Obama to Sign Sweeping Student Loan Reform Today

Lost among the overheated rhetoric of the recently concluded healthcare debate was the following piece of legislation of significant import to students everywhere.  Tonight, the President will sign the legislation that effectively removes Wall Street banks from their position as middleman on all student loans.  The largest rewrite of federal college assistance programs in four decades, the legislation makes the federal government the originator of these loans.  Before the anti-big goverment people get all scared about “takeovers” consider the following after the jump.  Continue reading…

10 Immediate Effects of Health Reform Bill Passed Last Night

The following was posted by Congressman John B. Larson, Democrat from Connecticut after last night’s historic passage of health insurance reform. As soon as health care passes, the American people will see immediate benefits. The legislation will:
  • Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
  • Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
  • Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
  • Lower seniors’ prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;
  • Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
  • Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;
  • Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
  • Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
  • Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
  • Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.
By enacting these provisions right away, and others over time, we will be able to lower costs for everyone and give all Americans and small businesses more control over their health care choices. If you are interested in joining the health care industry or learning more about the medical assistant profession, check out the Allen School of Health Sciences. Are you satisfied or mortified by the bill’s passage?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

US Food Producers Getting Healthier

Several days ago, Pepsico announced that it has agreed to cease sales of high-sugar beverages in soda machines inside schools across the US.  The soft drink giant could no longer turn a blind eye to the direct correlation between its super sugary drinks and the epidemic of childhood obesity.  While I am sure that they were not super enthusiastic about losing this significant (but not critical) piece of their market, I imagine they felt the negative publicity surrounding soda in schools and childhood obesity was more damaging to their bottom line than agreeing to stop promoting the fattening of our children.  Following the Pepsico announcement, Kraft Foods announced that they would be cutting back the levels of salt used in the manufacture of many of their food products for sale in the US.  A nod to the growing numbers of health conscious Americans, Kraft has agreed to be more responsible in the production of foods consumed by millions.   They plan to eliminate 10 million pounds of salt from 1000 products over the next two years.  That’s alot of salt!  I feel like I need a Pepsi to quench my thirst. LOL

In Case You Were Worried…

Have you ever had to defend your choice of online education to less than supportive family or friends?  Clearly, the Internet has upended many existing paradigms such as how we shop, socialize and study.  And while no one is suggesting that online studies are out of the mainstream, there is a certain newness to the practice of learning via the “tubes” that can raise the eyebrows of those more enamored of the orthodoxy of brick and mortar institutions of higher learning.  If you find yourself having to defend what is clearly a very savvy choice on your part, the following photo slide show can provide you with some truly unorthodox educational choices you can offer to provide some perspective to your debate opponent.  Follow me over the jump to learn more about such schools as Hamburger University and Clown College. Continue reading…

Banksters Feeling Pain from “Move Your Money” Campaign

Back in January, the Allen School Online Blog featured a post called, “Move Your Money – Beat the Greedy Banksters”.  In that post, I outlined options for people disgusted with their treatment by big Wall Street banks who survived the economic collapse thanks to taxpayer bailouts only to jack up credit card interest and withhold loans for school and small business.  In essence, I advocated for others to do as I and many others had; “voting with our feet” by closing accounts held with Citi, Chase, BofA and other biggies and reopening them with local community banks and credit unions.  At the time, many doubted this small action would have any significant impact on the “too big to fail” crew on Wall Street.  Follow me past the jump to see just how successful this idea has been. Continue reading…

Taxing Soda and Pizza to Combat Obesity?

This courtesy of Reuters today:

“CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. researchers estimate that an 18 percent tax on pizza and soda can push down U.S. adults’ calorie intake enough to lower their average weight by 5 pounds (2 kg) per year. The researchers, writing in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday, suggested taxing could be used as a weapon in the fight against obesity, which costs the United States an estimated $147 billion a year in health costs.”
We had written about this proposal once before here at the Allen School Online blog, when the proposed tax was put forth in New York State.  Now it seems the idea has taken hold nationwide.  I can sort of see the value in taxing sodas, which contain ungodly quantities of sugar in a single serving.  I might suggest taxing all items that contain high fructose corn syrup (but that will never fly because our government pays huge subsidies to corn farmers to produce this deadly sugar.)  Furthermore, soda is sold by all restaurants and groceries so a tax on soda would at least be equitably distributed across all foodservice and sales businesses.  However, I draw the line of fairness at singling out pizza for additional taxation.  What, do obese people not overeat fried chicken?  Chinese food buffet?  Ice cream sundaes? Why discriminate against pizzeria owners for this new tax?  Eating pizza specifically is not the only driver of obesity. I could live with a soda tax,but to start singling out individual foods for additional taxation is a very bad idea.  What do you think?

