WBEZ | Economy http://www.wbez.org/news/economy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Critics Wonder Whether Pennies Make Sense Anymore http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/critics-wonder-whether-pennies-make-sense-anymore-113959 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/penny_wide-85c637678d13205c30b2cabfedf2964bffe7541e-s800-c85[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Is it finally time to get rid of the penny? The question was put to the top currency official in the country this week after comedian John Oliver took a swing at pennies on his TV show.</p><p>&quot;Two percent of Americans admitted to regularly throwing pennies in the garbage, which means the U.S. Mint is spending millions to make garbage,&quot; Oliver said.</p><p>Of course, more people just let them pile them up in drawers or jars. And that&#39;s why, Oliver said, &quot;One study found that two-thirds of pennies don&#39;t circulate, and yet the penny hangs around for no reason like the appendix or the new Muppets TV show.&quot;</p><p>It actually costs more than a penny to make a penny, so the government loses money on the deal.</p><p>&quot;It costs roughly 2 cents to make each penny,&quot; says Jeff Gore, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.</p><p>In 2014, the U.S. Mint made about 8 billion pennies &mdash; at a cost of more than $130 million.</p><p>Gore says you also have to consider the time people waste fumbling for pennies at the cash register.</p><p>&quot;There are essentially no benefits associated with using the penny, yet there are significant costs,&quot; he says.</p><p>So Gore doesn&#39;t like pennies. And he actually maintains the website&nbsp;<a href="http://www.retirethepenny.org/" target="_blank">retirethepenny.org</a>, which urges the government to get rid of pennies. A few years ago&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cc.com/video-clips/nlvpn4/the-colbert-report-jeff-gore" target="_blank">that got him on TV</a>&nbsp;with another comedian, Stephen Colbert.</p><p>&quot;What about Lincoln, sir? How is this in any way different than going back and re-assassinating Abraham Lincoln? You might as well build a time machine and sneak up behind him. You might as well shoot him in the head with a penny,&quot; Colbert said.</p><p>&quot;I like to think it&#39;s a little bit different,&quot; Gore replied.</p><p>&quot;Give me one way it&#39;s different,&quot; demanded Colbert</p><p>&quot;The $5 bill will still feature Lincoln,&quot; Gore offered.</p><p>&quot;Until you get to it,&quot; Colbert shot back.</p><p>And actually, most Americans seem to side with Colbert on this. Polls have shown that most people want to keep the little copper-colored coin.</p><p>&quot;American Society is very innovative and forward-looking in many ways, but in a few other dimensions we tend to be quite conservative,&quot; says Francois Velde, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. &quot;And interestingly, the currency is one of those areas. You look at the design of our currency. It&#39;s been the same dead presidents on the bills, on the coins for almost a century, and we&#39;re rather attached to that I think.&quot;</p><p>Some people worry that getting rid of pennies could push prices up by a few cents. But Velde says there might be a tiny, one-time blip &mdash; if prices rose at all. He says Canada ditched the penny recently without any problems.</p><p>Treasury Secretary Jack Lew&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/11/24/should-treasury-ditch-the-penny-its-under-review/" target="_blank">said this week</a>&nbsp;that the government is reviewing a proposal to stop making the penny. But Velde says he has an even better proposal: Nickels cost five times as much as pennies to make.</p><p>&quot;You would just abandon the nickel and just declare that all the pennies are worth 5 cents. That&#39;s something that happened quite a lot in the Middle Ages where coins did not have face values and governments occasionally changed the face value of a coin,&quot; Velde says.</p><p>But that would take an act of Congress, so don&#39;t hold your breath. And whatever happens, the Treasury Department says you will always be able to spend your pennies or nickels &mdash; even if the government stopped minting them.</p></p> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 11:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/critics-wonder-whether-pennies-make-sense-anymore-113959 Thanksgiving and Syrian Refugees in Two Ridiculous Charts http://www.wbez.org/news/thanksgiving-and-syrian-refugees-two-ridiculous-charts-113951 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RTX1V4GV.jpg" alt="" /><p><header><figure><div id="file-94098"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/RTX1V4GV.jpg?itok=hBs_EQHd" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Syrian refugees wait to disembark from a luxury yacht used by about 250 Syrian refugees to travel across the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast in the Greek island of Lesbos. Balkan countries have begun filtering the flow of migrants to Europe, granting passage to those fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan but turning back others from Africa and Asia, the United Nations and witnesses say. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><div data-p=",,0,b,,,,,287,,,-1,">&nbsp;</div><div data-p=",,0,b,,,,,287,,,-1," id="LocationName">&nbsp;</div></div></div></figure></header><div><div><article about="/stories/2015-11-25/thanksgiving-and-syrian-refugees-two-ridiculous-charts" typeof="sioc:Item foaf:Document"><header>&nbsp;</header><div><p>How much do you plan to spend in the coming Thanksgiving weekend? According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2015/11/23/americans-to-spend-25-more-over-thanksgiving-weekend-versus-last-year-says/" target="_blank">latest research</a>&nbsp;from Deloitte, Americans plan to spend $369, almost 25 percent&nbsp;more than last year.</p></div><p>How many Syrian refugees has&nbsp;the US accepted? From 2011 to November 24 this year, the total number is 2,283, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wrapsnet.org/Reports/InteractiveReporting/tabid/393/EnumType/Report/Default.aspx?ItemPath=/rpt_WebArrivalsReports/MX%20-%20Arrivals%20by%20Nationality%20and%20Religion" target="_blank">US Refugee Processing Center</a>. President Barack Obama has pledged to accept another 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 despite stong objections from the Republicans.</p><p>So what is the relationship between Thanksgiving spending and Syrian refugees? The chart below explains it.</p><div><iframe frameborder="0" height="26950" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/syria-black-friday-chart.html" style="width: 709.5px;" width="100%"></iframe></div><p>Note: The estimated&nbsp;five-year cost&nbsp;to resettle a Syrian refugee in the US is $64,370, or $12,874 a year, acccording to the&nbsp;<a href="http://cis.org/High-Cost-of-Resettling-Middle-Eastern-Refugees" target="_blank">Center for Immigration Studies</a>, a think tank that advocates immigration reduction in the US. The cost was estimated in a study to prove that relocation of Middle Eastern refugees to the US is a costly effort.</p><p>Now you get it. Apologies for the ridiculously long chart.