Sunday, November 3, 2013

What-What?! Week of November 3rd

My eldest baby is now 6 years old!  We celebrated her birthday last Saturday over at my parent’s house, and overall it went well.  For her birthday, mostly the husband and I got her activity-type gifts rather than toys, like an artist supply set and a junior cooking set.  She also received quite a few engineer/steampunk vintage-ish books, and while she didn’t seem too excited about them at first, we’ve spent a lot of time reading them over the course of the week.

Unfortunately, this past week, we were also horrifically sick.  One day, I had a fever, then the baby had an ear infection and high fever (which necessitated a trip to the ER), and then on Halloween, the big kids had fevers, and were vomiting too!  The worst part is that they are still not better yet.
 
Here's my older babies, in costume, with matching fevers.  My daughter is a "witch cat" (a cat who is also a witch), and my son is an alien from Spaced Invaders (seen here).  I feel somewhat bad that I didn't do a costume for the baby, myself or the husband, but by that point, it'd already been a very long week. 
Behavioral economics this week sort of switched gears to setting up, running, and evaluating experiments.  I am so glad that I took statistics, and had a relatively recent review when I took an operations class, because this week, I needed it.  I also have an exam for the class that I’ll be taking this evening – if I pass the exams, discussions and final project, I will be getting a certificate for the class.

In my business classes, I’ve read numerous times about microloans being used in third world countries as a way to help the poor break free of their poverty.  I’ve read about a woman in India who, because the microloan loan she received meant that she could haggle better prices with her suppliers, she was eventually able to grow her business to the point that she could afford better food, and a place to live off the streets.  I’ve read of families that have done similar things, and now can afford a house and to send their children to school, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.  I believe very strongly in the good that microloans do, despite the fact that not all of those who receive loans experience such great success.

Now, though, through Grameen America and other nonprofits, low income people in America can also enjoy access to microloans.  These loans are defined as less than $50,000, and given to people who cannot take out traditional loans.  Many times the loan comes with additional services like business planning and financial literacy, in order to help ensure success.
One quote in this article that particularly touched me is “Families in rural Africa are more like U.S. families than everyone wants to believe”; the article goes on to state that the unavailability of credit, the cobbling together of multiple part-time jobs, and the general insecurity are very similar in both countries.  I have seen it, and in some ways, I have lived it.  Since the Great Recession, I have seen it get harder for low-income people especially due to tighter credit rules.  On one forum, I pretty frequently see people who wind up in a bind temporarily, where a credit card would be a huge blessing; in these situations, there are always people who respond “oh, just put [whatever] on your credit card”, and it frustrates me so, because many people do not have the easy access to credit that they once did.  Hopefully programs like these will be able to help entrepreneurs get off the ground, expand, and help give people stability.

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