Wednesday
May252011

PRESS INFORMATION

For Immediate Release

May 16, 2011

CONTACT: Martee Pierson

Title: Director of Diversity Programs

757.301.8111

 martee.pierson@libtax.com

 

Liberty Tax Service - Una Familia Sin Fronteras forms educational alliances with the Kansas City, Missouri school district and with University of Missouri – Kansas City educational outreach program

 

Liberty Tax Service will provide fiscal and financial education programs to parents of elementary, middle and high school children in underserved communities throughout the Kansas City area.

 

Liberty Tax Service announced that local offices in the Kansas City area have formed an educational alliance with the University of Missouri – Kansas City supporting the University’s outreach program for parents of elementary school children. Local fiscal and financial experts from Liberty Tax Service’s unique educational outreach initiative, Una Familia Sin Fronteras, will offer financial and fiscal education seminars free-of-charge to parents throughout the year. Programs will be tailored to answer the participants’ primary areas of interest, including small business start-up procedures and first homeowner information. The majority of programs will be offered in Spanish, since this educational outreach program serves many 1st-generation Hispanic immigrant families, but they will also be available in English for the non-Spanish speaking communities. Many of these seminars also qualify for college credits with the University of Phoenix, so participants can enjoy the excitement of completing a college accredited course!

 

Additionally, Liberty Tax Service is partnering with the Kansas City, Missouri School District (KCMSD) offering financial and fiscal education seminars to parents of elementary, middle and high school students throughout the year. The first seminar will cover Student Financial Aid (FAFSA), outlining the opportunities for families to take advantage of financial aid for education, explaining the application process, and encouraging families to apply for FAFSA grants in order to help enable qualified students to pursue higher education.

 

These seminars and workshops will also be taught by Liberty Tax Service professionals from offices in the Kansas City area that have earned the Hispanic Services Seal of Excellence from Liberty Tax, through a rigorous certification program provided by the Una Familia Sin Fronteras corporate team. This certification training ensures that Liberty offices are qualified and trained to provide services to Hispanic consumers. The goal of both alliances will be to develop programs of value to a broad parent base, so that the attendance and interest in parent programs can expand for both organizations, and so that parents can learn the values of the economic system in the U.S. and better enter into our mainstream economy.

 

These new alliances are extensions of Liberty Tax’s unique and highly successful Hispanic initiative, Una Familia Sin Fronteras (A Family Without Boundaries) and its Foundation by the same, which together provide educational outreach programs that bring financial and fiscal education seminars and courses to Hispanic communities across the nation, at no cost. Courses and seminars are taught in Spanish (and English as needed), and many qualify for college credits through the University of Phoenix. Franchise owners and their staff across the United States demonstrate their commitment throughout the year to Liberty’s Una Familia Sin Fronteras Hispanic educational initiative by their enthusiastic support and fulfillment of the educational initiatives spearheaded by Liberty’s national Hispanic Programs Team. Because of the integrity, success and value of the Una Familia Sin Fronteras educational initiative, Liberty Tax Service has been embraced by nonprofits, educational institutions and governmental entities across the nation, with which private companies are rarely allowed to partner.

 

“Liberty has focused on ensuring that we provide special services that are very much needed by our new immigrant communities,” explains John Hewitt, CEO and Founder of Liberty Tax Service. “We believe that information provides options, and options provide empowerment. Our Una Familia Sin Fronteras initiative and were created specifically to bring these much needed values to our Latino neighbors across the U.S.”

 

 

About Liberty Tax Service

Liberty Tax Service is the fastest-growing retail tax preparation company in the

industry’s history. Founded in 1997 by CEO John T. Hewitt, a pioneer in the tax

industry, Liberty Tax Service has prepared over 8,000,000 individual income tax

returns. With 41 years of tax industry experience, Hewitt is the most experienced

CEO in the tax preparation business, having also founded Jackson Hewitt Tax Service (NYSE:JTX).

 

Each Liberty Tax office offers customers audit assistance, a money-back guarantee, and free tax return reviews. An elite group of Hispanic Services Seal of Excellence Certified offices also provide assistance in Spanish and offer many special services geared toward our Hispanic population free of charge, across the nation.

