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Student Loans Are Becoming The Most Crippling Debt In America

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It’s one of the key facets of the American Dream: if you want to have a great house, beautiful spouse, and that head-turning Mercedes, then you need to get a good education. For many, an education does just that, as it provides them with the training they need to get into the field they are passionate about, to pursue the career that helps them achieve this “ideal” reality.

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However, there seems to be a much darker side to post-secondary education that is strengthening its grip on the necks of well-intentioned Americans. This dark side is student debt. According to the Federal Reserve, student loan debt is now nearly $1.2 trillion in the United States alone.(1) A 2012 study revealed that the average cost to attend an American post-secondary institution [tuition, room and board] ranges from approximately $14,300 to $37,800 per year.(2)

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With the cost of education so high, it’s no wonder that so many Americans find themselves swimming in student debt well beyond the years of their education.

Forever A Burden

The particularly troubling part is that unlike other forms of debt, student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, meaning they have the potential to forever tarnish credit reports and bury the hopes of students carrying them. (1) As we all know, a poor credit score has a strong rippling effect on insurance rates, the ability to rent/ get a mortgage, the ability to get a job, personal relationships, and much more.

According to the Federal Reserve the median balanced owed is $14,000, however approximately 14% of borrowers owe greater than $50,000.(1) With this debt impacting the student’s ability to get a job, many wonder what solution is even available to help combat this staggering issue.

One potential option is refinancing, which can substantially lower interest rates but requires the applicant to have a steady income and high credit score – making it not much of solution for the majority of students. This cycle should make student debt’s recent rise to the top of debt delinquency rates come as no surprise to anyone.

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In an attempt to shed some humor on this serious issue weighing on so many Americans, the popular comedy website CollegeHumor released a funny video back in 2012 equivocating student debt to an STD, check it out:

The Debt Collective & The Corinthian 15

In an attempt to stand-up to student debt, 15 individuals announced a debt strike against Corinthian Colleges for the amounts they owe to the for-profit schooling giant. Corinthian Colleges – which encompass Everest Institute, Wyotech, and Heald College – fell under scrutiny and lost access to federal funds in 2014 for deceptive marketing and inaccurate graduation rates. The funding loss forced Corinthian to sell or close all of its schools, something that has left many of its students in an awful situation. (3)

Fifteen of its students – known as the Corinthian 15 – are refusing to pay back their owed debt and have sought the help of The Debt Collective, an offshoot group of the very popular Occupy Wall Street Movement. The Debt Collective have been quite successful thus far in combatting student debt, and look to add the issue being faced by the Corinthian 15 to their list of successes.

Movements such as The Debt Collective, in my opinion, are certainly worth familiarizing yourself with whether or not you find yourself buried in student debt. All of these movements are a living example of the power in numbers, something we can all utilize in bringing about needed change in so many sectors of the world.

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What are your thoughts on the state of student debt? Do you think it’s a sign of how backwards certain things in our world are? Or do you merely see it as a byproduct of some poor educational decisions? Let us know via the comment section below.

SOURCES

(1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/02/19/americans-are-having-more-trouble-paying-off-their-student-debt-than-their-houses/

(2) http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76

(3) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/02/25/a-dangerous-revolt-people-are-refusing-to-pay-back-student-loans/

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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COVID Vaccine Hesitancy Widespread, Even Among Medical Professionals

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Public health groups, including the World Health Organization, are making a concerted effort to reduce COVID vaccine hesitancy, as many medical professionals and minority groups remain doubtful about safety and efficacy.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is information about vaccines sometimes labeled by the mainstream as an "anti-vax conspiracy theory?" Why are concerns never really addressed properly and constantly ridiculed or unacknowledged?

It’s no secret that vaccine hesitancy is at an all time high, even among many physicians and scientists. This has actually been observed for a while. For example, one study published in the journal EbioMedicine  in 2013 outlines this point, stating in the introduction:

Over the past two decades several vaccine controversies have emerged in various countries, including France, inducing worries about severe adverse effects and eroding confidence in health authorities, experts and science. These two dimensions are at the core of vaccine hesitancy (VH) observed in the general population. VH is defined as delay in acceptance of vaccination, or refusal, or even acceptance with doubts about its safety and benefits, with all these behaviours and attitudes varying according to context , vaccine and personal profile, despite the availability of vaccine services VH presents a challenge to physicians who must address their patients’ concerns about vaccines and ensure satisfactory vaccination coverage.

