Social Change and Sustainability

15 Apr

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When we use a common resource like water, trees or pasture, at a rate that is slower than it replenishes, it’s okay but if we get greedy and use more than our fair share, the system of consumption becomes unsustainable and everybody loses.

On one hand everybody should care about sustainability or share resource in long-term because everyone, including the individual, benefits from the efficient use. In short-term, individual benefits immediately but betrays others. So, there’s loss of trust and people share the attitude “Why do I care?” because the other person doesn’t care for me.

We humans tend to focus on short-term benefits and our own immediate needs and that’s the reason we run in to problem of resource sharing.  Trust is an important public resource and that losing it can have long-term negative effect for everyone involved. So, how do we make sure that we do not lose that trust? What role does a student organization like “MavsGoGreen” play? Why social activities and events matter? So how is social change and sustainability related to each other?

According to Encyclopedia, “Social change is the alteration of mechanisms within the social structure, characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behavior, social organizations, or value systems.”

MavsGoGreen” not only focus on “sustainability” aspect but also the “social change”. We have hosted numerous events which fall in one of the following categories: sustainability, sports, religion, diversity, theatre, education, culture, photography, adventure, etc. Why not only focus on “Sustainability’? Because, we firmly believe that to bring about the environmental change the first thing that needs to be addressed is the social change.

When people care, respect and take responsibility for each other, they will indirectly care for not only their environment but also for the environment in which their loved ones live. When we engage with audience in non-threatening environment or during events such as camp-out, sports, movie-screenings, cultural programs, etc. when the audience is at ease and know that we are not going to lecture them on sustainability, they are more open to friendly conversations.

For example: During one of our events, when few attendees noticed students pick up the trash that the audience generated few minutes back, they stopped by and were curious to know why we cleaned up their mess? This gave our volunteers an opportunity to start the friendly conversation but not lecture them. Our strategy is just to tell them that we are doing this for our planet, for them and how we contribute. And, this short conversation gives time to the audience to think about how they can contribute. If the person I don’t know cares for me, shouldn’t I be taking the responsibility for my acts?

This behavioral change isn’t going to happen overnight and needs regular reinforcement in the form of volunteering, activities and events. In past year, “MavsGoGreen” has had pretty good conversion rate with regard to positive behavioral changes. We frequently get “Thank you” emails and messages from people and they share their experiences too with regard to what they are doing when it comes to protecting the environment. And, the good thing is that, this isn’t the one time change but we keep seeing their positive behaviors consistently over the period of time and it’s become their habit now.

Also, there are hundreds of student volunteers, representing different cultures and demographics from across the world, who are strength and blood of our organisation at UT Arlington. There’s so much to learn from them because many of them come from the regions of the world that lack resources, but they have survived and have found sustainable use of the limited resources that they have. As it rightly said, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and many under-developed and developing countries have found ways in which the limited resources they have are put to the best use. At number of instances, we found that what’s necessity for the people in developed countries is privilege for those residing in developing countries.

But, there’s a lot to learn from developed countries too with regard to best practices, technologies, governance, policies, etc. When, our student volunteer graduates and joins corporate or may be go back to their home country, they carry the positive behaviors and the good practices with them and help to bring about a social and sustainable change at global level.

Sustainability and Social Change go hand in hand. If we remind people about what’s ethical or more sustainable and how they can contribute just a bit, then we are much more likely to get the desired behavior. And, desired positive behavior helps to build trust over the period of time as community will collaborate and is well connected for a common cause.

An effort should be made to scrutinize the fundamental social and natural causes of environmental decline.

Healthcare Delivery System – Supply & Impact

12 Aug

There are numerous factors that may impact the future supply of healthcare providers (physicians/hospitals) – Here are few possible factors that impact supply and impact on the US delivery system.

