Thursday, June 10, 2010

Get serious about losing weight or losing money

Earlier this week I underwent several medical ultrasound tests offered by Life Line Screening. I was tested for carotid artery disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, atrial fibrillation/stroke and peripheral arterial disease.  My results will be sent to me in a few weeks. 

While at the screening center, I noticed the majority of people taking the tests were grossly obese.  I am talking about people in motorized wheelchairs or scooters not because they are crippled but because they are too damn fat to walk.  In other words, these people were 100-200 pounds overweight.  And now due to due to their lack of ability to control their intake of food, they are dealing with unnecessary cardiovascular disease, etc. They are eating themselves to death.  

Earlier the same week I read an Associated Press article "Dieting for Dollars?"  The piece describes how some employers are offering their workers money in order to lose serious weight.  At least one third of U.S. companies are offering financial incentives to motivate their employees to drop some fat and get healthier.

Why would companies go to such lengths to encourage their employees to "diet for dollars"? Mainly because obese workers are costing America's companies $45 billion dollars a year!  That's right . . . $45 billion a year.  How embarrassing. 

Naturally corporations would rather spend money to motivate their workers to diet in order to save more money in the long run.  

OhioHealth, a hospital chain whose work force is mainly overweight launched a program to have their employees wear pedometers to compel their people to walk more.  The more they walk, the more money they win - up to $500 a year. But do companies have to pay money to their staff to get healthy?  How about giving healthy people a bonus for not being overweight?  

In one study performed by Cornell University, it was shown that after looking at seven employer weight loss programs, the results were depressing. The average weight loss in most workplaces was a little more than a pound

The problem of being overweight is a grave issue. More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight and one third is obese. Individuals who are overweight have a greater tendency to die from heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.  

Take a look at the people who are in the Medicare-paid-for motorized wheelchairs, which you and I are paying for with our tax dollars.  In addition, these people and many more like them are costing employers an estimated $45 billion annually in health care costs and lost labor.

There's no excuse for this!  Haven't you noticed that most poor people in the U.S. who line up at food lines are overweight?  How do you get fat when you don't have enough food to eat? 

In some cases sales taxes have been used to to drive up the cost of cigarettes to drive down smoking rates. How about we impose a higher sales tax on Super-Sized food?  

Unfortunately, studies show that people don't respond to higher taxes in order to get them to stop a bad habit that is compromising their health. Humans are much more interested in incentives . . . money.  

Well, if corporations gave lower insurances premiums to those who maintain a healthy weight and penalize overweight people with higher health care premiums or higher co-payments, I bet that would inspire obese people to drop the weight. 

Why should overweight people be offered vacation trips, money or reduced health care premiums to get them to drop the extra pounds?  That makes no sense.  Reward the people, as with the auto insurance companies, who have a safe "driving record" not the people who are accident prone and are receiving obesity tickets. 

Overweight people are getting reimbursed by some companies for taking Weight Watcher classes or for enrolling in 12 week online health programs.  I'd like to see the same companies pay for my gym membership for every year I stay at a healthy level of weight. 

Why do we reward people who break the rules and ignore the individuals who keep them?  Not only that.  I don't want to pay for motorized wheelchairs for obese humans who couldn't hold themselves back from going for seconds and thirds or imbibing a whole bag of Doritos.  

According to the Associated Press article psychologists conclude people are more motivated by the risk of losing their own money than by a chance they'll win a big fat check. What if overweight people slap down $1000 into a special account and if they do not lose weight by a certain date, they lose their $1000.  In fact, with some companies the procedure of having people lose money caused them to lose more weight!  

In the end, overweight people will lose weight when they get tired of living in an unhealthy condition and decide they want to do something tangible to make a change. They will also lose weight if insurance companies charge them higher health care premiums since they placed themselves in an unhealthy state. Let the other ones get a break for having a "safe driving record." 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

US known for open doors to immigration BUT . . .

Am I obsessed with immigration- both legal and illegal?  You may think so since I keep writing about it,  and I don't even claim to be an expert on the subject. For an expert on immigration issues, read  Heather McDonald at the Manhattan Institute.

