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What do you fear most: big government, big business or big labor?
December 13th, 2011
03:55 PM ET

What do you fear most: big government, big business or big labor?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Fear of big government is close to record highs here in the U.S.

According to a new Gallup poll, 64% of those surveyed say big government is the biggest threat to the country. That's one point off the all-time high.

Compare that to 26% who are most worried about big business... and only 8% who say the biggest threat comes from big labor.

Americans have always been more concerned about big government than about big business or big labor since this question was first asked in 1965.

But what's interesting here is that Democrats actually lead the increase in concern about big government... this during the term of a Democratic president, Barack Obama.

Almost half of Democrats now say big government is the biggest threat to the U.S. That's up significantly from two years ago And more significantly, it's higher than the number of Democrats who worry about big business.

These poll numbers may also suggest that the Occupy Wall Street movement isn't catching on.

Despite the movement's targeting of corporate America, most Americans don't view big business as the greatest threat to the country.

In fact, the public's concerns about big business are down since 2009. Worries about big business actually peaked in 2002 - after the scandals at Enron and Worldcom.

But what the American people are worried about is big government and the role it plays in their day-to-day lives.

A government that has only gotten bigger under a president who's running for re-election.

Here’s my question to you: What do you fear most: big government, big business or big labor?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Economy • Government • On Jack's radar
What's the best way to restore some balance between rich and poor?
December 12th, 2011
04:42 PM ET

What's the best way to restore some balance between rich and poor?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

How much money does it take to make you rich? Depends on who you ask.

A new Gallup poll shows more than half of Americans - 53% - say they'd consider themselves rich if they made $150,000 a year or less. At the other end of the spectrum, 15% of those polled say they would need to earn at least $1 million a year before thinking of themselves as rich.

The poll also finds higher estimates for what makes you rich among men, younger Americans, college graduates, people living in urban and suburban areas and parents of minor children.

In a separate question, half of Americans say at least $1 million in net worth would make them rich. That includes savings, real estate, investments, etc. But it's a far cry from what most people have in the bank.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income in the U.S. is about $50,000 a year. Income inequality is skyrocketing. It's estimated that between 1979 and 2007, the incomes of the poorest Americans grew by only 20%. The incomes of the richest 1% of Americans jumped up by 275%.

It’s no coincidence that the Occupy Wall Street movement is targeting this top 1%.

Most Americans agree that the rich - including those who make more than $250,000 a year - should be taxed more. But are higher taxes the only answer to growing income inequality?

Here’s my question to you: What's the best way to restore some balance between rich and poor?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: On Jack's radar
The U.S. is 28th in life expectancy. What's killing America?
November 29th, 2011
03:35 PM ET

The U.S. is 28th in life expectancy. What's killing America?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

What's wrong with this picture?

The United States ranks 28th in life expectancy, yet we pay more for health care than any other country in the industrialized world.

The 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is out with a stunning report.

It shows 27 nations live longer than we do - led by Japan. Yet Americans pay nearly $8,000 per person for health care each year. More than any other country in the report.

Only a handful of countries in this report have a lower life expectancy. They include Mexico, Estonia and Turkey.

Meanwhile, despite sky-high spending on health care in the U.S., Americans actually receive less care than other nations.

Our primary care system suffers from shortages of family doctors along with high rates of avoidable hospital admissions for common illnesses like asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure.

America also leads all nations when it comes to expensive medical procedures like knee replacements, MRIs and CT scans.

As for pharmaceuticals, they cost about 60% more in the U.S. than in most European countries.

There are some positives for the U.S. health care system here: We have among the world's highest survival rates for breast and colorectal cancer. Also, Americans generally receive good acute hospital care.

But overall there's no doubt our health care system is broken. And that along with questionable lifestyle choices means we're not living as long as we could.

Here’s my question to you: The U.S. is 28th in life expectancy. What’s killing America?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Longevity • On Jack's radar • United States
What should Occupy Wall Street's next move be?
November 17th, 2011
03:45 PM ET

What should Occupy Wall Street's next move be?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As Occupy Wall Street marks two months of protests, there are questions about exactly what the activists want and more importantly, how they plan to get it.

Patience is wearing thin in cities around the country as officials begin to move against the demonstrators in places such as New York; Oakland and Berkeley, California; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City.

While getting an "A" for perseverance, the occupiers' tent cities are starting to get on people's nerves, which is part of the idea. But some of the tent cities have spawned drugs, crime and violence, things that are not conducive to generating sympathy for their cause.

