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Beto: Living close to where you work should be a right for everyone

Westlake Legal Group b-4 Beto: Living close to where you work should be a right for everyone Work The Blog neighborhoods mixed human right campaign Beto O'Rourke

I think he’s reached the “Mad Libs” phase of his campaign. He’s at two to three percent in polling, his big anti-gun push after the El Paso shooting hasn’t done much for him except give him a few viral video moments, so he has nothing left to lose by indulging his most progressive instincts and hoping the base responds.

Six months ago he might have filled in the blank in “_______________ is a human right” with “education” or “health care.” Six months later, as he’s circling the drain, he needs to stand out from the pack. And so instead we get “living close-ish to your place of employment.” W-w-what?

What I’m calling the “Mad Libs” phase others are calling the “f*** it” phase of Betomania, with the candidate himself seemingly in agreement.

What’s interesting about O’Rourke at this moment is not just that he’s saying f*** a whole bunch—he’s always dropped curse words on the stump—but that he’s entered more broadly a new phase of his 2020 bid, which supporters find inspiring and critics consider desperate to the point of pathetic. Up close, though, it feels actually pretty compelling…

“He has no f***s to give,” added Jay Surdukowski, an attorney and activist who is one of O’Rourke’s most devoted backers in New Hampshire.

“This feels right to me,” O’Rourke said when I asked him about how he’s currently campaigning when he met with reporters by the stainless-steel beer tanks at Backlash. He said this was “the way politics should be.”…

Some see this as “glorified performance art,” “a caricature of authenticity,” but it’s working for Wright. “Beto’s not afraid to say things,” he said. “He’s not afraid to say it like it is. For those people that say, ‘Oh, Trump says it like it is,’ well, guess what, let’s go head to head.”

Should we ban sales of assault weapons? F*** it, says Beto, let’s confiscate the ones that are already on the streets. Are the people who voted for Trump in 2016, whose support Democrats are now seeking, actually deplorable racists? F*** it, says Beto. They sure are.

We’re maybe a week away from this guy endorsing open borders. Right, I know, he’s already sort of endorsed them. I mean overtly, though: “Migration to America is a human right.” He’s already torched his appeal to centrists in Texas, making it that much harder for him to run statewide again. He might as well go all-in in his new role as the progressive id. F*** it.

There are, of course, more reasonable ways to encourage mixed-income neighborhoods than declaring a human right to a shorter commute but “regulatory reform” doesn’t have the same zing on the stump. This is why so many people, lefties included, are skeptical of O’Rourke’s passionate “f*** it” mode: He’s fundamentally unserious. His proposals seem crafted with little regard for how they might be implemented or what unintended consequences they might create and with maximum regard for their applause quotient. The rap on him from the start among lefties was that he was long on charisma and short on policy chops compared to Bernie and Warren. Ironically, he’s proving their point in straining so hard to tell them what they want to hear.

I assume he has numbers to back up his claim here that the rich on average live closer to work than the working class does but it’s not intuitively true given the tendency of the upper class to cloister itself in neighborhoods that the proles can’t afford. If that means moving further away from the city and enduring a commute, that’s what it means.

The post Beto: Living close to where you work should be a right for everyone appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group b-4-300x159 Beto: Living close to where you work should be a right for everyone Work The Blog neighborhoods mixed human right campaign Beto O'Rourke   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ryan Bourne: In America, public spending conservatism is being lost. It could happen in Britain.

Ryan Bourne is Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

Austerity is over. Theresa May told us so after the 2017 election, and again at the Conservative Party Conference last year. Philip Hammond tried restraining her from a blitz of high-profile spending announcements. Yet Team Johnson has now picked up the baton anyway. Today’s spending review from Sajid Javid will reportedly confirm significant money injections for schools, hospitals and the police. The Prime Minister said Monday it will be “the most ambitious spending round for more than a decade.”

Restraining government spending was always said to be a temporary deficit repair tool, of course. Those “tough choices,” added to net tax hikes, have helped bring down the budget deficit to just 1.3 per cent of GDP, from a gargantuan 9.9 per cent in 2010. Once near-balance, a spending squeeze was never envisaged to continue year after year. Despite Nick Timothy’s fear of libertarians under the bed, no recent Conservative leader has been ideologically committed to shrink the size and scope of government. Absent “thinking the unthinkable,” one eventually must release the spending grip given voter demands for high-quality services.

And yet…the zeal with which the Tories have turned heel on their spending narrative is surprising. Whatever one’s view on the efficacy or composition of “cuts”, they were central to the party’s offer through 2016, including the 2015 election win. Balancing the books was said to be about unburdening the next generation from dumping more debt on top of the iceberg associated with an ageing population. Any intergenerational justice message has now gone the way of the Titanic.

For the Government is not promising gradual targeted spending increases in these areas – a natural uplift from a reset baseline after years of restraint. No, proposed hikes in education funding would virtually reverse any real schools’ spending cuts over the past decade. May’s extra money for the NHS is a big step-change too. The spending review is celebrated as the “biggest, most generous spending review since the height of Tony Blair’s New Labour,” no less – a far cry from denouncing that era’s profligacy. In one swoop, the Treasury has undercut its long-held opposition to raising borrowing and junked the idea that public service reform trumps showering public services with money.

Javid attempts to thread the needle by arguing that more spending is still consistent with keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on a shallow downward path. That maybe true. But a stated goal of policy was always to balance the books overall, even if George Osborne and David Cameron continually pushed back the deadline. A former Treasury fiscal policy director now says that borrowing will in fact start rising again, and soon be above two per cent of GDP. Manageable, yes – but a clear change in direction.

