The 4 Crises Every Marriage Must Make It Through

Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a very long journey passing through a great many twists and turns. To make it to the end with love and joy intact you will almost certainly have to pass through each of the following marital crises.

The Crisis of Sin

Dating is all about seeing and loving the best in each other, and so it should be. Dating is about discovery and delight but marriage is about disclosure and reality. It doesn’t take too long together under the same roof and under the same covers before we discover the imperfections in our partner. It can be devastating to learn that your loved one is a sinner.

Mark this down: Your husband will sin. He will not live up to his own best intentions.

Note this: Your wife will sin. She will love you less than she should, and she will love other things more than is good for her or for your marriage.

You married a sinner. Now deal with it.

Don’t let the sin you should have known was there steal your joy or rob you of commitment.

The Bible is very clear: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). “All” have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

If that verse is true, and it is, then sooner or later you will discover that it accurately predicts the behavior of your loved one. He or she will sin. You will be disappointed. You will be hurt. But you can forgive.

Jesus said: “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:3–4 ESV)

Before you are husband and wife, you are brother and sister in Christ. Your brother will sin. If he repents, you must forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in the day and turns to you seven times saying, “I repent”, you must forgive him.

That verse is theoretically difficult when you are single; it is a full-blown crisis when you deal with it in your marriage.

Sin will come. You will face it in your marriage and to get past it, you must learn to forgive.

The Crisis Of Conflict

Dating is all about discovering and enjoying your commonalities and complementarity. You love how she gets your sense of humor, you like how he is good with the little details. This is as it should be, but marriage brings you inevitably into the realm of conflict.

There are no perfect people and there are no perfect matches—there are only marriages made out of two sinners at various stages of growth and rehabilitation. Therefore, there will be conflict. There will be places where sin rubs up against imperfection. There will be times when sin is exposed by new challenges, new deprivations and new responsibilities.

Don’t panic, and don’t beat each other up.

This isn’t proof that you married the wrong person. This is just proof that you aren’t a perfect person. You are in process, your partner is in process; therefore, conflict is inevitable.

Don’t let the conflict that you should have anticipated steal your faith or threaten your commitment. The Bible says that conflict can be a good thing: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:5–6 ESV) and “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV11).

The Bible is not conflict averse. It recognizes that conflict – in the context of a committed loving relationship – can serve to refine and sanctify both parties. Conflict reveals our hidden idols. James 4says:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1–2 ESV)

When we get angry at each other and when we yell and stamp our feet, we reveal the things we love too much. Perhaps it is our own dignity. Perhaps it is our possessions. Perhaps it is getting our own way. Perhaps it is our kids. Perhaps it is sex. Perhaps it is our career. Perhaps it is privacy.

One thing is for sure, if you live in close confines with another human for any length of time you will find out what it is. You will get angry. You will become irrationally upset and you will lose your temper. That can be a good thing. It tells you where the bodies are hidden and it shows you where to dig.

When conflict comes, and it will, work together to uncover and break down your hidden idols.

The Crisis of Children

Children are a blessing from the Lord, but they begin as a burden on the marriage. There is no way around that and there is no embarrassment in admitting that.

Children are a load.

They are very demanding. They require constant attention and they will not be ignored.

If you were selfish when you got married (and you almost certainly were), children will fix that in a hurry. You will be pushed to the curb of your marital world faster than you can say ‘dirty diaper’. That will be a crisis.

But you will recover.

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have had kids. It just means that you have to stop being one.

Don’t let the children you prayed and longed for steal your intimacy or rob you of your commitment.

Receive any child that the Lord brings into your marriage as a gift and a blessing from God’s hand – but take care that they do not become your idol. The Bible says: “Children are a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3 NLT)

Receive them as such; treat them as such. But do not let them become an idol. The Bible also says:

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6 ESV)

Children should never be allowed to threaten the primacy of the one flesh relationship of marriage. Children come from that union, but they must not be allowed to come between it. Neither should they be allowed to come between you and the Lord. Jesus was equally clear about that. He said: “whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37 ESV).

The gift of children can create a crisis in your marriage and a crisis in your spiritual life. If you receive them as they were given, they will bring a blessing – but if you allow them to become an idol, they will bring a curse.

Work together to keep your children in their place.

The Crisis of Loss

The morning of your wedding day will likely represent the high water mark in terms of optimism and hope – and so it should! So much lies before you on that day – the possibility of children, the anticipation of a new home and the prospect of life, mission and work with the one you love and adore. You should be excited and you should be giddy with hope and possibility! But be prepared for loss and disappointment.

It will come.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). That is a disturbingly unqualified statement. You will have. Not you might have. You will have. You will have tribulation, loss, frustration and hardship. Unless Jesus comes, loss, hardship, suffering and pain surely will.

When it comes—and it will—it doesn’t mean that God has stopped blessing you; it doesn’t mean that he has stopped loving you. It just means that you live on planet Earth.

Don’t let the loss and pain that you prayed wouldn’t come rob you of hope and commitment.

In the Old Testament, Job faced the worst pain and loss that any human could imagine. He lost all of his children in a single day. All 10 of his children died in a natural disaster, and when Job got the news the Bible says:

Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20–21 ESV)

I have heard parents quote this passage from memory at the funeral of their teenage son. I have heard it sobbed out in faith, through tears by a husband and wife whose baby died in the delivery room.