 

The Liberty Tax Service franchise opportunity is #7 on the list of fastest-growing franchises in Entrepreneur magazine’s “Franchise 500” list for 2011, and was selected as one of the top 25 Franchises for Hispanics by PODER magazine.

 

 

 

Monday
May232011

An Other Understanding of The Other

 

Gene Stowe

 

In a familiar inspirational story, a visitor wanders through the stonecutter section of a medieval construction site in Paris and asks various workers what they are doing. “I’m cutting stone,” says one. “I’m practicing my craft,” says another. “I’m earning money to feed my family,” says the next.

“I’m building a cathedral,” says the last.

 

You almost never hear what happens next. The visitor, being a modern American, proceeds to explain to them what they are “really” doing, correcting their answers for their own edification. Since they are obviously all doing the same thing, as the visitor can see, either (a) one of them has identified that thing correctly (perhaps the empiricist who answered first and recognized only the physical act of stonecutting, or the economist who answered third and recognized all labor as a quest for sustenance), or (b) none of them see the truth and the visitor can reveal it (perhaps “serving a tyrannical master” or “advancing an unworthy religion”).  

 

So far in modern life, an obsession with singularity (“Truth is one”) coupled with an exceptionalist presumption (“We have it”) has devolved into an intractable otherizing of difference that precludes a concerted effort against the enormous common challenges humanity faces. In politics, philosophy, the media and other fields, an approach to variety is ascendant that, if applied to architecture, cuisine or music, would quickly turn the world into a repetitive, bland monotone.

 

The reflex is all the more insidious for its unexamined place in society. Statement after statement is accepted as self-evident, unquestionable and unquestioned. Examples come easily, such as a recent New York Times headline: “Promise of Arab Uprisings Is Threatened by Divisions.” The story presupposes a certain “promise” – essentially, that Arab nations would establish Western-style democracies – then laments that people suddenly free to make their own decisions might decide differently. That the “promise” might have been national self-determination in the first place, and that a variety of outcomes among the variety of nations might be a fulfillment, is never considered.

 

Part of the “threat” in the article involves a contrast between “secular” and “religious” models. As axiomatic as this distinction is in modern discourse, from the perspective of ideas and of history, I find it perplexing and unconvincing. The “secular,” it seems to me, bears all the pertinent marks of the “religious,” including shades of meaning in its linguistic variations (secularity, secularism, secularist), and would best be treated as a religion among religions. Its distinction survives only because of colossal misunderstandings about both what religion is and about what secularism is. The flippant claim that they are not to be compared because religion proposes an external God (and an afterlife of reward or punishment) relies on general ignorance about non-Abrahamic religions and about the apocalyptic narratives of secular thinkers such as Marx. Maybe humans are homo religious and homo economicus as well as homo sapiens. The atheists in the Enlightenment-driven French Revolution, like the Nazis, adopted quasi-religious practices addressing common human needs and desires. High-quality developments in science, medicine, law, politics and art (Italian Renaissance and Harlem Renaissance, for example), as well as stomach-turning inequality, oppression and genocide (Crusades and Communism, for example), happen in history at rates entirely without reference to the supposed gulf between “religious” and “secular” societies. Maybe we are all cutting stone and practicing our craft and earning food for our families and building cathedrals.  

 

The position of “secular” in our society has become similar to the position of “Catholic” in medieval Western Europe: the standard by which every other idea is measured for approval, tolerance or disapproval. Other systems must demonstrate that they can be understood in its terms, or at least that they do not pose a threat to its ascendancy, in order to gain a hearing in the public square. My objections to that are not, by the way, objections in principle. As I have said elsewhere, I believe that cultures, including territorial cultures, have the right to adopt whatever framework they choose within which to operate. I would defend the existence of a secular democracy in precisely the same terms I would defend the existence of an Islamic democracy or a Christian democracy.

