Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Public Life Advocate: The Tracker (May 2006)

* Corporatization refers to the homogenization resulting from large private interests (corporations) consuming and/or replacing smaller private and public interests (small businesses and governmental functions).

* Corporations have marketed themselves and their interests robustly over time. The total number of registered clients lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in 2000 was just over 14,000. In 2004 the number was over 20,000.

* In 1998, the total lobbying expenditure at the federal level was $1.43 billion. In 2004, the total was $2.16 billion.

* In 1990, General Dynamics (a major defense contractor) made nearly $400,000 in federal campaign contributions (59% to Democrats, 41% to Republicans). In 2004 the total was nearly $1.5 million (43% to Democrats, 57% to Republicans).

* The largest commercial bank in the United States, Citigroup, maintains connections through its board of directors with 25 corporations. The 153 boards of directors representing these corporations also serve with an additional 214 corporations.

* Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc, the top U.S. lobbying firm from 1998-2004, has represented over 250 states, companies, and organizations ranging from the Commonwealth of Kentucky to Wheelchairs for the World Foundation.

* From Kentucky, Brown & Williamson Tobacco spent the most money, over $35 million, in federal lobbying between 1998-2004. The eighth largest federal lobbying effort from Kentucky during the same period was from Western Kentucky University, with just under $1 million.

* In the 2003-2004 election cycle, Owensboro ($405,000) ranked fourth behind Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky in Kentucky metropolitan area donations to federal candidates, political action committees, and political parties.

* More than half of the 170 psychiatric experts who contributed to latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) has financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies that make the medications to treat the illnesses the DSM defines.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Public Life Advocate: The Tracker (March 2006)

* “Quality of Life, Well-Being, and Livability” is generally measured by social indicators such as health, economic indices, and subjective experiences.

* The Centers for Disease and Control measures quality of life relative to general physical health, general mental well-being, and activity limitation.

* Quality-adjusted life years, or QALYs, is a measure of the benefit of a medical intervention based on the number of years of life that would be added by the intervention.

* There are over 25 reputable resources measuring the quality of life for children, and 25 separate tools to measure quality of life during terminal and palliative care.

* It is generally accepted that measuring quality of life associated with gender equality, family life, job security, political freedom, social capital, and community life varies according to survey definitions and design.

* The Vanderford-Riley Well-Being Schedule examines per capita full time equivalent hours worked per week, the value of equity in property per person, the ratio of property owners to non-owners, and ratio of self-employment to total employment.

* A country’s well-being is often examined using the Gross National Product (GNP). GNP is the total value of final goods and services produced in a year by a country's nationals (including profits from capital held abroad).

* A country’s well-being is often examined using Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is defined as the total value of final goods and services produced within a country's borders in a year, regardless of ownership.

* The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) examines well-being as a country’s economic growth in relation to the improvement of the welfare of the people of that country.

* The Gross National Happiness (GNH) index measures quality of life based on whether material and spiritual development of a society occurs simultaneously.

* The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of well-being examining poverty, literacy, education, life expectancy, childbirth, and other worldwide factors.

* The Economist measures quality of life according to nine indices: material well-being, health, political stability and security, family life, community life, climate and geography, job security, political freedom, and gender equality. In 2005 the U.S. ranked 13th behind 9 European countries.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Public Life Advocate: The Tracker, Jan. 2006

* Social connectedness is a much stronger predictor of the perceived quality of life in a community than the community's income or educational level.

* Youth volunteering is up since 1995, but the gap in volunteering between children with a college-graduate mother and children with a high-school dropout mother increased by almost 50 percent since 1976.

* 82% of high school seniors volunteered in 2004, a 14% jump from 1986.

* In 2005, 42% of those volunteering became involved because they were asked by someone in the organization.

* Persons age 35 to 44 are most likely to volunteer (35%), closely followed by 45 to 54 year-olds (33%).

* Married persons volunteer at a higher rate (34%) than never-married persons (23%) and persons of other marital statuses (23%).

* Parents with children under age 18 are more likely to volunteer than persons without children of that age, 37% compared with 26%.

* Among volunteers with children under 18 years old, 45% of mothers and 36% of fathers volunteered mainly for an educational/youth service-related organization, such as a school or sports team.

* Employed persons are more likely to volunteer than the unemployed. Part-time workers participate in volunteer activities at a higher rate than full-time workers.

* In 2005, 45% of volunteers age 65 and over performed volunteer activities mainly through or for a religious organization, compared with 28% of volunteers age 16 to 24.

* Among volunteers in 2005, people with higher levels of educational attainment were more likely to provide professional or management assistance, tutor or teach, mentor youth, coach, referee, or supervise sports teams, or provide counseling, medical care, fire/EMS, or protective services. They were less likely to collect, prepare, distribute, or serve food, or be an usher, greeter, or minister.

* Participation in clubs and civic organizations has been cut by more than half over last 25 years.

* Joining one group cuts your odds of dying over the next year in half. Joining two groups cuts it by three quarters.