Saturday, June 14, 2008

FYI - - - (That's right, FYI and heed )

How we killed thrift, enthroned loan sharks and undermined American prosperity

Discovered by Norm

Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life is the American Film Institute’s pick for the most inspirational American movie of all time. Set in the fictional New York town of Bedford Falls, the story’s grand narrative is about the wondrous gift of human life, but its less lofty plotline is hardly much less grand. It’s about the travails of George Bailey and Bailey Brothers’ Building & Loan, an institution that is an inseparable part of a stable, prosperous and above all virtuous community, as Capra makes clear by contrast with the evil fat-cat banker, Mr. Potter. At the film’s climax, George Bailey’s Bedford Falls neighbors and customers merge into a single society, grateful, generous and all pulling together in the face of adversity.

This article appeared in

In an America just emerging from the cauldron of the Great Depression and the Second World War, no one needed to point out to viewers what a building and loan was or why it meant so much to many small and mid-sized American communities. Everyone understood that thrift was socially constructive, for through the accumulation of individual savings everyone benefited from rising prosperity, better education and hope for a brighter future. What war bonds had been for national security, thrift and home-building institutions were for family security. The social capital created through thrift institutions limited social polarization and marginalized the depredations of greed, so the real small towns of America never decayed into Pottervilles. This wasn’t just sentimental bunkum from Hollywood; in 1946, this was as real as a social fact could be.

It’s a Wonderful Life still makes for great entertainment, but a hint of sadness pervades viewing the film today in a way it did not sixty, or even thirty, years ago. That is because the American culture of thrift, epitomized by no less beloved a Founder than Benjamin Franklin himself, is at best on institutional life support. Somehow we as a society have managed to undermine a precious social virtue and enthrone what amounts to industrial-scale loan-sharking. In doing so we have undermined a source of America’s real wealth and thus put its global leadership at risk. What has happened to America’s thrift institutions? How did it happen, and what can we do to recover before it is too late?

Then and Now

The United States is experiencing a sharply growing polarization in access to institutional opportunities to save and build wealth. For most of the 20th century, nearly all Americans had access to grassroots institutions that helped them build a nest egg. These institutions included local retail banks, mutual savings banks, credit unions, savers’ clubs, school savings-bond programs, building and loan associations, savings and loans, and labor union-sponsored savings plans. Some institutions, such as credit unions, building and loans, and labor union plans, grew out of a cooperative, nonprofit banking tradition expressly created for the “small saver.” But even local retail banks offered passbook savings accounts and children’s savings programs for families of modest means. Together, these institutions constituted a broadly democratic “pro-thrift” sector of the financial service industry.

In addition to providing opportunities to save, pro-thrift institutions also limited the amount of debt consumers could carry. Banks had strict rules for consumer lending. Americans who wanted to buy a house had to accumulate savings, apply to a local bank, document their credit-worthiness, undergo the scrutiny of the lending institution and usually make a 20 percent down payment.

Lending institutions were likewise constrained by government rules. Federal and state regulations set limits on the interest and fees lenders could impose, and some forms of thriftlessness were outlawed entirely. Lotteries were illegal in all states, usury laws prohibited predatory interest rates, and casino gambling was allowed in just a few venues like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. To be sure, some Americans still borrowed from loan sharks, pawned their wedding rings or gambled away the family farm. But such behavior was disreputable and well beyond the pale of responsible institutions as far as the vast majority of Americans were concerned.

Americans under the age of forty today can only gain knowledge of this reality by reading about it in books, for it can no longer be experienced directly. A thrift sector still exists, but it has ceased to be broadly democratic in its reach. The institutions that encourage thrift have moved uptown, catering to upper-income Americans with an ever-expanding array of tax-advantaged opportunities to invest and build wealth. The potential “small saver” has been left behind as prey to new, highly profitable financial institutions: subprime credit card issuers and mortgage brokers, rent-to-own merchants, payday lenders, auto title lenders, tax refund lenders, private student-loan companies, franchise tax preparers, check cashing outlets and the state lottery. Once existing on society’s margins, these institutions now constitute a large and aggressively expanding anti-thrift sector that is dragging hundreds of thousands of American consumers into profligacy and over-indebtedness. America now has a two-tier financial institutional system—one catering to the “investor class”, the other to the “lottery class.”

The investor class, with ample access to institutions that foster wealth-building discipline, is served by a bevy of insurance agents, tax lawyers, stockbrokers, tax accountants, deferred compensation experts and investment bankers. They are likely to work in organizations with 401(k) plans, profit-sharing, Keogh plans, deferred income compensation and retirement savings programs. The lottery class, on the other hand, works in jobs that offer few pro-thrift benefits. As of 2004, seventy million of America’s 153 million wage earners worked for employers without a retirement plan. Rather than being courted by investment firms, they are targets of modern-day, made-to-look-respectable loan sharks. Tens of millions of working Americans who might join the class of savers and investors under more favorable circumstances are being recruited into a burgeoning population of debtors and bettors.

Debt and Its Discontents

The ability to borrow is a good thing—or ought to be. Credit helps consumers buy houses, get educations, start businesses and acquire goods that may boost their job prospects and future income. As economists like to point out, consumer credit helps smooth out spending over a lifetime, allowing people to borrow in their lower-earning years in order to build assets and investments for the future.

But consumer credit is a double-edged blade: It can lead to greater opportunity and freedom, but, if promoted deceptively and used recklessly, it can lead to disaster, as the subprime mortgage failure has so painfully revealed. Even before the subprime debacle, however, many Americans were struggling with a growing debt burden. According to the Federal Reserve’s measure of burdensome debt, in 2004 the typical family spent more than 18 percent of its income on debt payments, the largest share since the Fed started collecting these data. Moreover, the proportion of families with debt-service payments exceeding 40 percent of their income rose to 12.2 percent in 2004. Consumer loan delinquencies also rose during this period.

Some of this debt is natural in the sense that middle-income and young families—who make up the largest share of households in the heavy debt-service category—are at the stage in life where they are rearing children and buying big-ticket items like houses, cars, major appliances and computers. Many families have also been hit hard by stagnating wages and the rising costs of health care, food and energy, leading them to rely on credit not to build assets but to make ends meet.

Some aren’t making it, however. Late fees and missed payments on credit cards have risen sharply, costing American consumers $17.1 billion in fees in 2006. About one in every seven American families reports that at some point in their lives they experienced debt problems serious enough to have caused them to file for bankruptcy or to use a credit consolidator. More than one out of three say their financial situation was “out of control” at some point in their lives. Even those able to manage high household debt are increasingly operating at the razor’s edge of solvency, with little cushion to cover an unexpected expense such as a major car repair or a medical emergency.

Why are so many Americans struggling with high levels of debt? Some blame individual greed and recklessness, and certainly human frailty and irresponsible choices are part of the story. Others point to a culture of rampant, corporate-driven consumerism, buttressed by marketing techniques so sophisticated as to exceed the imagination of George Orwell himself. If you can find someone who honestly denies that this is part of the problem, sell him a bridge before it’s too late. But soaring levels of household debt are also tied to another, often overlooked, source: recent changes in America’s institutional and regulatory landscape.

Both statistical evidence and common sense make it clear that this is so. As to the former, many other countries in the world are similarly embedded in a corporate market economy, yet few other advanced countries confront a debt debacle comparable to that of the United States. The variable that can most readily explain the data is the different institutional/regulatory environments in different countries.

As to common sense, it is evident that in money matters, as in most things that matter, authoritative institutions play a role in guiding individual choices and in setting cultural norms. Few people understand the full range of forces affecting them, or have time to acquire the knowledge and self-discipline necessary to make informed decisions. That’s where authoritative institutions come in. They establish the norms, conventions and values that vest individual decision-making with broader social wisdom and knowledge. But not all institutional set-ups are created equal. Some inculcate norms and values that foster unwise choices or contribute to unjust outcomes. Such is the case in today’s American debt culture. Newly powerful and aggressive anti-thrift institutions are promoting behaviors and attitudes that have undermined our nation’s traditional culture of thrift.

The Plastic Trap

Perhaps the most pervasive of these new anti-thrifts is the credit card industry. Plastic has become an American way of life. There are now more than a billion cards in the hands of U.S. consumers, and more than three quarters of American households have at least one of them. The average age of credit card holders is getting younger, too. Many teenagers get their first card in high school and most college students have at least one—indeed, a whopping 56 percent of final-year college students carry four or more cards.

It is little wonder that credit cards are so popular, for they are convenient, fast and easy to use. It’s not the credit card itself that’s the problem; it’s that in the wake of the financial deregulation of the 1980s the credit card industry was the first anti-thrift sector to discover the huge but untapped profitability of the subprime market. In so doing, it upended the conservative philosophy that had guided consumer lending in the United States for a century. Instead of limiting the small-loan market to prime customers who were likely to pay off the entire debt in thirty days, the industry went after subprime customers who were likely to pay only the low minimum balance and to incur the additional costs of late fees, over-limit fees and other penalties on a regular basis.

The credit card industry was also the first to develop practices and products that ensured long-term consumer dependency on expensive credit. Low teaser interest rates that converted to double-digit rates, extra transaction fees and penalties, the securitization of debt, and abrogated relationships between the originating lender and borrower were not innovations of the subprime mortgage business. These practices were pioneered by the credit card industry.

During the 1990s, the credit card industry promoted its expansion into subprime markets under the banner of the “democratization” of credit. The industry was “reaching out” to the unserved and underserved, so that Americans who once had to make do with the cash in a weekly pay packet could now use plastic to make their everyday purchases. This democratization of credit, however, led to the widespread propagation of debt. Between 1989 and 2001, credit card debt almost tripled, from $238 billion to $692 billion. By fall of 2007, the amount of revolving consumer credit had reached $937.5 billion, a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

In the generally flush 1990s, many families were able to manage higher credit card debt without undue distress, but in today’s more troubled times, families who once kept on top of their credit card balances—even if it meant paying only the minimum on several cards—are now toppling into delinquencies and defaults. Nearly half of all credit card holders have missed payments in the last year. With declining home values and tighter credit, fewer homeowners can draw on the equity in their homes to maintain their standard of living or to consolidate credit card debt. More households struggle simply to live from paycheck to paycheck, with no cash reserves or unused credit to keep them from economic free fall.

