Viewing entries tagged
Poverty and Inequality

How to Pay for The Adult Student Basic Income

Poverty, income volatility, job instability, and lack of social mobility are real problems in the US. While most Americans manage to climb the socioeconomic ladder to achieve a decent version of the American Dream, some get stuck on the lower rungs. They need help.

What To Do About Chronic Homelessness in California: A Suggestion, Part II

Now for the pricing plan. HUD already has rent-subsidy programs that cover up to a third of rent. The big California cities also provide rent subsidies. For instance, in the opening quote, Major Breed’s rent subsidy plan worked out to $6,000 per year per housing unit. That’s pretty reasonable. But subsidizing residential hotel units would be even cheaper. Check it out…

What To Do About Chronic Homelessness in California: A Suggestion, Part I

Consider: San Francisco had 65,000 residential hotel units in 1910, compared to around 19,000 units today. These were teeny rooms (typically 8 x10 feet) with barely enough space for a bed and a dresser (bathroom down the hall) but at least they offered shelter and safety from the streets. Many of the individuals who lived in these units were single men with problems that plague the chronically homeless today: substance abuse, mental illness, disability. Just like today.

The difference is they had a place to stay.

How Much Do CEOs Get Paid And Why

Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 195,530 chief executives in 2018, with a mean annual salary of $200,140. That doesn’t seem unfairly high, given that the mean annual compensation for physicians in 2018 was $299,000.  But the CEO pay that gets people riled up isn’t what run-of-the-mill chief executives get, it’s the CEOs pulling in millions working for the top companies. For instance, the $14 million average annual compensation paid to S&P 500 CEOs…

Behind The Headlines: Are Millennials Being Crushed by Student Debt?

The basic theme in these stories is that college has become so expensive that students increasingly rely on loans to fund their education and the resulting burden of student debt has kept millennials from realizing the American Dream of home ownership and wealth accumulation…. I decided to investigate the matter further.  

Cross-Country Comparisons, Part I: Economic Freedom Rankings

Note that economic freedom and government regulations are perfectly compatible, as long as the regulations are “necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself”. Of course, that wording invites a whole slew of questions, such as…

Housing the Chronically Homeless, Part II: A Possible Way Forward

The problem: chronic homelessness, defined as being without housing for at least a year. It’s estimated that almost a third of the homeless are chronically homeless.

The mission: Figure out a way to house the roughly 10,000 chronically homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A possible solution: …

Housing the Chronically Homeless, Part I: Context and Considerations

According to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, there are roughly 28,200 homeless people in the California’s nine-county Bay Area, which includes San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. Extrapolating from previous research, I’m guessing about a third of these individuals are chronically homeless, defined as being without housing for at least a year. This is a tough bunch to help: between mental illness, physical disability, substance abuse, lack of social skills, a fierce independent streak, and/or neurocognitive disorganization, the chronically homeless are often unable to live normal, productive lives. No, most of these folks can’t “just get a job”.

Is Capitalism As Bad As They Say It Is? Part II: Wages

“How on earth could young people, whose wages are flat…dare question the larger economic forces in their lives?!” - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. …So, what’s happening with wages? I have a source for that: the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which tracks wage trends in the US. Here’s a recent Atlanta Fed chart on wage growth by income quartile over the past 20 years:

Why Are Some People Upset About Inequality But Not Others?

My takeaway from these survey results is that how we feel about disparities in income and wealth has a lot to do with how much we think ...people have control over their circumstances...luck figures in life outcomes ...the rules of the game are fair ...people deserve what they get…

Why Are So Many Central American Migrants Seeking Asylum in The US?

Per the above chart, about a third of US asylum-seekers in 2017 were from three small countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This is especially the case for “defensive” asylum-seekers - that is, those who are defending themselves in immigration court, because they were denied asylum by an immigration official, caught trying to cross the border illegally, or for some other reason.

What's Happening at the Southwest Border? Making Sense of the Numbers

The net effect of all these asylum applications is system overwhelm. Over a year ago, the USCIS had already declared a huge backlog of asylum cases. To quote a January 31, 2018 USCIS news release:

“The agency currently faces a crisis-level backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases as of Jan. 21, 2018, making the asylum system increasingly vulnerable to fraud and abuse. This backlog has grown by more than 1750 percent over the last five years, and the rate of new asylum applications has more than tripled.”

What Do We Know about US Millionaires? It Depends on Whom You Ask.

Not that these survey results are implausible. Plenty of peer-reviewed studies have revealed today’s millionaires to be frugal, hard-working, and mostly from middle-class backgrounds. They buy boring cars. They’re diligent savers. This is not new information - twenty years ago academics Thomas Stanley and William Danko found that 80% of US millionaires were first-generation rich. That is, they did not inherit their wealth.