The public discourse effects of this reversal should worry fiscal conservatives. Cameron and Osborne’s consistent messaging helped entrench two crucial contours in discussions about government spending. First, that there was no free lunch (every Labour proposal for years was met with the question “how will you pay for it?”) Second, that what you did with the money (the organisation of public services) was as important as spending levels. After years of Tony Blair’s money throwing, the public were receptive to such apparently grown-up thinking. Now, both those claims-cum-restraints that ensnared Labour have been removed.

If large, real increases in education funding are synonymous with better schools, as Tories imply, Labour can coherently ask “why did you cut real funding beforehand?” Such corrective spending hikes look an admission of a past mistake. Doubly so if funded through borrowing that was previously considered intolerable.

Couching this as “an end to austerity” brings similar peril. These particular decisions don’t imply “we are going to return to affordable spending increases consistent with a low deficit.” If large spending hikes for education are seen as reversing austerity, then obvious questions arise: what about local authority funding? Prisons? Criminal justice? Have these not suffered more from the pain you admit was damaging?

Of course, Brexit is the important context here. It is sucking oxygen from normal economic debates – one reason why the logjam needs to be broken. A slowing economy, induced in part by uncertainty, means an obsessive near-term public finance focus is probably unwise. The very process of extrication requires budget flexibility, not least because the underlying public finances could look very different when future trade relations crystallise.

But all this would be a case for relaxing or suspending fiscal targets through the choppy Brexit seas, not bold new announcements.

No, it’s difficult not to conclude there’s not something bigger happening here. Much of the party has embraced a simplistic “left behind” narrative of the Brexit vote – that it was a cry for investment in public services. They are egged on by former government advisors, armed with polling, who see an opportunity to steer the party towards a “bigger government” vision for the party they’ve always spoiled for.

Academic evidence in fact shows new Brexit voters affiliating with the Tories quickly adopt traditional Tory views on other issues. There’s no need to pander. Yet when you see John Redwood railing against austerity, you realise how strong this view about the changing party voter base has set.

Whether Johnson shares that interpretation is less clear. Perhaps he sees funding boosts now in three major non-Brexit policy areas as short-term deck clearing before an election. Polling strength from these “good news stories” might even firm up pressure on the EU and rebel MPs on his central task. If it helps finally deliver Brexit, many of us will accept fiscal jam tomorrow.

I want to believe this, but the noises aren’t encouraging. And living in the US, where Republicans have gone from a Tea Party anti-spending force to delivering unprecedented deficits for peacetime, in just a decade, I’ve observed just how easily spending conservatism is lost.

Here, it started with big spending increases on priorities too. Republicans cut taxes, yes, but huge cash increases for defence were delivered, greased by money for some Democrat priorities. Once that dam opened though, the money poured. July’s budget deal threw off the last vestiges of spending caps delivered by the Tea Party Congress. Promises of Republican spending restraint in Donald Trump’s potential second term ring as hollow as claims he’s using tariffs as a path to freer trade.

Here’s the worrying consequence. As US conservatives have learned to love deficits, or at least use them, the left’s spending demands have only gotten more extreme. With constraints stripped away, Democratic Presidential candidates feel liberated to propose mammoth programmes and spending hikes – the Green New Deal, a jobs guarantee, universal childcare and more. When asked how the country can afford this, they point out to the red ink spilled for Republican priorities. There is no answer.

UK Conservatives are far from the Republican point of no return on spending, as yet. But the mood music has changed dramatically. America shows that when conservatives abandon spending constraint, they legitimise the left’s spending wild demands, to taxpayers’ detriment.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ryan Bourne: In America, public spending conservatism is being lost. It could happen in Britain.

Ryan Bourne is Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

Austerity is over. Theresa May told us so after the 2017 election, and again at the Conservative Party Conference last year. Philip Hammond tried restraining her from a blitz of high-profile spending announcements. Yet Team Johnson has now picked up the baton anyway. Today’s spending review from Sajid Javid will reportedly confirm significant money injections for schools, hospitals and the police. The Prime Minister said Monday it will be “the most ambitious spending round for more than a decade.”

Restraining government spending was always said to be a temporary deficit repair tool, of course. Those “tough choices,” added to net tax hikes, have helped bring down the budget deficit to just 1.3 per cent of GDP, from a gargantuan 9.9 per cent in 2010. Once near-balance, a spending squeeze was never envisaged to continue year after year. Despite Nick Timothy’s fear of libertarians under the bed, no recent Conservative leader has been ideologically committed to shrink the size and scope of government. Absent “thinking the unthinkable,” one eventually must release the spending grip given voter demands for high-quality services.

And yet…the zeal with which the Tories have turned heel on their spending narrative is surprising. Whatever one’s view on the efficacy or composition of “cuts”, they were central to the party’s offer through 2016, including the 2015 election win. Balancing the books was said to be about unburdening the next generation from dumping more debt on top of the iceberg associated with an ageing population. Any intergenerational justice message has now gone the way of the Titanic.

For the Government is not promising gradual targeted spending increases in these areas – a natural uplift from a reset baseline after years of restraint. No, proposed hikes in education funding would virtually reverse any real schools’ spending cuts over the past decade. May’s extra money for the NHS is a big step-change too. The spending review is celebrated as the “biggest, most generous spending review since the height of Tony Blair’s New Labour,” no less – a far cry from denouncing that era’s profligacy. In one swoop, the Treasury has undercut its long-held opposition to raising borrowing and junked the idea that public service reform trumps showering public services with money.

Javid attempts to thread the needle by arguing that more spending is still consistent with keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on a shallow downward path. That maybe true. But a stated goal of policy was always to balance the books overall, even if George Osborne and David Cameron continually pushed back the deadline. A former Treasury fiscal policy director now says that borrowing will in fact start rising again, and soon be above two per cent of GDP. Manageable, yes – but a clear change in direction.