Payday Lenders

For families on the financial edge there is another place to turn to for “fast cash”—the local payday lender. Payday lenders serve up “fast cash” and “free money” to 15 million Americans every month. The industry solicits wage earners with incomes generally ranging between $18,000 and $25,000, people who mainly live from paycheck to paycheck and sometimes run out of money before their next payday. To qualify for a loan, most borrowers typically have only to produce a recent pay stub, current bank statement, blank personal check, driver’s license or other government ID card, and proof of current address. While this is more evidence than some credit-challenged borrowers had to produce to get a $500,000 subprime mortgage, it is hardly enough to establish genuine creditworthiness.

A payday loan center in Columbus, Missouri

According to a recent Wall Street Journal investigation, payday lenders are now intensively soliciting elderly and disabled recipients of government benefits. The reason is a change in the regulatory environment. For years, Social Security recipients received their government checks in the mail and cashed them at a neighborhood store or local bank. By the late 1990s, however, the Federal government began requiring electronic deposits of benefit checks into an established bank account, unless recipients chose to opt out. This saved money for the government, but it turned into an unexpected boon for the payday lenders. With the advent of direct deposit, many lenders could make predatory loans as an “advance” on the next month’s benefits check. Since Social Security, veterans and disabled-benefit checks arrive every month for as long as the recipient is living, they represent a highly secure form of collateral. Making a loan on future Social Security checks bears about as much risk to a lender as spotting Warren Buffett twenty bucks.

Storefront payday lenders are commonplace in thousands of towns throughout America, and they work hard to cultivate a reassuring image of normalcy. Their clean, well-lit shops fit comfortably into the franchise landscape, with all the amenities of a McDonald’s or a Burger King. Like fast food, payday loans can be ordered up and ready to go in a matter of minutes. At a local Check ’n’ Go in the typically Midwestern Muncie, Indiana, a sign on the door reads: “Getting a loan is as easy as 1-2-3: l. Just Write Us a Personal Check. 2. Get the Cash You Need Instantly. 3. We Hold Your Check Until Your Next Payday ...It’s Quick, Easy and Confidential.”

Unlike fast food, however, fast cash isn’t cheap. It typically costs the borrower the equivalent of an annual percentage rate (APR) of 300–400 percent. Payday loans contain another financially unhealthy feature, as well: They are structured so that it is hard for the borrower to repay the loan in full. Instead, many consumers end up with little choice but to pay special fees to “roll over” the original loan into the next payday, a practice that can lead to chronic dependency on expensive credit. Indeed, the profitability of the payday business depends heavily on getting borrowers into multiple rollovers: About 56 percent of payday lending revenue is generated by customers who take out 13 or more loans per year.

Payday lending has been able to thrive because of lax state usury laws. In 1965, every state in the union had a usury limit on consumer loans; today, seven states have completely deregulated interest rates within their borders, and at least 35 states allow lenders to charge the equivalent of more than a 300 percent APR on a typical payday loan. There are also significant regional differences in usury caps. The Northeastern states have been the most aggressive in limiting the pricing of consumer loans, while the Rocky Mountain West (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) has been the most permissive. It is there that the median APR of state usury limits increased from 36 percent in 1965 to 521 percent in 2007.

So far, 12 states and the District of Columbia have essentially banned payday lending by placing interest rate caps on small loans. Likewise, Congress has imposed a 36 percent cap on payday loans to young, low-income military families—a popular target for the predatory payday industry. And the FDIC has encouraged banks under its purview to market small-loan products to the general population with interest rates of 36 percent or less. Other, more narrowly focused efforts to discourage payday lending, such as limiting the number of outstanding loans per consumer, restricting the number of rollovers, or introducing extended repayment plans, have been less effective in eliminating the payday debt trap.

State Lotteries

Payday lenders are not the only anti-thrift outfits to set up shop in recent decades. After being shuttered for many years in every state in the union, the lottery has now become an all-American institution. In the past year, more than half of the nation’s adults have played one of the nation’s 43 lotteries, and about 20 percent of all Americans are frequent players. In 2006, state lotteries raked in $57 billion, representing a roughly 500 percent increase in per capita spending on the lottery since 1973. No other government agency makes itself such a regular presence in American daily life. Lottery tickets are sold at about 200,000 mini marts, bodegas, newsstands, bars, bus stations, check cashing outlets, mall kiosks, liquor stores, supermarkets and gas stations nationwide. Lottery ads pop up on buses, subways and billboards. Live drawings take place during the nightly news.

State lotteries don’t simply make their products available: They actively seek to “grow” their market. Lotteries work hard to hold onto current players, entice new players into the game and increase the frequency of play. Their business plans set the goal of making regular betting a part of individuals’ daily or weekly rituals, and their methods seek to habituate players to the game: the suspense of scraping the latex square on the instant ticket to reveal the number underneath, the excitement of watching numbered balls drop down a chute in televised nightly drawings, the emotional rush over getting a small payout and the addictive cycle of trying to beat the lottery “house” with just one more ticket. And, of course, they avidly market the big winners, to make it seem as though winning big is vastly more frequent an occurrence than it really is.

As a source of public revenue, the lottery is highly regressive. As figure 1 shows, players with lower incomes tend to spend more on the lottery than those with higher incomes. Even more to the point, people with lower incomes spend a larger share of their incomes on the lottery. A household with an income under $12,400 spends 5 percent of its gross income, but a household with an income of $124,000 spends about one-third of one percent of its gross income.

Graphic by Thomas Rickers

Furthermore, as an influence on the spending-versus-savings decisions of people with lower incomes, the lottery promotes spending. That is, lottery players at the lower-income range suffer a larger anti-thrift effect: They give up the opportunity to save the proportionately larger share of dollars spent on the lottery. Presumably, if a low-income household can spend $645 on the lottery, it can save and invest that same $645. The Tax Foundation estimates that if that household were to invest the same amount in stocks every year for forty years, it could expect to have $87,191 (in 2006 dollars).

Although the lottery extracts its revenues disproportionately from the less privileged, it distributes funds to causes with broad public support across all income groups, such as education. Lotteries rarely dedicate revenue to chronically underfunded programs for halfway houses, prisoner release services, homeless shelters, services to the disabled, domestic violence prevention and drug abuse treatment. In some states, lotteries have even funded projects that favor the more privileged. For example, a 1991 study of the Florida lottery found that lottery-funded expenditures for K-12 education disproportionately benefit those at higher incomes, and a University of Georgia survey showed that black respondents were significantly less likely to have someone in their household who received a HOPE scholarship, the lottery-funded program for college-bound students. In Massachusetts, where lottery revenues are distributed in local aid to the 351 cities and towns across the state, communities with the strongest lottery sales do not receive commensurate levels of local aid. Residents in the old industrial city of Lynn spend $85 million a year on tickets and games, but the city receives just $15 million a year in lottery-financed local aid—a net loss of $70 million.

Shaping a Debt Culture

Few people enjoy being over their heads in debt. It is usually a stressful and unhappy experience, straining family and work relationships, leaving a blot on one’s social reputation, and limiting one’s freedom to achieve life goals. Under ordinary circumstances, people try to avoid what earlier generations called “financial embarrassment.” In past decades, too, the social geography of the financial world reinforced psychological inhibitions against carrying too much debt. Reputable lenders were located in the commercial heart of town, disreputable ones on the shadowy fringes. Bank architecture conveyed solidity, loan-shark architecture reflected seediness. And a moral language that unabashedly labeled usurious lenders as “loan sharks” and “payroll leeches” set these businesses apart from the respectable mainstream. This combination of personal aversion to debt, the social stigma of over-indebtedness and the grubby image of predatory money-lenders provided extralegal checks on the temptation to live beyond one’s means.

The anti-thrift industry has worked relentlessly to destroy these traditional inhibitions and stigmas. One strategy has been to improve the image of their businesses; hence the familiar franchise architecture of the suburban strip mall for payday lenders. Another approach is to treat over-indebtedness as commonplace. Payday lenders cast themselves as friendly professionals who offer “finance solutions for all situations.” Indeed, they’ve expunged the words “debt” and “loan” from their advertising. One payday lending website brazenly calls its product a “cash advance savings account.” What’s more, their marketing pitches proclaim, they have solutions for “your problems.” They pretend to care about you. Indeed, they are “there for you as often as you need them”—in other words, as often as you need to roll over your existing loan.

Whatever the specific anti-thrift business—whether payroll advances, credit card purchases or lottery tickets—they all offer instant gratification. They promise “fast cash”, “fast service” and “fast solutions” to money problems. To deliver on that promise, they structure their services in such a way as to maximally separate the time of the loan or purchase from the time of payment. This makes it easier for the consumer to get the money or goods immediately without having to think hard about the high cost of the credit—or, in the case of the lottery, the infinitesimal odds of a major payoff.

Further, to foster the trust of the borrowing public, some anti-thrift institutions link their business interests to those of highly credible institutions. The credit card industry, for example, makes deals with colleges and universities to use their campuses to market expensive credit cards to students. College students who accept cards from on-campus marketers are likely to be more indebted than those who obtain cards through other means, yet they are also likely to believe that the card issuers are more reputable because they have been screened by the college.

Like other value-shaping institutions, the anti-thrift industry takes seriously the task of initiating the young into a debt culture. Lottery officials now see 18- to 25-year-olds as the demographic group with the greatest future potential for increasing lottery play and revenues, especially with the expansion of online gambling. The Texas Lottery, one of the few state lotteries required to provide detailed demographic breakdowns of its consumers, looks to be well on the way to cracking that youthful market. According to its 2006 report, 18- to 24-year-old players spend a median $50 per month on lottery play, the highest level among all age groups.

The credit card industry, meanwhile, is intent on making the acquisition of a teenager’s first credit card a rite of passage into a cashless consumer culture. Some card companies market their cards as money management tools, although most financial experts believe that kids are better off if they learn to save first and then use cash. Clearly, young credit card users often fail to appreciate how much things cost, fail to grasp the concept of a sales tax, and, perhaps most important, fail to experience the tristesse of an empty wallet following a spending spree. Nonetheless, to appeal to college students, credit card issuers often dangle the lure of prizes and points: Chase +1SM Student MasterCard offers the limited edition Facebook T-shirt plus “Karma Points” for purchases of music, movies and electronics; Citi mtvUTM Platinum Select Visa Card delivers extra “ThankYou Points” for “every dollar spent on restaurants, bookstores, record stores, movie theaters, MTV events, and airline tickets”, as well as 250 to 2,000 “ThankYou Points” twice a year for maintaining a good grade-point average. Even Pavlov would be aghast.

