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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

How Can We Do Better For American Youth?

It seems to me that many lawmakers don't care about our youth.

Evidence of this lies in their decision making and lack of voice regarding matters that matter to the safety and prosperity of our young people. What can they do to better lives of youth?

Shorter Work Week, Better Pay
Average American families in many places are stretched beyond imagination when it comes to earning a living and completing the kinds of daily chores that enable them to care well for their children. Most average American families require two salaries to pay the rent or mortgage, feed their families, take care of their health needs, and complete other daily tasks and chores. This means these families are typically working around the clock which results in exhaustion and little time to complete needed tasks and chores. Perhaps one essential support is to foster a shorter work week and better pay for working families. When most moms were home, they were working around the clock to care for children and neighbors. When most moms went back to work, few were left to do the big job of caring for children, neighbors, and community. By reducing expected hours of work and heightening the pay of workers, we will buy time and capacity for moms and dads which hopefully will result in better care for children.

Better Maternity/Child Care Leaves
Let's pay parents $50,000 a year to stay home and care for their children from 0-2years, and let's do this for up to two children for every individual. This $50,000 could be shared by parents, but would mean that someone in the home spends considerable time with their young children for the first two years of their life. And perhaps to get the money means that parents attend a number of parent/child-health and parent/child-education events to foster good parenting and care for the years after age two.

Better Support for Schools
Schools are one of the last community organizations where people from all walks of life congregate. Schools are often community centers of positivity and development. This work is compromised when funding for schools is compromised. All schools deserve enough funding to foster apt academic programs and positive social/emotional programs too. In communities where parents' work is time consuming and pay is short, there needs to be healthy after school programs for all students and these programs should include the opportunity for children to engage in sports, arts, study, and other positive endeavor. Too many children are left on their own after school and during vacations--well supported, positive recreational and educational programs can fill this void.

More Accessible Health Care and Social Emotional Supports
A friend of mine told me a sad story about a child with a medical need who repeatedly gets a similar surgery. The surgery never works because the family does not have access or ability to follow-up with the post-surgery physical therapy and care. This poor child is on a endless cycle of poor health care that's also affecting his attitude, overall health, and education since he often misses school due to these repeated surgeries. I can empathize with this as when one of my sons had surgery in the past, it was very difficult for me to access the post-surgery care. Fortunately I had a good job, transportation, and family support to get my son to and from the post-surgery care, however the poor family I refer to does not have the time due to their low paying jobs with few supports, transportation due to the fact they live in a place with few accessible health care facilities, and the extended support since most of the people they live with and love are similarly compromised. Often struggling families struggle because they don't have ready access to health care and social emotional supports--we can build more comprehensive health and educational centers to support children's health care needs as well as their educational and social emotional needs.

More Doctors
The fact that medical school so greatly limits the number of doctors trained in our country is a travesty. We can easily train many more medical professionals in our country and that will translate into better care. We have to remove the quotas for medical professionals and train more doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals from all all communities, cultures, and economic levels. Service to one another is the most important economy to support as our world becomes more automatized.

Violence Free Zones
Every community has to look for ways that they can reduce violence where it occurs most. Good gun regulation will help. Also looking for ways to reduce drug sales and distribution will similarly help. I am not a public safety expert, but I know that many understand how to lessen violence, and we need to reach out to those experts and help them to help us put laws in place that will lessen violence and uplift public safety and health.

Access to Basic Needs and Good Living
In a world that is embracing automation in many areas of living, we need to turn our human activity to service to one another. By uplifting communities by way of sufficient welcoming homes, healthy nutritious food, beautiful parks and playgrounds, access to health care and social/emotional supports, sufficient well paying jobs, and opportunity for healthy recreation, we will elevate people's access to basic needs and good living. The fact that in many sectors are public supports are bare bones which results in ugly architecture, substandard structures, unhealthy food choices, and polluted natural lands, water, and air leads to poor living--we can certainly do better in all of these areas.

If we work as a people to elevate good living for all we will save the money it costs to gate communities and build walls on borders. We will save the big money we spend on violence-related events and health needs that come from poor living. A tax related to how much space you take up, the unhealthy foods you eat, the guns you buy,  and how many resources you use might be a good start in this direction. For example we could add an environmental tax that taxes the natural resources, land, and space you use beyond the average. So people that own much more land than others would be taxed more (unless they are using that land for public good or nutrition). Similarly people who use a lot more water for pools, recreation, parties, and more would also be taxed more. Those taxes, in turn, could be used to uplift living for all. We can also heighten the taxes on gun sales greatly and increase the penalties on those who illegally sell guns and use that money for public health initiatives related to gun safety and regulations.

This post rambles a bit as I think about the many ways we can improve life for people throughout our country and world. We are mired in inaction right now when it comes to elevating the lives of the many. There has been substantial effort to uplift the lives of the wealthy as evidenced by President Trump who continually uplifts the elite while leaving most other people behind with poor policies, little regulation, and continual evidence of greed to increase his wealth and power and the wealth and power of his family and cronies. We never hear Trump talk or act in ways to uplift lives of most people--he chooses a few over the many in his policies, speak, and action. His Republican cronies follow his lead too.

We can do better, and I'm thinking about this. What can we do to better the lives of all people so we don't see the violence and struggle that we notice every day on the news and in our own communities.