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Wealth & Poverty from Marketplace APM

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Rank #184 in Politics category

News
Politics
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The Marketplace Wealth and Poverty Desk explores money and class, where we came from and where our country is going economically, thanks to funding from the Ford Foundation. We want to hear your stories, ideas, and questions to help us create great journalism about the growing concentration of wealth in the United States. We’ll report on the forces and policies that led to the wealth gap. We’ll look at what the consequences are, good or bad, for our families and communities. We’ll be asking you what economic choices our country should make.

Read more

The Marketplace Wealth and Poverty Desk explores money and class, where we came from and where our country is going economically, thanks to funding from the Ford Foundation. We want to hear your stories, ideas, and questions to help us create great journalism about the growing concentration of wealth in the United States. We’ll report on the forces and policies that led to the wealth gap. We’ll look at what the consequences are, good or bad, for our families and communities. We’ll be asking you what economic choices our country should make.

iTunes Ratings

29 Ratings
Average Ratings
27
0
0
0
2

Thought provoking

By Viewer in Michigan - Jun 25 2016
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"The Uncertain Hour" is a great podcast that focuses at a very personal level on how macro economics affects real people. I subscribed after one episode. The podcast focuses on a simple observation, that "sometimes the things that what we fight the most about are the things we know the least about." This reminds me of the quote attributed to Mark Twain: "It ain't what you know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." I believe Twain's wise words may have also been quoted in the movie "The Big Short."

Want to understand? Listen here.

By just my self - May 03 2016
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Facts, context and clear thinking make this podcast worth your time every time a new one is released.

iTunes Ratings

29 Ratings
Average Ratings
27
0
0
0
2

Thought provoking

By Viewer in Michigan - Jun 25 2016
Read more
"The Uncertain Hour" is a great podcast that focuses at a very personal level on how macro economics affects real people. I subscribed after one episode. The podcast focuses on a simple observation, that "sometimes the things that what we fight the most about are the things we know the least about." This reminds me of the quote attributed to Mark Twain: "It ain't what you know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." I believe Twain's wise words may have also been quoted in the movie "The Big Short."

Want to understand? Listen here.

By just my self - May 03 2016
Read more
Facts, context and clear thinking make this podcast worth your time every time a new one is released.
Cover image of Wealth & Poverty from Marketplace APM

Wealth & Poverty from Marketplace APM

Latest release on May 07, 2019

Read more

The Marketplace Wealth and Poverty Desk explores money and class, where we came from and where our country is going economically, thanks to funding from the Ford Foundation. We want to hear your stories, ideas, and questions to help us create great journalism about the growing concentration of wealth in the United States. We’ll report on the forces and policies that led to the wealth gap. We’ll look at what the consequences are, good or bad, for our families and communities. We’ll be asking you what economic choices our country should make.

Rank #1: Millions of workers don't do 9 to 5. So where's the child care?

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Most nights for Chardae Smith, a 33-year-old single mom in Pittsburgh, start with dropping off her baby at ABK Learning and Development Center around 10:30 p.m. to make it to work by 11.Smith does overnight home health care for people with disabilities. It was easy getting the job — but finding safe, affordable care for her son? She said that was “very hard. The medical field is 24 hours. There's no certain day shift, evening shift, you work around the clock. So you need child care around the clock.”These days, 40 percent of Americans work nontraditional hours, many of them on-demand in low-wage, part-time jobs. Yet, less than 10 percent of child care centers offer care during nights and weekends. Before Smith found ABK, she felt trapped. “It was kind of heartbreaking because you go to a job interview, you get the job and you can't find a child care, so you have to turn the job down. It kind of turns your world upside down,” she said.Work scheduling has become increasingly unpredictable, according to Kathleen Gerson, a sociologist at New York University who has spent decades studying labor and child care.“If you were to time travel back even a decade or so ago and asked people about 24-hour day care, they would have looked at you with a combination of puzzlement and horror,” she said.That’s because of changes that have occurred in the past decade, particularly with the growth of the health care industry and online shopping. Even though some states and cities have passed legislation that require employers to make schedules in advance, not all employers do so. For many workers, “Their hours vary from day to day, from week to week," said Susan Lambert, a professor at the University of Chicago. "So it's not just the timing. It's also not being able to predict when you'll work. Or how much you'll earn.”  Lesely Crawford, who runs ABK, understands why there aren’t many 24/7 centers.“It's not like there's this huge amount of money ... this pot of gold at the end that you're going to get as a result of it,” she said.At her center, parents pay around $40 a day for care, and she has to cover rent, insurance and additional labor costs. The 24/7 child care model is especially hard because when employers give workers irregular schedules, then their need for child care is irregular.  “That means that day care is also going to be having revenues that are irregular,” explained Lonnie Golden, an economist at Pennsylvania State University.Crawford of ABK, who is in her 50s, said operating an all-day business takes a certain type.  “I could be as tired as ever, but when I know its time for me to get up and go to the day care, I spring out the bed,” she said.Because even if she’s done juggling the late-night drop-offs and pickups, the early morning crowd is never far behind.