Two Models of Reform

This is not the first time that America has faced a tide of anti-thrift. A century ago, loan sharks reaped huge profits making small loans at usurious interest rates. The most notorious practice was salary lending, a business that offered short-term, high-interest loans to wage earners as an “advance” on future wages. Salary lenders had been around since the Civil War, but the business expanded rapidly in an urbanizing America. By the early 20th century, nearly every major American city had a cluster of salary lenders, some part of large, multi-state chains. According to an estimate made in 1911, one out of five wage earners in cities with more than 30,000 people took out a salary loan in a year.

Two conditions spurred this phenomenal growth. The first was the growing market for consumer loans. As the population of the nation’s industrial wage earners grew, so too did the need for cash to stretch their meager wages from payday to payday. Unlike farmers and small-business owners, wage earners were entirely dependent on the dollars in their pay packet to meet their family’s needs. As one contemporary writer, Robert Kelso, put it, “The wage has not the certainty of food produced on the farm. . . . [T]he workingman’s dollar has a way of depending on world finance to tell it how much food it will buy.”

Nor could strapped wage earners turn to local banks. Most commercial banks did not make small personal loans, because it took just as much paperwork and investigation to establish the creditworthiness of an individual as it did of a business. Furthermore, existing state usury laws capped the amount of interest that could be charged on a personal loan at between 4 and 12 percent annually, with 6 percent being typical. Under such restrictive caps, bankers contended that they could not cover the costs of making small consumer loans and still turn a profit.

Salary lenders, on the other hand, faced few such obstacles. They needed little capital to start their business. Once established, they earned healthy profits from high-volume lending, frequent loan rollovers and usurious interest rates—plus late fees, protest fees, application fees, collection fees and other add-ons. Some of the big chains integrated the lending and collection businesses, thus generating another stream of revenue.

Of course, all this was technically illegal, but the prospect of huge profits far outweighed the small risk of being caught and punished. Besides, enforcement was difficult because lenders disguised usurious rates as fees and service charges, required borrowers to sign blank or partially completed contracts, and failed to give receipts for payments. And even in those infrequent cases when a lender was convicted of usury, the penalties were generally civil and mild, ranging from forfeiting the amount of usurious interest charged to suffering the loss of the principal plus interest.

But this was the Progressive Era, and a handful of reformers set out to combat the “loan sharking evil.” They wanted to satisfy the growing need for consumer credit and shut down the loan sharks once and for all. To do so, they followed two very different strategies.

One strategy was to make the small-loan business more profitable for banks and other legal lending institutions. The reformers agreed with the bankers: Restrictive usury laws kept commercial lenders out of the consumer credit business and fed the growth of the illegal loan-sharking businesses. By raising the interest rate caps, reformers hoped to create an incentive for banks to drive the loan sharks out of the consumer lending business. The eventual legislation passed by most states by 1932, the Uniform Small Loan Law, raised the interest cap to 42 percent per year and prohibited fees or other add-on charges. It also required licensing and oversight by state agencies and provided consumer protections for the borrower (the lender was required to disclose fully the terms of loans and provide receipts for all payments).

A second strategy was to create a pro-thrift institution for working people: the credit union. Like usury law reform, the credit union sought to solve the loan-sharking problem by providing an alternative source of consumer credit to workers. Rather than trying to provide incentives to commercial banks to increase consumer lending, however, the credit union movement sought to institutionalize cooperative savings among wage earners themselves. The credit union wasn’t intended as a competitor or imitator of the commercial lenders, or even as a charitable “remedial” lender. Instead, it offered something new: a local, nonprofit, democratically run entity whose first purpose was to provide its members with the incentives and opportunities to save and then, when necessary, to borrow from each other.

Although these two Progressive Era strategies grew out of very different assumptions and approaches, they complemented one another in quelling the spread of predatory lenders for most of the 20th century. The reform of usury laws, however, had a longer-term and wholly unintended consequence. As Christopher Peterson, a leading expert on usury law, has demonstrated, the higher interest allowed under the small loan laws diluted long-standing moral strictures against usurious lending. Legal principle and practice shifted from imposing strict limits on interest rates to introducing flexible and variable caps.

Once that happened, it became much more difficult to resist further deregulation. From the middle 20th century on, Peterson writes, “each state began to chart its own course”, creating all kinds of exceptions and loopholes for consumer lending. Especially during the 1980s, amid deregulation and inflation, political pressure to weaken or eliminate usury laws grew. This climate in turn created a hospitable legal environment for the resurgence of a legal successor to the salary lending business—now called, of course, payday lending. The irony is hard to miss. The Progressive-era reform of usury laws, aimed at combating the first wave in the 20th century, helped open the door to the second great wave of predatory lenders in the 21st.

Compared to usury law reform, the credit union has turned out to be a more durable solution. For nearly a century, the credit union has served the small saver and investor. Today, more than 8,100 credit unions provide savings accounts, low-cost credit, financial education and investments for more than 86 million Americans.

The credit union model has been successful for at least four reasons. First, it began as a social movement and was fueled by the energy, commitment and sense of mission that is common to social movements. Second, it united two ideals: democratic economic cooperation and thrift, broadly understood as the wise use of resources for productive purposes. Third, it adopted an organizational model that applied a pro-thrift solution (cooperative savings) to a contemporary problem (predatory interest rates on consumer loans). Fourth, it was organized to fit the habits and routines of its members’ daily lives. People did not come to the credit union; it came to the people.

Two Goals

These experiences and our current predicament recommend two goals: to renew thrift as an American value, and to create broadly democratic, pro-thrift institutions as alternatives to the current crop of anti-thrifts. Ultimately, these changes can only be achieved in the context of a social movement. We need, in sum, a National Thrift Initiative with a broad-based social sponsorship whose purpose would be to share ideas, incubate strategies and identify creative ways to promote thrift.

Based on American history and what’s left of our common sense, we can identify candidate objectives.

Re-establish a public education campaign. During World War II, Americans saved at extraordinarily high rates—about 25 percent on average. This impressive display of thrift and sacrifice was driven primarily by the war, but it also had a more proximate source: The U.S. government, collaborating with civil society leaders, actively stressed the importance of saving for the war effort while also providing a specific new savings tool in the form of war bonds. Perhaps the time is right to re-establish a pro-thrift public education campaign. Similar campaigns to reduce drunk driving and smoking and to encourage seat belt use appear to have had a demonstrable impact on people’s behavior in recent years. Why not thrift?

Challenge “consumer spending” as a main solution to economic problems. Whether it is a national security crisis like 9/11 or worrisome economic news, our leaders in recent years seem increasingly determined to insist on the catchall economic salve of prodigious consumer spending. Hence, for example, the 2008 tax rebate legislation. But this is, at best, partial and misleading advice in a society marked by dangerously high levels of debt and dangerously low levels of saving. Perhaps it is time to balance the message of more spending with a message of more saving and wealth building.

Create a thrift savings plan available to all Americans. Since 1986, the U.S. government’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) has permitted Federal employees to build wealth and save for retirement by systematically placing a portion of their earnings into diversified stock-and-bond index funds. These funds are managed by an independent board, with oversight from the public and private sectors. The expense ratios on TSP funds are low (0.06 percent), making them cheaper than similar commercially run funds. Currently, the TSP boasts 3.7 million participants, manages assets of approximately $225 billion, and is widely viewed across the political spectrum as a major success. Federal policymakers and others should consider offering this same wealth-building opportunity to all working Americans.

Build new thrift institutions. New, community-based thrift institutions can stand as attractive alternatives to payday lenders and other anti-thrift institutions. If we are serious about confronting the debt culture, building these new institutions is our most urgent task. They must possess three core traits: Functionally, they must provide opportunities and incentives to save and offer credit at affordable costs for prudent purposes; structurally, they must be broadly democratic and organized as not-for-profit cooperative or mutual organizations; geographically, they must be accessible to low-income Americans.

Re-purpose the lottery. State lotteries are the most egregiously anti-thrift state-run institutions in America. Because lotteries typically enjoy broad support by politicians and the public, it would be hard, if not impossible, to outlaw these operations at present. But it is possible to re-purpose the lottery, at least in part, as a thrift-promoting institution. In every state lottery outlet in the United States, a customer should be able to purchase “savings” tickets as well as lottery tickets. In this way, a comprehensive public apparatus devoted to encouraging everyone to become a bettor would simultaneously become an apparatus devoted to encouraging everyone to become a saver. It ought to be an easy sell: “Every ticket wins!” because, in fact, every single savings ticket would improve the financial well-being of the purchaser.

There are many other such ideas out there, and nearly all deserve exploration, because a society in which ever more of us are over our heads in debt—a society in which a place like Bedford Falls seems no longer to exist, except in our fading collective memory—is unlikely to remain a thriving society for very long.

There is reason for hope. After all, our forebears a century ago met head on many of the same challenges we face today, and if they could succeed, there is no reason we cannot do so as well. Their success helped reinforce the virtues that made America great, and their foresight helped make it greater still. They left America and the world a better place. We should aspire to do no less.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Message from the home town...Taunton, Massachusetts

I received an e-mail from a friend in my home town with instructions to bring a flag...

Also attached was a message from the mayor...


The city is working with the Duffy family as well as Federal, State and Local officials to plan for the wake and funeral of Sgt Shane Duffy, a Tauntonian, who was recently killed in Iraq.
The wake will be on Friday, June 13, 2008 at St Mary's Church beginning at 1:00 pm and the funeral Mass will he held on Saturday, June 14th, 2008 at 11:00 am at St Marys Church on Broadway.
Following the funeral Mass, the body of Sgt Shane Duffy will be placed on a horse drawn caisson and his family and mourners will march in a procession from the church down Broadway and around Taunton Green. The procession will turn right along the south side of Taunton Green and then pass in front of the Post Office and continue down Court Street. The march will continue north on Route 140 (Tremont Street) to Glebe Street where the march will continue up Glebe Street and turn left onto North Walker Street where the burial will take place across from the Bennett School.

I have sent a communication to the school department asking then to notify the school children throughout this city to, with the permission of their family, line the route of the procession and hold an American flag.
I am requesting all citizens to do the same this Saturday. The funeral mass will be over and the procession will begin about 12:30 pm on Saturday. The procession will be slow but I am asking everyone to notify the child's soccer team, baseball team, boys & girls scout troops to join in this effort.

