Archive for September, 2012

2012 National Party Platforms

Party platforms are the steering documents that inform the public of the underpinning beliefs/actions of each political party. We have the Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian, Republican, and Socialist platforms.

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The Student Debt Crisis

We have discussed this problem before (here and here,) but we are entering a crisis period as escalating  student debt burdens delay marriage, house purchasing, jeopardize landing a job, and saddle retired parents who co-signed students loans with Social Security garnishments of up to 15% in the event of a loan default. And student debt is not automatically discharged in a bankruptcy proceedings; you must prove undue hardship, among other criteria, to be granted a rare cancellation of student debt. Two recent released writings need to be read: A Record One in Five Households Now Owe Student Loan Debt from Pew that states: “Since 2007 the incidence of student debt has increased in nearly every demographic and economic category, as has the size of that debt.”(3); and this detailed examination of problem – The Indentured Generation: Bankruptcy and Student Loan Debt from Daniel Austin of Northeastern University School of Law. The opening lines give an indication of the magnitude of this dire situation: “Some 37 million Americans owe a total of approximately $1 trillion dollars in student loans. They constitute an Indentured Generation as many of them will be burdened with student loan debt for much of their lives.” A plethora of linked references are present in this document. Tuition and Fees, Student Loans, and Default Rates from The Condition of Education offers an overview; Student Loans in Bankruptcy, while from 2007, does elucidate the background; and a consumer guide to grants and loans for 2012-2013 is available. An interactive Student Debt at Colleges and Universities Across the Nation from The New York Times allows multiple access points for data from 2004 – 2010.

 

 

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Interview with Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy

This interview from yesterday is courtesy of NJTodayOnline (click for hundreds of clips and interviews, including mayoral candidate Steven Fulop).

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Child Labor Violations Around the World by Country and Goods

The US Bureau of International Labor Affairs has just released its 2011 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. This almost 800-page report details the intolerable conditions in which children 5-14 work,  from the tin mines of Bolivia to agricultural dangers (threshing machines, spraying insecticides) in Kosovo. Efforts to combat forced labor are underway. As this report states: “Globally, 109 countries made at least one meaningful effort this year to combat this problem. However, gaps still exist in governments’ efforts to counter children’s exposure to exploitative labor practices.”(32) But six million children still labor under dangerous conditions. Each country profile contains, inter alia, statistics on working children and education, worst forms of child labor, laws and regulations protecting children, governmental policies, suggested action agenda, and copious references. A 2012  List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor is also available. The International Labour Organization houses the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour; its report – Accelerating action against child labour, its countries dashboard, and child labour statistics section should also be consulted. The following CRS reports are relevant: Child Labor in America, Eliminating International Child Labor: U.S. and International Initiatives, and Child Labor and the International Labor Organization (ILO). Times Topics-Child Labor provides an abundance of links as well as articles from The New York Times.

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The College Board Says Most High School Seniors Not Ready for College

The SAT Report on College & Career Readiness:2012 reveals that only 43% of those who took the SAT are prepared for the rigors of college. This report is replete with statistics and charts buttessing its finding. The SAT results closely mirror those of the ACT’s  The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012 that showed only 40% of the ACT-takers were college-ready. Commentary and analysis are to be found at Education Week, InsideHigherEd, the Wall Street Journal, Times Topics, and FairTest.

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Poverty in New Jersey and the United States

Recently, the Census Bureau released national figures on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage. Now, through the American Community Survey, the Census Bureau has come out with online figures for states, counties, congressional districts, and municipalities of over 65,000 as well. In addition, three special reports were issued, one of them is Poverty: 2010 and 2011. It presents state and selected metropolitan area statistics for poverty; New Jersey is included. While the poverty rate in New Jersey, according to the Census Bureau, hovers just over 10%, this are based on the federal poverty guidelines of $20,050 for a family of four; this guideline is used across the contiguous United States without variation. However, the United Way of Northern New Jersey has issued ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed that shows that a family of four in New Jersey needs a median income $58,500 to survive, and that 1.1 million households or 34% of all households in New Jersey are struggling to hang on.(2) And there are variations by county, so it costs $48,302 to survive in Atlantic County, while it costs $71,751 to get by in Hunterdon County.(63) And no county in the state is immune from the spectre of poverty. Additional information is at: newjerseynewsroom, WNYC, NJ Spotlight, and The Star-Ledger (read its article on the shrinking middle class in New Jersey). This CRS report – Poverty in the United States:2011  – is required reading.

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“Operation Fast and Furious” Report

This report was  released yesterday from the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General. Summaries/analysis of the 500+ page document are at: NPR, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. C-SPAN has resources highlighting previous congressional hearings and statements as well as the congressional hearing starting today at 9:30.

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