Jan 14 2019

2mins

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Rank #2: Supply

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It’s not easy being an undercover cop in a county of just 40,000 people. But drugs were making it hard for Bucky Culbertson to run his business, so he made it his business to get rid of drugs.

Apr 11 2019

40mins

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Rank #3: Congress closes in on a final farm bill

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Lawmakers in the House and Senate have reached a bipartisan agreement on a nearly $900 billion bill. To get there, House Republicans backed off demands to increase work requirements for people receiving food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The bill could come up for a vote this week.

Dec 12 2018

1min

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Rank #4: Welfare's role in alternative to abortion programs.

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This August will present a milestone: 20 years since welfare reform. The federal government overhauled the cash assistance program for poor families, replacing it with a new system called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF.Among the biggest changes, states now control their welfare spending out of a set amount received from the federal government each year. Krissy Clark from our Wealth and Poverty Desk has been on a road trip of sorts for our new podcast, the Uncertain Hour, to see just how states across the country use their welfare block grants.Today's stop is Indiana. In 2015, Governor Mike Pence authorized $3.5 million in federal TANF funds for the support of crisis pregnancy centers. These organizations provide information and services like free ultrasounds and counseling to pregnant women. Brandi David, 26, had seen a billboard hundreds of times in her life, a picture of a concerned-looking woman over a bright pink background that read, "Pregnant? We Can Help." One day about two years ago, she found herself pregnant and looking for help, and called the number listed. Brandi was seeking an abortion, but did not know until she was inside the organization that advertised by the highway — Women's Care Center — that she would neither get much information or a referral there. To hear the full story, including a tour of Women's Care Center and the story of a woman seeking help who decided to keep her child, listen to The Uncertain Hour.

Jun 23 2016

10mins

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Rank #5: Confronting a crisis: The hard truths about American retirement

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With a resume that includes a Harvard MBA, a position at the World Bank and a stint as an entrepreneur, Elizabeth White didn't expect to be unprepared for retirement. She also didn't expect to find so many people in her same position: broke, underemployed and part of America's retirement crisis. Her new book is called "55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal: Your Guide to a Better Life." The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with Marketplace's Amy Scott. Amy Scott: "Faking Normal" comes from your own experience with underemployment. What made you decide to write this book?Elizabeth White: I had a really cool career. Worked at the World Bank, was an entrepreneur. And then the 2008-2009 Great Recession hit. I went from a very good income to zero. At a point of just despair, I wrote an essay, and that essay described what it's like to land here. Since it's not yet really a national conversation, and all the stories we have on retirement are the beaming boomers clinking champagne glasses on a cruise, or they're eating cat food under a bridge. There's sort of no middle.Scott: But the middle you found was a lot of people like you who had been very successful and suddenly found that the job market wasn't working for them and they didn't have enough retirement savings. What did you find has led to this phenomenon? Was it a matter of individual failure to plan and to save or something systemic?White: We all could have saved more. And I always say that. So there's absolutely an individual aspect. But when there are tens of millions of people who have landed here, and you look at things like disappearing pensions, escalating cost of housing and health care. And I tell people if you rifle through my life, you'll see all kinds of dumb things I did, but we are not primarily here because of too many trips to Starbucks.Scott: And you mention in the book that it's much worse for women. We're expected to live longer and on less money. Even Social Security benefits are smaller for women, and especially for women of color. Why is that?White: We are often in and out of the workforce, taking care of children and taking care of parents, not getting the same kinds of advancement opportunities. This sort of inequality accumulates over a lifetime. So you have higher numbers of women, 65 and over, living in poverty or are destitute.Scott: You offer a lot of solutions in the book, but some of them might be a little bit hard to swallow for people who have had successful careers and may not want to apply for food stamps. But you write that only a third of seniors who qualify for food stamps actually apply. What are some of the surprising fixes that you found?White: I had to learn to get off my throne. And this is not easy when you've just been comfortable most of your adult life. So I tried to look around at opportunities that are out there, both in housing and income, and when it gets very dire, like food stamps. Because many of us are going to have to really take a hard look at how we live, and do we need a roommate? And altogether in the book I think I counted 125 online resources that I've identified.Scott: You wrote this viral essay, you had a really successful TED talk and now this book. How are you doing now?White: You know, it's still a bit feast or famine. But the light that I see at the end of the tunnel, I now don't think it's a train barreling down on me. It's not a path I would have chosen. But I feel like I'm on the path I'm supposed to be on.

