A good soup to boost our stamina

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. Before we proceed to review the final galley proofs of of our upcoming new book, we decided to get an extra boost of energy for that critical task. What better way to get it than preparing a hearty peasant’s soup with vegetables galore, some angel hair pasta, plenty of moringa, oregano, parsley, black pepper, ground garlic, a dollop of parmesan cheese, and no meat (animal proteins early in the day are slow to digest and break you pace)

The final product looks like this and, as always,  you are most welcome to share it at our humble table. A morfar!

Buen apetito!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Two women awarded the Nobel Chemistry Prize

It was about time that the Nobel Prize committees would become more aware of the great accomplishment of women scientists in so many disciplines that have made a crucial difference for the Human Welfare. Even though Marie Curie, née Sklodowska, was one of the early recipients of the prestigious award in Physics, she had to share it with two men. In 1903, the Nobel Committee awarded half the prize in Physics to Antoine Henri Becquerel “in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by his discovery of spontaneous radioactivity” and the other half to the Pierre and Marie Curie “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel.”

On October 7, 2020, Sharon Begley and Elizabeth Coney announced in a Stats article that: “the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences…awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry to American biochemist Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, for their 2012 discovery that a bacterial immune system called CRISPR can be repurposed to edit DNA, the molecule of heredity.” Dr. Charpentier was surprised that for the first time two women shared the prize, which would send a clear message to young girls that science might be for them too.

In a seminal 1992 Science article, Martin Jinek et al (including Drs. Doudna and Charpentier) exposed the RNA-mediated defensive mechanism of bacteria called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, whose acronym is CRISPR. This defensive mechanism is based on the engagement of the bacterial cas genes organized in operon(s) and CRISP array(s) that consist of genome-targeting sequences (spacers) It is based on three steps:

  1. Reacting to viral threat, bacteria integrate short fragments of foreign sequence (protospacers) into the host chromosome at the proximal end of CRISPR.
  2. The transcription of the repeat-spacer element of CRISP RNA is followed by the enzymatic cleavage that produce short crRNAs.
  3. Those crRNAs target the foreign viral sequences of DNAs, disabling them.

They said: “the Cas9 endonuclease can be programmed with guide RNA engineered as a single transcript to target and cleave any dsDNA sequence of interest.” Cas9, a bacterial enzyme, could be paired with the bespoke CRISPR-related RNAs in order to target any site of the viral DNA molecule to disable the virus infectivity. This technique might eventually allow for the careful design of better targeted and much safer genetic therapies for the treatment of grave diseases of human beings.

We might be the beneficiaries of this novel technique in future clinical protocols.

Note. The featured image was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

Happy Sunday with lamb chops and couscous alla Rovino

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. as we already told you a little while ago, we will prepare a couscous of veggies and grilled lamb chops, which will certainly fill our bellies and lift our spirits in this extremely gray day in South Florida. We will attempt to prepare a sauce Béarnaise to accompany the meat in a decisive way. We will sentimentally dub this dish alla Rovino, in honor of Gary Rovin, our late friend and personal attorney, who had a vivacious hustler’s disposition. He was an excellent professional, an entrepreneur and an inveterate traveler who decided to reside part of the year in Queenstown, New Zealand, after retiring in Miami; these lamb chops hark back from that part of the planet. We had many lunch dates together where we talked business, politics and, pour quoi pas, the beauty of passing women. We nicknamed him “Rovino” because he was a feisty bon vivant that made us laugh… May you rest in peace, buddy!

First of all we are going to prepare the vegetable broth so we have enough to cook everything slowly but surely. Then we will proceed to prepare the couscous the same way we have already prepared a risotto (please check steps) In that potage a la Vertamocorii we used Arborio rice as the base of our dish; today we will use couscous instead.

Then we will cut all the vegetables properly on the cutting board. Always remember to soak the mushrooms in some cold water to rinse off all the attached impurities and dirt, besides hydrating them. As if irrigated by the forest rains.

Once we are ready, we put a dollop of olive oil and a piece of butter on our cooking pan, at medium heat, always.

Once it melts, it is time to put the couscous to lightly toast it  (this trick will avoid the “sticking” at the bottom)

After two minutes of toasting (not burning) it is time to fill a third of the pan’s capacity with the hot vegetable broth.

Cook the couscous for five minutes, allowing it to absorb enough water, and then start adding the lentils slowly.

Stir the mixture slowly in a clockwise movement. Cook for 5-6 minutes before adding anything else.