And speaking of their cause, what exactly is it? With the protesters so widely dispersed, you have to wonder how focused and concentrated their message is. After two months, a lot of us remain unsure of what exactly the message is. More is needed than a vague complaint against corporate greed if they are to remain relevant.

That brings us to something else the movement has been lacking so far: Leaders. Putting a head on this group would perhaps allow them to crystallize their message a little more.

Finally you could make a very strong argument that the major source of our country's problems is Washington. So why are these folks content to wander around places such as New York, Denver, Seattle, Oakland and other places outside the real scene of the crimes.

If you want to fight a fire, you have to go to where the fire is.

Here’s my question to you: What should Occupy Wall Street's next move be?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar • United States • Wall Street
Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?
October 4th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Hold that cheeseburger.

Across the pond in Europe, Denmark is becoming the first country in the world to impose a so-called fat tax on foods high in saturated fats.

That includes everything from cheeseburgers and pizza to butter, milk, cheese and oils. Many Danes stocked up on these yummy groceries before the tax went into effect his weekend.

How much the "fat tax" is depends on how much saturated fat is in any given food, but it comes out to about $3 for every 2 pounds of saturated fat.

Officials say the goal is to increase the average life expectancy in Denmark, since saturated fats can cause heart disease and cancer.

Denmark has been a leading country when it comes to tougher policies on unhealthy foods. They have higher taxes on sodas, cigarettes and alcohol beyond what's required by the European Union. And they've increased taxes on ice cream, chocolate and sweets by a whopping 25%. Also, it's illegal for any food to have more than 2% trans fats.

Critics say there's a "Big Brother" aspect to all this and the government has no right telling them what they should - or shouldn't - eat.

Others suggest that any tax hikes on fatty or sugary foods should be accompanied by measures that make nutritious foods more affordable.

Whatever Denmark's approach, it works. Danes are downright skinny compared with Americans: In Denmark, only about 10% of the population is obese. Here in the U.S., one-third of all adults and nearly 1 in 5 children are obese. And as a nation, we get fatter every day. It's disgusting.

Plus, it's not like we couldn't use the extra tax revenue these days.

Here’s my question to you: Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Obesity • On Jack's radar
Do you ever fake talking on your cell phone, and if so why?
August 17th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Do you ever fake talking on your cell phone, and if so why?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

One out of every 8 cell phone users admits to faking it. We're talking about cell phones here.

A new pew poll shows 13% of cell phone users say they've pretended to use their phone so they'd look busy... and not have to talk to others.

People under 30 are more than twice as likely to fake using a cell phone.

The survey also shows about 83% of Americans have a cell phone. So that's a lot of faking.

People use their cell phones for everything from taking pictures and videos to texting, playing games, listening to music, e-mailing, emergency situations or entertaining themselves when bored.

Many say they need their phones to live... more than 1 in 4 people say that they've come across a situation in the last month that was more difficult because they didn't have their phone with them.

Yet despite all these advantages - almost a third of those polled said they needed to unplug once in a while. These users turn off their phones for a while just to get a break. They are the sane ones among us.

Maybe they need a break because a lot of them are also frustrated with their phones. They complain their phone takes too long to download something or that they've had difficulty reading something on their phone because the screen was too small.

But we digress. I want to know more about faking it… when it comes to cell phones.

Here’s my question to you: Do you ever fake talking on your cell phone, and if so why?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar • Technology
August 4th, 2011
01:38 PM ET

Govt. decide if poor people get free cell phones?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Free cell phones for the poor. Yet another example of where our government is getting involved.

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports on programs that provide free cell phones and 250 monthly minutes to people receiving government support like Medicaid or food stamps.

These programs, which exist in most states, are paid for by the federal Universal Service Fund. Federal law requires all telecom providers contribute to this fund.

An industry spokeswoman tells the newspaper that all cell phone carriers charge consumers a fee to recover the cost of their contribution to the fund.

Translation: People who pay cell phone bills are also helping pay for those who get free cell phones.

There are millions of participants nationwide in these programs. Customers only need to provide proof of income in order to qualify.

Supporters say the program is about "peace of mind,” that it's one less bill for someone to pay so they can afford to pay their rent or day care.

But critics say free cell phone service is no right, that you don't need a cell phone to live.

One expert at the Heritage Foundation calls the free cell phone programs "particularly wasteful and unnecessary,” adding that our society can't afford to give free everything to everybody.

