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Author Topic: United States  (Read 3946 times)
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RichardF
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« on: June 18, 2009, 09:33:22 PM »

The United States of America (commonly referred to as the United States, the U.S., the USA, or America) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district.

Poverty in America

A Primer on Poverty in America

The aim of this blog is deceptively simple: to show how poverty works in the United States; that is, to bring to life the social systems that cause, service, perpetuate and alleviate poverty. What we've called, in our snarkier days, the poverty-industrial complex. It's particularly striking that poor Americans move through an institutional system that runs parallel to the rest of the country: welfare offices, prisons, inner-city public schools, non-profit social service agencies, the projects, the bowels of high-rise buildings, kitchens and the back doors of private homes, often riding for long periods on buses from one site to the next. In order to better understand how poverty works, and what we can do, we must keep in mind some important information on the domestic contours of poverty.

Measurement and definitions

Poverty in the U.S. is calculated based on an individual or family's pre-tax money income; the measure has been around since 1964, when it was first designed at the Department of Agriculture based on food costs. A person earning less than $10,400 in 2008 is considered to be living in poverty; an additional $3,600 is added per person to determine if an American family is living in poverty.

Anti-poverty advocates cite two problems with U.S. poverty measures: a) the outdated emphasis on food costs, which leads to a dramatic underestimation of poor Americans, and b) the focus on income deprivation, which fails to illustrate the degree of socio-economic inequality in the U.S. Alternative measurements and definitions include redefining poverty based on a bundle of after-tax household expenses, and adopting the British concept of "social exclusion," which measures not only material hardship, but to what extent that hardship blocks full participation in society.

Because official poverty measurements are considered dated and inadequate, anti-poverty advocates often develop their own benchmarks – a household's earnings compared to area median income, for instance, or as a multiple of the federal poverty level – to gauge economic hardship and relative deprivation. In the affordable housing circles that I frequent, people earning less than 60% of area median income are considered very-low income; less than 30% of area median income is categorized as extremely low-income. We'll be relying on these relative guidelines here.

Demographics

Family demographics, workforce and educational status, residential location, and circumstances (e.g., divorce) all factor into whether or not and for how long a person in the U.S. is likely to be poor. Since the 1960s, roughly 10 to 15% of Americans have lived in poverty each year – about 37 million people in 2008. These individuals are more likely to be foreign-born, non-white, elderly, physically and/or mentally disabled, children, single mothers, city dwellers, high school dropouts, ex-offenders, and living in the U.S. South. Growing up in poverty leads to worse employment, educational and health outcomes, and greater risk of run-ins with the criminal justice system. Four in ten Americans will experience poverty at some point in their lives.

The majority of poor Americans work; only about 4 million Americans, the majority of them children, were on public assistance in 2007. To offer some perspective, in 2005 the federal government spent about $17 billion on welfare payments to poor families and almost $73 billion on mortgage interest deductions for homeowners. During the Bush Administration, the poverty rate reversed course and began rising again, real wages declined, we are facing record foreclosures, and economic inequality is at its worst since the Gilded Age.

Housing, Transportation & Employment

There is no county in the U.S. where a person working full-time at minimum wage can afford the rent on a one-bedroom market-rate apartment, yet housing subsidies go to fewer than 7 million low-income households (one million or so are in public housing).

Social exclusion results in part from our residential sequestering of low-income individuals – whether in high-rise public housing projects, in overcrowded houses in the 'burbs, or in scattered apartments across far-flung regions. Often, if this housing offers access to public transportation, it is also in a high-crime city neighborhood, or residents are dependent on long bus rides to jobs in city centers or spread out around metro areas. Some advocates make a legitimate case that equipping poor families with cars reduces poverty.

