and close to 30K, reported missing, and over a million Syrians are displaced, as the world watches, helplessly. It was a year of loss as well as a small victory in the UN, for the people of Palestine. Many Israeli and Palestinian people are rooting for peace in the region and we hope these voices will prevail. Jeremy Lin and Ganganam style dance were overnight sensations as twitter went abuzz with them. Big Bird, Bunch of malarcky, and Binders full of women were the big buzz words of fiercely fought, US 2012 elections. UK was a grand host and young Olympians, including Gabby Douglas, Katie-Ledecky, Missy Franklin and many other amazing athletes made the games, memorable and interesting. As we get ready to celebrate X’mas, the Sandy Hook gun violence makes me and my children, infinitely sad. In loving memory of the slained, precious children, I am sharing two of my poems, http://bit.ly/QZOh2a & http://bit.ly/TlaQN2 . Taliban were not able to silence or separate the brave young girl #Malala from her books, by shooting at her. #DelhiVictim #Nirbhaya after being brutally gang raped & sodomized and after loosing all of her intestines, is fiercely fighting to survive and here is my poem honoring her fierce spirit http://bit.ly/WyY4zf .
Life continues to offer me many blessings, with my children being the hugest, best blessings. My mother is becoming increasingly frail, but every night she ends my call with “Best of Luck”, – her way of bestowing blessings on her daughter, living in a foreign land. I love my work, both recruitment for medical device and biotech companies http://bit.ly/VT2TNP and training in diversity and inclusion http://bit.ly/W33tZ2, both here in the US, and in India. My blog www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com , is increasingly being read, worldwide . The stats indicate, 18,991 total views, with 1040 people following my blog. My reviews e.g. http://bit.ly/MWhMPl helped Shady Shakespeare Theater Company win a spot on the @greatnonprofits 2012 Top-Rated List! So life’s been fun, exciting, sometimes sad, and always full of blessings.
Wishing you health and happiness, peace and prosperity in 2013.
Romney-Ryan say they hold the key
Don’t ask “how”, if you can’t see
They’ll lower deficit without raising taxes
‘Cause trust’em, they are the magicians
Unless you get, “it’s a bunch of malarkey”
They’ll keep Bush-era tax cuts, expand ’em even
Romney-Ryan say they’ll close loopholes seven
Defies rules of math
There aren’t those loopholes to match
In the tax code to balance the cuts, no ma’am
Romney-Ryan say there’s a trick to adding two and two
In 4 years, they’ll add 12 million jobs, well can you?
Those jobs are expected under the current plan
Well, what’s new about their plan then? Darn….
Their brazen, bold, sassiness’s what’s new
Ryan-Romney don’t endorse stimulus
That claim’s well……. Bogus
Ryan secured millions in government grants
