Posted by Kendall Harmon

Apartment vacancy rates have dropped so low that forecasters at Capital Economics, a research firm, said rents could rise, on average, as much as 4 percent this year, compared with 2.8 percent last year. But rents are rising faster than that in many cities even as overall inflation is running at little more than 1 percent annually.

One of the most expensive cities for renters is Miami, where rents, on average, consume 43 percent of the typical household income, up from a historical average of just over a quarter.

Stella Santamaria, a divorced 40-year-old math teacher, has been looking for an apartment in Miami for more than six months. “We’re kind of sick of talking about it,” she said of herself and fellow teachers in the same boat. “It’s like, are you still living with your mom? Yeah, are you? Yeah.” After 11 years as a teacher, Ms. Santamaria makes $41,000, considerably less than the city’s median income, which is $48,000, according to Zillow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Weighing in at more than $1 trillion, student loan debt is now larger than total credit card debt. Morning Edition recently asked young adults about their biggest concerns, and more than two-thirds of respondents mentioned college debt. Many say they have put off marriage or buying a home because of the financial burden they took on as students.

William Elliott, director of the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas, says the burden of student loans isn't just a personal, short-term problem for individuals. Loans now make up too large a part of financial aid packages, he tells NPR's David Greene, "and they're too big of a part of how we finance college."

As a result, Elliott says, too many young people are spending years on loan repayment, instead of growing personal wealth through investments like real estate and retirement accounts. In the long-term, he adds, that can be a drag on the economy — and create a wealth divide between people who have student debt and those who don't.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The daughter of a 92-year-old priest who is paying interest on a loan agreed with the Church of England Pensions Board at 8.6 per cent - more than twice the cur-rent average - has questioned the morality of the scheme.

In 1985, the Revd Eric Quin took out a shared-equity loan in order to purchase a three-bedroom cottage in Cheshire for £45,750. With his wife, he paid £20,750 to put down a 45-per-cent deposit. The Pensions Board paid the remainder, £26,500, on the understanding that it would be entitled to 55 per cent of the final sale price.

The initial interest rate was three per cent - much lower than the 12-per-cent mortgage rate at the time. This rate was gradually increased in line with the pensions of all the fund's members. Mr Quin is now paying interest at a rate of 8.6 per cent. The property has risen in value to £200,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePensionsStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 4, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When smoking first swept the United States in the early decades of the 20th century, it took hold among the well-to-do. Cigarettes were high-society symbols of elegance and class, puffed by doctors and movie stars. By the 1960s, smoking had exploded, helped by the distribution of cigarettes to soldiers in World War II. Half of all men and a third of women smoked.

But as evidence of smoking’s deadly consequences has accumulated, the broad patterns of use by class have shifted: Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, is now increasingly a habit of the poor and the working class.

While previous data established that pattern, a new analysis of federal smoking data released on Monday shows that the disparity is increasing. The national smoking rate has declined steadily, but there is a deep geographic divide. In the affluent suburbs of Washington, only about one in 10 people smoke, according to the analysis, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. But in impoverished places like this — Clay County, in eastern Kentucky — nearly four in 10 do.

Read it all (from the front page of the paper copy of today's New York Times).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance

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Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....with less than 10 days left in the 2014 window to apply for coverage with policies through the federal marketplace, lots of people still don’t understand the penalties. Who pays? Who doesn’t? How do you pay? How do you avoid paying?

Toni McKinnon of Columbia stopped by Richland Library’s main branch on Assembly Street last week to find out about the health insurance marketplace because she was worried about having to pay a penalty.

“When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you can’t afford insurance,” McKinnon said, “and you sure can’t afford to pay some kind of penalty.”

She left the library slightly confused and very disappointed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There have long been stark economic differences between Fairfax County and McDowell. But as their fortunes have diverged even further over the past generation, their life expectancies have diverged, too. In McDowell, women’s life expectancy has actually fallen by two years since 1985; it grew five years in Fairfax.

“Poverty is a thief,” said Michael Reisch, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland, testifying before a Senate panel on the issue. “Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.”

That reality is playing out across the country. For the upper half of the income spectrum, men who reach the age of 65 are living about six years longer than they did in the late 1970s. Men in the lower half are living just 1.3 years longer.

This life-expectancy gap has started to surface in discussions among researchers, public health officials and Washington policy makers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration.

The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.

The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Surging prices for food staples from coffee to meat to vegetables are driving up the cost of groceries in the U.S., pinching consumers and companies that are still grappling with a sluggish economic recovery.

Federal forecasters estimate retail food prices will rise as much as 3.5% this year, the biggest annual increase in three years, as drought in parts of the U.S. and other producing regions drives up prices for many agricultural goods. The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday reported that food prices gained 0.4% in February from the previous month, the biggest increase since September 2011, as prices rose for meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs.

Globally, food inflation has been tame, but economists are watching for any signs of tighter supplies of key commodities such as wheat and rice that could push prices higher.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/Nutrition* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* General InterestWeather

0 Comments
Posted March 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The articles are entitled Employment of young workers has plunged as older workers remain in entry-level jobs and A Dead End--few leaving stepping-stone jobs. Read them both.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 15, 2014 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeffery Ward's story illustrates a growing problem for cancer care in the United States, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology's inaugural report, "The State of Cancer Care in America," which was released Tuesday.

Nearly two-thirds of the small oncology practices surveyed said they were likely to merge, sell or close in the upcoming year. And as community practices disappear, patients are paying more and traveling farther for quality care, an issue compounded by physician shortages and a rapidly aging population.

"If you can't get care, you can't get good care," said American Society of Clinical Oncology President Dr. Clifford Hudis, chief of Breast Cancer Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2014 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The share of new homes being built as rental apartments is at the highest level in at least four decades, as an improving jobs picture spurs younger Americans to form their own households but tighter lending standards make it more difficult to buy.

Residential construction—a pillar of the economy and employment—is starting to ramp up again overall, but in previous years the growth was driven by single-family homes. Last year, according to census data, construction was started on a little less than one million new residential units, and about one in three of those was a rental in a multifamily building, the highest share since data began in the mid-1970s. Single-family homes accounted for about two-thirds of housing starts last year, down from their peak of 87% in 1993 and about 80% in the years leading up to the recession, the census data showed.

The move toward apartment construction reflects the convergence of several trends. Mortgage credit is still tight. Also, Americans have seen muted wage gains, and others have high student-debt loads, forcing people who otherwise would have bought homes to rent instead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canadians are in a funk. Things are better than ever, but people are feeling worse. “The trend lines are disturbing,” EKOS pollster Frank Graves wrote recently, reporting that public pessimism is deepening. “… Only around 10 per cent of Canadians and Americans think the next generation will enjoy a better quality of life.”

Well, maybe they will or maybe they won’t. Meantime, this generation is doing pretty well. Despite recessions, globalization and the inexorable rise of the robots, most of us never had it so good. In 2011, the median real income for Canadian two-parent families with two earners was $100,000 – $13,000 higher than in 2000. The annual average unemployment rate is down to 7 per cent. Despite the soaring cost of housing, nearly 70 per cent of us have an ownership stake in our own homes.

So what’s our problem?...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the number of awards scooped up by George Marsden's 2003 biography of Jonathan Edwards is taken as the index of achievement, Marsden stands as the dean of living interpreters of American religion. With The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, he offers another compelling study, one that relates more to his own life and times than to a life from the past.