Also, anyone who belongs to any civic group should notify them to join us as well.

We are trying to secure flags to hold however if anyone has a flag-bring it and wave it proudly.

Sgt Shane Duffy is 'our' local hero. Let us show our community, our state and our nation that we know how to provide the kind of patriotic service befitting an American Hero.

Please join us.

Charles Crowley, Mayor

As I am 1,200 miles from the ole homestead
may I be with you in spirit ...
"Sgt Duffy here is my flag."

God Bless
From ye old Master Sergeant
Note: If you want to see the procession (Saturday June 14th) around the Taunton Green (approximately noon EDT) click here then click your refresh button until you get the correct scene.

Sub-Prime For Dummies

This pretty much sums it up. If you don't understand this, then you are the dummy!
Everything depicted here is 100% true...absolutely true!

Cash...Don't leave home without it!

The Great Seduction

The people who created this country built a moral structure around money. The Puritan legacy inhibited luxury and self-indulgence. Benjamin Franklin spread a practical gospel that emphasized hard work, temperance and frugality. Millions of parents, preachers, newspaper editors and teachers expounded the message. The result was quite remarkable.

The United States has been an affluent nation since its founding. But the country was, by and large, not corrupted by wealth. For centuries, it remained industrious, ambitious and frugal.

Over the past 30 years, much of that has been shredded. The social norms and institutions that encouraged frugality and spending what you earn have been undermined. The institutions that encourage debt and living for the moment have been strengthened. The country’s moral guardians are forever looking for decadence out of Hollywood and reality TV. But the most rampant decadence today is financial decadence, the trampling of decent norms about how to use and harness money.

Sixty-two scholars have signed on to a report by the Institute for American Values and other think tanks called, “For a New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture,” examining the results of all this. This may be damning with faint praise, but it’s one of the most important think-tank reports you’ll read this year.

The deterioration of financial mores has meant two things. First, it’s meant an explosion of debt that inhibits social mobility and ruins lives. Between 1989 and 2001, credit-card debt nearly tripled, soaring from $238 billion to $692 billion. By last year, it was up to $937 billion, the report said.

Second, the transformation has led to a stark financial polarization. On the one hand, there is what the report calls the investor class. It has tax-deferred savings plans, as well as an army of financial advisers. On the other hand, there is the lottery class, people with little access to 401(k)’s or financial planning but plenty of access to payday lenders, credit cards and lottery agents.

The loosening of financial inhibition has meant more options for the well-educated but more temptation and chaos for the most vulnerable. Social norms, the invisible threads that guide behavior, have deteriorated. Over the past years, Americans have been more socially conscious about protecting the environment and inhaling tobacco. They have become less socially conscious about money and debt.

The agents of destruction are many. State governments have played a role. They aggressively hawk their lottery products, which some people call a tax on stupidity. Twenty percent of Americans are frequent players, spending about $60 billion a year. The spending is starkly regressive. A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income. Aside from the financial toll, the moral toll is comprehensive. Here is the government, the guardian of order, telling people that they don’t have to work to build for the future. They can strike it rich for nothing.

Payday lenders have also played a role. They seductively offer fast cash — at absurd interest rates — to 15 million people every month.

Credit card companies have played a role. Instead of targeting the financially astute, who pay off their debts, they’ve found that they can make money off the young and vulnerable. Fifty-six percent of students in their final year of college carry four or more credit cards.

Congress and the White House have played a role. The nation’s leaders have always had an incentive to shove costs for current promises onto the backs of future generations. It’s only now become respectable to do so.

Wall Street has played a role. Bill Gates built a socially useful product to make his fortune. But what message do the compensation packages that hedge fund managers get send across the country?

The list could go on. But the report, which is nicely summarized by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead in The American Interest (available free online), also has some recommendations. First, raise public consciousness about debt the way the anti-smoking activists did with their campaign. Second, create institutions that encourage thrift.

Foundations and churches could issue short-term loans to cut into the payday lenders’ business. Public and private programs could give the poor and middle class access to financial planners. Usury laws could be enforced and strengthened. Colleges could reduce credit card advertising on campus. KidSave accounts would encourage savings from a young age. The tax code should tax consumption, not income, and in the meantime, it should do more to encourage savings up and down the income ladder.

There are dozens of things that could be done. But the most important is to shift values. Franklin made it prestigious to embrace certain bourgeois virtues. Now it’s socially acceptable to undermine those virtues. It’s considered normal to play the debt game and imagine that decisions made today will have no consequences for the future.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Now if I only can convince Ron from Texas...

This is real folks! It's happening right now all around you!

This is why the country is so divided. (Who said that? "Divide and conquer!")

"You have nothing to fear but fear itself. " -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Well let me say this about that; fear has arrived." -- Norman E. Hooben

Take the next 27 minutes and 44 seconds or they* will take the rest of your lives!

* The politic elite! The Clintons, Kennedys, Bush, Lugar, et al (its bi-partisan)

Bush Reaffirms North American Union Agenda At Leaders’ Summit
Opposition to ‘Security and Prosperity Partnership’ intensifies
President Bush yesterday reaffirmed a commitment to progress the much maligned Security and Prosperity Partnership agenda, amid intensified opposition from commentators and critics concerned that the plan constitutes an undermining of national sovereignty.

At a private party to open the fourth North American Leaders’ Summit in New Orleans, Bush referred to recently encountered “setbacks” and told bureaucrats and business leaders “the meeting gives three friends the chance to come together to discuss our commitment to security and prosperity, to reconfirm the need for the three of us to work in harmony together for the good of our peoples. It’s a chance to talk about how we can best protect our people and extend prosperity.”

Bush told leaders from Canada and Mexico “Tomorrow, we will be meeting with the business leaders of the North American Competitiveness Council to listen to their specific recommendations… The United States has an opportunity to continue the trading agenda.”

The North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) is an advisory Council Comprised of 30 senior private sector representatives of North American corporations that were selected by the American, Canadian and Mexican governments at the June 2006 trilateral meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

Recently uncovered documents detailed how these corporate representatives have been urged to “humanize” North American integration, promote NAFTA success stories to employees and unions and evolve the harmonization agenda “without fueling protectionism”.

The documentation consists of internal memos from Canada’s Foreign Affairs and Internal Trade ministry, which were obtained by the World Net Daily reporter Jerome Corsi under an Access to Information Act request.
Business leaders have been beseeched by bureaucratic working groups to launch public relations campaigns in order to counter critics of the secretive Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) and to report back to senior government officials with advice on an ongoing basis.

The memo highlighted how those advancing the North American integration agenda are concerned about the exposure and subsequent public backlash they have encountered recently.
Meanwhile one prominent critic of the SPP agenda, Congressman Ron Paul has vowed to intensify opposition towards the alliance and the intrinsically linked Trans-Texas Corridor and proposed NAFTA Super Highway.

As we all know, there have been significant moves recently to expand the Security and Prosperity Partnership initiated by President Bush and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts in 2005. One such plan is to construct a so-called NAFTA Superhighway running from Mexico, through Texas, and up eventually into Canada, Paul said yesterday.

I have opposed this project from the beginning, signing on as a co-sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 40 expressing Congressional disapproval of the NAFTA Superhighway and any moves toward a North American Union.¡±
More recently, I introduced an even stronger piece of legislation, H.R.5191, which would prohibit the use of federal funds to carry out this highway project. The federal government has no business being partner to this outrageous plan, according to which countless landowners would have their private property confiscated under eminent domain,¡± Paul said.

This prohibition of funds, if passed, would go a long way toward derailing this ill-conceived project and would send a clear message that further attempts to undermine U.S. sovereignty would not be unchallenged in Congress. It is long past time the United States House and Senate start taking our constitutional oversight roles seriously.¡± The Congressman concluded.

The initial Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement was signed by President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and then-Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in Waco, Texas, March 23, 2005. It established working groups, under the North American Free Trade Agreement office.

Jerome Corsi brought attention to the SPP two years ago when he obtained SPP documents, under the freedom of information act, showing that a wide range of US administrative law is being re-written in stealth under a program to “integrate” and “harmonize” with administrative law in Mexico and Canada, just as has become commonplace within the EU.

The documents contained references to upwards of 13 working groups within an entire organized infrastructure that has drawn from officials within most areas of administrative government including U.S. departments of State, Homeland Security, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, Transportation, Energy, Health and Human Services, and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Obama, You make me sick! What do you think I am? Stupid or something? Tell me...How much is your kick-back?

Obama Announces FY08 Federal Funding Requests

Discloses earmarks to improve government transparency

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today announced that he had requested federal funding for the following projects, in the amounts designated by his constituents and several national organizations, as part of this year's annual appropriations process:

Adler Planetarium, to support replacement of its projector and related equipment, $3,000,000

One of its most popular attractions and teaching tools at the Adler Planetarium is the Sky Theater. The projection equipment in this theater is 40 years old, and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It has begun to fail, leaving the theater dark and groups of school students and other interested museum-goers without this very valuable and exciting learning experience.

Note from Norm:

I checked on line for the most expensive projectors in the country. You can buy almost any good projector for under $2000.00. Hey there, Kid Bama, digital technology wasn't available 40 years ago so just in case you need some help I've submitted a suggestion...again, looking for the most expensive items...

Wow Bama, I just saved you $2,993,435.37 and don't forget that price includes shipping!

Late Correction (Disregard above projector. Bama wants a planetary that's no ordinary projector) : Sorry Bama I was off just a bit... The Evans & Sutherland replacement cost is under $250,000. Still a savingsof $2,750, what are ya going to do with the savings?

AIDSCARE, Inc., for general operating support, $750,000

AIDSCARE is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization that provides housing and care for homeless children, families and adults living with advanced HIV/AIDS in the Chicago Area.

AIDSCARE, Inc., for completion of the North Lawndale Campus, $2,000,000

Upon its completion, the North Lawndale campus will offer 66 units of service-enriched housing for low-income and homeless individuals and families impacted by HIV/AIDS; an onsite Health Facility and Wellness Center for residents and other members of the community; and an 8,693-square-foot multi-purpose community center.

Aledo, IL, to support its replacement of two aging water towers, $750,000

Two aging 150,000-gallon water towers require replacement. The towers' water pressure is chronically low, and its supply is unreliable. Average daily use for the towers is 420,000 gallons.

Note from Norm: Bama, this is a local issue and we who don't live in Illinois are not obligated to pay for aging water towers...ANYWHERE else but home!

