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Birdseye on Citizens’ Wealth in Atlanta

World of CokeAtlanta It’s not often I get something that seems like a focus group on Citizen Wealth and the issues it raises, but that’s almost exactly what I enjoyed in Atlanta in a class of 35 on the “Economics of Poverty” where as part of the required reading they had gone through my book with a fine tooth comb.  When I asked the students how many of them had issues with student loans and thought there was a problem with how much talk there was about education as a poverty reduction strategy versus how little action there was economically that made that a reality, not surprisingly all but one of the hands of the students shot up.  The one was on full scholarship!

The questions were music.

“Why didn’t the IRS do more outreach to ensure participation in the Earned Income Tax Credit?”

“Why didn’t the government move the program away from the IRS to someone who would make more happen with it?”

In Atlanta where I found later that foreclosures are a big enough issue that Ken Johnson, the Southern Regional Director of the AFL-CIO told me they were quietly sponsoring a hearing on the lack of activity on modifications for various unions, I was not surprised to hear many questions on why so little was being done in this area as well.  This was a class under Professor Fred Brooks at Georgia State University and the students were social work or sociology undergrads or graduate students, so I was not surprised that there questions were closer to the ground.  One woman asked an especially poignant question about a friend who was droning on student loans, penalties and collection fees, and trying to somehow put the pieces together.  I was saddened to suggest she consider bankruptcy, though I warned her that I no longer believed that was sufficient to escape student loan burdens, it at least might give her some relief.

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