In six artfully crafted chapters, Marsden sketches the tectonic shifts set in motion in the years immediately following World War II. He looks at common assumptions held by the leading cultural analysts of the age, intellectuals writing for middlebrow Americans. The protagonists were mostly white, male, well educated (especially at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia), centered in New York City, and descended from old-stock Protestant culture. Alongside these were a fair number of Jews, many of them émigrés from Nazi Europe. Leading figures included journalist Walter Lippmann, poet Archibald MacLeish, historian Arthur Schlesinger, magazine tycoon Henry Luce, culture critic Hannah Arendt, and especially sociologists Vance Packard, Erich Fromm, and David Reisman. Taken together, their views constituted what might be called the liberal mainline consensus.

The two books bear important similarities. Both are beautifully written and reveal imposing erudition. But they also bear important differences. While Jonathan Edwards is long, richly detailed, and largely descriptive, American Enlightenment is short, elegantly interpretative, and strongly argued. Another difference concerns the reaction from readers and critics. The Edwards biography won virtually unanimous praise. This latest offering likely will provoke both sustained praise and spirited debate (sometimes both at once).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 5, 2014 at 8:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans who have at least one child under the age of 18 report spending $29 more daily, on average, than those without younger children. Parents with younger children across all age and income groups report higher spending levels.

These results are based on 2013 Gallup Daily tracking, which asks Americans about the amount of money they spent on purchases "yesterday," excluding normal household bills and major purchases. Americans without children under 18 reported average daily spending of $79, while Americans with children reported a $108 daily average.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A critical shortage of affordable housing affects the long-term economic health of the region and strains the budgets of many homeowners and renters, according to a new study.

Some 33 percent of homeowners and 50 percent of renters are living in housing they can not afford. Those affected include teachers, police officers and others in the tri-county's largely service-based economy, says the report released by the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester Council of Governments.

"Housing affordability greatly impacts the ability to retain existing businesses and attract new industries," it says.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2014 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On New Year's, [Carrie] Davis picked up a book by Christian writer Jen Hatmaker, "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess."

The book tells Hatmaker's story as the wife of a pastor to a big church in Austin, Texas, where they were busy loving their fellow well-to-do neighbors as themselves.

Then Hurricane Ike tore through town, and they opened their home to displaced strangers. A 10-year-old boy walked in and yelled, "Dad! This white dude is RICH!" Hatmaker writes.

She hadn't thought they were.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canadians are “split into haves and have-nots by marriage lines,” the report concludes. “The big story is that Canadian are divided along marriage lines by income, and that share of marriage has remained remarkably stable among high income earners,” says co-author Peter Jon Mitchell, a senior researcher.

Among its recommendations: The government should “consider tax initiatives and youth education campaigns that promote marriage,” better work-life balance in workplace practices, and even support for marriage counselling, an approach adopted recently in Australia. Certainly, there’s an economic and social value in helping families stay together, especially when kids are involved.

But are Canadians split along marriage lines, or is income influence how they approach marriage? The Institute study argues “there is evidence for both.” But if it’s the latter, then encouraging the swapping of vows is not a particularly useful poverty measure on its own, as researchers in the United States have observed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 1, 2014 at 10:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The economy finished 2013 on a weaker footing than first thought, the government said on Friday, heightening concern that the United States is in the midst of another of the periodic slow patches that have dogged the recovery over the last five years.

The Commerce Department now estimates the economy grew at an annual pace of 2.4 percent in October, November and December, down from an initial estimate of 3.2 percent. The revised figure also represents a substantial slowing from the pace of growth in the third quarter, which totaled 4.1 percent. The department is scheduled to provide one more estimate of growth during the fourth quarter on March 27.

The downward revision comes after new data showing lackluster retail sales, inventory adjustments and a slightly less impressive trade balance late last year. Disappointing reports on job creation in December and January have also prompted fear of continued weakness into the spring of 2014.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Radical Islamist rebels running the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have made the Christians living in the area an offer they can’t refuse: pay for protection, convert to Islam, or “face the sword.”

In a statement posted to Jihadi websites and signed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-designated emir of the future Islamic caliphate of Raqqa, as well as the founder of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] rebel brigade, Christians are urged to pay a tax in order to continue living under ISIS’s protection. The terms are simple: twice a year wealthy Christians must pay the equivalent of half an ounce of gold — about $664 by today’s market value. Middle-class Christians have to come up with half that sum, and poor Christians can get away with paying a quarter, or about $166.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Carolina's military communities are bracing for an uncertain future after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday called for deep cuts to the Army in 2015.

While Fort Jackson in Columbia - where more than 45,000 recruits are trained annually - is the obvious target, Charleston's and other installations also may be in the cross hairs since Hagel also called for a new round of base-closure reviews in 2017.

Still, the decision on rekindling a Base Realignment and Closure Commission depends on Congress, which has delayed the assessments in recent years in the interest of protecting jobs at home.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted February 25, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a quarter of students graduating in 2011 with a Master of Divinity degree had more than $40,000 in theological debt and 5 percent were more than $80,000 in the red, a new study found.

Many of these students discovered that not only they or their spouses had to moonlight to make ends meet, but some had to choose another job besides the ministry to pay the bills, according to the study by the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary.

Several seminaries already realize the days of balancing budgets by raising tuition may be coming to an end.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted February 21, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans are known risk-takers when it comes to their personal finances. While consumer spending has traditionally been one of the great engines of the U.S. economy, it also helped get the country into the Great Recession. So after five years of economic turmoil we’ve presumably become a little better at keeping track of our debts, right?

Not really. Data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show that at $11.52 trillion, overall consumer debt is higher than it has been since 2011. And more unsettling, debt is rising at rapid levels. Americans’ debt—that includes mortgages, auto loans, student loans and credit card debt—increased by 2.1%, or $241 billion in the last three months of 2013, the greatest margin of increase since the third quarter of 2007, shortly before the U.S. spiraled into recession.

And on an individual level, many Americans are in a precarious financial position.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 20, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

50% of GDP comes from orange areas, 50% from blue.

Look at the map and read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted February 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hard economic times had kept Amy Derose and her husband Lawrence locked in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their engineering firm in Pompano Beach, Florida.

“The business was hanging on by a thread and we had to hang on,” said Derose, 53, who had been married 35 years and worked as the business manager. “We couldn’t afford to split. He needed me in the business and I needed him.”

With Florida’s economy and housing market recovering, “we are definitely on the upswing” and revenue is rising at their 24-employee company. That is allowing the couple to move forward with their divorce this month after years of showing up to work as if nothing were wrong personally. Now, she is looking for a job and “couldn’t be happier.”

Read it all from Bloomberg News.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last October, in between arguments over the debt ceiling, the federal government somehow found time to send me an email. My student loan payment was 70 days past due, the message read, so the government had negatively reported me to each major credit bureau and would continue to report me until my account was brought current.

I'm betting the government sent out a lot of those letters to people like me: college graduates from middle-class families who didn't qualify for much in the way of scholarship aid and had parents who couldn't afford to pay for their schooling.