While touting anti-government chants
Dude, he sure is a doofus
While insurance covers Viagra
Ryan-Romney chant anti-women mantra
Their policies may criminalize abortion
Curtail paying for contraception
This is but a small peek into their fenestra
Not just anti-women policy and anti-47 percent
voted against dream-act, policy is anti-immigrant
Ryan-Romney promise path to prosperity
With voucher-care there’ll be no parity
Remember, favoring only rich & privileged, their platform ain’t decent
કેલીફોર્નિયા ના બે એરિયા માં ડગલો દ્વારા ગુજરાતી ભાષા ના પ્રસંગો અને ઉજવણી
મારો ભાષા પ્રવાસ
ડગલો દ્વારા પ્રસ્તુત રાષ્ટ્રકવિ શ્રી ઝવેરચંદ મેઘાણી ની રચનાઓ – ગુજરાત દિવસ નિમિતે
મારો જન્મ ગુજરાત રાષ્ટ્ર ના સૌરાષ્ટ્ર જિલા ના ભાણવડ કરીને નાનકડા ગામ માં થયો હતો. મારા બાપુજી હમેશા ભાણવડને દુનિયા ની રાજધાની કહીને લલકારો આપતા અને કાયમ ગુજરાતી સંસ્કૃતિ ને જીવંત રાખવા ની સુચના આપતા. જન્મ પછી તુરંત અમને ઈથેઓપિઆ દેશ ની રાજધાની એડિસ અબાબા માં સ્થાયી થવાનું થયું અને મારું બાળપણ ત્યાં જ વીત્યું. એડિસ માં ગુજરાતી ભાષા ને જીવંત રાખવા માટે ગુજરાતી સમુદાયે ગુજરાતી ભાષાની શાળા શરુ કરેલી અને જિંદગી ના પહેલા દાયકા દરમ્યાન મારું ભણતર ગુજરાતી માં થયું. સાથે સાથે અમે ઇથિઓપિઆ ની ભાષા અમહારિક પણ શીખ્યા. ભારત આવ્યા પછી અમને અંગ્રેજી માધ્યમ મા દાખલ કરવામાં આવ્યા ત્યારે મેં માધ્યમ ના બદલવા માટે ખુબ ધમપછાડા કર્યા. મારું પ્રિય ગુજરાતી છોડવાનું દુખ મને અતિશય થયું. પરંતુ થોડા વખત માં મને અંગ્રેજી ભાષા ઉપર પણ ખુબ પ્રેમ જાગ્યો અને પાણી માં માછલી ભળી જાય તેમ મેં અંગ્રેજી ભાષા ને અપનાવી લીધી અને ધીમે ધીમે અંગ્રેજી સાહિત્ય ઉપર મારો પ્રેમ અને મારું વર્ચસ્વ વધવા લાગ્યું. ઇથિઓપિઆ ની અમહારિક ભાષા ભુલાતી ગયી, ભારત ની રાષ્ટ્રભાષા હિન્દી મોઢે ચડતી ગયી, મહારાષ્ટ્ર ની ભાષા મરાઠી અને ફ્રેંચ બોલવાની કોશિશ ચાલુ રહી. માતૃભાષા ગુજરાતી માટે જે પ્રેમ પારકી ભૂમિ માં ગુજરાતી સમુદાય માં સીચાયેલો તે માતૃભુમી માં એટલો જીવંત રહ્યો નહિ. ઘણા વર્ષો પછી વળી પાછી જે પારકી ભૂમિ ને પોતાની કરી એવા અમેરિકા દેશ માં ડગલો એ તે પ્રેમ જાગૃત કરાવ્યો. બે એરીઆ ના ગુજરાતી સમુદાયે પ્રેમ થી સીચેલો ડગલો એટલે ગુજરાતી ભાષા ને જીવંત રાખવાનો નમ્ર પ્રયત્ન. આ સરળ વાક્ય એ સ્પષ્ટ દર્શાવતું નથી કે ડગલો ને ઘણા સ્વયંસેવકોએ નિઃસ્વાર્થ ભાવે સેવા આપી પ્રચંડ મહેનત, પ્રયત્ન, પ્રેમ અને લાગણી સાથે સીચેલ છે અને ગુજરાત ને ગૌરવ આપે તેવા કલાકારો ના નિઃસ્વાર્થ ફાળા દ્વારા યોજાયેલ દરેક ડગલો ના કાર્યક્રમો માં ગુજરાતી સાહિત્ય અને સંસ્કૃતિ, ગુજરાતી કવિતા અને ગીતો દ્વારા અને ગદ્ય, અને નિષ્ણાત ભાષ્ય દ્વારા તેમજ ન્રીત્યનાટિકા ના માધ્યમ થી ગુજરાતી સાહિત્ય ને વાચા આપવાની કોશિશ થાય છે. ડગલો સરળ અભિવ્યક્તિ અને ભાષા પ્રશંસા માટે એક મંચ પૂરો પાડે છે. અને બંને ભાષાઓ, અંગ્રેજી અને ગુજરાતી, ઉપલબ્ધ હોવા છતાં, તે અનુભવ નું વર્ણન હું કરી નથી શક્તિ કે જે ભાષા માં તમે પહેલા શબ્દો શીખ્યા અને બોલ્યા, જે ભાષા માં તમે માં ને પ્રેમ થી સંબોધી, જે ભાષા માં તમે પહેલી વખત દુનિયા નો અનુભવ કર્યો, તેને ઘણા વર્ષો પછી વળી સાંભળવાનો નો લહાવો મળે ત્યારે હ્રિદય માં જે અદભૂત રોમાંચ થાય, જયારે કસુંબલ કાવ્યો નો રંગ ચડે, અને જે જલસો પડે તેનું વર્ણન કરવું મુશ્કેલ છે. વધારે માહિતી માટે ડગલો નો સંપર્ક સાધો at gujaratidaglo.wordpress.com .