Healthcare reform will provide insurance to roughly 36 million uninsured Americans, which is expected to increase the demand for healthcare services. The population of older adults is growing radically due to greater longevity as a result of better nutrition, safety, and medical care. Older adults have different health care needs compared to younger age groups, and this has an impact on the demand placed on the health care system. Older population is more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, have greater physical vulnerability, and consume more emergency care, hospital services, nursing home services, and home health care services than younger population. Also, older population has a smaller pool of family caregivers than younger adults.

Although many older adults have some sort of accompanying coverage, majority of them use Medicare reimbursement. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies can affect both supply of health care and demand for services. The percentage of reimbursement for the hospitals and doctors by Medicare and Medicaid is very low compared to what private insurance companies reimburse and settle claims. Since, aging population who use Medicare services is on rise, it is resulting in lower profits and higher operating costs for the hospitals and is acting as disincentive for the businesses and providers. As a result many doctors have dropped out, few have started specialty hospitals, and many hospitals have shut their high cost – low profit departments such as maternity ward, etc.; because of lower reimbursement rates.

Large numbers of health care workers are retiring at the same time the demand for health care is on the rise due to aging population. Also, educational requirements are playing a greater role in supply of the doctors. Relatively new occupations and specialty degrees that didn’t exist 50 years ago are attracting more people. Some health professions are more attractive to young people than others, and these new professions will be better able to survive large numbers of retirements, as the retirees will be speedily replaced.

Misdistribution of physicians i.e. less interest by medical school graduates in primary care and lack of work/life balance,  (long hours, night and weekend calls) are the additional deterrents which are resulting in poor supply of health care providers such as doctors. Burnout due to sudden increase in demand of services due to ACA and the stringent legal requirements under the Obama Care is also a cause of concern. Also, the residency slots may not keep up with growth in medical school graduates. Licensing provides guarantee of quality, but it also limits entry into the profession. Money is also one of the major causes of shortages of primary care physicians. According to National Council of Behavioral Health, mental health in physicians in public sector work twice as those physicians in private organisations but on average public workers earn about $25,000 less than those in private sectors. 

The health care reform has resulted in the increased demand because the people enrolling are those with the greatest needs for medical services as now there’s no limit to coverage, its compulsory for all to buy insurance, it’s subsidized and anyone can buy insurance without limitations on pre-existing conditions. So, people who will need extensive service have access to insurance now and will likely consume more services resulting in increased demand for medical services. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, The supply of physician is increasing at 7% compared to the number of Americans over 65 years of age which is growing at 36%, resulting in demand and supply mismatch, causing supply shortage.

When demand rises but supply cannot increase at the same pace, prices go up.   Hospitals and clinics may increase the wages of nurses, technicians, and doctors because they are more often reimbursed for their services by insurance companies and also because few numbers of doctors and nurses will be handling the increased demand i.e. more workload. This will also cause waiting times for appointments and procedures to increase. 

Also, there has been increasing pressure on doctors, nurses and hospitals to provide improve quality, reduce cost and improve customer experience, resulting in lower supply of healthcare providers. Thus, the above mentioned factors are the cause of concern and will impact the supply and the US delivery system.

References

Center for Health Workforce Studies School of Public Health, University at Albany (2006, March). The Impact of the Aging Population on the Health Workforce in the United States: Summary of Key Findings. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.albany.edu/news/pdf_files/impact_of_aging_excerpt.pdf

Robert J. Stonebraker, Winthrop University (2013, October 17). The Joy of Economics: Making Sense out of Life. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://faculty.winthrop.edu/stonebrakerr/book/medicalcare.htm

Impact of PPACA (insurers, healthcare providers, employers)

12 Aug

The US Supreme Court ruling upholding the 2010 healthcare law will dramatically transform the US healthcare system.  Components of the law will significantly impact insurers, healthcare providers, and employers.  Here are few ways PPACA will impact or likely impact all 3 elements (insurers, healthcare providers, employers) of the US healthcare system.

