Tag Archives: PolicyMic

A Politician Just Accidentally Confirmed Our Suspicions About How Washington Works

“…McAllister just openly acknowledged that members of Congress expect to receive campaign contributions in return for votes on legislation.

While speaking at the Northeast Chapter of Louisiana CPAs, McAllister told a story about how “money controls Washington,” according to the Ouachita Citizen, describing how many in D.C. approach their work as a “steady cycle of voting for fundraising and money instead of voting for what is right.”

Discussing a bill related to the Bureau of Land Management, which he voted against, McAllister shared that an unnamed colleague promised he would receive a contribution from the conservative Heritage Foundation if he voted against the bill.

“I played dumb and asked him, ‘How would you vote?'” McAllister said during the talk. “He told me, ‘Vote no and you will get a $1,200 check from the Heritage Foundation. If you vote yes, you will get a $1,000 check from some environmental impact group.'”

According to McAllister, the answer came as a surprise. (He now insists he was taken out of context.) The original Ouachita Citizen story quickly blew up on Reddit, where commentators debated whether this activity would constitute corruption in the eyes of the FBI…”

 

Leave a comment

June 11, 2014 · 6:13 pm

One Restaurant’s Innovative Solution Could Spell the End for Tipping in America

“…Instead of getting paid subpar wages and pocketing a few extra dollars here and there, Packhouse servers earn $10 per hour or 20% of their food sales, whichever is higher. Unsurprisingly, it’s almost always the 20%…”

 

HALLE-FUCKING-LUJAH!!

Leave a comment

June 10, 2014 · 11:00 pm

How Working in a Coffee Shop in Your 20s Will Hurt You in Your 50s

“…Taking a job you’re overeducated for — sometimes known as “underemployment” — can have negative lasting effects on your future earnings, according to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study found that overeducated workers could expect 2.6% to 4.2% lower wages for years, even after finding a job suitable for their skills…”

Leave a comment

June 5, 2014 · 6:19 pm

The Average Heroin Addict Is Not Who You Think It Is

“…90% of heroin users are white men and women…the current median age for men and women now is around 23 years old. Three-quarters of these current users were first introduced to heroin by way of prescription opiates like Oxycontin. That means that expensive prescription drugs are serving as a gateway drug for young millennials living in suburbia trying to find an inexpensive but dangerous alternative: heroin…”

Leave a comment

May 30, 2014 · 8:31 pm

Oregon Tuition Plan: The Beaver State Breaks the Dam Of Student Debt

oregon, tuition, plan:, the, beaver, state, breaks, the, dam, of, student, debt,

 

“Congress can spend all the time it wants being apathetic and letting student loan rates double but on the other side of the country, one state is thinking of a more creative way to run the financial aspect of public higher education. For Oregon, loans will be a thing of the past and state legislatures are throwing around the “f” word: FREE.

A bill to make tuition at the state’s public universities free passed unanimously and is expected to be officially signed at some point this month by Governor John Kitzhaber. Coincidentally, the bill was passed on the very same Monday that federal student loan interest rates doubled from 3.4 to 6.8% and functioned as a snippet of hope. There is a chance for change, as students to have options outside of the federal loan system to fund their educations, but it is up to individual states to take action. 

The concept of making public institutions of higher education tuition and loan-free is now being called the “Pay-It-Forward” program and it functions just as the name entails. Of course, everyone knows that almost nothing comes without a price and anything that truly is free may ultimately turn out to be more costly, monetarily or otherwise. However, the bill will still hold students responsible for contributing to their education, but collecting these compensations will be done in a manner that is mindful of the student’s financial situation after joining the workforce.

Graduates of a four-year public college or university will be expected to pay 3% of their adjusted growth income over a 24-year span, and graduates of a two-year degree will be required to contribute 1.5%. Those who fail to graduate will still be expected to contribute but fees will be pro-rated. 

“This is going to happen because students demand change; I believe that firmly,” Steve Hughes, state director of the Oregon Working Families Party, said. “The conditions are just absolutely ripe for this. We’ve heard so many stories of student debt that are just beyond belief.”