</p><p>The objection against accepting Syrian refugees gained significant momentum after the terrorist attacks in Paris on the night of November 13 that killed 130 civilians. Critics of Obama&#39;s refugee policy were afraid that the increase of Syrian refugees in the US could lead to more terrorism in the country.</p><p>But the fact is, people are already dying in Syria, and the death toll is way beyond any terrorist attacks that we have seen. Here&#39;s another ridiculous chart.</p><div><iframe frameborder="0" height="7020" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/death-toll-syria-paris.html" style="width: 709.5px;" width="100%"></iframe></div><p>Happy Thanksgiving.</p></article></div></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-11-25/thanksgiving-and-syrian-refugees-two-ridiculous-charts" target="_blank"><em> via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/thanksgiving-and-syrian-refugees-two-ridiculous-charts-113951 Some States Are Cutting Poor Dads A Deal On Unpaid Child Support http://www.wbez.org/news/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-deal-unpaid-child-support-113877 <p><div id="res456639793"><div data-resid="456639793" id="slideshowGallery456639793"><div><p>When the state of Maryland wanted to reach dads who were behind on their child support payments, it started in the boarded-up blocks of West Baltimore, in neighborhoods marked by drugs, violence and unemployment.</p><p>In just four zip code areas, the state identified 4,642 people who owed more than $30 million in back child support. Most of that was &quot;state-owed,&quot; meaning that rather than going to the child through the custodial parent, it&#39;s supposed to reimburse taxpayers for welfare paid to the child&#39;s mother.</p><p>This is a source of great resentment for many men, who say they want their money to go to their children. But most who owe it can&#39;t pay anyway, as they earn less than $10,000 a year.</p><p>&quot;So even if we use taxpayer dollars to chase &#39;em down, and we catch &#39;em, right, and we go into their pockets, there&#39;s nothing in there,&quot; says Joe Jones of Baltimore&#39;s Center for Urban Families.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cfuf.JPG" style="height: 390px; width: 540px;" title="The Center for Urban Families in Baltimore is a nonprofit that provides job training, parenting programs and other help for low-income families. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div></div><div>Are they deadbeat?</div></div></div><p>Joseph DiPrimio, head of Maryland&#39;s child support enforcement office, doesn&#39;t like that expression.</p><p>&quot;I think that&#39;s vulgar. I don&#39;t use it,&quot; he says.</p><p>DiPrimio prefers &quot;dead broke.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re talking about individuals that are economically challenged, they&#39;re underemployed, but they want to do the right thing,&quot; he says.</p><p>Unpaid child support in the U.S. has climbed to $113 billion, and enforcement agencies have given up on collecting much of it. They say too many men simply don&#39;t have the money.</p><p>What&#39;s more, research shows that high child-support debt can leave parents feeling so hopeless that they give up trying to pay it.</p><p><strong>Breaking Through The Distrust</strong></p><p>Like a growing number of state government officials, Maryland&#39;s DiPrimio wanted to make parents an offer. But he needed their trust, and that was a problem.</p><p><img accept="" alt="" cannot="" class="image-original_image" grant="" i="" me="" serenity="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Participants%20led%20by%20facilitator%20Eddie%20Pitchford%20form%20the%20Chain%20of%20Unity%20at%20the%20conclusion%20of%20the%20Responsible%20Fatherhood%20meeting..JPG" style="height: 206px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" the="" they="" things="" title="Participants led by facilitator Eddie Pitchford form the Chain of Unity at the conclusion of the Responsible Fatherhood meeting. " to="" /></p><p>Research shows high child support debt can leave parents feeling so hopeless that they give up trying to pay it.</p><p>And sting operations to round up parents who owed child support have happened all over the country, including Baltimore. In a typical ruse, agencies have sent fake letters telling parents they won tickets to a football bowl game, for instance &mdash; but when they showed up to collect, they were arrested instead.</p><p>To break through years of distrust, Maryland sent letters to parents with the logo of the Center for Urban Families, a nonprofit in West Baltimore that provides job training and other help to poor families.</p><p>They made this offer: If the parent takes the center&#39;s month-long employment training course and lands a job, the state will forgive 10 percent of his or her child support debt. If they complete a Responsible Fatherhood program, the state will write off another 15 percent. One of the first persons to sign up was a mother, though the vast majority of noncustodial parents are men.</p><p>In a separate &quot;debt compromise&quot; program, Maryland will also write off 50 percent of a parent&#39;s child support debt if they maintain monthly payments for a year.</p><p>Response has been slow. In two years, slightly more than 100 parents have signed on.</p><div id="res456668086" previewtitle="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/responsible-fathers-meeting-jtsuboike-0399-edit-deaa96de02f501a6266c8882ce230ddbf017d974-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt." /></div><div><div><p>Many of them attend fatherhood meetings like one held on a recent Wednesday night. Two dozen men &mdash; 20-something to middle age, in sweats and in suits &mdash; sit in a large square.</p></div></div></div><p>Some complain their exes won&#39;t let them see their child if they haven&#39;t paid child support. Others don&#39;t understand why it doesn&#39;t count as support when they take their kids out to eat, or buy them clothes &mdash; or say they would do those sorts of things for their kids if their child support obligation wasn&#39;t so heavy.</p><p>Mostly, like 30-year-old Lee Ford, they say it&#39;s so hard to find work</p><p>&quot;You telling me no matter what, I gotta pay. But I can&#39;t get a job to work to save my soul,&quot; he says.</p><p>Group leader Eddie White cuts no slack.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Group%20leader%20Eddie%20White%20speaks%20during%20the%20meeting.%20Around%20two%20dozen%20men%20%E2%80%94%2020-something%20to%20middle%20age%2C%20in%20sweats%20and%20in%20suits%20%E2%80%94%20sit%20in%20a%20large%20square%20each%20week%20and%20discuss%20topics%20ranging%20from%20parenting%2C%20debt%20and%20unemployment..JPG" style="height: 420px; width: 620px;" title="Group leader Eddie White speaks during the meeting. Around two dozen men — 20-something to middle age, in sweats and in suits — sit in a large square each week and discuss topics ranging from parenting, debt and unemployment. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><p>&quot;If you know you got a criminal record, sure it&#39;s gonna be hard for you to get a job. But it don&#39;t mean you can&#39;t work,&quot; White says.</p><p>A big part of this class is also educational. White asks the men what a person who is paying child support should do if he gets laid off or loses his job.