Impact on healthcare providers:

  • Doctors are nervous about the new law and how it will affect their incomes, their access to technologies, and professional decision making.
  • Physicians also believe that this law will shift decision-making authority from doctors to government.
  • The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to purchase health insurance, so doctors need to be prepared for an inflow of patients as 36 million newly insured will be added in the system. Also, considering the current burnout rate and doctors dropping out, there will be tremendous mismatch between demand and supply resulting in shortages of doctors and increase in prices and longer wait period.

Impact on employers:

  • Employers with 50 or more workers are responsible to offer employees health coverage. If they don’t, they may face penalty. So they have started to send their workers to exchanges and if they have earnings low enough to qualify for federal subsidies they can get insurance with extensive coverage at lower rate. Small stores and restaurants are likely to be most affected. There are no responsibilities for small employers with fewer than 50 workers. Also, numbers of employers have been restricting the health benefits they offer to employees, expecting higher costs.
  • In trying to control their own spending, employers often are shifting health costs to employees. So the average annual deductible for an individual has nearly doubled in the past few years. The idea is not just to make workers’ pay more but make employees think more about health related expenses and behavior. Whenever you are shielded from the cost, you tend to spend more. Companies want patients to shop around for the best prices and use healthcare system wisely and effectively.
  • Few employers such as Trader Joe’s, Target and Home Depot, have dropped coverage for part time employees on the grounds that those workers can now find coverage through the insurance exchanges. As a result three things can happen, few may choose to keep the money that the company is contributing say $250 to buy from exchanges and not but any insurance, few may get a better deal at subsidized rate or may be even free and can pocket contribution from the company, whereas few employees may see their premiums go up based on their income.  
  • There have been reports of employers holding back on hiring in order to stay under the 50-employee threshold that triggers health insurance responsibilities. There also have been reports of employers cutting workers’ hours to below 30 per week so that they don’t count as full-time.

Impact on insurers:

  • ACA has made insurance accessible and affordable to millions of people. Those who were already insured but used to pay higher premiums will see their premiums go down and their plans will get more comprehensive. But at the same time, the law will make several million people worse off, by driving their premiums up, pushing them into plans that are less comprehensive.
  • Premiums will rise because plans will have to be more comprehensive with no minimum limits than they used to be.
  • Premium costs will be shifted away from the old and sick and toward the young and healthy.Currently, insurance companies charge people more or less based on gender, health conditions, age, habits, etc. Under the ACA, insurers won’t be able to vary premiums on the basis of these factors. This means lower premiums for old and sick, and higher premiums for people who are young and healthy. 
  • Premiums will rise overall because of the adverse selection i.e. the aging population and the average individual will be sicker than before.To maintain a balance, what insurance companies need is a good mix of healthy and sick population but because of ACA senior citizens, near retirement population, people with preexisting conditions and population that is expensive to insure and treat and those with chronic illness are running to exchanges and utilizing the insurance benefits. This may result in higher premiums for the healthier population who make fewer claims and thereby more dropouts from the insurance plan causing further increase in premiums. Also, though insurance is mandatory, fines are not sufficient to discourage people from not buying insurance. So, many younger and healthier populations chose not to purchase insurance.

 

References

FAQ: How Obamacare Affects Employers And How They’re Responding : NPR. (2013, October 11). Retrieved February 1, 2014, from http://www.npr.org/2013/10/11/231103865/faq-how-obamacare-affects-employers-and-how-they-re-responding

Josh Barro (2013, November 5). Here Are The Five Big Reasons Obamacare Changes Insurance Premiums – Business Insider. Retrieved February 1, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/here-are-the-five-big-reasons-obamacare-changes-insurance-premiums-2013-11

Kimberly Leonard (2013, December 13). 3 Things Doctors Should Know About Obamacare. Retrieved February 1, 2014, from health.usnews.com/health-news/hospital-of-tomorrow/articles/2013/12/13/3-things-doctors-should-know-about-obamacare-how-doctors-can-prepare-for-obamacare

Tevi Troy (n.d.). How The Affordable Care Act Will Affect Doctors | The Health Care Blog. Retrieved February 1, 2014, from http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2012/06/15/how-the-affordable-care-act-will-affect-doctors/

Types of Roommates

1 Aug

Searching for a roommate can be as good as searching for a bride. 

