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This could be the guest house.


Inequality has gotten worse than you think.

An investigation by former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj is still perfectly apt and shows that the problem isn't just your classic case of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."


As much as we hear about wealth inequality these days, one disparity remains mostly ignored: the gap between the wealthy and the ridiculously wealthy.

Minhaj spoke to Richard Reeves, an economist with the Brookings Institute, who painted a dark picture:

wealth, comedy, Hasan Minhaj

Wealth inequality on the rise.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

The study Reeves refers to points to the growing wealth of the top 10th of the top 1%:

"The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth share, from 7% in 1979 to 22% in 2012 — a level almost as high as in 1929. The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined."

And no one's paid any attention.

Between the cries of the 45.3 million people in poverty and a dwindling middle class inevery state, the voice of the average millionaire is all but drowned out.

the one percent, inequality, investment

Millionaires unconcerned with financial disparity.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

But not all millionaires are worried about growing inequality in the top 1%.

In his search for a concerned millionaire, Minhaj met Morris Pearl, a retired investment banking director and member of an organization called The Patriotic Millionaires. Minhaj was baffled by what Pearl had to say:

resources, rich, Ronald Reagan

Investment banking pays well.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

What about trickle-down economics?

Trickle-down theory was popularized under Ronald Reagan's presidency. The idea was that clearing a path for the rich to make more money would spur more private investment, which would lead to more jobs and higher wages for all workers.

tax breaks, income, classism

Attempting the preach the reverse.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

Reagan put trickle-down theory into practice in two basic ways: by lowering taxes for the wealthy and by freezing wages for the poor.

In 1981, he cut the top marginal income tax rate — which only applies to the highest-income households — from 70% to 50%. Then in 1986, he more than doubled-down by slashing the rate to 28%. (The current rate is 39.6%.) And under Reagan's leadership, the minimum wage was frozen, even as costs of living were rising.

Pearl and other so-called Patriotic Millionaires think top one-percenters like themselves should pay more taxes.

trickle-down theory, financial institutions, comedy show

Making rich people richer.

All GIFs via Comedy Central.

Not only that, they believe raising the minimum wage is critical to reducing inequality.

OK, maybe not everyone — including millionaires — are convinced that giving more money to the rich will fix the economy. So why do our policies do just the opposite?


This article originally appeared on 3.23.15

Health

I never realized how dumb our cities are until I saw what a smart one looks like.

There's community and there's commuting. Let's not confuse the two.

Image created from YouTube video.

A busy freeway.



With the population growing and most of it happening in cities, these Canadian journalists wanted to take a closer look at whether our sprawling modern villages are up to the task of housing more humans.

Over half of the world lives in urban areas.


That includes over 80% of people in the United States and 81% of folks in Canada, where this report was produced. Therein lies the problem.

pollution, culture, traffic

The busy traffic in the cities.

GIF created from YouTube video.

A lot of modern cities are being described as obesogenic environments.

Dr. Karen Lee can tell you what that means:

city design, infrastructure, obesogenic

Design of cities makes us sick.

Image created from YouTube video.

Lee says our living environment has shaped public health for the worse:

"The ways in which we've been designing our cities have been making us sick. ... We've inadvertently designed physical activity out of our lives."

A healthy diet and regular physical activity are some of the most important things we can do for our health as individuals, but flawed city design has restricted opportunities for people to make those choices, which has contributed greatly to what are essentially public health epidemics — ones that require public health solutions.

Most cities have been designed for cars, not for people.

Look out your window and see for yourself. Brent Toderian, former chief city planner for Vancouver, says it's a big problem:

mental health, economy, money work

Cities are designed around using cars.

Image created from YouTube video.

Toderian says city design that makes it easier for people to get around instead of cars is one way to make physical activity a more natural part of our lives. And a lot of major cities are beginning to look to Latin America for ideas about how to achieve that.

In the 1990s, Medellín, Colombia, was one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

The constant threat of drug-related violence made it a place people wanted to escape.

constitution, hardiness, gridlock

Looking over Medellín, Colombia.

Image from YouTube video.

But today, Medellín stands as a model of creative urban design.

The city was desperate for change. And they may not have had the resources of the world's richest city, but with a few smart infrastructure investments, like outdoor escalators, suspended gondolas, and public gathering spaces, Medellín has been transformed into a place where people are proud to live.

escalator, Medell\u00edn, population

A system of escalators

GIF created from YouTube video.

gondola, fitness, well being

Gondolas moving people throughout the city.

GIF created from YouTube video.

Medellín's escalators cost only $6 million to build — "peanuts in the scheme of modern infrastructure projects.”

Architect Carlos Escobar sees these developments as much more than just infrastructure upgrades:

"The new transportation system in Medellín ... is not only a physical solution. It is not only transportation. It is also a social instrument that involves the community, that integrates the community in all the city."

Medellín is more connected than it's ever been, which makes it easier for workers to get to their jobs, and it brings more action to the local economy, strengthens the community, AND encourages people to be physically active.

If you'd rather spend more time in your community than in your car, give this post a share and help spark more people's imaginations. The solutions are out there. And they're not as costly or far-fetched as a lot of us might think.

This was a fantastic news report by CBC News (great job, Canada!). Here's just a snippet, but check out the whole video if you wanna nerd out a little more like I did:

This article originally appeared on 03.10.15

Pop Culture

Businesses can succeed while still being ethical—just ask Warren Buffett

Buffett always considers 6 factors before making a business decision. And none of them have to do with making money.

Warren Buffett speaking at the 2015 Select USA Investment Summit.