</p><p>&quot;There you go, that&#39;s the word. Immediately,&quot; White says. &quot;Immediately ask the court for an adjustment.&quot;</p><p><strong>Other Approaches To Debt Relief</strong></p><p>Maryland&#39;s program is part of a larger effort to keep impoverished parents from racking up child support debt in the first place.</p><p>Some states are trying to speed up the cumbersome process of adjusting an order when a parent loses a job. Ohio has experimented with sending simple reminders &mdash; by phone, mail or text &mdash; to parents who need to send in monthly payments. Texas has reached out to newly incarcerated parents, to let them know they can apply to have their payments reduced while in prison &mdash; something not all states allow.</p><p>&quot;We sent out a teaser postcard trying to combat the ostrich effect,&quot; says Emily Schmidt, a research analyst with the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, who helped with the Texas effort.</p><p>Schmidt says there was concern that someone going through the emotional transition of incarceration wouldn&#39;t likely be thinking about child support, and may not even open a letter from the state. So they printed the postcard on blue paper to stand out, and, taking a cue from marketers, it said, &quot;Four easy steps to lowering your child support.&quot;</p><p>After 100 days, the response rate among parents was up 11 percent, &quot;a very low-cost intervention for a fairly dramatic effect,&quot; Schmidt says.</p><p>The Obama administration wants to &quot;right size&quot; child support orders from the start, and has proposed regulations to make sure they are set according to what parents actually earn. Officials say some jurisdictions base orders on a full-time minimum wage, even if a parent earns far less. They say this can backfire, leaving so little money after a parent&#39;s wages are garnished that he or she quits and works underground instead.</p><p>The White House&#39;s proposals also would provide more job training for parents with child support debt &mdash; something Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution says is a good investment.</p><p>&quot;More fathers will get a job, more fathers will have earnings, and more fathers will use those earnings to pay child support,&quot; he says.</p><p>So far, that&#39;s what&#39;s happened in Baltimore. The numbers are small. But the amount of child support that&#39;s been paid is more than double the amount of debt written off.</p><p>Maryland wants to expand its child support debt forgiveness program, hoping to help more parents to pay what they can.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/20/456353691/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-a-deal-on-unpaid-child-support?ft=nprml&amp;f=456353691" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-deal-unpaid-child-support-113877 Square Goes Public And Fields A Flood Of Customer Complaints http://www.wbez.org/news/square-goes-public-and-fields-flood-customer-complaints-113875 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/square-b24eb6ea1d463cf7d64dbbc136791d24c16b9c18-s1200.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>You&#39;ve probably seen&nbsp;<a href="http://www.squareup.com/">Square&#39;s white plastic reader</a>&nbsp;&mdash; it&#39;s a small square that plugs in to a smart phone or tablet. Customers swipe their card and the money is put into the merchant&#39;s Square account. It&#39;s really easy for small and new businesses to get an account.</p><p>Take Michael Barzman. After years of working as an auctioneer for other people he went out on his own. He started using Square but after a few transactions received an email that read, &quot;Hello Michael. We are sorry to inform you that we are deactivating your account. Our account services team has reviewed your account and found a pattern of transactions associated with high risk activity.&quot;</p><p>Barzman didn&#39;t understand why Square froze his account. Square was also holding more than $10,000 of his money and wouldn&#39;t release it for 90 days.</p><p>&quot;I thought that was such an exorbitant amount of time and it freaked me out being a new business,&quot; says Barzman. &quot;My initial thought was, &#39;I&#39;m done, this is going to be the end of me.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Even worse, Barzman says once your account is deactivated you can&#39;t get anyone on the phone from Square. Fortunately, Barzman had a business partner who helped him out financially.</p><p><strong>Low Fees Attract Merchants</strong></p><p>Search for &quot;Square account deactivation&quot; online and stories just like Barzman&#39;s pop up. Take Gary Gaskill, who recently started a business selling packaging equipment &mdash; boxes, tape dispensers and stuff like that. He&#39;d heard about Square.</p><p>&quot;Their prices were right,&quot; says Gaskill. &quot;And, you know, it looked like a good deal and so I bought into it.&quot;</p><p>But after he did a few transactions Gaskill received the same email that Barzman got. His account was closed.</p><p>&quot;They refused to tell you why they closed the account,&quot; says Gaskill. &quot;It was like, why would you do this and not be able to tell somebody? It&#39;s my account. Why can&#39;t you tell me why you closed my account? And you&#39;re holding my money!&quot;</p><p>Security experts say a 90-day hold on a potentially fraudulent account is within the norm. And Square has a right to be jumpy, says Marc Abbey, a managing partner at First Annapolis Consulting, which advises banks, payment networks and retailers. Abbey says Square takes risks on pop ups and food trucks &mdash; business that never would have been authorized to take credit cards.</p><p>&quot;And all of those characteristics lead to a higher level of risk for a company like Square,&quot; says Abbey.</p><p><strong>Square: Must Protect Us and Our Customers</strong></p><p>In a statement, Square says it&#39;s trying to balance the needs of sellers with the necessity of protecting itself against fraud. If the credit card charges turn out to be fraudulent, Square is on the hook. It says the number of dissatisfied customers is small. Because the company just went public their ability to speak further is limited by law.</p><p>Amad Ebrahimi runs a website called Merchant Maverick, which reviews mobile payment companies. He&#39;s had hundreds of complaints about Square on his site. He doesn&#39;t see a good reason for the lack of communication.</p><p>&quot;There should be some investment in a risk department that focuses exclusively on phone communication and getting these issues resolved as quickly as possible,&quot; he says.</p><p>And Ebrahimi points out that Square is no longer alone in mobile payments. There&#39;s PayPal, traditional banks and smaller competitors like Flint &mdash; which Ebrahimi favors because it has good customer support.</p><p>Auctioneer Michael Barzman says word is getting out that Square isn&#39;t always user-friendly.</p><p>&quot;You could not force me to use Square again!&quot; says Barzman.</p><p>Square does have phone help for active accounts &mdash; but it hasn&#39;t solved the problem of customers who have their accounts terminated &mdash; they&#39;re left out in the cold with no one to talk to.