tv [untitled] December 23, 2013 7:30pm-8:01pm EST
welcome to nice conversations with great minds with on a poor her own is known for her powerful no nonsense approach to problem solving and strategy development in such diverse fields as business education health and human services on it is the president and c.e.o. of prosperity works an organization that creates statewide initiatives in new mexico to develop and test high impact strategies to build the opportunities knowledge and relationships require for all new mexicans to achieve economic
security and prosperity on the border joins me now in studio on it's a pleasure to have you with us my pleasure entirely thanks for joining us i'd like to share first a couple of quotes with you the first is is from nelson mandela who just just passed away he said overcoming poverty is not a to ask of charity it is an act of justice like slavery and apartheid poverty is not natural it is man made and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings and that was in our lifetime he said that in seventy nine hundred five thomas paine. to understand what the state of society ought to be it is necessary to have some idea of what the natural state of man is such as it is such as it is at this day among the indians of north america there is not in that state among the indians any of those spectacles of human misery which poverty and want to to
present. our eyes and all the towns and streets in europe poverty therefore is a thing created by that which is called civilized life it exists not in the natural state. when you and i were talking a couple days ago and. you made an observation about we've been asking the wrong question can we start when we talk about poverty what sort of wrong question what's the right question where are we closer and what are your thoughts on these quote certainly the wrong question is to think about this is charity it absolutely is an issue of economic justice and it is something that we have created the injustice is what we have created and you know if we can kind of throw off the mantle of poverty will always be with us and begin to think about our country as a country that was born in opportunity and what has happened to that opportunity
and what we might do to restore it i think that's the focal point of what we need to be doing. and you were and you said you said the rather than trying to mitigate our verty we need to and we do we do and it's interesting to have just heard your interview about nelson mandela and martin luther king named in that also and to think about what they would say if they were here at the table today and would they ever think about just taking the rough edges off of poverty as the solution to what we need to be doing and yet when we think about poverty in our country very often we're thinking about the safety net we're thinking about taking the rough edges off that's not where we need to be where do we need to be. well we need to think about first of all what what are the opportunities that are uniquely american those that really have to do. the concepts of
working hard and playing by the rules and getting ahead and really what's happened with that is now you have a one in twenty chance if you're born into poverty of moving out of poverty one in twenty one and one in twenty and and that is a really a very recent phenomenon in our nation. we used to have an opportunity ladder and in that opportunities ladder we really could get the education we needed at a cost that we could afford or for free and move up we could think about working hard and being paid well enough to support our family to buy a home to participate in the american dream and those things really have been lost and and so. what do we do well i think i think there are the larger issues of really looking at what's going on in our systems that has created
this and really taking on those systems those are our taxation systems our corporate systems our educational systems our human services systems none of those are working for the people that we're talking about tonight. and so those are the really large issues in terms of the the some of the those that are more manageable at least for us in new mexico we're looking at are wrong of the opportunity ladder really being about building assets and. well you know it is a situation we believe that income get you by but after that get you ahead and that those assets are personal assets social assets and financial assets and they are what allow you and me to sit at this table tonight we have had those in our lives but. people who live in poverty don't have those opportunities at all so can we quantify those for just
a second sure. socialises up to you yes right so so. financial assets really have to do with things like. your savings account your any kinds of opportunities that you have that have to do with. increasing the amount of money that you might have available the largest asset that low income people have is in their homes and this is one of the reasons why when we had the foreclosure crisis a couple of years ago and continues to today that we were we were losing not only homes we were losing a future because those homes are not only the secure place where i get to live they also are what i get to leverage for my kids for future generations. and that has been lost another asset which is a personal asset is education and one of the things that people are shocked to know
is that when i started the university of california berkeley in one thousand nine hundred sixty three that my to wish in was twenty five dollars and for a year yes that's right that's right and now the student debt is greater than credit card debt in this nation. and if we if we think that education will set us free then do we have to pay for education. because it is not for me in any regard we're really mortgaging the future of those students the other thing it is when we talk about. the opportunity for social assets it really has to do with. understanding and being a participant and in trouble to your community and in that community what we really do is solve problems at a very low level and without community we struggle mightily so an example of that
is i have a flat tire and i can't get home to get to meet the school bus. if i have a community that works well there's somebody i can call who can do that so that my child is not in danger and that my child is not worried but that has been lost and we have lost the integration of community really because we've put everybody in america that's able to work and so now we don't even know our neighbors enough to borrow a cup of sugar or the loss of community assets so in new mexico new mexico has one of the worst situations with poverty the united states we do we do we are. forty seven forty eight forty nine or fifty at the pending on what measures get used but the recent information that is really most frightening is now we're fiftieth in the nation in child wellbeing so we really are mortgaging the future of our children so your group in new mexico what are you doing well we're doing many