Research published last month in the journal Sociology of Education shows that students from middle-class families are bearing the brunt of the student loan crisis. Jason Houle, a sociologist at Dartmouth College, analyzed the student loan debt of about 9,000 men and women, focusing on how socioeconomics, including family income and parents' educational background, influenced student debt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education. And when today’s young adults are compared with previous generations, the disparity in economic outcomes between college graduates and those with a high school diploma or less formal schooling has never been greater in the modern era.

These assessments are based on findings from a new nationally representative Pew Research Center survey of 2,002 adults supplemented by a Pew Research analysis of economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A London church has become the first in the country to accept internet currency Bitcoins in its collection plate.

The Rev Chris Brice of St Martin’s Anglican Parish Church in Gospel Oak said the innovation showed that “we are people in touch with what’s going on around us”.

Some supporters of Bitcoins claim the currency wrestles power from corporations and banking giants, and its value has soared in the past 12 months, peaking at more than £615.

Mr Brice said: “The current [financial] system is not all that reliable, given recent events. You’ve got to live in an environment where people are free to experiment with these things. If this doesn’t work we’ll try something else.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1951, our four year old son was hit by a truck. Every bone in his body was broken, and he had multiple skull fractures. I prayed fervently for his healing. “Lord, I would do anything to save this little boy”, and then some words came out of my mouth that startled me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Surreptitious cash withdrawals and hidden credit card statements may be signs your significant other is cheating—but not necessarily in the bedroom.

Financial infidelity is on the rise, with more people deceiving (or being deceived by) their partner about purchases made, debts incurred, money earned or other issues related to their joint finances.

One-third of people who have combined accounts said they have committed a financial deception, while 35 percent said they have been the victim of one, according to a new study from the National Endowment for Financial Education conducted with Harris Interactive.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The problem isn’t only that higher education is unaffordable to many but that even at our highest-ranked colleges and universities, students aren’t getting much bang for their buck.

Since 1985, the price of higher education has increased 538 percent, according to a new study from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group that encourages trustees and alumni to foster improvement where institutions may be reluctant to go against popular trends.

For perspective, compare tuition increases to a “mere” 286 percent increase in medical costs and a 121 percent increase in the consumer price index during the same period, according to the ACTA.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted January 29, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gruelling hours were even more important, however. In his valedictory emails, perhaps wary of the cliché, Mr El-Erian avoided saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. But that is, in fact, his main reason for leaving, according to people close to him.

One tells me that on an average day Mr El-Erian’s alarm clock goes off at 2.45am. He usually gets to the office by 4.15am, gets home to his family about 7pm, eats, goes to bed by about 8.45pm and does it again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock Market

0 Comments
Posted January 28, 2014 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church Archbishop Eliud Wabukala has strongly opposed the bill that aims at taxing the bereaved family saying it will drop the country’s economy.

“As Anglican Church we oppose the bill with strong terms, in the place first if somebody has lost a relative he or she gets affected psychologically and even financially, taxing such a person is killing him,” Archbishop Wabukala said.

He said county governments should come out and help its people by giving out loans and any other necessary support for the growth of business and farming as a way of increasing revenue collection instead of overburdening poor families who have lost their beloved ones.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Research by Church Urban Fund reveals Churchgoers are twice as likely to support credit unions than others.

The research also shows many of those that attend church on a regular basis agree that churches should actively support credit unions, in order to strengthen alternatives to payday loans.

More than four in five of those surveyed agreed that payday loans exploit people without access to cheaper forms of credit and almost half believed that churches should raise awareness of credit unions in their local communities, allow them to use church premises, and encourage church members to volunteer their professional skills.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 27, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Baby boomers make up the largest share of banking customers in the U.S., according to a December Gallup poll. Nearly nine in 10 baby boomers (89%) currently have at least one checking, savings, or money market account at a bank or another financial institution. But Gallup's 2013 retail banking study shows that just 12% of baby boomers with active bank accounts trust banks a "great deal," with the majority placing only "some" or "very little" trust in these institutions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHistoryMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionPovertyRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2014 at 9:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than five years later, there is still no answer to perhaps the most critical question raised by the man-made disaster: How much did it all cost?

In July, three economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Tyler Atkinson, David Luttrell and Harvey Rosenblum, gave it a shot, at least as far as the United States economy goes.

...their examination offers a panoramic view of the variety of ways in which the financial crisis diminished the nation’s standard of living. At a bare minimum the crisis cost nearly $20,000 for each American. Adding in broader impacts on workers’ well-being — an admittedly speculative exercise — could raise the price tag to as much as $120,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. With this kind of money we could pay back the federal debt or pay for a top-notch college education for everyone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPovertyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted January 22, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Institute for American Values’ new report The Way to Wealth, coinciding with the celebration of National Thrift Week, aims to combat the wealth-education gap. (Full disclosure: my wife, Amber, was the lead writer on the report, and it draws a few stories from our research with young adults in Ohio.) The report proposes four rules a person can follow to attain what Benjamin Franklin described as a “modest fortune”: work hard and honestly, spend less than you earn, give back as much as you can, and have a plan. It addresses common objections, like “I need more than a dead-end job,” and notes that working hard and showing up on time, even at the least glamorous jobs, help one to win trust and build a reputation. It says that giving back with your money and time is an important part of the way to wealth, because “it’s a way to be a part of a ‘we’ rather than ‘me,’” and because even the hardest workers sometimes suffer setbacks in life. We hear a lot today about the many forces working against poor and working-class young adults, but the report proposes steps anyone can take to begin pursuing financial stability.

Of course, restoring the financial stability of the “lottery class” will take more than those four rules—for instance, employers must take seriously their responsibility to their employees. And America’s thrift leaders usually had something to say about that, too. For instance, S.W. Straus, the early twentieth-century Chicago realty financier who helped to start the first National Thrift Week in 1916, established a profit-sharing program for his employees. Philadelphia’s John Wannamaker did the same, and also created for his employees a benefits association, savings programs, and a free library.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

True to their "live to work" reputation, some baby boomers are digging in their heels at the workplace as they approach the traditional retirement age of 65. While the average age at which U.S. retirees say they retired has risen steadily from 57 to 61 in the past two decades, boomers -- the youngest of whom will turn 50 this year -- will likely extend it even further. Nearly half (49%) of boomers still working say they don't expect to retire until they are 66 or older, including one in 10 who predict they will never retire.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentMedicareSocial SecurityPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 21, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US Federal Reserve was being complacent by planning for years of below-target inflation, warned Minneapolis Fed President in a clarion call for more economic stimulus.
“We’re running the risk of being content with inflation running consistently below our target. That’s inappropriate,” said Narayana Kocherlakota, who votes on Fed monetary policy this year, in an interview with the Financial Times. “Right now we’re sitting with an outlook for inflation that even by 2016 . . . is not getting back to 2 per cent.”

Mr Kocherlakota’s remarks illustrate the growing anxiety about low global inflation that led Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, to warn this week that “rising risks of deflation” could be disastrous for the world’s economic recovery – calling it the “ogre that must be fought decisively”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 17, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The anonymous diner famous for leaving huge tips in the name of Jesus — or, perhaps, a copycat — paid a visit to a San Francisco sushi restaurant Tuesday night, forking over a $3,000 tip on a $147 bill.

