How rules and regulation can  shape opportunity.

Are we making stuff up about disability benefits?

Mar 26, 2013
TAL story comments / Facebook

Chana Joffe-Walt's recent piece on This American Life about how disability payments are the new welfare has a lot of people pretty mad. Media Matters put out a scathing response to the piece, c

user: bradbrundage / flickr

Update: 2:06 p.m.: My colleague Dustin Dwyer was surfing the web today and came across this incredibly moving song about a young father and his son who died too soon.

Given what this web post was about today, I had to share. With lyrics like "his whole hand wrapped around my finger, he was premature / they said he need me, but I felt I really need him more," the song grabs your heart and doesn't let go.

Ryan budget looks to cut food stamps, again.

Mar 19, 2013
rusty scissors
Meanest Indian / Flickr

The busy analysts at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities have been looking at Paul Ryan’s latest budget proposal (spoiler alert: it’s a lot like his last budget).

Thomas B. Edsall writes in the New York Times about the debate over how to measure poverty: "The lack of definition in our definition of poverty is part of the problem; it helps to answer the question of how the richest country in the history of the world could have so many people living in a state of deprivation."

Turns out the Earned Income Tax Credit is one thing all administrations beginning with Reagan’s have agreed is a good idea. And it really works. Listen to those who literally sing its praises on npr.org.

I came across this TED talk the way everyone comes across TED talks. A friend posted it on Facebook. Anyway, Dan Pallotta makes an interesting, and even emotional case, for why charities should spend more money on things we think of as "overhead." We tend to think that if a charity is trying to feed hungry kids, or give them a better education, then the donations we give to that charity should go to those things. 

Barbara Ellen, columnist for The Observer (Guardian), asked readers this weekend, "Is this our new default setting – that the needy are greedy?" She references a new report by inter-denominational clergy titled, "The Lies We Tell Ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty." Ellen, and the report, challenges central myths about people living in poverty and how those ideas translate into public policy. Though the report is about the British context, what are the myths we have here in the U.S. about poverty and the people it impacts? Consider this a preview for where State of Opportunity may go as our coverage looks at the roots and consequences of poverty for kids. We're all clearly concerned, but how does that concern translate into impacting lives, public policy, and the media?

lfmuth/ flickr

 This week, the state legislature began its first hearings on Governor's Snyder's proposal to more than double preschool funding in Michigan over the next two years. Yesterday, I went to a joint House committee to get a sense of where lawmakers stand on the proposal. It was clear that many lawmakers are sincerely trying to do their job, and really investigate whether the preschool investment is worth it for taxpayers. But, some of the things I heard were pretty weird. 

Here's a list of the weirdest:

1. "It seems to me, the perverse incentive is to take the family and rip it apart."

Dustin Dwyer

Preschool seems to be having a moment right now. Lots of states are looking at expanding access to a pre-K education. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder just proposed an extra $130 million in spending over the next two years to make sure all 4 year olds from low income homes can go to preschool. 

Last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama took the idea even further. He proposed giving all 4 year olds access to preschool. 

But a promise made in a speech is not the same thing as a policy, and the President's somewhat vague comments left more questions than answers. 

So, we're going to try to answer 3 of the most important questions with the information we have right now: 

1. What will the President's proposal actually look like? 

The FCC Takes on the Digital Divide

Feb 8, 2013
desert wifi
°Florian / Flickr

An FCC proposal for free public wifi has the wireless telecommunications industry rushing to the barricades to defend their turf. The Washington Post's technology section reports that the proposal, designed by FCC chair Julius Genachowski, is intended to spark innovation beyond companies like Google (who happens to support the plan).