You want someone to whom you can connect and feel comfortable sharing your apartment and personal things. It’s a relationship that may or may not last longer than two years. And you may gradually end up getting divorced because of fight with roommate or if he/she graduates, finds internship, etc. and then the search begins from step one. You can think of roommate as contractual marriage.

Some of these relationships can be memorable, whereas others can be horrifying.

Types of roommates:

 1. You end up with a roommate who always wants to reduce rent and ends up adding more and more people to your unit. (Rent 800/10 = $80 pm per head) He/She just understands the language of money and savings. And, you better not object his/her decision because he/she is the lease holder and any confrontation can lead to you being homeless overnight.

2. Your roommate labels  all the products in a refrigerator with his/her name and you better not drink milk from his /her gallon or borrow an onion, if you want to live peacefully. Over the period of time, his/her label on products becomes the brand name of the products itself. Example: Hritik milk, Hritik Ketchup, Hritik Onion, Hritik Lemon, etc.

3. On the other hand there will be roommates who won’t miss an opportunity to steal your food items in your absence and then have courage to deny, even when it’s too obvious. Guy’s if you are hungry, just ask. Think about people who come home after class or work, assuming that food is left in refrigerator, only to find that there’s ghost in their apartment who eats food in their absence.

4. A roommate who has just entered USA and has been around for few months will try to FAKE American Accent, which definitely sounds stupid and funny to us but he thinks that he has got mastery over the language and will leave no stones unturned to impress you.

5. There are few who will hug you, kiss you and project as if you are their life and they will do anything for you. Brother from another mother types, but ditch you when you need them.

6. He/she threatens to call police or housing for every minor issue that can be settled peacefully by talks.

7. A roommate for whom life is all about partying, drinking, smoking and sex. He is one of those creatures who won’t give a damn about his career, forget about yours. He is also one of those who will puke once a week and ends up urinating in wash basin.

8. A roommate who is always short of cash and never pays rent on time. Begs, borrows,scams and arranges somehow but still money is never sufficient. But, ask him for booze and suddenly you will see $500 balance in his wellsfargo account.

9. You might come across a roommate who will give you paid rides to Walmart even though he/she is going to share groceries. And at times, overcharge you by few cents on every product.

10. A roommate who believes in rounding off all numbers. He owes you $102.79 but will transfer only $100 or $102. I assume his fingers will hurt if he/she will type few extra digits “.79”

11. I NEED TIME: A character who takes 15 minutes to pee and 30 minutes to attend natures call, bathing is never less than an hour. UTILITY at UTA is FREE – Yayyy !!! Dude, others also stay in this apartment who needs to use restroom.

12. A roommate who doesn’t know how to use restroom. Goes for bath and there’s swimming pool ready for you when he/she comes out or if he urinates, you will have“urinary abstract art” allover the pot, no matter how many times you explain him how to use English toilets.If he/she uses wash basin, you will find water scattered all around – including walls. Were you dancing while washing your hands?

13.  A roommate who will borrow your car and have party at your expense. He will use 3 gallons on fuel but refuel just 1-2 gallon. He is one of those kind, who will drive your car all the way to Dallas just to have dosa worth $9. So cost is $8 for fuel and $9 for dosa = $17 total cost for dosa. He won’t be courteous enough to even give you a call and ask if you want something to eat. In short, you end up sponsoring him for his need.

14. You might come across someone who claims to be super rich and intelligent but he’ll be the sickest person on this planet with his brains smaller than rodents.

15. You end up leasing your apartment to your friend who is so called “homeless” and you trust his word that he will make rent payments on time and will find you another person, if he/she decides to move out. What happens next is that you are screwed; you are idiot to trust someone blindly because he/she decides to disappear as lease isn’t on his/her name. Reason: “I got an internship and anyways, I didn’t stay”.