The public discourse effects of this reversal should worry fiscal conservatives. Cameron and Osborne’s consistent messaging helped entrench two crucial contours in discussions about government spending. First, that there was no free lunch (every Labour proposal for years was met with the question “how will you pay for it?”) Second, that what you did with the money (the organisation of public services) was as important as spending levels. After years of Tony Blair’s money throwing, the public were receptive to such apparently grown-up thinking. Now, both those claims-cum-restraints that ensnared Labour have been removed.

If large, real increases in education funding are synonymous with better schools, as Tories imply, Labour can coherently ask “why did you cut real funding beforehand?” Such corrective spending hikes look an admission of a past mistake. Doubly so if funded through borrowing that was previously considered intolerable.

Couching this as “an end to austerity” brings similar peril. These particular decisions don’t imply “we are going to return to affordable spending increases consistent with a low deficit.” If large spending hikes for education are seen as reversing austerity, then obvious questions arise: what about local authority funding? Prisons? Criminal justice? Have these not suffered more from the pain you admit was damaging?

Of course, Brexit is the important context here. It is sucking oxygen from normal economic debates – one reason why the logjam needs to be broken. A slowing economy, induced in part by uncertainty, means an obsessive near-term public finance focus is probably unwise. The very process of extrication requires budget flexibility, not least because the underlying public finances could look very different when future trade relations crystallise.

But all this would be a case for relaxing or suspending fiscal targets through the choppy Brexit seas, not bold new announcements.

No, it’s difficult not to conclude there’s not something bigger happening here. Much of the party has embraced a simplistic “left behind” narrative of the Brexit vote – that it was a cry for investment in public services. They are egged on by former government advisors, armed with polling, who see an opportunity to steer the party towards a “bigger government” vision for the party they’ve always spoiled for.

Academic evidence in fact shows new Brexit voters affiliating with the Tories quickly adopt traditional Tory views on other issues. There’s no need to pander. Yet when you see John Redwood railing against austerity, you realise how strong this view about the changing party voter base has set.

Whether Johnson shares that interpretation is less clear. Perhaps he sees funding boosts now in three major non-Brexit policy areas as short-term deck clearing before an election. Polling strength from these “good news stories” might even firm up pressure on the EU and rebel MPs on his central task. If it helps finally deliver Brexit, many of us will accept fiscal jam tomorrow.

I want to believe this, but the noises aren’t encouraging. And living in the US, where Republicans have gone from a Tea Party anti-spending force to delivering unprecedented deficits for peacetime, in just a decade, I’ve observed just how easily spending conservatism is lost.

Here, it started with big spending increases on priorities too. Republicans cut taxes, yes, but huge cash increases for defence were delivered, greased by money for some Democrat priorities. Once that dam opened though, the money poured. July’s budget deal threw off the last vestiges of spending caps delivered by the Tea Party Congress. Promises of Republican spending restraint in Donald Trump’s potential second term ring as hollow as claims he’s using tariffs as a path to freer trade.

Here’s the worrying consequence. As US conservatives have learned to love deficits, or at least use them, the left’s spending demands have only gotten more extreme. With constraints stripped away, Democratic Presidential candidates feel liberated to propose mammoth programmes and spending hikes – the Green New Deal, a jobs guarantee, universal childcare and more. When asked how the country can afford this, they point out to the red ink spilled for Republican priorities. There is no answer.

UK Conservatives are far from the Republican point of no return on spending, as yet. But the mood music has changed dramatically. America shows that when conservatives abandon spending constraint, they legitimise the left’s spending wild demands, to taxpayers’ detriment.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

James Frayne: An election is coming. Here are the messages – beyond Brexit – that the Conservatives need to win it.

James Frayne is Director of Public First and author of Meet the People, a guide to moving public opinion.

Let’s assume an election soon. While the Conservatives are surely finished if they don’t go into the campaign as the clear choice for Brexit voters, this won’t be enough to secure a majority. The next election will not be a re-run of the referendum: people will be make their final decision on a broad range of issues. It’ll fundamentally be like any other election.

Last time around, the Conservatives slipped up badly with prospective voters. This has been endlessly discussed but three mistakes still stand out: firstly, they made no effort to own the “change” narrative even though public demands for change must have been clearly audible in their focus groups; secondly, they angered vast numbers of people by suggesting those that had lived a careful and modest life – owning a house with savings – should be punished with massive social care costs; and, thirdly, the threat to raise people’s taxes was mad. Brexit aside, there was comparatively little to attract working class and lower middle class swing voters – which explains the party’s patchy performance amongst them.

Politics is so volatile it’s hard to predict where the Conservatives’ relative strengths and weaknesses will be in a week, let alone two months. As I write, the weakness of Corbyn’s Labour and the lack of a powerful and credible anti-Brexit party means the prospects for the Conservatives look good. However, the Party still has vulnerabilities it must address fast. I won’t dwell on the obvious – like the NHS (and the text on that bus) – and instead look at those areas that haven’t received the political attention they deserve. And I’ll look at vulnerabilities amongst the working class and lower middle class of provincial England – who the Party needs to turn out in massive numbers and where this column has always focused.

Everyday life in England’s towns. In focus groups I’ve moderated in recent times, I’ve been struck by how people across provincial England are in despair about the state and prospects of their towns and suburbs. We’re a country that enjoys self-deprecation about our own backyards. But pessimism has intensified recently. People have come to terms with industrial decline as time has passed, but bad memories are returning now they’re witnessing the rapid decline of their town centres – as shops, pubs and services close, as anti-social behaviour and crime increase, as aggressive begging comes to small towns from cities, as visible drug use rises, and as more and more kids leave school and college with few local career prospects.

