We should prepare, not because we may feel personally at risk, but so that we can help lessen the risk for everyone. We should prepare not because we are facing a doomsday scenario out of our control, but because we can alter every aspect of this risk we face as a society.
That’s right, you should prepare because your neighbors need you to prepare—especially your elderly neighbors, your neighbors who work at hospitals, your neighbors with chronic illnesses, and your neighbors who may not have the means or the time to prepare because of lack of resources or time.
Prepper and survivalist subcultures are often associated with doomsday scenarios and extreme steps: people stocking and hoarding supplies, building bunkers and preparing to go off the grid so that they may survive some untold catastrophe, brandishish weapons to guard their compound while their less prepared neighbors perish. All this appears both extreme and selfish, and, to be honest, a little nutty—just check the title of the TV series devoted to the subculture: Doomsday Preppers, implying, well, a doomsday and the few prepared individuals surviving in a war-of-all-against-all world.
It also feels like a scam: there is no shortage of snake oil sellers who hope stoking such fears will make people buy more supplies: years’ worth of ready-to-eat meals, bunker materials and a lot more stuff in various shades of camo. (The more camo the more doomsday feels, I guess!)
The reality is that there is little point “preparing“ for the most catastrophic scenarios some of these people envision. As a species, we live and die by our social world and our extensive infrastructure—and there is no predicting what anybody needs in the face of total catastrophe.
In contrast, the real crisis scenarios we’re likely to encounter require cooperation and, crucially, “flattening the curve” of the crisis exactly so the more vulnerable can fare better, so that our infrastructure will be less stressed at any one time.
Nine in 10 Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in their personal life, a new high in Gallup’s four-decade trend. The latest figure bests the previous high of 88% recorded in 2003. Gallup reports:
These results are from Gallup’s Mood of the Nation poll, conducted Jan. 2-15, which also recorded a 20-year high in Americans’ confidence in the U.S. economy. The percentage of Americans who report being satisfied with their personal life is similar to the 86% who said in December that they were very or fairly happy — though the happiness figure, while high, is on the low end of what Gallup has measured historically for that question.
Despite some variation, solid majorities of Americans have reported being satisfied with their personal life over the past few decades, with an average of 83% satisfied since 1979. The historical low of 73% was recorded in July 1979, as the effects of that year’s oil crisis took a toll on U.S. motorists. During that poll’s fielding dates, then-President Jimmy Carter delivered his “malaise speech,” which was interpreted by some as placing blame on Americans themselves for the rough economic spot the country was in.
A 2019 survey on 10 aspects of Americans’ lives found that they are most satisfied with their family life, their education and the way they spend their leisure time — and least satisfied with the amount of leisure time they have, their household income and their job.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said it was the first quarantine order issued by the federal government in over 50 years. Marty Cetron, director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, said the last time a quarantine was used was in the 1960s for smallpox.
U.S. citizens who have been in China’s Hubei province during the past 14 days and are returning to the U.S. States will undergo health screenings and be monitored during mandatory quarantines of up to 14 days, officials said.
Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, also announced a temporary suspension of entry into the United States of foreign nationals who pose a risk for the transmission of the coronavirus.
According to research led by agricultural economics professor Edward Jaenicke of Penn State University, the average American household wastes nearly a third of its food. The value of that waste is estimated at $240 billion annually. When divided among the 128.6 million American households, that’s an average of $1,866 being wasted per household on a yearly basis. Study Finds reports:
Jaenicke says all that wasted food has far-reaching consequences, and negatively impacts overall American health, food marketing, climate change, and food security.
“Our findings are consistent with previous studies, which have shown that 30% to 40% of the total food supply in the United States goes uneaten — and that means that resources used to produce the uneaten food, including land, energy, water and labor, are wasted as well,” Jaenicke says in a university release. “But this study is the first to identify and analyze the level of food waste for individual households, which has been nearly impossible to estimate because comprehensive, current data on uneaten food at the household level do not exist.”
Many of us would be in trouble if we had to foot the bill for an unplanned expense. Bankrate’s January Financial Security Index survey reveals that just four in 10 U.S. adults (41 percent) would cover the cost of a $1,000 car repair or emergency room visit using savings. Bankrate reports:
The findings echo what previous Bankrate studies and others — including the Federal Reserve and the Pew Charitable Trusts — have found about Americans’ lack of rainy-day savings.
