Qualified Immunity Must End: Derek Chauvin is Proof

Canva - A Woman and Justice

 

At this point, I suppose you would have to be living under a rock in deep quarantine to not have heard the name “George Floyd.” Images of his death and of course the deafening cries of his famous nearly last words “I can’t breathe!” have inspired protests not just throughout the United States but around the world

Images of fires, riots, and looting have flashed before our screens accompanied by a soundtrack of calls for justice and an end to police brutality and racial discrimination in our criminal justice system. These events have invoked strong emotions on both sides and have once again stirred the discussion on police violence and racism in America. Recent events have also called to light one of many festering problems that have allowed these issues to continue wreaking havoc on poor communities and citizens across the country. This bane to our justice system has as well deeply divided our nation, perhaps once again along partisan lines.

How many times can this issue stir before our eyes only to be ignored? We shouldn’t be surprised when violence stirs. But what is at the heart of it? How are police officers able to kill on camera and get away with it, and why are communities spurred to violence as these grievances continue to be ignored?

I have laid out the case before for why we should reform the the police force and increase accountability  for our police officers, but one of the most prevalent among the many problems at play here is simply a lack of personal responsibility. Psychological studies have shown what happens when one group is given a title and a position of unchecked authority over individuals. There are many monsters in law enforcement, but the fiercest of them was created by the courts:

Qualified Immunity

auto-automobile-blur-buildings-532001

What is qualified immunity? Qualified immunity is a doctrine established by the courts along with its even uglier godfather, “absolute immunity” which essentially shields public officials from any legal harm resulting from activities performed during the course of their official titles. In other words, no officer of the law can be sued for something he or she did during work hours unless they committed “A clear, established violation of civil rights” the burden of proof for which is on the victim. Through a nightmarish load of case history, not of course supported by any existing federal laws or statutes, qualified immunity has all but sealed the fates of victims of police brutality. The only way to win justice is to prove through airtight case history in the jurisdiction where the case occurred that all but matches your exact scenario.

Were you unjustly maced? You better have a precedent that involves a case of someone getting maced. Were you suffocated while in a submissive stance and under overly aggressive and medically dangerous police restrains? Perhaps Mr. Chauvin will set a precedent, perhaps not.

Does Qualified Immunity Apply to Derek Chauvin

crime scene do not cross signage
Photo by kat wilcox on Pexels.com

The death of George Floyd has not just inspired random riots and protests. His death seems to symbolic of something more. All across the country, more and more people are calling for an end to this judicial nightmare and a new beginning for accountability in the police force. Whether or not this affront to our justice system will end remains to be seen. This case could be heard by the Supreme Court as early as Monday, and legislation is on the table co-sponsored by the libertarian and democratic parties in the house that would legislatively end this legal protection.

But what about Derek Chauvin? Does qualified immunity even imply? It’s hard to say from a legal standpoint since the situation has been chaotic, and the case history is anything but thorough. According to the doctrine of qualified immunity, an officer cannot be sued or be held legally accountable for their actions in the execution of their duties. The only exception that seems to exist is that this does not apply if there is a “clearly established civil rights violation” Unfortunately, the courts have placed the burden of proof on the victim, and it’s all but impossible to prove even if you can afford a good lawyer.

On the other hand, the doctrine also does not apply if the individual in question knew that they were breaking an established law. From the standpoint of the courts, whether or not this is the case seems loosely based on the interpretation of the presiding judge. The guideline is that if “a reasonable person” would have known that a crime was being committed, the immunity won’t apply.

Again, this is always going to be difficult to prove, but there may be at least a chance to get around it with Derek Chauvin, especially if a criminal conviction were to go through. Although the public autopsy suggests that Mr. Floyd did not die from asphyxiation, it’s still clear from what happened that he died because of a medical condition that exasperates by Mr. Chauvin’s actions. Not only that, but the private autopsy seems to say otherwise, and the video evidence is very clear. Not only did Mr. Floyd alert the officer of his condition with his famous cry, “I can’t breathe,” but he also let Mr. Chauvin know that the situation was turning fatal when before his death, he uttered, “I’m gone.” 

Both Mr. Chauvin and Mr. Floyd were aware of Mr. Floyd’s condition and that it was becoming fatal directly because of Mr. Chauvin’s actions. At very least he is clearly and willfully guilty of voluntary manslaughter, but the DA has recently upgraded those charges to murder in the 2nd

Mr. Chauvin knew his actions would cause the death of George Floyd advertently or inadvertently, and in either case, he knew that he was in the act committing a crime and didn’t stop. Qualified immunity really shouldn’t apply. Unfortunately, the courts’ sloppy handling of the issue has turned it into cancer in our a criminal justice system that must be rooted out. 

Qualified Immunity Must End Now

Canva - Golden Hammer and Gavel

It’s my opinion that qualified immunity is unconstitutional based on the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. We do not have equality under the law when police officers are not subject to the same standards as citizens in the private sector.

If an electrician sets your house on fire or if a plumber floods your basement because of poor service, they will be held liable in court and expected to compensate the victims of their negligence. If a doctor botches a surgery, they are sued for malpractice. Officers of the law and public officials should be held to the same standards. Police officers are not above the law. Mine isn’t the only dissenting voice calling for reforms.

Libertarian presidential Jo Jorgensen says police officers should be required by law to hold their own liability insurance. Police officers who don’t know how to behave and provide professional service will be priced out of the job, she says, and frankly, she’s right.

Democrats in the house are also partnering with former republican, libertarian congressman Justin Amash who just introduced a bill in the house to make it easier for victims to have their day in court.

Frankly, this bill is long overdue. It’s time for Congress to execute its constitutional responsibility of balancing out the courts who grossly neglected this issue. It has brought us police violence along with a slew of civil rights violations that have led to civil unrest and are now tearing communities across the country apart.