The Conservatives recently pledged new funds to support British high streets. This shows they’re hearing something. But they need to be careful not to misread or underplay what’s really being said. People don’t look at their town centres and just think: “we need more shops”; in fact, many people think high street shops are a rip-off, open at stupidly inconvenient times, and have a tiny range of interesting or useful goods. Rather, above all, the residents of these towns want to feel like they live in a proper community. They want safe and clean streets, integrated populations, free and cheap leisure facilities and parks, buzzing high streets and nice, affordable local pubs. The question the Conservatives need to answer is not “how do you save the high street?”, but “how do you improve everyday life in provincial towns?” It’s a completely different question. (And the Party’s approach to crime should be framed partly through improving communities, not just, say, dealing with serious violence).

People know the answer does not lie in simply throwing huge amounts of cash at these places. But, in the absence of ideas, the Conservatives are highly vulnerable to a Labour offer of vast new spending on things like public transport, libraries, parks, leisure centres, social housing, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation programmes, community integration programmes, youth clubs, CCTV, policing and security guards and so on. The Conservatives need to think about the challenges of living happily in these towns, not narrowly around simply more shops or more police.

The party of the rich. When the audiences we’re thinking about here are asked about the Conservatives, one thing always comes up: “they’re the party of the rich, while Labour are the party of the working class”. This perception has been widespread for years, and the recent defection of working class voters from Labour to the Conservatives has barely changed this fact. Boris Johnson’s only mis-step in his leadership campaign was to give disproportionate attention to tax paid by higher earners and he is lucky this was barely noticed by the electorate. The Conservatives need to ensure they do everything possible to avoid looking like they’re a party of the rich, for the rich. (Incidentally, it doesn’t matter necessarily that Boris Johnson is rich and posh).

What does this mean in practice? A few obvious ones, which they surely won’t get wrong: target tax cuts on working class and lower middle class voters and don’t talk about helping higher earners; don’t ever talk about the benefits of private education; and ensure there are enough spokespeople from ordinary backgrounds.

But there are some less obvious ones, too: don’t focus economic and social policies purely on the poorest, which sends the message to working class and lower middle class audiences that they in turn must be rich; be careful about how you talk about aspiration, which can seem you’re saying their lives are substandard; and carve out some specific tax cuts directly targeted on the lives of working class and lower middle class voters (tax is really rising up the public’s list of priorities, incidentally, which I will write about in more detail here soon).

Education for all. (I should point out that my agency Public First has worked for many clients in the education world. Here, our work for Pearson and Universities UK is relevant.) The Conservatives’ reputation as the party of the rich is usually undeserved, but there are times, because relatively few of their senior team come from ordinary backgrounds, where they unintentionally make it look like they live on another planet. Two issues stand out, one specific and one general.

Firstly, in an act of breath-taking political stupidity, the Department for Education is consulting on the de-funding of the best known and respected vocational qualification, the BTEC. To be clear, this would mean telling the vast numbers of young people currently studying for BTECs that their courses are essentially worthless and introducing a new system that would make many of their chosen careers impossible. (James Kirkup of the Social Market Foundation wrote about this for the Spectator recently). Secondly, more generally, the Party still gives off the sense that it considers the expansion of universities to have been a mistake and that most students of newer universities are wasting their time.

The Conservatives should certainly be promoting academic excellence and indeed elite education where appropriate. In fact, I believe they should do this far more explicitly than they ever have done. But this does not mean they should not be promoting education for all – high quality education for those with differing interests and with different levels of academic ability. They should be on the side of educational progress and achievement full stop. Working class and lower middle class audiences will not mind if the Government promotes elite education for those that will thrive in such institutions (they have no hostility to these people) but they will mind if it looks like the Party wilfully opposes or misunderstands those institutions and courses that enable them to improve their children’s lives. (Personally, I would have focused on this way more than on things like teachers’ pay, which never comes up amongst ordinary voters).

Rewarding hard work. Over the last decade, and particularly under George Osborne’s time as Chancellor, the Conservatives began to establish a lead over Labour as the party that rewarded hard work. In focus groups I’ve run in the last few years, working class and lower middle class voters have consistently fumed at Labour’s excessively generous attitude to welfare and talked positively about Conservative welfare reforms (yes, including Universal Credit). Such is the strength of feeling on this issue, the Conservatives emphatically must not consider their lead secure and their reforms effectively banked with the public. And they must not confuse media criticism of UC with public opposition; the two are different. They must look at how to double down on their recent progress and take this further. The most obvious place to look is at introducing a much greater contributory element to the welfare state (another declaration of interest: Public First is working for the Centre for Policy Studies on creating such a system).

Ownership of the change narrative. Last time around, it seems likely that the Conservatives underplayed the change narrative because Theresa May was a new Prime Minister that theoretically embodied change. That wasn’t enough and it won’t be enough for the Conservatives this time around. Boris Johnson is seen as a different sort of politician and his early start has sent shockwaves through the political system. But, again, it’s vital that the Conservatives keep up the pace. Johnson has been around now on the frontline of British politics for over a decade and the Conservatives have been in power for nearly a decade. Many of their most visible politicians have also been around a long time. As a Government and Party, they look comparatively new but not absolutely so. They should be rolling out new faces consistently in coming weeks. Their general rhetoric – and how they package both fights and positive announcements – should focus on how they’re changing the political system as we know it. Before I bored everyone to death about the importance of lower middle class and working class voters, I used to bore people about the need to harness anti-politics as a force for change. Now is the time to do this in earnest.

In very difficult circumstances over the last few weeks, Johnson’s Government has not put a foot wrong politically. His team know the path to political and electoral success is extremely narrow, though, and it will be hard to deliver. In the next few weeks they’ll need to raise their game even further.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Are you just a little worn out, or are you experiencing burnout?