When we talk about poverty in America, the most pressing issue is perhaps the families and groups chronically living in poverty – in substandard housing and toiling in low-wage, no-benefit, punitive jobs and sectors that offer little to no chance for economic advancement or security. Consider America's "working poor": Wal-Mart employees, day laborers, hotel and restaurant workers, most janitors, nannies and housekeepers, and poultry workers. If you lack a high school diploma or a green card or social security or the ability to speak English or a father living at home, or if you have a record or have young children at home or a mental illness or a chronic disease, it is highly likely that if you are employed, you have been shunted into a job that requires neither certification nor English fluency, but also doesn't offer benefits, living wages or collective bargaining.

Actual unemployment rates are typically 50% to 100% higher than official unemployment rates. Unemployment rates for African-Americans range from over 11% (official) to 42%.
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RichardF
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« Reply To This #1 on: June 24, 2009, 11:06:53 AM »




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glasgowbry
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« Reply To This #2 on: August 02, 2009, 11:44:26 AM »

loans to all men and women where-ever they may be !!!!
(assuming they meet the underwriting criteria !!!)
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Edam
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« Reply To This #3 on: October 01, 2010, 01:17:05 PM »

The United States of America (commonly referred to as the United States, the U.S., the USA, or America) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district.

Poverty in America


There has been some talk of Kiva representing The United States. Did this fall through. I searched Kiva and came up with nothing.
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« Reply To This #4 on: October 01, 2010, 05:38:00 PM »

Kiva has had two field parteners in the United States for the last 15 months:

http://www.kiva.org/partners/131
http://www.kiva.org/partners/132

Between them they have distributed 180 loans on Kiva so far.  There just aren't any fundraising at the moment.
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« Reply To This #5 on: October 01, 2010, 05:40:35 PM »

Thanks for the reply and links.
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RichardF
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« Reply To This #6 on: October 25, 2010, 06:52:25 PM »


  U.S. gives small companies more access to microloans
Advances of up to $50,000 are helping firms to create jobs

Written by Star news services, Indystar.com 7:42 AM, Oct 25, 2010

Janet (left) and Kay Lee are borrowing $17,000 through the Small Business Administration’s microlender program to pay company debts at their dental lab and hire a part-time technician. / Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
More accustomed to allocating money by the millions, the federal government is stepping up efforts to make loans as small as a few hundred dollars to some of the nation's tiniest companies. The goal is to create jobs, one little loan at a time.

"In this environment, every job is crucial," said Eric Zarnikow, who helps run the Small Business Administration's loan programs. For every loan, he says, 11/2 jobs are created or retained.

In Indiana, these so-called microloans, which may range from $500 to $50,000, will help an Anderson-area software developer hire two salespeople. A small Web-based retail business received a $1,000 loan that will help it with supplies and other expenses. Another software developer now has resources to help refine a program that adjusts vehicle seats.

"Instead of just surviving, the loan has helped one of the companies go after more business," said Adam Hoeksema, who runs the nonprofit microlender Flagship Enterprise, a business incubator based in Anderson that runs the microloan program and serves the surrounding 10-county area, including Marion County. Two other microlenders in Indiana are also receiving funding, which is actually an SBA loan to the microloan lender.

Flagship received $100,000 from the SBA, but it can receive up to $3.5 million to lend as demand rises, Hoeksema said.

The loans to small businesses are typically based on the small-business owner's personal credit history. Entrepreneurs use the money for working capital, purchase of machinery and equipment, inventory purchases and leasehold improvements.

In all loan categories, the SBA Indiana district office approved 1,322 loans for about $340 million in fiscal year 2010.

Over the past 18 months, Congress has tripled the amount available for microloans to $75 million nationwide. Last week, the SBA moved to funnel more of that money to the lenders that grant the loans and increased the maximum amount of the loans themselves. Borrowers can now get up to $50,000 at a time, up from $35,000 previously.

"The tiny loans really tend to help the really small, small businesses," said Zarnikow of the SBA. "In a lot of cases the small businesses may have no alternative, or the alternative may be pretty expensive."

In California, sisters Janet and Kay Lee are borrowing $17,000 to pay off debts at their San Fernando Valley dental laboratory and hire a part-time technician.

"We're using it for a new person and for the equipment he will use," said Janet Lee, whose company, Polar Esthetics, makes dental crowns and bridges.