For what’s worth, I will ask my representatives to voice their support for this bill, and I think you should you too. I will discuss more on this in the days ahead.

Jo Jorgensen: A Breath of Fresh Air in The 2020 Election

Canva - USA Flag on Pole

I’m a registered libertarian, but these days I have often felt I may be more of a libertarian-leaning independent. I have been on the fence regarding my involvement in the party, in part due to the feelings I share with some of our founding fathers on the flaws of political parties in America, third party, or no. To interrupt my thoughts and musings, however, came a strike of lightning. The party took me by surprise. I have been curiously eyeing the convention and the tidbits coming out of the race for the presidential nomination of America’s largest third party, wondering which candidate they would choose. 

There were undoubtedly many characters competing at the Libertarians’ online convention, orthodox and not, who eyed the prize. Many capable men presented a strong case for the nomination from moderates to former republicans to “crash and burn” anarchists and political satirists. Yet there are few in the mainstream who would have guessed that the National Libertarian Party would choose the woman among them at their online convention. Jo Jorgensen emerged the victor, on a final round of votes by gathered delegates.  A businesswoman, and Clemson University lecturer,  she was a close and worthy contender for sure, but a surprise for many.

Nonetheless, is Jo Jorgensen the right woman for the job of taking on the two parties? 

Democrats Don’t Seem to Think So 

Joe Biden is at the center of yet another scandal for racially charged remarks he made during a recent interview, and already under fire for past allegations of sexual assault. The sitting Republican choice for president, Donald Trump had previously failed in his quest to become the chivalrous champion of women with sexual allegations of his own, and an embarrassing past leaked video that revealed some of his uncomfortable “locker room” conversations. It’s no wonder then that Jo Jorgensen is quickly moving to present herself as both a sensible choice and a fresh alternative in this election, and Twitter shortly followed reviving the #imwither tag. 

Democrats have not taken kindly to the comparison, with pundits on the left, like this commentator from CNN recycling some of the same tired arguments from 2016 and every election that ever came before it. They argue that a vote for Jorgensen is a “Vote for Trump” because she will no doubt siphon support from the much more minority and female-friendly Joe Biden. 

Does Jorgensen Offer Us a Dosage of Sanity?

Jorgenson’s credentials in the private sector are not entirely unimpressive. She has experience in business and marketing and even founded a successful software company. She holds a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology to complement her MBA. Lecturing in psychology at Clemson University, she is undoubtedly well-versed in the field, and we could use a psychologist to address the insanity we’ve been seeing in our political system, especially over the last few years. 

Her platform is one of limited government and individual liberty with a dose of healthy pragmatism, and a sturdy foundation of facts to support a well-grounded philosophy, albeit stubbornly rooted in libertarian ideals. She advocates a number of sensible reforms, including a balanced budget and an end to the War on Drugs and failing foreign interventions by the U.S military. 

She certainly stands out among the two old white men who have become a sore and all too familiar sight to American voters in many past elections, and a political outsider with no currently known scandals, she’s no Hilary Clinton. 

Like her not, she’s a force to be reckoned with and a breath of fresh air in this painfully familiar presidential race. Whether or not you can say #imwithher, Jo Jorgensen is worth looking into. 

4 Ways to Protest Safely During a Pandemic

Gray Hand Anti-War Poster

The deadly Coronavirus has grown into a global pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 50,000 Americans and 278,000 people around the globe. The pandemic isn’t going anytime soon, and neither is the debate on how to address it. Many questions are being asked on what is to come and how to address it. In the U.S, a particularly pressing issue lingers on the minds of millions, though asked in many different ways with many different answers given. How much power should the government have during a pandemic to restrict the individual liberties of its citizens?

Much can be said about this topic as the debate rages on both sides on social distancing during the deadly Coronavirus pandemic, and how much power the government should have to enforce it. One key question that raises a particularly interesting debate in the age of this pandemic is the question of protests and public gatherings. As businesses are ordered shut down, and people are being asked (sometimes nicely, sometimes not) by their governments to stay home, many are beginning to ask about the right to protest. According to the CDC, we should avoid gatherings of ten or more and any situation that makes the guidelines of social distancing impossible as we seek to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some experts fear these public gatherings may make the pandemic spread more quickly, but others argue the right to protest is fundamental and cannot be suspended even during a pandemic.

Indeed, such a violation of our first amendment rights would undoubtedly pave the way to tyranny, as it would give the only excuse needed to suspend the very right of asking questions of our leadership. In the words of John F Kennedy, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Even so, all of this begs the question. Do social distancing and the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 mean it’s impossible to protest safely? The way we protest is changing around the world, and you may be surprised to know there are plenty of ways to practice this sacred right and still be safe even during a pandemic.

1. Motorized Protests

Churches across the country are holding drive-in services, and as traditional movie theaters across the country have shut down, drive-ins have gained more popularity. Drive-thru is the only way to go for fast food, banking, and many other businesses around the country. Our cars seem to supply us with a certain level of social distance that we need while presenting a seemingly effective physical barrier of safety around us. This might be why safely social distancing in your car is becoming an increasingly popular way of protesting. Only recently, such motorcades could be seen in Philadelphia as protesters drove around demanding the city reopen, but lockdown protesters aren’t the only ones taking to the streets behind the wheel. Protesters around the country have taken to caravan-style protests like these to protest ICE and Immigration Policy as well as to demand the release of prisoners from overcrowded prisons, rent forgiveness, additional funding for healthcare workers, and even demanding the removal of President Trump from office since this pandemic began.