Add all the cut veggies and the mushrooms. Continue to stir gently clockwise from the border don to the center.

The mixture should look like the above inserted picture. Cook everything for 10 more minutes at medium heat.

Once you add the tomatoes, you cook and stir for another five minutes before adding the species you have chosen. We used parsley, Venetian style-granulated garlic, tarragon, oregano, sweet paprika and…(hushhhh) a pinch of salt.

Once we have all the ingredients on board, we have to continue stirring gently with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes.

Important note – Now comes the critical step in this cooking process. What is it? You guessed right. Let it stand.

Do not despair. We completed more than half of our journey. Take a refreshing pause of 15 minutes for a drink.

After letting it stand for half an hour at the countertop table, we open the lid and its aroma slaps us on the face.  AHHH !!! Que c’est délicieux! It reminds us of the day when we met a Moroccan girl in Paris and…(I’ll tell you later)

Now it’s time to grill the lamb pork chops inside, using our Nuwave Air Fryer , as it is raining heavily in our patio.

Remember to cook the lamb well but not to overdo it. It should be crispy outside and juicy inside. Like this.

You can start putting everything together now in a Pyrex glass container and set it aside for a few minutes.

Once we cooked the couscous, all the veggies and the meat, we will prepare the Béarnaise sauce. We’re excited! Like in a boxing match, we are hearing the voice of the announcer saying: ARE YIU READY?!!! Yes, we are indeed.

Note – We would like to thank Mr. Justin Chapple, Culinary Director at Food and Wine, who made one of the very best videos of how to prepare a delicious Béarnaise sauce and post it in You Tube. Merci beacucoup, mon pote.

These are the elements to prepare the sauce: three egg yolks, diced shallots or green onions, tarragon, lemon juice,  white wine vinegar and butter. Justin, a happy guy in his mid 20s, used a lot of butter but, alas, we have to bow to the limitations of time. Three spoons of butter might not make it very creamy, but will not clog our arteries either.

Slowly heat a mix of white wine vinegar, diced green onions and tarragon to reduce the mix properly.

We dutifully followed Justin’s advice and we pre-heated the blender’s vase so the butter would not stick to the wall.

Chan Chan Chan !!! How did it turn out to be, folks. See for yourself down below…

We are so happy and excited that one of the sauces that our family and myself have tasted for years in many restaurants is finally at our own reach, right here at our home. Thank you very much Justin and Food and Wine.

Finally it is time to put everything together and to call everyone to the table. Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served.

Bon apétit!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Sunday with family cooking

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday to you all. It is always a pleasure to pause up for a few hours from our daily frenzy to dedicate some quality time for our dear family, including the cooking of a nice dinner for them to enjoy. Today we felt like preparing a nice couscous of veggies and lentils to accompany some grilled Lamb chops. We are assembling all the elements right now and we will keep you posted of the developments in our humble kitchen.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Can objects absorb the bad vibes of tragedies?

A few days ago we were watching an American news program (we will withhold the name of the cable outfit)  when the lady host, accompanied by a gentleman, said that a Canadian woman had publicly returned the few stones and pieces of brick that she had clandestinely taken form the archeological site of Pompeii many decades ago because she felt they had brought great tragedies to her life, including cancer. She prudently announced the news without making any additional commentary. But the man (what’s new pussycat?) decided to wisely interject a supposedly funny joke. –“Oh, we didn’t know that we had been having bad luck due to the coals,” he said.

We have observed the same derogatory attitude against issues or events that, without having a solid scientific explanation at present, might have some valid elements. When we were 12 years old, we spent a long summer in the apartment belonging to Marta Salguero, a.k.a. Memé, my paternal grandmother, and Ricardo Laplume, my paternal grandfather. They lived in La Ciudad Vieja, the old section of Montevideo that dates way back to the time of the Spanish colonization in the seventeen and eighteenth centuries; at the time it was circled by an enclosing stone and brick wall. Near the ancient Catholic Cathedral in the Plaza Matriz (opposite what was the seat of the colonial authorities across the central square) a street named Sarandí, had, and still has, several lovely quaint little shops and cozy cafes, favored by the European and American tourists visiting my great city of birth.

One day, coming back from a leisurely stroll in the square, I passed by a little shop full of antiques on display at the big street window; prodded by my youthful desire to have new experiences, I decidedly stepped inside it. After making just a few steps inside, I was abruptly accosted by a cacophony of various voices that spoke at the same time in different tones and languages.