American Red Cross of Illinois, for emergency preparedness, $5,000,000

Funding will assist in providing 29 chapters and 3 blood service regions of the American Red Cross with the resources to be able to deliver mass care services in a timely matter in the event of a large-scale disaster. Funding will be used for equipment such as backup generators, shelter trailers, shelter supplies, stockpile cots, heater meals, response vehicles, and communications devices. This equipment will be strategically placed throughout the state, and will allow the Red Cross to serve requests by hospitals and trauma requests immediately and up to 72 hours.

Note from Norm: Hey clueless! Your local EMA office has already funded this stuff through the Department of Homeland Security. The American Red Cross is a charitable organization dependent on charitable donations from the general populace and not authorized by the taxpayers to recieve taxpayers funds. If your local population does not want to donate for these items then, "Tough you know what!"

American Theater Company, for the construction of a new facility in Logan Square, $200,000

In the heart of Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, American Theater Company (ATC) will build an 11,000 square foot theater complex using green construction standards that will provide a state-of-the-art experience for its artists and patrons. The theater will serve as a commercial and cultural hub for this diverse and growing neighborhood, welcoming audiences from within and outside of the community. It will be a home for the development of new American works and re-imagined classic American plays, and a center for the development of new talent.

Note from Norm: Wow! A whole building less expensive than a projector...must be a good deal (Let me guess. Your kick-back is slightly diminished! Aah c'mon now kid, you know I'm right.) Oh, and by the way, "What is a commercial cultural hub?" Commercial eh! If I were a cop could I expect to make a few drug busts at this cultural center? Oh, so ya want to build a theater, "Is that how Hollywood got started with a little government aid?" And whats with this re-imagined classic American plays? Whats wrong with the real American plays? Oh, I get it, you're not a real American. New talent? Isn't that the place called American Idol...what do we need another theater for anyway...whoops there I go again, the kick-backs eh!

Army Corps of Engineers in the Chicago District of Illinois, to support permanent construction of the Asian Carp Barrier, $7,500,000

The State of Illinois has been working closely with the Chicago District and other Great Lakes agencies at both the federal and state level to keep Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes through the Chicago Waterway system. Funding will fulfill a Project Cooperation Agreement with the Corps to construct a second, more effective and permanent electrical barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Army Corps of Engineers in the Chicago District of Illinois, to support Operations and Maintenance of the permanent Asian Carp Barrier, $1,000,000

Funding the operation and maintenance of the Asian Carp Barrier is essential to prevent the introduction of Asian Carp, primarily Silver and Bighead Carp, into the Great Lakes ecosystem. The value of the Great Lakes fishery is estimated at around $4.5 billion/year, and experts have predicted that Asian Carp, if allowed to become established in the Great Lakes, would have devastating effects on important fish species such as Lake Trout, Perch and Salmon. An additional and very important benefit from the operation of this barrier is that it will still allow unimpeded navigation between the Illinois Waterway and Great Lakes.

Army Corps of Engineers in the City of Rock Island, to support construction of Sunset Marina Harbor Entrance Improvements, $500,000

The Sunset Marina Harbor Entrance Study, prepared by the Army Corps of Engineers, concluded that it would be cost effective to protect the harbor entrance by constructing an emergent dike. This new structure would deflect much of the silt past the entrance and reduce the harbor dredging frequency from about once every 3 years to once every 7 years.

Note from Norm: The last time I had membership in a yacht club we had to pay for our own dredging...and not the taxpayers! ya hear that! ya crook! Taxpayers do not support marinas even if they go by the name of Sunset (that's a private enterprise) let the guys with the big bucks and the big boats pay for it themselves...Look ! just off the starboard bow, USS Kick-Back on her maiden voyage.

Army Corps of Engineers in Illinois, to support project UMR-IWW System Navigation Study, IL, IA, MN, MO, & WI, $24,000,000

Pre-Construction Engineering & Design (PED) of seven new 1,200-foot lock chambers and ecosystem restoration. Timely PED work for navigation is consistent with a recent study indicating that without new 1,200-foot lock chambers at the identified seven locations, American farmers stand to lose over $562 million annually in lost exports and domestic demand by 2020. Manufacturers and consumers also stand to lose from deteriorating infrastructure on our " Third Coast" in addition to the 400,000 jobs sustained by this transportation corridor. Construction of these new lock chambers will create at least 48 million man-hours, or up to 6,000 construction jobs each year, providing immediate economic benefits through high-skilled labor, and spurring much-needed economic growth that has historically occurred through investing in our lock and dam infrastructure.

Aurora University, to the Center for Latino Leadership and Education, $400,000

Funding would establish a family-focused after school bilingual program for Latino families that would promote academic preparation and college readiness within an under served population.

Note from Norm: Sound racist Kid...there's a bunch of under served Americans families wanting to attend college and they speak the language of the country, ENGLISH! Did ya hear that Kid? We speak ENGLISH here and we are not bilingual. When I went to Italy the Italians didn't speak English for me nor the Germans in Germany nor the French in France nor the many other countries I've visited. Get you act together Bama you walking on thin ice!

Benedictine University in Lisle, for the First Responder Program – An Education Initiative for Public Safety Officers and Iraqi and Afghanistan Veterans, $1,750,000

Currently, Benedictine offers secondary education degree programs to firefighters, who pay only for their textbooks; the University has absorbed all other costs. This project would expand the program to include Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and first responders throughout Illinois, allowing police, firemen, and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans throughout Illinois to receive a free education from Benedictine University.

Carpentersville, IL, for the Carpentersville Community Response Team, $500,000

To address the growing influence of gang activity in the Village of Carpentersville, the police department created the Community Response Team. This team is a unique, mulit-faceted approach to address the public's concerns through intervention, education and strict enforcement.

Carthage, IL, to develop the Illinois 336 Corridor Carthage Exchange, $1,350,000

This utilities expansion project would enable Memorial Hospital to expand its healthcare campus and would also attract economic development in the area. The hospital is currently developing land acquisition, architectural, and financing plans to for the construction of a new hospital and medical office building, which will help Memorial Hospital better serve the community. In addition to enabling this hospital's expansion, the utilities expansion project would also enable and attract further development in the area.

Center for Advanced Design, Research, and Exploration (CADRE) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, for development of rapid wound healing therapies, $4,800,000

Funding will assist CADRE in the research and development of therapies to promote rapid wound healing, lessen infection, reduce bleeding and scarring, and reduce operational medical costs using Light Emitting Diodes and directed energy/radio-frequency therapies. CADRE's developments will be extremely critical in managing patients both in theater and those affected by homeland disasters and will potentially allow immediate response to wound healing, lessen infection and scaring, and reduce operation and medical costs.

Center for Advanced Design, Research, and Exploration (CADRE) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, to develop a hand-held device used in combat, $2,000,000

This device will be able to detect and identify selected energy emissions, biomarkers, chemical and biological signatures; LEP goggles to block high intensity laser radiation while allowing low intensity light transmission for day and night vision. The device will be connected via a global positioning data link for immediate assessment, medical evaluation, and treatment decision-making, allowing the device to access and communicate with various operational, medical, and Defense databases.

Channahon, IL, for road upgrades, $12,000,000

Upgrades include rebuilding the Interstate 55 and U.S. Route 6 Interchange with an eight lane bridge deck and relocated frontage roads.

Chicago Children's Advocacy Center, for Facility Improvements, Renovations, and Expansion of the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center for child abuse support services, $500,000

Funding will assist the Center in building a 51,000 square foot, two-story addition adjacent to its existing facility. The new building will create the additional space needed for the professionals who work on child physical abuse cases as well as the space needed for expanded mental health and social support services. When complete, the Center anticipates that is expanded facility will allow it to serve 1,500 to 2,000 children suspected of physical abuse each year, in addition to the child sexual abuse cases it is already handling.

Chicago Children's Museum, for the construction of a new Chicago Children's Museum facility, $1,000,000

CCM is poised to begin construction of a new facility in Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Grant Park. This proposed construction would provide greater access and visibility for visitors, enhanced programming and coordination with area museums, and a valuable family resource for the neighborhood's growing residential community. Given current space limitations, this construction is integral to CCM's mission of effectively serving the families, children and communities of Chicago.

Chicago Children's Museum, for its Community Health and Wellness Initiatives, $300,000

The Chicago Children's Museum's "Initiatives" were developed in response to growing child health problems such as obesity and asthma, particularly among children from low-income, isolated, African-American and Latino communities. These Initiatives aim to promote health and wellness to children, families, and caregivers through health fairs and child screenings that are part of CCM's weekly Free Family Night events. Attracting over 500,000 visitors a year, CCM is ideally suited as a strategic starting point for addressing these pressing health issues. The requested funding is necessary for continued operation and improvement of the program by supporting labor, training and supply.

Note from Norm: Sounds like a parental problem where the government has no business. Simply tell the parents to feed their kids right and get them away from the X-box games and stay out of McDonald's'd be surprised how fast the obesity problem will disappear.

Chicago Park District, for the development of DuSable Park, $3,000,000

DuSable Park will be a new 3.24-acre park located in downtown Chicago where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan. The park will be dedicated to Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, and African-American and founder of modern day Chicago. The park will feature elements about DuSable and Chicago, ADA accessible walkways, native habitat, replacement of the damaged seawall, fishing opportunities and a wetland with boardwalk.

Chicago Public Schools, for their Chicago Reading Initiative: Supported Literacy Programs, $4,000,000

Funding would assist CPS to initiate the next phase in an initiative designed to achieve instructional and academic coherence across the district through adoption of a limited number of aligned reading programs. CPS would offer elementary schools the opportunity to adopt a district-endorsed K-5 basal reading program from a list of approved publishers for the 2007-2008 school year. A comprehensive support system for literacy instruction in grades K-5 would be offered to support the use of new books. The support system would include ongoing, intensive professional development for teachers and administrators and modeling, coaching and mentoring for teachers.

Note from Norm: Four million huh! And that's on top of the Department of Education's (DOE) funding. I guess that proves the DOE has not been doing their job. Reading programs? Isn't that why a child goes to school for reading, 'riting, 'n 'rithmetic! The last time I seen this type of funding it went to the fat cats at the Board of Education and the children still don't know how to read. Must be that ole kick-back scheme again.