Westlake Legal Group man-stressed-at-work Are you just a little worn out, or are you experiencing burnout? Work office mental health Medical Features health and wellness Health expert advice burnout
© Yakobchuk Olena / stock.adobe.com

By Joseph Tasosa, M.D.

Workplace stresses aren’t only the norm in the Washington Metro area. In May, the World Health Organization added burnout as a “syndrome” to its International Classification of Diseases, calling it an “occupational phenomenon.”

So, if you’re feeling run down by, disconnected from and increasingly less productive at work, you’re far from alone.

As a psychiatrist who focuses on addiction, I see many patients struggling emotionally at work and/or at home. Unfortunately, some choose maladaptive coping strategies, such as self-medicating with substances or engaging in unhealthy patterns of behavior—whether or not they realize burnout is a significant factor in their unhappiness. But by recognizing when burnout is at play, it is possible to address it.

What is burnout?

First, we need to define what burnout is. The way I explain it is it’s like a bad haircut or an ill-fitting suit: It’s tough to describe, but you know it when you see it. When it comes to experiencing burnout at work, I recommend keeping an eye out for some of the following symptoms: You become dissatisfied with your station in life; you question yourself or your purpose, asking if this is really what you signed up for; you dread going to work, and when you’re there, you find yourself watching the clock and waiting for the weekend; and you lose the initial drive that got you into your current position or field.

While we all have a few bad days, if you feel any or all those symptoms for a prolonged period, it’s probably time to take a step back and investigate what’s making you feel frazzled.

What causes burnout?

Oftentimes, it’s the workplace itself that’s the culprit—a toxic office, an unsupportive team, an ineffective manager, hazy job expectations, no control over your work, lack of social support (at work and at home). Perhaps you’ve shared ideas with your department, but they’ve always been shot down. Maybe you’ve raised the alarm about a tough coworker or client, but nothing was done. Much of the workplace stress my patients tell me about comes down to not feeling supported or listened to. On top of that, many people work in cubicles, which often aren’t what I consider healing environments.

Sometimes it’s the struggle with work-life balance—or lack thereof. Sure, our hours may be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but it can be tough to fit it all in 40 hours each week, so we might stay late to finish up. Tack on a commute to and from work, and you’re adding on even more time. This can lead to us missing out on commitments with family and friends, or we end up feeling too tired to make plans once we finally do get home.

And with advances in technology, we can feel like we’re on call 24/7, expected to return emails immediately and take conference calls at all hours. For many people, it’s a struggle to truly unplug.

Some professionals, especially those in “helping” fields like health care and social work, are more prone to burnout, perhaps because they are continually exposed to the more challenging sides of the people they are working to serve.

Ignoring signs of impending or current burnout will only make it worse. Left untreated, burnout can have dangerous side effects. Some of my patients experience problems with sleep and/or go through their days feeling constantly tired. Others wind up battling anxiety, depression or mood swings. Burnout can also lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. And as I mentioned earlier, some people will try to self-medicate, which carries the risk of substance abuse.

And don’t forget about the effects on your work and personal life—you won’t be at your best, meaning your work and relationships will likely suffer.

What can you do?

You can get a handle on this fried feeling. First, figure out your options at work. Try discussing your concerns with your manager, who may be able to help come up with achievable goals or find middle ground on a tough situation.

Then, consider asking for help, whether it’s support from colleagues, friends, family or professionals. Some employers offer employee assistance programs, which often provide short-term counseling, outside referrals and other services confidentially to employees who are going through a tough time personally or professionally.

Working with a counselor or therapist can help you get a handle on your stress, too. When I have patients who seem burned out at work, I first make sure to rule out medical reasons, including such simple conditions as vitamin deficiencies. If their feelings of burnout are not rooted in a medical cause, I recommend talk therapy to explore why they’re in the position they’re in and to gain insight into why they might be struggling: Do they hate their boss? Did they choose the wrong career? Are their relationship issues spilling over into work? Sometimes another perspective can be helpful. Effective therapy then provides a toolkit to address these stressors in a healthful manner.

Considering that we spend half of our waking lives at work, I counsel my patients that if they can’t make enough change for themselves in their current position, they should look for a job they can at least tolerate, if not enjoy. Sometimes it’s best to leave a toxic job or environment and start fresh.

Outside of work, try taking up a stress-reducing activity, like yoga or meditation. Practicing mindfulness, which involves being aware of the present moment while accepting and acknowledging your current thoughts and feelings, can be calming, too. Regular physical activity, even if it’s simply going for a brisk walk, can help you let off some steam and take your mind off of work. Finally, make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep. “The balm of hurt minds,” as Shakespeare wrote.

While burnout at work can feel insurmountable, keeping some healing tools in your arsenal can get your work—and home—life back on track.

For more resources on handling stress in the workplace, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Joseph Tasosa, M.D., is board-certified in psychiatry and addiction psychiatry with Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group. He sees patients at the Kaiser Permanente Falls Church Medical Center.

Want to live your healthiest life? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Are you just a little worn out, or are you experiencing burnout?

Westlake Legal Group man-stressed-at-work Are you just a little worn out, or are you experiencing burnout? Work office mental health Medical Features health and wellness Health expert advice burnout
© Yakobchuk Olena / stock.adobe.com

By Joseph Tasosa, M.D.

Workplace stresses aren’t only the norm in the Washington Metro area. In May, the World Health Organization added burnout as a “syndrome” to its International Classification of Diseases, calling it an “occupational phenomenon.”

So, if you’re feeling run down by, disconnected from and increasingly less productive at work, you’re far from alone.