There is no greater loss than this and no greater crisis to be faced in your marriage.

Whether it is the loss of a child, or the inability to have a child, or the spiritual death and apostasy of a child, or whether it is the loss of health, the loss of a job or the death of a dream—sooner or later the crisis of loss must be faced in your marriage.

When it comes, don’t turn on one another. Don’t blame one another and don’t pull back from one another. Come together. Find comfort and shelter in one another.

This is what friendship is for! This is what marriage is for, most of all!

though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV)

I love what Matthew Henry says about this verse: “Two together he compares to a threefold cord; for where two are closely joined in holy love and fellowship, Christ will by his Spirit come to them, and make the third.”1

When crisis visits your marriage; when you are assaulted by sin or conflict or change, or children or loss – do not surrender your bonds of holy love and fellowship! Hold on! Hold fast and wait for Christ by his Spirit to come and make the third!

A three-fold cord is not quickly broken. You will endure. You will pass through and by his grace you will give him glory when you reach the other side.

Even still, come Lord Jesus.

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Gut-Wrenching Footage Shows Abandoned Baby Being Rescued From Plastic Bag

While parenthood can be one of the greatest sources of joy in one’s life, not everyone is prepared for such a commitment and thus upon hearing that they are expecting, go to some rather disturbing means to get out of it.

And in places where access to family planning health services is low, mothers can get truly desperate after the baby arrives. Worse still is when cultural norms surrounding single motherhood make that status so frowned upon that their lives become unlivable. Sadly, this often ends in people taking drastic and devastating measures.

After a late night of partying and celebration, a group of friends from Caloocan City, Philippines, heard distant crying sounds in the early hours of the morning. Upon further inspection, they made the heartbreaking discovery of a small baby covered in blood and stuffed inside of shopping bags. The infant was discovered in the sidecar of a motorcycle and still had the umbilical cord attached.

Medics confirmed that had the group of friends not discovered the child when they did, it is incredibly likely that the baby would have suffocated inside the plastic bags.

(via Daily Mail)

This is truly tragic for the child. I hope that this baby gets a fresh start after enduring something so terrible.

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9 Scientific Ways To Fix Your Most Common Sleep Problems

Trouble sleeping at night? Whether it’s stress, body pain, or a shiny blue screen keeping you up, not getting those 7-9 recommended hours of shut-eye can throw off your entire day. Thanks to the awesome power of science, however, we now know some easy ways to tweak our sleeping habits that can remedy the 9 most common problems people face.

No, we’re not talking about melatonin supplements or chamomile tea (though if those work for you, carry on). It’s as simple as setting a morning alarm, or being careful of what time you drink caffeine, or knowing where to place pillows to alleviate certain ailments. Even the temperature of your room plays a role in how well you sleep.

Well, we can’t tell you all of these great tips just yet. Scroll down to find out how to get on your way to sweet dreams tonight – or now, if your eyes are getting heavy just reading this.

(h/t: Tech Insider)

Source: Mayo Clinic

Source: Mayo Clinic

Source: Healthline

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The Shirk Report Volume 451

Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 20 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Facebook, Twitter, and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to


Street math
Parenting level: savage
The Amazon reviews on this $1,500 Swiss Army Knife
Poor Suna
You shall not pass
Every day I’m tumblin’
Always keep your guard up
He has become one with the chair
We’re all stuck in 2017 while this kid out here in 4017
I wonder how many times he’s done this
What is going on here
Meanwhile in Canada
Say no to Max
Cat for scale
I wonder what this tastes like
Until next week


TIME Person of the Year 2017
Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?
Volunteering Is the Best Kept Secret for Mental Health
AlphaZero Annihilates World’s Best Chess Bot After Just Four Hours of Practicing
The Return of the Techno-Moral Panic
The False Narrative of Damien Hirst’s Rise and Fall
What You Should Know About Bitcoin’s Ridiculous Surge In Value
Surgical Patients May Be Feeling Pain—and (Mostly) Forgetting It
The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone
Where Millennials Come From

5 VIDEOS + fight for your right

The Reviews Are In: The Weekend is Upon Us

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Manson Family Leader Charles Manson Dead At 83

Charles Manson, the infamous cult leader of the “Helter Skelter” gang, has died after nearly five decades in prison, according to several media outlets. He was 83.

Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Charles Manson on his way to court in 1970.

Manson was reportedly taken from Corcoran State Prison in California, where he had been serving a life sentence, to a hospital in Bakersfield last week, TMZ and The Los Angeles Times reported at the time.

Manson was hospitalized for gastrointestinal issues at Bakersfield Hospital in January 2017. 

The man who would become synonymous with pure evil was in his mid-30s in 1969, when he was charged with orchestrating a series of gruesome murders. He was the leader of the so-called Manson Family, a quasi-commune. He told followers an apocalyptic race war was coming.

He described the collapse of society as “helter skelter,” a term he borrowed from a Beatles song and was found scrawled in blood ― though misspelled ― on a refrigerator at one of the crime scenes. 

Manson was trying to precipitate a race war when he ordered his followers to kill seven people, including Sharon Tate, a pregnant actress married to famed director Roman Polanski.

