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DMI's Year in Review, Fixing the Health Care Mess, Infrastructure Investments for Productivity and Opportunity
PSN on January 15, 2009 - 1:11pm
Year in Review- This report by the Drum Major Institute highlights the best and worst in public policy across the nation, including cleaning up ports in Los Angeles, community programs to prevent foreclosure, cracking down on cheating workers in New York, comprehensive health care in San Francisco, and taming toxic toys. It also highlights national and local trends, including a "state of the cities" report on how five municipalities wrestled with major challenges in 2008.
Three reports on health care all spotlight the need and economic opportunity for the nation from reforming our dysfunctional health care system:
- American Health Care Since 1994: The Unacceptable Status Quo - Highlighting how our health care system has continued to fail Americans, this report by the Center for American Progress emphasizes the need to reinvigorate the movement for comprehensive reform of our health care system.
- Single Payer for All: An Economic Stimulus Plan for the Economy - Establishing a national single-payer style health care reform system would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy by creating 2.6 million new jobs, and infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues, with another $100 billion in wages into the U.S. economy, according to a new study by the Institute for Health & Socio-Economic Policy.
- Health Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts - More than 97 percent of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, with only 2.6 percent of state residents remaining uninsured, according to this study by the Urban Institute.
While national recovery investments are critical, the following reports make clear that as important is making sure they produce long-term gains in both economic productivity and opportunity for those previously isolated from prosperity:
- Memo to the President: Invest in Long-Term Prosperity - This memo by the Brookings Institution argues that the nation has failed to focus infrastructure investments in ways that maximize productivity gains for the economy. Any new package of recovery spending should be designed to better link existing aviation, freight, mass transit and passenger rail networks, invest in smarter electrical grids and retrofitting buildings for energy gains, and commit to a metropolitan strategy that links transportation, housing and education investments that strengthen overall metropolitan economic development around the country.
- The Geography of Opportunity: Building Communities of Opportunity in Massachusetts - Using sophisticated mapping, this study by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation highlights how neighborhood conditions play a substantial role in the life outcomes of inhabitants, where many experience physical isolation along racial lines from areas of job opportunity. Low-income whites were far more likely to live in high opportunity areas than low-income African American or Latinos. The report recommends stronger local economic investment in such communities, better transit to link isolated communities to jobs, and better management of sprawling growth to integrate low and high opportunity areas.
Downtime: Workers forced to settle for fewer hours - The number of involuntary part-time workers has nearly doubled just in the past year to over 8 million people, mostly driven by full-time workers accepting cutbacks in hours, according to this snapshot by the Economic Policy Institute.
Cash for Clunkers - Cars which are 13 years or older account for only 25 percent of total miles driven in the US, but they produce 75 percent of all pollution from automobiles. This study by the Center for American Progress argues that an effective environmental program would create economic incentives to owners of those cars to either switch to an environmentally upgraded car or subsidize their use of mass transit instead of driving.
Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies - Challenging conventional wisdom, this report finds that online activity does not expose children to different threats of sexual predation than they face in the rest of their lives, according to this study by the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a coalition of groups based at Harvard's Berkman Center. The problem of bullying among children, both online and offline, poses a far more serious challenge than the sexual solicitation of minors by adults.