Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Get Fit or Else
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Get Fit or Else

Rick Coates - January 5th, 2006
The top three New Year’s resolutions among Americans are to lose weight, stop smoking and start an exercise program. And employers are jumping on the resolution bandwagon and actually offering incentives to employees who keep their New Year’s resolutions.
Faced with rising health care costs and a loss of productivity many employers are offering end of the year bonuses to employees who accomplish healthy lifestyle goals. Several employers are now providing health club memberships (some companies have in-house workout facilities with on-staff personal trainers) and even pay for stop smoking classes as part of an employee’s benefits package. To sweeten the year-end bonus some companies are now paying for tropical island trips or awarding cash for employees who lose weight or stop smoking.
Now, before those of you who smoke or carry around a few extra pounds take offense consider these alarming statistics:
According to the Centers for Disease Control in 2005 obese employees cost U.S. companies $67 billion in lost productivity. Studies show that smokers use health care, in particular hospitals, 50% more than nonsmokers and smokers average 50% more absences than nonsmokers. Smokers also use 30 minutes more of break time than nonsmokers during the workday and a smoker is 70 percent more likely to die during their working years than a nonsmoker.

Since weight is considered personal and a sensitive issue employers must tread carefully when creating healthy lifestyle incentives for their employees. But an improved bottom line resulting in encouraging employees to lose weight, get in shape and quit smoking has many companies looking past the sensitivity of these issues.
Experts say that peer pressure is the most successful method in staying with an exercise program, losing weight and “kicking the habit.”
“When employers create a positive program in the workplace, where employees serve as encouragers to one another, the success is much greater,” said Sarah McDonald, with the Society for Human Resource Management. “The benefits are twofold. Employees who are fit and healthy are more productive; more alert, miss less work and usually have better attitudes. Everyone wins and what person doesn’t want to be healthier?”
The National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation conducted a 10-year study on obesity in the United States and released a 56-page report in May of 2005. The U.S. took the gold medal for that nation with highest rate of obesity among its citizenry. Approximately 119 million Americans, or 64.5 percent, of adult Americans are either overweight or obese.
Michigan has the sixth highest rate of adult obesity among states, with over 25% of Michiganders packing an unhealthy amount of poundage. The study also found that 62% of all Michigan residents are overweight.

Health experts see a direct correlation between obesity and visits to doctor offices, which means higher health care costs for employers as well as missed work resulting in lost productivity. According to medical research a large percentage (some studies show that number at 70%) of visits to the doctor are often preventable by lifestyle changes.
“Obesity is a gateway to heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases,” said Parris N. Glendening, former two-term Governor of Maryland, and president of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute.” There is much more that can be done to help people make healthy choices about nutrition and exercise. More opportunities to participate in physical activity are needed and communities and businesses need to look at this when designing a smart growth plan.”
The biggest battle in the obesity crises in the country stems from the personal nature of the issue. The freedom of individual choice versus the government or for that matter an employer dictating food consumption and other personal choices such as smoking and alcohol consumption is what is at debate here. Does my employer have the right to encourage me to lose weight, quit smoking and start exercising?
The answer will inevitably be found in the bottom line of the corporate pocket- book as well as the employees. Health care insurance experts predict in 2006 companies will see their health care expense increase as much as 30% and if current trends continue those increases will be passed onto employees. So many companies see developing healthy lifestyle incentives as mutually beneficial.

Like with anything new there are downsides, the risk of lawsuits as well as potentially rewarding unhealthy behavior such as employees losing too much weight. Another consideration is where does the employee who works out daily and is already at a healthy weight fit into the incentive equation?
Despite these challenges human resource experts see companies regardless of their size exploring healthy lifestyle incentives in the future.
“Sometimes it is easier to develop a program at a smaller business, where the employees all know each other and often do things together outside the workplace,” said McDonald. “There are simple things that can be done, such as a walking lunch where employees use part of their lunch hour to take walks together. Other companies are developing an afternoon break where employees do yoga for 30 minutes.”
McDonald also encourages employees to initiate the conversation with their employers on developing an incentive program.
“When the boss or owner hears it from the staff that they want to do something as a group to improve productivity and morale, they are willing to at least listen,” said McDonald. “Even if your employer is not willing to develop a program that doesn’t prevent employees from getting together and doing something to improve their health. We are a helpful society, we love to help each other, so be brave and tell your fellow workers you need to lose weight, or want to quit smoking. You will be amazed at how quickly ideas will come and a how a group of employees will come together to encourage each other.
“I think that the medical community has made it very clear to us that poor nutrition, obesity, smoking and over consumption of alcohol are at the root of a majority of illnesses in this country,” McDonald added. “Work is an essential part of life and where most of us spend about one-third of our time at, so I think it makes sense that companies take a lead role encouraging their employees to become healthier.”

Here are a few tips to get on the healthy lifestyle track:

1) See a Doctor First: Healthcare professionals recommend that before anyone embarks in making major lifestyle changes they visit their doctor first. Have a complete medical physical and discuss with their doctor planned weight loss, dietary changes and plans to quit smoking.

2) Try Walking: All exercise experts recommend moving gradually into exercise programs and walking is the best way (one friend lost 35 pounds in one year by walking around the Traverse City Civic Center every day during his lunch hour).

3) Eliminate the “All You Can Eat” mindset: Stay away from the all-you-can-eat buffet. Overeating is common and easy to do. Fad diets often don’t work and research shows that often those who try, end up gaining more weight. If overeating is a challenge visit with a nutritionist and develop a program that works for you. For self starters a simple way is with portion control, start by cutting back on the size of your portions, so if you are having
16 ounces of beef and 10 ounces of mashed potatoes with your dinner, cut back by
4 ounces on each dish.

4) Help from Employers: For any business looking to help to develop a healthy lifestyle incentive program start with doing your homework. Toss the idea around with your employees and get their feedback. Read the latest study from CCA Strategies (an innovative consulting firm on the cutting edge of creative workplace initiatives) that details the pros and cons on developing such a program. The study may be found at their website: http://insight.ccastrategies.com/Insight/Documents/IncentivesArticle.aspx

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