WASHINGTON, DC—In this week’s address, President Obama shared his New Year’s resolution with the American people: to do whatever it takes to move the economy forward and make sure that middle class families regain the security they’ve lost in the last decade. This is why the President appointed Richard Cordray this week to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect American consumers. And while we learned that the United States economy continues to add private sector jobs – with over 1.9 million created in 2011 – more needs to be done to move the economy forward. The President will also announce in this week’s address that he will host an “Insourcing American Jobs” forum at the White House on Wednesday to hear from business leaders who are bringing jobs back home and see how we can get others to follow their lead.
Category Archives: New Year's Resolutions
Every year 40 to 45 percent of American adults make one or more resolutions to change certain behavior patterns. Among the top personal goals are weight loss, getting more exercise and quitting smoking. People also want to act more responsibly with respect to their finances and get out of debt.
Research shows that making resolutions can be useful because people who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make them. And even if only about 50 percent of people keep their resolutions for six months, it is still useful to try.
If people can make these resolutions and change their behavior, perhaps it would be useful for the state to do so as well. Here are some suggested resolutions to help New Jersey do better in the coming year.
Enact a fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of all New Jersey residents. Enact no new laws without a full understanding of the revenue gain or loss to the state and local governments. Do a complete analysis of who benefits and who loses when laws are changed. All of this should be done in a manner that informs the public and is based on fact. Transparency is critical. The richest taxpayers in New Jersey just received a tax windfall from Washington. If managing the state’s finances in a fiscally responsible way requires increasing taxes on some, the state should do it.
Cut the hype; explain the facts. Poor financial decisions have caused New Jersey’s debt to grow measurably over the years. Since the 1990’s, governors and legislators have borrowed when they shouldn’t have; have failed to make pension and retirement payments; have expanded programs without resources to provide for them; and have cut taxes with no understanding of the impact. It has taken many years to get into this situation; it will take years to correct it. Public employees who plow the roads, teach children, put out fires and pay the bills are not the enemy. They have contributed towards their benefits; the state has not. A thoughtful plan of action for the future agreed upon by all is needed.
Commit to reducing gasoline consumption by 10 percent through a combination of increased fees on gas consumption and improvements in public transportation. New Jersey last increased fees on motor fuel consumption in 1988 while at the same time making its public transportation system one of the most expensive to use in the nation. New Jersey should expand the sales tax to include motor fuels; raise its gas tax; and use some of the new resources to make mass transit more affordable again. The benefits of this include less congestion on the roads, cleaner air, healthier people and independence from authoritarian oil-producing nations.
Get a Better Education
Over the last year, the Governor has engaged in an unproductive and ugly debate about New Jersey’s education system. Calling public school children “drug mules” does not get at the central debate about how to continue to educate New Jersey children and future leaders. Cutting $800 million in state aid from school budgets will likely increase class sizes without having a measurable effect on lowering property taxes. The governor, the legislature, NJEA, teachers, administrators and parents need to work together to address the problems that exist and fix them.
Get a Better Job
The state’s colleges and universities produce the leaders of the future and are critical to the state’s competitive business climate. Young, educated families move to New Jersey because of the state’s good schools and the high quality, well paid work opportunities provided throughout this region. But the state needs to be aware that it must effectively support its colleges and universities and the students who attend them. Education has made America a world leader. Investments in higher education are a much better growth strategy than tax breaks to corporations.
Take care of the needy. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to its 2010 level of 25 percent of the federal credit, recognizing that New Jersey is a high cost-of-living state for working poor people. Expand services to feed the hungry, provide heat to low income people and care for the elderly and disabled. Reinstate the appropriations to family planning organizations, school breakfast and lunch programs, and after school programs that lost their funding under the current budget. Adopt a homeless animal. Feed the birds. Don’t kill deer and bears.
All of these resolutions call upon us to invest – in people, the environment and the state’s infrastructure. They ask us to listen and think and get the facts. They ask for civility and kindness. It’s clear we have to do better than we have done in the past. And that’s what resolutions are all about. If we resolve to do these things and we only succeed at half of them, New Jersey will be a better place.
PSYCH CENTRAL – It’s that time of year again when people plan to attend a New Year’s Eve party with friends and family, and then resolve to do something better or different next year.
It’s also the time of the year many people make resolutions that are bound to fail.
But they don’t have to. People sometimes make resolutions that will be impossible to keep. Making realistic, simple resolutions can lead to a greater chance of success in the upcoming year.
According to previous research, we know that nearly 40 percent of people set the goal of starting to exercise, while 13 percent want to eat better. Nearly 7 percent say they want to reduce their consumption of alcohol, drugs, caffeine or to quit smoking. These are all reasonable goals. So how does a person find success with them?
1. Be realistic in your goals.
Choose one goal, then break it down into smaller, more manageable bits. For example, if you want to save $1,000, think about it in terms of saving $20 per paycheck. That makes your goal less intimidating. Every time you save some money, praise yourself. Rewarding yourself for every positive step will help you have the confidence you need to hang in there.
2. Start with a plan and stick to it
Studies show that people who make impulsive resolutions are less likely to stick to them. Think about what is most important to you and create strategies to deal with the problems and setbacks that will come up as you move towards your goal. Tracking your progress will help as well; the more you monitor and praise yourself, the more likely you are to succeed.
3. Team up with a friend or loved one
Make a list of your goals and share them with a friend or loved one. You are now accountable to two people: yourself and the other person. You will also get a sense of satisfaction from helping your friend accomplish his or her goals, too. Such an informal pact can help hold your feet to the fire when you feel discouraged or want to give up — they can offer you some encouragement and support (and you can do likewise).
4. Look at the bright side and allow yourself mistakes
Focusing on the positive side of things will give you more energy and enthusiasm to pursue your goals. People who believe that they can succeed are more likely to do so. For example, praise yourself for losing five pounds, but don’t punish yourself for gaining one back. You will reach your goal more easily if you accentuate the positive. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish the small goals you set for yourself, or if one day you “fall off the wagon” or mess up. Remind yourself that every day is a new day and an opportunity to try again.
5. Think of resolutions as opportunities to try new things
Resolutions are a time of the year not only to try and “fix” the problems in your life, but also to try out a new way of being, a new activity or hobby, or a new attitude. Resolutions should not seem like punishments; if you try to make them fun, you will be more likely to stick with them. If your goal is to be healthier, try going for a 10-minute walk before work and enjoying your neighborhood. Think of January first as a chance to adopt a healthier lifestyle, not as the start of a period of denial
6. Try, try again
If you don’t succeed at first, don’t be discouraged. Not many people are able to reach their goals on the first try. Try again! There’s no shame in not succeeding on our first try and although it may be a little discouraging, it doesn’t have to be an excuse to stop.