Chicago State University, for research into unmanned aerial systems, $5,000,000

Funding will be used to improve the effectiveness of the military's unmanned aerial systems by replacing conventional power supply systems with fuel cell technology packages specifically made for mobile robotics systems.

Chicago State University, to develop a sustainable and portable power system for military operation, $5,000,000

Funding will assist CSU in the development of a solar cell power generating system that can be mounted on a backpack, and rapidly deployed and reconfigured for military operation. The system will include sensors, computing systems, and intelligent processing and communications systems.

Chicago State University, to the HIV/ AIDS Policy and Research Institute, $1,000,000

In response to the growing HIV/AIDS crisis in the African American population, CSU has undertaken comprehensive approach to assist with efforts in the South Side of Chicago. This project would support local outreach, education, prevention and research efforts.

Children's Memorial Hospital, for the construction of Children's Memorial Hospital Intensive Care Unit Facilities, $3,000,000

This funding would help provide care for the most critically ill children, including those with brain tumors or who are born extremely premature. As the only free-standing Level-I pediatric trauma center, new facilities would also provide care to children who may be injured in a mass casualty incident and suffer from traumatic injuries.

Columbia College Department of Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling in Chicago, for its A.I.M. Program in partnership with the Jesse Brown Veterans Administration Medical Center, $3,000,000

The requested funding will assist in the expansion of the work in progress at the Jesse Brown Veterans Hospital, which has 1,800 returning OIF/ATF veterans that have sought treatment since the start of the war. Under Action-oriented Intervention through Movement Therapy ( A.I.M.), returning veterans actively participate in their treatment through interventions such as breathwork, anger and anxiety management, relaxation training, meditation, guided visualization, thereby reducing anxiety, depression, and increasing self esteem.

Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago (ESMC), for its therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research, $1,500,000

Illinois has seen a 353% increase in autism since 1993, and the ESMC Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research responds to this trend. ESMC currently operates three Therapeutic Day Schools that serve students with autism/profound developmental disabilities referred from 50+ Illinois school districts through a broad spectrum of academic and therapeutic services. The new Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research seeks to build upon this history and provide students from across Illinois with access to a state-of-the-art facility.

Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities in Springfield, for its Training Health Professionals program, $500,000

Illinois and the nation are facing a critical workforce shortage in healthcare across a deep cross section of the industry. The Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities' challenge and goal is to meet the needs of the small business community and strengthen the technical, scientific, managerial and leadership capacity of our public health workforce. Bradley University, West Suburban College of Nursing and Rosalind Franklin University, in collaboration with the Federation, will develop new infrastructure and programs to increase enrollment in key health profession programs which will provide a better trained work force for the small business sector in the surrounding areas.

Field Museum, for roof repair and rainwater diversion, $4,900,000

The Field Museum encompasses one million square feet under a single roof spanning 5.25 acres protecting precious collections and welcoming millions of visitors. Targeted replacement of old and compromised roof sections is needed to restore integrity to the envelope of the building, and to safeguard the public exhibition galleries, the research laboratories, and the 23 million objects and specimens that constitute the Museum's scientifically irreplaceable collections. In addition, roof repair will allow for environmental engineering to alter the flow of water from the roof, capturing and return clean rainwater back to Lake Michigan and thereby decrease the amount of water entering the City's water treatment facilities.

Field Museum, to support the expansion of the Halls of the Americas, $1,000,000

This exhibition is devoted to the indigenous peoples and cultures of Central and North America prior to the arrival of Europeans. The exhibition will explore the realities of immigration-the influx of innumerable racial, cultural, and religious groups into North and Central America, and the development of a shared heritage over more than 200 years.

Franklin Park, IL, for construction of the Grand Avenue Underpass in Chicago, IL to ease congestion and increase traffic safety, $3,000,000

Grand Avenue, a major arterial street that extends from the edge of Chicago's Central Business District through Franklin Park and other western suburbs, was named by a Federal Railroad Administration/Illinois Commerce Commission study as home of the fourth-worst railroad crossing in the state of Illinois. The construction of the Grand Avenue Underpass allows for the constant flow of traffic under the new combined rail line.

Galesburg, IL, to support construction of a new water treatment facility at the Oquawka, Illinois facility along the Mississippi River, $1,500,000

Governors State University, for the Center of Excellence in Health Professions Education, $1,000,000

The College of Health Professions at Governors State University seeks funding to assist in the creation of a Center of Excellence in Health Professions Education. A program would be created to educate faculty for nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy, and to improve the ability of health care practitioners to assist in the clinical education of health professions students. Funds would also provide opportunities for career advancement of health professionals.

Illinois Central College, for its Central Illinois Collaborative Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Initiative, $3,000,000

This program would provide candidates with a clear career path by acquiring technical skills and training necessary to transition into the workforce. The program aims to offset the Central Illinois worker shortage in the area of advanced manufacturing maintenance technology.

Illinois Institute of Technology, for research into impact-resistant materials, $1,500,000

Funding supports the analysis and virtual design of a novel class of impact-resistant materials to be employed in light yet extremely protective vehicle armor and explosives protective gear for personnel.

Illinois Institute of Technology, to support its Integrated Advance Energy Systems Research Initiative, $750,000

The Illinois Institute of Technology's Energy and Sustainability Institute is a nationally recognized leader in cutting edge energy research. The Institute has proposed an Integrated Advanced Energy Systems Research Initiative to apply its specialized expertise to solve critical research and development challenges directly related to achieving energy independence through environmentally friendly, commercially feasible approaches.

Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA), for the Electronic Health Record Project IPHCA, $2,000,000

This undertaking is an effort to assure the clear, concise retention and communication of patient-specific information among providers and payors in a manner that protects privacy. Electronic Health Records promote quality, reduce costs, and prevent medical errors.

Illinois State University, for the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Programs and Partnerships, $300,000

Funding would expand current partnership activities and further develop the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Programs & Partnerships. This would increase urban teacher recruitment, improve teacher preparation, and improve teacher retention.

Illinois State University, for the Great Lakes Teacher and Preparation Leadership Preparation Consortium, $500,000

Illinois State University, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee would create a Great Lakes Urban Teacher and Leadership Preparation Consortium. Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee Public School Districts would be involved in this consortium. The three partner institutions together with K-12 school districts and community organizations would collaboratively enhance teacher and leadership preparation capacity in these urban communities through recruitment and retention programs for hard to staff schools.

Illinois State University, to improve manufacturing competitiveness with further development of the Integrated Manufacturing Laboratory (IML), $500,000

The IML would provide students with experience in designing, implementing, and using state of the art manufacturing technology. The IML is slated to provide small to medium sized manufacturing businesses in Illinois seminars and courses so that they can learn the most effective ways to automate their operations.

Johnsburg, IL, to support construction of additional sewer lines, $2,000,000

The Village of Johnsburg is the largest municipality on the Illinois portion of the Fox River lacking a sewer system. An estimated 300,000,000 gallons per year of raw or partially treated wastewater is discharged from failing or failed septic tanks into the Fox River. This situation is problematic not only for residents, but also for visitors and the 200,000 individuals for whom the Fox River is a primary source of drinking water.

Lake County, for its Integrated Criminal Justice Information System, $1,000,000

Funding will be used to assist in the integration of each of the County's criminal justice departments and the municipal police computer networks in Lake County. An integrated justice system will improve the quality and uniformity of programs through interdepartmental data accuracy assurance, redefined workflows, and expanded tracking systems. Additionally, integrated justice systems will enhance a police department's timely access to information, including a suspect's past and pending charges.

Lee County Highway Department in Amboy, Illinois, for road upgrades, $300,000

These improvements will include the upgrading of Steward, Elva, Paw Paw and Perry Roads to Class II, 80,000 pound truck routes and the construction of a new Elva Road extension over I-39. This project will be in conjunction with the Greater Rochelle Area Transportation Improvement Plan developed to accommodate the current and future commercial/industrial growth in the region.

Lewis and Clark Community College, for its mobile health clinic to provide healthcare services to rural areas, $350,000

Funds are requested to purchase a mobile health clinic (RV) which will provide dental, general health and mental health care to more than 90,000 patients in four rural Illinois counties (Greene, Calhoun, Jersey and Macoupin). Funding will allow the mobile health clinic to perform ongoing services for 3,500 children in eleven targeted schools, in addition to community services such as pre-natal examinations, obstetric and gynecological examinations, and general public education programs will be provided by the clinic.

Lewis University Airport in Romeoville, for the extension of its primary runway, $3,420,000

The runway extension is to allow existing based and visiting corporate aircraft to safely and efficiently operate at Will County's Airport.

Long Creek, IL, to support construction of new water towers to increase its water capacity, $660,000

Long Creek has three elevated storage tanks with a total capacity of 300,000 gallons, but water demands require and additional storage capacity of 750,000 gallons. This funding would cover approximately half of the expense for necessary construction; the township would raise remaining funding.

Loretto Hospital, for the Launa Thompson Women's Health Pavilion, $550,000

The Loretto Hospital is an acute care hospital dedicated to providing comprehensive, affordable medical care. Funding would enable the construction, renovation and technology upgrade of the Launa Thompson Women's Health Pavilion. The facility would address the needs of women with issues of trauma and substance abuse disorders, and would include psychotherapy, parenting, and education on trauma issues.

Loyola University Chicago, to the Center for School District Leadership for distance learning, $1,000,000

The Center for School District Leadership will implement two interrelated school leadership initiatives to prepare hundreds of uniquely-qualified graduates for senior management positions in the Nation's urban, suburban and rural public school districts. Loyola University Chicago will serve as the host institution for the Center for School District leadership.

Manteno, IL, to connect existing and proposed parks in Kankakee County as part of the Manteno Greenways Trail System, $860,475

The Link system connects existing and proposed parks, educational facilities, commercial districts, and governmental service buildings. In addition, the Village Link proposes connections to the surrounding communities and the Kankakee River State Park.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Rock Island, for the renovation and expansion of the Center, $1,000,0000

Expansion would include a technology center, training room, improved space for after school programming, and private counseling rooms.

McHenry County, for its Sheriff's Office law enforcement communication system, $1,000,000

The radio system owned by McHenry County and operated by the McHenry County Sheriff's Office needs to be replaced. This critical link between residents, dispatchers, and public safety officers was designed in 1953 and it has run its useful life and needs to be replaced with a new 800 MHz system. New technology will allow McHenry County to meet the communication needs of its Sheriff's Office and the 9 municipal police agencies for which it provides dispatch services, and will provide McHenry County with regional interoperability.

