March 19, 2010
I’m most concerned about the long-range implications of the rising debt. The debt projections are, if anything, too optimistic. To deal with this situation, I’d drastically cut back on government programs and put in tailored incentives for economic growth.
, author of and former chairman and CEO of G.E..
The lack of affordable health care is a cliché by now, but the trickledown effect terrifies me. Small business owners can't attract talent; children with chronic health problems will grow up as takers, not givers; and my generation, now an aging population, will drain the resources from our children as we spend our resources on inevitable illnesses and go “on the dole.”
Just as some people seem to forget that Christmas happens every year, and go shopping on Dec. 23, we are the least plan-ful culture on earth. It's going to bite us -- and maybe devour us.
, author, No Time to Wave Goodbye.
Arthur Agatston, M.D.
An unbelievable two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese right now. By 2020, it’s estimated that a third of our children will be, too. As a preventive cardiologist, I see the consequences of the obesity epidemic every single day as I treat patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, advanced heart disease and more.
To stem this tragic tide, we need to change our insurance system, which currently pays more for doctors to perform procedures than to teach obese patients about the value of a proper diet and exercise program. Until incentives for prevention are built into our health care system, the problem of obesity and related diseases will persist.
We must also banish our fast food, supersized-is-better mentality. Our children are overfed yet undernourished. Like their parents, they're eating a steady diet of nutrient-deficient processed foods that are high in sugar and saturated and trans fats, and very low in fiber. To stop our obesity epidemic, parents must take a hard look at what their kids have on their plates. Good nutrition begins at home.
, author, The South Beach Diet.
Ariane de Bonvoisin
We’re a country run on fear. Fear about the financial markets and the economy, fear that we’re spending too much or consuming too little, fear about our national debt. Fear impacts everything -- jobs we stay in that we hate, how we aren’t loving to our spouses, how selfish we are. We’ve become disconnected from real life.
We need a vaccine against fear. I’d give people tax breaks for doing a job they love. I’d get people to question what their lives are about. I’d encourage them to take absolute responsibility for their choices and beliefs. I would help raise the general awareness of our society. Then our choices become more conscious.
Ariane de Bonvoison
, author, The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making any Change Easier.
I worry about the breakdown of the American family – the crisis of disengaged parents. How would I solve it? A national campaign, not unlike the one that has persuaded us all to exercise more, built around the question, “Have you been a parent today?” Take a walk, have a talk, share a meal, recruit your friends, make it a game, forge a bond.
, author, Walking the Bible, will publish The Council of Dads this spring.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
We just had the greatest economic crisis of our time, and because we learned lessons from the Great Depression, the suffering wasn’t what it was then. But the downside is that we haven't put laws and regulations into place to avoid another horrendous breakdown. The financial sector is even more concentrated than it was three years ago.
The idea that establishing a consumer financial protection agency would hurt banks is basically saying that they do well by taking advantage of those least likely to protect themselves. The financial sector needs to pay much more attention to risk, and those who sell financial services must ask customers what they want, rather than simply providing prepackaged products. Every decision to buy should be made in conjunction with a detailed risk analysis.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
, author, Failing America’s Faithful and former lieutenant governor of Maryland.
Distractedness. I’m concerned about where it is leading us and the beauty it is alienating us from -- politicians distracted by polls and partisanship, students distracted by Facebook and Twitter, teachers and parents distracted by tests, everyone distracted by texts and phones and emails. What should we do? Focus on what really matters, deeply, one step at a time. Listen to our young minds with patience and compassion. Meditate. Then quality will emerge.
, author, The Art of Learning.
America needs to re-embrace the unique gift of our civil liberties and dial back on the high-decibel infighting. Whether you’re a politician or an ordinary citizen -- whether you’re a conservative, a liberal, or a member of the new Tea Party -- it’s important to remember that everything we’ve fought for is embodied in our right to express our unique vision for our nation, and in our responsibility to listen to an opposing viewpoint and accord it respect. One of America’s great guiding principles is that without dissent, there is no democracy. As Ben Franklin said, “He who sacrifices liberty for security shall have neither.”
It also wouldn’t hurt if we all learned to laugh a little more. It gives us all a human perspective on the serious side of things.
will publish Growing Up Laughing this fall.
Young people today are saddled with debt – from student loans to credit cards – while entering the most difficult job market in decades, with unemployment at 16 percent for those between the ages of 20 and 24. This when most parents are in no financial shape to help; many have seen their homes and retirement accounts plummet in value. I have three suggestions for protecting this generation from shouldering the burden of the recession now and in the future: 1. The federal government needs a muscular, concerted effort to create jobs; 2. We should revamp the student loan system as proposed by President Obama so that students, not banks, profit; and 3. We need a national financial literacy program for our high school students, so they’re equipped to deal with the complexities of their economic lives.
Beth Kobliner, author, Get a Financial Life.
I’m concerned about all the people who are concerned, all the people (and the media) that would rather whine or complain or cast blame, as opposed to the majority of people, those that are actually rolling up their sleeves and creating forward motion. Believe it or not, these are the good old days, right here and right now, and the positive actions we take today are going to pay off for a long time to come. Time for Cassandra to leave the building.
, author, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?