At a 2019 conference on vaccines put on by the World Health Organization this fact was emphasized by Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project. She is referenced, as you can see, by the authors in the study above. At the conference, she emphasized that safety concerns among people and health professionals seem to be the biggest issue regarding vaccine hesitancy.

She also stated,

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider…

We have to ask ourselves the question, why? Vaccines are not a one size fits all product, in the US alone nearly $4 billion has been paid out to families of vaccine injured children, and a number of studies are calling into question their safety. Aluminum, for example, seems to be a concern. You can and read about why here, but that’s just one of multiple examples.

Here’s an example of a vaccine injury I recently wrote about regarding the HPV vaccine.

Below is an article that was recently published Jeremy Loffredo, a reporter for The Defender. It goes into details about vaccine hesitancy among health professionals when it comes to the new COVID vaccines that are about to hit the market. 

As details on the latest COVID vaccine contenders flood the news cycle on a daily basis, reports of concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine are widespread among many demographics, even including the professional medical community.

As vaccine hesitancy grows agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), are stepping up efforts to build vaccine confidence through public relations and communications campaigns.

Surveys reveal vaccine hesitancy

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles’ Karin Fielding School of Public Health surveyed healthcare personnel working in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. As the Washington Post reported, they found that two thirds (66.5%) of healthcare workers “intend to delay vaccination,” meaning they do not intend to get the COVID vaccine when it becomes available. They plan instead on reviewing the data once it’s widely administered and proven safe.

Seventy-six percent of the vaccine-hesitant healthcare workers cited the “fast-tracked vaccine development” as a primary reason for their concerns. Typically, vaccines take between eight to 10 years to develop, Dr. Emily Erbelding, an infectious disease expert at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an article titled, “The timetable for a coronavirus vaccine is 18 months. Experts say that’s risky.”

The coronavirus vaccine frontrunners — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — are expected to make their debut in January. The pharmaceutical giants have exponentially accelerated the average safety and review timeline for vaccine development and production, to get the vaccines to market in under a year. Erbelding admitted that the accelerated pace will involve “not looking at all the data.”

Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, said in a video that the number of physicians expressing hesitancy was “unprecedented” and “posed a real risk” to public confidence in vaccines.

A recent Gallup poll showed that only 58% of Americans plan on getting the COVID vaccine when it’s available. An October poll conducted by Zogby found that nearly 50% of Americans have concerns about the safety of the coming COVID vaccines.

A new collaborative survey project by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Langer Research found that Black and Latinx Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about the coming COVID vaccine.

The survey, as reported in the Washington post, claims to be “one of the largest and most rigorous conducted on this topic to date.” It found that only 14% of Black Americans trust that a vaccine will be safe, while only 34% of Latinx Americans trust it will be safe.

The survey also found, in the context of COVID, only 19% percent of Black Americans trust drug companies, while less than a third trust the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “look after their interests.”

According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fears surrounding the painful or harmful side-effects of the COVID vaccine are rooted in reality.

According to CNBC, during a virtual Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ meeting on Nov. 23, Dr. Sandra Fryhofer told fellow CDC officials that patients need to be aware that the side effects from the COVID vaccines “will not be a walk in the park.” Fryhofer acknowledged that side effects from the vaccines have been reported to mimic symptoms of a mild case of COVID, including muscle pain, fever, chills and headache.

Fryhofer, who explained that both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID vaccines require two doses, worries that her patients might not come back for a second dose after experiencing potentially unpleasant side effects after the first shot.

As a participant of the Moderna vaccine trials noted “it was the sickest I’ve ever been.”

Health officials try to combat vaccine hesitancy

Despite this, officials at the forefront of the COVID response plan to combat vaccine safety concerns and hesitancy using, what some are calling, questionable psychological techniques.

For example, the WHO, which named “vaccine hesitancy” as the top global public health threat, has hired the PR firm Hill + Knowlton to identify micro-influencers, macro-influencers and “hidden heroes” on social media who could covertly promote the organization’s image as a COVID authority in order to “ensure WHO’s advice and guidance is followed.”

Cass Sunstein, the chairman of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Behavioral Insights, recently wrote an article in Bloomberg in which he promoted the use of popular celebrities, athletes and actors as tools for vaccine persuasion against those who “lack vaccine confidence.”

