BUT IT MUST AVOID A DEFECT OF TOO MANY OTHER INDUSTRIES

(Feat.  A Formula to Calculate the P&L of a Legal Cannabis Dispensary or Store)

By Darryl K. Henderson, J.D., January 14, 2019

THE PURPOSE OF BUSINESS

The purpose of business is to create value for customers, employees, business partners, investors and communities.  Value is certainly being created within the U.S. legal cannabis industry:

  • The combination of hemp-derived CBD products and legal cannabis sales are projected to reach $45B by 2022.
  • It is a source of bona fide therapeutic relief and life-enjoyment for Customers.
  • It is a source of gainful employment for Employees.
  • It is a source of viable money-making opportunities for Business Partners.
  • It is a source of wealth creation for Investors.
  • It is a source of crime reduction and revenue for economic and social services development for Communities.

There is still time to avoid the defect of too many other industries, however:

  • The failure, too often, to leverage the value of diversity with equity and inclusion

How can that defect be avoided?

  • In a nutshell, minimize the natural tendencies and negative effects of ego, greed, power, isms and xenophobia.  More details are provided below.

At the outset, let’s be real, the U.S. illegal “black” market of cannabis is not dead.  That market is estimated to be 4 to 6-times the size of the current legal cannabis industry – around $60B – and which is still 36% larger than sales projections for the combination of hemp-derived CBD products and legal cannabis sales.  What are the drivers?  For black market producers and sellers, (i) expensive or inaccessible state and local legal cannabis business licensing, (ii) strict and sometimes cumbersome legal cannabis lab testing requirements, (iii) the IRC Section 280E federal income tax requirement, (iv) exorbitant state and local legal cannabis taxes make operating in the black market easier, quicker and less expensive, and (v) consumer demand is strong.  This translates to ginormous opportunities for the legal cannabis industry once all the factors to positively influence legal cannabis consumer demand are properly addressed.

Cannabis is illegal at the federal level under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (the “CSA”).  The CSA classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance, placing it alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy in a category reserved for drugs considered to have no medicinal value, have a high potential for abuse, and are unsafe to use without medical supervision. Cocaine, crystal meth and fentanyl are all listed in Schedule II of the CSA, which is reserved for less dangerous drugs.  There are five schedules in total.  Schedule V includes codeine, Epidiolex and Lyrica.

By contrast, “industrial hemp,” which is a form of cannabis, was legalized in 2018 under the 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Trump on December 20th.  Industrial hemp is now legal in all U.S. territories. It has been removed from coverage under the CSA and is considered an agricultural commodity, like wheat, corn and tobacco. Hemp businesses will no longer face the business and regulatory obstacles associated with handling a Schedule I illegal substance under the CSA – like banking barriers, business insurance barriers, the IRC Section 280E requirements, being barred from advertising on Facebook and Instagram, etc.       

Industrial hemp has less than 0.3% THC – which is the psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis that causes a person to get “high.”  It does, however, have a high concentration of CBD – which is the non-psychoactive chemical compound that does not get a person high and is linked to several health benefits.  Industrial hemp is used to make CBD-oil based health products, food products, rope, clothing, paper, building supplies, fuel, etc. 

The FDA retains regulatory authority over foods, drugs, dietary supplements and cosmetics.  So the recent FDA Statement regarding hemp legalization requires businesses that sell hemp-derived products in interstate commerce – as is already occurring – to avoid stating that those products will yield therapeutic, dietary, nutritional or cosmetic benefits without prior FDA approval.  An exception to this FDA parameter is GRAS products (i.e., hemp seeds).

I am personally intrigued with the medicinal value of cannabis.  To think that we can provide therapeutic relief to patients and their families for traumatic brain injury, cancer, sickle cell, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, epilepsy in children, PTSD, psoriasis, etc. simply through the use of Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa plants (including non-hemp and hemp cannabis) – those are “life-quality” enhancements worth supporting. 

For example, in desperation, one of my relatives decided to try a CBD-oil salve for his chronic swelling and painful knees. The warning on his doctor prescribed Pharma cream indicates that overuse could cause heart problems. So he stopped using the Pharma cream and tried to endure the knee swelling and pain.  But the CBD-oil salve has no troubling warnings and after applying it to his knees he felt relief within 2 minutes.  No more swelling.  No more pain.  And that has remained constant over six weeks and counting.  This gentleman is a church deacon, marine veteran, and the model of an upstanding citizen.  A CBD product, derived from industrial hemp, has changed his life.

The enjoyment, rest and relaxation that can also be derived from responsibly using legal cannabis as an adult-use product – similar to consuming wine, beer or liquor – is merely added value.

As of today, the legalization of cannabis in U.S. territories – including Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico – for medical use (MMJ), recreational or adult-use (RMJ), CBD-oil, and industrial hemp is as follows:

  • MMJ = 36 territories (29 active)
  • RMJ = 11 territories (7 active)
  • CBD-oil only = 14 territories (14 active)
  • Industrial hemp = 53 territories under the 2018 Farm Bill (42 state-pilot programs)
  • Idaho and South Dakota have not legalized cannabis in any way, so outside of the federal legalization of industrial hemp, cannabis is illegal in those two states.

In 2017 legal cannabis sales in the U.S. totaled $8.3B.  Sales are projected to reach $10B in 2018.  There are over 121,000 people employed in the legal cannabis industry today.  Analysts predict that the industry will grow to $23B in sales by 2021, with over 290,000 employees.

A couple of years ago, one acre of industrial hemp sold for $30,000.  In 2018, one acre of industrial hemp sold for up to $50,000.  Analysts predict that in 2019 one acre of industrial hemp will likely sell for up to $100,000.  One acre of hemp yields 1,200 to 1,500 plants, and each plant yields about 1 pound of product. Hemp-derived CBD products will have sales of $570m in 2018 and are predicted to reach $22B by 2020.  Currently, retailers that sell hemp-derived CBD products include Estee Lauder, GNC, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot.

