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Making Ends Meet: How Should We Spread Prosperity and Improve Opportunity? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The issue guide, Making Ends Meet: How Should We Spread Prosperity and Improve Opportunity?, from National Issues Forums Institute and Kettering Foundation, was published December 2015. This guide will provide the framework for deliberation that will happen in 2016 between January and May. The results from the deliberation will be given to U.S. policy makers and elected officials in May 2016. Below is an excerpt from the guide and a short video about the guide. Download a free copy of the PDF on NIFI’s site here.

NIFI_MakingEndsMeetFrom the guide…

For many Americans, the recovery from the 2007  recession, a recovery that officially began in 2009, feels very remote, or nonexistent. Even as the stock market surges and millions of jobs have been created, they see a very different picture.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: “Create New Opportunities”
We should make it easier for people to start new enterprises that will improve their circumstances. Whether it’s starting a house painting business on the side or opening a restaurant, when individuals start new firms, it helps spur economic growth. More skilled tradespeople are needed, for example, as construction bounces back. Half of all private-sector jobs in the US are at small businesses, and in recent years small businesses have supplied two-thirds of all new jobs.

Option Two: “Strengthen the Safety Net”
We should secure and expand safeguards so that changes in the economy don’t push people into poverty or leave families with children homeless or hungry. In the last decade, millions of people found themselves unemployed or underemployed with few or no benefits, sometimes indefinitely. Fewer people work with one company for decades, employee benefits have shrunk, technology and globalization have eliminated jobs, and more people are employed in freelance work. We need to make sure people will not face catastrophic losses as they adapt to these changes. To do this, we should strengthen the unemployment insurance program, protect workers’ retirement, and make benefits more portable.

Option Three: “Reduce Inequality”
We should shrink the income gap. Today, the richest 10 percent of the country’s population earn more than half of its total income. It is not right that CEOs make hundreds of times more than their employees, even as their companies cut workers’ hours to avoid paying overtime and offering benefits. Some inequality helps drive people to succeed and become wealthier, but if people can’t move into or stay in the middle class, or if the wealthy manipulate the system to their benefit, then we all lose. To reduce the large gaps between the very rich and the rest of society, schools should be funded more equally, we should do more to control college costs, and people who don’t go to college should be able to get decent-paying jobs that allow them to stay in the middle class.

About NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

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Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/groups/new-issue-guide-making-ends-meet-how-should-we-spread-prosperity-and-improve-opportunity

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