Monday, July 10, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - July 10 Edition

Campaign Finance Reform, Tax Reform

Since the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, a series of Supreme Court rulings has eviscerated wide swaths of federal campaign finance law. That has led to Super PACs, “dark money” groups and widespread voter disenchantment. Yet in the last decade, Congress has failed to adopt any major reforms that could increase the participation and voice of average citizens.

So, how do we break the logjam? We think the key is to find a starting point where there is common ground. Counterintuitively, that starting place could be the current discussions on tax reform happening at the federal and state levels.

Why tax reform? Progressives and conservatives are oceans apart politically, but many on both sides agree that restoring federal tax credits for small-dollar donations could help address Americans’ greatest concerns about the current campaign finance system.


(Read & watch)

JEFFREY BROWN: Ismael Guerrero, director of the Denver Housing Authority, says that, 10 years ago, this was a high-crime neighborhood, with 250 units of rundown public housing. Something had to be done.

ISMAEL GUERRERO: What we learned in early conversations with residents in particular was, they didn’t just want a new unit to move into. They wanted a better quality of life. So we really started expanding our perspective on what we were trying to accomplish here.

JEFFREY BROWN: The result completed earlier this summer is the Mariposa development, a mixture of 800 apartments and town homes, one-third public housing, a third subsidized, and a third rented at market value. The overall cost was $150 million; $60 million came from federal, state and local government programs, with the rest coming through private investment.
Already, Mariposa is becoming a model for rethinking public housing.

ISMAEL GUERRERO: Part of it is physical health, and part of it is what we call neighborhood health. Right? How healthy is the place? Is it safe? Are there healthy activities for you to do? Is there healthy food in the neighborhood for you to go and eat? Is there a healthy economy where people can get jobs and start a business?

Trade-adjustment policy, workers

Since 1962 America has earmarked funding to help people adjust to trade-related shocks. Trade-Adjustment Assistance (TAA) offers people money for retraining and income while they do so. Workers over 50 can get their wages topped up by 50% of the difference between their new and old wages. The money should help cushion the financial blow, and tempt them towards on-the-job training.

On paper, TAA should make wonks glow. It protects workers, not jobs, and links qualifications to local demand. Mr Aunspach is a beneficiary, and a big fan. He credits Pam Haskins, his caseworker and “life coach”, with making him see that he was getting “the opportunity of a lifetime”. His income from TAA quashed his initial panic about feeding his children and paying his mortgage, and allowed him to take a lengthy welding qualification. Without TAA, state benefits to pay for his course would have lapsed after six months.

Ms Haskins also thinks TAA works, but qualifies that “they have to want it”. Some of Alcoa’s ex-employees were snapped up by other firms. Others drifted into early retirement. Still others waited, hoping the smelter would reopen, swayed by Mr Trump’s promises to help the industry.

In the 12 months to September 2016 just 127,000 workers received TAA. Applying is tricky and can be slow.

Addiction, Recovery

(Read & watch)

Aware Recovery Care is a yearlong, Connecticut-based in-home rehabilitation program that provides patients with around-the-clock treatment, including a nurse coach, addiction psychiatrist, primary care doctor, family therapist, case manager, peer support, and 12-step meetings — the Aware Recovery Care Collaborative Care Model. Opioid addicts receive medication-assisted treatment, urine screening, and GPS tracking.

“Addiction doesn’t just disappear because the symptoms are under control," says Dr. Ellen Lockard Edens, assistant professor of psychiatry and associate director of the Addiction Psychiatry Residency at Yale University School of Medicine. "It is a chronic illness. So when people are prematurely discharged from their residential rehab program and return home, they go back into their old environment and start using again.”

Home rehab allows addicts to recover where they live.

Personal Development

Remember that time when a friend or co-worker said something really nasty to you? Sure you do. Your face got red, your fists clenched, and you spent the rest of the day in a hidden (or unhidden) rage. Boy, oh boy. On that car ride home, you knew just what to say. You were ripe with witty insults that would’ve sent that scoundrel spinning. However, it was too little too late.

There’s something very, very dangerous about not confronting a bully head-on. They’ll do it again, and again. And you’ll take it—again, and again. This is bad. Very bad. Because when the day finally arrives that you spit something back, it might come across as crazed or irrational. Although that bully was just poking at you today, the series of prior pokes and jabs left you with a big ol’ bruise, and that’s why your lid is popping over. All of a sudden, innocent you are in the wrong and Mr. or Ms. Bully has come out on top.

This is the precise moment we’re going to try to avoid here. In the moment when it’s time to stand up for yourself, I hope just one of these loving reminders will flash into your mind.

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