True
TD Ameritrade

Warren Buffett isn't just rich. He's known for being ethical, straightforward, and wise. And also generous. Not just with his money but with his ideas.

Buffett straight up spelled out how he makes decisions on how to invest in and acquire businesses in a public letter sent to his shareholders. To be clear: His instincts and insights are what have made him such a rich man. And that's what he's sharing so openly with the world.

These are the six factors Warren Buffett says he considers when he's making big business decisions.

Maybe they could help the rest of us think through some tough decisions in our own lives? Let's see.


Maybe you, too, are investing billions of dollars. Or, uh, maybe not. But the day-to-day choices you have to make about life could be just as tough — and important. So let's see how his lessons could apply:

1. It's gotta be a big choice and a big win.

Buffett says he prefers to acquire "large purchases (at least $75 million of pre-tax earnings unless the business will fit into one of our existing units)." Aka, go big, go bold. Not everything has to be huge, but in tough times, sometimes doing the big, scary thing is how you reap the big, amazing reward.

2. The decision has to create value for you consistently and currently.

None of this "it'll pay off in the distant future" or "it just needs some elbow grease" stuff. Whatever you're choosing, make sure it's valuable and has concrete, real-life impact. Or, as Buffett says, the acquisition must have "demonstrated consistent earning power (future projections are of no interest to us, nor are 'turnaround' situations)."

File:President Barack Obama and Warren Buffett in the Oval Office ...commons.wikimedia.org

3. The decision will benefit everyone who's invested in it, and it won't leave anyone hanging.

Buffett wants "businesses earning good returns on equity while employing little or no debt," aka no one who's put time/effort/money/love into said life choice (or business move) will come out at the end with less than what they started with. Makes sense, right? Basically, don't screw people over with the choices you make. Have some heart and fairness.

4. Everything necessary for success should already be in place.

Buffett mentions that there must be "management in place" and that his company "can't supply it." Invest time and energy in things that are solid and have demonstrated reliability. That is, "don't build the ship while you sail it." Why? According to Buffett's logic, when making huge decisions, if the part that keeps makes the end result of your decision sustainable is already there, that's a very good sign.

5. The decision may be hard, but the terms should be simple.

Buffett wants simple businesses, saying — in his awesomely straightforward way — "if there's lots of technology, we won't understand it." Life isn't always simple and there's certainly a time for complexity, but the lesson here is a good one: If you're making a huge choice, don't overcomplicate it.


man sitting on mountain cliff facing white clouds rising one hand at golden hourPhoto by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

6. The options are clear and available.

Buffett refers to this availability, basically saying that the company has to have a price on it already and that his firm doesn't "want to waste our time or that of the seller by talking, even preliminarily, about a transaction when price is unknown." I take this to mean that the choice is a clear action. No negotiations necessary.

Bingo.

Now I'm not saying that this well-to-do investor has all the answers just because he has all the money, and I know it's a little out there to think of these investment acquisition tips as something you can apply to your own, non-billionaire life. But think about it. Fearlessness? Fairness? Preparation? These are some helpful themes we could all probably take a few lessons from.

So next time you're making a big decision, think about them. In a world where financial literacy isn't exactly the norm, looking at how financial greats make their decisions could be an interesting thing to try. Who knows? It might help you.

True
State Farm

It's not easy for the average person to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

It's hard for people with developmental disabilities too.

Rachel with another Path to Success student. All photos via Upworthy.


That's why Rachel Goldschmidt went to Your Path to Success (YPTS). Started by Dreams for Kids D.C., it's a mentorship program that helps adults with developmental disabilities improve their social skills and gain independence.

Goldschmidt had been diagnosed with developmental delays in speech and fine motor skills when she was 3 years old. As an adult, she was looking to strengthen her social comfortability.

She ended up doing so well in the program that she came back as a mentor, so she could help others too.

"Now that I’ve overcome my own challenges, I want to share those strategies with other young adults who have disabilities," says Goldschmidt.

Rachel Goldschmidt.

Her first mentee was 20-year-old Jada Williams.

Williams has hydrocephalus, which means there's a build up of cerebrospinal fluid in her brain — a condition that has left her developmentally disabled. She hoped to gain more confidence in social settings with YPTS.

Williams and Goldschmidt started the program somewhat timidly, but eventually they began to let each other in.

Williams and Goldschmidt hanging out at a soccer game.

They spent time together cleaning up Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., along with other students, but their bond really grew when they hung out at a soccer game.

Soon they were having casual coffee dates outside the program on their own time.

But it's not just about forming friendships. YPTS wants to help students succeed professionally too.

Stacy Herman and Glenda Fu lead a YPTS workshop.

"We really want to help them build not only social relationships but also do their resumes and mock interviews to get them comfortable sitting in an interview and meeting someone for the first time," explains Stacy Herman, director of inclusion and accessibility at Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center, which works with YPTS.

They're also finding companies that are amenable to having mentees go for a site visit and meet higher-ups who might one day call them in for an interview. The hope is they'll get more and more comfortable with unfamiliar social settings until they're able to rock a job interview.

After 21 days of mentorship, Williams' has more self-assurance to take on the world.

Williams and Goldschmidt meeting new people after the soccer game.

She also has a new friendship with someone who understands what she's going through better than most. That's no small accomplishment.

"I think as they progress, their walls and barriers will come down even more and they’ll really develop this friendship," says Glenda Fu, executive director of Dreams for Kids, DC.

Most importantly, though, Williams is learning how to connect with new people in a meaningful way, which will no doubt help her find her way in life.

Watch Williams and Goldschmidt's whole story here:

This program is teaching adults with disabilities the skills they need to build relationships and find careers.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, July 26, 2017