How much money do cannabis retailers make – i.e., medical dispensaries or adult-use and CBD product stores?  The answer varies.  But here is a formula and some conservative P&L estimates:

Hours of Operation =

Mon-Sat = 10 am – 8 pm; Sun = 11 am – 7 pm = 69 hours per week

Transactions =

15 per hour; 150 per day; 1,050 per week; 4,200 per month; 50,400 per year; $80 per transaction

Revenue (including state/local sales and excise tax) =

100% = $4,032,000

COGS =

42% = $1,693,440

Gross Profit =

58% = $2,338,560

Federal Income Tax =

Corporate Rate of 21% (and per IRC Section 280E) = $491,097.60

Operating Expenses =

40% = $1,612,800

Operating Profit =

6% = $234,662.40

ITDA =

5% = $201,600

Net Income =

1% = $33,062.40

The calculations above are impacted by several variables, including geographic location; state and local tax, license and other fees; size and foot traffic of a dispensary or store; and whether the retailer sells medical or adult-use, flower or non-flower, CBD products, and apparel and other ancillary products.  Some dispensaries report annual revenue of more than $20m.

New Frontier Data, a research firm that analyzes the legal cannabis industry, estimated that in 2017 states collected $655m in tax revenue on the $8.3B legal cannabis sales (i.e., sales tax, excise tax, cultivation tax and product tax), of which $559m came solely from cannabis, not vaporizers, grinders and other ancillary products.

New Frontier Data projects that if cannabis were federally legalized in all 50 states the U.S. government would collect at least $132B in tax revenue over the next eight years.  And federal legalization would create 782,000 jobs immediately, growing to 1.1 million by 2025, including jobs with cultivation, production, retail and ancillary businesses.

Major corporations are closely watching the value being created within the legal cannabis industry.  And some of those major players have jumped into the water:

  • Constellation Brands, the maker of Corona beer, invested $2.4B in a cannabis firm. 
  • Heineken, the beer maker, recently acquired a firm that is producing a new IPA beer made with cannabis.  Another Heineken subsidiary has made a THC-infused sparkling water. 
  • Molson Coors Brewing has formed a joint venture with a cannabis firm. 
  • Coca-Cola has announced that it is having conversations with a cannabis firm about making cannabis-infused beverages. 
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev is partnering with Tilray to spend $100m to research cannabis-infused beverages, infused with THC and CBD, and the research is said to “guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities.” 
  • Altria Group, the owner of Marlboro brand cigarettes and an investor in Anheuser-Busch InBev, has invested $1.8B in a cannabis firm.  (Altria is also buying a 35% share of the vaping company JUUL for nearly $13B.) 
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro, the lawn and garden company, has invested over $140m in cannabis firms involved in plant nutrient and hydroponic technology.

In 2003, U.S. Patent No. 6,603,507 was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  That patent covers the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids — the chemical compounds in cannabis that do not cause a person to get “high,” – to protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases, like cirrhosis.  Yes, that is contrary to the assertion under the 1970 CSA that cannabis has no medicinal value. 

Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, recently made the following statement during an event at Harvard University on drug addiction, as reported by the State House Wire Service: “Just as we need to look at criminal justice laws, rules and regulations, we need to look at health laws, rules and regulations, and that includes the scheduling system.  I’ll take it somewhere else: marijuana. We need to look at the way we schedule different medications across the board, because one of the concerns that I have with marijuana is the difficulty that the folks have to do research on it, because of the scheduling system.”

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “THC can increase appetite and reduce nausea” and “may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and muscle control problems.”  NIH also recognizes CBD as a chemical compound with potential medical use in “reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions.”  Again, yes, that is contrary to the assertion under the 1970 CSA that cannabis has no medicinal value. 

So where are we?  Let the evolution of the U.S. legal cannabis industry continue – guided by medical research, public education, product quality and safety, protection of community standards, environmental protection, legal compliance, and equitable and inclusive opportunities for diverse segments of communities to contribute to and enjoy the economic value of the industry.  According to the Pew Research Center and Gallup, the majority of U.S. adults feel the same way:  62% of U.S. adults (Pew) and 66% of Americans (Gallup) support regulated cannabis legalization, according to surveys conducted in October 2018.

KEY MILESTONES IN THE LEGALIZATION JOURNEY OF CANNABIS IN THE U.S.

Pre-1930s:

  • It was a source of textile products, medicines and food products, as well as rest, relaxation and enjoyment for a few hundred years prior to the 1930s (i.e., both hemp and non-hemp cannabis)

1930s:

  • It became demonized as an illicit drug in the 1930s without any medical, scientific, criminology or social data and analysis; the only basis was racist and xenophobic views about Mexican and Filipino immigrants and African American jazz musicians and artists.  Harry Anslinger was the single most influential public figure to create the negative stigma surrounding cannabis.  He testified before Congress and said the following:  “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”  Anslinger also led the institutionalization of the derogatory slang term “marijuana,” instead of the proper term “cannabis,” referring to the Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants.

1930s to 1970s:

  • During the late 1930s through the 1970s, anti-cannabis legislation was put in place both domestically and internationally.  Remember that the CSA was signed in 1970.  Also, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended (the “Single Convention”), is an international treaty that was signed in 1961.  It has 186 nation parties, including the U.S., as of February 2018.  The Single Convention is designed by international cooperation to (1) to combat narcotic drug abuse by limiting the cultivation, manufacture, production, distribution, import, export, trade, possession and use of specific drugs, defined to be narcotics, and (2) to deter and discourage drug trafficking of specific narcotic drugs.  Cannabis is listed as a Schedule I and Schedule IV drug under the Single Convention.  The one exception to the treaty would be if such drugs were used for medical treatment and scientific research.

1996:

  • It was legalized by the state of California in 1996 for medical use (now medical cannabis is legal in 36 U.S. territories, of which 29 are active).

2003:

  • In 2003, U.S. Patent No. 6,603,507 was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, covering the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids to protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases.

2012:

  • In 2012, it was legalized by the states of Colorado and Washington for adult-use or recreational use (now adult-use cannabis is legal in 11 U.S. territories, of which 7 are active).

2013:

  • In 2013, it was the subject of a CNN documentary entitled, “Weed 1: A Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.”

2018:

  • In 2018, the FDA-approved the CBD-based drug Epidiolex to accompany three other cannabis-based drugs – i.e., Marinol, Syndros and Cesamet, and the DEA accepted those drugs and classified them as Schedule V substances under the CSA.  (Epidiolex is derived from non-hemp cannabis with less than 0.1% THC.)
  • Also, in 2018 hemp became legalized as an agricultural commodity by the Farm Bill of 2018 and was completely removed from coverage under the CSA (i.e., the hemp cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC), and hemp-derived CBD products are being purchased both online and over-the-counter nationally, no matter whether the products have been approved by the FDA.

2019:

  • Today it is the fuel of a U.S. industry with most recent annual sales of $10B, and projected growth to $23B and 290,000 employees by 2022 – and the combination of hemp-derived CBD products and legal cannabis sales are projected to grow to $45B with over 300,000 employees by 2022.