different things with the children specifically one of the things that we are about to launch is what we called child savings accounts and what we want to do is seed a future for every child in new mexico so in that the idea is that children who are born in new mexico all children not unlike thomas payne would talk about it should be for everyone would have a savings account and that that's. things count would be incentivised matched incentives something that really helps to grow because low income people have very little to save even though it's been demonstrated that they're able to save they have very little and it needs to be incentivized and the idea with that is that. it has been demonstrated that children who have a savings account in their own name are seven times more likely to matriculate in post-secondary education the children don't have that and the most interesting
thing about that research done by dr willie elliott at the university of kansas is that they the amount of money they had was five hundred dollars about five hundred dollars and so what are we doing five hundred dollars will barely buy your books but five hundred dollars an account is talking about the future this account is talking about the future it's setting an intention and so one of the things that we know about that is that kids who have those accounts for whom they've been opened are immediately more engaged in school. they attend more their grades progression is better and they graduate and go on to post-secondary education. so so this is this is really reestablishing the frame. of the life for a life course right you know where one of the things that happens is we're very critical of low income families because they have no future orientation will future
is do we have dinner do we can we play the light bill. that's future for many many low income families and so when when we have the opportunity and one of the things that i say about that is why would we talk about disneyland if we can't take our kids there why would you talk about college when i haven't been there i don't know anybody who's been there and i certainly don't have the money for my child to go there so by starting with these child savings accounts we really are moving into an opportunity to think about that future right now one of the things that we're doing with the parents of those children is we're setting up emergency savings accounts and there are a couple of reasons for that emergency savings accounts really even small amounts of money can protect low and come families from what we call economic shocks it's an economic shock depending upon how low income you are could be
a blowout on your on your tire on your car which prevents you from going to work with prevent you from paying your rent which then the house of cards comes down so it's going to start those accounts but and hopefully they will insulate them from those economic shocks but in addition to insulating them from those shocks the other thing that happens is that we keep them out of the hands of the predatory lending world which is a trap that is outrageously expensive but also essential if you are an bank person and have no other resources so these accounts the the emergency savings accounts are also going to be incentivized so we know what kinds of behaviors that parents engage in that support healthy outcomes for kids so we're going to put incentives into those emergency savings accounts when when folks do these things and they'll have a whole menu because we know different people can do different things and some people
get through any of these things. so in this process one of the things that is going to have. up and then also. is to build a relationship between that child in the future with their family that's great more with more of continuous conversations with great minds with one of the porters or the favorite. dramas that can be ignored to the. stories others who refuse to notice. the faces change the world writes and. filled picture of today's you know. from around the globe. locally.
about the conversations of great minds i was speaking with on a quarter when i was the president and c.e.o. of prosperity works an organization to create statewide initiatives in the next eco to develop and test high impact strategies to build the opportunities knowledge and relationships required for all new mexicans to reshape to achieve economic security and prosperity let's get back to it first of all president obama just the other day was speaking about poverty or something he had to say is. so the basic bargain at
the heart of our economy as frayed in fact this trend towards growing inequality is not unique to america's market economy across the developed world that inequality has increased. so you may have seen just last week the pope himself spoke. about this at eloquent length. how can it be you wrote that it's not a news item when an elderly almost person does. but it is news when the stock market loses two points so you know this is why i think it's nice that we're starting to have this conversation i mean frankly in my lifetime during the johnson administration in the sixty's there was a conversation about ending poverty right and ever since then there's just been a conversation about mitigating we call it the safety net yes and the safety net is a critical part of what any society needs and and really
we're more it we've got big holes in ours right now but beyond the safety net people don't want to be in the safety net they want to participate in our economy in their communities just as you and i do and so giving them the opportunity to do that it becomes a critical question how do we how do we really go there actually the pope went on to say actually that unfettered capitalism was tyranny and i think that that's what low income people really feel and face today but where you know one of the things that people say to me is oh no i know you know all of those things that are pressing hard on the low income folks you've been in the business of trying to end poverty for a very long time how do you get up every day and do that and what i say is that i look into the faces of those folks who we help and see what happens when they're
given opportunity and given the skills and also the relationships that they need to move ahead so an example of building assets for new mexicans is a product that we call individual development accounts and those are or they're referred to as i.d.'s also and those are mapped savings accounts and with those people complete ten weeks of comprehensive fine. natural education and then they are eligible to save and when they reach their goal we match them four to one for the purchase of a first home to capitalize a small business or for higher education and it is really freeing people from poverty in eighteen months so it really challenges the myth that we don't know what to do we don't know how to do it all we do this throw money at it and so on and so on absolutely untrue we've had over nine hundred people in about the last three and a half years complete an individual development account and with that not only are
the households thriving but community economic development is is being driven by these accounts too and an example of that is for instance in main street truth or consequences new mexico. there are three thriving new businesses within a half a block of one another all of them came from id accounts and but that that is really a micro level on a larger level than that we have almost forty million dollars in new mortgage money in our state from the mortgages taken out by the people that were were serving we also have almost three hundred people have completed post-secondary education with about a four million dollar annual increase in their income which they spend in their communities so you know each of these things is really important the other