Vaguely we remember that when we looked at an old fashioned rocking horse, a boyish voice emerged saying in Spanish: “It’s my turn now…Get off it.” When we abruptly turned our gaze to a delicately painted Bavarian set of dinnerware, we heard the authoritarian summons of a man in Sicilian dialect saying: “This soup is cold…Fix it.” We remember that we paused with the melancholic look of a Victorian doll that whispered in English: “I miss you…”

The old man that tended the shop noticed my big distress and escorted me back to the front door. He told me the following:  “Take a deep breath and calm down…I know what you are going through now…Stay here.” He went back inside and came back a few seconds later with a glass of fresh water. I was feeling very dizzy. I gulped it.

He told me that it took him some time to get used to “those voices” but that the process had been gradual as he had inherited the business from his late father’ he used to take him to the shop on a regular basis, for little periods of time until he got used to it. He had been slowly inoculated against the anguished voices of the past that speak through the objects they had cherished and collected during their past lifetimes. Thanking him for his help, we skedaddled and never returned to that little shop. We even crossed to the other side of the street when we unavoidably had to pass by it on our way to the Avenida 18 de Julio.

Always reluctant to visit shopping venues, we nonetheless like to wander in modern places like one of the outlets from the Swedish Ikea, checking all their practical objects, buy something we might need, and if possible, have lunch with their delicious meatballs. We like to smell the fresh wood from the furniture and enjoy their fabulous lighting.

But visiting an antique store or auction, no matter how prestigious they might be? Fuggedaboutit!

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Vote early to get respect

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. For all those that are proud citizens of the USA, wherever you may be now, it is imperative that you exercise your right to vote in the upcoming November 3rd American Presidential elections early on by duly visiting a voting center or sending it by mail. We went yesterday to a Public Library in our Miami neighborhood and inserted the envelopes in a special booth set up by the Dade County Elections Commission. We feel honored and satisfied.

We must all vote. It is the democratic way for our voices to be heard by the politicians and persons of influence.

If you do not like how things are turning out now, get off your butt, fill the ballots and plonk them in the box.

The worse thing that you can do is to despairingly flung your arms in the air, saying: “Why bother? Nothing changes.”

Wrong. Very wrong. We can work for incremental changes by selecting our honest and dedicated public servants.

Vote now!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Cheers with a truly “barbarian” breakfast

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. It has been steadily raining in South Florida since last night and we will have more during the day. We woke up ready to write in earnest but we needed some unusually brutish force to kick our muscles into gear.

What should we do? How about preparing the “barbarian meal” that we have not dared to try for months? Presto.

We grilled cut potatoes plus Canadian style bacon and added mozzarella cheese and two fried eggs on top. Voilà!

What do you think? Will it boost our reading and writing capabilities in this so solitary, sombre day? Let us hope so.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of Ms. Right

For all those anxiously waiting for the arrival of a good vaccine so we can get readily inoculated and start the process of methodically cutting the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (most likely almost all the billions of humans on Planet earth) the news that two of the six major clinical trials have ben paused was bad news indeed. However, we must analyze these facts with the proper scientific light to understand.

In an article dated September 8, 2020, Katherine J. Wu and Katie Thomas informed the NY Times readers (like yours truly) that: “pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca halted large, late-stage global trials of its coronavirus on Tuesday because of a serious suspected adverse reaction in a participant, the company said.” As we discussed in our previous article, that clinical event was a case of transverse myelitis in a British participant that the researchers eventually determined was a coincidence and not an adverse effect of the studied vaccine. The clinical trial was resumed. However, the scientists in charge of the review board in the USA have not yet authorized the re-start of the same.

On October 12, 2020, Virginia Hughes, Katie Thomas, Carl Zimmer and Katherine J. Wu (her, again?) wrote an article in the NY Times saying: “Johnson and Johnson has paused the large late-stage clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine because of an ‘unexplained illness’ in one of the volunteers, the company said on Monday.” We still do not have any information about that incident as it is under review at present. In their website, the company said that: “following our guidelines, the participant’s illness is being reviewed and evaluated by the ENSEMBLE independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as well as our internal clinical and safety physicians.”