BUT PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE TOO OFTEN EXCLUDED FROM THE VALUE DERIVED FROM OWNING, OPERATING AND WORKING WITHIN THE U.S. LEGAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY

Every human being has a God-given equal (“same”) right to be treated equitably (“fairly”) so as to leverage his or her unique abilities and skills.

More so than beer, wine and liquor, for years, cannabis has been a unifying “social element” for people of different personalities, characteristics, backgrounds and affiliations. 

For example, at colleges and universities across the nation you can find the equivalent of a white dude from Orange County, CA + a white babe from West Virginia + an Asian dude from New York + an African American dude from the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans + an African American babe from Atlanta + and a Hawaiian babe from Honolulu socializing and passing cannabis joints, vaporizers, bongs, infused beverages, etc.  The U.S. legal cannabis industry should reflect that degree of diversity and inclusion at every level and in every aspect.

Unfortunately, the U.S. legal cannabis industry struggles with diversity and inclusion, particularly the inclusion of people of color (PoC).

Marijuana Business Daily, a leading cannabis industry publication, has reported that white men own and operate 81% of U.S. legal cannabis businesses, while PoC own and operate just 19% of those businesses.  By comparison, white men own 57% of total privately-held businesses in the U.S. and make-up 40% of the U.S. labor force. 

The primary challenges to involving PoC in the legal cannabis industry are as follows:

  • Fear = the fear amongst PoC to get involved in the industry, driven by their awareness of the disproportionate number of convictions for PoC for drug crimes (e.g., 57% of people in state prisons for drug offenses are black and Latinx, but they only make-up 32% of the U.S. population), and the lack of education about both the benefits of cannabis use and the status of cannabis legalization.
  • Money = the huge disproportionate lack of capital and access to capital for PoC to afford the thousands-to-millions of dollars in application fees, license fees, permits and capital outlays needed to launch and operate a legal cannabis business.
  • Exclusion = the failure, too often, to include qualified PoC in the different ownership, governance, leadership and staff opportunities within the industry, as well as the inability of too many PoC to participate in the industry because of criminal drug convictions.

The solutions to the exclusion of PoC in the legal cannabis industry may include the following:

  • Federal Legalization = remove cannabis from Schedule I of the CSA.
  • Scientific Support = build more medical research and documentation of the benefits and risks of cannabis use.
  • Education = establish community education initiatives about the benefits and risks of responsibly using cannabis, the existence of community services for any form of substance addiction, and the status of cannabis legalization – i.e., education to offset the 80-plus years of negative stigma pinned upon the cannabis plant.
  • Inclusion = implement well-executed state-regulated legal cannabis social equity programs, as well as comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiatives within legal cannabis businesses and trade associations.  And create tax credits, favorable loans and grants for DBE-owned legal cannabis start-ups.

Inclusion is the unfinished business of diversity.  That fact has too often been a defect of several U.S. industries.  But the U.S. legal cannabis industry is new-enough to avoid widespread infection by that defect if the right preventative steps are taken immediately.

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT PARTNERSHIPS CAN BE SOLUTIONS TO THE ISSUES WITH STATE-REGULATED LEGAL CANNABIS SOCIAL EQUITY PROGRAMS

In an effort to correct the ill-effects of the war on drugs on PoC and the poor, a few states, like California, are taking deliberate steps to involve more PoC and economically disadvantaged individuals in the legal cannabis industry through social equity programs. California has allocated $10m towards its social equity programs, and in some instances local municipalities are supplementing those funds.

However, many legal cannabis industry insiders believe these programs create or fail to address more issues than create remedies to the exclusion of PoC.  The issues cited include:

  • State and local staffing and funding shortfalls within agencies charged to operate social equity programs.
  • Complex cannabis business license application processes, driven by heavily matted regulations, which benefit applicants with more capital and experience.  Large companies can use teams of attorneys and business proposal-writing specialists to complete cannabis business license applications and wade through layers of state and local government bureaucracy.  PoC too often do not have the luxury of those resources.
  • The exorbitant costs – cannabis business license “application fees” range from $250 to $25,000 and cannabis business “licenses” range from $1,000 to $200,000 annually, depending upon the state and whether the fee is for cultivation, production, lab testing, distribution, or retail businesses.
  • Long waits to acquire cannabis business licensing for those applicants who do qualify for the social equity programs.
  • Limited oversight of business partnership arrangements between social equity applicants and outside investors, which has led, in too many instances, to the outside investors hijacking the ownership and operations of the social equity applicants’ businesses through tricky partnership agreement terms and conditions.

As reported by Marijuana Business Daily, “Many social equity applicants typically lack access to bank loans or venture capital and/or have no knowledge of how to apply for those resources to get their cannabis companies off the ground. So, partnerships between applicants and investors are often necessary.  While partnerships are intended to financially benefit both parties, critics contend the practice can give rise to opportunities for investors to divest social equity applicants of their share in the business.”

On the other hand, some states just do it and do it right.  One example is Louisiana.  The first of ten dispensary license awarded in the state of Louisiana went to a half-century-old African American-owned and operated pharmacy named H&W Drug Store.  And one of the two cannabis cultivation and processing operations is Southern University, a historically black university.  That level of diversity, equity and inclusion must exist at every level and in every aspect of the Louisiana legal medical cannabis program – across a variety of diversity dimensions.

Nevertheless, states should establish “program management partnerships” with community organizations to provide business expert oversight and supportive services to social equity applicants.  The National Urban League (NUL) and business management consulting firms – just two examples – can provide social equity program participants with necessary oversight and business support. 

The expert oversight and supportive services can include advisory, program management and staff augmentation services delivery in the areas of business partnerships, contracting, organization development, HR, accounting, finance, IT, marketing, operations management, legal compliance, etc.  Those oversight and supportive services can be paid for with the state and local revenue from legal cannabis taxes and licensing fees collected from cultivation, production, lab testing, distribution, and retail operators.

But the federal government holds the real key to addressing issues with legal cannabis social equity programs.  Removing cannabis from the CSA would provide a clearer and more comfortable path for states to attract and engage outside business experts to help with social equity programs – especially to engage 501(c) (3) organizations like NUL. 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights recently sent a letter to the 116th Congress that included the following recommendation:  “Pass legislation de-scheduling marijuana with racial equity and justice reform components.”  The letter stresses that bills to federally legalize cannabis should “include reparative justice/reinvestment language for communities most impacted” by directing legal cannabis tax revenue towards those communities.  The letter further states:  “End federal prohibition in a way that acknowledges decades of harm faced by communities of color and low-income communities.”

