Remembering Betty Claiborne

Remembering Betty Claiborne

Baton Rouge civil rights leader Rev. Betty Claiborne died this week. To honor her memory, The Advocate editorial board wants the spirit of activism that was her calling to live on. Claiborne, whose activism started when she was arrested attempting to desegregate Baton Rouge’s CIty Park pool in 1964, was a force in the capital region. The Advocate writes

That misdemeanor, as the law of the times had it, resulted in years and then decades of service to a stronger and more united Baton Rouge, a community still sorely in need of common ground, and not only between the races. Today, a lot has indeed changed. The passing of Claiborne was mourned by many African American public officials, including Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. It’s important that as Claiborne’s generation moves from the scene that those activists’ courage and determination not be lost from the civic and political culture of our city.

Bankruptcy for student loans

Bankruptcy comes with significant consequences, wrecking filers’ credit scores for years. But the ability to file for bankruptcy also helps many people escape crushing debt. For years, however, Congress has put additional restrictions on discharging student loan debt, making it hard for people with large private student loans – but no ability to repay them – to get relief in bankruptcy court. This has led many to believe — wrongly — that student loan debt can’t be discharged. Chris Arnold of NPR reports on how some law professors are trying to change that

Robert Lawless, a law professor at the University of Illinois …  researched the issue with a group of attorneys and former judges for the American Bankruptcy Institute, a professional organization. They’re recommending that Congress rewrite the rules on student loans in bankruptcy. Under the proposal, Lawless says, “after seven years from when the loans became due, they would be treated pretty much like any other debt in a bankruptcy case.”

Maryland hospitals aren’t profiting from the sick

The United States is an outlier in how hospitals set prices for medical care: in many other countries regulators establish what hospitals may charge for each service and put caps on the amount of revenue hospitals are allowed to bring in. Maryland, however, has taken a lesson from many European nations and has implemented a “global hospital budget.” Tara Golshan from Vox has more on how the policy has led hospitals to take a more comprehensive approach to care: 

Maryland is the exception. Hospitals’ budgets are fixed, as are the rates they can charge for procedures. Once they hit their revenue caps, they don’t make more money on having patients in the hospital — and there is a carrot-and-stick system to ensure hospitals don’t exceed those caps. “What this is doing is incentivizing hospitals to do the right thing,” Bob Atlas, the CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association, said.

Local governments can play role in reducing inequality

Federal policy changes are typically seen as the best way of reducing racial wealth inequality. But Donnie Charleston from the Tax Policy Center argues that state and local governments can also play critical roles in ensuring that people of color build generational wealth at rates comparable to the population as a whole:

An important step to lessening wealth inequality across racial groups is to increase home ownership by people of color, an area in which federal policy can and does play a significant role.  However, even if the rates of home ownership are equalized, the home value appreciation gap would still impair the wealth creation for households of color. And local governments can play a role in closing that gap. These governments can significantly impact the wealth accumulation of home owners through the investments they make in black and brown communities through outlays of resources and through tax expenditures.

Number of the Day

56 – Years since Betty Claiborne was arrested for attempting to swim in an all-white pool in Baton Rouge. She died this week at 77. (Source: The Advocate)