important thing that happens when people start small businesses in a rural state like new mexico this is key because we have sixty percent of all the work we do is in rural and deeply rooted in mexico and they are very frequently is an absence of jobs so when people start businesses and we've had over three hundred businesses started and over six hundred fifty new in. people employed in those businesses. this is a again a strong economic community economic development too so that's so going back to your original point that. you know the the equity of light i forget the phrase used but basically the people who need to have community equity person or assets individual financial assets and socialises. and this is building the community as it is it is building unity assets. in the system sense how does this work well
you know one of the things that we struggle with all the time is what are our tax incentives that are given to large corporations to come into a place like new mexico first of all new mexico is so such a poor state that we can never compete with states who have really big stuff to give away. so we could give away quality of life because we have a fabulous quality of life and at the same time make those same investments in the small business opportunities that that really drive local economy so by giving away what you're really saying is offering that's right we don't offer it we can offer a quality of life rather than losing quality of life that's that's exactly right and so you know in in this paradigm what happens is that you really are in investing in people and the ingenuity of people and their dreams and one of the things that people say to me is well you know that's not
a lot of money you're given folks will invest it in a dream and see what happens as a result of that and it's true that lots of these businesses that have been started are the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker well we need those to have communities without any question but in addition to that we have people who have been prize winning author so we have people who have. been whose restaurants have been written up in the new york times and who are now doing workforce development for our labor department you know the fabulous kinds of things that happen all the time. one of the things that i think i told you about the other day is that. you know in in the match savings account which is just an opportunity that that folks are so excited about it's almost like they're saying really is this for real and and we create some of that skepticism right because we say if it looks too good to be real maybe it is no it's real but there was
a young man that we picked up in the conservation corps in a small community and in that community we had a we had a match savings program for the people in the in the youth conservation corps on his eighteenth birthday does young man closed on a home for he and his mom and that home was very important that's the asset that he wanted his mom is disabled he has always lived in subsidized housing and he wanted that for his mom and that's what they did so you know there are those kinds of things that are repeated over and over and over across our state and those are the things that really build the household how are you doing this in new mexico i mean are you doing this with partner organizations are you doing this with you know is bill gates throwing money at you i mean how do you do that. waiting if you've watching right so you know we've had three federal million dollar grants and
all those grants need to be matched locally dollar for dollar but we have got to do a lot a lot a lot of work in terms of raising the money to do that and to keep this this network really operating we have what we call a best practice network why do we call it that ninety percent of the people who participate with us are successful and so. in order to get that level of success i actually need to local dollars for every one federal dollars because we need to invest in the. organizations our partner organizations that are actually delivering the services we're doing all the heavy lifting around the design of the program the management of the program raising the money and all of that and then we put it on the ground and we we actually pay our partners to do the work and with that we can be we can get ninety percent outcomes success rates are so you said
you talked about new mexico being rural is the scalable to urban areas it is scalable to urban areas i think the model that we have created really can work almost anywhere. and and you know the question of scale is we're doing some we're doing some really great stuff with this and but in new mexico scale for that product looks like about sixty percent of our souls well that's really a heavy lift sixty percent of all the households would be eligible to participate in the i say sixty sixty percent of the households in new mexico are enough that they qualify that the right is going to that's right that's right so so then we have to really look about how do we embed these things because we can expand our network and people are wanting to participate all the time we just don't have enough money to have them participate. and the network can be expanded the work of each of those agencies can be expanded but we can still not reach scale where we
have to go to scale is that this becomes part of our economic development strategy embedded in the workforce opportunities that are that are part of the state's structure our small business structure all of those places this needs to be just one of the things that they do is to provide these kinds of accounts you just build those in. that's right and the federal money that you're getting i understand is this is kind of left over from the war on poverty this is from from one in johnson's great society a society actually this this particular money is the assets for independence act comes out of that and and it's in the grades so it's in the same department is that but this is a very later iteration so we're looking at building assets as a public policy strategy as opposed to looking at income supports right and those
and that's why i bring this up is because all the conversation now is about you know food stamps and unemployment and we have just just a half a minute left here on a bit but how do we change that conversation to building assets and eliminate poverty well i think we change it with the kinds of demonstrations that we're doing if we can free people from poverty in eighteen months with at a cost of about sixty five hundred dollars total when we want to do that yeah it's seems like it and if you do that do the math across the country and that would be that would be just extraordinary. the the website the organization prosperity work start net prosperity works and into mexico thanks so much for being with us thank you for having me pleasure thank you appreciate it. to see this in other conversations with great minds go to our website conversations the great minds dot com.
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