Dec 31 2018

4mins

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Rank #6: California’s devastating wildfires have made it harder for some day workers to find employment

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Recent devastating wildfires burned down more than 300 homes in Malibu, California — one of the wealthiest cities in California. Many homeowners there employed gardeners and housekeepers who lost their jobs.Oscar Mondragόn, the director of the Malibu Community Labor Exchange, where day workers find work, says it’s too early to tell how many workers were affected by the recent fires. But he's been inundated with calls from workers who lost their jobs, asking for help.A model for how to help could be 30 miles away in Oxnard, California. Genevieve Flores-Haro is the director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project. After a huge fire last year, she raised over $2 million from private donors and foundations to start a fund that gives small grants to workers affected by the fires.The program helped about 900 workers. The average check was about $1,600. Flores-Haro said the program is critical because many workers are undocumented and can't access federal disaster programs like FEMA or open a bank account — which makes getting quick cash a problem.Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Jan 01 2019

2mins

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Rank #7: Seniors are still struggling to recover after the financial crisis

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A high-rise for seniors isn't where Kathy Stevens, 67, expected to live at this point in her life. Her place has a small kitchen and living area and an accordion door she can pull to close off the space where her bed stands. She pays $840 a month in rent, which includes utilities and a daily dinner.  She says the apartment is fine. But after getting an MBA from Harvard University, a long career in financial services and saving about a million dollars in a retirement account, she expected to have a more comfortable retirement. “I did all the right things. I saved my money. I didn't waste it on you know a big big house or big car or whatever,” she said.Along the way she raised two foster sons and supported them into adulthood, using some of her retirement savings to help them go into business. She was also planning to send her grandchildren to college. Then, in 2008, the financial crisis hit.“And now all of a sudden you know like 35 percent of my money is just gone — like vanished. It was really bad. It was shock. There’s no other word for it. It was a shock," she said. After 10 years of scaling back, she now lives on about $2,500 a month. The economic collapse was a shock to nearly everyone. Millions of people lost their jobs and their homes. It would take years for many of them to recover, if they recovered at all. But for those closest to retirement, or who were pushed out of the workforce early, “It meant that you never had the time to make that up,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, an economist at the New School for Social Research. She said the reality for nearly half a generation of newly minted seniors — and those on their way, “is that you are downwardly mobile.”Or worse. The number of seniors filing for bankruptcy has nearly doubled since 2007 to a record high of 12 percent, part of it driven by the financial crisis; another part by mounting debt for things like medical care, mortgage loans and credit card bills.While bankruptcy can be a fresh debt-free start, “the pickle is for older people that's highly unlikely,” said Deborah Thorne with the Consumer Bankruptcy Project. She said that on top of the financial crisis, seniors were also confronting another fundamental shift in the economy as managed pensions gave way to 401(k)s, where individuals manage their own retirement savings.“This is the generation where we're really seeing the fallout from the transition to individuals being responsible for that,” she said, because it’s a skill to know how much to save and “when they're supposed to withdraw and what amount. And I think that most people don't know how to go about that.”  Take Larry Testerman, a 73-year-old air force vet. He had a successful career in marketing and put two sons through college. But in the early 2000s, he was laid off from an $85,000 a year job and got divorced. He was also caring for his ailing mother.“I probably was not able to look after my investments in my retirement accounts as I should have should have been and perhaps should have just sold them all out promptly when things started declining,” he said.He lost half his retirement savings and went back to work, stocking shelves at grocery stores. But he still couldn’t make his mortgage payments. His Arizona condo wasn’t worth its pre-crisis price and it went into foreclosure. Now, he drives a shuttle bus at a ski resort in Utah for $10.60 an hour and spends part of the year in employee housing.“The space that I'm living in is a room that has a bathroom and a set of bunk beds in it with me sleeping on the bottom and other person sleeping on top,” he said.Lots of Testerman’s co-workers are around his age. These days nearly 20 percent of seniors work part-time, low wage jobs — a number expected to rise.“In 10 years I'm going to be 83 years old and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to be able to be hired by a ski resort to come up here even if I’m able,” he said. “I don't kno...