The sisters will pay a 10 percent interest rate. The only other way they could have borrowed that money would have been to use a credit card -- at a 29 percent rate, according to their lender, Valley Economic Development Center in Van Nuys, in Southern California.

For small companies, a loan as small as $5,000 can mean the difference between making payroll or not, said Roberto Barragan, who heads the Valley Economic Development Center, one of the largest microloan lenders in the program

"Three years ago, when money was easy, if I didn't approve a loan for $25,000, they were mad," he said. "Now, if I approve them for $10,000, they're happy campers."

In good times, half the microloans he made were for startup companies, Barragan said. Now, most go to existing firms for whom cash or credit is tight.

Microloan applicants often do not have the credit or collateral that would be required by a traditional bank, said Stacey Sanchez, who makes the tiny loans in Orange County, San Diego and parts of the Inland Empire through the nonprofit lender CDC Small Business Finance.

"There's no one at a bank to understand that you may have been out of work -- that's not cost-effective for the banks," she said. "You either have the credit score or that's that."

The government-funded loans still require an application and a sound business plan, she said, but the lenders can take time to really examine a firm's prospects.

Recipients might not grow rich from their businesses, but they might earn a decent living, she said.

"I think it gives somebody an opportunity to be self-sufficient," Sanchez said.
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« Reply To This #7 on: October 25, 2010, 08:31:25 PM »

U.S. Small Business Administration Micro-Loan Program
The Microloan Program provides small, short-term loans to small business concerns as well as not-for-profit child-care centers. SBA makes funds available to specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit community-based organizations with experience in lending as well as management and technical assistance; these intermediaries make loans to eligible borrowers. The maximum loan amount is $35,000; the average loan is about $13,000.

How Funds May Be Used
Microloans may be used for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and/or equipment. Proceeds cannot be used to pay existing debts or to purchase real estate.

Technical Assistance
Each intermediary is required to provide business training and technical assistance to its micro-borrowers. Those applying for microloan financing may be required to fulfill training and/or planning requirements before a loan application is considered.

Terms, Interest Rates, and Fees
Loan terms vary according to the size of the loan, the planned use of funds, the requirements of the intermediary lender, and the needs of the small business borrower. The maximum term allowed for a microloan is six years. Interest rates vary, depending on the intermediary lender and costs to the intermediary from the U.S. Treasury. Generally, these rates will be between 8 and 13 percent.

Collateral
Each intermediary lender has its own lending and credit requirements. Generally, intermediaries require some type of collateral and the personal guarantee of the business owner.

For More Information
Small businesses interested in applying for a microloan should contact an intermediary in their area; all credit decisions are made on the local level. The Microloan Program is available in selected locations in most states.

A list of approved Microloan intermediaries in your area can be found here. [51 page PDF list by state!]  Swoon
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« Reply To This #8 on: November 26, 2010, 02:42:35 PM »

The American Human Development Project of the Social Science Research Council recently released the report, The Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience.

“The American Human Development Project is dedicated to stimulating fact-based public debate about and political attention to issues that affect people’s well-being and access to opportunity in the United States. The hallmark of this work is the American Human Development Index, a measure that paints a portrait of Americans today and empowers communities with a tool to track progress in areas we all care about: health, education, and income.”

Several supporting resources and tools also are available online.  One example is a 61 page Teachers Guide – “Lesson plans for high school teachers to use ‘The Measure of America’ for teaching topics in U.S. government, civics, history, and census data. Includes worksheets, full-color maps, assessment rubrics, and more!”

Three fact sheets from the report about health, education and income in America are included.  Excerpts follow from the fact sheets.