Other experts suggest programs like these could help the overall economy since having a phone can help people find jobs – especially since public pay phones aren't on every corner like they used to be before cell phones became so prominent.

Here’s my question to you: Should the government decide whether poor people get free cell phones?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: On Jack's radar
July 19th, 2011
05:44 PM ET

Should smoking be banned in public?

ALT TEXT

A sign at the entrance of Manhattan's Battery Park. Smoking is prohibited in New York City's parks, public beaches and pedestrian plazas like Times Square. (PHOTO CREDIT: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Fewer than one-quarter of American adults are smokers, meaning they've had at least one cigarette in the last week. That number has been dropping for years. And while they may be a shrinking minority, when smokers light up, people who don't smoke take notice.

Over the past 10 years or so, as study upon study has revealed the long-term danger of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, smokers are finding they are welcome in fewer and fewer places.

Now comes a new Gallup Poll that shows a majority of Americans, 59%, support a ban on smoking in all public places. That's the highest percentage in the 10 years since Gallup starting doing the poll.

Twenty-seven states have passed tough smoke-free laws. A new law in New York City prohibits smoking in just about any public place, including beaches and outdoor plazas. And increasingly tough laws are in the pipeline in cities and states across the country.

While the growing majority of Americans don’t want to be around people who are smoking, they aren't pushing for an all-out ban on the behavior. Only 19% say smoking should be made illegal. That percentage has been relatively unchanged over the past five years.

But suffice it to say the battle between smokers and nonsmokers will likely continue. And for now, nonsmokers seem to have the upper hand.

Here’s my question to you: Should smoking be banned in public?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar
July 14th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Do you feel like you're a member of the burnt-out generation?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

We've got an overworked labor force operating in an under-performing economy... and it could be affecting our health.

A new study released by researchers in Spain finds that working for more than 40 hours a week leaves employees six times more likely to suffer long-term exhaustion, irritability and a lack of interest in their work and non-work lives. It's something called "burnout syndrome." And some of us have been suffering from it for years.

Workers who feel "under challenged" on the job, left to do what they feel are brainless, monotonous tasks, are also at risk of developing burnout syndrome. So are people who have stayed in the same job too long: Those with more than 16 years service in the same position are five times more at risk of developing burnout syndrome than colleagues with less than four years on a particular job.

With the economy in the state it's in, it's no surprise this is a growing problem. It has the potential to become an epidemic.

The Spanish researchers found that having a family, partner or a spouse to go home to at night helps people deal with burnout. I guess there is some benefit to being able to complain to someone when you get home.

But where does it end? Careers are getting longer, and retiring at 65 is not a reality for many of us. With 9.2 percent unemployment in this country, those of us with a job are lucky to have one. Some of us need to work more than one job just to pay the bills each month.

Here’s my question to you: Do you feel like you're a member of the burnt-out generation?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar
July 13th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

A restaurant in Pennsylvania has banned children under the age of six. Is that fair?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: THINKSTOCK)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A restaurant in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh, is banning children younger than 6 from its dining room.

The owner of McDain's says he decided to change his restaurant's policy after older customers complained about noise and unruly behavior by children dining with parents who do little to control their kids. The policy goes into effect Saturday. If the place was closer, I would make a reservation today.

McDain's is a small restaurant - it seats about 40 people, and it sits on a quiet golf course. Not exactly Chuck E. Cheese. But nonetheless the decision to ban the little noisemakers has caused an uproar in town.

This isn't the first time a restaurant has gotten fed up with tiny diners who can't sit quietly through a meal.

Last year, a restaurant called The Olde Salty in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, ruffled some feathers after a sign saying "Screaming Children Will Not Be Tolerated!" was posted in its window. And it was magic. While some locals were up in arms about it, that restaurant owner has reported a boom in business. She says diners who are looking for a peaceful meal now seek out her restaurant.

Of course badly behaved kids are not just a problem in restaurants.

Malaysia Airlines recently announced that it's banning infants from first class because of complaints received from passengers about crying babies on long flights. Other airlines catering mainly to business travelers have also been pressured to consider child-free sections of their flights and even child-free planes. We'll see what happens. Airlines need paying customers to fill seats, and kids, poorly behaved or otherwise, are part of that equation.

Here’s my question to you: A restaurant in Pennsylvania has banned children under the age of six. Is that fair?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Children • On Jack's radar
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