We understand the natural reaction of so many people, including us for a brief moment, of despairing about this temporary setback, as we are all scared of the tragic consequences of the pandemic in our societies and tired of the Social Isolation. After that initial deception, we must understand that those trials were stopped precisely because the system of safety safeguards of the clinical trials does work. Whenever there is a major adverse clinical event, the administrators say, “hands off” and everybody along the long process of scientific evaluation must stop it quickly. Patients are still monitored but there is no drug administration until further notice. The institutional review board (composed of entirely independent scientists and clinicians) will take all the needed time to check each nook and cranny of the trial.

On October 16, 2020, Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in an open letter that: “we are operating at the speed of science. This means that we may know whether our vaccine is effective by the end of October. to do so, we must a certain number of COVID-19 cases in our trial to compare the effectiveness of the vaccine in vaccinated individuals to those who received a placebo. since we must wait for a certain number of cases to occur, this data may come earlier or later based on changes in the infection rates.”

Last Monday we were watching CNN at early dawn when Rosemary Church, its lovely presenter with a plum accent, announced that British scientists of the Imperial College were about to start a clinical trial that might provide the definitive answer as to whether a vaccine candidate has immunogenicity or not: a Human Challenge COVID study.  They chose19 previously immunized young participants that would be expressly exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus to determine whether their acquired immunity is sustainable for a certain period of time or not. Bravo for these heroes!

There is widespread skepticism about the safety of a future vaccine(s) in the USA, especially among various Minority communities that discreetly feel they are being used as “guinea pigs” to advance research. This cautious attitude might start to allay their reasonable fears, one step at a time. Congratulations for these corporate “johnny-come-lately” but nonetheless “never-too-late” opportune exercises in a long-in-coming Cultural Sensitivity prurience.

Like the lovely lady of this tableau, we are all anxiously peeking through the window for the arrival of Ms. Right. We intentionally used the Ms. article as “la vacuna” (vaccine) has a feminine gender in the Castilian language.

Note – The feature image, Déjà from Alfred Stevens 1862-1864, was taken from Wikimedia Commons..

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Symbology in Tarot – Major Arcana part I

After the necessary Introduction to Tarot, we will slowly, very slowly, proceed to discuss the significance of all the trump cards of the Major Arcana. Considering that each of these 22 cards represent a major scene in the lives of humans, we will try to decipher the philosophical and psychological substratum that justify their inclusion there. We would like to thank the great web resources offered by Brigit in her page Biddy Tarot, which has been a fecund source of awakenings in our studies. We strongly recommend that you visit her page for that precious mentoring.

First of all, let us warn you that the interpretation of each card, besides relying on the opinion of experts of this esoteric discipline, will be unavoidably “tainted” by our own opinions, experiences and, pour quoi pas?, a little bit of prejudicing. After intensively sharing feelings and actions with our loved ones, friends, colleagues (friends and foes) and strangers galore, we know a thing or two about Life itself. Moreover, we are especially interested in exploring the cultural, sociological and psychological substratum behind each major card, for which we will make some “more or less” educated guesses about their importance for the whole deck, This will constitute our personal opinion and you are welcome to dissent and critique it.

Ladies and gentlemen, shall we make that scary first move and step into the Tarot realm?  Hold our hand and let’s go.

I – THE FOOL

This card is traditionally numbered as O because it can be both the first and the last card in the sequence of the Major Arcana. It represents our journey through Life. The idea that a man (or a woman bien sur) is a naïve operator manipulated by hidden forces or individuals, that stay largely in the coulisses without expressing their aim, has been a constant concept in Philosophy since the times of Ancient Greece. The only three major plays of Sophocles that, sadly, have been successfully transmitted to us—Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone—are good examples of that disquieting premise: humans are influenced by decisive factors that often escape our volition.

Note – The above is a painting depicting Oedipus at Colonus by Jean-Antoine-Théodore Giroust. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ae/Giroust_-_Oedipus_At_Colonus.JPG

Scared by a prophecy that their son would eventually kill his father and marry his mother, Laius and Jocasta entrusted a servant to take their infant away to get rid of him. Feeling pity for the boy, he passed him to a childless couple who raises him, without knowing his history. When he grew up, Oedipus became aware of that prophecy and runs away from his home, trying to put distance with his stepparents. At a crossroads, he encountered a noble man with an entourage of servants; they get into a fight and he killed him. It was Laius, his father, but he did not know it then. After solving the riddle of the Sphynx, he became the ruler of Thebes and married Jocasta, the widowed queen. When they learn the truth, Jocasta committed suicide and Oedipus blinded himself, before banishing himself from Thebes. At the end of the play, the chorus sings: “Count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.” Can you possibly imagine a more depressing message to a very shocked public?

