The presidential election on November 6 brings to an end the most expensive and hotly contested race of modern times.
By the end of the campaign both tickets will have spent $2 billion in total trying to win the White House.
Whatever the merits of that, it is clear it will not happen any time soon given the deep pockets of major players on both sides who are doing their best to help influence the election.
Likewise the dissatisfaction with the Electoral College, which can trump the popular vote, is something that has been evidenced since the Bush/Gore race in 2000.
Perhaps if Obama wins in similar fashion both parties will finally have reason to change a system that is not democratic in the true sense of the word.
It is ridiculous that vast areas of this country are not even considered worthy of visits from the contenders, so narrow and narrowing even further are the key states.
Then there is the length of the campaign, which seems to have gone on for two years at least since the first Republican contenders began to limber up to take on the president.
In another way, however, the sheer length is a good thing, helping to quickly unmask the pretenders and allow the most committed and hard-driving candidate to get to the top of the ticket.
Of course the ultimate aim is to get the American people to vote for their favorite contender.
Despite all the negativity, the numbers voting in recent years have been on the increase as the polarization of the electorate has led to more inflamed passion.
This year is likely to be a nail-biter again and will surely rest on a handful of votes across several different states.
It is still a remarkable moment when the greatest democracy in the world passes on power so unremarkably and so free of threats and bluster.
Whoever is elected will take over a country badly in need of strong direction and commitment, and an electorate grown weary of the finger pointing and lack of progress in sorting out the economic mess made after the Great Recession.
We wish the victor well.
THE threat of unemployment since the recession has led to a decline in men’s mental health, a study suggests.
The authors, who wanted to examine whether the recession had an impact on levels of anxiety and depression, analysed data concerning 107,000 people taken from the annual Health Survey for England for adults aged 25 to 64, between 1991 and 2010.
Their findings, published in the online journal BMJ Open, show that rates of poor mental health were highest between 1991 and 1993, when the UK was in recession, after which they fell steadily until 2004.
The rates then started to gradually rise until 2008, at which point they rose sharply.
In 2008, when the downturn began, the prevalence of people suffering from anxiety and depression was 13.7%, but the figure rose to 16.4% in 2009 and fell to 15.5% in 2010.
Men appeared to be worst affected. The rate of poor mental health in men rose from 11.3% in 2008 to 16.6% in 2009. In women, the rate only increased by 0.2%, to 16.2%.
The authors concluded: “The finding that mental health across the general population has deteriorated following the recession’s onset, and (that) this association does not appear to be limited to those out of employment nor those whose household income has declined, has important implications.
“Previous research has highlighted the importance of job insecurity, rather than solely employment status, as potentially resulting in adverse effects on mental health.
“One potential explanation for our results would be that job insecurity during the current recession is responsible for the deterioration in mental health, with men’s psychological health remaining more affected by economic fluctuations despite greater female labour market participation.”
Justine Schneider, professor of mental health and social care at the University of Nottingham, said: “It’s long been recognised that the impact on mental health of job insecurity is worse than that of joblessness, these recent analyses confirm that the threat of unemployment is in itself harmful.
“When people lose their jobs they react in different ways; some people thrive and this offsets the average impact. Young people however are particularly badly affected by unemployment, which seems to reduce their self-esteem and increase the risk of depression.”
Dr Amy Chandler, research fellow at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This new analysis provides further support to theories that suggest that men – more than women – might be affected negatively by unstable job markets and rising prices.
“An interesting addition to current knowledge is the authors’ finding that this decline in mental health was also apparent among men who were employed, whereas previously much has been made of the association between unemployment and poor mental health among men.
“This suggests that there should be acknowledgement that recession can impact negatively upon men in general, whether in employment or not.”
– Ella Pickover