Manson and three of his devout followers ― Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten ― went on trial in June 1970. A fifth suspect, Linda Kasabian, was given immunity in exchange for her testimony against the others.

Bettmann via Getty Images
Susan Denise Atkins, left, and Patricia Krenwinkel, second from right.

The nearly 10-month trial cost Los Angeles $1 million, a record that stood until serial killer Richard Ramirez’s murder trial nearly 20 years later.

The courtroom antics of Manson and his followers captured front-page headlines. At one point, Manson carved an X into his forehead, which years later he turned into a swastika. Some of his followers held vigils outside the courthouse.

The outbursts turned volatile in August 1970, when an infuriated Manson, denied permission to question a witness, leaped over the defense table to attack the judge. Manson was wrestled to the ground before he made it to the bench, but the attack reportedly prompted the judge to begin wearing a revolver under his robes.

On Jan. 25, 1971, the jury convicted the four defendants on multiple counts of first-degree murder.

During the penalty phase, Manson shaved his head and trimmed his beard in the likeness of a fork, according to the book The True Story of the Manson Murders.

“I am the devil, and the devil always has a bald head,” Manson told reporters covering the trial.

Bettmann via Getty Images
Charles Manson after his arrest.

In March 1971, the jury sentenced each of the four defendants to death. Manson reportedly shouted to jurors: “You people have no authority over me.”

Three months later, Manson follower Charles “Tex” Watson went to trial. He was found guilty of seven counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

The defendants’ sentences were commuted to life in prison in 1972, when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily banned the death penalty.

Manson was denied parole a dozen times during his decades of incarceration. He didn’t attend his most recent hearing, in April 2012. 

Even in prison, Manson didn’t fade from the media spotlight. In the 1980s, he gave several interviews, including a notorious session with Geraldo Rivera on NBC in 1988. During the interview, Rivera hit a raw nerve when he suggested Manson was not brazen enough to do his own bidding.

“Where I come fro, the guys with guts, they do it themselves,” Rivera said.

Manson, apparently irritated by the comment, replied, “Come on, man, why you feel the need to get down on me? Is that going to make you look any bigger? What if I just jumped on you and beat the dog shit out of you. Would that make you feel any bigger?”

Handout . / Reuters

The public’s fascination with the notorious killer endured, with Manson’s likeness plastered on T-shirts and featured in comic books. His story was told countless times in books and true-crime TV shows. He was featured in movies and documentaries, including two made-for-television dramatizations of his crimes. Songs written by Manson have been sung by several hard-rock bands. Singer Brian Hugh Warner, who goes by the stage moniker Marilyn Manson, reportedly created his name by combining Manson’s last name with the first name of actress Marilyn Monroe.

Sandi Gibbons, a former reporter who covered the Manson trial for City News Service, discussed Manson’s cultural influences with The Associated Press in 1999.

“Charlie was always a con man,” Gibbons said. “And now he’s managed to con a whole new generation of people.”

Manson captured headlines around the world again in November 2014, when Afton Elaine “Star” Burton, then 26, announced she was engaged to the aging killer. Burton obtained a marriage license, but it expired and she did not obtain another prior to Manson’s death. 

Bettmann via Getty Images
A crowd of reporters surround Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi as he leaves the courtroom in the trial of Charles Manson.

Tate’s sister, Debra Tate, told The Associated Press in January 2017 that, as a Catholic, she had “no ill wishes” for her sister’s killers.

“I would probably say a prayer for them and shed a tear and ask God to have mercy on their souls,” she said at the time.

She told ABC News after Manson died that she did not feel relieved to hear the news. 

“People are saying that this should be some kind of relief, but oddly enough it really isn’t,” Debra Tate said. “While Charlie may be gone, it’s the ones that are still alive that perpetrate everything and it was up to their imaginations for what brutal things were going to be done. In an odd way I see them as much more dangerous individuals.”

Manson’s prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, author of the 1974 book Helter Skelter, died at age 80 in 2015. Bugliosi made his feelings clear in a 2009 interview with Time, when asked if he was sorry Manson was not executed.

“I don’t use the word sorry, but he should have been executed, and I told the jury, if this was not a proper case for the imposition of the death penalty, then no case ever would be,” Bugliosi said. “Manson did not deserve to live.”

Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, issued a statement Sunday saying that Bugliosi “provided the most accurate summation: ‘Manson was an evil, sophisticated con man with twisted and warped moral values.’”

This article has been updated with comment from Hanisee, as well as additional comment from Debra Tate. 

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You FIRST! Conservatives fact-HAMMER Kamala Harriss latest lies and threats about GOP tax bill

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Kamala Harris is a disingenuous, pandering liar who wouldn’t know the truth if it fell out of the sky, landed on her face and started to wiggle.

Democrats are lying their backsides off about the GOP tax bill, but none of them are quite as obnoxious as Kamala:

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Bill Gates announces major donation to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s

Bill Gates speaks speaks at the Goalkeepers 2017 event on Sept. 20, 2017, in New York City.
Image: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates just donated a piece of his fortune to advance the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

The philanthropist and Microsoft founder announced in a blog post Monday that he will give $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a public-private partnership that invests in innovative dementia research. Gates will also donate another $50 million in startups working in Alzheimer’s research.

Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has a long track record of supporting research to eradicate diseases like malaria and polio. But Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia that progressively affects memory and other brain functions, is the first noncommunicable disease he’s fighting.

The $100 million is his own investment, not his foundation’s. That’s, in part, because it’s personal. 

“This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s.”

“It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” Gates wrote in his blog post. “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. An estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, and someone new develops the disease every 66 seconds. People of all ages are affected, but 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Gates said he spent the last year learning everything he could about Alzheimer’s disease, speaking with researchers, academics, and other industry experts. Those conversations led him to focus on five areas: understanding how the disease unfolds, figuring out how to detect it earlier, funding more innovative and lesser-known drug trials, making it easier for people to enroll in clinical trials, and using data to inform better approaches.

Gates’ investment in the Dementia Discovery Fund will help support startups as it explores “less mainstream approaches to treating dementia,” he explained.

“The first Alzheimer’s treatments might not come to fruition for another decade or more, and they will be very expensive at first. Once that day comes, our foundation might look at how we can expand access in poor countries,” Gates wrote, explaining how he might look at the issue beyond his personal investment in the future.

The announcement is timely, coinciding with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November. The goal of the month is to increase awareness and drive home the fact that as many as 16 million people could live with Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.

“People should be able to enjoy their later years — and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that,” Gates said. “I’m excited to join the fight and can’t wait to see what happens next.”

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People Are Really Mad About These ‘Designer’ Horses, But Is That Hypocritical?

Unrealistic beauty standards portrayed in the media have left thousands, if not millions, of people going to some unbelievable extremes to transform themselves.

And that isn’t even limited to humans. Animal breeders partake in practices that lead to genetic disease and deformity all for the sake of producing animals that meet arbitrary breed standards. With gene pools already limited, some breeders are left with no choice but to breed within the same family. That’s when things get hairy.

One question remains: When is enough enough? A recent photo of a purebred horse is going viral and it may make you think long and hard about that question.

Meet El Rey Magnum, an Arabian horse that looks more like something out of the Sunday funnies than a real horse.

The nine-month-old colt was bred by Orrion Farms, not for his abilities but for his overall look.

This multi-million dollar horse comes with his very own tag line, “you won’t believe your eyes,” and his unique look is said to be quite popular with both breeders and trainers.

Farm manager and primary breeding advisor for Orrion Farms, Doug Leadly, is thrilled with the results. “There is never perfection but I think this horse is a stepping stone to getting close to perfection. Often times you’ll get the exceptional face that he has but they don’t have a good body, they don’t have good tail carriage, they don’t hold their head high. He does all of that. He is very proud of himself and he has exceptional tail carriage. He loves to move and he sure appears to be show-healthy, bouncy and fast. He loves himself. He is confident and loves to show off,” Leadly said.

And while the demand for a horse like El Rey Magnum may be high, not everyone is so enthused about the horse’s appearance. Some people have voiced their concerns about the unnatural appearance of the colt, pointing to health problems he could run into later in life.

While Arabian horses are often identified by their dished faces with slender throat-latches, the world has never seen a dished face quite like El Rey Magnum’s. Some veterinarians fear that the horse’s exaggerated face may cause breathing problems down the line.The dished face is meant to help Arabian horses survive their naturally dry environment, but the curvature of his is so extreme that it could lead to limited air intake.

Outrageous, right? But if you’re offended by this obviously unethical breeding practice, take a look at the animals in your life. If you have a purebred pooch of your own, it’s useful to consider what breeding has subjected them to (even if your pup is a rescue). Here are five popular breeds that are notorious for developing health issues directly related to pure breeding.

1. Cocker Spaniels

Dogs like Cocker Spaniels are bred for their floppy ears, but such large ears can make these dogs even more susceptible for frequent ear infections. Cleaning out your dogs ears every few weeks can help prevent the issue.

2. Chihuahuas or other toy breeds

If your toy-sized pooch is making a honking sound when ever he or she is excited, it could be a result a collapsed trachea. This happens when the cartilage that is responsible for holding the trachea in place becomes weak, causing the trachea to flatten. While some dogs can go their whole life without any repercussions from a collapsed trachea, others may require medication or even surgery to correct it.

3. Pugs

Defining characteristics for pugs are their squished faces and bulging eyes, but both can leave them with serious health problems. The shape of their faces makes it difficult for them to breathe.

4. Dachshunds

Known for their hotdog appearance and elongated bodies, Dachshunds are at a higher risk for serious back injuries. By keeping your weenie at a healthy weight, you can help prevent strain on their back. It’s also best to make sure that they never jump up and down off of furniture and to really limit how often they use stairs.

5. Bulldogs

A bulldog’s smushed in face can leave them open to a variety of respiratory problems. Small nostrils as well as soft palates and narrow tracheas could force them to overheat or hyperventilate while trying to regulate their breathing.

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Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government

Skooter McCoy was 20 years old when his wife, Michelle, gave birth to their first child, a son named Spencer. It was 1996, and McCoy was living in the tiny town of Cherokee, North Carolina, attending Western Carolina University on a football scholarship. He was the first member of his family to go to college.