Yes brother, you didn’t stay for two months but wasn’t it your responsibility to make payment as it was leased for definite period? Not having name on lease doesn’t free you from liability..Where are your morals?

16. A day before the exams this person will be working hard strategizing on how to copyrather work hard and study for exam. He will call up all the sources and seniors asking for past exams.

17. A roommate who is never at home or class. His or her daily schedule is- motel to gas station to sleep and same cycle again. Did you come here to study or work in motel? No wonder you are on PROBATION!!!

18. A roommate who thinks himself as a stud – he’s the best in world, girls will die for him and he assumes that he has power to do anything in the world. In reality he lacks self-esteem and you can see that…

19. You might come across a roommate who will give your free advice no matter what, ranging from education to relationship to finance to sex to conflicts, but he won’t make any sense.

20. You may end up with someone who keeps bitching and gossiping about every damn thing in this world. Gossiping gives him kind of high. Good for him/her, it’s better than drugs and you don’t get arrested for gossiping!!!

21. Your roommate can be one of those who has zero discipline and negative organization skills. You will find his socks in hall way, underwear hanging somewhere in apartment, books scattered around, someone who will always keep losing apartment keys, and blame neighbors for cockroaches and bedbugs in your apartment.

22. Be on lookout for strip club maniac in your room.

23. A roommate who won’t contribute a dollar for “netflix” or other physical assets in your apartment like microwave,iron, iron board, TV, DVD Player, PS3, etc. but he wants to use them all as if he owns them. If he/she ends up damaging your property, he/she won’t have courtesy to tell you that they were responsible. And, you don’t have all the time on this earth to play role of “ACP Pradyuman” from C.I.D to find out who damaged your property.

24. Outnumbered: You might end up with roommates who will outnumber you and screw your life. Example: (No offense to any community) If you are from North and stay with three guys from South, they won’t  have courtesy to talk in a language that is understood by all. And if you end up in verbal argument, they might kick you out or file false report against you. You will have no defenses because of this groupism. Few people fight back against injustice, most don’t. 

25. Someone who will wash his/her clothes once a month and bath 2-3 times a week just because he/she didn’t sweat and don’t think that it’s really required to bath. Yes, we need to save water!!!

26. You may come across a character who borrows a book from you for a day and same night at 2am you catch him/her in Central Library scanning you book, for which you paid $150 on amazon and he got free scanned copy, which soon entire class will have. Now, that’s open violation of copyright!!

27. Only 4 people stay in unit but he/she will always cook for 6 people. Guess who are the other two? Thrash Can and neighbor

28. This guy doesn’t believe in washing utensils. You will find same the spoon laying around in wash basin till the day of his graduation. And roommates too don’t bother because it’s not their spoon. Guy’s take ownership and get it cleaned.

29. A roommate who is eagerly waiting on FEDEX package delivery (snacks, sweets, home-made food) that your parents will send. And even before you can grab a bite, he’ll be done with emptying some of your yummy home-made food. A time will come when you will start hiding some of your food in your locker, closet, under your bed, etc. to make sure that your roommate doesn’t get hold of any.

30. A roommate who ends up emptying shampoo or body wash bottle for which he didn’t even contribute a dime. 

Loneliness – The Negative Cycle

21 Sep

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As the world grows smaller, more connected, more crowded, and ironically, increasingly lonely for many of us.

Loneliness is subjective and not all lonely people live in isolation. A person might have many friends around them, yet feel alone. For some of us, loneliness begins steadily. One friend graduates and moves away, another has a child, a third works a sixty hours a week, and before we realize the social circle that we had in the past ceases to exist and we find ourselves spending most of our time alone. For few, loneliness is a result of life changes such as leaving for college, losing a partner to death, divorce; break up, starting a new job, retiring and losing the daily company of friends and colleagues, or moving to a new city, state or country. The longer our loneliness lasts, more challenging it can be to break the mindsets and judgments.