As we said in our previous article, The Fool is  “a young man that, holding a walking stick with a small knapsack in his right hand and a white rose symbolizing innocence in his left one, is perilously standing at the edge of the precipice, with the company of a loyal little dog. Is it warning him of great danger if he makes another move forward? Or is it perhaps pushing him to quickly grab the big opportunity he has been waiting for? The answer is that both interpretations can be valid at some time.

The Upright Wisdom interprets the appearance of this card as a signal of a new start, in the labor, professional, financial, family or love realms; it also implies that the individual must take a leap of faith if he/she/ihr wants to have a radical change.

The Wisdom in Reverse interprets it as warning to pause in a specific endeavor or relationship. Danger lies eerily ahead, and the individual must re-evaluate options. If the individual stubbornly insists on moving forward, dire consequences come.

Strongly propelled by the vitality and enthusiasm of youth, Oedipus leaves his home to discover the world and make a name for himself. He resolutely pushes forward, without any misgivings, earning the ultimate prize in Ancient Greece: a kingdom. However, in hindsight he should have been wiser if he had paused for a brief moment to reflect on the succession of experiences that seemingly were all so successful. A word of caution for our readers: no durable victory comes so easily for mortals. The “easier it looks”, the more vigilant you must be. Don’t be a fool!

II – THE MAGICIAN

This is one of the more challenging cards to add to any scene because it always speaks of a new beginning (either under course or being sabotaged) that can change the whole life of an individual. It shows a man of wisdom raising his right hand to the Heavens above to receive Divine inspiration and re-transmitting it through his body to the left one pointing at the ground so it can be shared with other mortals. On top of his head we can clearly notice the sign of Infinity: infinite possibilities at work, studies, community activities, political affiliations, leisure, sports, and even love. We know form our Physics classes in High School that the Energy of the Universe is never lost, just channeled through different venues all the time, every time. He is signaling that we are at a critical junction of our lives and he is prodding us to act. Thoroughly empowered by the Divine inspiration, we must make a decisive move.

The Upright Wisdom for its interpretation when it is pulled in a reading is that the concerned individual must take advantage of the Divine inspiration to finally engage in doing what he/she/ihr has been quietly, discreetly ruminating for a very long time. No more procrastination. No more self-doubting. No more vagaries. Time to act.

The Wisdom in Reverse interprets the pulling of this card as a sign that the concerned individual should evaluate attitudes, beliefs, behavior, feelings, or fears that might be blocking the expression of that Divine inspiration ready to discharge. The stored energy must be quickly reclaimed for use in the family, labor, financial, community realms, etc., to achieve all the proposed objectives so intensively desired.

Let us go back to those somber, damp, eerie dwellings of our ancestors in the caves, gathering around a crackling fire and holding hands to fend off the Unknown outside. Facing some terrifying elements in their close environment, they clung to the hope that there would be “someone” or “something” that will rescue them as a last resort. Then and there we started to engage into magical thinking to change our Reality. For centuries, explorers and travelers have lit a camp fire when they decided to stop their journey for a night. It would “scare” beasts and bad spirits away.

Note – This picture was provided by: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Campfire_(Albert_Bierstadt),_1863.jpg

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Magical Thinking is “the belief that one’s ideas, thoughts, actions, words, or use of symbols can influence the course of events in the material world. Magical thinking presumes a casual link between one’s inner, personal experience and the external physical world.”

The advent of Sociology and Anthropology as sciences in the beginning of the 19th century consolidated the triumph of Rational-Cartesian thinking in the evaluation of human activities, including the practice of religions. Reasonably reacting against the asphyxiating religiosity of the previous centuries and the unabashed encroachment of the religious institutions in the civic space of the citizenry, the latter started to question their foundations as superstitious exercises in unbridled magical thinking. Moreover the Industrial Revolution of the mid-nineteenth century and the strides in scientific knowledge that improved the living standards of millions worldwide, had the effect of ascribing the “magical thinking” to a list of relics from our distant past.

Sigmund Freud argued that there are two basic processes of Human Thought:

  1. Primary processes: they are ruled by the Id, our pleasure principle, which frees them from the physical constraints of Reality, enabling magical thinking.
  2. Secondary processes: they are a more sophisticated development controlled by the Ego, which constantly monitors them for their rational bearings.

