UFE's ENews - December 2007

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United for a Fair Economy's E-newsletter
December 2007
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Editor's note: As we move to a new format for our E-news, we ask for your patience and understanding with this month's text-only format.

In this issue:
* Season's Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year
* State of the Dream: Foreclosed!
* New Website Being Tested
* Estate Tax Celebrities
* CEO Pay Gets Oversight
* Restructuring the Community Reinvestment Act for the 21st Century
* Predatory Lending Needs More Attention
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Season's Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year

As we reflect on 2007 and look ahead to next year, we find lots to be optimistic about. This year, economic inequality became a mainstream concept in this country. That was an important goal for UFE, since our founding.

Twelve years ago, we began a dialogue about economic inequality as a way to address poverty without blaming the poor. The idea was to talk about inequality as an issue for both the "haves" and "have nots," and to show a way to measure economic fairness for our society as a whole.

Starting in the new year - a major election year - we will be putting a stronger emphasis on how to fix the problem. We look forward to sharing this work with you and hope you agree that it's important.

If you haven't given to UFE or Responsible Wealth yet in 2007, we really need your support to build our momentum for 2008.

If you have already given this year, we sincerely thank you and respectfully ask you to consider adding another gift to fund the important work ahead in the new year.

You can donate online right now! [Link: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=1973]
Gifts of appreciated stock are also welcome.

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State of the Dream: Foreclosed!

For this year's report on the state of Dr. King's dream, we look at the toll that predatory, sub-prime lending is taking on our nation's individuals and communities of color.

King described society's contribution to racial equity in the 1960s as a check being returned marked "insufficient funds." Today, he would decry his people's loss of homeownership as much worse than a bad check. It is the greatest theft of wealth for people of color in the history of the United States.

Our report looks critically at the current crisis and puts it in the context of the growing racial wealth divide. The report will be published in time for Martin Luther King Day, January 21, 2008. Learn about and download last year's report here. [Link: http://faireconomy.org/press_room/2007/report_people_of_color_vote_blue_but_stay_in_the_red]

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New Website Being Tested

Next time you visit our website [LINK: Faireconomy.org], you'll see that we've been busy. The result of many months of hard work, our newly redesigned website is finally online!

We hope you will appreciate the cleaner look and find it easier to use. One key new advantage is that our material is now shareable through content sharing systems, fulfilling our mission of wide dissemination of our tools and analyses.

Please be patient for the first few weeks as we work out the kinks and continue to load content. We're hoping to make a public announcement in January and will ask for your help to publicize it at that point. In the meantime, we'd love to hear what you think, especially if there's something missing for you. If you have a minute, please send email to info@faireconomy.org subj=Website.

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Estate Tax Celebrities

Last month, Warren Buffett testified in Congress to support the estate tax. This month, Whoopi Goldberg entered the fray using her position as co-host of the ABC TV talk show The View. Unfortunately, Whoopi is against the tax, which makes her look uninformed at best, or a selfish, spoiled product of Hollywood at worst. Read the op-ed about Whoopi by Lee Farris of UFE. [LINK: http://faireconomy.org/news/the_morality_of_the_estate_tax]

Our readers know that estate tax preservation is key to funding important social needs like housing, healthcare and education, all of which are prominent in the 2008 presidential election. These issues are encapsulated in the written testimony UFE recently submitted to congress. Read it here [LINK: http://faireconomy.org/news/senate_hearing_testimony_on_the_estate_tax]

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CEO Pay Gets Oversight

Rep. Henry Waxman made headlines in the business press earlier this month when he released a report on CEO Pay and compensation consultants - highlighting the conflicts of interest between the consultants who advise companies on compensation for executives and the executives themselves. Our Labor Day report, Executive Excess 2007 (PDF) [LINK: http://faireconomy.org/files/pdf/ExecutiveExcess2007.pdf], which we co-published with the Institute for Policy Studies [Link: http://www.ips-dc-org] was cited in Waxman's report.

Well, duh! We covered this issue last year (PDF) [Link: ] proposing that corporate proxy statements disclose any potential conflict of interest for their compensation consultants. Waxman's report backs us up and strongly implies a need for regulation. For example, a key Waxman finding is that compensation consultant conflicts of interest are pervasive. In 2006, at least 113 of the Fortune 250 companies received executive pay advice from consultants that were providing other services to the company. It gets worse. Find the report here:
http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1647

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Restructuring the Community Reinvestment Act for the 21st Century

Against the backdrop of the success of microfinance, and the recent history of sub-prime lending, the Financial Services and Education Project of the New America Foundation has examined the 30-year legacy of the Community Reinvestment Act. The report focuses on using past lessons to arrive at a new accountability and responsibility agenda for consumer financial services in the current economy. Find the report here:
http://www.newamerica.net.

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Predatory Lending Needs More Attention

In our November edition, we showcased the great work that National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) is doing to address the issue of predatory lending. We might have implied incorrectly that NCRC supported H.R. 3915, a bill designed to reform consumer mortgage practices that passed the House on November 15. In fact, NCRC was advocating for strengthening the legislation and in the end did not support the bill. Unfortunately, the bill passed without being strengthened. We encourage you to express your own disappointment about the lost opportunity represented by this weak legislation. Visit NCRC. [LINK: www.ncrc.org]

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