As a psychiatrist who focuses on addiction, I see many patients struggling emotionally at work and/or at home. Unfortunately, some choose maladaptive coping strategies, such as self-medicating with substances or engaging in unhealthy patterns of behavior—whether or not they realize burnout is a significant factor in their unhappiness. But by recognizing when burnout is at play, it is possible to address it.

What is burnout?

First, we need to define what burnout is. The way I explain it is it’s like a bad haircut or an ill-fitting suit: It’s tough to describe, but you know it when you see it. When it comes to experiencing burnout at work, I recommend keeping an eye out for some of the following symptoms: You become dissatisfied with your station in life; you question yourself or your purpose, asking if this is really what you signed up for; you dread going to work, and when you’re there, you find yourself watching the clock and waiting for the weekend; and you lose the initial drive that got you into your current position or field.

While we all have a few bad days, if you feel any or all those symptoms for a prolonged period, it’s probably time to take a step back and investigate what’s making you feel frazzled.

What causes burnout?

Oftentimes, it’s the workplace itself that’s the culprit—a toxic office, an unsupportive team, an ineffective manager, hazy job expectations, no control over your work, lack of social support (at work and at home). Perhaps you’ve shared ideas with your department, but they’ve always been shot down. Maybe you’ve raised the alarm about a tough coworker or client, but nothing was done. Much of the workplace stress my patients tell me about comes down to not feeling supported or listened to. On top of that, many people work in cubicles, which often aren’t what I consider healing environments.

Sometimes it’s the struggle with work-life balance—or lack thereof. Sure, our hours may be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but it can be tough to fit it all in 40 hours each week, so we might stay late to finish up. Tack on a commute to and from work, and you’re adding on even more time. This can lead to us missing out on commitments with family and friends, or we end up feeling too tired to make plans once we finally do get home.

And with advances in technology, we can feel like we’re on call 24/7, expected to return emails immediately and take conference calls at all hours. For many people, it’s a struggle to truly unplug.

Some professionals, especially those in “helping” fields like health care and social work, are more prone to burnout, perhaps because they are continually exposed to the more challenging sides of the people they are working to serve.

Ignoring signs of impending or current burnout will only make it worse. Left untreated, burnout can have dangerous side effects. Some of my patients experience problems with sleep and/or go through their days feeling constantly tired. Others wind up battling anxiety, depression or mood swings. Burnout can also lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. And as I mentioned earlier, some people will try to self-medicate, which carries the risk of substance abuse.

And don’t forget about the effects on your work and personal life—you won’t be at your best, meaning your work and relationships will likely suffer.

What can you do?

You can get a handle on this fried feeling. First, figure out your options at work. Try discussing your concerns with your manager, who may be able to help come up with achievable goals or find middle ground on a tough situation.

Then, consider asking for help, whether it’s support from colleagues, friends, family or professionals. Some employers offer employee assistance programs, which often provide short-term counseling, outside referrals and other services confidentially to employees who are going through a tough time personally or professionally.

Working with a counselor or therapist can help you get a handle on your stress, too. When I have patients who seem burned out at work, I first make sure to rule out medical reasons, including such simple conditions as vitamin deficiencies. If their feelings of burnout are not rooted in a medical cause, I recommend talk therapy to explore why they’re in the position they’re in and to gain insight into why they might be struggling: Do they hate their boss? Did they choose the wrong career? Are their relationship issues spilling over into work? Sometimes another perspective can be helpful. Effective therapy then provides a toolkit to address these stressors in a healthful manner.

Considering that we spend half of our waking lives at work, I counsel my patients that if they can’t make enough change for themselves in their current position, they should look for a job they can at least tolerate, if not enjoy. Sometimes it’s best to leave a toxic job or environment and start fresh.

Outside of work, try taking up a stress-reducing activity, like yoga or meditation. Practicing mindfulness, which involves being aware of the present moment while accepting and acknowledging your current thoughts and feelings, can be calming, too. Regular physical activity, even if it’s simply going for a brisk walk, can help you let off some steam and take your mind off of work. Finally, make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep. “The balm of hurt minds,” as Shakespeare wrote.

While burnout at work can feel insurmountable, keeping some healing tools in your arsenal can get your work—and home—life back on track.

For more resources on handling stress in the workplace, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Joseph Tasosa, M.D., is board-certified in psychiatry and addiction psychiatry with Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group. He sees patients at the Kaiser Permanente Falls Church Medical Center.

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7 desks that add some fun to your workload

Whether you’re paying bills, journaling or are looking for a homework-friendly space, these detailed desks are sure to take away some of the stress lingering in your office. Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

U.S. soccer: We’ve paid the women’s team more than we’ve paid the men’s team since 2010 — even though they bring in much less revenue

Westlake Legal Group r-4 U.S. soccer: We’ve paid the women’s team more than we’ve paid the men’s team since 2010 — even though they bring in much less revenue World Cup Work Women us soccer The Blog sport Rapinoe Pay men FIFA equal compensation Carlos Cordeiro

I fear the only fair solution is to pay our garbage national men’s team more.

No, actually, this is more complicated than it seems at first glance.

According to a letter released Monday by U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, the federation paid out $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the women between 2010 and 2018 as opposed to $26.4 million paid to the men. The total does not include the value of benefits received only by the women, like health care…

Comparing compensation between the two teams is difficult because the pay structure is based on different collective bargaining agreements…

USSF also says the men’s team generates more revenue. The women’s team generated $101.3 million over the course of 238 games between 2009 and 2019 while the men generated $185.7 over 191 games, according to the federation.

The killer: “WNT games have generated a net profit (ticket revenues minus event expenses) in only two years (2016 and 2017). Across the entire 11-year period, WNT games generated a net loss of $27.5 million.” Likewise, individual men’s matches generated more than twice as much revenue over this period than women’s matches did. U.S. soccer is paying the women more — while losing money on them. And the women want … more money?