On December 18th, congressional democrats on the Joint Economic Committee published a report championing the “economic benefits of legalized cannabis at the state and national levels.”  Named, “The National Cannabis Economy,” the report finds that the marijuana industry brought in more than $8 billion in sales in 2017, with sales estimated to reach $10 billion this year and expected to soar to $22 billion by 2022.  “The growth of the cannabis economy presents opportunities for greater job creation, more tax revenue, and better patient care,” the report states, while also summarizing the banking and tax issues that current federal policy causes for state-regulated cannabis businesses.  “It’s time we legalize marijuana, but at the minimum, we must reduce the conflicts between federal and state laws so that the industry can continue to create jobs and bolster state economies,” said Senator Martin Heinrich, (D-NM), the ranking member of the committee.  “This conflict hurts small businesses and constrains the economic benefits of legal cannabis.  But in order to realize the benefits, we must act on legislation ….”

Three separate bills to end federal cannabis prohibition have been introduced in the 116th Congress.  Seven such bills were introduced in the 115th Congress.  As young athletes say today, “Let’s go!”  And as we move forward, let’s make sure that we foster equity and inclusion to leverage the value of diversity at every level and in every aspect of the U.S. legal cannabis industry.

About the Author:

At his core, Darryl is motivated to help, teach and lead people (his “life mission”).  He has amassed a broad range of knowledge and skills in a variety of roles, including HR executive, chief diversity officer, chief employment compliance officer, operations executive, business management consultant, executive coach, entrepreneur, and employment and commercial lawyer.  Darryl earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Georgia School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics degree from Emory University.  His LinkedIn Profile:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/darryl-k-henderson-b87521134

2 thoughts on “THE U.S. LEGAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY IS CREATING VALUE”
  1. WOW,,,, this is a long article. Not to easy to follow.

    BUT,,, if cannabis is good, if the Saints players use some, will that help them to perform better and win?

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by Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.

Authenticity offers emotional protection and supports satisfying relationships.

There are a lot of axioms about being genuine, being who you are, and living an authentic life. People who present themselves accurately to others and behave in ways that are congruent with their identities actually do reap important relationship benefits.

Being true to yourself is encouraged by pop psychology, the media, our friends, and our parents. The expectation today is that everyone should embrace their unique identity and forego trying to be like everyone else. “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” This slogan can be found on posters, T-shirts, tote bags, and mugs. When a friend is interviewing for a new job, you probably remind them about the value of “being yourself.” Research proves that employees who are supported in their authenticity are more productive and happier than those who are less authentic in the workplace.

Feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin takes a lot less effort than play-acting someone else’s idea, or your idea, of who you “should be.” It’s kind of like advice about lying: it’s harder to keep a story straight when it’s not based on the truth. We spin our wheels trying to remember the various details that we artfully inserted into a fabricated story and end up crashing into traps of our own creation. Learning to be authentic is more about unlearning the habit of trying to be someone you’re not.

Hallmarks of Authenticity

  1. Awareness of how you feel inside about the world and the people in it. It’s okay to be unhappy or angry about what you see happening, but lying about it to yourself isn’t the best choice if authenticity is what you’re aiming for.
  2. Ability to take in and process information about yourself with an unbiased perspective. Most everyone thinks the best of oneself and wants to focus on their strengths, but being able to acknowledge and accept shortcomings and areas for growth will provide a foundation for growth that “rose-colored glasses” won’t allow.
  3. Behaving in ways that are congruent with your aims and beliefs. We lose respect for people who “say one thing but do another.” Don’t be that person.
  4. Engaging with others with no intention to deceive or exploit anyone. Lying to get what you want suggests that what you want isn’t yours to request.

Authenticity Minimizes the Pain of Rejection

One of the powers of authenticity is that we don’t worry so much about the people who don’t like who we are. When we’re not trying to be someone else, we can accept that not everyone will appreciate who we are and what we stand for. We don’t feel as bothered by exclusion from social groups when we choose to live in congruence with our beliefs, aims, and values (Gino & Kouchaki, 2020). Authenticity is connected to self-esteem and if we’re okay with ourselves, we’re okay with others being “not okay” with who we are. We also don’t feel as threatened by novel situations when we’re being true to ourselves. If you can be comfortable in your own skin, you will be more comfortable anywhere you show up.

Authenticity Is Good for Life and Good for Love

With the ability to self-present any way we want on social media and dating or hook-up sites, it can be tempting to create an “aspirational profile” or a downright bogus profile that is shared with potential matches. However, the research indicates that being unapologetically yourself can pay off in the long run if you’re looking for a long-term relationship. article continues after advertisement

The higher our levels of self-reported authenticity, the less anxious we tend to be about trusting our partners and the more we focus on the positive aspects of our relationship (Wickman, 2013). And when we are with a partner who we believe to be authentic, we feel more satisfied in the relationship. We enjoy more trust in our pattern and experience higher levels of commitment to the relationship. In addition, authenticity has been shown to be positively connected to emotional intelligence and more pleasing outcomes in romantic relationships (Josephs et al., 2019). When we’re with someone who supports our own authenticity and is equally “real” with us, we enjoy greater security in the relationship, which is integral to each partner’s ability to relax with one another and to be true to themselves.

Conclusion

It’s not “putting on an act” or showing “false bravado” or an inflated sense of self-esteem that offers us “rejection protection,” but the practice of living an authentic life. When “you do you,” it gives those around you the opportunity to be themselves, as well. This honesty and genuineness form the foundation on which satisfying and dynamic romantic relationships, friendships, careers, and futures can be built.

Him Loving You Ain’t One of Them

The Love Dr Is Back!

They say if you love something let it go and if it comes back it must be meant for you. Let me just say that the lie detector test has determined that is a lie. Just because something or somebody returns to you doesn’t mean that it is meant for you, or good for you. In fact sometimes what keeps coming back is what is holding up what’s meant for you.

This is something we see a lot in relationships. Oftentimes I hear women saying he came back so he must love something about her. That is a fact. The problem is he can love something about being there and still not love her. Not knowing the difference between the two is why so many women are still dealing with the back and forth.

Usually when I say this to a woman her immediate response is, “well why is he here then”? There are a few reasons that he keeps coming back, but let me assure you none of them have anything to do with love. How do I know you ask? Because if he truly loved you he wouldn’t have left in the first place, and you can’t debate me on that.