The higher your household income, the more likely you would be to use savings to pay for unanticipated costs. That’s true for nearly six in 10 (59 percent) households earning $75,000 or more annually.
Men (45 percent) were more likely than women (38 percent) to say they would draw from savings when faced with the unexpected. And when their backs are against the wall, just 36 percent of younger millennials would turn to emergency funds to pay $1,000 (compared with 41 to 44 percent of older folks who would say the same).
The world’s richest 2,153 people controlled more money than the poorest 4.6 billion combined in 2019, while unpaid or underpaid work by women and girls adds three times more to the global economy each year than the technology industry, Oxfam said on Monday. Reuters reports:
The Nairobi-headquartered charity said in a report released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, that women around the world work 12.5 billion hours combined each day without pay or recognition.
In its “Time to Care” report, Oxfam said it estimated that unpaid care work by women added at least $10.8 trillion a year in value to the world economy – three times more than the tech industry.
Rapid growth in Vietnam and its Southeast Asian neighbors has created a situation that would have been unthinkable in the past: Aging American boomers are living a lifestyle reminiscent of Florida, Nevada and Arizona, but in Vietnam. Monthly expenses here rarely exceed $2,000. Los Angeles Times reports:
Vietnam has relaxed visa rules to lure American retirees like Rockhold, along with their savings. Geopolitics are a factor; Vietnam has seen spillover benefits from the economic boom in China but also has an ambivalent relationship with its far larger and more powerful neighbor, with which it fought a brief war in 1979. Expatriates tend to consider Vietnam more hospitable than China; Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, retains a cosmopolitan character.
The government won’t say precisely how many American retirees live in Vietnam. Interviews with about a dozen such retirees suggest that some are here on one-year tourist visas; others are here just for a season or two; and still others have qualified for long residence by marrying Vietnamese citizens, as Rockhold did.
The joggers and runners of the world certainly have reason to smile, according to a new international study. Researchers from Australia, Austria, Finland, and Thailand performed a comprehensive analysis on available evidence, and concluded that any amount of running significantly lowers one’s risk of death from any cause. Study Finds reports:
All in all, 14 studies were included, encompassing 232,149 people who had had their health tracked for periods of time between 5.5 and 35 years. Within that long time frame, 25,951 of the included study participants passed away.
Upon pooling and analyzing all of that data, researchers determined that any amount of running was associated with a 27% lower risk of death from all causes, in comparison to participants who reported never running. This held true among both genders. Any amount of running was also associated with a 30% lower chance of dying due to cardiovascular disease, and a 23% lower risk of cancer-related death.
Even “small” doses of running, defined as going out for a jog just once every one to two weeks for less than 50 minutes, at a slow average speed of less than 6 miles per hour, were still found to induce significant health and longevity perks. In summation, the research team say their findings point to some light running as a great fitness option for people who may not have enough time most days to get in a full workout.
Schroeder had saved up a fortune over the years. He had no living descendants, so before he died, he went to his lawyer with a plan for his money.
“He said, ‘I never got the opportunity to go to college. So, I’d like to help kids go to college,'” Nielsen said. Not only did Schroeder have enough money to send a few kids to college, he had enough saved to send dozens.
“Finally, I was curious and I said, ‘How much are we talking about, Dale?’ And he said, ‘Oh, just shy of $3 million.’ I nearly fell out of my chair,” Nielsen remembered.
Schroeder’s friend was shocked by his secret fortune. So were the strangers who received pieces of it.
Overspending, however, is too easy. In fact, about 48 million Americans are still paying off credit card debt from last holiday season, according to a NerdWallet survey conducted by The Harris Poll. USA Today shows how to avoid financial regrets in 2020 by shop intentionally. Here’s how:
Understand why overspending is easy: Pressures and emotions run high. Ideally, your holidays are full of joy. But they may be loaded in other ways, like the pressure to buy everyone presents …
Learn to shop intentionally: Acknowledge emotions and triggers. Recognize feelings, like sadness, and that they may lead to overspending. Plan to cope in another way, like calling a friend …
Everyone knows that having friends boosts well-being. In fact previous research has even suggested that having numerous friends reduces the risk of medical conditions like heart disease. However, a new study finds that not all friendships are created equal. Researchers from the University of Leeds conclude that well-being is more closely related to how people feel about their friends than their overall number of friends. Study Finds reports:
According to the survey results, older adults had fewer friends on average than younger adults, but the number of acquaintances participants called “close friends” wasn’t related to age. Younger adults did, however, report more general acquaintances because of social media networking sites. These sites, like Facebook, facilitate larger and more impersonal friend groups, the researchers theorize.