AHDP Health Fact Sheet (PDF) –Health in America Today

POLICY LEVERS FOR CHANGE
Longer lives for all Americans, especially for those lagging behind, requires:
  • REDUCING DISPARITIES: Improving the conditions in which people grow up, work, and grow old holds the greatest promise for longer, healthier lives. The social and economic disparities that breed ill health include low levels of income and education, discrimination and residential segregation, social exclusion, dangerous neighborhoods without places to exercise or buy healthy foods, substandard housing, and the chronic stress that insecurity breeds.
  • MINIMIZING RISKS: Exposure to health risks, especially to the “fatal four” of smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excess drinking, is the true leading cause of death in the U.S. Minimizing them through prevention programs and counter-advertising as well as by creating neighborhood, school, and work environments in which healthy choices are not just possible but probable offers great promise.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY: We need to monitor life expectancy, the diabetes rate, and other vital health indicators with the same intensity we apply to baseball statistics and stock market gyrations.



AHDP Education Fact Sheet (PDF) –Access to Knowledge in America Today

POLICY LEVERS FOR CHANGE
Many experts concur that the following are powerful and cost-effective actions for improving access to knowledge and educational outcomes.
  • EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Quality preschool has been shown to be the single most cost effective educational intervention.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: Amidst tremendous progress in educational attainment over the last 30 years, on-time high school graduation rates have not budged. The warning signs are largely known; the dropout crisis must be addressed.
  • IMMIGRANT CHILDREN: Addressing the astonishing disparities in education funding and quality will support immigrant children, especially Latino children, who disproportionately attend large, struggling schools with fewer resources and substantially lower teacher salaries.
  • TEACHERS: Teacher quality is the most decisive classroom factor in student achievement. It is critical to attract and retain skilled professionals in schools that serve low-income children, while ensuring teacher training and salaries commensurate with the job’s importance.
  • COLLEGE COSTS: College costs increased by 30 percent from 2000 to 2008. It is time to reconsider the financial structure of our higher education to close the widening gap between need and aid and to rein in runaway costs.



AHDP Income Fact Sheet (PDF) –Standard of Living in America Today

POLICY LEVERS FOR CHANGE
Many experts concur that the following priority actions can help all Americans to build the income and assets necessary to weather inevitable economic downturns, to invest in their own economic security, and to raise their standard of living.
  • CHILD POVERTY: Protect young children from extreme poverty, which can cause harm throughout the life course.
  • SCHOOL OUTCOMES: Increase educational attainment, particularly on-time high school graduation.
  • ASSETS: Create incentives for asset building among low-income people equivalent to those for the wealthy.
  • CARING LABOR: Help families care for babies, elderly family members, and the ill and disabled through policies that enable them to balance work and family responsibilities.
  • FINANCIAL LITERACY AND REGULATION: Help families cope with increasingly complex financial instruments.
  • RETIREMENT: Reform retirement systems to enable greater security and to reduce elderly poverty.
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« Reply To This #9 on: March 19, 2011, 12:18:43 PM »

UN carries out first review of US human rights record

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Saturday, March 19, 2011

The United Nations has completed its first ever assessment of the United States human rights record, which began last November. They made 228 recommendations for improvements. On Friday, the U.S. accepted about 174 of these, agreeing to such recommendations as the humane treatment of terror suspects and repudiation of torture, but rejected the recommendation to drop the death penalty.

The Legal Adviser of the Department of State, Harold Koh, listed nine core areas in which the U.S. agreed to make improvements, including civil rights, immigration, and the humane treatment of suspects held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Koh said President Obama agreed to push for ratification of conditions under the Geneva Conventions and to add protections for international armed conflict detainees. Koh refused to drop the death penalty as many European countries requested, arguing that it was legal under international law.

Some nations wanted the U.S. to reduce prison overcrowding, prevent racial profiling, and ratify international treaties protecting the rights of women and children. China and Russia wanted Guantanamo to be shut down. Cuba, Iran and Venezuela said the U.S. was ignoring too many recommendations.

The Obama administration joined the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council two years ago, allowing for increased international scrutiny. This is the first time the five-year-old council has reviewed the U.S. record of human rights. Nations are held accountable to make the improvements in the recommendations that they agree to.

In criticism of the U.S., the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's human rights program, Jamil Dakwar, noted that the U.S., unlike 100 other countries, lacks an independent human rights monitoring commission.
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