K-State Research and Extension News
PERSPECTIVE is a weekly public affairs program distributed to radio stations throughout the state. 
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If one is to believe the latest numbers it takes about a billion dollars to get elected president of the United States.  It only takes about 10-million dollars if you wish to be a U.S. senator…and the price drops to around a million dollars to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  This stems from the fact that a small elite groups of donors…super PACs…and corporations are now the power brokers in American politics.  One author and law professor feels this change will affect both our democracy and our system of capitalism.

According to a new survey done by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, many campus chief financial officers lack confidence in the sustainability of their colleges' business model over the next decade.  At the same time, the CFOs seem unwilling to take cost-saving measures that might ignite campus controversy.  The survey is based on the responses of chief financial officers at 438 colleges and universities.  The guests are Scott Jaschik, editor at Inside Higher Ed, and Dr. Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University.

It’s reported that in their lifetime, as many as 25-percent of women will say they have been sexually assaulted.  But one expert on the subject feels those numbers are wrong…very wrong.  He says no one addresses one of the most serious elements of sexual assault — a failure to obtain consent.  And, the average person does not relate to the importance of needing to have permission before engaging in an intimate act with another person.

- 8/22/2014
What does one do when slave ownership is part of the family history?  Is it important to deal with that legacy or is it something to simply leave in the past?  For one white man it became necessary to confront his family’s history as slave owners… a history that is a mixture of brutality and a little bit of kindness that shines a light into a sad era of American history.

As migrants continue to cross or try to cross the U.S. border from Mexico, most news stories see the situation as simply a U-S border crisis or a domestic issue.  Very few stories look past our border to see that we are not alone in trying to deal with desperate migrants wanting to enter the country.  And, very few stories have looked at the numbers and faces of the many who have disappeared trying to make that journey.

The U.S. Constitution requires that every ten years there be a count of the U.S. population.  And since the first census was taken it has become evident there is an ever-increasing need for not only more and different information, but also for a change in how that information is gathered.  One of the problems concerns a discredited relic of 18th-century science, the “five races of mankind,” which lives on in the efforts of the census bureau.

The number of Americans infected with the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya has increased significantly and the virus has now been found in mosquitoes in the United States.  In addition, at least 300 travel-related cases of chikungunya have been reported in 31 states. On today’s Perspective: the thoughts of one of the world’s leading researchers of the virus, who believes that many more people are at risk of becoming infected.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released the 25th edition of its annual KIDS COUNT Data book.  The yearly effort uses 16 indicators in four areas to examine the trends in how kids in the United States are faring…economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.  The good news is that children continued to show improvement in the areas of education and health.  However, economic progress still lags, even after the end of the recession.

- 7/18/2014
For some time the stories of soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have filled the news.  For one scholar those stories on P-T-S-D merely haunt the veneer of a much deeper problem for American society.  On today’s Perspective program two experts take different approaches to P-T-S-D, not just in its diagnosis and treatment, but also in what it means to our national self-image.

The United States puts more of its young people behind bars than does any other industrialized nation.  In Kansas, over a thousand kids are currently in the custody of the state Department of Corrections.  And, one child advocate says to keep Kansas kids safe and hopeful, the state must reduce the incarceration of youth and reinvest funding in successful alternatives.

The United States incarcerates more of its young people than does any other industrialized nation.  And of those in state facilities, more than 40-percent are in prison for low-level, low-threat offenses…such things as technical violations of probation, drug or alcohol possession, minor property offenses, and truancy.  Throwing these kids into a juvenile institution costs the United States some 5-billion dollars a year…but the costs go far beyond just dollars.

- 6/26/2014
If you are planning to be outdoors in the coming weeks and months, a couple of experts are warning to be extra cautious when it comes to ticks.  In fact, in some areas of the state tick exposure can truly be massive, with the possibility of encountering dozens, even hundreds of the little pests.  And these are pests that pose very real dangers for humans and animals, alike.