2. Cyberstorm Protests
hacking-2903156_640
In countries like Russia and others, for instance, “virtual protesters” have organized small clusters outside of government buildings as well as posting and sending messages online to government pages demanding more financial assistance during these trying times. In the digital age, our governments have become just as dependent on the internet and social media as we are. Just like they can use these tools to get their information out to the public, so can the public use it to get their message to them.

For such a movement to be effective, it would require a large and relentless group, but protests efforts would include ways of getting the message out and in large enough numbers both publicly and privately to their government officials and agencies. This could be accomplished through constant emails, phone calls, comments on government social media pages and blogs, or even a hashtag forced to trend through something similar to a “Twitter bomb

3. Micro Protests

Not so different than the virtual protesters among our friends in Moscow, this would work by staggering protests into groups instead of one massive gathering. Protesters could be organized into groups of ten or less, and spread with signs, slogans, and events just like any protest but on a smaller level. With enough protesters spread far and wide, you could cover a large enough area and achieve enough visibility to get your message out and draw attention, albeit without a show of massive force, but with a potentially more extensive reach.

4. Social Distancing Friendly Protests

This should perhaps go without saying, but believe it or not, it is possible to organize large protests while still staying a healthy distance apart. While this hasn’t happened all over the world, we have certainly seen it come to fruition in Israel. In Tel Aviv and to a lesser extent in Jerusalem, thousands of protesters gathered to protest Netanyahu and what many of them view as his corrupt regime, as well as lockdown conditions. While doing so, they all remained a perfect six feet apart, standing on Chalk Xs on the ground marked by the protest’s organizers.

Also mixed with an air of calm civility, Israeli police have reported mostly quiet protests with no arrests while sending a message that has been seen around the world. Shikma Schwarzzman, the protest’s organizer, believes this is the way to go if any movement is to be effective.

“If we want to succeed, we need to do it the right way. We obey the law.”

COVID-19: Isolation or Reopening?

Girl with mask to protect her from Coronavirus

Everyone is still talking about the deadly Coronavirus, which I have discussed before. In my previous post, I discussed the importance of social distancing to flatten the curve, but this requires further explanation.

As we speak, the Trump administration is calling for the economy to “Re-open” by the end of the month. This would allegedly lift the calls for business and school closures as well as maybe even withdrawing certain health recommendations related to COVID-19. Meanwhile, some experts are saying this simply isn’t feasible.

We won’t be likely to have an effective vaccine for 12 to 18 months, and the effects of the spread, if not contained, could be deadly. The implications of the death tolls, though admittedly low in percentage points, is still disturbing. It’s also possible those numbers could go up if an acceleration in cases overwhelms the medical system forcing healthcare professionals to ration supplies and care.

On the other hand, the accelerating economic downturn is disturbing too, and it’s one we may not recover from for at least 3 years. Meanwhile, nearly half of U.S small businesses may be facing closures, and millions of people are out of work. Even if the government had the money to keep up the stimulus, we don’t, $1,200 a month isn’t going to be enough for most Americans. Meanwhile, stock values are still plummeting as the Fed is scrambling to keep the economy afloat. We won’t last 18 months like this.

An economic collapse would also cause more deaths than the pandemic itself. Already we see meat processing plants shutdown, possibly leading to even further food shortages than expected before. Not only that, but a weak economy is not going to have a healthcare system in place, public or private, capable of responding to future pandemics like this one.

Keeping the economy closed indefinitely is going to make the problem worse, but opening the floodgates isn’t much better either.

Why We Need to Slow, Not Stop the Spread

Too many people seem convinced that if we just ride this out long enough, the pandemic is going to sweep over us safely. The reality is, the epidemic isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and it’s not going to be stopped by only waiting it out. Virologists and epidemiologists seem to agree that the goal here is not to stop the deadly Coronavirus from spreading but to slow the curve.

Neither social distancing nor total isolation is going to irradicate the Coronavirus. Most sensible experts seem to agree. The best that we can hope for is riding out the storm long enough for the market to produce a vaccine, and perhaps more importantly, for the human population to develop immunities themselves.

The Importance Anti-Bodies and Immunity

Test tube of glass overflows new liquid solution potassium blue conducts an analysis reaction takes various versions reagents using chemical pharmaceutics cancer manufacturing

The importance of social distancing is not only to protect oneself from becoming infected with COVID-19. It is to protect the small handful of society’s most vulnerable members. Based on the statistics so far, the survival rates of COVID-19 are actually very high, but not for everyone.

Based strictly on data from the CDC, our mortality rates are at about 3% right now, based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths. Those percentages will be going down as testing becomes more widely available, and the number of confirmed cases grows. Based on recent studies, as well as data from China, we seem to see that it presents the greatest danger to those with underlying health conditions or otherwise inadequate immune systems. Primarily, it claims the lives of those over 60 as well as those with health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity.

In other words, it seems that optimal health and a robust immune system are vital in combatting the virus. Those who have them in place don’t seem to suffer much, and may even be asymptomatic. Because these individuals can still transmit the disease, it becomes essential to consider society’s more vulnerable members. Immunities are everything in this fight, especially since there’s no working vaccine and won’t be one for at least a year.

The Importance of Herd Immunity

Canva - Rows of Erlenmeyer Flasks 

Going back to why we can’t stop the spread of COVID-19 is going full circle when you understand the truth about pandemics like this. You don’t want to stop it. As I’ve pointed out, only about 3% of Americans infected die. Those numbers could go up or down depending on what we do from here. The answers, however, are anything but obvious. Herd immunity is vital in combatting a spread like this,  and arguably, even more so for preventing future outbreaks. Herd immunity happens and helps to eradicate the spread of a disease when 70% to 80% of the population contract the virus, recover and thereby afterward are immune.

Once this happens, a pandemic will eventually fizzle out. Trying to stop the spread entirely by going into full-on quarantine across the nation, may only slow this process down. We obviously want to prevent as many deaths as we can, but a full lockdown may not be the way to do it, especially when the economic toll is taken into consideration.