1st Reason

The first reason he keeps coming back is because of the benefits. Even though he may not want you, he can still want what you’re giving. The fact that he can get love, affection, sex, attention, and whatever else from you and still do whatever he wants is what a keeping him coming back. The minute you put provisions and expectations on what you’re giving him, the chances of him trying to come back will be slim and none.

2nd Reason

The second reason is he is selfish. He might know that he is not ready for the woman you are, but keeps coming back so nobody else can get there. As long as he keeps coming back you stay emotionally connected and if he is who you really want you won’t give anyone else a chance. Every time he shows up again, you have hope that one day he might be the man you need him to be. The truth is he is only blocking the man that is already who you need them to be.

3rd Reason

And lastly, and the one that will hurt the most, you keep letting him come back. The truth is if he valued you there wouldn’t be all the back and forth. At the same time if you loved yourself more there wouldn’t be the back and forth. Reopening that door every time he comes back is only proving to him that you don’t even believe you deserve better than him. Also, it shows him you can’t find better than him, because if you could then you wouldn’t keep taking him back.

The truth is a man can see the value in what you do and not see the value in you. It’s up to you to stop them from walking in and out of your life on a regular basis. Remember you teach people how to treat you. Every time you take him back you’re telling that it’s okay to treat you how he treats you. You’re saying there is nothing wrong with the things he is doing to you. And most importantly you’re saying you would rather have him than the better man you deserve.  Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone <https://overview.mail.yahoo.com/?.src=iOS

Whenever we finally have the next election in Louisiana, there will be constitutional amendments on the ballot.  Didn’t know?  Aware but not sure of the details?  We got you.  Read on for a concise and easy to understand breakdown of the 4 amendments you will see.

Amendment 1

Authorizes streamlined electronic filing, remittance, and collection of sales and use tax 

 “Do you support an amendment to authorize the legislature to provide for the streamlined electronic filing, electronic remittance, and the collection of sales and use taxes levied within the state by the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission and to provide for the funding, duties, and responsibilities of the commission?”

YES VOTE  Creates a new statewide tax commission that would collect all sales taxes handle all electronic tax filings and create new policy for all state and local sales taxes. The appointed commission would replace all current tax commissions and take away any and all local control of sales tax collections.

NO VOTE Leaves things as they currently are. 

Shallow Dive into the Issues

Most states have a central collection agency that passes money back to the local municipalities.  Big businesses would view the state more favorably.  The current system has every parish and even cities in parishes collecting their own taxes. This is unfair complex and oppressive. Supreme court rulings probably make the system unconstitutional.  But taking away local control means outsiders control not only collection but policies, rules and regulations. 

Amendment 2

Lowers maximum allowed rate of income tax and allows providing a deduction for federal income taxes

 “Do you support an amendment to lower the maximum allowable rate of individual income tax and to authorize the legislature to provide by law for a deduction for federal income taxes paid?”

YES VOTE Reforms and updates Louisiana’s tax code

NO VOTE Maintains Louisiana’s current tax code that dates to 2003.

Shallow Dive into the Issues

The current system is at odds with the federal tax system.  When federal taxes get lowered, then individual Louisiana state taxes are actually increased.  And when federal taxes are raised, then individual Louisiana state taxes are reduced but state revenue is also reduced.  If you are interested in tax reform for Louisiana then a vote yes will implement a cascade of tax reform.

Amendment 3

Allows certain levee districts to levy an annual tax for certain purposes

 “Do you support an amendment to allow levee districts created after January 1, 2006, and before October 9, 2021, whose electors approve the amendment to levy an annual tax not to exceed five mills for the purpose of constructing and maintaining levees, levee drainage, flood protection, and hurricane flood protection?”  

YES VOTE Allows  5 levee districts created after 2006 to raise property taxes without a voter approval.

NO VOTE Requires the 5 Levee districts to get voter approval before raising taxes

Shallow Dive into the Issues

Older districts can raise taxes by 3 mils without voter approval.  But these 5

  • Chenier Plain Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority (Calcasieu, Cameron, and Vermilion Parishes)
  • Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane and Conservation District (Iberia Parish)  
  • Squirrel Run Levee and Drainage District (Iberia Parish)  
  •  St. Tammany Levee, Drainage and Conservation District (St. Tammany)
  •  Tangipahoa Levee District (Tangipahoa Parish)

Must get voter approval.  The whole state votes. The districts and the state must approve the change for it to go into effect.

Amendment 4

Increases amount of allowed reduction to certain dedicated funds when a budget deficit is projected

“Do you support an amendment to increase the amount of allowable deficit reductions to statutory dedications and constitutionally protected funds from five percent to ten percent?

YES VOTE Lets the governor transfer more dedicated funds to fix a budget deficit.

NO VOTE Keeps the current 5% cap on use of dedicated funds

Shallow Dive into the Issues

The state’s budget must be balanced. When there is a deficit, the governor can take raid dedicated funds to the tune of 5%.  This change increases that to 10%.   

Now you know! #Geaux Vote

The NFL is about a 1/4 of the way through the season. The Saints have battled through displacement, injuries, inconsistency, and an adjustment period. Here’s a statistically based assessment of where they stand.

Offense:

The offense has been terrible this year, one of the worst of Sean Payton’s career. They’re down in almost every statistical category – points per game, total yards per game, passing yards per game, rushing yards per game. 5 games into the season, the offense has just struggled to move the ball, especially through the air.

At quarterback, Jameis Winston is only completing 60% of his passes for 178 yards a game. That’s near the bottom of the league statistically. His overall QB rating is skewed by the fact that he has 12 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. But 4 of those came in one game where he threw goal line touchdowns after the Saints ran the ball down the field. 4 others have come on big plays. Simply put, the Saints have had few sustained drives through the air. In a quarterback driven league, there’s no way you can consider yourself a SuperBowl contender with stats like that.

Part of it can be chalked up to the Saints missing both starting wide receivers. And part of it can be chalked up to Winston just not reading the coverages, or bad play calling on Sean Payton’s part. Whatever the reason, the Saints have got to get the passing game together in order to make the playoffs for the 5th consecutive year.

Saints All Pro Receiver Michael Thomas

Reason to be optimistic: Michael Thomas is coming back. There’s no getting around it. The Saints’ season hinges on Michael Thomas. On paper, he’s not only the best player on the team, but he’s one of the best in the league. The last time we saw a healthy Can’t Guard Mike he was the 2019 Offensive Player of The Year, leading the league in yards and receptions. That year he caught 80% of the balls thrown to him for an average of 9 receptions and a 107 yards per game. To put that in perspective, Jameis Winston barely threw for over 107 yards in each of the first 3 games this season.