“Trusted politicians, athletes or actors — thought to be ‘one of us’ rather than ‘one of them’ — might explicitly endorse vaccination and report that they themselves have gotten the vaccine,” Sunstein wrote.

Then there’s the “Guide to COVID-19 Vaccine Communications,” developed by the University of Florida and the United Nations that aims to help governments improve COVID vaccine uptake. The authors of the guide promote the tactic of covertly using trusted community leaders to help with pro-vaccine information.

Citing vaccine hesitancy among the African American community, the guide suggests that barber shops and hair salons in predominantly black neighborhoods might be tapped to help disseminate approved vaccine messaging.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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Senator Questions Mark Zuckerberg On Censorship After Facebook Whistleblower Comes Forward

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In a recent Judiciary Committee Hearing, Mark Zuckerberg gets grilled by Sen. Josh Hawley about whether or not Facebook collaborates with Google and Twitter to censor information. Hawley also mentions he was contacted by a Facebook Whistleblower.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are some "experts" given the limelight and mainstream media air time, while others are censored and ridiculed? Why is there such a battle to control human perception on a variety of different topics today?

The amount of censorship of information taking place on the internet today is truly staggering. It may not seem that way to your everyday person, but here at Collective Evolution, which has been operating for nearly twelve years now, we’ve experienced it first hand. Some of our articles have been wrongfully “fact-checked” despite the fact that there is no misinformation or misinterpretation, and we’ve also been subjected to constant Facebook/Youtube algorithm changes and demonetization. As a result of this censorship, we had to create CETV, this is the only thing that’s sustaining us and allowing us to continue to do what we do.

It seems that any type of information which threatens the status quo or any information exposing wrong-doings of or threatens the interests of governments and big corporations is subjected to censorship. When it comes to COVID-19, for example, we’ve seen a large majority of doctors and scientists all over the world being censored by social media giants simply because their information and opinion opposes the World Health Organization and recommendations that governments are making. Not only are these voices silenced and completely unacknowledged by mainstream media, they are also heavily ridiculed.

In our opinion what’s taken place and happened to not only us, but to other platforms as well, has been very illegal, unethical and immoral.  It’s happened on an even larger scale with Julian Assange, for example. To think that someone who has exposed war crimes and other wrongdoings of multiple governments and big corporations is currently fighting for his life is very disheartening. What does this say about the world we live in, when those who expose crimes, immoral and unethical actions by powerful entities are locked up? It’s easy to feel quite powerless in the face of Big Tech censorship, they can basically censor any piece of content they please and not only that, they can provide a new “fact-checked” article that tells a completely different story, and then spread it as if it were truth.

In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour… – Edward Snowden (source) (More on Snowden’s thoughts here)

Below is a clip from a recent Judiciary Committee Hearing, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gets grilled by Sen. Josh Hawley about whether or not his company collaborates with Google and Twitter to censor information. Hawley brings up the fact that he was contacted by a Facebook whistleblower, and goes into more detail about questions about censorship that Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to have an answer for.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day, censorship of information only seems to have more people questioning what’s going on. If information is clearly false, why does it need to be “fact-checked” and censored? Why is there, as I’ve said before, a digital authoritarian Orwellian fact checker going around the internet telling people what is and what isn’t? Should people not have the right to examine information for themselves and determine what they wish to believe? Why are Big Tech companies working so closely with governments to control the narrative and shape our perception about what’s really going on?

Why do we hold on to ideas even when new evidence tells us it’s time to question them? What state of being identified so strongly with ideas of the mind that we think those ideas are our identity, and that there is no other possibility? Why do we become so polarized in our beliefs, be it about COVID or even politics? Why can’t we all come together and have appropriate discussions instead of having Big Tech companies regulate information in the way they do, and literally have us on one side or the other?

Ultimately, it’s time to ask the bigger questions, which is why I’m sharing the video below from CE founder, Joe Martino.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading

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Edward Snowden On Big Tech Companies, Like Facebook, Censoring & Controlling Information

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Glenn Greenwald interviews NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about Big Tech censorship of information, and the muzzling of journalists who go against the grain.

  • Reflect On:

    f your perception is built by mainstream media, do you truly know what is going on in the world if they are often working to hide or censor stories that would dramatically change your perception?