Dec 19 2018

4mins

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Rank #8: Low interest rates have cost savers roughly half a trillion dollars

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Historically low rates of interest have helped the U.S. economy recover from the Great Recession. But there have been casualties. Savers — and the wider economy — have lost interest income from deposits and investments that could total $500 billion. This probably hurt those who are retired, or on a fixed income, the most.Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Apr 10 2019

2mins

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Rank #9: Life for Americans without identifying documents can be financially devastating

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When American-born children age out of foster care without identifying documents like birth certificates and state ID cards, their financial futures can be at stake. These young people may have trouble going to college, getting a job, or renting an apartment. In Texas, when kids in foster care turn 16, the law requires they get birth certificates, Social Security cards and state IDs, but that does not always happen. It can be hard to track down documents if biological parents are out of reach, or if children do not recall what name was on their birth certificate once they reach adulthood.

Apr 10 2019

2mins

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Rank #10: Welcome to Wise County

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It’s the deadliest drug epidemic our country has ever faced. We go to ground zero, where “nothing changes except for the drug.”

Apr 04 2019

35mins

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Schools struggle to address rising student homelessness

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Cecilia Sirianni's small office at Massabesic High School can sometimes get a bit messy. Piles of donated clothes and boxes of snacks fill cabinets and shelves — all for students at the rural district in York County, Maine. For more than a decade, a big part of Sirianni's job has been to identify kids and families who are homeless and help them meet basic needs."So they're dealing with all this adult stuff,” Sirianni said. “Like, again, where's my food? I have to figure out how to get home. I have to figure out, I don't have warm clothing. And they're trying to just fit in and be regular kids.” According to recent federal data from the National Center for Homeless Education, more than 1.3 million students were identified as homeless nationwide in 2017, more than double the number from a decade before. The issue is putting added pressure on schools, which are responsible for identifying those students and getting them the services they need.On a recent morning, Sirianni sits down with a student named Savannah, who didn't want her last name used for privacy reasons. The senior ended up without a permanent place to stay last fall, she says, when after being treated badly at a foster home, she packed her belongings in trash bags and left to stay with a friend’s family.“I was unhappy,” Sirianni said. “And I’m a happy person. And I just got sick of being unhappy. And I needed to leave.”But the senior has now been forced to navigate in an adult world. She’s had to figure out how to get food, healthcare and transportation. She’s spent hours working with Sirianni and other staff on complicated college and financial aid forms — made even more complicated by her uncertain housing situation."Like, let's say Cecilia's position never existed,” she said. “And I really did have to do this on my own. I remember doing it on my own, and I’m thinking, ‘What the heck?’”Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, school districts are required to have “liaisons” who make sure homeless students and families receive education and support. But Barbara Duffield, the executive director of SchoolHouse Connection, a non-profit advocacy group that works on youth homelessness, says, in the past, many districts haven’t been aware of the prevalence of the issue or haven’t had adequate funds and staff to focus on it.“But to be able to have dedicated resources, such that the person can spend more of their time, that can be a challenge with limited funding,” Duffield said. She says that's starting to change. When lawmakers reauthorized the law in 2015, they required many school districts to set aside funds and look at achievement gaps that affect homeless students.At Massabesic High School, that help has made a difference for senior Savannah. She was accepted to the University of Southern Maine and hopes to study psychology. She says she wants to improve the system — so that other kids might have it a little bit easier.

May 07 2019

2mins

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Research says collaboration is needed to address Houston's "food deserts"

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture says more than 50 million people across the country live in “food deserts” – low-income communities where it can be hard to find healthy food. According to the last census, in 2010, almost 2 million of those people live in the Houston area alone. New research suggests the problem is persisting in Houston in part because the variety of groups trying to solve it aren’t always coordinating their efforts. And in some cases, they’re even competing for funding.

May 01 2019

2mins

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Kicking the habit

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Many people in Wise County agree that they can’t jail their way out of a drug epidemic, but there’s a lot less agreement on what to do instead. And we find out what happened to Joey Ballard.

