By Clay

Justice Gap:  "Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas, but the New York Times says just 2 percent of small law practices are in those areas. Those still practicing law in small towns are often nearing retirement age, without anyone to take over their practices.
And without an attorney nearby, rural residents may have to drive 100 miles or more to take care of routine matters like child custody, estate planning and taxes. For people of limited means, a long drive is a logistical hardship, requiring gas, a day away from work and sometimes an overnight stay. And census information shows that rural communities are disproportionately poor.  All this creates a "justice gap," with legal needs going unmet because potential clients can't find a lawyer, or they can't afford the lawyers they can find.  "It increases the expense," says Judge Gail Hagerty of the North Dakota Supreme Court, a leader in her state's effort to address the issue. "In some cases, people just don't get the legal services they need."

I'm sure there are places within north Georgia where this is an issue, but haven't done the research.  One of the things I'd like to do when we have more research staff is to answer these types of questions that are raised by our daily reading.  I'd love to know if there is a "justice gap" for our communities.  Hat tip (more on hat tips later) to a stellar young attorney and officer for sending me the article.  Thanks Carlos!

The point about one legal aid attorney for every 6,415 low-income Americans is certainly relevant here.  I've met with some legal aid agencies here in north Georgia and seen first hand how they are struggling to meet the needs of the community.

I love the idea of the ABA's rural job corps.  The law school system is definitely set up to encourage students to join large-metro law firms, or a traditional career.  There is also the peer pressure of trying to find a job that will impress your classmates (and pay down the debt).

And this from Georgia's Chief Justice: "Georgia’s lack of legal services in rural areas is every bit as severe as South Dakota’s, if not more so," he told lawmakers. "We must take steps to correct the imbalance."

Bloggers Need Not Apply:  I wish.

Party Bus: "Rural isolation is a big issue for the Department for Rural Development. It launched a £16m Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation framework two years ago.  Among the schemes to benefit, were the 11 community transport projects across Northern Ireland that allow members, who have paid a small joining fee, to book a journey in a bus or car.  The need for rural buses is growing. Banks are closing branches across Northern Ireland.  Libraries have closed in a number of rural areas over recent years, including in Moneymore, County Londonderry and Moy in County Tyrone.  It has been estimated that one in five of Northern Ireland's pubs closed between 2000 and 2013 and the rate is not believed to have slowed down.  Roley Livingstone, a driver with Fermanagh community transport, said many people in the area felt isolated.  But, he said, the bus "gets people together and gets them out to socialise more or less. To meet each other"."

I'm skeptical that the UK taxpayer is getting a good return on this investment--especially considering the reasons cited for the perceived isolation.  Not sure how transport and more socialization is a poverty-fighting program.  It is one thing to transport people to a job, but quite another for the sole purpose of having social interaction. 

I am interested in the pub closing issue in the UK.  I believe it is a real problem, and could have a negative social impact on the country, besides just being sad to see.  The Economist has discussed this on a number of occasions over the last few years.  This would particularly break my wife's (British) heart: "And Britons are not drinking as they used to. Communal imbibing with neighbours and passers-by is fading, in favour of the glass of wine by the television alone."

The Wheels are Falling Off Georgia's Economy:  "Georgia’s unemployment rate has soared from a postrecession low of 6.9% in April at a time when the national rate, which was 5.9% in September, has been steady or falling. Tennessee’s jobless rate bottomed out at 6.3% in April but rose back up to 7.4% by August. Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina have seen similar surges this year.  The recent numbers have left many economists scratching their heads, unable to explain why unemployment appears on the rise across the South while few other data—unemployment filings, home purchases, corporate hiring—suggest a sudden souring of the region’s economy.  “I’m not getting any feedback,— and we talk to people every day,— that’s saying the wheels are falling off Georgia’s economy,” said John Robertson, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta."

I believe Gov Deal should suspend his campaign.  I'm kidding.  That was silly in 2008, but equally silly were his comments.  Even if you genuinely believe the report to be wrong, you better wait to say something once you have some evidence.  This was a lesson I learned as an intern first hand.

As part of the organizations dedication to extensive research, we would look into this report and see what it means for the counties in which we operate.

Gov Deal would have been better served citing the Atlanta Braves as the cause of bad numbers and answer to the mystery.  Speaking of the Braves, I've never seen a professional situation where two superiors and two subordinates get fired for a project you are in charge of--but you keep your job.  Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2014 Atlanta Braves!  Hat tip, Fredi Gonzalez.  If you need some good Braves nostalgia with a north Georgia related story that hints at some of the issues our communities face then read this.  A beautiful/heartbreaking read even if you are not a baseball fan.

Thoughtful Critique on SIBs: "However, Kristof’s argument includes an odd diversion to suggest the “market failure” that explains dysfunctional government efforts, whether fighting Ebola or reducing prison recidivism, could be addressed by “new financial instruments—social impact bonds…[that] pay for job training or early education programs and then earn a financial return for investors when the government saves money.” Is Kristof hinting that social impact bonds could be used as a tool for dealing with the health issues facing countries in West Africa, or even confronting Ebola?  The lack of preventative action against Ebola isn’t just market failure, and effective action against public health crises in West Africa are unlikely to be addressed by private investors putting money into social impact bonds. There might be good uses out there for SIBs, particularly if they generate up-front risk capital for the front-end costs of nonprofit initiatives, but SIBs aren’t all-purpose social program panaceas and are hardly likely to generate resources commensurate with the scale of needs involved in fighting major systemic problems like the barely existing and currently collapsing health systems of the countries affected by the Ebola outbreak."

The "good use" of SIBs described above is what we are proposing.  More on SIBs here--which gives the investors perspective on why they would do it.

Why we are losing the War on Poverty.

I Applaud the Discussion:  “[I]n America’s original war on poverty, government did not give the poor other people’s money. It gave them access to other people. In Lincoln’s era that meant dredging rivers, building canals, and cutting roads. It meant the Homestead Act and land-grant universities. These public goods weren’t designed to make poverty more tolerable – but to make it more temporary. They reduced the time it took to get products to market, increased access to banks and land, and increased the speed at which knowledge could be developed and shared.”

More conservatives are jumping into this discussion, which is a good thing.  Sen Lee's speech is worth the read, along with this video.

Poverty Reduction--Get an IUD:  "So how can we prevent childhood poverty and save the long-term fiscal trajectory of the country? Sawhill recommends widespread adoption of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), particularly the intrauterine device (IUD). In a chapter titled, “Childbearing by design, not by default,” she calculates a dramatic statistic showing that even with condom use, a woman has a 63 percent risk of pregnancy over five years, the cumulative likelihood compounded annually by the 18 percent chance during one year."

No comment.  Although this will give more information on the falling poverty rate!

In closing, I saw this sad news for the Air Force.  My thoughts and prayers are with those Airmen, as well as their friends and families.