Despite the fact that the United States has a Black president, one scholar and civil rights expert says remnants of our racist past continue to have an impact on much of what we do today.  We tend to forget or cover-up the fact that slavery was at one time official policy of this country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the United States will export a record amount of agricultural products this year…almost 150-billion dollars’ worth.  A Kansas State University agricultural economist says we continue to export more, both in pounds and dollars, and that the increase is because of economic growth and population growth in other countries.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that an individual cap on total campaign contributions was a violation of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.  In their decision, the high court overthrew a 38 year old cap.  One author says the purpose of political contributions is to acquire access and influence with those who can affect public laws and policy.  Consequently, allowing unlimited contributions essentially allows unlimited influence to a very few wealthy enough to make the largest contributions.

For many citizens, there is this unconscious feeling that they can never be anything more than a spectator to whatever change might take place.  We'll hear from one activist and entrepreneur who feels that the average person not only can, but should work to take back their government and reclaim democracy. The political rancor continues to grow, with no end in sight.  For many citizens, there is this unconscious feeling that they can never be anything more than a spectator to whatever change might take place.  We'll hear from one activist and entrepreneur who feels that the average person not only can, but should work to take back their government and reclaim democracy.

For many, the hours in the work week go far beyond what the “forty society” likes to see as the norm. Those extra hours come at night, weekends, and even on vacation. One expert says those long hours will eventually catch up to you, taking a toll on productivity and health, and even making you stupider. There has to be a balance between productivity and a healthful work environment – and the role in that balance played by leadership.

The first-ever report on the physical activity of America’s children and youth was released last month…and those releasing the document say it is nothing to be proud of.  In fact, according to the report, the physical activity falls far below recommended levels, with only about a fourth of the kids meeting the current guideline of 60 minutes of moderate physical activity each day.

In looking at the problems of our educational system it is easy to blame the teachers, and, of course, we far too often do the easy thing.  One author and educator says when it comes to blame, it’s time to start looking at politicians, the media, and the corporate testing community.  In addition, he says public schools should not be funded on the basis of where they located or the value of the local property.

There are currently over 800 tribes or tribal groups in the U.S., with some 2-point-2 million members.  While it is very difficult to really know the impact of European settlers on Native Americans, the population variances over time might give some indication. The estimations of the numbers when Europeans first arrived vary from as few as 2-point-1 million to as many as 18 million.  By the 1890s, those numbers had fallen to an estimated 250,000. So, what does it mean to be Native American?

Institutions of higher education in the United States have always been seen as facilitating the American dream and offering a system of upward mobility.  However, one author and scholar says in the last few decades those institutions have evolved in a way to reinforce or even widen the gaps between people of different socio-economic backgrounds. In other words, American society is becoming ever more unequal, and dramatically so, in part because of higher education.

The struggle for racial equality, for racial justice in the United States is one that has been in the works since the eighteen-hundreds.  Despite that long history, a lot of work remains to be done.  And much of that work needs to take place in how we educate our children.  One educational expert says we need to highlight the social, political and economic factors that have disproportionately affected children of color in our schools.

The discussion of sex, any discussion of sex, has always been a touchy subject.  What constitutes femaleness and maleness?  What is the interaction between cultural gender norms and genetic theories of sex?  Do cultural gender norms influence genetic theories of sex?  These and other questions have been debated since the beginning of the twentieth century.  Part of that debate includes a search for male and female in the human genome.

Technology is growing at an ever-increasing rate.  And while we love our technology one expert sees a dark side to it, fearing that we might become more and more under the control of the computer.  Already much of the business world is controlled by computer management programs, and while those programs offer speed and efficiency, they bring with them disturbing shortcomings.

For the experts looking ahead to feeding an ever-growing world population, there is concern about problems that could lead to a global shortfall of food between now and 2050. According to one expert their fears are based in part on the projected growth in global population, the impact of improved wealth, and the impact of urbanization on the available land and labor to produce crops.

Over the past 30 years the income gap between the rich and poor has gotten wider. Unfortunately, as the income gap widened, so did the educational opportunity gap.  Despite these gaps, two experts on education feel there are ways to increase educational opportunities for all children.

Our government has a problem, namely a Congress that doesn’t seem to be able to do its job.  According to Gov-Track, the 113th Congress passed only 66 laws in its first year. That was the lowest tally in 40 years…or as far back as Gov-Track has reliable data. What’s worse is that only 58 of those bills became law and many of them did nothing more than name post offices. So, what can be done to get Congress to do its job? The author of a new book says the answer is simple…Americans have got to start voting.

