In the News

Ohio Citizen Action wants a federal elections panel to put the "public" back in "public hearing." The activist group questioned on Monday why public testimony won't be taken at Wednesday's meeting of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Javier Silva, senior research associate with public policy and advocacy group Demos, found that the "majority of households has used the equity [in their homes] to pay for living expenses and pay down credit-card debt."
 
Beware: there are plenty of other folks out there waiting to help you take money out of your home equity for any purpose.
Experts debate if the housing market is an overinflated bubble, or a strong seller's market.
 
The forum was sponsored by Demos, a public advocacy group that among other issues concentrates on questions of economic opportunity.
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Flaw-proof election machines. Easy-to-read ballots. Registration systems that catch double-voters or dead voters still on the rolls. For top state election officials meeting here, the pressure is on to make sure the election changes demanded after President Bush's disputed 2000 victory are in place by the Jan.
Senior Policy Associate Javier Silva examines the new financial insecurities created as more Americans refinance their homes.
 
That's the short version of a new and disturbing study by Silva called "House of Cards: Refinancing the American Dream." It shows how millions of U.S. households are falling into a vicious cycle of tapping their credit cards and then refinancing their mortgages to extract needed cash from the equity in their homes.
Gen Xers yearn to carve a new direction for society. Unfortunately, the direction appears to be straight into debt. Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 now boast the second-highest rate of bankruptcy, just behind the 35-44 group. The average credit card debt for this group increased by 55 percent between 1992 and 2001, with the average young adult household now spending approximately 24 percent of its income on debt payments. Really want to worry?

As tuition costs and enrollment rose through the 1990s, grant money did not keep pace, meaning students have been shouldering an ever-increasing share of their education costs. While before, most were able to finance their studies with grants and part-time work, loans are now inescapable for many.

"This generation is the first to shoulder the costs of their college primarily through interest-bearing loans rather than grants," Draut said.

Forget the flu. From Wall Street to Main Street, from academia to the locker room, America's greatest epidemic may be cheating.
 
David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, detects "a pattern of widespread cheating throughout U.S. society." He defines cheating as "breaking the rules to get ahead academically, professionally, or financially."
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A group of New York City councilmembers released a report last week highlighting the pitfalls of credit card use.
 
"Too many Americans are drowning in credit card debt as a way to deal with the rise in the cost of living as their incomes have stagnated or dropped," said Tamara Draut, Director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos. "It's really has been the band-aid holding the family budget together since the 90s."
Steve Carbo, director of the Democracy Program, said voters should be allowed to cast provisional votes even if they vote in the wrong precinct, a practice many states now forbid.