Suggested Discussion Outline

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Suggested Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

---------------------------- Original Message -----------------------------
Subject: Please RSVP for THIS Wed Evening Aug 12 – “Tightrope: Americans Reaching For Hope” by Pulitzer-Prize Winners Sheryl WuDunn and Husband, NY Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof
Date: To Be Sent Pre-Dawn on Sat, August 8, 2020
To: Each of Our 184 Members One-By-One

To Each of Our 184 Members One-By-One – for reasons explained in the 4 postings in Sec. 2 of

Dear Friends,

Please RSVP (if you haven’t already) for our Zoom meeting THIS Wed evening Aug 12 from 7 pm - 9 pm MDT.

Just press “reply” and type RSVP.

Per long-standing policy, first-time attendees are not expected to have read our focus book.

[But FYI, it is “Tightrope: Americans Reaching For Hope” by Pulitzer-Prize Winners Sheryl WuDunn and Husband, NY Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof (Knopf 1/14/2020 – 271 pages sans notes and index – $16.79 + shipping or $13.99 Kindle from]

This month is a particularly-good opportunity for “first timers” to give us a try because we will be discussing whether to launch any of our Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-mail campaigns to the nation’s decision makers. [Many of our 48 campaigns over our 14.5 years of existence have been surprisingly effective.]

And our authors have proposed (pp. 254-256 of “Tightrope”) eight “Big Steps” to improve America.

The 8 “Big Steps” with the author’s supporting arguments follow immediately below.

NB: For an “A-plus” grade, you could also review the discussion of our historical e-mail campaigns relating to Big Steps Numbers 2, 3 and 8 contained in last week’s Suggested Answers to the Second Short Quiz which are available at viewtopic.php?f=598&t=1950&sid=4667d7fc ... a2411ad20a. [We have nothing comparable to Numbers 1 and 4-7.]

So please be sure to RSVP if you would like to support or oppose any of the proposals.

We look forward to seeing/hearing each of you on Wed Aug 12!!!

Please be well!!!

Your friend,

John K.

PS -- To un-subscribe, please press "reply" and type "deletion requested."


1. High-Quality Early Childhood Programs

This may be the single best thing we could do in the United States to help at-risk children. In the same way that America’s mass education spawned a wave of industrialization and innovation, universal programs for toddlers are a promising investment in the country’s future. Moreover, early childhood initiatives would also make it easier for moms and dads to get jobs. In 1971, Congress passed a bill to establish a national childcare program, and supporters expected President Nixon to sign it. Instead, he vetoed it, and it’s time to remedy that mistake. For families living under the poverty level, childcare now consumes almost one-third of family income, and the United States hasn’t done nearly as well as other countries in providing childcare options. New York City major Bill de Blasio told us that he initially advocated universal pre-kindergarten solely to help the children but later realized that this granted a huge boon as well to working parents by providing high-quality childcare. One factor holding back the U.S. economy as a whole is that we have gone from a leader in female labor force participation in 1990 to a laggard (we now rank number 20 out of 22 rich countries), partly because other nations have developed better childcare options. It’s promising that support for early childhood education is bipartisan, with red states like Oklahoma among the leaders.

2. Universal High-School Graduation

One child in seven doesn’t graduate from high school on time (including almost one-fourth of black students), and these dropouts rarely have much of a future. By contrast, in Japan, Russia, Ireland and Finland, fewer than 3 percent of students don’t graduate from high school. A starting point would be to require young people to stay in school until they turn eighteen or graduate from high school, whichever comes first. We can also do more with apprenticeship programs, vocational training, Career Academies and other efforts that increase the odds that students who stick with high school will be rewarded with a job at the end.

3. Universal Health Coverage

Seven decades after President Harry Truman tried to achieve universal coverage, let’s not wait any longer to assure every American access to health care. This need not be a single-payer system that could force tens of millions of Americans to leave existing health insurance plans that they are happy with; rather, it could be a multipayer system like Germany’s that mandates health insurance through a variety of plans. It could include a public option and expand Medicaid, while allowing people to buy into Medicare early if they are not otherwise covered. But the point is that we should no longer let Americans slip through the cracks in ways that impair national competitiveness, reduce life expectancy and lead to individual heartbreak.

4. Elimination of Unwanted Pregnancies

Teenage pregnancy is a major precursor of poverty, and simple evidence shows that free access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (such as implants and IUDs) and other contraceptives can reduce unwanted pregnancies. An investment of one dollar in such a program brings up to $7 in savings, not to mention improving the odds that teenage girls will graduate from high school and get good jobs. A bonus for social conservatives: fewer unwanted pregnancies would mean fewer abortions.

5. A Monthly Child Allowance

Research shows that a government payment of about $250 a month to each household with a child would give poorer children a better start in life. A child allowance has been used successfully in Canada, Australia and nearly every European country -- it is a major factor in the reduction of poverty in Canada -- and research by H. Luke Schaefer, a welfare policy specialist at the University of Michigan, and others suggests that the allowance would virtually eliminate children living in extreme poverty in the United States.

6. An End To Homelessness For Children

We slashed veteran homelessness in half by making it a priority; so now let’s fight homelessness for children. This means increasing affordable housing and using vouchers and evidence-based programs like Creating Moves to Opportunity that help families with kids move to better neighborhoods.

7. Baby Bonds To Help Build Savings

At birth, every American should be able to get an account with $2,000 that can be withdrawn only for education, to buy a home, to invest in a business or to retire. For low income families, subsequent contributions to the account would be matched by the government to promote a savings habit. The idea is to help people build a productive nest egg. Various studies have calculated that baby bonds could reduce the black-white wealth divide by 80-90 percent. One variant of baby bonds is the individual development account, or IDA, and a condition for accessing the funds is completion of a financial literacy class. These seem to be very successful in increasing savings and should become part of school curriculums. In one randomized trial in the late 1990s and early 2000s, people with IDAs who lived on just $9,000 a year still managed to save 8 percent of their incomes by scrimping on coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and eating out; they also worked more hours. After ten years, the families with accounts were much more likely to own their homes and have retirement accounts. But in 2017, Congress pulled the plug on funding for an IDA program.

8. A Right To Work

In 1944, Franklin Roosevelt proposed a right to work as part of a Second Bill of Rights for Americans, and he had a point. Government can do much more to move people into fair-paying work, even if we don’t take this literally to mean that the government is the employer of last resort for all Americans. The message of a job is “Welcome to the world of taxpayers,” and it is as empowering as welfare is stigmatizing. The best approach to help those who are struggling is to support better-paying jobs, either by raising the minimum wage or by giving earnings supplements along with job coaching. Partly that’s for political reasons: “Where progressives made an error is in saying, ‘We want to pay people who aren’t working’ -- that’s a killer politically,” mused David Ellwood of Harvard. “If you say that a job should pay better, it’s easier.” For this reason, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia frames the message as, “We ought to give every American the opportunity to earn a good life”; he emphasized the words “opportunity” and “earn.” That’s the idea behind raising the minimum wage, strengthening labor unions and worker protections, and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or other earnings supplements. The EITC has bipartisan support, and scholars find that it largely pays for itself by turning people into taxpayers and reducing the benefits they receive. In contrast, we’re skeptical of a universal basic income both because of the difficulty getting political support at a sufficient level and because of so much evidence that what matters for well-being is not just income but also the dignity and identity that come with a job.

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