Thomas’ presence should open up the offense. With less attention thrown his way, Marquez Calloway should shine as a 2nd option. Alvin Kamara should see more favorable matches coming out the backfield. And in pressure situations, Thomas should serve as a security blanket for Winston when no one else is open or he has trouble reading coverages down the field.

Reason to be concerned: Who knows which Michael Thomas will return. His consistency on the field has been matched by his inconsistency off of it. The last 2 years, his tweets have risen to Antonio Brown levels. Last season, he was suspended for fighting. And this year, he stubbornly waited until training camp neared to have ankle surgery, which is why he’s not on the field now.

Defense:

The defense has been carrying the team. And if you had to pick a MVP so far, it would have to be defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. Since 2017 all Allen has done is scheme up the best defense the Saints have had since the Dome Patrol.

Reason to be optimistic: The defense is actually slightly better this year. They’re only giving up 18 points per game, 3 points less than the 21 they gave up last year. They’re also only allowing 79 yards rushing. That’s down from 93 last year. And despite going up against 3 of the best running backs in the league – Aaron Jones of the Packers, Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers, and Saquon Barkley of the Giants, they have yet to give up 100 yards to a single back.

This means that opposing offenses have been forced to be one dimensional. And even with teams resorting to throwing the ball more, the Saints D hasn’t been giving up big plays down the field consistently. They also rank 3rd in creating turnovers, up a spot from last year.

Reason to be concerned: They’re not sacking the quarterback. The Saints rank 29th in sacks so for this year. Last year they were 8th. They loss an elite pass rusher in Trey Hendrickson. And no one has stepped up to replace him. Cameron Jordan is in year 2 of a late career slide. Marcus Davenport is inconsistent when he does manage to stay on the field. Carl Granderson and Tanoh Kpassagnon have shown flashes. But this lack of a pass rush is partly why the Saints failed to close out the Giants game. This may become a big problem when they step up in QB class later in the season.

Special Teams:

Punter – Blake Gillikin has made us forget all about Thomas Morrestead.

Kicker – absolute disaster. The Saints are now on their 3rd kicker – 5 games into the season.

Reason to be optimistic: Wil Lutz will eventually come back.

Tidbits:

*  Alvin Kamara is averaging 3.9 yards per carry, down from 5.0 last year, but he’s a much better runner now.

*  Malcolm Jenkins is actually playing good football. He’s projected to finish with 86 solo tackles, 3 interceptions, 6 pass defenses, and 10 tackles for a loss.

*  11/14 – 12/2. @ Tennessee, @ Philly, then home against the Bills, and Cowboys. Those 4 weeks will tell you all you need to know about this team.

Prediction:

This team most likely has a ceiling of 11-6. But they’re a disgruntled Michael Thomas or an injury away from being 9-8 or 8-9. In the meantime, sharpen your teeth. Because this should turn out to be a nail biter of a season.

Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W.

What you learned to do isn’t working. 6 ways to begin to turn your life around.

KEY POINTS

  • We often struggle because our old coping styles no longer work.
  • Knowing your old dysfunctional patterns helps you know how to begin to run your life better.
  • Discover what you can’t do and experiment with acting differently.

Life can deliver its share of troubles and we step up and handle them as best we can. But, for some, their struggles seem never to end. While they, too, are doing their best, what often fuels their difficulties is how they are running their lives. They seem to repeatedly fall into the same potholes, replicate the same dysfunctional patterns, and react to problems in old ways that no longer work.

If this seems to be true for you, maybe it’s time to step back, stop doing what isn’t working, and begin replacing this outdated psychological software with upgraded versions. Here are some of the most common potholes and patterns to stop alongside their new-and-improved replacements. See which resonate most with you:

Stop being a victim

You’re upset because your partner always brings up that incident at Christmas that he knows makes you angry. You’re tired all the time because you’re always going a hundred miles an hour juggling work, kids’ demands, and everyday life. The core problem here is that you see yourself as a victim of others and their reactions, a victim of the life that you have created.

What to start doing: Yes, you can’t control your partner; you feel trapped in a lifestyle that drains you. But most of all you’re not taking responsibility—for your emotions and your reactions, for the choices you make even when you feel like you are not making choices.

Stop being emotionally driven

Being emotionally driven easily overlaps with feeling like a victim. What we’re talking about here is you running your everyday life based on how you feel. You’re tired, so you don’t mow the lawn or do your taxes; you’re overwhelmed about the new project at work, so put off tackling it; it’s already 2:00 pm, the day is shot, and so you mentally kick back and coast—you’ll tackle it tomorrow.

Folks who have high anxiety or who have AD/HD are often emotionally driven: They do what they do based on how they feel. The problem with this is that you understandably avoid what you don’t want to do, what is uncomfortable, and don’t follow through when the going gets tough.

What to start doing: The underlying problem is that your emotional brain is driving your life rather than your rational brain. It’s time to stop your rational brain from being a passenger and to allow it to become the driver: time to learn to act despite how you feel; time to develop some perseverance, some discipline so your feelings aren’t constantly derailing you from success.

Stop being passive

It’s okay; that’s fine; no problem; whatever. If you find yourself saying these often, you probably get kudos for being laid back and accommodating, and as an extra bonus, you avoid a lot of conflict and confrontation. But it comes at a cost: by going along and essentially letting others make choices for you, you are living the life of a child rather than an adult who shapes his life by making his own decisions. Periodically, you may find yourself feeling resentful; you may flare up and be self-destructive. Rather than living a life that reflects your unique purpose, the moral of your life is to not make waves, not get into trouble.

What to start doing: While those who are emotionally driven pay too much attention to their emotions, those who are passive tend to not pay enough attention to them. If you feel like it’s time to stop being passive, you have two skills to develop: One is listening to your gut, paying attention to what you don’t like, don’t want to; two is doing something with it.

Speak up, be assertive, tell others how you feel and think. Even if it takes three days to figure out how you feel, that’s fine; it’s okay to take baby steps. All you have to do is act. Not perfectly, not because you expect some magical outcome, not because it will make someone else happy. Simply speak up and act rather than leaning back and doing nothing.