McCoy’s father had ruined his body as a miner, digging tunnels underneath lakes and riverbeds, and his son had developed a faith that college would lead him in a better direction. So McCoy was determined to stay in school when Spencer came along. Between fatherhood, football practice, and classes, though, he couldn’t squeeze in much part-time work. Michelle had taken an entry-level job as a teacher’s aide at a local childcare center right out of high school, but her salary wasn’t enough to support the three of them.

Then the casino money came.

Just months before Spencer was born, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened a casino near McCoy’s home, and promised every one of its roughly 15,000 tribal members—among them Skooter and Michelle—an equal cut of the profits. The first payouts came to $595 each—a nice little bonus, McCoy says, just for being. “That was the first time we ever took a vacation,” McCoy remembers. “We went to Myrtle Beach.”

Once Spencer arrived, the checks covered the family’s car payments and other bills. “It was huge,” McCoy says. He graduated college and went on to coach football at the local high school for 11 years. Two decades later, McCoy still sets aside some of the money the tribe gives out twice a year to take his children—three of them, now—on vacation. (He and Michelle are separated.) And as the casino revenue has grown, so have the checks. In 2016, every tribal member received roughly $12,000. McCoy’s kids, and all children in the community, have been accruing payments since the day they were born. The tribe sets the money aside and invests it, so the children cash out a substantial nest egg when they’re 18. When Spencer’s 18th birthday came three years ago, his so-called “minor’s fund” amounted to $105,000 after taxes. His 12-year-old sister is projected to receive roughly twice that.

Skooter McCoy, 41, got his first casino payout when he was 20. A former high school football coach, McCoy now runs the local Boys’ Club.
Yael Malka for WIRED
In 2006, McCoy won the Frell Owl Award for contributions to the welfare of Cherokee children and families. He displays it on his desk at the Boys’ Club.
Yael Malka for WIRED

McCoy is now general manager of the Cherokee Boys Club, a nonprofit that provides day care, foster care, and other services to the tribe. At 41, he has a shaved head and wears a gray Under Armour T-shirt over his sturdy frame, along with a rubber bracelet around his wrist that reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The casino money made it possible for him to support his young family, but the money his children will receive is potentially life-altering on a different scale. “If you’ve lived in a small rural community and never saw anybody leave, never saw anyone with a white-collar job or leading any organization, you always kind of keep your mindset right here,” he says, forming a little circle with his hands in front of his face. “Our kids today? The kids at the high school?” He throws his arms out wide. “They believe the sky’s the limit. It’s really changed the entire mindset of the community these past 20 years.”

These biannual, unconditional cash disbursements go by different names among the members of the tribe. Officially, they’re called “per capita payments.” McCoy’s kids call it their “big money.” But a certain kind of Silicon Valley idealist might call it something else: a universal basic income.

The idea is not exactly new—Thomas Paine proposed a form of basic income back in 1797—but in this country, aside from Social Security and Medicare, most government payouts are based on individual need rather than simply citizenship. Lately, however, tech leaders, including Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, have begun pushing the concept as a potential solution to the economic anxiety brought on by automation and globalization—anxiety the tech industry has played its own role in creating.

If robots and offshoring take all the jobs, or at the very least displace the low-skilled ones, the thinking goes, there may come a time when there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. What then? In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, which some have attributed to this very tension, questions about how to support the so-called working class have only grown. Politicians have latched on too. In her new book, What Happened, Hillary Clinton writes that she considered rolling out a basic income policy during her 2016 campaign. In September, Silicon Valley congressperson Ro Khanna introduced a bill calling for a $1.4 trillion expansion of the earned income tax credit, which would effectively create a small basic income for low-income working people via tax credits. And the mayor of Stockton, California, recently announced that beginning in August 2018, the city plans to give some of its 300,000 citizens $500 a month, an experiment being funded by Hughes’s organization, the Economic Security Project.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee isn’t the only group whose members get unconditional cash: The Alaska Permanent Fund has been giving $1,000 to $2,000 a year to its citizens for decades, and other Native American tribes have also divided up casino revenues. But the Cherokee example is among the most researched. Back in the 1990s, scholars at Duke were studying the mental health of Cherokee children in the region; then the casino was built, creating the conditions for a natural experiment. Three decades of longitudinal research backs up McCoy’s anecdotal evidence that the money has had profound positive effects.

As the richest people in America fixate on how to give money to the poorest, the Cherokee program is a case study of whether a basic income is in fact a practical proposal for alleviating economic inequality or just another oversimplified, undercooked Silicon Valley fix to one of the most intractable problems our society faces. Or maybe it’s both.

The biannual payments to every Cherokee tribal member comes from the profits from the Harrah’s casino.
Yael Malka for WIRED

The Qualla Boundary, a 56,000-acre tract in western North Carolina, is the designated home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, who have lived in the region for hundreds of years. The landscape is beautiful but dotted with signs of neglect. Along the stretch of road that spirals its way through the majestic, fog-capped Blue Ridge Mountains, each hairpin curve reveals a single-story motel, ramshackle gas station, or abandoned barbecue stand. Mobile homes sit idly along the roadside accumulating rust. Although the land is held in trust for the Cherokee, many white people, especially poor whites, live there too. The median household incomes in the counties of the Qualla fall well below the national figure. In Swain County, where the Boys’ Club is based, 24 percent of people live below the poverty line, about 12 percent higher than the national median.