Freud considered that the intellectual development of human beings, from the early world of impulses and magical thoughts to the rationality of science-based evidence, mirrors the evolution of human societies from the magical-religious to modernity. Studying the evolution of children, Jean Piaget affirmed that children aged 7-8 years old believe that their individual actions have effects in the physical world; recent research questions it, coming up with data of a less pronounced egocentrism.

In spite of all our rational scaffolding, the result of years, even decades, of sustained studies and work experiences, we, the adults, might also engage in magical thinking. For example, after our mother Gladys passed away, my brother Gustavo told me:

-“You know that sometimes I speak with Mom in silence…”

-“Of course, I do that all the time. And with Dad too…After having the privilege of two outstanding parents, we must continue the ongoing conversation with them.”

One of the critical steps in managing the great grief of a family loss is the following:

Before you were here…Now you are there… But our loving bond stays

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

 

The plight of American Health Care aides

-“Doctor…Now I get why all aides get fed up with my Mom—she’s impossible.”

Dianne X. is a successful corporate lawyer with a beautiful family that, due to the Social Distancing and sanitary measures of the pandemic, had to take her mother out of an assisted living facility and re-settled her in her home temporarily. She has a large house, with plenty of help, good resources, but all those accoutrements of a wealthy lifestyle are often not enough to make her mother comfortable as she has Alzheimer’s Disease. She had to change several times her live-in aide, but she lately found a middle-aged Haitian lady that seems to have “connected well” with her Mom. Appreciating the great help she represents, she willingly raised her salary. She can’t live without her.

Unfortunately, many workers in the USA that are engaged in the care of vulnerable individuals—teachers, day care workers, social workers and health care aides—do not receive the proper financial and labor consideration, even though many are well educated and trained. The large majority of them are women from Minority groups. The recent spate of adulation for all those that stayed in the first lines of care during the pandemic, even though many got infected, did not come along with a just raise in their wages, which has remained stuck at U$ 7.25—the Federal Minimum wage.

Kathryn E.W. Himmelstein and Atheendar S. Venkataramani published an article in the American Journal of Public Health that discussed “the racial/ethnic and gender inequities in the compensation and benefits of US health care workers and assess the potential impact of a $15-per-hour minimum wage on their economic well-being.” They studied the 2017 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to Current Population Survey to compare the wages, job benefits, and labor distribution of both the male and female health care workers of different socio-ethnic communities.

They found that: “of female health care workers, 34% of earned less than $15 per hour. Nearly half of Black and Latina female health care workers earned less than $15 per hour, and more than 10% lacked health insurance. A total of 1.7 million health care workers and their children lived in poverty. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would reduce poverty rates among female health care workers by 27.1% to 50.3%.” During our medical practice, we have seen numerous women who, in spite of working full time, do not qualify for basic insurance coverage, including Medicaid. Their children might qualify for state and federal aid but they do not. This has been discussed in a previous article of this series called The Medicaid Coverage Gap.

The researchers studied the possible effects of raising the minimum wage to $15 of these workers and they considered two scenarios. In the first scenario, they assumed that there is zero elasticity for labor demand (meaning that raising the wages will not decrease the labor opportunities)  One of the most discussed issues in the challenge of raising the minimum wage to enable workers a better quality of life is that employers will either start laying off workers or simply stop hiring them. However, there is strong empirical evidence that in Health Care, due to the increased needs of an ageing population and the rising sophistication of medical services, that might not apply. There are much less incentives for dis-employment.

In the second scenario, they assumed that there was great elasticity of the demand for low wage-health care labor, based on a study done in Seattle, Washington state, that showed that raising the minimum wage to U$13 per hour produced a 9.4% loss of work hours for them.

In the first scenario, that increase in hourly wages would increase their average annual income by $7653 ($7682 for all women, and $8236 for Black, Latina and native American women) for an estimated value of almost U$ 45 billion, or the equivalent of a meagre 1.3% of the total health care spending in the USA. Moreover, it would lift almost 900,000 women and their children out of poverty and into the lower middle class.

In the second scenario, the socio-economic gains were more subdued as the average concerned worker would only get an increase of U$5103 ($5152 for all women and U$5769 for Black, Latina and Native American women) The total cost for the system was calculated to be U$24 billion; only 215,476 workers and 163,472 children were taken out of poverty.

It is clear that in both scenarios, there would be an improvement for those hard-working women and their children. Don’t we owe them, as a grateful society that appreciates their work, at least the gesture of discussing a wage raise?

Justice now for American Health Care aides!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.