What to do About Coronavirus

As I said, there are no easy answers. Even so, I have advocated a balanced response over the mix of panic and nonchalance we’ve seen across the country. Common sense, practical social distancing measures may have to continue for some time. Total isolation and economic lockdown, however, may not be sustainable. If we are to endure a lockdown, it must be a temporary one until we can come up with a plan to protect the vulnerable, who, until then, should probably remain in a form of lockdown.

Primarily, we need more aggressive testing, but not just for those who may be positive for the disease. Just as vital is testing one’s immunity. This will give us a clear picture of who is safe and who is not. Until then, we may simply have to work with what we know and isolate accordingly.  We cannot, however, isolate the nation. Instead, we should focus on helping vulnerable members as they endure a temporary lockdown of sorts in providing for their basic needs.

Isolating 3% or even 5%, is very doable. We can’t afford to isolate everyone for long, and doing so may only make this longer as it hampers the development of herd immunity until we wait for a synthetic vaccine.

 

 

Much Ado About the Corona Virus

coronavirus-statistics-on-screen-3970333

People all over the world are talking about the Coronavirus, but should they be? Is it really that serious that we must hide away in caves? Let’s look at some of the fact’s surrounding the situation.

It has already affected the planet on a massive scale. With no place or people spared, nearly 600,000 people in countries all over the world have been infected. This week, the percentages are climbing in terms of mortality rates, with 17% of infected people dying and 83% recovering. The vast majority of fatalities occur either over the age of 60 (mostly those 85+). While older individuals are most at risk, deaths have also frequently been seen in other individuals with chronic health conditions. Some include heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. There also seems to be a high-risk in general for individuals with compromised immune systems. So far, we’ve only discussed the closed cases.

Of those infected now, only 5% have evolved into serious cases, and many are asymptomatic. Only time will tell, though, if those numbers remain in place. This problem will likely get worse as the infection continues to spread at alarming rates, especially in countries that are poorly equipped to handle an outbreak.

COVID-19 And The Economy

woman-in-face-mask-shopping-in-supermarket-3987223 (1)
The stock markets have plummeted, losing years of hearty gains. The Federal Reserve is scrambling to save what little is left of the American economy. Meanwhile, things are gearing to get worse as governors across the state order the shutdowns of nonessential businesses, and millions find themselves out of work. The numbers of those filing for unemployment have reached record highs, with around 1 million applying in the state of California alone.

As the infection continues to spread, pressing the healthcare systems of the world, in short of vital supplies like masks, ventilators, and viable testing kits, it also threatens to overrun the world’s hospitals. On any front, the implications for both the health care system and the economy are deadly. If we lose one, we will lose both.

Understanding American Fear Behind COVID-19

Ironically the United States has now reached number 1 in Coronavirus cases. All 50 states and 4 additional U.S jurisdictions have already reported a total of more than 85,000 cases. Meanwhile, more than 1,200 Americans have died. Both of these problems are likely induced by radical reactions on both sides of the argument on the American discussion surrounding the seriousness of COVID-19.

Everyone has their theories. Some say it’s a conspiracy by the government to take control, or invented by the Chinese. Others say its a threat that could wipe us all out. Wherever the outbreak came from, it is a serious threat. The threat of an underreaction to this outbreak could have serious economic implications, implications on our healthcare system, and could change life as we know it for the worse. The threat of an overreaction, however, is equally serious.

Why We Need the Economy to Survive COVID-19

I’ve mentioned before that the first COVID-19 case was reported in Gambia. Previously they had believed the patient and outbreak were contained, but since then, more cases have been reported. I predicted that as cases continue to spread in poor countries, the death tolls will rise. Countries with poorer economies will also have poorer public health systems less capable of responding to an outbreak. They will also fail to create an infrastructure and public sanitation and health systems that prevent such outbreaks form both occurring and growing worse.

Western countries must maintain strong economies to avoid becoming like these developing countries who will surely by most affected by the virus. Losing the American economy will means losing what tools we have to respond to this outbreak and to prevent future ones.

The Importance of Caution During The Coronavirus

pexels-photo-3902881
Governors all over the country are ordering the shutdown of businesses that will put millions of Americans out of work. It will also deprive the authorities of tax revenue that could otherwise be used to address the outbreak. It may also lead to more Americans finding themselves uninsured and unable to have themselves tested and treated.

On the other hand, many Americans, especially those who believe they won’t be affected, are not taking this threat seriously. Aside from infecting loved ones, the outbreak spreading too fast, even unintentionally, to vulnerable individuals will harm the economy and overrun the American healthcare system. Although the young and the health may not be at risk for the death, the carelessness of even safe individuals may cost us all dearly.

Social Distancing Not Isolation

Contrary to what many believe, full isolation and solitary confinement is not the answer unless you have viable reasons to believe you’re infected or require testing, in which case you should speak to your healthcare provider.

Going into isolation as a country, especially for an extended period, may lead to civil unrest and other economic consequences that could make our situation worse.  Instead, we should practice commonsense social distancing techniques. The CDC has defined social distancing as physically distancing ourselves from each other to avoid spreading infection. We can do this by maintaining a distance of six feet or more.

For this reason, the CDC has recommended everyone avoid social situations that place you in crowded and confined situations. Bars, restaurants, concerts, and other crowded venues should be avoided. Social get-togethers should consist of fewer than ten people in an open space where this distance can be maintained.

You may further practice social distancing by making lifestyle adjustments to avoid coming into contact with too many people. Utilize drive-thrus and delivery instead of entering a dining hall, utilize mobile and drive-thru banking, order supplies online instead of going out. Work from home when possible. These are just a few lifestyle adjustments that may significantly slow the spread of COVID-19, giving the healthcare community a fighting chance.