Only the reported number of close friendships was found to be significantly associated with social satisfaction and well-being. This finding even stayed consistent after accounting for the number of family members, neighbors, or acquaintances each participant reported.
It’s called the online installment loan, a form of debt with much longer maturities but often the same sort of crippling, triple-digit interest rates. Bloomberg reports:
If the payday loan’s target audience is the nation’s poor, then the installment loan is geared to all those working-class Americans who have seen their wages stagnate and unpaid bills pile up in the years since the Great Recession.
In just a span of five years, online installment loans have gone from being a relatively niche offering to a red-hot industry. Non-prime borrowers now collectively owe about $50 billion on installment products, according to credit reporting firm TransUnion. In the process, they’re helping transform the way that a large swathe of the country accesses debt. And they have done so without attracting the kind of public and regulatory backlash that hounded the payday loan.
“Installment loans are a cash cow for creditors, but a devastating cost to borrowers,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel for the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group.
For many families struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages, it’s a cost they’re increasingly willing to bear.
Apple Pay has overtaken the Starbucks mobile app to become the most popular mobile payment system in the United States, claims a new report out today. MacRumors reports:
According to eMarketer, Apple Pay became the market leader last year, when 27.7 million Americans used the app to make a purchase. Since then, however, Apple Pay has grown even faster than expected.
In 2019, Apple Pay will have 30.3 million users, or 47.3 percent of mobile payment users. That compares with Starbucks’ 25.2 million customers via its mobile app in the same year, representing 39.4 percent of mobile payment users.
“Apple Pay has benefited from the spread of new point-of-sale (POS) systems that work with the NFC signals Apple Pay runs on,” said eMarketer principal analyst Yory Wurmser. “The same trend should also help Google Pay and Samsung Pay, but they will continue to split the Android market.”
Four recent studies reveal that wealth inequality among boomers specifically has been growing, turning this massive generation into one of haves and have nots. The nonpartisan reports, which analyzed boomers’ retirement security, financial assets and housing status, come from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); the National Institute on Retirement Security think tank; the St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability and the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.
Wealth disparities continue as we age. The GAO reviewed the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances data for households with people 55 or older and said that although disparities in income decreased as older Americans aged from their 50s into their 70s, “disparities in wealth persisted.” The continued wealth disparities among older Americans, the GAO noted, “may be due to significant differences in the median value of retirement accounts and home equity between higher- and lower-earning households.”
This finding echoes what the St. Louis Fed determined looking at wealth inequality overall in America. It determined that “wealth inequality has grown tremendously from 1989 to 2016, to the point where the top 10% of families ranked by household wealth own 77% of the wealth ‘pie.’ The bottom half of families ranked by household wealth own only 1% of the pie.”
There’s fresh evidence that eating a healthy diet, one that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and limits highly processed foods, can help reduce symptoms of depression. NPR reports:
A randomized controlled trial published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that symptoms of depression dropped significantly among a group of young adults after they followed a Mediterranean-style pattern of eating for three weeks. Participants saw their depression “score” fall from the “moderate” range down to the “normal” range, and they reported lower levels of anxiety and stress too.
Alternatively, the depression scores among the control group of participants — who didn’t change their diets — didn’t budge. These participants continued to eat a diet higher in refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugary foods and beverages. Their depression scores remained in the “moderate severity” range…
In this study, participants in the “healthy eating” arm of the study ate about six more servings of fruits and vegetables per week, compared with the control group. Participants “who had a greater increase in fruit and vegetable intake showed the greatest improvement in depression symptoms,” Francis said.
Participants were also instructed to increase consumption of whole grains to a recommended three servings per day, as well as three servings per day of protein from lean meats, poultry, eggs, tofu and beans. In addition, they were told to get three servings of fish per week. As for dairy, the recommendation was three servings per day, unsweetened. Participants were also instructed to consume three tablespoons of nuts and seeds per day, as well as two tablespoons of olive oil per day, and were advised to add in spices, including turmeric and cinnamon.