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New Circles and Great Conversation

“Poverty is a complex problem and the number of Americans living in poverty has increased over many decades despite a dramatic increase in government spending through programs intended to reduce poverty. One attendee compared poverty to an onion which has many layers that have to be peeled away to get to the root causes.” – The Liberty Circle (March Meeting)

newcircle

March was an exciting month with the launch of three new Circles: Dallas RHS, Deep in the Heart of Texas Circle, and the Liberty Circle in Illinois.

We’re excited to welcome our newest Circle Leaders – from left: Jill Jansen and Liz Keating, with The Policy Circle co-founder Angela Braly!

We also have three new Circles starting this spring, one in New York City CircleOhio Circle and Carmel Policy Circle in Indiana.  Welcome to these new Circles and thank their Circle Leaders, whom we applaud for the time and energy they have committed to starting conversations in their communities!

Here’s what Circles were talking about in March:

Dallas RHS Policy Circle group gathered for the first time on March 7th and had a great meeting with nine attendees to discuss The Policy Circle’s Mini-Brief on Poverty, particularly the root causes of poverty, how education can help future generations, and what can be done in their own community to alleviate poverty. The group will come together again on April 5th to talk about Free-Enterprise.

Likewise, the Liberty Circle met March 10th to talk about poverty, also using the Mini-Brief on Poverty. This group of 17 women started by identifying the current state of the problem in our country and the absence of community in poor neighborhoods. Members shared insights on some of the factors that contribute to poverty: “Our current welfare system perpetuates dependency on government. Individuals lack incentives to seek higher paying jobs when the government handouts decrease as pay increases. ” The group also discussed solutions to poverty and how to influence change, particularly limiting “government involvement and instead focus on more local efforts” and private organizations to achieve positive results, for example, Safe Families for Children, “an organization founded in Chicago and  currently operating in 70 cities in the U.S., with which two of our group members are personally involved…Safe Families has a 93% success rate of reuniting parents and their children with the goal to keep kids out of the ‘system.’ ”

The Chicago Circle met to discuss Taxes in early March, using The Policy Circle’s Taxes brief and the state specific Illinois Taxes brief put together with the help of Illinois Policy Institute. The Circle focused especially on the largest property tax increase in history in Illinois in 2016.

The Deep in the Heart of Texas Circle held their first meeting March 24th, led by Stacy Smith in a discussion on the free market and how it works.

Finally, the Rose Friedman Society met to discuss Taxation in late March, with a great turnout of 33 women! The group focused particularly on the Illinois Tax Problem and the complexity of taxes in the state.  Key takeaways included that high taxes in Illinois result from too many inefficient layers of public and private taxes, excessive spending, too many loopholes to reduce overall taxes, and that IL and federal high corporate taxes are driving business away. State pensions and term limits are a significant problem in IL, as well as the jaw-dropping growth of property tax rates (double the inflation rate!).  Their calls to action:

  • Educate themselves on upcoming legislation HB 4501 ( local government consolidation)  and HB 5522  government transparency) and contact legislators on the State of IL Country and Townships Committee regarding these bills to express their views
  • Watch the recommended videos on taxes, especially with your kids
  • Use social media to post comments and share how others can take action, how to contact committees, etc.

If we’ve missed any great insights from your Circle discussions, make a post to share your comments and observations from your Circle experience!

— The Policy Circle Team