Springing Ahead – Winter Draws Near Close

I know not all of our readers are located as I am in the Northeast.  However, if the news reports have been even partly accurate, this Winter season has been one of the more brutal ones in recent memory.  Snow totals in the Northeast have been on the high side of the spectrum and my relatives in Southern California have been getting more rain there than they see in five years combined.  So it is with great anticipation that I await the 14th of March.  This coming Sunday, March 14th, at midnight, we all set our clocks one hour ahead.  While we lose one hour of sleep in the transaction, we gain one more glorious hour of evening sunlight to use outside, after close of business hours.  That’s one more hour to spend walking, studying, reading or washing the car.  Of course, it is still probably too cold in many parts of the country to spend much of this extra daylight time out of doors.  But rejoice!  For the last day of Winter is not far behind this Sunday’s “Spring Ahead”.  The Vernal Equinox happens on March 21.  This marks the first day of Spring and not a moment too soon.  I dreamed last night that we were taking to cover off the swimming pool.  Can you tell I am ready for swimming and barbecues?  How about you?

Best Affordable Suburbs in the US

Finishing studies and embarking on a new career is often accompanied by a move to a new city where one hopes to find good availability of jobs in the field they’ve chosen.  However, beyond the availability of work, there are many other considerations to be made about where to live.  In year’s past, many of the “Best Places to Live” lists published by numerous magazines were focused on such things as access to luxury amenities; golf courses, nice restaurants, etc.  Today, the calcuations are much more focused upon things like affordability and quality of life issues like schools and crime rates.  This is why the recent “Best Affordable Suburbs in America 2010” article published in Business Week caught my eye.  Follow past the jump to read the article. Continue reading…

Dems Prepare to Pass Healthcare Reform

After the President’s televised, bi-partisan forum on healthcare reform, it still seems as if little has changed in terms of bipartisan support of reform efforts.  Republicans still hew to their position that Democrats in the majority ought to start  over from scratch after 60 years of debate and the last year of contentious debate on the Hill.  This is a ridiculous assertion given the decades of debate that have been dedicated to this single, very important issue.  It seems that the President held the forum specifically to give the minority Republicans the opportunity to take part in serious compromise discussions, offering to include tort reform – long a Republican issue – in the package.  What has become clear is that the Republican party (and to some degree democrats in the Senate as well) are under the thumbs of a powerful insurance lobby that doesn’t want anything to stand between them and the record profits they’ve been reaping by boosting premiums and cutting service.  So it looks like the Dems are finally preparing to go it alone.  Kudos to Obama for trying to seriously engage the minority in the planning.  To their credit, the Republicans have done an excellent job spreading disinformation about the bill.  However, when polled piece by piece, a plurality of Americans like and support the bill.  What are your views?  Do you think the President is doing the right thing?  Sound off in the comments. (Posted by remote from family vacation in Miami.  Limited internet access precludes images.)  Full scale blogging to resume Wednesday March 3rd.

Speaking 1,000 Words Without Opening One’s Mouth…the remarkable aspect of nonverbal communication.

In Argentina, the “thumbs up” and “okay” gestures we use regularly in America are considered to be really vulgar. In Cambodia, it is bad manners to meet the eyes of someone who is older than you. In Turkey, people routinely stare – at foreigners and at each other! In China, winking is considered to be highly offensive. In India, it is expected that one will allow an arm’s length of distance from another in conversation, to provide personal space. Similarly, in Britain. In Mexico, however, people who converse stand very close to one another as do people in Russia and backing away appears rude. In Thailand, a nod doesn’t  mean “yes,” but is merely a sign of respect. In Japan, one must point with the entire hand, as pointing with the index finger is rude. One of the most sought after transferable skills (a skill that can be taken from one job to another) for those who work in the medical industry, is the ability to perceive nonverbal messages. It is through nonverbal messages that people communicate their real feelings and their intentions become evident.  Continue reading…