Case closed, then! They’re being paid more than fairly. But wait — players on the men’s team agree with the women that they’re underpaid:

Note the second paragraph in particular. If that’s true then U.S. soccer is accusing the women’s team of being a revenue-loser essentially based only on the gate at matches, without accounting for TV right and ads — not to mention the value in terms of prestige that back-to-back World Cups supplies to a program that’s a borderline laughingstock on the men’s side.

There’s more. The men’s team actually received more money ($41 million) overall than the women’s team since 2010 due to the fact that bonuses paid by FIFA (not by U.S. soccer) for World Cup appearances are waaaaay more generous for men’s teams than for women’s. ESPN notes that the 2018 World Cup winner, France, alone received more money than the entire 24-team field did in the Women’s World Cup. That is, a bad-to-middling U.S. men’s team still comes out ahead in compensation to a juggernaut in the women’s sport.

There’s another key difference between how the men and women are paid:

The federation pays U.S. women’s team members per-game payments for national-team play along with professional-team salaries for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League, as all 23 members of the women’s World Cup team do. The federation doesn’t pay professional salaries for the men.

A key divergence in how the teams are compensated has to do with their bargaining agreements, not their genders. The women negotiated a salary-plus-bonuses scheme, the men got a more complicated structure in which you’re paid “by training camp call-ups, game appearances and through performance bonuses.” The bonuses are more generous on the men’s side, but the men don’t have guaranteed pay like the women do. Arguably the women sacrificed some incentives in return for better income security. Maybe they had no choice: A player capable of making the U.S. men’s national team might be lavishly compensated in a pro league somewhere even if he’s not starting whereas the weaker commercial demand for the women’s sport requires women players to demand that the U.S. soccer federation to kick in with guaranteed professional pay for star players.

But then that’s the whole debate here, isn’t it? How much should public demand influence the players’ pay relative to achievement? “All U.S. soccer proved was that the women must consistently win at the highest level to approach what the men make while mired in mediocrity and underachievement,” said sports journalist Tanya Ray Fox, referring to the near-parity between what the women’s and men’s teams received from U.S. soccer since 2010. But if there are more eyeballs on the men for their inferior product, why shouldn’t they receive more for their mediocrity? Judi Dench is a better actor than The Rock, but if the latter can drum up more box office than the former, why shouldn’t he receive a bigger check? Like all sports, soccer is ultimately entertainment. At base, Megan Rapinoe and company are arguing with the fans for not having better taste.

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Joe Shalam: Modern employers are learning the Bournville lesson – better housing for workers benefits them, too

Joe Shalam is Head of Financial Inclusion at the Centre for Social Justice.

In-work poverty has been described as ‘the problem of our time’. But making progress in tackling it will only be achieved if the true complexity of poverty is taken into account. While income is critically important, raising wages above an arbitrary poverty threshold, as has been prevailing wisdom for many years, simply does not account for range of issues that serve to hold people back.

For example, at the Centre for Social Justice we hear increasingly regularly from our alliance of 350 poverty-fighting charities about the ways insecure, cramped or otherwise inadequate housing is undermining people’s ability to address the problems in their lives: be that their family instability, their reliance on alcohol to get through the day, or the barriers they face progressing in work and boosting their earnings.

The CSJ’s Housing Commission has therefore called on the Government to dramatically increase the supply of truly affordable homes, so that more people have a stronger foundation from which to escape poverty and thrive. Yet, as the Commission argues in its latest interim report, the Government will not be able to achieve this alone. Business and philanthropy can play a role, too.

Looking at history we are reminded of this. One often celebrated example is George Cadbury, whose enterprising family give their name to the Victorian chocolate brand still enjoyed by millions today.

Cadbury was no ordinary chocolatier. An enthusiastic social reformer in the Quaker tradition, he and his brother sought to offer workers an alternative to the life they had come to expect in the rapidly industrialising and grimy cities of 19th Century England. So they founded a village, named ‘Bournville’ for its quaint French twang and proximity to the Bourn river, providing garden cottages in sharp contrast to the neighbouring city slums.

Still, Cadbury was a businessman. He knew that an inadequately housed workforce was an unhealthy and unhappy workforce. As such, they were also less productive for the company – particularly when stricken by what he described as the ‘evils of modern, more cramped living conditions’.

This fact remains as true today as it was then. While we have come a long way since the familiar slums of Dickensian Britain, the housing crisis gripping parts of the country is having a profoundly negative impact on businesses, the wider workforce and their families.

The report reveals that half of UK companies with 1,000+ employees say that housing issues are adversely affecting the wellbeing of their staff, compounded by long commutes to work and rising housing costs.

The economic consequences of an increasingly overburdened and low-morale workforce are also emerging. We found that a shocking two-in-three companies are concerned about how the affordability of housing is impacting their business. And 43 per cent of employers say that housing issues are having a negative effect on their business’ productivity.

Yet the report also reveals that, like Cadbury, employers today are responding to these pressures in innovative and impressive ways.

Take Nationwide, for example, who are proceeding with a multi-million pound not-for-profit housing development in Swindon. Drawing inspiration from Bournville, where ‘Ten Shilling Houses’ were offered to the workforce beyond the Cadbury payroll, Nationwide’s Oakfield development aims to provide a high proportion of affordable homes and lease these without giving preferential treatment to employees.

Elsewhere, Pret a Manger recently opened the Pret House in Kennington. Building on their long-established homeless trainee scheme, they recognised that even the most supported trainees on the programme were suffering as a result of returning after a day’s work to the chaotic ‘temporary’ accommodation they had been placed in by local councils.