ફરી પાછી કરાવી ડગલો એ માતૃભાષા સાથે ઓળખાણ
માત્ર એક જ હેતુ, ગુજરાતી સાહિત્ય અને કાવ્યો ને માણ
ગુજરાતી બોલ, ગુજરાતી વાંચ, લે ગુજરાતી ભાષા માં ગૌરવ
કમિંગ ને ગોઇંગ ને બદલે, બાળકો ને ક્યારેક ગુજરાતી માં બોલાવ
જે ભાષા માં પહેલી વાર મા સાથે મીઠી મીઠી વાતો કરી,
ભાન્દુડા સાથે લડાઈ કરી, ફરી બોલો તે ભાષામાં જરી
ભલે શીખો અંગ્રેજી ને ફ્રેંચ અને ફરો દેશ દેશાન્તેર
પણ માતૃભાષા ભૂલશો નહિ તે સુચના છે જરૂર
ડગલો ના બધા કાર્યક્રમો અતિ સુંદર રહ્યા છે. હમણા શ્રી ઝવેરચંદ મેઘાણીજી ની પુણ્યતિથિ નિમિતે અને ગુજરાત દિવસ ની ઉજવણી ના પ્રસંગે ડગલો ના પ્રતિભાશાળી કલાકારો દ્વારા કાવ્યો ની કદી ન વિસરાઈ તેવી રમજત માણી. મેઘાણી ના કાવ્ય ની દરએક પંક્તિ માં એટલો અર્થ ભરેલો છે, એટલી સુંદર લાગણીઓ દર્શાવી છે કે દરેક પંક્તિ કાવ્ય ની બહાર પણ પોતાની મેળે અડીખમ ઉભી રહી શકે છે. આ ખાસ પ્રસંગ ની યાદગીરી રૂપે અહી મેં તેમના ભિન્ન ભિન્ન કાવ્યો માં થી એંક પંક્તિ લઇ ને તેમાં ફક્ત બે ત્રણ શબ્દ બદલી અથવા ઉમેરી ને જે કલાકારોએ એમના કાવ્યો ને વાચા આપી તેમના નામ સાથે ઉમેરીને અહી લખી છે. જે મિત્રો આ પ્રસંગ ચુકી ગયા હોય તેઓ મેઘાણીજી ના આ કાવ્યો ને શોધી ને વાંચશો જરૂર. તેને માણો અને ફક્ત એક પંક્તિ ઉપરથી ઓળખી કાઢો તેમના કાવ્યને અને પછી ઓળખી કાઢો દરેક પંક્તિ માં જે જે નવા શબ્દો બદલાયા છે કે ઉમેરાયા છે તેને.
કર્ય રે વાણીયાણી તારા શબ્દ ના મૂલ
જાવા ધ્યો, સીલીકોન વેલી ના ઠાકોર
મારા કાવ્ય માં તારું થશે ખિસ્સું ડુલ
તમે મારા દેવ ના દીધેલ છો, અમેરિકા માં અમારા માગી લીધેલ છો
મેઘાણીજી તમારા કાવ્યો અમર થઇ ને રો
આભ માંથી ચાંદો રેલે ચાંદની, હે….. પાથરે જાણે કવિતાના ઓછાડ રે
મધરાતે હેતલબેન સંગીત ના સુર છોડતી
માધવીબેન હો! મુને થોડી ઘડી
તારો આપ અષાઢીલો કંઠ
ધીરા વાજે રે મીઠા વાજો,
ડીમ્પલ ભાઇ હો,
તમે ધીરા રે ધીરા ગાજો
હસતે મુખડે અસીમ રાણા
કાવ્ય માં જઈ સમાણા:
સંભળાવ્યા મેઘાણીજી ના ગાણા
I was born in a small village called Bhanvad in Saurashtra Jilla, in the State of Gujarat, in India. My father referred to Bhanvad as the capital of the world and always advised us to keep alive Gujarati language and culture. Shortly after my birth, our family moved to Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia and my childhood passed there. Gujarati community, in Addis, had made a dedicated effort to keep Gujarati language and culture alive and ran a school with Gujarati as the medium of instruction. During the first decade of my life, my education took place completely in Gujarati, in our new adopted homeland. Additionally, I learned Amharic (the native language of Ethiopia). I loved Gujarati literature. After we moved to India, we were sent to a Convent school, which marked an instant and one hundred degree transition to English as the medium of instruction. I put up a brave revolt but eventually accepted the change. Thereafter, I adopted English language and became increasingly comfortable as I got immersed in English, as fish is comfortable in water. Gradually I fell in love with English literature and began to gain proficiency in it. Gradually, I began forgetting Amharic, as I learned some Marathi (language of the state of Maharashtra, in India), learned some French, and learned and loved Hindi (the national language of India). I continued to enjoy Gujarati as well but it was hard to continue to nourish the deep love for Gujarati language and literature. Deep love for the mother tongue that was born in the adopted land, in Ethiopia, did not stay alive as strongly in my motherland of India, during this period. After many years, once again, in my adopted country, USA, that became my own, the love for Gujarati language and literature, was reawakened through DAGLO. What is DAGLO? Literal translation of the word means a type of long shirt like clothing worn by men, in Gujarat, and the acronym stands for Desi Americans of Gujarati Language Origin. DAGLO’s tag line simply states “DAGLO means a humble effort to keep alive Gujarati language and culture”. This simple statement hides the enormous effort of many volunteers, the love and affection with which DAGLO has been nourished and the transformative effect it has on people like me.