Employees at the high-end Japanese restaurant Roka Akor on Montgomery Street confirmed a “tall, dark and handsome” man dined with one other person before signing over the obscenely generous gratuity with the note “Tips for Jesus.” He also picked up the $389 tab for the table next to his — leaving before his waitress could thank him.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More Americans, 42%, say they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, reversing the lower levels found over the past two years. Just more than a third of Americans say their financial situation has improved from a year ago.

These results come from Gallup's annual "Mood of the Nation" poll, conducted Jan. 5-8. Gallup has found that Americans' economic confidence, self-reported consumer spending, and perceptions of job creation improved in 2013. Despite Americans' more positive views of the overall U.S. economy in 2013, nearly two-thirds believe their personal financial situation deteriorated or was stable over the past year.

Though down from mid-2013, the percentage of Americans saying they are financially better off than a year ago is nearly in line with the historical average (38%), spanning 1976-2014. On the other hand, the share of Americans saying they are financially worse off compared with a year ago is, by historical standards, high -- eight percentage points above the average. The record high of 55% occurred in May and September 2008, the year (and, in the latter case, the month) of the global financial meltdown.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted January 16, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here’s what we learned from the in-depth report on how women are doing in post-recession America.

--1 in 3 American women, 42 million women, plus 28 million children, either live in poverty or are right on the brink of it. (The report defines the “brink of poverty” as making $47,000 a year for a family of four.)
--Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and these workers often get zero paid sick days.
--Two-thirds of American women are either the primary or co-breadwinners of their families.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPovertyWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted January 15, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As 2014 dawns, ObamaCare's most disruptive changes to the health care system are just now getting under way. For American businesses, that means a raft of new taxes that will pose devastating consequences for their employees and the broader economy.

Paramount among them is a new tax on health insurers (HIT) that's projected to "hit" them for more than $100 billion over the next decade. ObamaCare's architects intended to eat into the margins of insurers with this levy — and even set it proportional to each company's market share, so that bigger insurers pay more.

But the truth is that firms in every sector will pay it, as insurers will simply pass the tax along to employers in the form of higher premiums.

Indeed, premiums are expected to jump 2% to 3% over the course of this year thanks to this tax. By 2023, they could be about 4% higher.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance

3 Comments
Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the field of higher education, reality is outrunning parody. A recent feature on the satire website the Onion proclaimed, "30-Year-Old Has Earned $11 More Than He Would Have Without College Education." Allowing for tuition, interest on student loans, and four years of foregone income while in school, the fictional student "Patrick Moorhouse" wasn't much better off. His years of stress and study, the article japed, "have been more or less a financial wash."

"Patrick" shouldn't feel too bad. Many college graduates would be happy to be $11 ahead instead of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, behind. The credit-driven higher education bubble of the past several decades has left legions of students deep in debt without improving their job prospects. To make college a good value again, today's parents and students need to be skeptical, frugal and demanding. There is no single solution to what ails higher education in the U.S., but changes are beginning to emerge, from outsourcing to online education, and they could transform the system.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American consumers in 2013 were more upbeat than at any time in the previous six years as views on the economy, finances and the buying climate improved.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index...averaged minus 31.4 for 2013, the highest since 2007, when it was minus 10.5. The weekly index fell for the first time since mid-November, dropping to minus 28.7 for the period ended Dec. 29, from minus 27.4.

An improved job market, higher stock prices and rising home values lifted sentiment at the end of the year and helped drive holiday retail shopping. Stronger wage and employment growth would help propel bigger gains in confidence and encourage Americans to boost spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted January 3, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 41 employees of Extreme Dodge in Jackson, Mich., are very familiar with trade-ins, but this year they’re learning about trade-offs as they come face to face with the new realities of health care. A few workers say they’re getting a great deal, but most have a severe case of sticker shock.

“I feel like I’ve been taken to the cleaners,” said Neal Campbell, a salesman.

Read it all or watch the video report from NBC.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. investors are generally wary about stocks as a way for Americans to build wealth, as 37% say the stock market is an "excellent" or "good" way for average Americans to grow their assets, while 46% consider it "only fair," and 16% call it "poor." Large class investors -- those with $100,000 or more in investable assets -- are significantly more upbeat about the market's value as a wealth generator than those with less than $100,000 of such assets, but still only 50% rate it positively.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceStock Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Chapmans acknowledge that they are better off than many people, but they represent a little-understood reality of the Affordable Care Act. While the act clearly benefits those at the low end of the income scale — and rich people can continue to afford even the most generous plans — people like the Chapmans are caught in the uncomfortable middle: not poor enough for help, but not rich enough to be indifferent to cost.

“We are just right over that line,” said Ms. Chapman, who is 54 and does administrative work for a small wealth management firm. Because their plan is being canceled, she is looking for new coverage for her family, which includes Mr. Chapman, 55, a retired fireman who works on a friend’s farm, and her two sons. “That’s an insane amount of money,” she said of their new premium. “How are you supposed to pay that?”

An analysis by The New York Times shows the cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies varies widely across the country and rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s. In some places, prices can quickly approach 20 percent of a person’s income.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 21, 2013 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although the Fed expects to keep reducing the program "in measured steps" next year, the timing and the course isn't preset. "Continued progress [in the economy] is by no means certain," Mr. [Ben] Bernanke said. "The steps that we take will be data-dependent."

If the Fed proceeds at the pace he set out, it would complete the bond-buying program toward the end of 2014 with holdings of nearly $4.5 trillion in bonds, loans and other assets, nearly six times as large as the Fed's total holdings when the financial crisis started in 2008.

Still, officials—worried that investors would quake at the thought of less Fed support—went to lengths to demonstrate that they would keep interest rates low for years to come, even after the bond-buying program ends.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 19, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While plenty of baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, have become affluent and many elderly around the U.S. face financial hardship, the wealth disparity of this father and daughter is emblematic of a broad shift occurring around the country. A rising tide of graying baby boomers is less secure financially and has a lower standard of living than their aged parents.

The median net worth for U.S. households headed by boomers aged 55 to 64 was almost 8 percent lower, at $143,964, than those 75 and older in 2011, according to Census Bureau data. Boomers lost more than other groups in the stock market and housing bust of 2008, and many also lost their jobs in the aftermath at a critical point in their productive years.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentMedicareSocial Security

0 Comments
Posted December 18, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The department of finance has said California’s debt was paid down to less than $28-billion (U.S.). But that doesn’t include government employee pension and health benefits that have been promised but not funded. Stanford University estimates that unfunded pension liabilities are as much as $497-billion.

Meantime, a report by the Pew Center suggests that unfunded state retiree liabilities are $77-billion and growing. Most agree that until California deals with these two areas, it will only be pecking away at its monstrous fiscal challenges. It’s difficult to imagine state legislators not having to deliver some extremely unpleasant news to tens of thousands of government employees in the coming years.

Despite its financial woes, California continues to talk about a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco that would cost tens of billions. On another front, the state ruled against allowing fracking for oil and gas despite having the largest shale deposits in the country. Many believe this one move alone could have helped release California from the grips of financial despair.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePensionsThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General

0 Comments
Posted December 14, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Executives from energy companies met the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday, two months after he called on such firms to be "conscious of their social obligations", given the "severe" impact of energy price rises.