Stop being a martyr

You volunteer for every committee; you’re always doing for others. That’s fine if that is part of your values, your vision of a good life. But all too often, it’s about anxiety, walking on eggshells. While the story you tell yourself is that you are just being a good person, you’re being over-responsible and being good so others like you, to avoid the conflict that may come from saying no. You can tell when you are losing control of your life when you get burned out, or, like those who are passive, you periodically feel resentful that others aren’t appreciating what you’re doing or are not pulling their weight. If this happens to you, your life is out of balance; you’re being a martyr.

What to start doing: Like the others, realize and acknowledge when this is happening. Next, do what you struggle to do. Keep your hand down when they call for volunteers; learn to say no. Change your expectations about what you expect from others in return. Use your burnout as a wake-up call to tell you that you are not living your life.

Stop settling

The vacation your partner planned was “okay.” The salary increase wasn’t what you expected but “understandable.” Good for you for not overreacting and being critical. But…if you are doing this a lot, if your life is an endless series of compromises and watered-down experiences, if you are always settling, eventually it’s going to back up on you. Yes, it is good enough, but like that poor woman who in old age regretted eating too many beans and not enough ice cream, do you too need to learn to slow down on the beans and try going for more ice cream?

What to start doing: Speak up and try not to rationalize that what you get is good enough, or that it’s probably what you should only expect. You deserve more than you think; you can get more than you believe you can. And you have to believe it and try living it to find out.

Stop cutting and running

The relationship isn’t working out—you ghost him. Your supervisor is awful, and you quit. Your mother makes some nasty comments about your partner, and you decide you’re done and never want to talk to her again.

This is about coping with hurtful situations by cutting them off—the situation, the pain, the person. The problem here is your anxiety and your coping style works so you keep doing it. But the downside is that your life becomes a series of emotional cutoffs and unresolved problems; the hurt isn’t ever really resolved. You never learn the lessons that life can teach you. You stay the victim; your life is an accumulation of problems swept under the rug.

What to start doing: Don’t run; talk. Don’t run; tackle the problem. Your supervisor may still be a monster, your mother sticks to her nasty ways, but you’ve pushed back. You’ve been that adult rather than the scared, angry 10-year-old who runs away. At some point, what you say will be heard and the problem will be fixed.

The theme here is clear: Figure out what you can’t do, where you settle, resign, go on auto-pilot, or avoid what is hard. Stop doing it. Try doing the opposite.

The NOLA Project theatre company is getting a new leading artistic

voice.

Ensemble member Brittany N. Williams (HARRY AND THE THIEF, SPARE MISSION 1) has

been tabbed as TNP’s first-ever Co-Artistic Director. She will assume the role in January of

2022.

Brittany N. Williams

“I’m thrilled to be joining The NOLA Project team as Co-Artistic Director,” Williams said.

“Working with this brilliant group of artists as an ensemble member has been wonderful and I’m

excited to help us grow and evolve as a company and as part of the greater New Orleans

community.”

Williams, is an actor, singer and writer. You last saw her on stage in TNP’s last in-person production,

HARRY AND THE THIEF (Vivian), at the Contemporary Arts Center in 2020. During the

pandemic, she penned one of the company’s four original PodPlays as well as provided her

voice for it and two others. Outside of TNP, Williams’ credits include Stage Door Songbook: Cole

Porter (Susan), Mary Full of Gray (Mary/writer) and she was the The National World War II

Museum’s 2019 Stage Door Idol winner.

Williams will share Artistic Director duties with current AD A.J. Allegra.

“I couldn’t be happier to announce the addition of Brittany N. Williams to our new shared

leadership model at The NOLA Project,” Allegra said. “She is a passionate, smart, and creative

theatre artist with an incredible depth of knowledge and experience. The pandemic-forced

pause in our work allowed our ensemble to look inward at ways in which we could strengthen

and improve our organization. And, I am so pleased that in the tradition of NOLA Project, and the

spirit of ensemble, we selected one of our own to co-lead the next era of The NOLA Project.”

Originally from Baltimore, MD, Williams performed across three continents – including a year

spent as a principal vocalist at Hong Kong Disneyland – and several US states prior to

relocating to New Orleans in 2017. Some favorite out-of-town credits include Universal Robots

(Helena), Margaret I (Joan of Arc), Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (Nansi – Helen Hayes Award

nom.), Antony and Cleopatra (Soothsayer/Clown), and Lear (Cordelia/Fight Captain). Williams

holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Howard University and an MA in Classical Acting from the

Royal Central School of Speech & Drama.

Last time we saw her

Williams’ latest work will be on display this fall when The NOLA Project and the New Orleans

Museum of Art present her new play, TELL IT TO ME SWEET, in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden.

For more information on the original outdoor production, running October 29-November 14, please visit

NOLAProject.com. PRESS CONTACT: kclaverie@nolaproject.com | 504.913.5057

 In an unprecedented move, two opponents endorse each other during an election

District “C” Councilmember Kristin Palmer and District “D” Councilmember Jared Brossett announced that they are taking the unprecedented step of endorsing each other for the Council At-Large before the November 13th Primary. Palmer and Brossett are running against each other in a four-way race for the Division 2 Council At-Large seat that includes former State Senator JP Morrell. Typically opponents in the same race do not endorse the other until after one loses.

Why would they do this?

The opponents see an opportunity to move voters away from their primary opponent JP Morrell.  Polling shows Morrell making the runoff with either of them.  For Palmer this is a political calculation.  In addition to politics, the personal dispute between Brossett and Morrell just got revved up significantly. 

Brossett and Palmer have worked together on the Council on multiple issues, including the $15 an hour minimum wage for city employees. They worked on the growing Airbnb problem. But this unforeseen action is not only shocking but politically risky for each of them.  

We will see how or if this unprecedented move affects the primary.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

Wait, the party out of power was complaining about the party in power trying to raise the debt ceiling? What year is it? I feel like we’ve been here before. Some would call this deja vu. Others would call it a glitch in the Matrix. But this is the debt ceiling debacle.

This episode played out predictably. I had trouble deciphering if it was a new one or just a re-run. At the heart of it all was the funding of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better budget.

Democrats, the party in power, we’re trying to rally two holdouts in the Senate. And Republicans were running around talking about how the budget would usher in the total ruination of the country. This all made for high drama.

Senators Sinema and Manchin contribute to the Debt Ceiling Debate

HOLDOUTS 1 & 2

Senator Krysten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, also known as holdout #1, got jacked up in a bathroom by some citizens who still actually take national politics seriously. Not like literally jacked up, but you know, confronted, politely questioned in public about why she’s stalling President Biden’s budget.

