Fixes explores solutions to major social problems. Each week, it examines creative initiatives that can tell us about the difference between success and failure. It is written by David Bornstein, author of “How to Change the World,” and founder of dowser.org, and Tina Rosenberg, contributing writer for The New York Times magazine and author of “Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World.” Readers with ideas for future columns can write to the authors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Instead of working in a sleek Midtown bank, however, Jaimes’ office is a cubicle in the back of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation in Washington Heights, where people can get services ranging from legal representation in eviction cases to asthma management. Jaimes, a native of Colombia, helps clients facing arrears in their rent, mountains of credit card debt, and credit scores that prevent them from renting apartments or getting jobs.
His services are free to clients. Jaimes is employed by Neighborhood Trust, a nonprofit that provides financial advice to low-income New Yorkers. Neighborhood Trust is the largest operator of New York City’s Financial Empowerment Centers, which were established in June, 2008. Jonathan Mintz, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, said the centers were established to “take a look at the whole picture. How do you walk out of here not just literally with reduced debt, which is great, of course, but with your arms around your finances?”
Often, to save money you need to change systems or add new functions, not eliminate them.
The TCM was developed over the past two decades by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing to fill an urgent gap in our health system, one that is likely to be familiar to many readers: millions of chronically ill older patients (or their spouses, partners or children) are poorly prepared to take proper care of themselves or their loved ones after a hospital stay. (According to a recent report, there are more than 42 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States.)
Aravind can practice compassion successfully because it is run like a McDonald’s.
Dr. V started by establishing an 11-bed hospital with six beds reserved for patients who could not pay and five for those who would pay modest rates. He persuaded his siblings to join him in mortgaging their houses, Read more…
Joseph saw how their lives spiraled out of control and created havoc for others. “I was seeing people who had drug and alcohol related charges come back over and over again,” he recalled. As the drug use intensified, so did criminality. “When people have serious alcohol and drug problems, it won’t take long before they’re stealing from their grandparents.” And when the pill market got tight, drug dealers pushed out more heroin.
What the defendants needed more than punishment was treatment. But delays in the justice system and lack of coordination with social service agencies meant that opportunities to intervene were regularly missed. Between a defendant’s arrest and trial, a case can drag on for a year or more.
Income and growth data don’t capture the tremendous gains in quality of life in poor countries.
How do you decide where to give? People want to give where their money will be used effectively, of course. For many, that means researching on Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau’s Web site to see which charities are well run and take only a small percentage of donations for administration or fund-raising needs.
Calculating efficiency is important, but some charities do useful things the numbers can’t capture.
“When people think of giving, they look at the issue of whether a charity has a 10 or 20 percent administration cost, and that makes the difference for them,” said Toby Ord, a researcher in moral philosophy at Oxford University and founder of an organization based there called Giving What We Can. “But in reality some things they could be funding are hundreds or thousands of times more effective than other things. People never guess there could be such large discrepancies. Instead of a 20 percent difference, there can be a 1,000 percent difference.”
Landlessness is a huge problem all over the world. More equal distribution of land is a valuable goal — it is efficient in both fighting poverty and producing food.
But redistributing land is one of the most difficult and controversial of all political tasks. A history of land reform is a history of revolution. The concentration of land in the hands of the rich is a prime source of conflict. When a leftist movement has won, its first action has often been land reform — the further to the left the new government, the less likely it is to compensate landowners (and the more likely to shoot them, which was the norm in China and the Soviet Union).
But confiscatory land reform is not the only kind. Many programs have paid landowners market value for their land. Perhaps the world’s most influential architect of a more democratic land reform is the University of Washington law professor Roy Prosterman, who founded the Rural Development Institute, now known as Landesa. Prosterman and his group have worked with dozens of countries to design market-based land reform. But his ideas, too, have been used for political ends; if you know Prosterman’s name, it’s because you’ve heard of Land to the Tiller, the United States-backed land reform in Vietnam during the war. The United States adopted Prosterman’s ideas in Vietnam, the Philippines and El Salvador to turn peasants away from leftist guerrillas.
Landesa.orgToday, political forces are arrayed against land reform. India, for example, had a land reform program since the 1960s that set ceilings on land ownership. Read more…