I just saw some new research work on the relation of poverty and health, but I won’t relate that here, now. Just assume for the moment that the connection is crystal clear. It would seem to follow, then, that if we (i.e. the USA) were serious, as we claim to be, about affecting health outcomes, we’d be a helluva lot more serious about addressing poverty than we appear to be – especially given that poverty has been on the rise for decades, and continues to climb.
Sadly, many of the same policymakers who stay in a constant lather over trying to roll back Obamacare (that would be a large number of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives) seem either oblivious to the long-term corrosive impacts of poverty, or, worse, intent on eroding the few social supports – food stamps, unemployment insurance, health care access – that mitigate those impacts.
Is “compassionate conservatism” so absolutely and completely dead – perhaps a relic of a time when politicians at least occasionally rose to the call of statesmanship and made efforts to solve problems of substance for the general welfare of the people?
If so, why? Can anyone in Washington really, with a straight face, embrace the tired canard that poverty is caused by “too much welfare” for “people who don’t want to work”? What’s next? Poor people seeking health care “really don’t want to be well”?
I just read that Mick Jagger turned 70 yesterday. (Keith Richards hits the big 7-0 in a few months.) If Jagger has lost a step, it’s not evident. The Rolling Stones are still touring, still recording. The group celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with four mega-concerts featuring, without doubt, Jagger bounding about on stage like a teenager. This from a guy who once said he’d be dead before he’d sing “Satisfaction” at age 45.
Jagger’s got plenty of company. Paul McCartney is 71, as is Paul Simon and Carole King. Bob Dylan is 70. Irma Thomas (“soul queen of New Orleans”) is 72. At a mere 63, Bruce Springsteen is a veritable youngster.
The evidence is in – Want to stay young? Keep the music playing!
President Obama – certainly with good reason for feeling frustrated these days – seems to want to take that frustration out on higher education. In today’s speech on the economy, the president assailed higher ed for pushing students and families ever deeper into debt, and promised to aggressively “shake up” an “undisciplined system where costs just keep going up and up and up.”
But one doubts here that Obama is taking care to distinguish between “cost” and “price.” A close look at public universities, especially in poor states like Mississippi, might reveal that the actual cost to educate students has in fact, when adjusted for inflation, gone up very little, while the price to students has indeed jumped dramatically. But why? Not because public universities have been wasteful, become more inefficient, bloated their administrative ranks, etc. etc., but because legislatures, exhibiting a market-based consumerist, shrink-government-spending perspective, have steadily “disinvested” in higher education. With fewer state dollars coming to public universities like Southern Miss, the student tuition burden (and hence the debt burden) has steadily risen.
Yes, there has to be accountability and transparency. But don’t put it all on higher education, Mr. President. Be generous; spread it around to all the responsible parties.
With last week’s surprise notification that a much-anticipated new School of Human Performance and Recreation director (a bright, untarnished new penny from abroad) will not be joining the unit after all, the School suddenly faces a major challenge of leadership. Already into the new fiscal year with a new academic year fast approaching, the choice itself seems simple enough – either draw once more an interim director from the faculty, or manage the unit – the largest and most diverse in the CoH – through the dean’s office, with I myself as de facto director.
There are definite shortcomings of either approach. Absolutely clear, however, is that we cannot stand still, or worse, fall backward from the gains of the recent past. There’s far too much at stake, for HP&R, for the college, and for the university. Whoever leads must succeed in simultaneously uniting and pushing past current ‘comfort zones.’ Ideas and suggestions are still flowing in from faculty and staff this week. But decision and movement must come quickly.
Our own Dr. Grant Harley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Geology, is participating in research on an underwater Gulf Coast forest that may date back around 80,000 years and could yield important clues about the region’s climate and habitat.
Dr. Harley’s expertise includes dendochronology (the study of tree rings). He is studying samples from what appears to be a bald cypress forest that previously existed in a swamp above water, growing during the Wisconsin Glacial Period.
Read more here: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-geographer-studying-ancient-underwater-bald-cypress-forest
See WDAM’s video on Dr. Harley’s research here: WDAM Video.