McHenry County, to widen Miller Road, $500,000

The state routes (Illinois Route 120 and Illinois Route 31) through the City of McHenry are heavily congested. Due to continued growth in this area, the existing Miller Road corridor is also heavily congested. The widened Miller Road corridor would enhance the mobility of the area by reducing congestion and improving safety and decreasing emergency response times.

McHenry County, for Flexible and Sustainable Training Solutions Initiative, $600,000

The Flexible and Sustainable Training Solutions Initiative would provide training so that employers' needs for skilled workers, and residents' needs for livable wages, can be met. "Boot camps" would provide intensive short-term occupational training in fields identified by employers through their participation on the McHenry County Workforce Investment Board.

Memorial Hospital, for necessary equipment upgrades for vascular disease diagnostics and screenings, $1,800,000

Funding would enable equipment upgrades for vascular disease diagnostics and screening. This would allow Memorial Hospital to offer screening and diagnostic tests for earlier intervention and care locally.

Memorial Medical Center, for Advanced Flatplate Cardiac Catherization/Electrophysiology Laboratory, $1,000,000

The Advanced Flatplate Cardiac Catheterization/ Electrophysiology laboratory in Springfield, IL, would perform advanced cardiac catheterizations and interventions, cardiac electrophysiological and mapping studies, and ablation therapy to treat abnormal electrical functions of the heart. The new flatplate delivers less radiation to the patient, produces sharper and clearer images that enhance diagnostic and treatment capabilities, and has the ability to produce 3-D imaging for improved detection and mapping of diseased vessels.

Metra, to expand and improve service, $65,000,000

Metra is the largest commuter rail system in the country in terms of number of lines, total track miles, and numbers of cars and locomotives. Funding will support environmental assessments and preliminary engineering which will establish a key rail connection throughout the northwest, west, and southwest suburbs and also offer the basis for expanded suburban rail service in the future and provide new service and stations for Chicago's south suburbs.

MetroLiNK Transit in Rock Island, to build a new state-of-the-art MetroLiNK Maintenance Facility, $5,000,000

This facility would provide maximum sustainability standards for maintenance, operations, and administrative functions. The new facility will consolidate all MetroLiNK services and vehicles at a single location. It would also provide on-site natural gas and diesel fueling operations, as well as vehicle cleaning and lubrication stations.

Millikin University School of Nursing, for the expansion and upgrade of their nursing program, $500,000

Funding will assist Millikin University School of Nursing to develop and market an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, improve simulation and laboratory facilities for teaching, target diverse student populations, and provide faculty development to grow the program and meet central and southern Illinois' needs for competent baccalaureate nursing graduates.

Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation in Chicago, for the acquisition and operation of Asthma Vans, $300,000

Mobile C.A.R.E. provides free and comprehensive asthma care and health education to children in Chicago's underserved communities via mobile medical clinics, the Asthma Vans. Asthma is a growing burden on Chicago. A recent study by the University of Illinois at Chicago reports that 16% of non-Hispanic Black children and 20% of Puerto Rican children in Chicago have asthma while another 16% of each ethnicity exhibit symptoms of asthma without a diagnosis, compared to only 11% with asthma in the general U.S. population. Chicago also has the unwanted distinction of having one of the highest death rates from asthma in the entire nation.

Moline, IL, for the design and construction of River Tech Boulevard Road, $1,595,000

This road will provide vital access to this state supported joint economic development initiative at River Tech and higher education opportunity at Western Illinois University.

Moline, IL, to address congestion in the I-74 Corridor, $8,000,000

The I-74 Corridor extends from Avenue of the Cities in Moline, IL to the 53rd Street in Davenport, IA. The I-74 Bridge, which is significantly over capacity, is located within the corridor and carries almost 78,000 vehicles per day. Adequate access and capacity crossing the Mississippi Rover is imperative for the Quad Cities to remain a vital community.

Morrison, IL, for construction of a railroad overpass, $3,812,000

All Morrison emergency services providers are located on the north side of the rail line--police, fire, hospital, ambulance, two of three medical clinics. More than half of Morrison's population is located on the south side of the tracks. The construction of a railroad overpass to serve the Morrison community and surrounding area alleviates a dangerous condition by creating a transportation route that will protect the community's residents, school, children, the elderly and visitors attending local events from risks association with emergency response delays due to blocked rail crossings.

Mount Carroll, IL, to support reconstruction of its water distribution system, $2,000,000

The City Council of Mount Carroll has described the city's inadequate water service, fire flow protection, need to meet new regulatory requirements. This funding would enable the Water Systems Improvement Project, which includes the following tasks: eliminate ground storage tank and high pumping facility; construct a 300,000-gallon elevated storage tank; construct a new municipal well; improve existing wells; create new mechanical, electrical and control system data; and replace water mains in various areas.

Mujeres Latinas en Accion, for the Parent Support Program and Women in Transition Program, $295,000

These programs provide services crucial to increasing parental efficacy and educate parents about creating a family environment that is supportive and conducive to emotional and academic growth. The curriculum teaches parents to help youth avoid gang involvement, stay in school, and improve their school performance all in a culturally sensitive atmosphere.

National Center for Family Literacy, for its Family Literacy for All Expansion, $250,000

The purpose of the family literacy model development is to meet the unique needs of families through high-quality family literacy programs. Programs would take place on-site in elementary schools, where all four components of services are to be provided: adult education/ESL classes; children's education; parent time; and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time.

National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for its cybersecurity initiative, $7,500,000

Funding will assist the University's National Center for Supercomputing Applications—a unique state-federal partnership to develop and deploy national-scale cyber-infrastructure that advances science and engineering. This initiative will addresses critical security needs and research requirements to develop a dynamic, adaptive cybersecurity infrastructure, focused in areas of data mining, intrusion detection and analysis, development of a variety of security tools, training and SCADA field testing.

National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for its Technology Research, Education and Commercialization Center (TRECC), $5,000,000

Funding will be used for the research and development of technologies relevant to Navy and Department of Defense requirements, to promote the use of advanced information technology, and encourage public and private sector efforts to commercialize technologies with the potential for use in defense and industrial markets. Additionally, TRECC hosts a web site providing resources identifying government funding opportunities for researchers and businesses.

National Myoclonus Center, for the expansion of the National Myoclonus Center, $400,000

Funding would expand the National Center for Myoclonus, the only medical institution in the country that focuses on the treatment and cure for this neurological auto-immune disorder. The Center also conducts health related activities that impact lupus and multiple sclerosis patients.

Normal, IL, for the construction of a multimodal transportation center, $10,000,000

Normal, working in close collaboration with Illinois State University (ISU) has developed a comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of its downtown, which is adjacent to the ISU campus. The centerpiece of the plan is a Multimodal Transportation Center located in the central business district. The Multimodal Center will provide a focus for multiple transportation modes including: bus, Amtrak, airport shuttles, taxis, park and ride facilities, and pedestrian connections to the downtown and ISU campus.

Northeastern Illinois Sewer Consortium, for sanitary and storm sewer system upgrades, $500,000

Four Lake County communities (Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest), which make up the Consortium, have experienced significant sewer backup and flooding problems. Funds would improve storm and sanitary sewers in each community through work on sewer lining, broken or collapsed segments, and other necessary upgrades.

Oakwood, IL, to replace its water distribution system, $836,000

Based on an engineering plan's analysis, the Village of Oakwood proposes an eighteen-phase project for repairing its water distribution system. To meet increasing water demands, the seventy year-old system requires fire hydrant construction, water main construction, and "looping" in of dead-end water mains.

Ogle County Highway Department, for the Southwest Rochelle Truck Loop, $150,000

Funding will be used to begin the engineering process on transportation infrastructure improvements. The improvements will include the upgrading of Intermodal Drive, Bush Grove Road, Gurler Road , Thorpe Road, Titus Road, and Center Road to Class II, 80,000 pound truck routes and the construction of a new bridge over the Kyte River. This project will construct designated truck loop around the Southwest Sides of the Union Pacific's Global III Intermodal Facility.

Olympia Fields, IL, to make safety upgrades and improvements of the 203rd Street and Crawford Avenue, $1,000,000

Making safety upgrades to this intersection will significantly improve both vehicular and pedestrian accessibility to St. James Hospital, residential neighborhoods, Rich Central High School , and other adjacent Village amenities, while providing a safer intersection for the residents and visitors.

Oregon, IL, for Route 251 & Steward Road Intersection Improvements, $125,000

These improvements will include the construction of dual right turn lanes from Steward Road and IL Route 251 and dual left turns from IL Route 251 onto Steward Road. Along with these turn lanes the intersection will be signalized.

Orland Park, IL, to expand U.S. 45, $450,000

Funding would be used for the widening of rail bridge and road U.S. 45 (La Grange Road), allowing for a six lane road configuration.

PACE Suburban Bus, to replace the radio system in all of its 672 fixed route buses, $2,500,000

The radio system is currently 11 years old, and because it is the primary method of communication between drivers and dispatchers, it is imperative that it be upgraded. The new radios will solve communication gaps that current buses experience. PACE provides 130,000 trips daily, and passengers throughout the region will experience fewer missed connections with other bus routes.

Patterson, IL, to support replacement of its "Drake Road" water main, $138,000

This water main has ruptured eleven times in the last five years. An Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DECO) Planning Grant assessed the water system and, in its analysis, attributed ruptures to exceedingly high operating pressures. The water main's age and exposure require that it be replaced.

Peoria, IL, to support its construction of its combined sewer overflow replacement, $500,000

This funding enables construction on combined sewer overflow replacement, which is based on a study required by USEPA and IEPA.

Poder Learning Center, for workforce training program, $200,000

The Poder Learning Center responds to the educational needs of the adult immigrant in the primarily Hispanic areas of Chicago's southwest side. The Center offers tuition-free classes to individuals, including ESL, Adult Basic Education, Keyboarding, GED preparation, and MOS and A+ certification to prepare successful graduates to compete for hi-tech positions. Funding will help support the Centers through support of training programs, equipment purchase, curriculum development.

Regional Climate Center, for the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC)/Illinois State Water Survey, $6,000,000

The MRCC provides climate data and information to users in a number of climate-sensitive sectors. The research and services in which we engage help to provide practical solutions to specific climate problems in economic and environmental areas such as agriculture, energy, risk management, transportation, and water resources.