A statement from Lambeth Palace said that the senior representatives met to talk about "their perspectives on social responsibility around the energy-supply sector". This was "one of a number of private meetings hosted by Archbishop Justin in order to draw on the experience of people from different areas of national life".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 13, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Workers’ pay is hardly growing, with average hourly compensation only rising 38 cents, or 1.2%, over the last year.

Including both wages and benefits, employers paid an hourly average of $31.16 to each worker in September, compared with $30.78 a year ago, according to a Labor Department report released Wednesday. Wages and salaries made up nearly 70% of total compensation.

The agency’s quarterly report measures the average costs of wages, salaries and benefits for employees in the nonfarm private sector and state and local government workers. It doesn’t include people who work for the federal government or are self-employed. Benefit costs include paid leave, such as vacation or personal time, and the legally required benefits of Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans see little prospect that President Barack Obama and Congress can get much done beyond keeping the government open for the next few months.

A Bloomberg National Poll finds 78 percent of respondents say the political gridlock in Washington will hurt the nation’s economy in 2014.

Large majorities say they want the government to ensure the new health-care law functions well, that policy makers agree to revise the tax code, and that an accord is reached to provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Yet most doubt those things can be accomplished in the current political environment...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has summoned the bosses of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies to a private meeting on Wednesday to discuss fuel poverty and rising energy prices.

The meeting comes after the Most Rev Justin Welby said he understood why people felt above-inflation price rises were “inexplicable” and called on the companies to act with “generosity”.

Four of the Big Six supliers are believed to be sending their most senior UK executives, in contrast to a recent Commons select committee hearing where just one, E.On chief executive Tony Cocker, attended to face MPs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

5 Comments
Posted December 11, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Affordable Care Act's deadline for getting health insurance approaches, 30% of U.S. adults still say that they, or a family member, have put off medical treatment in the past year because of the cost. This figure has been stable since 2005, but is higher than it was between 2001 and 2004.

Uninsured Americans are more than twice as likely as those who have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance to say they put off medical treatment. Fifty-nine percent of the uninsured have done so, compared with roughly one-quarter of those with Medicare or Medicaid (22%) or private health insurance (25%).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Justin Reckers watched his parents go through a nasty divorce, the wrenching experience gave him a first-hand view of some the worst mistakes couples can make when parting ways.

It also helped shape his career choice. He is now chief executive of Pacific Divorce Management and director of financial planning at Pacific Wealth Management.

Mr. Reckers describes his parent's breakup, which occurred just as he graduated college, as "probably the worst possible divorce scenario you could imagine." There were angry confrontations and the couple ended up bankrupt, he said....

Now 32, the son wants to help others find a less troubled path.Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Doctors choose the more expensive drug more than half a million times every year, a choice that costs the Medicare program, the largest single customer, an extra $1 billion or more annually.

Spending that much may make little sense for a country burdened by ever-rising health bills, but as is often the case in American health care, there is a certain economic logic: Doctors and drugmakers profit when more-costly treatments are adopted.

Genentech, a division of the Roche Group, makes both products but reaps far more profit when it sells the more expensive drug. Although Lucentis is about 40 times as expensive as Avastin to buy, the cost of producing the two drugs is similar, according to scientists familiar with the drugs and the industry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2013 at 7:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith schools discriminate against the less well-off, a survey has suggested. Comprehensive non-faith secondary schools admit 11 per cent more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected given their areas, while comparable Church of England secondaries admit 10 per cent fewer, it was found.

The Fair Admissions Campaign, which wants schools opened equally to all children regardless of religion, said admissions of pupils eligible for free school meals fell below the level in the schools’ areas by 24 per cent at Roman Catholic, 25 per cent at Muslim and 61 per cent at Jewish secondary schools.

The campaign claimed a “clear correlation” between religious selection and socio-economic segregation.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country's biggest banks.

The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along.

More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 26, 2013 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American workers are living with unprecedented economic anxiety, four years into a recovery that has left so many of them stuck in place. That anxiety is concentrated heavily among low-income workers such as Stewart.

More than six in 10 workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, surpassing concerns in more than a dozen surveys dating to the 1970s. Nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, also a record high, according to the joint survey, which explores Americans’ changing definition of success and their confidence in the country’s future. The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia specializing in public policy, presidential scholarship and political history.

Job insecurities have always been higher among low-income Americans, but they typically rose and fell across all levels of the income ladder. Today, workers at the bottom have drifted away, occupying their own island of in­security.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted November 26, 2013 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Companies are bracing for an influx of participants in their insurance plans due to the health-care overhaul, adding to pressure to shift more of the cost of coverage to employees.

Many employers are betting that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that all Americans have health insurance starting in 2014 will bring more people into their plans who have previously opted out. That, along with other rising expenses, is prompting companies to raise workers' premium contributions, steer them toward high-deductible plans and charge them more to cover family members.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 25, 2013 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to CT sister resource Managing Your Church, the average base salary of a full-time senior pastor in 2012-2013 ranges from $33,000 to $70,000. Eighty-four percent of senior pastors surveyed said they also receive a housing allowance, which accounts for $20,000 to $38,000 in added compensation. The Joint Committee on Taxation calculates the exemption amounted to $700 million in recent years, notes Peter Reilly of Forbes.

CT previously reported how the threat to pastor parsonages lost its legal legs but was revived again, and examined debate over whether or not Congress should change the rules on pastor housing allowances. CT also noted the quirky reasoning that recently allowed one prominent pastor to claim two parsonages.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 25, 2013 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Very few areas get me wound up faster than clergy finances. There are two reasons for this. One is that the actual situation with taxes and clergy compensation is quite complicated and not well understood even by people who work with taxes professionally and, as if that isn't trouble enough, many clergy in my experience are inadequate and in some cases even ignorant in the financial area.

Sure enough, this has led to some very poor reporting on this story already, as well as some even worse posting about it on the blogs. If you wish to understand it can I please advise that you do your own research and not jump to conclusions.

With that said, here goes. First, there is no need for panic. This is one ruling, and we have a system which involves a lot of layers of the judicial system, so overeacting now is not going to help.

Second, you need to understand the bizarre--and I mean bizarre--basic situation of clergy finances.

If you take a look at the basic IRS definition it starts as follows:

A minister's housing allowance, sometimes called a parsonage allowance or a rental allowance is excludable from gross income for income tax purposes, but not for self-employment tax purposes.
Now before you go whizzing past that, make sure to read it and take it in a couple of times. Please note the DUAL status of clergy finances. Housing allowances are excludable (under certain conditions) BUT NOT FOR SELF EMPLOYMENT TAXES.

In other words, for the purpose of social security, the situation is different, and, indeed, I would argue, poor, because as far as social security is concerned, a clergyman or clergywoman is treated as if there were a self employed writer like Gore Vidal or Stephen King, and for that they pay both their portion of social security taxes AS WELL AS the employers portion. So whereas the woman who works for Coca Cola, say, pays for half of her social security taxes every pay period, her employer, Coca Cola, pays the other half. For ministers this is not true; ministers pay both halves.

So the important point right from the get go is that any idea that clergy get some kind of special "deal" in the tax system at a basic level is wildly misleading. No article that reports on this fairly can do so without mentioning the dual tax status issue and whereas the housing allowance does help, the social security situation does not.