Conclusion:

 

Social distancing and commonsense safety measures don’t have to involve shutting down the economy and ending life as we know it. Everyone can make minor adjustments for a major difference. Have some consideration for society’s most vulnerable members.

Healthy Americans who don’t want to isolate should at least consider making some changes instead. Doing so could save lives and prevent much worse from happening.

Is The Drunk You The Real You?

 

is the drunk you the real you?

Our society seems to have adopted a habit of glorifying the myth that our drunk selves are our most authentic selves. You may or may not have heard the adage “The drunken mind speaks a sober heart.” if not then you may have hard the more recent jest “There are three types of people who tell the truth: children, the angry, and the drunk.” Many, especially when drinking, have expressed that when you’re drinking, the real you comes out. The spirits relax you and allow you to let loose. You express yourself and behave as you would if you weren’t continually guarding yourself and living in fear of others’ judgment. What does science have to say about this?

Alcohol and Behavior

According to an article in the New York Post, the “drunk you” may be the personification of a popular myth. According to one study the Post cited, people may perceive themselves differently when they’re drunk but don’t behave differently at all. The study was conducted with controlled groups of close friends. Certain people were asked to drink while their friends observed their behavior as the alcohol took effect. The intoxicated subjects perceived their behaviors to be different.  Their friends didn’t notice a difference at all.

One of the issues I have with this study is that it was conducted by allowing the subjects to drink to the point of reaching an alcohol level of .9, just over the legal limit of .8 The subjects were then asked to wait and after a 15 minute “absorption period” were asked to do different puzzles and other activities designed to bring out certain personality traits.

This level of alcohol may not have been enough to get these subjects to the point of intoxication. What variables were considered? Did they account for weight, metabolism, and regular drinking habits? Even light social drinking on a regular basis could build up enough of a tolerance that the subject would barely be tipsy. The subject probably perceived themselves differently because they expected to become intoxicated during the study. They didn’t, so their friends didn’t notice any drastically different behaviors.

Some controlled research has shown that alcohol does reduce your inhibitions. It’s no secret that consuming alcohol makes us less impulsive. It seems to throw self-control out the window. Does this mean that alcohol, by supplying us with “liquid courage,” makes us truer to ourselves? Does alcohol make you the real you? First, let’s start with the effects it has on the brain and impulse control. It goes far beyond just making you feel more relaxed and ready to let your guard down.

Alcohol, The Brain, and The Real You

How alcohol affects your behavior

As Forbes explained, alcohol has various effects on different parts of the brain. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll focus on the cerebral cortex. Alcohol inhibits the cerebral cortex, slowing down the way we process information and engage in rational thought. It creates a mental fog that makes it challenging to think more clearly. The chemical processes involved would also inhibit the brain’s ability to make rational decisions.

How has society come to believe the lie that our “true selves” are somehow reduced to our animalistic nature? Whether it be the body or the heart, it wants what it wants, I suppose. Even so, we shouldn’t discount the decisions of the mind in shaping our identities. We should also consider how the decisions of a rational mind reflect the desires of a rational heart. I would say the choice to deny our animalistic instincts reveals far more of our truest character traits than the instincts themselves.

This argument also falls apart when you consider the emotion most drunks have in the morning. It’s not fear and terror that overwhelms them over having revealed the truth of who they were. It is shame and disbelief that for a moment, they lost sight of it in yet another drunken stupor.

What Defines “You?”

is the drunk you the real you?

The drunk you is not the real you at all, but a broken you. It is an empty shell of what you were before your mind was broken. It is not you, but a shameful and failed manifestation of you. It is a malfunctioning, dysfunctioning model. It is the animal you, the you stripped of the very thing that makes you human: rational thought.

The assumption that the real you is the drunk you is an assumption based on the belief that who we are is defined by who we become when you surrender choice.

I think who we are is defined by who we become when you surrender instinct and by the choices we make…

4 Ways to Break Into the Gig Economy

pexels-photo-326576

If you still have a burning desire in you to ditch the 9-5 grind and have decided that starting a business just isn’t for you, then guess what? There’s good news. There is still a way to get away from your regular job without ever having to start a business or make any serious investments. You also won’t have to take any significant risks, and what little you may have to invest will pay for itself in time.

Entrepreneurship doesn’t always have to mean that you own your own company. Sometimes this can mean that you simply provide a service as an individual contractor. In doing this, you still get to experience the joys of entrepreneurship and independence, and of course, the delight of setting your own schedule, making time for the things you enjoy.

The gig economy offers you the chance to become independent and self-sufficient as well as free to control your own schedule. It does come with the disadvantages as well as the advantages. You won’t get a discount health plan, paid time off, or any of the other advantages of regular employment, but if you do well, you’ll find the benefits pay for themselves.

Here are just four ways that you can get a piece of the pie that is “gig economy.”

Shop for Instacart

pexels-photo-1005638

Instacart is an excellent app for making money online, especially if you like to get out of the house, drive around, and help people. Instacart allows users to claim hours as they become available in certain “zones,” which include municipal areas where you’re willing to shop.

You may refuse any order that pops up during your shift, but if you accept, you’ll run around the store, find each item, scan it with your phone, and check out. Once you’ve made your purchases (using the company credit card Instacart provides) you’ll be ready to deliver your order. You receive an automatic fee for each delivery and a tip that is chosen by your customer.

This app will start out as a very slow earning opportunity until you begin to familiarize yourself with the local stores and become more efficient in finding your items. If you enjoy shopping, driving around, fast-paced work, and helping old folks, you’ll love this gig-economy job.

