from the world's big
Wealth inequality is literally killing us. The economy should work for everyone.
This economy has us in survival mode, stressing out our bodies and minds.
ALISSA QUART: So, for some of the people I interviewed in 'Squeezed', when they were going through economic hardship they'd get sick physically, they would be psychologically troubled, they'd have to go on anti-anxiety medications—sometimes they wouldn't even have healthcare so that would be an added expense, and some of the subjects might experience something called 'decision fatigue' where they'd be unable to make decisions or choices in their lives—basic choices—because they've been so overwhelmed by the feeling of economic uncertainty. They were thinking constantly "How do I survive?" rather than "How do I lead a better life?" or "How do I get my kid on the best course?" And so that's commonplace, just that overwhelmed aspect when you don't have resources. That's all you're thinking about.
One of the challenges for people seeking employment in a gig economy is that they're disposable; they can always be replaced by somebody else, they may not have relationships with another human being at Uber or at Lyft, whatever. Supposedly it's this idea of independence, but it's often in fact this kind of free-floating quality where they're not clearly connected to a boss or colleagues. And I think that can be really dangerous, because then these peoples' experiences are not humanized to the people who are hiring them, they're just cogs in wheels, and we should really start thinking about that because I think it can be really debilitating. I talk about teachers who drive Uber in a chapter, and I think for many of them they were recruited by the company. They had a motto four or five years ago: "Uber—teachers driving our future." So teachers and nurses were attractive to Uber simply as middle class icons, but they weren't attractive enough to the people in their community who they were teaching or the politicians in their community to give them a wage so they wouldn't have to drive Uber on the side. So to me that's one of the dangers of the gig economy too, that the formally middle class can be used just as a symbol and a kind of respectability that they can be offering these companies while they're kind of riffling through these once-stable professions for solid people that they can exploit.
Many of the people I wrote about are not in organizations or even in corporations or contingent, which means that they work part time, on contracts, they work gigs, which is now a huge amount of the population, or they work too-few hours to be counted as employees. So I'm not sure it becomes an organizational thing most of the time, but in terms of what we're doing at Economic Hardship Reporting Project we're trying to pay journalists who have fallen on hard times a dollar a word plus expenses. And that's just like one small way to keep them afloat. We have people writing for us who were living without heat, on food stamps, on government medical care, they were really struggling, and this is one thing that I've noticed has been interesting lately—I call them sort of white collar alt-labor, this is like white collar unions, almost, for journalists, for other employees in the past who're not necessarily unionized freelance journalists. And what we're doing is part of that, but there's all sorts of other things cropping up. There are collectives for caregivers that I've written about, so they're sort of working together, they're owning the apps where they rent out—where they try to get customers for housecleaning or nannying. And so I think, what can organizations do? Organizations can try to empower their poor workers by giving them resources, both economic and from the companies themselves—for instance, like an app that they themselves would own a part of rather than just simply the company owning the app and the worker just this teeny piece of teeny "task rabbit", they would instead be a part of the app.
Cooperatives is another way I think that we can start to think about that, especially web-based cooperatives. That's becoming really important given the concentration of wealth where we have a teeny number of people owning these companies and just hundreds of thousands of people working for them driving Uber, cleaning houses, et cetera. We can start talking about people owning a share of the digital economy and the gig work that they're doing.
- Economic hardship is linked to physical and psychological illness, resulting in added healthcare expenses people can't afford.
- The gig economy – think Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Handy – is marketed as a 'be your own boss' revolution, but it can be dehumanizing and dangerous; every worker is disposable.
- The cooperative business model can help reverse wealth inequality.
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Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>