A note of congratulations are in order for Michael Barr, who has worked with the Initiative and CAP to design an innovative financial stability program. He has been named Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions in the Treasury Department. Sounds like a pretty plum job to me – I mean who ever hears anything about bank and financial regulation in the news these days?
This also marks a key milestone in my own life, as the Assistant-Secretary-Designate becomes the first future sub-Cabinet officer to ride in the backseat of my car.
Anyway congrats Michael and sorry for the cramped seating!
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No matter what your politics, you’ve got to admit that the times are a-changin’! I thought since it’s official I’d post up a few links on President-elect Obama’s positions/plans on topics of TI interest:
Children and Family: see the campaign page and a post on Early Ed Watch.
In a nutshell, the Obama administration intends to invest in zero-to-five early childhood programs using what they call “Early Learning Challenge Grants.” The goal is to build capacity and quality, improve state accountability standards, and encourage public-private cooperation. Additionally, Obama hopes to quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding (especially to build quality), increase funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and support a proven intervention called nurse-family partnerships (called Children First in Oklahoma). The President-elect also supports policies that strengthen “work/family balance” by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act, provide funding to states that establish paid leave laws, expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and promote flexible work arrangements.
- Workforce and jobs: Obama proposes to fund career pathways that lead to steady jobs with opportunities for advancement, expand the EITC (especially for non-custodial parents), and improve access to job transportation.
- Poverty: The President-elect admires Geoff Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone and hopes to replicate it by creating twenty “Promise Neighborhoods.” Like HCZ and even Tulsa Initiative, the program will support neighborhoods that offer intensive interventions in areas of concentrated poverty that focus on improving the prospects for low-income kids from birth to college. That includes early childhood education, after-school programs, youth violence prevention, and parenting education.
- Asset building: See this document (PDF) from the New America Foundation. Obama wants to encourage employers to make opting into retirement plans the default, which is shown to dramatically improve take-up. He also proposes to make the Saver’s Credit refundable and to use federal funds to offer a 50% match for the first $1,000 in contributions per family. Finally, Obama says he will clamp down on abusive credit practices by improving accountability in the subprime mortgage industry, improve bankruptcy protections for mortgage-holders, create a quality rating system for credit cards, and institute a bill of rights for credit cardholders.
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Because Diama and I are eking out a partial existence in the “Republic of Imagination”, I thought it would be appropriate to stretch great lengths to connect cool news articles with our work.
The British paper The Telegraph ran an article a few days ago about how the kind of television we watched as a child – black and white vs. color – influenced whether we dreamed in color as adults. It turns out that adults over 55 who primarily watched black and white TV dreamed in black and white 25% of the time, versus just 4.4% for under 25 year olds (who nearly all watched color televisions).
I had to two primary reactions. My second, more direct, reaction to that was Wow, if just the type of television set we watch as children has a lifelong influence on our dreams, imagine all the non-obvious, seemingly trivial things have just as profound an impact on children.
But my initial, more metaphorical reaction was this question: what colors my dreams? (Diama, you asked for questions and questions you shall get.) What are the factors in my environment and in my life, many of which I had no control over (my parents bought the TV I watched as a child), that define the limits of possibilities? What can I do differently to dream more often in color? What am I giving up to dream less in black and white?
[I know this is a far-flung post, but it gets far-flungier. I was interrupted in writing this post so that I could play a financial education video game. Steven came by and introduced me to Nick Maynard of D2D Fund (Doorways to Dreams). Nick is developing a computer game that teaches financial literacy, which he designed with low to moderate income women ages 18-34. He’s in Tulsa testing it with some of CAP’s tax clients. Nick’s dreaming in color.]
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