Deliver for Take Out Apps

You no longer have to apply at a pizza place to get paid to deliver. There are many apps online that allow people to order food from the comfort of their own home, including Grubhub, Uber Eats, and one of the oldest and most popular, Door Dash. Some of these apps have different requirements for their drivers. For example, Dash will require a crystal clean driving record.

Each of these customers always has work available. If you like running around, discovering great food, meeting up with friendly faces door to door, you’ll love some of these apps. Best of all, you can, of course, set your own schedule and earn your own tips. With these food delivery apps, you’ll have access to an all-day, every-day food delivery gig, and you can work and earn whenever you want.

Drive With Uber or Lyft

pexels-photo-3391830

You don’t have to go through the long and tedious process of applying to work with traditional cab companies anymore, and you don’t have to endure an unending schedule while constantly following orders barked out by a dispatcher over a muffled radio. Uber and Lyft are all over the country and changing the face of the Taxi Cab industry everywhere they go. With the efficient service and low prices offered by apps like Uber and Lyft, it’s no wonder cab companies are afraid and are aggressively lobbying the government to push them out. Uber and Lyft have made it easier than ever for anyone anywhere to become a cab driver and start collecting fares. All you’ll need is a smartphone and in good condition and in compliance with local and state laws. Once you have this, you’ll be ready to drive full time or part-time, pretty much whenever you want, and start earning.

If you love driving, have a great sense of direction and know your way around, and love meeting new and interesting people from diverse walks of life, you should definitely consider driving for the gig economy.

Try Your Skills on Job-Bidding Sites

pexels-photo-3727459

Think of something right now that you could do at home and deliver to someone over the web. This could include writing a blog post for someone, editing a video or an image, designing a logo, or creating a website. Pretty much any skill or service that you can use to deliver something of value to someone over the internet will afford you the opportunity to make money doing so. You no longer have to run to an office to be a web designer, a business writer, or a professional graphic designer. You can now do that online, and you don’t necessarily need expert marketing skills if you learn to master the art of using job bidding sites.

Job bidding sites may include a broader category of websites that essentially allow two-way networking opportunities between freelancers and people (or companies) who need them. These sites, like Upwork and Fiverr, allow you to build a public profile to showcase your skills. Often they also allow you to search through numerous online postings, refreshed regularly with requests from someone who might need your skills. You can then apply for (or bid on) a contract for a chance to earn some freelance income. Once you post your profile online, you may also find that some clients come directly to you, allowing you to make a deal without bidding against others. This will also often happen too.

Whether you’re on Freelancer, Fiverr, or Upwork, job bidding sites are a great way to start earning from gigs with your expert skills. They will often allow you a foot in career you may not have been able to obtain by applying for traditional employment.

There are many ways to make money without going to a regular paycheck to paycheck job, but which path you take will ultimately depend on what works best for you.

5 Low-Cost Business Ideas You Can Try Now

low-cost business ideas

One of the biggest obstacles aspiring entrepreneurs report standing in the way of their dreams is, of course, money. The accumulation of wealth is no easy task and as the old saying goes, “It takes money to make money” and let’s face it, in today’s economy most of us don’t have a lot of it laying around.

Unless you have really good credit and an income or assets to back it up or you’re able to travel around, make a great sales pitch, and get a bunch of serious investors on board you’re probably not going to be able to gather the required capital to start a sustainable business. Even worse, most businesses will not even produce a profit in the first 3-5 years. For many, this is simply too long to wait for a return on such a big investment, especially when there are bills to be paid.

Money is certainly an obstacle, but I once heard a motivational speaker say that when we’re low on money, we should see this not as an obstacle but as an opportunity to use our creativity. While many people don’t realize it, the internet has changed everything about our economy, and technology is continuing to change things all the time. Now more than ever, it is becoming easier to become an entrepreneur. Whether you’re breaking into the gig economy or starting something up from the comfort of your home, there are plenty of low-cost business ideas out there. Below are a few you should consider. However, you should also continue to explore other options out there that might be right for you.

These ideas require minimal cash on hand, don’t need you to immediately invest in a brick and mortar facility, and, best of all, don’t require you to quit your job.

1. Start an Arts and Crafts Business

Creative is a great source of inspiration for your low-cost business idea. If you happen to have a talent and a passion in the visual arts and take prides in the works of your hands you might want to consider starting an arts & crafts business Starting an arts & crafts business is easier than ever online, and you don’t have to sink a fortune into your operations. All you’ll need to get started is an art kit with some tools that may vary based on what you’re selling. Are you a painter, a talented jeweler, or do you make beautiful pottery? All you’ll need is some materials and some equipment, and you’ll be ready to begin making your products

Once you have products ready for sale, you will need a sales tax license from the department of revenue in your state and may need to register with your local jurisdiction. Liability insurance may be optional, depending on where you live, but you should consider making the investment to protect yourself, and it will be required if you’re selling at public events or in any public space.

You will certainly want to sell your products online using eCommerce apps like Shopify, or even better for an artistic audience, Etsy, but you will also want to consider attending public events like art shows, and festivals to both sell your products and promote your brand while creating valuable networking opportunities.

If you don’t have any artistic talent, you may want to consider partnering with an artist or a crafty friend who may have the creativity but lack the business skills and sense, as well as the confidence it requires to become a successful seller and entrepreneur.

2. Become a Mary Kay or Avon Rep.

Your low-cost business idea might now be your company at all, but a business opportunity established in the framework of an already well-known and reputable brand. If you have a knack for sales and a passion for cosmetics, you may want to consider throwing in your lot with Mary Kay, Avon, or a similar company selling similar products. You would be able to sell in person or online as essentially a one-person affiliate of already popular brands. Startup costs are insanely low compared to what you’d be paying to start your own thing. For example, Mary Kay only requires a $100 sign-on few and a monthly investment of $200 in wholesale orders to motivate you to keep your sales going. If you can manage that, then you already have a potentially profitable enterprise, and you get to do something you love aside from the 9-5 grind you’d endure with similar sales positions.