I am simply a citizen of the United States who is anxious over the revisionism of history that is taking place regarding illegal immigration.  My opinion is that a person cannot have a correct perspective on illegal immigration unless one understands the history of immigrants coming into this country.

Someone may accuse me of being anti-immigration.  Yet I am the grandson of immigrants from Austria, England and Russia.  My case is that my ancestors came to this country legally while maintaining citizenship in this country as an essential goal.

Yet when we view today's news, we're not getting the full picture of what is taking place when immigrants cross the border into our country.  For example, view these photos of the Arizona Sonoran Desert outside Tucson to try to understand the concerns Arizonans have with immigrants crossing the U.S/Mexico border and then trashing the U.S. as soon as they enter. If this kind of disrespect and trashing of our land took place in your neighborhood, you'd be up in arms.

When our ancestors came into this country, they looked at arrival in the land of the free as a sacred privilege.  Visit Ellis Island, one of the places immigrants landed, to see the regard foreigners had for America. They surely did not trash this country upon entering it!

Looking at immigration from a historical perspective, from 1820 to 1996 the United States welcomed 63 million immigrants.  Thirty eight million came from Europe; eleven million from Latin America and 7.9 million arrived from Asia.  The largest group from Europe was the Germans with 7.2 million.

Don't forget that America borders two other countries - Canada and Mexico.  Before 2000 there were 5.5 million  illegal Mexican immigrants that came to the U.S.  In 2002 the count grew to 9.8 million illegal immigrants from Mexico. In 2006 the number of illegal aliens in this country was estimated at eleven million, according to Heather McDonald. One can only estimate that the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico living in the U.S. is close to twenty million in light of the two million a year growth since 1998.

At the turn of the century that  4.4 million Canadians lived in the U.S.and the number is growing. In addition, to immigrants from our two bordering countries, we have seen immigrants from Vietnam, China, Philippines, India and many Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel especially in recent years.

By the time of the first census in 1790 the U.S. population stood at 3,929,214. Most of the these inhabitants was made up of immigrants or descendants of immigrants.

It is essential to know that until 1790 immigration to the United State was unrestricted by U.S. law.  The doors to America were totally open, according to Land of the Free by David Sean Paludeine.  Then on March 26, 1790 Congress felt compelled to lass a law signed by President George Washington regulating immigration. This was the first federal immigration law and it was okayed by the first president of the U.S. The law established a uniform code for an immigrant  becoming naturalized.  The person seeking to become a U.S. citizen needed to reside in the States for at least two years.

 In 1795 the residence requirement was changed to five years and the law now required that for someone to enter America, they must declare their intention to seek citizenship.

Did you catch that?  To enter the U.S. back in the late 1700s you had to declare your intention to become a U.S. citizen to stay here.

The laws regulating immigration into the U.S. continued to grow as the young nation began to mature. President John Adam signed the Naturalization Act of 1798 that boosted the residence requirements of immigrants coming to the U.S. from five years to fourteen.

The Naturalization Act of 1802 pushed the residence requirements for living in the U.S. back to five years.  In addition, the basic requirements for naturalization required a good moral character, allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and a formal declaration of intention to become naturalized.  This is U.S. Law not Arizona law.

Our politicians need to look at history to see how our forefathers viewed immigrants coming into this country.  Today's generation is shooting from the hip when it comes to illegals  Illegal immigrants must be faced with their need to become citizens of the U.S., learn the English language and respect the rule of law of this land.  If they cannot live under the laws of this land, it's best that they return to their land of origin.  Am I being radical?  No.  I am reflecting the views of those great men and women who founded this country.

I don't want people coming into this country who flaunt their disregard for the U.S. Constitution.  Of course, citizens of the U.S. need to bone up on what's in the Constitution as well.

One more law that will put everything into perspective. In 1819 the Steerage Act was passed and required vessels carrying immigrants into this country to report the number of refugees they had on board. The passenger lists or manifests of all arriving vessels had to be delivered to a local Collector of Customs, and then copies of that manifest were given to  the U.S. Secretary of State who handed the numbers to Congress. The ships' manifestos were the first formal recording of immigrants coming into the New World.