There is more. The housing allowance is for actual housing costs so any compensation which is what it costs you to maintain a home for the year (or, if the church owns the home, there are other stipulations). So If you see a minister X and he reports a salary of 10,000 and a housing allowance of 40,000 and you think this is unfair be aware that any amount of the 40,000 dollars NOT related to housing is to be declared as "excess housing allowance" to the IRS (and, yes, I will also remind you that this person is paying 2x social security taxes on the WHOLE 50,000 overall compensation).

Now, I am well aware that some churches (and sadly some clergy) abuse this situation. That is unfortunate but remember that is an abuse of existing rules not the rules themselves.

Why do we have this crazy system? Mainly because when it was originally put in place many clergy lived in church owned housing and so when they retired because many did not own their own home ever they had no housing equity built up at all. That has since changed, never mind that life expectancy has gone up considerably. But changing existing law in America is not easy. For myself, I think a strong case can be made that it would be "fairer" if clergy were treated as employed (as opposed to self--employed for self-employment tax purposes, which would mean paying half of social security and the church paying the other half) and did not get the housing allowance consideration. But the situation with many smaller congregations and their ministers would very much be impacted. It would take a herculaean effort to reform the bizarre area of clergy compensation taxes in the right way, even if it were attempted.

All of which brings us back to the real underlying problem here in America, and that is not with our tax system's basic structure BUT ITS COMPLEXITY. This system is built to favor those with resources and power and the accountants and lawyers who get compensated to enable them to manage it so much better than most. If I were ever working in this area, I would be promoting TAX SIMPLICITY and TAX STABILITY (the tax code changes way too often also).

In the meantime, pray for those in ordained ministry, it is a very, very demanding area in which to work--KSH.


Filed under: * By Kendall* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceTaxes

4 Comments
Posted November 25, 2013 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Southeast, South Carolina ranked better than neighboring states such as Georgia, which posted 8.1 percent unemployment, Tennessee at 8.4 and North Carolina at 8.0 percent for October. Among the lowest jobless rates for states in the region were Alabama and Louisiana, both at 6.5 percent for October.

South Carolina’s largest employment gains included 2,600 additional jobs in manufacturing and 1,800 in construction.

College of Charleston economist Frank Hefner said the latest data is encouraging news for the jobs market.

“Back to the past, that’s where we are,” he said. “We are trying to make up for five years of lost activity, and we are getting back to those levels.”

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted November 23, 2013 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pension age could be pushed back to 70, and older Australians forced to use growing equity in their homes to help pay for government services under proposals designed to help Australia cope with an ageing population.

In a paper titled ''An Ageing Australia: Preparing for the Future'', the Productivity Commission projects Australia's population will grow from about 23 million in 2012 to about 38 million by 2060, with a substantial increase in the number of retirees as people live longer.

That will mean lower overall participation in the workforce, and more pressures on governments to pay for higher health, aged care and pension costs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePensionsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England pays its top bureaucrat over £10,000 more than the Prime Minister receives despite launching a series of attacks on high executive salaries, it has been disclosed.

Papers laid before the Church’s General Synod, which has been meeting this week, show that eight lay officials across the Church’s London headquarters and its financial arm receive more than 100,000 a year.

Questions were raised about the level of pay for top Church officials after William Shawcross, chairman of the Charity Commission, recently warned that charities risk bringing good causes into “disrepute” by awarding further pay rises to chiefs on six-figure sums.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted November 21, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WHAT if America were to scrap all its anti-poverty programmes—welfare, food stamps, unemployment benefits, the works—and replace them with an unconditional basic income (UBI) for everybody? Even in a Congress beset by less extraordinary levels of dysfunction, the idea would have little chance of becoming law. It’s fun to theorise, though. And if Switzerland approves a referendum to send all of its citizens $2,800 a month, the debate will have a fascinating new reference point.

Annie Lowrey’s article in the New York Times Magazine explains that both the left and the right have reason to favour a basic income. Liberals support the idea because it would elevate 50m Americans above the poverty line overnight. Some on the right, like Charles Murray, are keen to eliminate rent-seeking—and much of the federal bureaucracy—with a UBI that gives everyone the same government benefit. “A single father with two jobs and two children would no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits,” Ms Lowrey writes. “And giving him a single lump sum might help him use his federal dollars better. Housing vouchers have to be spent on housing, food stamps on food. Those dollars would be more valuable—both to the recipient and the economy at large—if they were fungible.”

The economic effects of a basic income are debatable. Some economists think a UBI would disincentivise work; others argue that it would enhance entrepreneurialism by easing the path to start a small business or switch careers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted November 19, 2013 at 8:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Collection plates are growing even lighter as Protestant church member giving reached new lows in 2011, and tithing probably will not recover from the recession, according to a new report by Empty Tomb, a Christian research group.

“Is the issue that the church is not providing an authentic alternative to the consumer mindset?” said Sylvia Ronsvalle, executive vice president of Empty Tomb. “Over a period of time, if the church isn’t providing more of an authentic alternative, the church will lose.”

The percentage of a church member’s income given to the church dropped to 2.3 percent in 2011 (the latest year for which numbers are available), down from 2.4 percent in 2010, according to the Empty Tomb study.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fullerton resident Jennifer Harris thought she had a great deal, paying $98 a month for an individual plan through Health Net Inc. She got a rude surprise this month when the company said it would cancel her policy at the end of this year. Her current plan does not conform with the new federal rules, which require more generous levels of coverage.

Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month. She and her husband don't qualify for federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined.

"It doesn't seem right to make the middle class pay so much more in order to give health insurance to everybody else," said Harris, who is three months pregnant. "This increase is simply not affordable."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be nice if more Christians understood that our faith always has local implications, including our life in public, which is in the polis, and therefore our faith has local political ramifications. The are derivative, yes, they are always penultimate, but they do matter.

This whole campaign makes me sad. It is a pitch to lessen property taxes by raising sales taxes. Allegedly.

It is immoral in all sorts of ways but here are two principle reasons why I will vote no. First, it is a regressive tax. Those least able to will have to pay more tax (and yes it goes on groceries!). And secondly, the other argument I hear all over is all the other counties are doing it so we should to, otherwise we will lose business etc. to nearby counties which already have the (dumb, immoral) tax. This is right out if 1 Samuel where Israel asks for a King since all the other nations have one.

Now this may cause property taxes to be slightly higher, and since we own our home, that will involve us. I don't know anyone who likes higher taxes, but if this is the implication of my vote this coming November, so be it.

County Leaders should be ashamed of themselves (especially since this is the fourth time they have tried this)--KSH
.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

9 Comments
Posted October 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Larry Hargett might be right: Dorchester County residents might not know enough about a local option sales tax yet to vote on it.

If the county councilman is, that's not good news for leaders pushing the Nov. 5 referendum.

Earlier this year, County Council unanimously approved a referendum for the local election Nov. 5. Now they are visibly frustrated by the sometimes hostile opposition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Herewith the question as it will read on the ballot November 5.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in GeneralCity Government* South Carolina

1 Comments
Posted October 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost half of all American women (40%) with children under the age of 18 are the primary or sole source of income in their families, according to a major Pew survey released this year. Back in 1960, the share was just 11%. It is a huge social shift.

Once, American mothers were dubbed "soccer moms". Then, after 9/11, we got to know the "security moms". Today's generation are the "breadwinner moms".