Asheville, with its craft breweries and art galleries, is about an hour’s drive east of the town of Cherokee. “Downtown” in Cherokee refers to a mile-long section of Tsali Boulevard lined with log cabin souvenir shops that hawk handwoven baskets and black bear figurines made in China.

It was here, in the quiet shadow of the mountain range, that a team of researchers including Jane Costello, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, decided to ground the Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth. Costello wanted to find out about the need for mental health and psychiatric services for children in rural America, and in 1993 the researchers began studying 1,420 children, 350 of whom were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. They divided the group into three age cohorts—9-year-olds, 11-year-olds, and 13-year-olds—and gave their parents thick, detailed personality surveys called the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment, which were completed every year until the kids turned 16 and then again every few years until they turned 30. Looking for indicators of behavioral or emotional troubles, the researchers asked questions about whether the children ever engaged in physical fights and whether they had trouble being away from home.

Costello and her team also recorded household data like parents’ occupations, history of domestic violence, and, crucially, income. When the study began, about 67 percent of the American Indian kids were living below the poverty line. It wasn’t until after the casino opened that Costello began to notice that household income among the Cherokee families was going up. It was subtle at first, but the trend turned sharply upward as time went on, eventually lifting 14 percent of the Cherokee children in the study above the poverty line. Household income for those families who were not Cherokee, meanwhile, grew at a slower rate.

It was an awakening for Costello, who had accidentally stumbled onto an entirely new line of inquiry on the impact of unconditional cash transfers on the poor. “I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my god,’” Costello remembers.

Research showed that when the Cherokee families started receiving regular cash payments, children were mentally healthier and stayed in school longer.
Yael Malka for WIRED

In 1995, the tribe opened its first casino, a controversial decision among locals, who worried that gambling might attract unsavory characters to the area. It was Joyce Dugan, the tribe’s only female chief and a former teacher, who suggested that if the tribe were to benefit from its new casino, then every one of its members ought to get a cut too. The tribal council agreed.

The casino started as a glorified arcade, filled with electronic poker and bingo machines, but it has now grown into the 21-story Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. All glass and stone, it juts out of the earth like one of the mountain’s many towering peaks. Inside, the casino floor is dotted with thick pillars, designed to look like giant trees, a reminder that the great outdoors is just beyond the cigarette smoke and zombie-themed slot machines.

Harrah’s, which operates the casino, takes 3 percent of the $300 million annual profits. The bulk is funneled back into the community, covering infrastructure, health care for every tribal member, and the college education fund. Casino funds have paved roads and paid for a new $26 million wastewater treatment plant. Half of the profits go toward the per capita payments. The casino has become the tribe’s most precious resource.

The Eastern Band’s change in fortunes also shifted the course of Costello’s research. “We thought it’d be interesting to see if it made any difference” to the children’s mental health, she says. They also started comparing the younger Cherokee children, whose families started accruing money earlier in their lives, to the older ones. They wanted to answer a simple question: Would the cash infusion benefit these kids in measurable ways?

The answer defied Costello’s initial hypothesis. “I thought, ‘There’s such a pit of poverty there that this isn’t going to make any difference; it’s trivial,’” she remembers. “But it wasn’t.” Now the body of research that she and other academics have built has become a favorite point of reference for universal basic income advocates, providing some of the most compelling evidence yet of the positive effects of bestowing unconditional sums of cash on the poor.

In two studies, one published in 2003 and a follow-up in 2010, Costello compared children who were lifted out of poverty after the casino opened to those who had never been poor. She scored them based on the presence of what researchers referred to as emotional disorders, like depression and anxiety, as well as behavioral disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Before the casino opened, Costello found that poor children scored twice as high as those who were not poor for symptoms of psychiatric disorders. But after the casino opened, the children whose families’ income rose above the poverty rate showed a 40 percent decrease in behavioral problems. Just four years after the casino opened, they were, behaviorally at least, no different from the kids who had never been poor at all. By the time the youngest cohort of children was at least 21, she found something else: The younger the Cherokee children were when the casino opened, the better they fared compared to the older Cherokee children and to rural whites. This was true for emotional and behavioral problems as well as drug and alcohol addiction.

Other researchers have used Costello’s data to look at different effects of the casino payments. One fear about basic income is that people will be content living on their subsidies and stop working. But a 2010 analysis of the data, led by Randall Akee, who researches public policy at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, found no impact on overall labor participation.

Of course, the casino also brought jobs to the area, and the majority of the roughly 2,500 people the casino employs are tribal members. This would seem to confound the question of whether the tribal payment or casino income made the difference in the children’s lives, but Akee looked into this too. He found that, among the parents in Costello’s study, employment didn’t go up or down after the opening of the casino.

Akee also looked at the effects of the money on education and found that more money in the household meant children stayed in school longer. The impact on crime was just as profound: A $4,000 increase in household income reduced the poorest kids’ chances of committing a minor crime by 22 percent.

All of this amounted to substantial financial benefits for the community as a whole. “This translates to fewer kids in jail, fewer kids in in-patient care,” Costello says. “Then there are the other costs you can’t calculate. The cost of people not killing themselves? That’s a hard one.”