Riverside Healthcare, for a Computerized Physician Order Entry system for Kankakee, IL, $2,000,000

Riverside Health Care, a regional health care provider, would implement the Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) system upgrade in a preliminary phase. This system would employ, in part: physician point of care technologies to promote interdisciplinary collaboration; online medical records to support analysis of patient problems and development of treatment approach; evidence -based order sets to guide best practices in physician and nurse clinician decision making; and immediate and urgent reminders of significant clinical changes to ensure appropriate and rapid response.

Rochelle, IL, for phase two of the Jack Dame Road/Union Pacific Railroad Overpass, $1,000,000

Funding requested will be used for improvements that will include the construction of an overpass ridge structure as well as a roadway that approaches in each direction. This structure will span the Union Pacific Railroad, three local industry spur tracks, and two local roadways to connect back into Illinois Route 38 West.

Rock Island Arsenal, to repair the roof on Building 299 for additional manufacturing space, $6,200,000

Building 299 is a 775,000 square foot warehouse constructed in 1942. The building is generally in good condition with the exception of the original roof, which is severely deteriorated. This project will completely remove, and properly dispose, all asbestos containing roofing components. Currently, a significant portion of the building is being used to support the Global War on Terror in the form of manufacturing, and shipping and receiving armor kits.

Rock Island Arsenal, to support a more robust capability to rapidly produce up-armor vehicle kits, $10,500,000

The Arsenal will upgrade equipment to support the production of lightweight add on vehicle and body armor that is directly used to improve and increase manufacturing efforts in support of the Global War on Terror. Additionally, the equipment will also have significant safety and efficiency benefits for the Arsenal.

Rock Island Arsenal, to renovate and expand Rock Island Arsenal's combined Fire and Police Station facility, $3,500,000

The facility was originally constructed in 1874. Funding will help ensure that first responders have the facilities, resources, and equipment they need to do their jobs in the Quad Cities region. This important funding will modernize and expand the Rock Island Arsenal facility to allow police and fire personnel to effectively and rapidly respond to emergencies.

Rock Island Arsenal, to support the development and enhancement of flexible lightweight metal technology, $1,350,000

This program will improve the government's ability to fabricate new lightweight materials that have many military applications and posture commercial entities in the region to be on the cutting edge of lightweight metal technology.

Rockford College, to enhance classrooms, $490,000

This funding would equip classrooms and enhance student learning by outfitting classrooms and labs that will enable faculty to employ the most modern technology when instructing students and will measurably improve student performance.

Saint Xavier University, for nursing skills lab equipment, $500,000

Saint Xavier University seeks funding to equip laboratory space so that RN-BSN students can have a simulation and practice laboratory to develop stronger clinical skills. To alleviate a significant deficit in teaching, simulation mannequins are required to fully explain the scenarios and issues nurses will face.

Saint Xavier University, for the expansion of an early childhood professional development center, $900,000

Funding would help expand its current demonstration site for early childhood teacher education to meet the demand in the southwest Chicago metropolitan area. The School of Education would establish an Early Childhood Professional Development Center that would build on the work that has already begun with the Barbara Vick Early Childhood and Family center, the child Development Laboratory School, and other services provided to young children and their families.

Shawneetown, IL, to support updates and replacement of its water distribution system, $550,000

The City of Shawneetown's water distribution system—including fire hydrants, valves, and meters—is over 70 years old, and contains cast iron sections with leaded joints.

Shedd Aquarium, for its At-Risk Youth Mentoring Initiative, $600,000

Through Shedd's neighborhood initiative, community organizations in targeted disadvantaged neighborhoods are offered free aquarium field trips, special behind-the-scenes tours and interactive aquatic science workshops. A key component of Shedd's community outreach is stewardship projects that connect neighborhood residents to their local natural environment, instilling a sense of pride and inspiring difference-making in their local community. Shedd offers scholarships to economically disadvantaged students throughout the Chicagoland area.

Spark College, for real-time writers and captioning training project, $750,000

Funding would help train the technological workforce to provide captioning and Communications Access Real-time Translation (CART) services mandated by the 1996 Telecommunications Act to approximately 1,000,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in Illinois. These funds will assist with continuing curriculum development, technology upgrades, promoting the program and scholarships. With this funding, Sparks will work to curb the shortage of captioners in the workforce and ensure that the highly skilled captioners necessary to meet the mandates will be available in the community and across the state.

Southern Illinois University, for the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center, $2,000,000

The National Corn to Ethanol research facility located in the research Park of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, is the only full-scale corn to ethanol testing facility in the nation.

Southern Illinois University, for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, $1,025,000

Funding would provide a permanent and stable source of revenue for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU, which was founded by former Senator Paul Simon. Federal funding will allow SIU to fulfill Senator Simon's dream for an endowment to support the institute's on-going policy agenda.

Southern Illinois University, for the School of Medicine Simmons Cooper Cancer Institute, $2,200,000

Funding will finish out the space allocated for research laboratories and provide fixed equipment for these labs within the new Simmons Cooper Cancer Institute.

Southern Illinois University, Purdue University, and University of Kentucky, for coal research, $5,000,000

The three universities are members of the Coal to Fuel Alliance that are researching the feasibility of clean coal gasification techniques for fuel technologies. The authorization for this research is in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), for the National Education, Science, and Critical Skills Capacity Building Initiative, $2,000,000

Building on this fund would expand the number of minority students entering the sciences, and increase opportunities for training and research. The TMCF will forge a partnership with the Department of Education, thereby building on the critical education and skills necessary to give opportunities for high education.

University of Illinois, College of Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Sciences, for the Center for Advanced Bioenergy Research, $1,000,000

The Center will create a facilitative structure for outreach, teaching and research efforts in areas related to bioenergy systems. Research at the Center will focus on the increased output of energy, based on renewable biological resources.

University of Illinois, College of Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Sciences, for the Illinois-Missouri Biotechnology Alliance, $3,000,000

The Alliance is a successful special competitive grants program, focused on biotechnology research on corn and soybeans produced and utilized in the Midwest, and operated jointly by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Missouri at Columbia, and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

University of Illinois, College of Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Sciences, for the Illinois Program for Integrated Sustainable Agriculture, $2,500,000

The Illinois Program for Integrated Sustainable Agriculture will support interdisciplinary research to develop an integrated livestock and corn-soybean production system that will conserve maximal quantities of nutrients within the system, minimize nutrient emissions to the environment, and extract other beneficial compounds, while maintaining producer profitability.

University of Illinois, College of Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Sciences, for the Soybean Disease Biotechnology Center , $2,000,000

The Soybean Disease Biotechnology Center is located within the National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the University of Illinois and provides a first line of defense against major soybean diseases. Center researchers are working to identify and create new and improved mechanisms of disease tolerance and resistance to protect the soybean crop and increase profitability for farmers in Illinois.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Engineering, for Nanomedical Technologies, $3,000,000

Funding will be utilized to equip the new addition to the Micro and Nanoelectronics Laboratory in order to carry out advanced research in Nanomedical Technologies. Activities will include the discovery or invention of new nanoparticles for targeting and imaging cancer; how cells are affected by infectious diseases, and how to detect pathogens.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to encourage further education in technical domains that can be cleared by the Defense Security Service, $2,000,000

Funding will assist in the establishment of Centers at The University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and The Ohio State University to fund students to pursue graduate studies in the critical technology areas used by the Department of Defense. The technological developments and the training of technically-qualified U.S. Citizens to address research issues in these areas have not kept pace with the rapidly escalating difficulties of the problems solved.

University of Illinois, for the Urban Teaching and Leadership Center, $1,000,000

The Center will be established to reduce and eradicate the unacceptable achievement gap within the Chicago Public Schools. The Center will: redesign UIC school personnel preparation programs to focus on preparing educators uniquely equipped to turn around chronically low-performing schools; increase the number of candidates from underrepresented minority populations completing certification and degree requirements, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; and reverse the negative effects on student learning of persistent teacher turnover in high-need Chicago-are schools. The Center's purpose is to develop educators who can offer excellent, culturally responsive, and consistent instruction in struggling schools.

West Frankfort, IL, to support replacement of its Big Ditch Pumping Station, $550,000

The City's Big Ditch Pumping Station, which serves the Big Ditch Drainage System of West Frankfort, cannot adequately pump water during periods of significant waterfall to prevent flooding.

Wetlands Initiative of Illinois, to support its Illinois River Nutrient Farm Pilot Project, $11,810,000

This market-driven wetland restoration project, among other things, addresses nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon pollution in national waters. A pilot project, the Illinois River Nutrient Farming Pilot Project, is organized in highly disturbed backwater lake and wetland complexes (Goose Pond, Sawmill Pocket, Hennepin & Hopper Lakes) adjoining the Illinois River near Hennepin, Illinois.

Women's Sports Foundation, for its GoGirlGo! Chicago Initiative, $1,000,000

The GoGirlGo! Chicago Initiative is a mentoring, education and development program targeting at-risk teens to prevent drop-outs, truancy, crime, violence and drug abuse by promoting participation in sport and physical activity during after school hours when teens are at greatest risk for dysfunctional social behaviors. The GoGirlGo! Initiative is being carried out throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.


Center for Civic Education, for its National Council for Economic Education, $33,000,000

This program promotes civic competence and responsibility among American students and provides support for education exchange activities in civics and economics between the United States and other nations.

National Writing Project, $30,000,000

This funding would improve student achievement by improving the teaching and uses of writing in the nation's schools.

Reach Out and Read, Inc, $10,000,000

Funding will support a national network of healthcare facilities implementing Reach Out and Read, an evidence-based program that makes literacy intervention a routine part health care for at-risk children. In concert with non-federal dollars, these funds will be used to (1) provide books, specialized physician training and technical assistance to local facilities, (2) develop coordinated state and municipal expansion and quality-improvement projects, and (3) support a national capacity to facilitate and expand these state and local activities. Funding will bring the national reach of this program to serve 3.7 million children in all 50 states and territories.

YMCA of the USA, for pioneering for healthy communities, $5,000,000

YMCA of the USA launched the Pioneering Healthier Communities initiative to jump-start healthy and sustainable community leadership, and to change strategies across the country to rapidly and dynamically advance efforts to curb the chronic disease and obesity epidemics

Note from Norm: Ya know what Bama, I'm tired of critiquing this so-called earmark. Why don't ya just call it what it is, "A SCAM! You rip-off the taxpayers and then you say you want change...just how much of that change finds its way to your pockets?