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/11/20/456635063/square-goes-public-and-fields-a-flood-of-customer-complaints?ft=nprml&amp;f=456635063" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 12:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/square-goes-public-and-fields-flood-customer-complaints-113875 Scandal-Plagued VW Will Trim Spending By A Billion Euros http://www.wbez.org/news/scandal-plagued-vw-will-trim-spending-billion-euros-113874 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-498007100_wide-4f9c0b3f3e5801fd10e6d32b427408880ce22c51-s1600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456780921" previewtitle="The Volkswagen logo is seen at the main entrance gate of the Volkswagen group on Friday in Wolfsburg, Germany. That day, CEO Matthias Mueller announced the company would be cutting expenditures by more than $1 billion."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Volkswagen logo is seen at the main entrance gate of the Volkswagen group on Friday in Wolfsburg, Germany. That day, CEO Matthias Mueller announced the company would be cutting expenditures by more than $1 billion." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/20/gettyimages-498007100_wide-4f9c0b3f3e5801fd10e6d32b427408880ce22c51-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="The Volkswagen logo is seen at the main entrance gate of the Volkswagen group on Friday in Wolfsburg, Germany. That day, CEO Matthias Mueller announced the company would be cutting expenditures by more than $1 billion. (Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>As it grapples with an ongoing emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen is &quot;driving cautiously&quot; &mdash; financially speaking.</p></div></div></div><p>The German carmaker is cutting spending by a billion euros ($1.07 billion) in the coming year, CEO Matthias Mueller announced Friday.</p><p>After the cuts, Volkswagen will be spending 12 billion euros in 2016, the Associated Press reports:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>Among other things, [Mueller] said Volkswagen would postpone the building of a new design center in Wolfsburg and the introduction of an all-electric Phaeton sedan, and review other projects.</em></p><p><em>&quot;We&#39;re driving cautiously over the coming months, but we know where we want to go and we want to ensure that the Volkswagen company comes out of the current situation strengthened,&quot; he told reporters.</em></p></div></blockquote><p>The company has been battered by the discovery that millions of VW diesel vehicles were sold with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/22/442457697/11-million-cars-worldwide-have-emissions-problem-volkswagen-says">&quot;defeat devices&quot; secretly installed</a>&nbsp;&mdash; software that allowed the car to determine when an emissions test was being performed, and reduce performance and emissions to cheat the test.</p><p>As a result, VW cars could pass the test &mdash; then drive off and release&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/18/441467960/volkswagen-used-defeat-device-to-skirt-emissions-rules-epa-says">up to 40 times more pollution</a>&nbsp;than legally allowed.</p><p>Later on Friday, VW will be outlining its plan to fix the vehicles in a proposal to the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, the AP reports. For most of the cars, VW can either alter the exhaust system (cutting performance and gas mileage) or install a chemical treatment process (requiring multiple hardware changes).</p><p>The automaker has set aside more than $7 billion to cover the alterations, but the AP reports the total cost could be several times higher &mdash; and Volkswagen is also facing the possibility of billions of dollars in fines.</p><p>Meanwhile, this fall, VW reported a quarterly loss&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/28/452497981/vw-reports-first-quarterly-loss-in-this-century-at-1-8-billion">for the first time in more than 15 years</a>.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/20/456774575/scandal-plagued-vw-will-trim-spending-by-a-billion-euros?ft=nprml&amp;f=456774575" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 12:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/scandal-plagued-vw-will-trim-spending-billion-euros-113874 From Deadbeat To Dead Broke: The 'Why' Behind Unpaid Child Support http://www.wbez.org/news/deadbeat-dead-broke-why-behind-unpaid-child-support-113864 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/img_2876-edit_custom-7d9b022cb3179d07b6163e3609164fc23ff458da-s1600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456671311"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Harrelle Felipa with five of his children and a granddaughter." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/img_2876-edit_custom-7d9b022cb3179d07b6163e3609164fc23ff458da-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 408px; width: 620px;" title="Harrelle Felipa with five of his children and a granddaughter. (Jennifer Ludden/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>On a recent Saturday afternoon at his West Baltimore rowhouse, Harrelle Felipa fields a steady stream of interruptions as he breads a large plate of fish and chicken for dinner.</p></div></div></div><p>His 4-year-old son wants to recite his letters. The 3-year-old brings him a toy that&#39;s broken. The tweens play Minecraft on the Xbox while Felipa&#39;s teen daughter checks her email. Felipa says he loves it.</p><p>&quot;This is what my life consists of,&quot; he says. &quot;I arrange my life around these guys.&quot;</p><p>It&#39;s not the typical image of a &quot;deadbeat dad.&quot;</p><p>Yet 47-year-old Felipa owes $20,000 in unpaid child support. Over the years, he has lost his driver&#39;s license for that (for two months), and spent time in jail for missing a court appointment (for two weeks).</p><p>He is part of a shift: Despite a two-decade crackdown on delinquent dads &mdash; an enforcement push that officials say has largely worked &mdash; the U.S. has more than <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456632896/how-u-s-parents-racked-up-113-billion-in-child-support-debt" target="_blank">$113 billion in child support debt.</a> The Obama administration, and others who support changes to child support enforcement, say this isn&#39;t because men won&#39;t pay.</p><p>&quot;That problem has been solved,&quot; says Vicki Turetsky, the head of the federal&nbsp;<a href="http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css">Office of Child Support Enforcement</a>. That&#39;s thanks to welfare reform in 1996, which included tougher rules that tracked down men with money.</p><p>The problem today, Turetsky says, is the many men without money. They don&#39;t earn enough, and they&#39;re accruing mountains of debt in back child support.</p><p><strong>Caught Between Parenting And Mounting Debt</strong></p><p>Take Felipa in Baltimore, for instance. He had his first child young, at 14. His own father wasn&#39;t around, and he says being a dad makes him feel complete.</p><p>Like so many families today, his is complicated. He has five young sons with a woman he calls his &quot;ex-fiancée.&quot; The boys have lived with him much of the time while their mother has worked as a restaurant manager.</p><p>Felipa&#39;s child support debt is for two teens with his ex-wife. The son lives with her, and Felipa has full custody of their 15-year-old daughter. Yes, you read that right: He owes child support for someone who lives with him full time.