 

My objection specifically as an American is that the Constitution goes out of its way to reject national privileging of one framework over another. Political intolerance, as Jefferson pointed out in his First Inaugural, is no better than religious intolerance. The national government was founded, at least partly, as a government of states as states who could arrange their internal affairs as they pleased, including established religions in some for nearly 40 years after the federal Bill of Rights. Since the 14th Amendment, adopted in the context of ending states’ right to include slavery among their internal affairs, the same principle has continued to apply in a non-territorial way to other groups who organize their own internal affairs, such as the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, this dimension is usually overlooked and the Amendment is generally considered only in the case of individuals, where of course it also applies. But in any case, the secularist presumption threatens to flatten the bastion of diversity into a homogenized sea of conformity, the same “melting pot” that Protestant Christianity once saw as the nation’s Manifest Destiny.

 

I believe that the differences among human beings and human cultures exist not because they have departed, more or less, from some idealized version of “the good” but, as my faith teaches when it describes the diversity as willed by God, because they thereby have an opportunity to get to know each other. The world is an arena for dialogue, not an echo chamber and not necessarily a battlefield. As I described in “The Origin of Varieties,” the diversity need not divide the species, but it is vital to keeping the species vigorous.

 

To be fruitful, the dialogue must be aimed not at the conversion of one group to another but at the good of all humanity. The conversation, rather than a face-off of opponents, is mediated by the world that we all share and upon which we all depend. That, and not each other, is the proper focus of our operation. The dialogue is also not merely between individuals but also between cultures. In reality, any dialogue between individuals is a dialogue between cultures – the culture of each – that provide even the meaning of the words in use. But this fact is usually overlooked, and even more forgotten is the benefit of deliberate intercultural dialogue (a rare exception: the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification). In particular, many Americans, whether religious, non-religious or anti-religious, seem to lack the habit of respecting other cultures – coherent, durable, identity-producing systems – as equal partners in the dialogue.

 

The presumption of inequality shows up, unrecognized I think, in the requirement that the other account for each position in the terms of the questioner. (The understandable eagerness by religious people to provide such an account as far as possible, such as odious descriptions of the lives of pigs by those who don’t eat pork, likely compounds the confusion: in the end, they don’t eat pork because their religion proscribes it, and other reasons proposed are not an invitation to debate a perceived open question.) Respect for the other should mean that “Because it is part of my faith (or culture)” is finally an acceptable reason for a practice. Not to accept that would be to refuse the curative power of chicken soup until the chemical activity could be demonstrated. The fear that accepting such an answer leaves others open to inhumane treatment is vastly overblown – whatever perversions arise requiring correction, no community-sustaining religion is grounded in fundamental injustice (lying, stealing, killing, abusing parents, etc.), although some “secular” societies seem to expect survival while protecting covetousness. Of course, I believe in a responsibility to protect – to guarantee the fundamental rights of persons that religions understand at least as well as so-called secular philosophies – but it must not become a pretext to remake the world in an American image.

 

“Diversity” will remain a diversion as long as it means a calculation of color and gender differences in a group, and “inclusion” will be an insult if it means “you can come in and join what we are” rather than “we together will work on our common project with mutual respect and an expectation that collaboration is more fruitful than exclusion of differing ideas.”  We will build cathedrals – or skyscrapers or anything else – only when we recognize that we are also cutting stone and nourishing our families and, like the others, making our own contribution to the common good.

 

 

Monday
May162011

Financial literacy and football

I was recently invited to participate in a panel on financial literacy that was organized by the United Athletes Foundation (UAF) and the STAR EMBA program at the GW School of Business. It was held at the New York Stock Exchange, and it was good to go back to NYSE a second time. I had accepted the invitation without giving much thought to who would be in attendance at the event. A few days before the event (which was held April 29, 2011), I was given the list of the panel participants: Robert Marcham (moderator), Annamaria Lusardi, Ray Lewis, Rushia Brown, Chuck Lewis, Bill Imada, Sam and Char McNabb, and Gordon Brown. I had not heard of these financial literacy experts before and wondered whether they were academics as well (please, remember that I was born in Italy, so I do not know very much about American football or basketball). So, it was not until I arrived at NYSE that Friday that I discovered that Ray Lewis was THE Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, Sam and Char McNabb were the parents of THE Donovan McNabb, and Rushia Brown was THE Rushia Brown. There I was sitting on a podium to the right of superstar Ray Lewis, speaking to an audience of athletes and their families as well as the President of the UAL, Reggie Howard. Oh boy, I was in deep trouble!


