Felony —A serious criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for at least one year or by death.
Mid-80’s, politicians began to respond to increasing crime rates by passing new sentencing laws, typically called “three-strikes-and-you’re out” laws.
These laws require that judges sentence any individual who is convicted of a third felony to life in prison.
California, one of the first to pass these laws, has seen reduced crime rates.
7% of all criminals commit between 50% & 70% of all crimes.
On the negative side, can lead to murder. Marijuana offenders 4X (times) more likely to be arrested.
Poverty Line ---The income level that is used to determine who fall into the poverty category.
Current Poverty Line:
Family of four: $ 18,850 (2004)
Originally based on the cost of a nutritionally adequate food plan designed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Determined by multiplying the cost of the food plan by three, on the assumption that food expenses take approx. 1/3 of a poor family’s income.
The New Poor
Traditionally, the poorer segments of our population
have been minorities, older people, & women.
New groups are women who head households &
Single females who head households:
Nearly 33% of female householders w/o husbands
are living in poverty.
Add African American female head of households,
the number jumps to 44%.
Change to Hispanic, the number is 50%
Lack of information
Some government officials claim that the total number of homeless people is small & that most of these people are mentally ill.
Organizations that work to help homeless people, however, claim they number from two to three million.
Research has revealed that most are not mentally ill.
Some claim 600,000 homeless, 1/3 of those being mentally ill.
20% of homeless are families.
Help is given through classes in parenting classes, & assistance in getting employment & disability benefits.
Social Security ---A government program of required saving financed from payroll taxes imposes on both employers & employees. Workers pay for social security while working & receive benefits after retirement.
***Projected to fall short in 2042 or about five years before people born in 1987 will be scheduled to retire.*****
Created in 1953.
When the insured worker dies before retirement, benefits go to the survivors, including widows &
Special benefits provided for disabled workers.
Over 90% of all employed persons in the U.S. are covered by Social Security.
Paid as payroll taxes, which employers withhold from paychecks & send to the government.
These are regressive taxes , meaning the rate is the same for everyone.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Established a nationwide minimum income for older persons & persons w/disabilities.
SSI is financed & administered by the U.S. government.
Founded in 1974.
Passage of the Welfare Reform Act in 1996—states
gained more responsibility for establishing welfare
rules & managing the welfare program.
U.S. government gives grants to the states---Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
U.S. government has placed several restrictions on those who receive TANF benefits.
*After two years, welfare recipients may continue to receive benefits only if they are working either in a public service job or in the private sector.
*TANF benefits can be paid for a maximum of five years.
*States are allowed to deny TANF benefits to unmarried teenage mothers.
Government issued coupons that can be used to purchase food.
Available for low income individuals & families.
Workers who are on strike & even some college students are eligible.
Financing Domestic Policy
Income tax---- Progressive tax ---the higher the income, the higher the tax rate.
Each U.S. income earner must file a tax return, which is a form that shows the tax that is owed.
Businesses pay corporate income taxes.
Congress places an excise tax on the making, selling, & using of certain goods & services.
Estate tax must be paid on the assets of a person who has died.
Gifts of over $10,000 in one year are subject to a gift tax.
A custom duty is a tax laid on goods brought into the U.S. from another country.
Interest —a charge paid for borrowing money, & is usually a % of the amount borrowed.
Government makes money from people borrowing money.
Money also brought in from copyrights and trademarks.
Government is allowed to spend more money than it brings in-----called a deficit .
Our federal budget did not have a surplus of money between 1969 & 1998.
Cleaning up the Environment
1969/Oil well explosion/Santa Barbara
Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Required that an environmental impact statement be prepared for every major federal action, showing the extent to which the action would affect the quality of the environment.
Also authorized the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A gradual increase in the average temperature throughout the world due to the so-called greenhouse effect.
The greenhouse effect —The trapping of heat inside the earth’s atmosphere.
Scientists disagree over the extent & nature of this development.