Wealth & Poverty

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The Atlanta City Council, along with the United Way, has committed $50 million  to help combat homelessness. This comes after news that the city’s largest shelter, Peachtree-Pine, will close by the end of August. Joining us is Rick Westbrook, Executive Director for Lost N Found, and Deirdre Oakley, Professor of Sociology for Georgia State University. 

Episode 785: The Starbury

Jul 21, 2017

When Stephon Marbury was eight years old, the Nike Air Jordan sneakers came out. Kids everywhere wanted to fly like Michael Jordan on the basketball court, and they wanted to wear the sneakers with his name on them too. But they were pricey. Stephon couldn't afford them. Lots of kids couldn't. For years, he wondered if there was a different way.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2014. Another version was also part of This American Life's Episode 543: Wake Up Now.

Keizers

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed promised a comprehensive new plan to address homelessness in his State of the City address in February. The mayor promised a new $50 million program, co-funded by the city and United Way. Yesterday, Atlanta’s city council approved its share of the funding as Reed’s office released details on the expansive plan.

In 1996, Bill Browder went to Russia to try to make a fortune. He made his money, but he also found himself in a fight with Russian oligarchs over money and power. And he lost. It cost him not just his companies, but the life of friend.

Episode 783: New Jersey Bails Out

Jul 12, 2017

Mustafa Willis was arrested for a crime he didn't commit. He was offered bail, but, because he couldn't afford to pay, he stayed locked up for months, punished for a crime he had only been accused of.

Bail has been around for centuries. It's supposed to protect the rights of defendants like Mustafa who haven't been convicted of anything yet. At the same time, bail gives courts an extra guarantee that people are going to show up for their trials. But can a system built on money ever be fair to the poor?

On today's show, we are going to explain every dollar the federal government spent last year — nearly $4 trillion — in 10 minutes.

And to get a real feel for how the money is divided up, we're going to divide up our 10 minutes exactly the way the government divided up the money last year. The more money a program gets from the government, the more time it gets from us.

We dig into social security's origin story, find a nice thing lobbyists do, and write a haiku about infrastructure. Experience the budget in real time.

Money & Relationships

Jul 7, 2017

This month, hosts Matt Goren and Michael Thomas get into the often uncomfortable topic of managing money issues with your significant other.

An estimated 222,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in June, according to the monthly employment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

"The job gains were better than expected — most economists had predicted a gain of 180,000 jobs," NPR's Chris Arnold reports for our Newscast unit.

The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent — a 16-year low that was hit in May.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2014.

We tend to get obsessed with things that get more expensive over time — college tuition, say, or health care. But lots of things have actually gotten cheaper in real terms. Things made by machines. Things like consumer electronics.

When your life savings gets torched in a house fire or put through a shredder, there is a roomful of people who may be able to help: a team of specialists with the legal authority and technical skills to say whether messed up money lives or dies. They are the people of the Mutilated Currency Division.

On this episode, we go inside the Mutilated Currency Division. We find stories of a cow with an appetite for currency, a hundred thousand dollars stuffed into a mailbox, and a court battle between the government and millions of dollars in mutilated money

Note: This episode originally ran in 2011.

Six years ago, we traveled to a place where people are trying to live without government interference. A place where you can use bits of silver to buy uninspected bacon. A place where a 9-year-old will sell you alcohol.

It's hard to change your mind: You have to confront the limits of your intellect and concede that your adversaries have a point. It's awkward and embarrassing.

We think it's brave to change your view. So, today's show is in praise of flip-floppers. It's dedicated to those who have looked in the mirror, questioned themselves, and corrected course.

After Legal Troubles, Atlanta Homeless Shelter To Close

Jun 23, 2017
Keizers

An Atlanta homeless shelter will close its doors for good after years of legal battles.

Media outlets report that Peachtree Pine homeless shelter will close Aug. 28. Its building will be turned over to the downtown development group Central Atlanta Progress.

Episode 779: Shrimp Fight Club

Jun 21, 2017

What Senator Jeff Flake hates: frivolous government spending; what he loves: puns.

So, every year, he releases a list of what he considers wasteful government expenditures. It's called a wastebook. He titles his with an over-the-top pun. The 2015 edition was "The Farce Awakens." The one from this January goes by "PORKemon Go." When he's presenting his reports to congress, Flake looks like he's having the time of his life.