This plan is not about actually providing free education, as the money evidently would have to come from somewhere, but the goal behind it is to keep students from automatically feeling the dread of student loans and having the fear that their incomes may possibly be inadequate to pay the borrowed funds back. No person should feel discouraged from attending college due to fears that he or she will be unable to come up with the money to pay for it and it seems that this plan, if instated, could help on these fronts.

Above all, Oregon’s move to do something about the hefty cost of higher education especially given the rise in student debt is a reminder that change is not limited to the federal government, and there should be a larger push towards getting state legislatures to implement the changes that its constituents demand. 

Picture Credit: Web Pro News

Leave a comment

July 23, 2013 · 9:47 pm

Millennials Aren’t Millionaires, But We’re Great Philanthropists

millennials, arent, millionaires,, but, were, great, philanthropists,

 

“With no shortage of generation-bashing these days, twentysomethings might be feeling a bit jaded by articles and pundits framing them as “narcissistic,” “materialistic,” and “cheap.” The media and other generations seem to have a lot to say about how millennials spend their time and money, and the intentions behind those actions and purchases.

But the reality is that this generation is redefining the way we think about business. Conscious consumerism is now its own form of philanthropy, and this generation is leading the charge in supporting for-profit models with a moral compass, and looking for more meaningful opportunities to have impact. This carries particular implications for the nonprofit sector as millennials lead the way in increasing the do-gooder appetite and reinventing how we spend our time and money. 

If you have purchased a pair of TOMS shoes or Warby Parker sunglasses, donated to your friends’Kickstarter campaigns, or even went to a concert that benefited charity, then I believe that you are a philanthropist. Etymologically, “philanthropy” means “love for humanity,” and for many that translates into anyone who gives time, money, skills, networking, or even passion toward a cause. This is something the millennial generation inherently weaves into life through our everyday choices. In effect, we are mainstreaming sustainability and purpose into everything from our concert venues to our dining out for a cause. 

For the third year in a row, the Case Foundation partnered with Achieve, a creative fundraising firm and thought leader on nonprofit millennial engagement, to produce the Millennial Impact Report, which surveyed more than 2,500 millennials ages 20 to 35.

We found that 83 percent of respondents gave a financial gift to a cause in 2012. And one of the most interesting findings from the 2013 report is that millennials are cause-driven, preferring to give toward a specific cause that resonates with their interests over writing a check to a specific organization as a whole. Seventy-three percent volunteered for a cause that they were passionate about or felt created impact, and 70 percent of millennials are hitting the (physical and virtual) “pavement,” raising money for their causes both online and offline. Achieve highlights this “supportive activism” as its own heralding cry against the threatening “slacktivist” legacy that many other generations believe millennials are leaving behind.

The report revealed that 80 percent of millennials read nonprofits’ e-mail newsletters, but we like to do it through our smartphones. We will also only read up to five organizations’ newsletters at a given time. This is tough news for nonprofits that need to adjust to the rising demand for quality and ease of information sharing, both through new technology and effective messaging.

Young donors also expressed dislike for being asked for money upfront via social media, newsletters, or through an organization’s website, feeling as though they can offer more to an organization than just money. And as much as millennials want to give, they also need to receive — always searching for professional development opportunities, networking, and skills that can help propel their own successful battle through a tough job market.

Our generation has lived through 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and the Arab Spring (to name only a few major historical events). The rise of mobile technologies, increased communication, and lighting speed-tweeting prowess has transformed us from standby witnesses to active participants in the world’s current challenges. As a result, we are a socially minded group, tuned in to the issues of our day and primed to give back.

This week, the Millennial Impact Conference will explore these very topics, including the challenges and opportunities nonprofits face to engage and utilize these new “cause evangelists.” Livestreamed for free, the conference will showcase entrepreneurs, philanthropists, corporate leaders, and social activists like Sophia Bush and Jose Antonio Vargas who will weigh in on how and why to connect with the millennial generation. We hope you’ll join us to learn moreon July 18.  