As Nicki Fisher, the Pret Foundation’s head of sustainability, told us, ‘If you can imagine, having to get up at 5am after spending a night in a homeless shelter, where they’re often very crowded, very noisy, quite chaotic… we were starting to see a couple of people dropping out because it’s just very difficult to maintain coming to work normally every day’. The Pret House provides a safe and secure home for trainees to return to, thanks to a number of conditional ground rules.

We also looked abroad for inspiration. The expansion of technology firms in coastal areas of the US has resulted in the creation of new jobs in cities with limited housing, such as Seattle and San Francisco. This has contributed to steep increases in housing costs. Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft are responding by investing millions of dollars in affordable housing programmes.

In partnership with the Mayor of Seattle, Microsoft alone has pledged $500 million for programmes supplying ‘housing that is within the economic reach of every part of the community, including the many dedicated people that provide the vital services on which we all rely’.

Where employers are leading the way in championing housing support, they should be recognised and supported to do more. Schemes like private tenancy deposit loans, on the familiar model of a season ticket loan, are relatively inexpensive for businesses, but can be life changing to those unable to afford the (sometimes eye-wateringly expensive) upfront costs of rented accommodation. The Government should be rewarding the companies that offer this type of support with a new ‘Housing Confident’ accreditation.

The Government could also be better at harnessing employers as fuel in the engine of housing supply, by setting up an Innovation Fund in Homes England to support more not-for-profit developments that don’t fit the conventional mould. And it should do more to facilitate ambitious partnerships between both public and private employers to secure new investment in affordable Build-to-Rent developments, with thriving and mixed communities of working families.

In short, though there have been profound changes to our society, economy and labour market since Cadbury first set eyes upon the Bourn, the same level ambition is already being displayed by some employers today in seeking to improve the workforce’s housing conditions and address poverty in its true complexity. For all the government can do, we should also aim to unlock the spirit of Bournville and extend the ‘opportunity of a happy family life’ that he believed everyone deserves.

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AOC: I wonder if Pelosi is trying to sideline me by giving me a busy work schedule

Westlake Legal Group a AOC: I wonder if Pelosi is trying to sideline me by giving me a busy work schedule Work The Blog schedule New Yorker loaded committees Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“I was assigned to some of the busiest committees and four subcommittees. So my hands are full. And sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to keep me busy,” she says — with a laugh. But at best she’s kidding on the square. Between her escalating cold war with Pelosi and her propensity to view herself and her interests as victims whose truth is being forever suppressed by power, it’s perfectly in character for Ocasio-Cortez to believe that she was given plum committee assignments not as a reward but as a punishment.

But look, we can’t fault her too much for resenting having to work for a living. She’s a socialist, man. Imagine her showing up in Washington and finding out that she has to do nuts-and-bolts committee stuff, not just spend her time on Twitter “raising awareness.”

The clip picks up with Ocasio-Cortez having just informed the interviewer that she and Pelosi haven’t spoken in many months, since the Speaker invited her to join the Select Committee on Climate Change — which AOC declined.

Did Pelosi deliberately load up Ocasio-Cortez with committee assignments to keep her preoccupied and out of the leadership’s hair? Honestly, that … does seem possible! I doubt it’s a coincidence that AOC and two of the other freshman class’s far-left pains in the ass, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, were all placed on the Oversight Committee at the start of the year. The Oversight Committee is the one charged with investigating Trump; Pelosi knew that Ocasio-Cortez et al. were going to spend most of their time making trouble for the establishment of one party or the other, so she put them on Oversight to focus them on Trump instead of her. The invitation to AOC to sit on the climate change committee was doubtless more political, a way of signaling to the left that they have a voice in the global-warming debate by including their favorite congresswoman on the panel. AOC recognized it as a token thing and passed. Really, though, that’s the best explanation for why she’s been loaded up with committees — not so much because Pelosi’s hoping to distract her (AOC’s medium of choice is Twitter, which is always available at a moment’s notice) but because she’s trying to pacify restive progressives by giving the DSA faction positions of responsibility in the new Democratic majority.

Although, in that case, one might ask why she’s repeatedly belittled the support the progressive freshmen have nationally. Just this past weekend, AOC took exception to Pelosi saying in the New York Times that she, Tlaib, Pressley, and Ilhan Omar had gotten four votes between them to win election to their seats. Which is it, Nancy? Are they fringers with no constituency who are out of step with their party and can afford to be ignored, or are they important contributors to the Democratic coalition who deserve major committee assignments?

Pelosi will be coping with the monster she helped create until she retires. The latest:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi chided progressives in a closed-door meeting Wednesday, calling on them to address their intra-party grievances privately rather than blasting their centrist colleagues on Twitter…

“If you have a complaint about our members, come talk to me about it, don’t tweet about it,” Pelosi told lawmakers according to two sources in the room…

“I’m here to help the children when it’s easy and when it’s hard. Some of you are here to make a beautiful pâté but we’re making sausage most of the time,” Pelosi told the caucus.

Those comments were probably aimed at Mark Pocan more so than at AOC or her “Squad,” as it was Pocan who was most aggressive in attacking centrist colleagues on Twitter after they forced Pelosi to pass the Senate’s immigration bill. But don’t forget that AOC’s chief of staff was also vicious afterward, all but accusing the centrist Dems of racism in failing to demand better treatment for migrants in detention facilities. Imagine how that might be used against the centrists in primaries by progressives. I have a mental image of Pelosi drunk-dialing Joe Crowley every night and chewing him out for not having taken his primary last year more seriously.

Here’s a little bonus from the AOC radio interview for you in lieu of an exit question. Oh, she’s also in favor of getting rid of the entire Department of Homeland Security.

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