With the contribution of enormous and multi-talented volunteers and artists, DAGLO conducts programs to share aspects of literature and culture, Gujarati poetry and prose through songs, expert commentary, as well as skits. Kudos to Pragnaji Dadbhawala for this massive effort, simply to provide a platform for expression and appreciation of the language. And despite the availability of both languages, English and Gujrati, I find it hard to describe what enormous treat it is after so many years, to experience once again language, literature, and poetry in a language in which one uttered one’s very first words, addressed loved ones, and made very first sense of the world around.
All of DAGLO’s programs have been awesome. But in the next blog, I will particularly share a little about the recent program on India’s respected Gujarati poet, Kavi Shri Zaverchand Meghani in Gujarati. See more information on DAGLO programs and on Gujarati literature at http://www.gujaratidaglo.wordpress.com
In the civilized nation of America, the 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the bottom 150 million people. Heist is a groundbreaking feature documentary by Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher, about the roots of the American economic crisis. The movie is dedicated to the Occupy Wall Street movement and to the 99%. There are more staggering statistics in the film. During the recent economic crisis, over 10 million people lost their homes, about 47 million people slid into poverty and the film explores the continuing assault on the working and middle class people in the US, where social security and medicare cuts are looming on the horizon.
Heist goes beyond the crisis itself to explore the policies and decades of deregulation that led up to this crisis. The oft-repeated mantra during the Regan era came to be “Government is the problem” and the policies enacted were aimed at rolling back the Government and introducing tax policies favoring mega corporations and the outrageously wealthy elites. The film explores the historical background beginning with FDR’s handling of the economic crisis. During the 1930s economic depression, President Roosevelt’s swift and bold action involved deep Government intervention, from which emerged a centralized, planned economy. During the last four decades, FDR’s New Deal was largely dismantled, under the guidance of the infamous Powell Memo and the right wing Heritage Foundation’s Mandate for Leadership on government reform. Both Republicans and Democrats, courted by the lobbyists, showed allegiance to big businesses and played a hand in drafting policies to minimize the role of the government.
The film makes a case that the US government is not the enemy of the people. Government can be incompetent and wasteful but rarely does it systematically and in a planned way work against the common people. Heist offers several “Take Action” suggestions, starting with a persuasive case for swift reinstatement of watchdog laws to prevent financial institutions and big businesses from taking further advantage of common people. Heist makes a case for saving social security and medicare. People in the bottom 50% depend on social security for 80% of their income. Heist also makes a very strong case for supporting local lending institutions, and supporting all local businesses. Several experts make a strong case that localized landing and decision making is the cornerstone of sustainable, green economy which in turn is a foundation for the long term health of a community.
Several screenings are being held across various communities and many are followed by panels of experts, dialog with the attendees, and Q&A sessions, with activists holding tables outside to collect signatures for various causes and distribute information about various campaigns. While the merit and accuracy of the movie can be debated since statistics can be looked at from various perspectives and story behind the numbers can be understood from multiple angles, the movie is stirring up dialog. The movie is keeping alive the OWS movement and getting communities involved in understanding the causes of the economic crisis, caring about the politics behind the numbers, and discussing the importance of checking the extreme greed which can lead to complete collapse and instead, focusing on sharing resources to sustain the long term health of the whole community. For more information on movie screenings, go to www.heist-themovie.com . For questions, send inquiry to email@example.com .
