Many who look to understand the incredible wealth gap are quickly lost in the exclusive language of finance. When it comes to the inner workings of financial institutions, the rise and fall of markets, the tangled web of international debt, or even just our own personal finances, most of us are lost. In short, we are financially illiterate.
People consider filing bankruptcy when the alternative has become worse. Figuring out if you are at that point though can be difficult. One misconception that makes people hesitate to file bankruptcy is the impact on their credit.
Even with the recent years' increases in home values, employment and economic stability, a large number of homeowners still face the loss of their homes in the near future.
We need to focus on keeping families in their homes, providing children stability, and restoring trust and respect between families and banks, law enforcement, and our government. "Hands Up. Don't Foreclose."
I was walking down a street in one of Seattle's toniest neighborhoods with my 25-year-old daughter and another young woman. We were part of Seattle/King County's One Night Count of the homeless, a massive effort to document the number of "unsheltered" persons on a random winter night.
There are still a million foreclosures and bank-owned properties, with 8.1 million people who are currently underwater on their homes.
You know the statistic. We incarcerate a higher proportion of the population than any other country does. Hundreds of thousands of young, now aging, men, are doing hard time for possession of small amounts of drugs. More and more people find themselves in jail because they got caught with bench warrants for their arrest for exorbitant fines they could not afford to pay. More than a century after debtors prisons were abolished, thousands are again behind bars because of debts. But one category of felon is free on the street. I refer, of course, to corporate criminals. Consider the case of a checkout clerk at Walmart who puts her hands in the till and walks off with a couple of hundred bucks of the company's money. That clerk could expect to face prosecution and jail. Now consider her boss, who cheats her of hundreds of dollars of pay by failing to accurately record the time she clocked in, or the overtime she worked.
In a town like Chicago, "choice" isn't a right, but a privilege based on income, class, and skin color.
Over the last decade, reverse mortgages have been aggressively pitched in TV ads as an easy way for seniors to cash in their home equity to pay for living expenses. However, for many, improper use of the product -- such as pulling all their cash out at one time -- has led to significant financial problems later, including foreclosure.
It's all about how millions of Americans who may have been thrown out of their homes, or at least forced to stress about the possibility, were denied access to information that might have revealed how widespread the foreclosure problem was.
Every day struggling New Yorkers who are behind on their mortgages -- facing foreclosure, and desperate to keep their heads above water -- are bombarded with TV and radio ads promising lower interest rates or a reduction in their mortgage principal if they "call now!"
As I sat waiting to be called in I thought about Thanksgiving, its origins and about how lucky I am. My life like most has challenges, yet I pride myself on virtually never complaining. Then I had an aha moment.
The economists at Freakonomics recently highlighted the work of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which engages with import public policy issues through the lens of cost-benefit analysis.
It's now widely known that the foreclosure crisis and the resulting recession have been devastating to homeowners and neighborhoods across New York State. Sadly, the foreclosure crisis has also generated a second wave of hardship for homeowners: foreclosure rescue fraud.
The mid-term elections are over, but -- as of this minute -- Congress has not tackled extending some tax breaks, i.e. that collective group known as the "Tax Extenders", which we address seemingly every couple of years.
Amid all the recent reporting about income inequality in America, one fact has remained remarkably well hidden: Washington, D.C. has a higher level of inequality than any of the 50 states.