I was the first on the panel to speak. I talked about the troubling state of financial literacy in the population, of the divide between those who know and those who do not know, of the sharp contrast between the complexity of financial markets and the very low level of financial knowledge that most people have. I spoke of the dire consequences of the lack of financial literacy; it is those who are less financially literate who pay more for financial services, who are more likely to engage in high cost mortgages and to default on them, and who are less likely to take advantage of the financial markets or to accumulate wealth. In the same way in which skills, practice, and experience help athletes to score and avoid faulty steps, financial literacy empowers people to take advantage of the opportunities offered by financial markets and to avoid scams or running into financial trouble. I also spoke of the difficulties that athletes may face in managing their finances and taking care of themselves, their families, and their communities both because of the peculiarity of their short careers, the increased complexity of financial markets that everybody is facing, and, of course, their fame.

Ray Lewis spoke next. He simply blew everyone away. He spoke of what financial literacy means to him, and the problems he has faced. He reflected on the grim statistics we had heard from the moderator that more than 70% of NFL players are bankrupt, unemployed, or divorced a few years after retiring. He talked about how many young athletes are ill informed about investing and managing their money and the problems that result. And he spoke of the need for athletes to be worry-free when on the field practicing or playing—absolutely nothing should distract from the focus on the game. He spoke with a passion and an intensity I have not seen in any person. I have a Ph.D. in economics and am myself passionate about financial literacy, but I could not have articulated the case for financial literacy the way Ray Lewis did. 

Sam and Char McNabb spoke of the continuous worries that parents of athletes have about their children. From the anticipation of who will be drafted to the journey through the games, injuries, victories, and losses, they spoke of the desire to protect their son from making bad financial decisions, but the difficulty they face in knowing where to turn for advice. It was when Char McNabb spoke that I realized that about half of the audience were mothers of athletes. She asked them to raise their hands, and so many hands went up! I cannot begin to tell you how appealing it was to see that it is their mothers who the athletes brought to this event; it is them they turn to, whom they trust. I developed an instant affinity for these football players! And when the speaking was finished and I watched the mothers posing for a group photo, I could clearly see where the determination of these athletes comes from!

Sitting among these extraordinary people, I started to dream. What if these athletes became the champions for financial literacy? What if they spoke to students and told them how important it is to become financially literate. Students would listen to them; they look up to athletes. Imagine if we could organize a competition among schools, and the students who got a perfect score on a financial literacy test would get to spend an hour with, say, Ray Lewis or Reggie Howard, to listen to the stories of how they trained to win a game and why they care about financial literacy. Imagine if one of these players decided to become a spokesperson for financial literacy. Imagine…

As I hope I have conveyed, this was not my usual financial literacy conference, and not my typical audience. But it was a special day, and it illustrated how profound and widespread financial illiteracy is and how severe the problems associated with it are. And everybody can be affected by it, even the superstars we watch on TV. At the close of the panel, I got a warm handshake from Ray Lewis; he said he enjoyed my talk. It was . . . priceless!

You can look at some of the photoes of the event on our Facebook. Here is the link: http://on.fb.me/l4yPi7

 


ABOUT ME

 
HANOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE, UNITED STATES
Annamaria Lusardi is the Joel Z. and Susan Hyatt professor of economics at Dartmouth College and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She has taught at Dartmouth College, Princeton University, the University of Chicago Public Policy School, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University. From January to June 2008, she was visiting scholar at Harvard Business School. She has advised the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. Social Security Administration, the Dutch Central Bank, and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center on issues related to financial literacy and saving. She is the recipient of the Fidelity Pyramid Prize, awarded to authors of published applied research that best helps address the goal of improving lifelong financial well-being for Americans. Dr. Lusardi holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics from Princeton University.

 

Saturday
May142011

United Athlete Foundation

Since our recent Charity Weekend in New York City, our inbox has been full of requests for ways to donate to United Athletes Foundation, our programs, and our initiatives.  Currently, we have a few different methods to donate to the foundation:
Smart phone users can download the United Athletes Foundation app here >> http://tinyurl.com/6954c33  (iPhone) or http://tinyurl.com/3d8nnrp (Android) for free and follow the app setup to the area designated for donation.