Costello has been at the center of the research showing the effects of the casino payments, but during all the time in Qualla Boundary she says she had never even heard the term basic income. That is, until she started getting phone calls from people who were interested in the topic. People like Chris Hughes.

The main drag in Cherokee is lined with log cabin souvenir shops that hawk handwoven baskets and black bear figurines made in China.
Yael Malka for WIRED
Visitors to the town are greeted by a giant sculpture of a Cherokee warrior.
Yael Malka for WIRED

Hughes grew up about a three-hour drive from Cherokee, in Hickory, North Carolina, where his mother worked as a public school teacher and his father was a traveling paper salesman. But that’s not what attracted Hughes to Costello’s work. He was interested in basic income primarily because at just 33 years old, Facebook has made him filthy rich—he’s worth roughly $430 million—and he’s still grappling with how, exactly, that happened 1.

“I’m proud of the work we did at Facebook, but I’ve also been very clear that the financial rewards I got were disproportionate to the work we put in,” Hughes says. He’s sitting cross-legged in a leather chair inside NeueHouse, a Manhattan warehouse that’s been converted into a swanky coworking space (top-tier membership costs $3,500 a month). “In human history, you have not had self-made wealth among twentysomethings on the order of magnitude we have today,” Hughes continues. “What’s making that possible? Because whatever it is, is happening at the same time median household wages have barely budged.”

It’s true. Since 1980, average income for the top .01 percent of Americans has more than tripled. For the bottom 90 percent, it’s basically flat-lined. Hughes is among those who view the disparity as a national crisis. And so he recently launched the Economic Security Project, a two-year effort to invest $10 million from Hughes and others into research on universal basic income.

This investment comes amid a sudden wave of interest in universal basic income in the tech industry. Y Combinator, the Palo Alto–based startup accelerator, announced in early 2016 that it was starting its own basic income experiment in which a small number of Oakland residents would receive a cash payment and be compared to a control group. Tesla’s Elon Musk, meanwhile, has warned about the rise of the robots, arguing at the World Government Summit earlier this year that a basic income is “going to be necessary.” And when Mark Zuckerberg delivered his commencement speech at Harvard in May, he advocated for a basic income, saying it would provide people with “a cushion to try new ideas."

According to Ro Khanna, who represents California’s 17th congressional district in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 2016 election woke techies up to the country’s glaring economic inequality. “They don’t want a populist backlash,” he says. “They don’t want a country divided by place.”

Hughes called Costello while he was looking for basic income studies that the Economic Security Project might like to finance. The goal of the organization is to provide the money so that researchers can investigate the impact of a basic income on people’s lives. While Hughes has not funded Costello’s research, his group has contributed $1 million to Stockton, California’s basic income experiment, as well as to GiveDirectly, a Google-backed charity that is studying the impact of unconditional cash transfers in Kenya, and other projects.

The Economic Security Project team also recently conducted its own survey of more than 1,000 Alaskans who receive roughly $2,000 per person, per year, through the Alaska Permanent Fund, which is drawn from oil revenues. It found that when faced with a choice between lowering taxes or keeping their cash payments, 71 percent of Alaskans say they want to keep the payments.

“It feels like security,” Hughes says, “and in an economy that zigs and zags and has more part-time jobs, security is hard to come by.”

Hughes is no basic income purist. He believes, for instance, that for this economic moonshot to be politically palatable, it would have to be tied to work. “Not just because it seems more intuitive for people,” he says, “but because work is a key source of purpose in our lives.” But the changing nature of work, particularly among top tech employers, is still a critical problem for the American workforce. One illuminating New York Times article illustrated how the men and women who scrub toilets and do other low-skilled work for companies like Apple are hired from contracting companies which set the terms of their employment. Those workers are cut off from the benefits and upward mobility that the company’s engineers and marketers enjoy. Because the workers are contractors, the big tech companies feel no pressure to raise their wages, and aren’t responsible for offering health-care coverage. In 2015, Facebook’s bus drivers voted to unionize in order to secure themselves the kind of worker protections that the social networking giant refused to provide.

Looked at in this light, the tech-led efforts to push a basic income can appear hypocritical. In a new economy that mints billionaires overnight, giving millions of dollars away for experimentation is the easy part. It’s taxpayers, after all, not individual tech companies, who would have to pay for a basic income should one ever come to pass.

Spencer McCoy, 21, is now in college and hopes to use his “big money” to start a business.
Yael Malka for WIRED

A legislated basic income is in the realm of fantasy at the moment. Even among its proponents there is almost no agreement about the fundamentals, starting with how much money would be an optimal basic income. Ioana Marinescu, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, who researches basic income, says that research on the Alaska fund is enlightening, but not dispositive. “We know $2,000 a year makes a real difference to many people,” Marinescu says. “But would something lower still make a difference? We don’t know.”

Others argue that the problem with a universal basic income is the “universal” part. In a world in which every American gets a check, some of that money would necessarily be squandered on rich people. Some libertarian groups like the Cato Institute support the idea, seeing it as a way to replace the country’s existing social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps, an idea liberals deplore. “When resources for antipoverty policies are scarce and dwindling, especially in this Congress, we need to be careful about our targeting,” says Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the former chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

Bernstein prefers something like an expansion of the earned-income tax credit, such as the one Silicon Valley’s Khanna has introduced, which he says would put extra money where it is needed—in the pockets of working people. He concedes, however, that Khanna’s bill, the Grow American Incomes Now Act, is essentially on a hopeless path in the current Congress. “An idea like Ro’s is going to take a long runway,” Bernstein says. “It ain’t going to happen soon, but that doesn’t mean that if we were strategic it won’t happen later.”