Apr 18 2019

49mins

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African Americans' wages nearly stagnant over decade

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The unemployment rate is near historic lows, the job market is tight, and wages have been rising steadily.But since the Great Recession, wage gains have varied significantly by race, with African Americans’ earnings nearly stagnant over the period, while other groups' median pay has risen between 5 and 10%.According to “usual weekly earnings” data reported every quarter by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2007 to 2017 inflation-adjusted median weekly earnings rose 1.2% for African American workers, 5% for white workers, 6.1% for Asian workers, and 9.9% for Hispanic workers, after accounting for inflation. The weekly wage increase over the decade for all workers was 4.5% after accounting for inflation. 2017 is the latest year for which annual wage data in the series are available.Valerie Wilson, director of the program on race, ethnicity and the economy at the Economic Policy Institute, attributes the racial wage-gain disparity to numerous factors, including lower educational attainment and higher unemployment among blacks than most other groups, and racial discrimination in hiring.Wilson said that minimum wage hikes instituted by state and local governments in recent years have helped low-wage workers of all races. But, she added, these places are not where many African Americans live.“African American workers haven’t benefited as much as they would from a federal minimum wage increase,” said Wilson, “which would get into those southern states that have about 60 percent of African American workers, and are much less likely to increase minimum wages.” The federal minimum is $7.25 per hour and hasn't increased since 2009.Terrence Wise is 31, African American, and works at a McDonald’s in Kansas City, Missouri. He said the state’s recent minimum wage hike to $8.60 per hour has helped raise the bar for fast-food and other low-wage workers. But he said what has benefited him even more is organizing for the worker-advocacy group Fight for $15.“I asked my employer for a raise for like three years,” said Wise. “And after the first time I went on strike, I got a raise the very next day.” Wise has three school-age daughters and now earns $11 per hour, which he called “above minimum wage, but not a living wage.”Gender disparities are likely responsible for some of the wage-lag for African Americans, said Margaret Simms, a visiting fellow at the Urban Institute. Black women have higher labor-force participation than black men, but they earn less on average. And, Simms said, “for African American men, a larger percentage of the population is incarcerated, while labor-force participation of men who are non-institutionalized — that is, not incarcerated and not in the military — has gone down.”Gary Hoover, chair of economics at the University of Oklahoma, said he’s surprised African Americans’ wages have risen so little in recent years compared to other racial and ethnic groups.“This has been a tremendously long expansion,” said Hoover, “and if it takes this long even to get these modest gains, there seems to be something systematic going on.”Correction (April 18, 2019): A previous version of this story misspelled Terrence Wise’s name. The text has been corrected.

Apr 18 2019

1min

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Families bear the costs of alternative sentencing programs

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For the past 30 years, courts in the United States have experimented with different programs designed to keep convicted offenders out of jail — things like drug court or court-ordered community service, where people work off jail sentences. We’re at a moment where these kind of work programs are ballooning in popularity as a potential solution to mass incarceration. It's something we explore in the newest season of our podcast The Uncertain Hour.But these programs raise the question: Is mandated community service a good alternative to jail or does it create a system of easily exploited free labor?Marketplace's Kimberly Adams spoke to Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and University of Michigan professor, about the trend. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.Kimberly Adams: So how is the justice system rethinking sentencing and mass incarceration?Heather Thompson: Well, I think that most who work for the justice system or who've experienced it understand that we're in a bit of a crisis. There are way too many people locked up, so there's a real push to think about doing justice differently. A key feature of that is to think about alternatives to actual imprisonment.Adams: And what do you mean by alternatives to imprisonment?Thompson: Well, I think there are a number of options. There are different kinds of courts. For example, there are now drug courts. There's also a real move to community service and community supervision, where someone would actually work for a locality rather than be locked up. And the idea is that they're giving back to the community while also being close to family and not costing the state a lot of money in terms of incarceration.Adams: But how much money do communities actually save by using these types of programs?Thompson: From the cost-saving point of view, of course, it's a cost-shifting mechanism that puts a lot of burden on the folks who are doing that community service. Their families are now bearing the costs of incarceration, and it's also really not clear how much is saved financially because of the enormous bureaucracy.Related links
How much does it cost to send someone to prison? When in prison, the costs are steep and the pay is close to nothing

Adams: You mentioned the costs of these programs on individual families. Can you talk about those costs when those folks are under home supervision?Thompson: It is, of course, the family member that has a family person living in their home who's forced to work for free for the state. So in other words, they're not making any money, but, of course, family members are still having to house them and feed them. But we need to be clear that this incarcerated person, now incarcerated at home, is still making money for some other entity, and it's the family that's picking up those hidden costs of incarceration.Adams: What would need to change to make these systems, in your opinion, work better?Thompson: The most important question is why do we have so many people in that system more than any other time in American history, more than any other country. So if we want to solve this, we have to stop treating social problems with criminal justice solutions.