When it came to immigration, the early settlers of the United States wanted to know how many were arriving here and what were their names.

You need to realize how far we've come from the days of the founding of our country.  I've much more to share from U.S. history about the legal requirements for entering the country and what it took to become a U.S. citizenship.

How does this historical data affect your views of immigration today?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are we a nation of immigrants?

The fact I raise the question whether or not we are a nation founded on immigrants has caught your attention.  The answer is "yes" and "no."
Just take a long look at the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor near the adjoining landmark Ellis Island, and you know this country is a nation of immigrants.  Imagine the crowded immigrant ships sailing past the Green Lady in the harbor only increasing the hope of a new life in America for the people on board.  The ships were inhabited with German, English, Irish people in the first wave of immigrants from northern Europe.  Then the next wave came from southern and eastern Europe - Italians, Greeks, Russians and Jewish people.

Listen to these figures from David Sean Paludeine, editor of Land of the Free:  Ninety-five percent of U.S. citizens today come from people who didn't live in the Western hemisphere in the 18th century.  In addition, ten percent of today's American citizens are not born in the U.S. Now, I admit Paludeine wrote his book over ten years ago. However, with the continual influx of both legal and illegal immigrants, the stats have only increased.

Whether you like it or not, immigration over the past century has been one of the greatest factors contributing to the makeup of the American identity or nationality today, better labeled as the "melting pot."

I've been asking people where their ancestors came from?  Their faces light up as they tell me about their grandparents arriving on vessels from Ireland, England, Spain, Italy and on and on.

To most of you this information is nothing new.  If you're Jewish, like myself, you've been told stories of how your grandparents landed on Ellis Island and entered the U.S. through this well-known entry port.  They came here with legal papers, with promised jobs, with the intent to become naturalized citizens, to contribute to the economy of the U.S., to learn English and to become an American first and foremost.

In contrast, a few months ago a young Hispanic man proudly told me we are a "nation of immigrants" from his viewpoint.  His parents are illegal and he claimed his people have a right to immigrate here like other people have in the past.

I immediately familiarized him with the history of immigration in this country and made it clear that his people are not immigrants but illegal immigrants.  They are climbing over border fences sneaking into the U.S. They are not arriving through the front door of this country like the majority of immigrants but slipping through the backdoor.

Many of these Latino immigrants are bringing illegal drugs into this country and contributing to the destruction of today's youth.  For the most part they have little desire to speak English and it appears American culture is stupidly adapting all its documentation, signage, instructions and reading material to accommodate the Hispanic culture.

I entered a Chase bank branch today and was greeted with an advertisement, "Bank Statements Now in Spanish."  I can't imagine my grandparents asking for their bank statements to be printed in Yiddish.  They came here to America and proudly learned the English language.

Europeans came to the U.S. - post-Revolutionary war -  in search of religious freedom, for economic opportunity and the promise of land as the western United States became opened for settlement.

In the nineteenth century immigrants also came from Europe to flee hardships,  The Irish people left their homeland in the 1840s due to the Potato Famine; Germans and Italians also sought asylum in the New World because of political upheaval in their homelands.  The Chinese came to the U.S. in the 1860s and most of them landed on the West Coast and greatly contributed to the building of the railroad that reaches across the U.S.

I have more stats to share in another blog.  I merely want you to get a better grasp of immigration when the phrase is used, "We are a nation of immigrants."  In response, I would say, "we are a nation of legal immigrants who became former immigrants."

When our ancestors came to the U.S. they had to deal with immigration laws and quotas.  There were certain requirements that had to be met. They came to the U.S. as respectful people who had great admiration for the laws of the New World. They did not come here with the intent to flaunt the U.S. Constitution as is taking place today.  The rule of law regarding immigration is being ignored. Our politicians are to blame.

The state of Arizona which has courageously passed stringent immigration laws to stem the tide of illegal immigration in their state is actually trying to being their state into conformity with federal immigration laws that have already been passed and signed into law by past presidents of the United States of America. Can we condemn them for that?

Remember this one statement from today's blog: We are a nation of former immigrants . . . not illegal immigrants.