Saturday, May 24, 2008

unemployment and welfare: government costs and a non-profit approach

Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka in the 80s, reported the following statistics in his short acceptance speech:

"The payroll taxes have gone from 1% of federal revenues to almost 40%...
It costs us about 40 million full-time equivalent jobs. We have about 70 to 80 million full-time people equivalent who would like to work who are not, which is 10 times the official unemployment rate." (More good info here.)

It is so good to find someone of his stature recognizing the drag this creates on our society. (Can you say "wet blanket"?)

Even better, he's chairman of Get America Working, a non-profit aiming at helping all Americans work. Fantastic! (While I'm at it, he also mentioned Youth Venture that is training youth "change-makers".)

a few government pointers from a Latin American non-profit

If you want to hear some good information about the growth of an effective development and health organization, one that really helps individuals by working in local groups, listen to this whole talk by Lynne Patterson of Pro Muher. One piece of it is so touching that I put it in my other blog. But there were a couple of thoughts about working with governments that I feel are worth mentioning:
  • "In Mexico they have very good regulations (for NGOs)." I'll have to look into this; I'm always skeptical of government trying to solve a social problem, so I'd like to see what constitutes "good" regulations.
  • A good principle is to work with governments to create alliances but do not take very much of their money. It's tempting, but governments tend to use that as political leverage, and people aren't as willing to repay if they know the government is the credit source.

(She gives both of those thoughts around minute 27 in her talk.)

students who are getting far better opportunities

I just listened to an interview with Rafael Alvarez about his organization Genesis Works that is helping very low-income students get much better opportunities when they graduate. He gives some good detail about their growth and lessons learned; he includes a few stories... I think you'll like this (4-minute) story about a kid named "German". That impact is what it's all about.

Friday, May 23, 2008

starting micro-finance in the US

Mohammad Yunus is bringing Grameen America to help lift people here in my own country. Hallelujah! In the long term, this is really the only way that families, communities, and our whole nation is going to bring prosperity to more of the poor: by help people help themselves.

One interesting side note: the first effort in Queens, New York shows much of the regulation we have here is a roadblock to their work:

  • "Here, there is more regulation, so a person cannot just set up a cart and sell cakes without a permit."
  • "Rules for setting up a bank are cumbersome for a micro-operation."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

government charity... why not?

Read this story (from Davy Crockett's life as retold in a book quoted by Ron Paul) for reasons why a rule-of-law government should not get involved in charitable pursuits.

PS: I believe in verifying sources; I understand "The Register of Debates (which covers Davy Crockett's first two terms in Congress from 1827-1831) and the Congressional Globe (which covers his last term in Congress from 1833-1835) do not provide verbatim transcripts of speeches made on the House floor", so we cannot be sure, but you can see some support for it on the bottom-right hand side of this congressional record.