3.Create A Mobile Apothecary

Do you have an eye for beauty, a love for herbal remedies and all things natural, and a passion for natural health and beauty? You may want to consider starting your own online apothecary brand, making your own natural beauty products right from the comfort of your own kitchen. All you’ll need is some packaging (small mason jars seem particularly popular for lotions), some kitchen supplies, and some ingredients to make your organic cosmetics.

The all-natural beauty market is a growing and emerging one, but it is also a new one, and the business is somewhat high risk. You’ll want to know where to find where your buyers are hiding, and something to set your product apart from the competition, a special personal touch. You will need to know your stuff when it comes to herbal remedies and the use of natural products and ingredients, and you’ll need to be extremely careful not to make any health claims you can’t back up with proper (and legal) credentials.

This business requires patience and an eye for artistic arrangements as well as extensive knowledge of the natural world. You will certainly want to invest in liability insurance along with your sales tax license, and any permits and qualifications that may be required in your locality. Once you have all this, you’ll be ready to sell online, and may be able to convince a few local brick and mortar businesses to carry your new local brand.

4.Set Up an Online Freelance Service

 

Freelancing: low-cost business opportunities

Are you a writer, a designer, a web developer? You may or may not be able to obtain a traditional job in any of these fields unless you have certified training and experience to back it up, and even these fields are becoming increasingly more competitive, and companies have plenty of resumes stacked up. Even if this weren’t true, isn’t it so much better working on your own time, in your own home, on your own terms? If this sounds appealing and you know you have the skills the Freelance life may be for you.

You could start handing out business cards and starting email campaigns to get clients the old-fashioned way, or you may consider turning to job-bidding sites like Fiverr and UpWork for a quick start. The best part about these kinds of services is that they require almost no startup costs since you’ll be offering services you can already provide.

5. Launch a Moving Company and./or Odd Jobs Service

Even if you have no skills, no artistic talent, and love for making things with your hands, you can still start a business. You can start a company today by rolling up your sleeves and volunteering to do some old-fashioned work.

Starting a moving company may require some investments. You’ll need some boxes and packing materials and a small crew of folks who are willing to do some hard work and help out. You’ll also need a good vehicle, either a van or a truck that can carry a decent load for tools and belongings. If you don’t have a vehicle already, you may be able to lease one long-term at fairly decent rates, and it may be worth the investment if you’re making customers happy and driving around all the time.

Starting a moving business is usually going to be a seasonal venture. Moves are more common in the summer, and business may not be booming when the economy is weak, and if there’s a downturn in the housing market. For this reason, you may want to use this business as supplemental income, which you can further expand by performing odd jobs in the community.

Depending on what time of year it is, you may be able to make some extra cash mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, cleaning, and performing any other number of odd jobs. All you should need is a few tools and a willingness to work, and you’re ready to go.

 

moneyhand

                                                 Don’t let money stand in the way!

Most of these low-cost business ideas require very little capital investment, and if you do it part-time, you won’t have to jump all in at once and quit the regular job. You can schedule your jobs around your busy schedule and still make some extra cash on the side. You might surprise yourself and find yourself ditching the office before you know it as your business begins to soar.

Even so, you will want to look into additional business requirements. Most localities will require a tax license, and you will need to keep meticulous records on every penny you earn. Liability insurance should always be on the table, and if you’re taking on any help workman’s comp insurance is usually a legal requirement.

Once you have all this squared away, you’ll be ready to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. Money is no object, and why should it be? What are some of your low-cost business ideas? Share them in the comments, contact me, or join the discussion on Facebook!

Climbing The Ladder to Career Success

pexels-photo-2254122

Somethings you’ll need to know to get to the top…

 

If you’ve decided to pursue success the old fashioned way, through hard work and determination to succeed at your current jump, then you may have an uphill climb, but the effort is well worth the reward. You will need to do a bit of homework on your own as the path to success will vary by company, industry, job classification, and more, but there is usually a clear path up.

You can be well on your way up the ladder of career success in no time by keeping some of these concepts in mind and bringing them to execution.

Know Your Avenues for Moving up

For some people who may be new to the workforce, it may be easy to assume that promotions are just handed to people. Too many make the mistake of believing that if we work hard, do a good job, and show up on time every day. Eventually, a boss will come to us and say, “Hey, you want a promotion?” but the truth is, you have to go after. Most companies today usually have some kind of clear path for doing so.

Many companies pride themselves in hiring from among their own for important positions, such as supervisory and managerial roles, as well as other specialists. These same companies, however, aren’t just going to hand out a promotion randomly. To avoid the appearance favoritism and in order to select the best candidates, most companies will usually have a formal system for posting and announcing jobs, and avenue for you to apply. Ask your manager or HR representatives about upcoming opportunities, their requirements, and how to apply. More than likely, in today’s digital world, you’ll probably be using some kind of online portal

Update and Build your Resume

Even if you’re planning on staying with your current employer for life, you will still need to keep your resume fresh as it will be a valuable tool in moving up within the company. Build your resume by developing new skills, furthering your education, and taking on additional responsibilities in the company even if the opportunities don’t carry additional pay. This may be volunteering to train fellow associates, or joining a safety or activities committee, or working as a “back up lead,” these are just a few things that might look good on a resume when you apply to move up.

Ask your HR rep or manager about opportunities to get more involved in your team and programs that may provide you with additional training and education for free.

Check out this article about creating a well-crafted and well-formatted resume.

Master the Interview

Again, even though you may plan on staying with the same company for a while, you will still need to learn how to conduct a job interview. You may also have to plan based on questions that will be asked specific to your company’s process and the individual responsibilities of the position. It’s always good to ask for advice and interview tips from bosses, HR reps, and other fellow associates in the company who may offer insight to offer and possess familiarity with their interview process.

