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BeyondGeography's Journal
BeyondGeography's Journal
November 25, 2019

Economists Say Forgiving Student Debt Would Boost Economy

Presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders want to tear up your student loans and set you financially free. That's popular among voters – especially those struggling to pay off this debt. Other Democratic candidates have more modest plans. But economists say the dramatic proposals from Sanders and Warren to free millions of Americans from the burden of student debt could boost the economy in significant ways and help combat income inequality.

... "In the short term, it would be very positive for the housing market," says Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors chief economist. He says his group's surveys show that student debt has people delaying home ownership by 5 to 7 years.

He's not endorsing any particular plan, but he estimates that broad loan forgiveness would push up the number of home sales quite a bit. "Home sales could be say 300,000 higher annually if people were not saddled with large student debt." Yun says that would be, "a boost to the housing sector as well as the economy.

The effects would go beyond the housing market. William Foster is a vice president with Moody's, which just did a report on student debt forgiveness. "There've been some estimates that U.S. real GDP could be boosted on average by $86 billion to $108 billion per year," which is "quite a bit" he says. "That's if you had total total loan forgiveness." Foster says it wouldn't have to be total forgiveness to see significant results. And he says it could also help address rising income inequality.

"Student loans are now contributing to what's perceived as lower economic prospects for younger Americans," Foster says. After all — millions of people are delaying home-ownership. And that's the most powerful way for most working and middle class people to build wealth. "A typical homeowner has net worth about $230,000, while a typical renter has only $5,000," Yun says...

November 25, 2019

New Florida Majority endorses Warren

Info on New Florida Majority and Executive Director Andrea Mercado here:
November 22, 2019

Disney heiress endorses Warren's wealth tax, calls billionaires opposing it "idiots"

Abigail Disney, the heiress to the world-renowned entertainment firm, has endorsed the proposed wealth tax from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, slamming the wealthy people that are fighting the policy as “idiots.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Karen Tso Thursday, Disney criticized those opposing the proposal to protect their own fortunes.

“If you have a billion dollars and (you’re worried you won’t) make a hundred million dollars a year just by sitting on your couch at home, truthfully you’re kind of an idiot,” she said. “Money just makes money. It’s one of the hardest things in the world not to let it grow.”

She added it was “really important” to make the public aware that the ultra-wealthy would not have their spending power dented by Warren’s taxation manifesto.

“If it’s a 2% (or) 3% tax, it will in no way inhibit first of all, your buying power, and second of all, the growth of your buying power,” Disney claimed. “So I don’t understand what the hesitation is around a wealth tax, because it in no way encumbers a person who is already so far past being able to spend that money that could be so much better used.”

More at https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/22/disney-heiress-endorses-elizabeth-warrens-wealth-tax.html
November 22, 2019

Warren gave an amazing speech tonight

It starts at 1:33:30; the whole speech is really worth watching:
Coverage from the Boston Globe here including the in-speech protest by a Walton family-backed charter school group:

November 21, 2019

Boston Globe: Biden was the Admiral Stockdale of this debate

Former vice president Joe Biden

Grade: D

Biden was the Admiral Stockdale of this debate: who is he and what is he doing here?

Who he is, of course, is the national Democratic frontrunner and the former vice president. But he ended up being a total non-factor in this debate and did nothing to stop the bleeding on his early state poll numbers or his campaign cash.

Biden constantly makes the argument he is the best Democrat to be on the debate stage with Donald Trump. However, he has yet to have a good debate, and in every debate he said something that was just weird, or he had a bad moment.

In Wednesday night’s debate, he was unsteady. He said he had the endorsement of the only African-American woman who was ever elected to the Senate. But there was a second African-American woman elected to the Senate — Kamala Harris — and she was standing on the stage with him.

Then there was his repeated use of the word “punching” when speaking about domestic violence.


November 19, 2019

Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement

... In an era of nationalized elections, and at a moment when President Trump dominates the political conversation like no one before him, Warren’s campaign has turned to an old maxim favored by former Speaker Tip O’Neill (D), another Massachusetts politician: All politics is local.