Eighty years ago, Qatar's primary industry was pearl-diving. Today, the tiny Persian Gulf nation is the richest country in the world per capita. It's also in a lot of trouble.

Saudi Arabia and several nearby countries have blockaded tiny Qatar, cut off all trade, closed the border. It seemed like overnight, Qatar went from being on top of the world to being a regional pariah.

So we wondered: What's going on?

Flickr / Right to the City Alliance

Atlanta’s demographics are in flux, and city neighborhoods are following suit. A new study from Georgia State University took a comprehensive look at the last 45 years in the Atlanta metro area. It found the city is more diverse, more educated and wealthier than ever. That sounds like good news. The bad news is, the city has lost five percent of its affordable housing units every single year since 2012.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

Frederick Hutson is an entrepreneur whose biggest early venture landed him in prison for nearly five years—distributing marijuana through UPS and FedEx.

In prison, he became determined to design a business plan for when he got out. He spent his days drawing up spreadsheets by hand, making plan after plan, no matter how ludicrous.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET.

Federal Reserve policymakers have raised their target for the benchmark federal funds interest rate by a quarter-point, to a range of 1 percent to 1.25 percent.

fatseth / Foter

Thousands of Georgians were dropped from food stamp benefits this year – roughly 62 percent of the state’s recipients. The state told them they had an April 1 deadline to find a job, or lose their benefits. We talk with Melissa Johnson, Senior Policy Analyst for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. Also Craig Schneider, reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution joins us.

In the 20th century, Oneida was a household name: One of America's biggest flatware manufacturers. The company's knives and forks were a symbol of middle-class elegance. The advertising was so prolific, Oneida came to represent the very idea of a well-set table. The company was as American as the rolling hills and open farmland of Sherrill, NY - near Oneida - where the flatware was made.

There is nobody more sunny and optimistic than a politician writing a budget, and Donald Trump is no different.

His budget promises a golden age of new jobs and progress, with tax cuts and a border wall to boot. To make all this possible, it assumes one thing: that the economy will grow at 3% every year. This is very hard. Other countries do it all the time, but the United States hasn't consistently seen that kind of growth in decades.

On today's show, we come up with a plan to get there, but Donald Trump might not like it.

Do you know your credit score? More importantly do you truly understand the concept of credit?

In this episode hosts Matt Goren and Michael Thomas of UGA's College of Family and Consumer Sciences take a shot at simplifying an often complicated issue, and even manage to have some fun with it! Take a listen to find out more.

The pace of hiring in the U.S. slowed last month. Employers added just 138,000 jobs. But the unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent, the lowest it has been in 16 years.

The monthly snapshot from the Labor Department is one of the most closely watched indicators of the health of the economy.

Episode 775: The Pigweed Killer

Jun 2, 2017

The border of Arkansas and Missouri is a land of open skies and long stretches of farmland. It's also the scene for a fight against a weed – specifically the pigweed, which will overwhelm a crop in a season.

Updated at 11:46 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs in May, according to the monthly jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning.

The national unemployment rate nudged lower, to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent — a 16-year low. The 4.4 percent level had been the lowest since since 2007, before the recession hit.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

Hernando de Soto's parents always talked about Peru as he was growing up. His family had moved to Switzerland after a coup. They were kicked out of the country, and for many years de Soto thought of Peru as this magical place.

When he was 38, de Soto moved back to Peru. He knew the country was poor, but he didn't really understand the extent of the poverty until he got there.

Warning: This episode has explicit language, for unavoidable and soon-to-be obvious reasons.

Growing up in California, Simon Tam had some tough moments. He was Chinese-American, and in middle school, kids called him all kinds of racial slurs.

Those moments stuck with him.

Simon grew up, and eventually started a band that was beginning to take off. He decided on a band name that said something about being Asian. Something that asserted an identity. He picked "The Slants," as a way to own a stereotype and turn it into something completely different.

A few years ago, a rumor started going around the casino world. There was a crew of Russians hitting up casinos across the U.S. They'd roll up, find their favorite slot machine, play for a couple hours, and walk out with thousands of dollars. They didn't lose.

All of it was caught on camera, but there was no evidence that these men ever physically tampered with the slot machines. There was, however, something unusual about the way the men played: They always kept one hand buried in their pockets or in the bags they carried with them.

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