Here you can find some common interview questions that often blindside unprepared candidates.

Pursue Your Plan for Success

If you want to succeed in your career and climb the ladder to success, nothing beats just going out and doing it. Craft a plan from the day you land your job to the day you interview for your promotion, and go out and do it! In the meanwhile love and shine at what you are doing, and you will succeed, but if you can’t do that, it may be time to craft a new plan and pursue a new path to success…

3 Ways to Achieve Success Without a College Degree

success without a college degree

There is a particular lie that has perpetuated throughout our society. It has been around for as long as most of us have been alive. I’m talking about the myth that you cannot achieve success without a college degree. It’s impossible. You’ll never find a decent job, and you’ll never be able to obtain the knowledge and vital skills you need to achieve career success. Success without a college degree is simply impossible in today’s world.

It is true that according to USA Today that pay gaps between college graduates and high school graduates are growing and bigger than ever. However, that is most likely at least in part because most people are still living in many ways are still living in the old economy. It is an economy that, in the words of Andrew Yang, “no longer exists” and has prepared people for “life in the factory” or life as a traditional employee. This path can be successful, but it takes years of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice, as we will discuss. However, there are other ways.

In previous posts, I’ve discussed several ways to pursue traditional employment through the classic job search method. I’ve covered topics ranging from how to write a great resume and planning for compelling job interview interactions as well as sharing some insight on popular job search websites online. Today, however, we’ll be discussing some alternative paths to success without a college degree for the educationally disadvantaged among us.

First, I do want to pay a quick salute to trade schools, which also a great way to obtain career success without a college degree. Though I won’t discuss this option in detail, It is a great low-cost way to achieve financial success without the burden of college debt and the benefit of high-demand skills that ensure high pay and job security. Trade schools are much more affordable options compared to expensive universities. They may even be available for free for younger students through VoTech in public schools and the Job Corps program run by the Department of Labor.

Beyond this option, however, there are only three ways I know of to achieve success without the benefit of a college education. If you have more, feel free to let me know here, on social media, or by sending me an email.

Climb the Ladder

success without college
This is the “tried and true” method probably handed down to us by our parents. It is, unfortunately, built on the idea that you will be successful in life if you just keep your head down and do a good job. Be respectful, show up on time every day, work hard, and be a good employee. Do these things and success will follow. Most Americans today are realizing that this is a lie, and many successful people agree, however, this doesn’t mean there’s no merit at all to making it up the ladder of career success the old fashioned way.

This method takes a lot of time and commitment and may involve a great deal of sacrifice. You may be required to spend a lot of time away from loved ones, put in long hours, and handle loads of responsibility Your work may even force you to relocate and travel. At first, as you work your way, you’ll receive very little in return, but eventually, you’ll enjoy a life of success at your job. The truth, this method of finding success without college works, but it takes years, and you have to put in the time and effort. You also have to work smarter, not harder, as we were told. Know where to find the opportunities, what it takes to successfully obtain them, and know who to talk to advance.

I will cover this topic more thoroughly in a future post coming over the next few weeks.

Join The Military

military for success without a college degree
Joining the military is a great way to achieve success without a college degree for a few reasons. First, however, it is crucial to understand that if you are going to enlist, you have to know what your goals are when you get out and plan accordingly. You will want to research and consider each branch and what they have to offer. You’ll also want to prepare for the ASVAB as the scores you achieve will determine what career paths are available to you. Finally, you want to ensure you have at least some level of a “job guarantee” such a substantial promise is usually only offered by the Navy. However, the other branches will often try to accommodate and at very least may guarantee you a decent, but broad career path category.

Depending on your job or “rate” as some recruits call it, you may already have a clear path to success once you get out based on the job skills you’ve obtained. A navy electrician, for example, may find work as a technician without the burden of going through a tech school since they’ve already been trained professionally and performing the job for years. Military veterans also always have an advantage in obtaining jobs in part because companies will make an effort to hire veterans to honor their service, get certain tax breaks, and yes, to make themselves look patriotic in the public eye. Companies also value the discipline and professionalism that veterans bring to the table as opposed to someone who just arrived from the street.

Former military personnel can also achieve success without a college degree, almost guaranteed in the field of law enforcement. The job would probably require that you be a particular fit for the job, as some folks don’t find it a fulfilling career. If you feel a calling to police work, however, the military is the way to go. Military vets automatically receive bonus points on placement tests and priority in hiring at most stations.

Finally, even if none of these options work out for you, and you absolutely can’t achieve success without a college degree, the military still provides a way up for you. The military offers numerous programs designed to help pay college debts and provide funding for college after you get out. Sometimes the armed forces will even offer to pay accredited courses you take while serving on active duty. You’ll have a busy schedule, but you can always choose to obtain at least some college for free as a part-time student.

Become An Entrepreneur

entrepreneurship for success without a college degree
Did you know that immigrants and refugees are twice as likely to start businesses as American citizens? There may be many factors involved in this. However, experts theorize that one contributing factor is that entrepreneurship is a clear path to success for economically and educationally disadvantaged individuals who are otherwise denied other economic opportunities. With Ecommerce and the gig economy on the rise, it’s easier than ever for everyday people to get in on the action.

I’ll be discussing more on these options in future posts that you can expect over the next few weeks. I’ll also give some focus to entrepreneurship, primarily focusing on low-cost and easy business ideas and websites that allow you to break into the gig economy. Until then, The Small Business Administration offers some great information on how to go about starting a business in the beginning stages.

If you’d like to share your story of how you’ve achieved success without a college degree, feel free to contact me by email or by connecting with my Facebook page.