</p><p>It&#39;s not clear why; he&#39;s been asking the court to change it.</p><p>Maryland enforcement officials can&#39;t comment on specific cases. But they say custody and child support are often dealt with separately, the rules vary by state and are confusing, and changing a child support order can take many months. Some parents also have no right to a lawyer. Felipa says tensions over his child support situation helped lead to the breakup with his fiancée.</p><p>Felipa admits it&#39;s tough getting by with so many kids. He&#39;s paid child support sporadically, most recently when he was employed as a truck driver.</p><p>&quot;I was making $1,300 every two weeks and they were taking five [hundred]-something out every two weeks,&quot; he says. &quot;After the taxes and all that, can you imagine what [that] left me?&quot;</p><p>Current federal guidelines allow states to garnish up to 65 percent of a parent&#39;s pretax income for child support.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/1001242-Assessing-Child-Support-Arrears-in-Nine-Large-States-and-the-Nation.PDF">One study found</a>&nbsp;that among parents with reported annual incomes of $10,000 or less, the median child support order represents 83 percent of their income.</p><div id="res456663547"><div id="responsive-embed-child-support-income-20151117"><iframe frameborder="0" height="549px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/child-support-income-20151117/child.html?initialWidth=774&amp;childId=responsive-embed-child-support-income-20151117&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2015%2F11%2F19%2F456352554%2Ffrom-deadbeat-to-dead-broke-the-why-behind-unpaid-child-support%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D456352554" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="620"></iframe></div></div><p>Felipa says his child support order didn&#39;t leave him enough for child care. His hours were tough, leaving at 4 or 5 in the morning, sometimes not getting back until 8 or 9 at night. He hated leaving the kids with a sitter.</p><p>&quot;Sometimes you get that gut feeling, and when they cry, I just couldn&#39;t do it,&quot; he says. &quot;I felt something wasn&#39;t right.&quot;</p><p>So, in a move not likely to get much sympathy in family court, Felipa quit working. For two years he&#39;s relied on food stamps and other aid while his child support debt has ballooned.</p><p><strong>&#39;Income That Doesn&#39;t Exist&#39;</strong></p><p>&quot;When people have orders that they can&#39;t comply with, it doesn&#39;t motivate them to work and pay. It does the opposite,&quot; says Turetsky of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css">Office of Child Support Enforcement</a>.</p><p>She says too many men quit jobs, turn down promotions, or go underground when courts set child support orders too high. One problem, she says, is that when there&#39;s no evidence of income, many jurisdictions &quot;impute&quot; it, often basing payments on a full-time minimum wage job.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m going to call it magical thinking,&quot; Turetsky says. &quot;You could call it the income we think you should have. But the bottom line is that it is income that does not exist.&quot;</p><p>The child support system was set up four decades ago, and Turetsky says it seems stuck there &mdash; as if a man with no college can still walk into a factory tomorrow and pull down middle-class wages. In fact, a large majority of child support debt is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/1001242-Assessing-Child-Support-Arrears-in-Nine-Large-States-and-the-Nation.PDF">owed by men who make less than $10,000 a year</a>.</p><div id="res456663291"><div id="responsive-embed-child-support-debt-20151118"><iframe frameborder="0" height="422px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/child-support-debt-20151118/child.html?initialWidth=774&amp;childId=responsive-embed-child-support-debt-20151118&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2015%2F11%2F19%2F456352554%2Ffrom-deadbeat-to-dead-broke-the-why-behind-unpaid-child-support%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D456352554" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="620"></iframe></div></div><p>&quot;We&#39;re asking that [women and children] become dependent on men who are just as poor as they are,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://cffpp.org/staff/">Jacquelyn Boggess</a>&nbsp;of the Center for Family Policy and Practice.</p><p>When parents face incarceration for nonpayment, it can burden entire families. Boggess has seen men&#39;s mothers, even their ex-girlfriends or wives, step in to pay to keep a father out of jail. And child support debt never goes away, even if you declare bankruptcy or when the children grow up.</p><p>&quot;We found that there are 20- and 30-year-old children who are paying their father&#39;s child support debt, so their father can keep whatever small income they may have,&quot; she says.</p><p>Another quirk in the system is that many men rack up child support debt while in jail. After Antonio Martin&#39;s ex-girlfriend lost her company health insurance, she had to give the government Martin&#39;s name, as it was a requirement in order to get Medicaid coverage for their daughter. Martin was serving seven years for robbery when the child support order came.</p><p><img alt="Felipa prepares dinner for his family at their home in West Baltimore, Md." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/17/harrelle-cooking-c9f69523fb7cf41adb984a51d291a2fc7fcc1b58-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Felipa prepares dinner for his family at their home in West Baltimore, Md. (Jennifer Ludden/NPR)" /></p><p>It was &quot;$183.50 twice a month,&quot; he says. &quot;So in my mind I&#39;m thinking, upon release I&#39;ll start paying this amount of money.&quot;</p><div id="res456413992"><div><div><p>Enforcement officials say that happens a lot. Some parents don&#39;t realize they can file to defer payments. But many states consider incarceration &quot;voluntary employment,&quot; and no excuse to suspend child support. Martin&#39;s debt added up, month after month.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;When I came home and I got the first letter,&quot; he recalls. &quot;I was seeing it was $4,000 on there.&quot;</p><p>That was two years ago. With his criminal record, Martin has struggled to find work. His debt is now approaching $6,000. Martin recently completed a job training program at the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cfuf.org/">Center for Urban Families</a>&nbsp;in Baltimore, hoping to find any job he can to start paying down his debt. Eventually, he hopes to get certified for work in plumbing or carpentry.</p><p><strong>Balancing Responsibility And Reality</strong></p><p>Among the Obama administration&#39;s proposed changes to child support rules is a provision&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-17/pdf/2014-26822.pdf">barring states from letting child support pile up in prison</a>. There is wide support for that, even among conservatives.