America has a problem and most of us don’t feel alarmed by it. If there is a crime in my neighborhood, then I get interested in doing something about it; if the rents go up in my area, I feel inclined to take action; if there are many foreclosures, then I feel worried that it will affect the value of my home as well. But if some child, somewhere, drops out of school, it does not seem like it is my problem. However, high school drop out rate inAmericais a problem of epic proportion and it impacts everything else and everyone else in the long run. Over one million students who enter high school each year, fail to graduate with their peers, at the end of four years. Why should you and I be concerned? Well, there are many reasons. Apparently, increase in high school and college graduation by just 5% can lead to combined savings and revenue of almost $8 billion, just by reduction in crime related costs. High school dropouts earn about $260,000 less than high school graduates, contribute less to the US economy and cost the nation more than $17 M in Medicaid and uninsured healthcare costs.
So the obvious question is why is there such a high dropout rate in America?
About 1.2 million students who fail to graduate from high schools, are disproportionately from minority groups and are disproportionately poor. For the first time, class is trumping race in many cases. Often lack of engagement and lowered motivation are cited as primary reasons. Now, really, let us dig deeper. Why would these kids standing on the doorstep of young adulthood, not be motivated? This should be a time in life when they should be bursting with enthusiasm and eagerness to embrace life and avail of all the opportunities that life has to offer. Their lack of engagement steams from systemic problems and I felt inclined to write this article because this problem is only going to get worse, as income disparity is widening.
Most of the data below is taken from the Atlantic magazine, September, 2011 issue. According a recent poll, the richest 1 percent households in America earn as much as the bottom 60% put together and the rich 1% possess as much wealth as the bottom 90%. The top strata is also the consuming class, moving the economy, based on their interests and needs. According to Gallup, while the daily consumer spending was completely flat for majority of Americans, between May 2009 to May 2010, among those Americans earning more than $90,000 a year, the spending rose by 16%. In 2009, the country’s top 25 hedge fund managers earned $25 billion, which is more than they had made in 2007, before the crash. While the middle class was hit hard by the economic downturn and many baby boomers will never recover to pre-crash levels, the story is different for the top 1%. The upper 1% was also hit hard, mostly due to stock market crash, but they often had cash reserves to buy assets cheaply, when the markets crashed. The upper class is emerging stronger and wealthier from the downturn.
This rising and alarming income gap has huge cultural implications. Although cultural norms cannot be ascribed exclusively to the economy, there is a widening cultural chasm developing between the top “very wealthy” and the middle class. Middle class is showing blinking red signals of family dysfunction that include, divorces, increasing college and high school dropout rates, increasing financial stress, single parenting, and troubled children. According to Bradford Wilcox, Director of National Marriage Project at University of Virginia, about a third of class related changes in marriage patterns, are directly attributable to wage stagnation, increased job insecurity, unemployment etc. All this directly impacts children. Additionally, thinning out of the middle class means fewer stepping stones to those born into low income families and certainly nothing to motivate them to focus on academic achievements to climb the ladder of success.
There should be a multi pronged approach to tackle this major problem facing America today, if America is to compete in the 21st century. Many solutions that have been often suggested include, push for better schooling, diverting more resources into education, stop astronomical fee hikes for college going kids, creation of many clearer paths for kids who do not immediately go to college, and along with focus on enabling good teachers, let us focus also on encouraging and supporting parents to stay involved in their children’s education. But more importantly, the nation must focus on narrowing the wide income gap and enabling a thriving middle class. This disturbing income inequality, over time, will cause a cultural separation that is unfair and unhealthy to our children and will be corrosive over time. The super rich today are increasingly segregated by the locations they live in, the jobs they do, where they shop, and what they buy. They will likely pass on their wealth to the next generation. If majority of the wealthy will have inherited wealth, rather than wealth created from hard work or innovation, where will be the incentive for others, to work hard, to stay in school, to remain motivated, to dream big, and to achieve those dreams? Who will motivate, inspire, and mentor them? Will developing countries send their low level jobs to America in the years to come? Let us wake up and address this problem now, with our voices and our votes.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.