Picture Credit: CNN

Leave a comment

July 23, 2013 · 9:38 pm

Ray Kurzweil: Artificial Intelligence Will Save Humans From Ourselves

Ray Kurzweil

ray, kurzweil:, artificial, intelligence, will, save, humans, from, ourselves,

Ray Kurzweil Artificial Intelligence Will Save Humans From Ourselves

 

“Editor’s Note: Ray Kurzweil is a best-selling author, inventor, futurist, and Director of Engineering at Google. He has been described as “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” PolicyMic editor Michael McCutcheon recently spoke with Ray Kurzweil about how technology and artificial intelligence can and should be used to address climate change and save the planet. Read their interview below.

Michael McCutcheon (MM): What are the possibilities for using technology to address climate change that people aren’t talking about?

Ray Kurzweil (RK): Larry Page (cofounder and CEO of Google) and I were asked by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering to review all of the emerging energy technologies and recommend a policy for the United States. We focused on solar energy because its use is growing exponentially. It is becoming increasingly cost effective as we apply nanotechnology to the design of solar panels. The cost of solar energy is coming down rapidly and is now at parity with energy from coal and oil in several parts of the world.

According to a recent report by Deutsche Bank, “The cost of unsubsidized solar power is about the same as the cost of electricity from the grid in India and Italy. By 2014 even more countries will achieve solar ‘grid parity.’” The total amount of solar energy produced in the world is now about 1% of our energy needs but is doubling every two years. So, it is only 7 doublings from meeting all of our energy needs. This means we can meet all of our energy needs with solar energy in less than 20 years and that it will be much less expensive than energy from current techniques and, of course, completely non-polluting. It is also decentralized and therefore not subject to disastrous events such as the Gulf oil spill. Once solar is meeting all of our energy needs, we will only be using one part in ten thousand of the sunlight that falls on the earth, meaning we have 10,000 more in sunlight than we need to do the job. Our conclusion is that within two decades, we will be able to produce all of the energy we need at lower cost and with no negative effect on the environment.

MM: Are humans built to be able to tackle problems that are global in nature like climate change? Are politicians?

RK: Due to increasingly pervasive communication, we are now in much closer touch with problems than ever before. When I tell people that we are now in the least violent period of human history, people react with astonishment and ask whether I am in touch with the pervasive news of constant violence in the world. But that is the key point – we have much better knowledge of problems in the world than ever before. If there is a battle in Damascus, we are there. A hundred years ago, if there was a battle in the next village, we didn’t know about it. 

Steven Pinker’s new book The Better Angels of our Nature points out that the chance we will be killed by violence (of any type – interpersonal or state sponsored) is 500 times less than it was a few centuries ago when there was extreme scarcity of resources. I wrote in the 1980s that the Soviet Union, which was then going strong, would be swept away by then emerging decentralized communication – the social network of that day, which was early forms of email over teletype lines. People thought it was ridiculous that this mighty nuclear superpower would be swept away by a few clandestine hackers with teletype machines, but in the 1991 coup against Gorbachev that ended the Soviet Union, that is exactly what happened. So while the world may seem chaotic, people today have far greater knowledge and power to shape events and respond to problems.

MM: Is there a way we can use AI to help us make policy decisions about problems that are outside many people’s grasp, like climate change? How do we use AI to guide people to better behavior?

RK: We are already smarter today than we were, say, a decade ago because of all the brain extenders we have at our fingertips, such as search engines and Wikipedia. During that one day SOPA strike (in which Wikipedia, Google, and other online services went on strike for one day to protest pending legislation that would have limited online access to information), I felt like a part of my brain went on strike. These tools do deploy AI to help us access useful information. A kid in Africa today with a smart phone has access to more instantly available information than the President of the United States did 15 years ago. I am now at Google as Director of Engineering to help develop smarter AI to continue this process.

MM: Is the destruction of the planet inevitable (before the implosion of the sun)? Should we be putting more resources into planning how to live on a planet other than Earth, rather than saving the environment on this planet?

RK: I mentioned above an emerging energy technology that is environmentally friendly.  There are similar emerging technologies for such resources as water, food, housing, and other material needs. We should focus our efforts on applying these 21st century technologies to solving the grand challenges of humanity.”

Leave a comment

May 2, 2013 · 5:33 pm