Apr 12 2019

3mins

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Supply

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It’s not easy being an undercover cop in a county of just 40,000 people. But drugs were making it hard for Bucky Culbertson to run his business, so he made it his business to get rid of drugs.

Apr 11 2019

40mins

Play

Low interest rates have cost savers roughly half a trillion dollars

Podcast cover
Read more
Historically low rates of interest have helped the U.S. economy recover from the Great Recession. But there have been casualties. Savers — and the wider economy — have lost interest income from deposits and investments that could total $500 billion. This probably hurt those who are retired, or on a fixed income, the most.Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Apr 10 2019

2mins

Play

Life for Americans without identifying documents can be financially devastating

Podcast cover
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When American-born children age out of foster care without identifying documents like birth certificates and state ID cards, their financial futures can be at stake. These young people may have trouble going to college, getting a job, or renting an apartment. In Texas, when kids in foster care turn 16, the law requires they get birth certificates, Social Security cards and state IDs, but that does not always happen. It can be hard to track down documents if biological parents are out of reach, or if children do not recall what name was on their birth certificate once they reach adulthood.

Apr 10 2019

2mins

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Welcome to Wise County

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It’s the deadliest drug epidemic our country has ever faced. We go to ground zero, where “nothing changes except for the drug.”

Apr 04 2019

35mins

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Sentencing

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The drug bust and the trial were a “farce,” but the full force of the law still came down on Keith Jackson — and thousands of people like him. That didn’t end the crack epidemic, so what did?

Mar 28 2019

48mins

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106: How do drug epidemics end?

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Opioid overdoses are killing about 50,000 Americans a year, more than car accidents and guns. Marketplace's documentary podcast, The Uncertain Hour, is digging into drug epidemics in its latest season: why people buy and sell drugs, how law enforcement tries to stop them and how an epidemic eventually ends. Reporter and producer Caitlin Esch spoke with Kai and Molly about going back to Wise County, Virginia, a sort of ground zero of the current opioid epidemic, and about how the stories told by some of her sources speak to wider issues in the crisis. Just a note: there is one swear word in this episode, around 8 minutes in.You can subscribe to The Uncertain Hour here, and don't forget you can watch this and other episodes of Make Me Smart on our YouTube channel.Today's show is sponsored by Panopto, Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage, Alliance for Lifetime Income  and Mailchimp

Mar 26 2019

25mins

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What happened to Keith?

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One day, early in the semester, Keith Jackson didn’t show up to class. He’d been arrested for selling crack, but for his classmates, that wasn’t the surprising part.

Mar 22 2019

32mins

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George H.W. Bush and his baggie of crack

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It was the perfect political prop: drugs seized by government agents right across the street from the White House, just in time for a big presidential address. The reality was more complicated.

Mar 21 2019

45mins

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Report finds link between high housing costs and poor health

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According to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin — which ranks the health of nearly every county in the U.S. — more than 10 percent of households live with the burden of extremely high housing costs. Where people spend more than half of their income on housing, it is more difficult to live better and longer.

Mar 19 2019

1min

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Border crossings on the rise despite increased federal investment

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports more than 76,000 people came over the southern border last month without documents. That’s more than double from the same time last year. A look at how the budget for border security isn't meeting the realities on the ground.Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Mar 06 2019

1min

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Delivery companies finding ways to help restaurants donate excess food

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Nearly one-third of food prepared by restaurants and grocery stores winds up as waste, according to data cited by the Environmental Protection Agency. It can be awkward and costly for restaurants to coordinate transport of their surplus food to shelters or food banks, but food delivery companies like Postmates and DoorDash have started offering restaurants a way of doing just that.

Feb 19 2019

2mins

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Rents in many California cities keep rising, could a cap on increases help?

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Californians' rejection of a rent control measure in November 2018 has prompted some politicians in Sacramento to talk about getting an anti-rent gouging cap on the books. The idea is similar to a current law that bars the state's businesses from raising the price on goods and services beyond 10 percent during natural disasters.