The U.S. Constitution requires that every ten years there be a count of the U.S. population.  Since the first census was taken it has become evident there is an ever-increasing need for not only more and different information, but also for a change in how some of that information is gathered.  According to a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, a discredited relic of 18th-century science, the “five races of mankind” lives on in the 21st century work of the census bureau.

The United States does not do well when ranked against other developed countries for its standard of living. In fact, the Human Poverty Index ranks the U.S.  17th out of 22 countries. Defining poverty in the United States utilizes two different elements…one defines poverty by looking at a family and the resources and income available to that family.

One aspect of higher education that seems to receive little attention is something called service learning and engaged scholarship.  And despite the fancy name, it is nothing more than the chance for those within the university community to use their expertise to help others.  And that help can range from helping a community like Greensburg, Kansas, recover from the destruction of a tornado to showing elementary school kids how to use a simple garden to learn and de-stress.

Last year, there were 56 tornadoes reported in Kansas – the quietest year for the violent storms since 1994.  There was only one injury in the state…and no deaths.  The Warning Coordination Meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in Topeka, Chad Omitt, says Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 3rd-7th, and that your planning and preparation need to take place now.

The many provisions of the Affordable Care Act create new protections for those dealing with insurance companies.  But, it also mandates that everyone who can afford it must get health insurance – and the coverage must begin by April 1st of this year. The Affordable Care Act makes some important changes to healthcare in this country…changes that Kansans need to know and understand.

Half of the jobs in the United States pay less than $34,000 a year…and almost a quarter pay only $22,000, which is below the poverty line for a family of four.  At the same time, the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million…and when all forms of compensation are examined, it was over $11 million. So, why can some be so rich, while others are so poor?

The American War on Poverty is a war that many feel we not only lost, but also wasted many valuable resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere.  Despite the widespread feeling that government handouts do not help the poor, there is new evidence that the war on poverty did make progress.  A new book shows the war did and does, in fact, work.  Maybe not quite as well as many had hoped, but nevertheless there were improvements in people’s lives.

A four-year study published last year finds if current water use continues some 69 percent of the groundwater stored in the High Plains Aquifer…also called the Ogallala Aquifer…will be depleted in 50 years.  The study, done at Kansas State University, takes a look at the future availability of groundwater in the aquifer, which supplies 30 percent of the nation's irrigated groundwater and is the most agriculturally important irrigation in Kansas.

There is a new marketing term…manfluence. It was coined by Midan Marketing following research showing that in today’s economy, as more and more women join the workforce, a significant percentage of men are now fulfilling roles that had traditionally been held by women. How men behave while shopping can greatly influence how products are merchandised and sold. On today’s Perspective: a look at how today’s economy is possibly changing American family life.

About 7% of the American workforce finds itself without a job. However, for one management expert, it’s not the unemployment numbers that worry him – it’s the long-term unemployment numbers...which show 38% of the unemployed have been out of work for over six months.

The most troubling trend that surfaces from this year’s Kansas Kids Count data is once again the growth in the number of kids that live in poverty.  According to the head of Kansas Action for Children, one of the leading child advocacy organizations in the country, the trend is particularly troubling because the single most important factor affecting the lives of children is whether or not they are born into poverty.  Being born into poverty affects just about everything from their educational outcomes to their health outcomes to their financial security in adulthood.

The Niagara Movement, National Afro-American League and National Association of Colored Women are just a few of the civil rights organizations that most people aren’t familiar with. Modern day organizations, such as the N-A-A-C-P and National Urban League, owe a great deal to these little-known groups of late 19th and early 20th centuries. And, while it was a tough journey for today’s civil rights organizations, it was nothing compared to the arduous struggle of those earlier organizations.

The political rancor in the United States continues to grow with no end in sight.  Not only is there little or no attempt at any kind of reconciliation, but for many citizens there is this unconscious feeling that they can never be anything more than just a spectator to whatever change might take place.  However, one activist feels the average person, not only can, but should work to take back their government and reclaim democracy.