Loneliness tends to impact our perception such that we are likely to view our existing relationships more negatively and pessimistically. We assume people are not interested in our company and that if we reach out to them they will turn us down. As a result we take little initiative and find excuses to turn down invitations when we do get them. Our pessimism and unwillingness to give our friends the benefit of the doubt pushes them away even further. As we are consciously not aware to our part in creating the distance, we see their pulling out as confirmation of our fears and become even more convinced they no longer care about us. They are not willingly drawing away, but it’s you who are causing them to part away and then you assume that it’s their fault. Also, loneliness is very visible to others who are likely to tag us as less interesting, less enthusiastic and less appealing. This combined with the negativity and mistrust on our part makes it challenging for us to establish new social and romantic relationships. Loneliness is also contagious and over time, lonely people ‘infect’ those around them such that they too become pushed to the border of their social networks.

The more socially and emotionally isolated we are the more our social skills and relationships tend to deteriorate. Skills, no matter what social or technical often weaken when unused and our ability to connect and relate can easily get rusty after a period of isolation as isolation becomes your second nature. If things go bad when we try to use these skills we don’t attribute the failure or rejection to our skill sets being rusty but see it as further confirmation of our belief of undesirability.

Relationship is a lot like food. We need it to survive and that human beings have fundamental need for inclusion in group life and for close relationships. A lack of close relationships can bring the emotional discomfort known as loneliness. More than anything else, the cure for loneliness lies in breaking the negative cycle that we created in the first place.                                     

Isn’t first love an ultimate turn on?

2 Sep


Isn’t first love an ultimate turn on? Yes, it is😉 I know you are thinking of someone right now🙂

Any idea, why do decisions to marry that are made in the early stage of love, so called infatuation, often turn out to be a big mistake?

No matter how good the match you think, infatuation, even in the best of marriages, is only a temporary occurrence associated with newness and insecurity.

According to psychologist Dorothy Tennov who found that the duration of infatuation typically lasts at most “between approximately 18 months and three years.” Circumstances like a long-distance relationship or chronic relationship insecurity may artificially extend the tingling phenomenon, at the cost of delaying the shift either into a departure from the relationship or into commitment to a mature and reliable love partnership.

It’s easy to confuse loving the feeling of infatuation with the totally separate issue of how loving you are toward that person after the infatuation has worn off. The infatuation is the short-term relationship. There’s nothing else there. No shared vision or values of the life pathways you both want. Minimal shared interests. Not much to talk about after the initial getting-to-know-you exchanges. You are so caught up in the amazing chemistry of initial attraction that you can’t, or don’t want to, see who the person really is. You lose your ability to be objective and logical reasoning during those moments of short-lived beauty. Your partner becomes the world to you and you don’t see anyone else – no friends, colleagues, parents, etc., Just TWO of “YOU”.

You know you are infatuated and at the same time may know that the person is bad for you but don’t want to accept the truth. You should accept that you are infatuated when you are moving towards marriage but find yourself thinking about someone you have dated in the past, or looking at others you might date in the future. Be honest, you know at some level that you are wasting your time enjoying being infatuated with someone whom you wouldn’t want to marry.

At the same time also think, you may be infatuated but the other person may be truly in love with you. What you get is short-term pleasure and your partner may end up being heart-broken and depressed for lifetime. And, you really can’t compensate the pain and distress you caused to your partner, whom you once thought that you loved but infact that was just an infatuation. Would you really let this happen if you were truly in love with your partner? No. But when its infatuation it’s easy to move-on for the person breaking-up.

I am not saying that infatuation is worthless thing and has no magic of its own. I am aware of cases where the initial infatuation did end up in love and lifelong marriages. So, are all initial strong feelings untrustworthy?  NO, Strong feelings alone do not make a good match make, but strong feelings plus good sense can enable couples to make a marriage choice early on, that leads to a relationship that proves to be long-lasting and ever-loving.

UT Arlington Commencement Week with Kal Penn – 2013 – YouTube

11 May


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