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Citizen Wealth

Book Description

America’s safety net is torn and tattered. Income inequality continues to grow—the gap between rich and poor has expanded fivefold in the last 25 years. For millions of working families achieving basic middle class comforts has begun to seem as distant a dream as winning the lottery. What is needed, and what veteran organizer and ACORN founder Wade Rathke provides in this hard-hitting new book, is a comprehensive grassroots strategy to create what he calls citizen wealth: an enduring foundation on which working people can build a future that extends beyond paying next month’s rent. Rathke shares breakthrough strategies that have enabled ACORN and other organizations help people secure the basics of citizen wealth—a house and a decent income—offering from-the-trenches advice on mounting successful living wage campaigns, battling unscrupulous and predatory lending practices, and developing new forms of worker organizations to protect wages and benefits. The anti-poverty programs still out there can provide critical support for citizen wealth-building efforts, but they’re woefully underutilized. Rathke shows how to cut through government indifference and bureaucratic obstacles to provide those in need with access to these vital resources. But community organizations can’t do it alone. Rathke describes ACORN partnerships with HSBC Bank and H & R Block that helped these businesses see building citizen wealth as a new market opportunity—a win for them and for the people they once exploited. And he looks at other examples of strange bedfellows in the fight for citizen wealth, including Citibank, once the target of massive protests by ACORN and now, working with them, a major investor in working class communities. “We need to create a national economic and political consensus that increasing family income, wealth and assets is not `welfare’ or an entitlement ‘give-away” program but an investment in the public good and well-being.” Rathke writes. Based on forty years of hard-won experience, Wade Rathke offers a new blueprint for helping millions to achieve the American Dream.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Preface
    1. The Road Ahead
  5. Introduction: From the Bottom Up
  6. Part I: Creating Citizen Wealth
    1. 1: Building a Winning Campaign for Economic Security
      1. Low- and Moderate-Income Families
      2. Business Models
      3. The Nexus of Wealth
    2. 2: Home Ownership Through Community Reinvestment
      1. The Community Reinvestment Act
      2. Intergenerational Wealth
      3. Immigrants and Home Ownership
    3. 3: Stopping Foreclosures and Predatory Lending
      1. The Subprime Housing Market
      2. Financial Justice Campaigns
      3. The Subprime Implosion and Foreclosures
      4. Public Goals and Private Enterprise
      5. ARMs
      6. Credit Desert
    4. 4: Making Work Pay Living Wages
      1. The Living Wage Movement
      2. Campaign Lessons
    5. 5: Creating Wealth Through Worker Organizations
      1. Worker Organizations
      2. The Lessons of Majority Unionism
  7. Part II: Protecting and Advancing Citizen Wealth
    1. 6: Making Earned Income Tax Credits Work for Workers
      1. EITC
      2. EITC Campaigns
      3. A Note On Citizen Wealth for Immigrants
    2. 7: Guarding Tax Refunds and Combatting High Prices
      1. Refund Anticipation Loans
      2. Inflation: The High Cost of Food and Fuel
    3. 8: The Debt Trap
      1. Borrowing for Education
      2. Credit Card Debt
      3. Microfinance
      4. Immigrant Credit and Remittances
    4. 9: The “Maximum Eligible Participation” Solution
      1. Food Stamps
      2. Programs for the Poor That Need Increased Participation
      3. TANF, Unemployment Insurance, and Childcare Credits
      4. Putting Together a National Participation Campaign
  8. Part III: Changing the Terms of the Debate
    1. 10: Working With Corporations to Create an Asset Climate
      1. HSBC Turns the Tide
      2. JPMorgan Chase, FDI, and IRS Get In the Game
    2. 11: Business Models That Embrace Citizen Wealth
      1. H&R Block Doing Right
      2. Wal-Mart and Mass Retail
      3. AARP’s Business
      4. Why Isn’t the Low- and Moderate-Income Market Valued More Highly?
      5. Financial Products for the LMI Market
    3. 12: Bringing Citizens Into the Wealth-Building Process
      1. Whose Job Is It?
      2. The Building Blocks of a New Platform
      3. Adding Branches to the Tree
      4. Using a Captive Audience
    4. 13: The Future of Citizen Wealth
      1. Current Government Spending On Citizen Wealth
      2. Fixing What Is Broken
      3. Getting In Gear
      4. Building the Citizen Wealth Campaign
  9. Notes
  10. Acknowledgments
  11. Index
  12. About the Author
  13. About Berrett-Koehler Publishers
    1. A BK Currents Book
  14. Be Connected