</p><p>&quot;Everyone agrees yes, we should be tough,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brookings.edu/experts/haskinsr">Ron Haskins</a>&nbsp;of the Brookings Institution. &quot;But if a father goes to jail for five years, should he owe $15,000 in child support when he comes out? You know that guy&#39;s never going to have $15,000 in his whole life.&quot;</p><p>More controversially, the administration wants to make sure child support orders are based on a parent&#39;s actual income.</p><p>&quot;We can&#39;t be naive when we&#39;re dealing with parents who have walked away from providing for their children,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://www.aei.org/scholar/robert-doar/">Robert Doar</a>, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.</p><p>Doar, who used to head child support enforcement in New York state, says there will always be some parents who go to great lengths to hide income. He does support suspending debt during incarceration and more job training programs &mdash; but worries the proposed changes would make it too easy to dismiss cases as &quot;uncollectible.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re talking about poor, single parents, often moms,&quot; he says. &quot;And the child support collections that they get, when they get it, represents 45 percent of their income.&quot;</p><p>Republicans on Capitol Hill have filed bills to&nbsp;<a href="http://waysandmeans.house.gov/house-senate-lawmakers-announce-bill-to-reaffirm-congress-role-in-welfare-policy/">block the proposed regulations</a>. They worry they&#39;ll undermine the principle of personal responsibility, a hallmark of child support enforcement measures in the 1990s. They also say any regulatory changes should be made through Congress, not the administration.</p><div id="res456414569"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Harrelle Felipa (right) speaks during the Responsible Fathers meeting at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. His child support debt has accrued to $20,000 after he quit a job to be a stay-at-home dad." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/17/responsible-fathers-meeting-jtsuboike-0308-edit_custom-42c20c167079f05c3f6a0a4661b6f031cb8e85d1-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Harrelle Felipa, right, speaks during the Responsible Fathers meeting at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. His child support debt has accrued to $20,000 after he quit a job to be a stay-at-home dad. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Meanwhile, Harrelle Felipa continues to do the best he can. His youngest will head to school soon, and the boy&#39;s mom &mdash; Felipa&#39;s ex-fiancée. &mdash; recently lost her job. So Felipa is looking to work again. He&#39;s been volunteering at an elementary school and is talking with the principal about a paid position. This time, he hopes what&#39;s left in his paycheck after child support will be enough.</p></div></div></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456352554/from-deadbeat-to-dead-broke-the-why-behind-unpaid-child-support?ft=nprml&amp;f=456352554"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 16:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/deadbeat-dead-broke-why-behind-unpaid-child-support-113864 Preventable colon cancer deaths cost the economy $6.4 billion http://www.wbez.org/news/preventable-colon-cancer-deaths-cost-economy-64-billion-113790 <p><p>Almost 20 percent of the people in low-income communities who die of colon cancer could have been saved with early screening. And those premature deaths take a toll on communities that can least bear it.</p><p>Lower-income communities in the United States loses $6.4 billion in lost wages and productivity because of premature deaths due to colon cancer, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p><div id="res455932233"><div id="responsive-embed-colon-cancer-20151113" style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="671px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/colon-cancer-20151113/child.html?initialWidth=770&amp;childId=responsive-embed-colon-cancer-20151113&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Fsections%2Fhealth-shots%2F2015%2F11%2F13%2F455915904%2Fpreventable-colon-cancer-deaths-cost-the-economy-6-4-billion%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D455915904" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="600"></iframe></div></div><p>&quot;It&#39;s tragic not only for the lives lost, but it&#39;s tragic for the communities,&quot; says Hannah Weir, a senior epidemiologist at CDC who led the study. &quot;That&#39;s money that&#39;s not being diffused back into these already disadvantaged communities.&quot;</p><p>The researchers looked at colon cancer deaths from 2008 though 2012 for people between 50 and 74 years of age. They figured out the preventable deaths by comparing the death rates in high-income counties compared to those with lower incomes. The higher-income areas were defined as those in which at least 85 percent of the population had graduated from high school.</p><p>Colon cancer used to be more common in white people with higher incomes, but over the past few decades screening has reduced their risk to the point that African-Americans now have higher rates.</p><p>&quot;We know that colorectal cancer screening saves lives, and we know that people in these communities are less likely to be screened for cancer, so it&#39;s detected at a later stage,&quot; Weir says. &quot;They&#39;re more likely to die from cancer.&quot;</p><p>Screening options include&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/tests.htm">fecal occult blood tests</a>, which are not invasive, as well as sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.</p><p>The researchers came up with the $6.4 billion number by comparing the differences in potential years of life lost due to premature death: 194,927 years in lower-income communities compared to 128,812 in higher-income communities.</p><p>The data was presented Friday at the American Association For Cancer Research conference in Atlanta.</p><p>&mdash;<em> <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/13/455915904/preventable-colon-cancer-deaths-cost-the-economy-6-4-billion?ft=nprml&amp;f=455915904" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 16:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/preventable-colon-cancer-deaths-cost-economy-64-billion-113790 Judge asked to block outside money for Illinois Lottery http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-asked-block-outside-money-illinois-lottery-113760 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_151467443760.jpg" style="height: 397px; width: 620px;" title="In this Oct. 23, 2015 file photo, Vera Washington of Chicago, buys lotto tickets at the K&amp;D Marathon station in Hammond, Ind. Illinois Lottery ticket sales have plummeted since lottery officials announced delaying payouts over $600 because of the state budget impasse. Data obtained by The Associated Press through an information request show gross sales in October _ including for instant tickets and Mega Millions _ were the lowest in 2015. In mid-October, the lottery announced anyone winning over $600 wouldn’t get their money right away because money in the account used to pay those winnings was running out, sending regular players across state boarders to buy tickets.(AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)" /></p><p>An attorney representing Illinois Lottery winners who haven&#39;t been paid their winnings has asked a federal judge to prevent 38 other state lotteries from sending money to the agency.</p><div><p>The winners represented by attorney Thomas Zimmerman Jr. in a lawsuit haven&#39;t been paid because of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/caught-middle" target="_blank">Illinois&#39; lack of a budget. </a></p><p>Zimmerman filed a motion for a temporary restraining order late Tuesday asking the judge to bar the other lotteries and the association overseeing Mega Millions and Powerball from giving the Illinois Lottery the money owed to Illinois winners of those games.</p><p>Zimmerman asked that the money instead be held in an interest-bearing account. The&nbsp;<em><a href="http://trib.in/1MZKhwb" target="_blank">Chicago&nbsp;Tribune</a></em> reports a court hearing was scheduled Thursday.</p><p>Illinois Lottery ticket sales have plummeted since officials announced in mid-October it was delaying payments topping $600 because of the budget impasse.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 14:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-asked-block-outside-money-illinois-lottery-113760 A thrift shop looking for a comeup: Goodwill goes high-end http://www.wbez.org/news/thrift-shop-looking-comeup-goodwill-goes-high-end-113711 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/14331902531_d0059073c6_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455025351" previewtitle="Goodwill is experimenting with boutique-style stores, like this one in southern California, to entice younger shoppers to the brand."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Goodwill is experimenting with boutique-style stores, like this one in southern California, to entice younger shoppers to the brand." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/goodwill-boutiques-2-2-_wide-02fad1d539101288fcea16075e1b10095a9e859c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Goodwill is experimenting with boutique-style stores, like this one in southern California, to entice younger shoppers to the brand. (Gloria Hillard for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Like many trendy boutiques, there is a definite minimalist flair. Soft sweaters rest on antique tables and the hardwood floors gleam.</p></div></div></div><p>But this boutique in Huntington Beach, Calif., is owned by a name more well known for treasure hunting than couture shopping: Goodwill.</p><p>&quot;Look at some of these great dresses here. We have Development, which is a great brand, we have Lee &mdash; these are ones kind of more known in the fashion industry than on the street,&quot; says Eric Smissen, the store&#39;s visual specialist.</p><p>He glides past neatly folded skinny jeans and designer handbags to a small rack of dresses, mostly black.</p><p>&quot;Word is getting out, so I think that our more traditional shopper is still here, but we&#39;re seeing a lot more new faces,&quot; Smissen says.</p><p>He says that&#39;s the idea behind the Goodwill boutiques &mdash; to bring in new customers, especially younger shoppers who have fueled the popularity of resale stores like Crossroads Trading Company.</p><p>&quot;We have Joe&#39;s Jeans. We have Paige denim. All those jeans run upwards to $150 plus for a pair. And they&#39;re about $8 to $14.99,&quot; Smissen says.</p><p>Return patron Francesca Saint Cyr&#39;s hopping cart is full. She says the Goodwill Boutique here in Orange County is a great alternative to chain stores and mall shopping.</p><p>&quot;What would you guess this Calvin Klein to be? I haven&#39;t even looked at the price yet, but I know I&#39;m going to be excited. Now I&#39;m going to check out that Gucci bag over there,&quot; she says.</p><p>The merchandise that ends up in the boutique stores is curated by those who have a discerning eye for popular and designer labels.</p><p>&quot;Well, we have this beautiful Coach bag, this navy blue Coach bag with some brass accents. And then, let&#39;s see, some clothing here, we have this really great Michael Kors trench,&quot; Smissen says, rummaging through a large cardboard box of recently donated items.</p><p>Also shopping this afternoon is Sandy Slate. She&#39;s been a longtime traditional store customer.</p><p>&quot;I love it. Looks great. The main thing: it&#39;s clean. It&#39;s clean and orderly,&quot; Slate says.</p><p>Goodwill Industries has more than&nbsp;<a href="http://www.goodwill.org/about-us/">3,000 stores</a>&nbsp;across the country, but only 60 fall into the boutique category.</p><p>Frank Talarico, president and CEO of Goodwill Orange County, says the new stores have been very successful. And he says even though the ambiance is more Abercrombie than thrift store, shoppers and donors should know the original mission is still intact.</p><p>&quot;They can always rest assured, that our Goodwill, for example &mdash; and this is a real and audited number &mdash; is going to take more than 92 cents of every dollar that we raise, regardless of what kind of store we raise it in, and put it right back into programs that serve people with barriers to employment,&quot; Talarico says.</p><p>The traditional store &mdash; where household goods and framed prints share floor space with clothing &mdash; still represents 90 percent of Goodwill&#39;s retail business. The non-profit takes in more than $5 billion in annual revenue.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/08/454998318/a-thrift-shop-looking-for-a-comeup-goodwill-goes-high-end?ft=nprml&amp;f=454998318" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/thrift-shop-looking-comeup-goodwill-goes-high-end-113711 How Obama's trade deal might stir up your dinner http://www.wbez.org/news/how-obamas-trade-deal-might-stir-your-dinner-113697 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-482696700_custom-3b2d86bc315805c0070f8c4b608510712b8875be-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455064880" previewtitle="Tajima Wagyu beef cows at a cattle farm in Yabu City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Japan won a provision in the new Pacific Rim trade deal that would push tariffs back up if its beef imports surge."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Tajima Wagyu beef cows at a cattle farm in Yabu City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Japan won a provision in the new Pacific Rim trade deal that would push tariffs back up if its beef imports surge." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/gettyimages-482696700_custom-3b2d86bc315805c0070f8c4b608510712b8875be-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Tajima Wagyu beef cows at a cattle farm in Yabu City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Japan won a provision in the new Pacific Rim trade deal that would push tariffs back up if its beef imports surge. (Buddhika Weerasinghe/Bloomberg/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>When President Obama announced the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Thursday &mdash; and released them on&nbsp;<a href="https://medium.com/the-trans-pacific-partnership">Medium.com</a>&nbsp;&mdash; there was a lot of talk about labor, the environment and manufacturing. But trade deals have a way of changing the way we eat, too.