Warren and her campaign have weighed in on dozens of local issues, from Pacific Gas & Electric’s move to cut off power to hundreds of thousands of California residents amid the threat of wildfire to a Minnesota oil pipeline, from abortion bans in South Carolina and Alabama to voter purges in Ohio and Georgia.

...Campaign manager Roger Lau makes a habit of calling local officials across the country every day, asking what issues are driving the conversation in their backyards.

“Our campaign is building a grassroots movement from coast to coast, and that means meeting people where they are on the issues they care about,” said Alexis Krieg, a Warren spokeswoman. “Sen. Warren isn’t waiting until she’s in the White House to make change — she’s doing it right now by throwing her support behind local issues that will help put power in the hands of the people.”

Warren’s involvement in local issues has even forced some of her leading rivals to join her, lest they risk being seen as behind the curve...

...The breadth of Warren’s interventions stands out. In New Hampshire alone, her campaign has filed an affidavit in court supporting an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against a state law that would block college students from voting; editorialized about a plastics factory that risked contaminating ground water; praised the state’s decision to allow people to choose nonbinary gender identifications on driver’s licenses; and congratulated a nursing center’s employees who voted to unionize.

Elsewhere, Warren has criticized a New Jersey school district that wanted to ban students with lunch debt from attending other activities. She tweeted her support for a California ballot measure to increase property taxes to pay for public schools. And she opposed legislation in New York that would have made it more difficult for minor parties like the Working Families Party to get ballot access...

November 17, 2019

Middle-income Americans are increasingly 'financially vulnerable'

Most Americans are struggling with at least some part of their finances, a new report shows, despite a strong economic indicators to the contrary.

Just 29% of Americans — an estimated 73 million people — are “financially healthy,” according to a report released Thursday by the Financial Health Network. The share of financially healthy individuals increased by 1% over 2018, a difference that wasn’t statistically significant.

Another 54% of the country, translating to 135 million people, is “financially coping” — meaning they struggle with some aspects of their financial lives. Some 17% of Americans (43 million people) are “financially vulnerable,” or struggling with nearly all or all aspects of their finances.

Middle-income Americans with household incomes from $30,000 to $99,999, prime-working-age people aged 26 to 49, and women were among those who showed increased financial vulnerability.

... “Americans are still struggling with their financial health,” Rob Levy, the vice president of research and measurement at the Financial Health Network, told MarketWatch. “Our hypothesis is those declines are the result of continually rising costs of health care and child care, and stagnant wages among the middle class,” Levy added.

The organization scored financial health based on eight indicators that fall into the categories of spending, saving, borrowing and planning: spending less than income, paying bills on time, having enough liquid savings, having enough long-term savings, having manageable debt, having a prime credit score, having appropriate insurance, and planning ahead financially...

November 17, 2019

I Found Work on an Amazon Website. I Made 97 Cents an Hour.

Inside the weird, wild, low-wage world of Mechanical Turk.

The computer showed a photo of what looked like a school board meeting. My job was to rate it on a scale of 1 to 5 for 23 different qualities: “patriotic,” “elitist,” “reassuring” and so on. I did the same for a photo of a woman wearing headphones — I gave her a 4 for “competent” and a 1 for “threatening” — and another of five smiling women flanking a smiling man in a blue windbreaker. I submitted my answers. I checked the clock. Three minutes had passed. I had just earned another 5 cents on a digital work marketplace run by Amazon called Mechanical Turk. At least I thought I had. Weeks later, I’m still not sure.

...Over the course of several weeks in September, I completed 221 HITs in a little over eight hours of dedicated turking, and earned a grand total of $7.83. That works out to 97 cents an hour.

... Katie Boehm of Pittsburgh turned to turking in 2017 after her husband, who has diabetes, lost his job and insurance coverage. Her own health issues keep her from working outside the house, and turking seemed like a lifeline. She turks at least 50 hours a week, sets herself a minimum goal of $20 a day and usually makes $30 to $50.

Her husband’s insulin costs $1,500 a month. “MTurk covers about half of what he needs to survive,” Ms. Boehm, 40, said. “Silly insulin.”

More at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/15/nyregion/amazon-mechanical-turk.html

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