Holdout #2, Senator Joe Manchin, a Republican who identifies as a Democrat, did what he usually does in highly partisan showdown. He got squeamish when Democrats started asking how he’ll be voting. Manchin subjected his fellow Democrats to a lot of public foot stomping over the green energy policies included in the budget. This shouldn’t be surprising. He’s a Democrat from West Virginia, a coal mining state that has voted Republican in every presidential election since 2000.

Meanwhile, Republicans were dealing with their own internal drama. In one breath, it wouldn’t make proper partisan sense to be seen voting with the Democrats. But in another, it also wouldn’t make much political sense to sit back and watch the Democrats nuke the filibuster.

The filibuster is the only weapon a minority party in the Senate has to influence legislation. It takes 60 votes to break one, which is something no party in recent memory has had. So, a compromise is forced. Naturally, the threat of losing the filibuster scared the bee gee bees out of Mitch McConnell. So, he did the unthinkable: he rallied votes on behalf of the Democrats.

In the end, McConnell betrayed his party (their words) and did just enough to throw Democrats some cover fire until December. Instead of actually voting to raise the debt ceiling to cover the budget, Republicans and Democrats agreed to raise it just enough to cover the bills until December. The price – $480 billion.

People who try to make sense of this ask: why when they vote to spend money we don’t have, they just don’t also raise the debt ceiling to cover it?

The answer: because there’d be no incentive to curb spending. Imagine if every time you were about to max out your credit card, the bank just increased your credit limit. You know all the trouble you’d get into?

Right now, the federal government is in $28 trillion of trouble, mainly because it has just that – unlimited credit. The debt that incurs is usually only a problem to the party that’s not in control of spending.

Over the years, the rhetoric surrounding the budget and federal spending has degenerated to stomp speeches and red meat for constituents. You can look for this to intensify until one party, probably Republicans, actually do something crazy like block the other party from raising the ceiling. Then all catastrophes will break loose.

But the good people in Washington made sure that is something we won’t have to worry about until Christmas. Think of it as a premature lump of coal in your stocking. In a month and a half, we’ll actually see if they will take all the merry out of Christmas.

By TiOnka Writez

On September 9, 2021,  President Biden signed the executive order to mandate the vaccination of all federal employees and employees operating with one hundred people within the private sector by 12/08/2021. The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued guidelines. Unvaccinated employees are to submit a negative COVID-19 test result every 72 hours before reporting for duty. In true American fashion, the edge of a life-altering event stirs dissent. We understand the need to stop the virus. But the plan of tampering with the working classes’ lively hood is a bit extreme.

The three most common vaccine questions are:

1) Are you vaccinated?

2) When will you get vaccinated?

3) Why won’t you get vaccinated?

Depending on who is asking, you may need to ere on the side of caution when preparing to answer. The decision to vaccinate or not is causing a rift in home and work environments worldwide. The unvaccinated now face hostility. How did we, as a “united” nation, get here?

Now, I know what you are thinking. This COVID-19 virus is no joke. Humans have never faced this before. And you cannot fathom why anyone would object to a scientifically formulated and tested solution. However, The unvaccinated have real issues to consider. Initially there was confusing and mixed messaging. For instance, medical professionals advise patients to take the “shot” to save lives. But a liability waiver is necessary to proceed with vaccine administering. And multiple contracting cases and deaths by COVID-19 are on record in vaccinated individuals. Warnings of use labels, of course, are available on all over-the-counter and prescribed medications. But the difference here is choice and the ability to proceed with informed consent.

The first amendment (“Freedom of Speech”) means freedom of expression. If individuals express their desire not to receive the vaccination, accept their decision. Amidst the debt ceiling debate, now is not the ideal time to threaten Americans’ job security. Stifling employee wage-earning potential and restricting medical coverage for COVID-19 testing is counterproductive to replenishing a depleted economy.

We should develop a solution that considers the position of all parties involved. The most relevant question here is, who or what constitutes a valuable person?” The answer is simple; every living person holds value. And their opinion matters. Don’t bully or shame people for staying strong in their conviction. Placing restrictions on employment is not the best create trust and cooperation with the citizens you are attempting to save.

To vaccinate more people, appeal to what matters to them. Implement a solution to address daily issues like the unstable workforce or unjustly inflated insurance rates in certain areas. Address their concerns without gaslighting them, overlooking how they perceive your message or threatening them with excessive force.

RELATED: For some lack of access is the issue

         

            In my recent pandemic rant, I railed against adults, who, for no good reason, refused to get vaccinated. I argued that it constitutes reckless endangerment of our children. As I write this, yesterday (August 25), a baby and a 14-year-old football player died in Louisiana of COVID.

            My daughter Rebecca, who is a physician and has a nine-year-old, thought my rant was spot on. My son, Jonathan, also a physician and whose 8-year-old just recovered from COVID, could relate to my frustration, but he thought I should be more understanding of the unvaccinated. And my unvaccinated friend V called me up to say I can’t just call her a baby killer. I didn’t, and yet . . . what do the facts say?

            I know V extremely well and love her. But I can’t for the life of me see how she reaches her anti-vax conclusion. She’s not stupid. In fact, she is brilliant. She doesn’t buy conspiracy theories. She’s never been betrayed by doctors or the medical establishment. She’s generous and community oriented. But she’s not a Republican. And yet she’s one of those people I referenced in my rant that you can’t reason with.

            I have to grant, therefore, that my son’s approach may be more useful. He had a patient last week, an elderly woman with underlying conditions, who refused to get the shot because she was sure that the Lord would take care of her. He affirmed her strong faith and said he wanted to tell her a story/joke. You know, the one about a person in dire straits who refuses three rescue offers because she believes God will save her. She dies and then takes God to task for not answering her prayers. And God says, but I sent you X, Y, and Z.

            Jonathan, being a homeboy, gave it the New Orleans spin of a woman on a rooftop after Katrina. Boats and a helicopter came to the rescue, and she waved them away. His patient laughed uproariously and said she’d think about it. He had occasion to call her several times as a follow-up to their appointment asking various questions about her medical history. On the fourth call, she said she had some surprising news. She got the shot.

            “Great!” he said. “What made you decide?” She said she shared the hilarious story with a friend. When Jonathan called, she said that was God’s second message to her. When he called again – that was God’s third message. “I got in my car,” she told him, “To drive to the Walgreens. And if nothing happens on the way, I’ll know that God wants me to get the shot.”

            Jonathan is 1 for 0 on convincing people. I am 0 for 0. So I have to admit, as good and righteous as my rant felt – yes, his approach is proving more effective.