Glenn Greenwald is no stranger to censorship, he’s the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden (NSA mass surveillance whistleblower)  to put together his story and release it to the world while working for the Guardian. He eventually left the Guardian and co-founded his own media company, The Intercept, an organization that would be free from censorship and free to report on government corruption and wrong-doings of powerful people and corporations. He recently resigned from The Intercept as well due to the fact that they’ve now censored him, and is now completely independent. You can find his work here.

Anybody who reports on or sheds a bright light onto immoral and unethical actions taken by governments and the powerful corporations they work with has been subjected to extreme censorship. In the case of Edward Snowden, he’s been exiled, and Julian Assange of Wikileaks is currently clinging to his life for exposing war crimes and other unethical actions by multiple governments and corporations. There are many other examples. What does it say about our civilization when we prosecute those who expose harm, corruption, immoral/unethical actions by governments and war crimes?

Greenwald recently interviewed Snowden about internet censorship and the role big tech companies and governments are playing. Greenwald explains that in one of his earliest meetings with Snowden, he (Snowden) explained that he was driven in large part by the vital role the early internet played in his life, “one that was free of corporate and state control, that permitted anonymity and exploration free of monitoring, and, most of all, fostered unrestrained communication and dissemination of information by and among citizens of the world without corporate and state overlords regulating and controlling what they were saying.

This is what he and Snowden go into in the interview posted below. Prior to that I provide a brief summary of Snowden’s key thoughts.

Snowden starts off by mentioning government surveillance programs and the companies they contracted to do this work and compares them to modern day Big Tech giants censoring information on a wide range of topics. We see this today with elections/politics, to medical information dealing with coronavirus and vaccines, for example.

“In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour… – Snowden

So basically, these Big Tech companies have become slaves, if you will, to the governments will, or at least powerful people situated in high places within the government. Snowden brings up the fact that many of these companies are hiring people from the CIA, who come from the Pentagon, who come from the NSA, who have top secret clearances…The government is a customer of all the major cloud service providers. They are also a major regulator of these companies, which gives these companies the incentive to do whatever they want.

This is quite clear if you look at Facebook, Google and Amazon employees. There are many who have come from very high positions within the Department of Defense.

In no case is this more clear than Amazon – Snowden

Amazon appointed Keith Alexander, director of the NSA under Barack Obama.

He was one of the senior architects of the mass surveillance program that courts have repeatedly now declared to be unlawful and unconstitutional….When you have this kind of incentive from a private industry to maintain the warmest possible relationship with the people in government, who not just buy from you but also have the possibility to end your business or change the way you do business…You now see this kind of soft corruption that happens in a constant way. – Snowden

Snowden goes on to explain how people get upset when government, especially the Trump government, tries to set the boundaries of what appropriate speech is by attempting to stop big tech censorship, he then says,

If you’re not comfortable letting the government determine the boundaries of appropriate political speech, why are you begging Mark Zuckerberg to do it?

I think the reality here is…it’s not really about freedom of speech, and it’s not really about protecting people from harm…I think what you see is the internet has become the de facto means of mass communication. That represents influence which represents power, and what we see is we see a whole number of different tribes basically squabbling to try to gain control over this instrument of power.

What we see is an increasing tendency to silence journalists who say things that are in the minority.

You can watch the full conversation between Greenwald and Snowden below, the conversation is about 40 minutes long.

 

Closing Comments: This kind of information almost begs the question, are we ready as a society to truly create and disseminate journalism that is honest, integral and bi-partisan? Why is it that these types of organizations fail or struggle? How do some media companies fail? Well, they no longer stay true to their mission. They fall to the pressure of politics and fall into ideology. How many other times did ideology change what media outlets reported? Yes, it’s almost impossible to have zero bias, but how close can we get to zero? How can we achieve this when media outlets who do not fit within the accepted framework and disseminate information that challenges the popular opinion are constantly being punished for simply putting out information?

As Snowden mentioned above, these Big Tech companies in collusion with governments are literally attempting to not only censor information, but change the behaviour of people as well, especially journalists. When you take away one’s business or livelihood as a result of non-compliance, you are in a way forcing them to comply and do/say things you they way you want them done/said. We’ve experienced massive amounts of censorship and demonetization here at Collective Evolution, but we haven’t changed as a results of it. We simply created CETV, a platform that helps support our work as a result of censorship.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading
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