Even in a fever dream scenario in which a basic income could pass in Congress, there is so far little evidence that it would help the “forgotten men and women” whom Trump described in his campaign—the people whose plight supposedly woke Silicon Valley up to this problem to begin with. After all, $2,000 a year hardly feels like an adequate substitute for a disappeared $50,000 union job at the local steel mill.

Even in Cherokee country, where the additional income is quite sizable, the payments are not enough to live on. That suggests a basic income may not be the life raft for working class adults that its proponents suggest it would be. But it could be something different: It could be an investment in their children’s future.

During his 11 years as a high school football coach, and now working at the Boys’ Club, Skooter McCoy has seen just about every way that the casino money can be wasted. He remembers two football players who, after graduation, flew from Asheville to Key West and then road tripped their way back up the coast, stopping in beach town after beach town, and burning through tens of thousands of dollars of their newfound wealth.

“I said, ‘Boys, you had an opportunity with this money to take care of yourselves for the majority of your lives. What do you have to say for yourselves?’” McCoy remembers. “They said, ‘Well, it was one hell of a month, coach.’”

The money hasn’t exempted the community from the drug epidemic that has swept through so much of Appalachia, either. In fact, according to McCoy, when the checks come out twice a year, there seems to be an uptick in overdoses. “There are times when some people say members don’t even get a check, because they’re indebted to a dealer,” McCoy says. “When they get their check, they hand it right over.”

As with any program, there are infinite opportunities for abuse and bad decisionmaking. But over time, the tribe has made tweaks to try to prevent recklessness. The tribal council recently passed legislation, for instance, that staggers the minor’s fund payouts. Now the tribe will give members $25,000 when they turn 18, $25,000 when they turn 21, and the rest when they’re 25.

Spencer McCoy is now 21. Like his father, he has a square jaw and deep brown eyes, and he talks readily about the importance of Christianity in his life. He followed his dad to Western Carolina University, where he played football, before transferring to Mars Hill University, where he is pursuing a marketing degree. Like Skooter, Spencer imagined a different life for himself. But there’s one crucial difference between them: Unlike his father, Spencer says, he never doubted that he could have that life. “In my grandpa’s time, nobody from my area was going to college. My dad accepted a football scholarship, but without it I doubt he would have been able to go,” Spencer says. “Now we can go to school practically anywhere in the country, and they pay for it. That’s a really big deal.”

When Spencer first got his “big money,” he says, “I’d get online and I was looking for trucks and stuff, but I thought at the end of the day, it wasn’t really worth it.” Aside from a used bass boat he bought to take out fishing, Spencer has stashed most of the money away in hopes of using it to start his own business one day.

The true impact of the money on the tribe may not really be known until Spencer’s generation, the first born after the casino opened, is grown up. For the techies backing basic income as a remedy to the slow-moving national crisis that is economic inequality, that may prove a tedious wait.

Still, if anything is to be learned from the Cherokee experiment, it’s this: To imagine that a basic income, or something like it, would suddenly satisfy the disillusioned, out-of-work Rust Belt worker is as wrongheaded as imagining it would do no good at all, or drive people to stop working. There is a third possibility: that an infusion of cash into struggling households would lift up the youth in those households in all the subtle but still meaningful ways Costello has observed over the years, until finally, when they come of age, they are better prepared for the brave new world of work, whether the robots are coming or not.

1 Correction: 11/13/2017 10:49 am An earlier version of this story misstated Chris Hughes' net worth. The story has also been updated to clarify that Stockton, California's basic income project will not apply to all 300,000 citizens.

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24 Life Changing Lessons Ive Learned In 24 Years

God & Man

1. Letting go of people, no matter how toxic they were to you, will always be hard.

2. Therapy is worth the money.

3. It doesn’t make you weak to be vulnerable.

4. It’s better to be single than to be in a relationship where you feel alone.

5. No one has their life together. No one.

6. No matter how much you love yourself, you will struggle on some days.

7. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

8. Sometimes no matter how much you love somebody, they won’t reciprocate those feelings back to you.

9. People will disapoint you and you will disapoint them too.

10. It’s never too late to go after what you want.

11. Life is too short NOT to buy that plane ticket.

12. Good friends are hard to find, so hold on to the ones you have.

13. Being single can be just as fun as being in a relationship.

14. Not everyone in this world will love or understand you. That’s okay.

15. You’re allowed to celebrate your accomplishments. It’s not bragging to be proud of yourself.

16. Loving your flaws will take time.

17. Rejection always, always hurts, but it also makes you stronger.

18. Love is hard to find, and even harder to keep.

19. Forgiving yourself is essential to living a happier life.

20. Healing isn’t linear.

21. You are loved more than you realize.

22. It isn’t weak to ask for help. It’s brave.

23. You will continue to make mistakes. Don’t let the mistakes shape you, let them make you stronger.

24. Live your life for you — not for anyone else. 

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