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I attended graduation at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville last week. My youngest child graduated with honors; his primary field of study was chemical and biomolecular engineering. I believe a successful parent is one whose children have good hygiene, stay out of jail, and find an opportunity to be authentic, as well as employed at the same time. He is two out of three at this point. I suspect he will find a job he wishes to pursue within a few short weeks. It appears that there are chemical engineering jobs all over the country, except for a few states. Living and working in the state of Tennessee may not be in his future.

It should come as no surprise, Tennessee has better economic growth than the southern states of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama. However, our GDP is not impressive if we compare ourselves to California, Washington, Utah, North Carolina, Rhode Island and about twenty other states. In the field of healthcare, Tennessee is a net exporter to other states of physicians trained in Tennessee due to the lack of opportunity. Hospitals and physician groups import physicians into Memphis from other national healthcare venues.

As I look to the future, I wonder about the economic drivers than allow companies to thrive. I believe a healthy state economy directly impacts the physical and emotional health of its citizens. Financial stress is a great predictor of poor health. If people worry about where their next meal is coming from, or how they will pay their mortgage or rent, they tend to have a considerable amount of anxiety which leads to several ailments and maladies. Chronic, unrelenting episodic stress will destroy a healthy body in no time.

My observations over time reveal economic and emotional hardships increase dependence on religion to soothe one’s spirit. At the same time, crime, and impoverishment in all its forms takes hold and diminishes the dignity of the poor. We do not hear much about dignity anymore, but self-respect is the lynchpin of societal rest and majesty. A society that is restless and lacks respect for an honest, authentic life cannot flourish and expand. There are those who have financially and share, and those who have financially and hoard. Those who share their wealth with others through vehicles of charity have commitments to the greater good of humankind. Those who hoard are afflicted with avarice; they care for themselves and themselves alone.

It takes courage and vision to grow a local or state economy. It takes investment and planning in accord with nature, making sure everyone benefits from change. Without the proper infrastructure, economic growth will stagnate just like a root-bound plant existing in a vessel too small to provide appropriate nourishment from the container’s limited soil and water. Human development is not only a result of rising from the ashes of despair and hopelessness, but it is also a result of planting seeds of encouragement and responsibility into the ecosystem of ourselves and others. The idea that anyone can create anything alone in a vacuum, without financial or emotional support is just a fairy tale. Economic engines are necessary to spark economic growth.

When I desired to open the Stone Institute almost twenty years ago, I went to NBC bank to procure a credit line. I cannot forget the final comments I heard from the skeptical loan officer:

 

Okay, Dr. Merigian. You want to open an alternative medical practice that depends on cash payments. You’re not accepting insurance. You want to put your house and vehicle up for collateral on the credit line. You have no solid stable of patients. Not to mention, the medical community in Memphis is as conservative as they come. You know, if you don’t pay back the money, we’ll take your house and vehicle. Then what? What are you going to do? I think your plans are ridiculous. But, I am willing to take a risk and get both your house and truck. How’s that sound?

I responded. If you can’t use your assets for a chance at change, why have them?

He responded back. I’ll grant you the credit line. Foreclosure might be lead us to the most accessible acquisition we ever had. Good luck Doc.

 

I took the loan, and the rest is history. I worked to provide the best care I could. I traveled the world looking for alternates to traditional health care as well as re-educating myself on the current scientific breakthroughs that would shape the future of medicine. Basic science has surpassed clinical medicine exponentially. Since pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and hospitals run healthcare, profiteering has superseded all desires in helping the infirm. Basic research scientists reveal new and exciting facts every day, which should change the way physicians practice medicine. But they don’t change.

Now vegetarian mythology is beginning to take hold in many young people’s minds as the way to a healthy long-lived life. The undisputed facts are that agriculture is a relentless assault against the planet, and more of the same won’t save us. To provide the ever-increasing demands for grains and produce, humans have devastated prairies and forests, driven countless species extinct, altered climate and destroyed topsoil – the basis of life itself. There is also a profound lack of rigorous scientific research to validate that vegetarianism is safe and healthy short or long term; That does not stop self-proclaimed authorities to profess the virtues of an animal-less food plan.

What has any of this have to do with jobs post-graduation? Jobs are created when local, regional, state, and national economies grow. Favorite unproven ideas drive the job market as much as scientifically proven ones. We are all involved in service of some variety to humankind, regardless of its purpose. Jobs are related to the needs of society, whether they are spiritual, emotional, physical, practical, commercial, judicial, criminal, financial, entertainment, healthcare, educational, transportation, fashion, agricultural, ecological, and political to name a few.

Even vegan mythology needs storytellers to spread the word for a fee.

Doc

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