</p></div></div></div><p>Consider NAFTA, which&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/02/13/385754265/how-nafta-changed-american-and-mexican-food-forever">boosted&nbsp;</a>the availability of cheap avocados and winter tomatoes for Americans, while expanding Wal-Mart and processed food in Mexico. So now that we know the details of this new Pacific Rim trade deal, what might it mean for dinner &mdash; both in the U.S. and the 11 other nations party to the treaty? Herewith, a cheat sheet on the 2,000-plus-page deal:</p><div id="res455132443"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Food Safety</strong></span></p><p>Supporters of the TPP highlight the fact that the chapter on food safety and inspections will bring other countries up to U.S. standards and set rapid deadlines for resolving disputes over rejected shipments. Critics say the agreement gives&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/tpp-details-released-and-it%25E2%2580%2599s-worse-we-thought">countries new power to challenge food safety laws</a>, which could be framed as &quot;barriers to trade.&quot;</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s hard right now for inspectors to make sure everything is safe,&quot; said Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of trade, technology and global governance for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Currently, about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44701433/ns/health-food_safety/t/flood-food-imported-us-only-percent-inspected/">2 percent of food imported to the U.S</a>. is inspected. With more imports coming in, pressure to resolve disputes quickly, and no mandate for more regulatory staff, says Hansen-Kuhn, it&#39;s unlikely that inspections will improve.</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>GMOs</strong></span></p><p>Since&nbsp;<a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-us-says-new-eu-plan-for-gmo-imports-is-no-solution-2015-4">rules on genetically modified foods differ from country to country</a>, the agreement&#39;s market access chapter includes a section on &quot;products of biotechnology&quot; &mdash; think engineered corn and soy &mdash; and&nbsp;sets up a protocol for importing countries to decide on product safety.&nbsp;It also establishes a working group for the topic, suggesting that there&#39;s plenty more to be worked out.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Dairy, </span></strong><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Meat</span></strong><strong><span style="font-size:18px;"> And Booze</span></strong></p><p>The TPP does away with more than 18,000 tariffs in the countries party to the deal. American producers will gain access to new markets &mdash; and foreign producers will get access to ours. That includes a lot of food, much of which could become cheaper here, as low-cost imports intensify competition on price.</p><p><strong>Dairy</strong>:&nbsp;After significant battle during negotiations, Canada and New Zealand agreed to modest tariff reductions on dairy, opening their markets to American milk and cheese. In return, Americans may see more New Zealand milk &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thecollectivedairy.com/nz/our-products/suckie-spouch-apple-bircher/">apple bircher &quot;yogurt suckies,&quot;</a>&nbsp;anyone? &mdash; on shelves.</p><p><strong>Pork</strong>:&nbsp;The American pork industry has become a net exporter in the past 20 years, says Nick Giordano, vice president for global government affairs at the National Pork Producers Council. The TPP will pave the way for exports to continue to grow. But America also imports a significant amount of pork. Tariff reductions on imports here could make all that foreign pork cheaper and push prices down in the U.S. &mdash; but also potentially threaten the livelihood of hog farmers.</p><p><strong>Beef</strong>:&nbsp;The agreement doesn&#39;t do much for American beef producers, says the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nfu.org/nfu-says-tpp-will-fail-family-farmers-and-ranchers/3620">National Farmer&#39;s Union</a>, because Japan won a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-06/tpp-to-cut-food-costs-for-japan-on-lower-tariffs-more-imports">provision</a>&nbsp;that would push tariffs back up if imports surged.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.r-calfusa.com/r-calf-usa-says-tpp-will-worsen-cattle-and-sheep-price-volatility/">Smaller beef producers in the U.S. say</a>&nbsp;that increased competition from imports will put more farmers out of business.</p><p><strong>Booze</strong>:&nbsp;California&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/pressroom/10062015">Wine Institute has been supportive of the TPP</a>, as have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.just-drinks.com/analysis/what-does-the-trans-pacific-partnership-mean-for-the-drinks-industry-focus_id118361.aspx">most American drink industry group</a>s &mdash; think Kentucky bourbon &mdash; because the deal opens the massive Pacific market to their products. It also should mean lower prices here for Pacific Rim wines and spirits, like New Zealand&#39;s <em>sauvignon</em><em> </em><em>blancs</em> and Japanese shochu&nbsp;&mdash; though the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative notes that American wine tariffs are already pretty low.</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Labeling Issues</strong></span></p><p>Junk food:&nbsp;Prepackaged food companies can be required to list all ingredients in their foods and additives, but regulators are required to provide importer companies the same confidentiality afforded domestic ones &mdash; i.e. no requesting, say, the formula for Coca-Cola to verify nutrition information and then sharing it with a local producer. So those food labels should still tell you whether you can&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89876927">pronounce what you&#39;re eating</a>.</p><p>Organic Products:&nbsp;Countries can enforce organic standards and are encouraged to come up with a way to unify them across borders. But there&#39;s no provision about whether stricter or looser standards should prevail. According to the agreement&#39;s draft text, if a country &quot;maintains requirements relating to the production, processing, or labeling of products as organic, it shall enforce such requirements.&quot; The USTR was unable to provide specifics by publishing time.</p><p>Challenging other nations&#39; laws:&nbsp;The Investor State Dispute Settlement provision &mdash; which Elizabeth Warren called &quot;the TPP clause everyone should oppose&quot; &mdash; gives member states the power to challenge other states&#39; laws that impact trade and sales. The clause is similar to the provision in NAFTA that overturned a Mexican tax on high fructose corn syrup in favor of American companies&#39; right to sell it, though the TPP does contain explicit language giving countries the right to &quot;regulate in the public interest.&quot; No word yet from USTR&nbsp;on whether labeling provisions for genetic modification and country of origin would reach that standard, or who defines &quot;public interest.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/08/455054676/how-obama-s-trrade-deal-might-change-your-dinner?ft=nprml&amp;f=455054676" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 09 Nov 2015 11:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-obamas-trade-deal-might-stir-your-dinner-113697