Feb 11 2019

2mins

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Urban Institute analyzes reach of social safety net

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A new analysis by the Urban Institute finds that a quarter of Americans living in poverty don’t receive public assistance such as food stamps, subsidized housing, child care or cash benefits.
Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Feb 06 2019

1min

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Refunds are looking slimmer this tax season

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Update: This story originally published on Jan. 28. It has been updated to include emailed responses.
Tax filing season got underway this week. And it's a big one, because we just finished the first full tax year since Congress passed the tax reform law of 2017. That law, and the changes that came out of it, could make a big difference in the size of your tax refund this year.
The reason? Most people got a tax cut under the new law, so last year, the IRS told employers to withhold less in taxes from their workers’ paychecks. The thing is, that was “not really a one-size-fits-all kind of adjustment," said Matt Metras, a tax preparer in New York. And it didn’t “really take into consideration the individual facts and circumstances that people face." One example: whether they rely on deductions that went away under the new law.
All this means that “some people might be getting refunds at sizes that they’re normally used to, where some people may be getting them substantially lower or even end up owing.” And some people might get bigger refunds than expected.
We asked what you thought your tax refunds would be this year. A lot of you said that you'd already crunched the numbers, and it's not looking good.
Tyler Hohmann from Louisiana:I was expecting a refund around a couple thousand like I had over the previous few years. After doing my taxes, I was told I owed $4,800. Whoa! I have yet to file because of the sheer shock of owing anything. I'll be getting a second opinion. Sarah Tierney from Oklahoma:I'm a college student working two minimum wage jobs. I've been making about the same yearly amount since I was 16, around $12-25k. I usually get a couple hundred back. This year I'm expected to owe close to $300. This is hard because I was expecting a refund and now I have to owe on top of living paycheck to paycheck. Aaron Thomasson from Pennsylvania:My spouse & I usual receive a refund because we opt to claim 0 allowances. This year, we owe money. Yes, a few factors have changed for us, but nothing so substantial as to account for the difference. We may need to consult a CPA this year to make sure we’re not missing something. Matthew DuFresne from Colorado:I just did my taxes for 2018 and got a very unwelcome and unplanned surprise of owing nearly $1K (we got a decent refund last year and in previous years planned that way due to the limited amount of exemptions claimed). This is a real kick in the teeth to say the least. Last year’s tax reform was sold to the public as a benefit to the middle class. That being said, I consider myself and my family to be pretty middle class (married, two kiddos, two modest salaries (a civil servant and a daycare teacher and only claiming one exemption between our two incomes — mine)). I guess that the proof is in the pudding now that we have a tax season under our belts. My personal assessment of this “tax break” is that it doesn’t seem to be helping the middle class, workers or small businesses and is ultimately a FAIL!Some of you were expecting to get a big windfall this tax season.Patrick from Ohio:My wife and I are expecting a very large refund this year. We are both young-ish attorneys and had our best year yet. The lower rates coupled with my company withholding a bit too much means our refund will be over $20k. We are planning on paying down debt (despite our $500k+ year we still have outstanding student loan debt). Frank Cash from Michigan:I am expecting a tax refund of about ~$1,000. I am planning to use it to pay for a new suit or for a college class.And then there was this public service announcement:Dan Peden:Refunds are for suckers. Refunds are just that - a return to you of your money that you overpaid during the year. The smart taxpayer pays as little as he can without incurring a penalty, then pays what he owes at tax time.In fact, on our Facebook page, quite a few of you reminded folks that a tax refund is simply an interest-free loan to the government.[[{"fid":"324606","view_...

Jan 30 2019

2mins

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Millennials, like Baby Boomers, struggle with lifelong debt

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A recent survey points out that one in 10 millennials thinks they will die in debt.Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Jan 21 2019

1min

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By Viewer in Michigan - Jun 25 2016
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"The Uncertain Hour" is a great podcast that focuses at a very personal level on how macro economics affects real people. I subscribed after one episode. The podcast focuses on a simple observation, that "sometimes the things that what we fight the most about are the things we know the least about." This reminds me of the quote attributed to Mark Twain: "It ain't what you know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." I believe Twain's wise words may have also been quoted in the movie "The Big Short."

Want to understand? Listen here.

By just my self - May 03 2016
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Facts, context and clear thinking make this podcast worth your time every time a new one is released.