But to lump all these millions of women together is simplistic. This story of financial revolution is really two stories.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 19, 2013 at 10:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is backing an organisation which it says is a credit to ethical lending in Dudley.

The Church of England deposited £15,000 from its Social Responsibility Fund with Castle & Crystal Credit Union.

Unlike many banks and payday loan companies, credit unions are co-operatives with no external shareholders and only lend money which has been deposited by its members.

Robert Higham, diocesan secretary for the Diocese of Worcester, said: “With a well established credit union in our community, it gives people in need of affordable financial services somewhere to turn and helps them to make ends meet.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ledgers of the country's credit unions enjoyed a boost this week, as dioceses and bishops deposited money, backing up warm words.

In a personal letter that is being sent out to 8000 members of the clergy in mid-November, the Archbishop of Canterbury urges them to support their local credit union: "Our faith in Christ calls us to love the poor and vulnerable with our actions. That is why the Church must be actively involved in supporting the development of real lending alternatives, such as credit unions."

More than 40 bishops are taking up the call immediately, and at least 11 of them planned to mark International Credit Union Day yesterday by opening accounts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With just two days to go before an Oct. 17 deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit, 51% of the public views a rise in the nation’s debt limit as “absolutely essential” in order to avoid an Half View Debt Limit Increase as Essential, More than a Third Say it is Noteconomic crisis, while 36% think the country can go past the deadline without major problems.

Public concern over breaching the debt limit deadline has risen only slightly from a week ago, when 47% said a rise in the debt limit was essential and 39% said it was not.

Those who see no dire economic consequences resulting from going past Thursday’s deadline are not only skeptical about the timing – most say there is no need to raise the debt limit at all. Nearly a quarter of all Americans (23%) – including 37% of Republicans and 52% of Tea Party Republicans – believe the debt limit does not need to be raised at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Using an overdraft at a high street bank can cost more than taking out a payday loan, research has shown.

Which?, the consumer group which conducted the study, said that the mainstream credit industry was in as much need of regulation as the much-criticised fringe players.

The research shows authorised overdrafts with a leading bank can be as costly as a payday loan with companies such as Wonga. For example, borrowing £100 for 31 days will cost £30 with a Halifax authorised overdraft or £20 with some Santander accounts.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 14, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In certain parts of America, the word fiancé does not mean what it used to. I first became aware of this when I was reporting a story in a small town in Wisconsin a couple of years ago and “Bug” Smith, a 50-year-old man who worked as a machinist introduced me to his “fiancée.” I was about to say “Congratulations!” but something stopped me. Their union did not have the air of expectant change about it. From their domestic surroundings, it looked like they lived basically as a married couple already, his boots next to hers by the front door, pictures of kids above the mantel. I later found out they’d been living together for 15 years and had two children.

ince then I have come across this phenomenon dozens of times, almost always in working-class couples, and usually younger ones. Someone will introduce me to his or her fiancé. But what they mean is more like my “steady lady” or my “steady man.” It could mean the person they are living with, or the father or mother of their child. It could also just mean the person they’ve been dating for a long time....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 12, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....the Federal Disability Insurance Program...serves nearly 12 million people -- up 20 percent in the last six years -- and has a budget of $135 billion. That's more than the government spent last year on the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the Labor Department combined. It's been called a "secret welfare system" with it's own "disability industrial complex," a system ravaged by waste and fraud. A lot of people want to know what's going on. Especially Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Tom Coburn: Go read the statute. If there's any job in the economy you can perform, you are not eligible for disability. That's pretty clear. So, where'd all those disabled people come from?

The Social Security Administration, which runs the disability program says the explosive surge is due to aging baby boomers and the lingering effects of a bad economy. But Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Subcommittee for Investigations -- who's also a physician -- says it's more complicated than that. Last year, his staff randomly selected hundreds of disability files and found that 25 percent of them should never have been approved -- another 20 percent, he said, were highly questionable.

Read it all or better still watch the video.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National Deficit* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the end, we have incentives for insurers not to compete, for customers not to care about price, and for insurers to drive up the cost of care. Not much of a marketplace, is it?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 7, 2013 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ccording to Fidelity Investments, 2013 graduates who had borrowed had an average of $35,200 in college-related debt, so lots of millennials bring debt into their marriages. The average household headed by someone under 35 carried $89,500 in debt in 2010, including mortgage debt, the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances shows. (That's up from $53,700 in 1989, measured in 2010 dollars.)

The first thing to do is have an open conversation with your spouse in which you both disclose all the skeletons in your financial closets. You should also make a plan for tackling that debt that makes clear whether each person will help pay down the other's debt or if it's the responsibility of the borrower alone. Before even getting married, you should also share credit reports with your spouse so you can work to improve your scores in advance of a major purchase, says Theresa Fette, CEO of Provident Trust Group in Las Vegas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Obamacare is not primarily an entitlement program. The entitlement component — the exchange subsidies — will involve about 2 percent of Americans during the first year. (Others will be added to Medicaid, which has been around since 1965.) About 20 million Americans will eventually get subsidized insurance — a check that goes not to the individual but to insurance companies. The remaining 170 million Americans will not experience Obama­care as a sugary treat but as a series of complex regulatory changes that may make their existing insurance more costly, less generous and less secure.

The main problem with Obamacare is not its addictive generosity; it is its poor, unsustainable design. Its finances depend on forcing large numbers of young and healthy people to buy insurance — yet it makes their insurance more costly and securing coverage less urgent. (Because you can get coverage during each year’s enrollment period at the same price whether you’re healthy or sick, the incentive to buy coverage when healthy is much diminished.)

Heavy insurance regulations will lead some employers to restructure their plans, dump employees into the public exchanges or make greater use of part-time workers. In order to meet a few worthy goals — helping the poor buy insurance and covering preexisting conditions — Obamacare seems destined to destabilize much of our current health system.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 6, 2013 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whenever I criticize the Wild West ethics of the in vitro fertilization industry, I hear from heartbroken people who tell me they would do “anything” to have a baby. I sympathize with the heartache of childlessness. But the willingness of many to do—and of the IVF industrial complex to sell—anything leads to a “me first” sense of reproductive entitlement.

We already know that IVF is no longer limited to infertile married couples—with women in their sixties even using the technique to get pregnant. Now, the universal condition of having two biological parents is about to be shattered.

The United Kindom’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has approved the use of “three-parent IVF” by which eggs from two women are combined and fertilized, creating an embryo with two biological mothers and one father. The point (for now) is to allow parents with mitochondrial disease to have a biologically related child without passing on their condition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'Capitalism With A Human Face' was the title of a well-known book written by Sir Samuel Brittan, a leading economic commentator, shortly before the year 2000.

Sadly, the financial calamities of the first decade of the 21st century have revealed that – sometimes at least – capitalism has a very far from human face. Indeed, more than occasionally it has seemed to have the countenance of a monster.

But now, under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, it looks as though the Church of England is attempting to give capitalism the opportunity to develop a new appearance – even a Christ-like face.

The start of this month has seen the news that Justin Welby is hoping to draw up a ten-year action plan with the aim of forcing payday lenders such as Wonga out of business.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Consumers seeking more information on their new options under the Affordable Care Act were met with long delays, error messages and a largely non-working federal insurance exchange and call center Tuesday morning.

Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the health insurance exchanges, a key pillar of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Some of the issues appeared to subside just after 12 p.m. Central time, with some users reporting success in viewing new insurance products offered in Illinois as part of the law.

But others continued to have problems into Tuesday afternoon. For most of Tuesday, attempts to log on to the system were met with error messages: "We have a lot of visitors on our site right now, and we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the log-in page. Thank you for your patience."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is preparing a “ten-year plan” to put payday lenders such as Wonga out of business.

A Church of England task force will, in collaboration with the Church of Scotland, make church buildings available to credit unions and recruit expert churchgoers as volunteers to help to run them. A leading financier is to meet the archbishop this week on whether he would lead the task force, which will include academics who, it is hoped, will produce a radical new theology of finance.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here we go again. The consortium that has just bought 314 branches from the Royal Bank of Scotland is pledging to launch an “ethical” bank. Now, where have we heard that before?

Of course, it was Co-op. The one that claimed its mutual ownership was more righteous than those banks with nasty shareholders and which said it would not get into the sort of mess that brought down the big banks. Well, not until it did get into the same sort of mess, which cast doubt over its entire banking operations.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The federal government on Sunday morning barreled toward its first shutdown in 17 years after the Republican-run House, choosing a hard line, voted to attach a one-year delay of President Obama’s health care law and a repeal of a tax to pay for it to legislation to keep the government running.

The votes, just past midnight, followed an often-angry debate, with members shouting one another down on the House floor. Democrats insisted that Republicans refused to accept their losses in 2012, were putting contempt for the president over the good of the country and would bear responsibility for a shutdown. Republicans said they had the public on their side and were acting to protect Americans from a harmful and unpopular law that had already proved a failure.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 29, 2013 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Health insurance under Obamacare will cost individuals at least $2,988 a year on average, a price that Republican opponents may target as out-of-reach for many Americans who don’t qualify for U.S. subsidies.

While the $249 monthly payment is intended to be discounted through tax credits, less than half of people now buying insurance on their own may get that help....

The law’s long-term success “will depend on the changes that are made over the next couple of years to address the affordability issue,” said Brian Wright, an insurance analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. in New York. “If you have modifications that can help address those issues, then it will ultimately be successful. If not, then it’s an open question.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance

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Posted September 26, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US home-ownership rate has dropped to an 18-year-low at about 65 per cent – down from a peak of 70 per cent before the crash – and economists say it is set to fall as low as 60 per cent. Some industry watchers are now asking if the US, after a multi-decade push towards home ownership, is shifting towards being a nation of renters.

“With the housing bubble bursting, the home-ownership rate was always going to drop. In some respects this has been healthy as the country has been reversing some of the excess. Not everybody should have been homeowners,” says Michael Gapen, senior economist at Barclays. “But there is now an open question about where it will settle.”

Read it all (if needed another link may be found there. ).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 24, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A barrage of new statistics on American living standards offers some grounds for optimism. A typical American household’s income has stopped falling for the first time in five years, and the poverty rate has stopped rising. At last, it seems, the expansion is strong enough at least to stabilise ordinary people’s incomes.

But the main message is a grim one. Most of the growth is going to an extraordinarily small share of the population: 95% of the gains from the recovery have gone to the richest 1% of people, whose share of overall income is once again close to its highest level in a century. The most unequal country in the rich world is thus becoming even more so.

You do not have to be an egalitarian to worry about this trend. Although some degree of inequality is good for an economy, creating incentives to work hard and take risks, the recent concentration of income gains among the most affluent is both politically dangerous and economically damaging.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 22, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More Americans are struggling to afford food -- nearly as many as did during the recent recession. The 20.0% who reported in August that they have, at times, lacked enough money to buy the food that they or their families needed during the past year, is up from 17.7% in June, and is the highest percentage recorded since October 2011. The percentage who struggle to afford food now is close to the peak of 20.4% measured in November 2008, as the global economic crisis unfolded.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 18, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Census Bureau is out with the annual report on incomes and poverty. And while you might think that after years of stagnant incomes and elevated poverty rates, we would be inured to the depressing facts contained therein, it still somehow has the power to shock.

For my money, the most depressing fact about the economy is not the fact that household incomes were basically flat in 2012 (the real median household income was down to $51,017 from $51,100 in 2011, a statistically insignificant change). It wasn't even the fact that 15 percent of the U.S. population was living in poverty, according to the official, flawed definition of the term.

Nah, the most depressing result comes when you look at the longer view of household incomes in the United States.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The next big movement in Massachusetts health care may come not from the state’s world-famous hospitals or its cutting-edge research labs, but from houses of worship.

Stepping up pressure on the health care industry to control spiraling costs, which are crimping family and government budgets, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization will host a forum next Tuesday at Temple Israel in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area to grill hospital and insurance leaders about the affordability of medical care.

Top executives of major hospital groups, such as Partners HealthCare System, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Steward Health Care System, and leading insurers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Tufts Health Plan, have accepted invitations to the event, which is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralState Government* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted September 13, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US Federal Trade Commission has sanctioned a home video monitoring company for privacy violations, indicating the US regulator plans to closely evaluate the security promises of the growing number of internet-connected consumer devices now flooding the market.

This is the FTC’s first action taken against a product from the so-called “internet of things”, which includes a range of new, popular gadgets, from Samsung’s wearable “smartwatch” to Google Glass to baby monitors linked to mobile devices.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 5, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in July that Wonga took advantage of poor households struggling to get by in austerity conditions, and pledged to drive the "morally wrong" company out of existence by launching the church's own not-for-profit credit unions as an alternative for Wonga's customers.

On Tuesday Errol Damelin, chief executive and founder of Wonga, described the challenge as "complimentary" and said he doubted it would have an impact on Wonga's business.

"In the UK on the consumer side, we reject about two thirds of applicants we get. The market that the Church would be looking at, we think, is mostly the market for people who don't get accepted for Wonga loans," Damelin said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 4, 2013 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Unfortunately, we seem to be entering another of those periods of elevated risk,” economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote last week. Researchers at RBC Capital Markets sounded even more bleak. “Just when you thought the U.S. economy was ready to break out of its lackluster 2 percent growth pace that has dominated the recovery,” they wrote, “reality hits.”

More economic turbulence would be particularly tough for poor and middle-class American workers, who are still struggling amid the historically weak growth following the recession. The typical worker’s income has fallen since the recession ended more than four years ago, and the economy, still far from full employment, is creating far more low-paying jobs than good-paying ones. Polls show that workers remain discouraged by the economic picture, with more than half believing the United States is still in recession.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Congress overwhelmingly approved a measure last month to relieve spiraling student debt, churches probably didn’t realize the problem hits closer to home than expected—many pastors are leaving seminary and divinity school with tens of thousands of dollars in loans.

“It’s becoming a huge issue,” said Bill Wilson, president of the Center for Congregational Health. “I’ve heard of totals approaching $60,000. I had one resident who showed up with $40,000 between school and credit cards.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted August 26, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite promises by President Obama that people can keep the insurance they have once Obamacare is in full effect, millions will have to upgrade their policies to meet the benefit standards laid out by the Affordable Care Act. The measure will be in full swing this January.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 24, 2013 at 10:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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