Pistis: Financial Health & Good Jobs

All of history’s greatest figures achieved success by having pistis, “trust; commitment; loyalty; engagement.”

Pistis Card

It’s a sad truth of American life that the poorer you are the more you pay for banking.
For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, banks and other financial firms in 2016 generated $33 billion in fees related to overdrafts on checking accounts, this is the highest level in seven years. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has compared overdraft fees to a short-term loan with a 17,000% APR!
Mehrsa Baradaran, associate professor of law at the University of Georgia, and author of How the Other Half Banks, writes “As the banks are set up currently, the fees they charge are meant to dissuade small accounts, or accounts by people whose incomes are minimal and very uneven.”
As Baradaran writes in her book’s introduction, the banking industry has stopped serving those who are “too poor to bank”, pushing them into the arms of non-bank service providers to provide the most basic services: to cash pay checks, pay bills or transfer money. In exchange, she calculates that they fork over up to 10% of their income for these services.
In some cases, they don’t have an option: a bank may refuse to open an account for them. And banks have long been trying to “discourage” their smaller customers: fees on accounts where balances dip below a specified level even briefly can look extremely costly to a low-income household.

Financial Health

Financial Health for Everyone
Our vision is an audacious one: to increase the number of individuals with positive financial health and well-being. To achieve financial health, people need day-to-day financial systems that build long-term resilience and opportunity. Financial health enables family stability, education, and upward mobility, not just for individuals today but across future generations. Promoting financial health is good for the American economy. Financially healthy consumers drive new opportunities for increased engagement, loyalty, and long-term revenue streams. Lasting financial health also has a positive macroeconomic impact on communities at local, regional, and national levels.

Numerous obstacles stand in between people and financial health, including education, access, and differing perceptions of financial success. Most recently, market research on Consumer Financial Health shows 57% of American adults struggle financially. Many are dealing with an unhealthy amount of debt, irregular income, and sporadic savings habits. We invest in innovative technologies, policies, and ideas that help Americans overcome those obstacles so that they can thrive. But no single financial product can enable individuals to reach this goal alone; it requires collective creativity, collaboration, and investment from across the public and private sectors.
One major problem of economic opportunity is the lack of government contracting opportunities for Blacks and Latinos in New York City. While Blacks and Latinos make up about 54 percent of the New York City population, they only received 0.55 percent ($84.4 million) of the of the $15.3 billion in city contracts given out in fiscal year 2016, according to a report from Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Comptroller Scott Stringer report

In August 2017, the unemployment rate was 4.4%. This is great but the problem is that millions of people are still unemployed or underemployed.
Yet we need more than just jobs alone. We need good jobs. According to the Social Security Administration 51.4 percent of all Americans make less than $30,000 per year which is only slightly higher than the poverty guideline for a family of four of $24,250. 1 in 5 people in New York City live below the poverty level.
Small businesses account for a large share of the United States’ GDP. A subset of firms that are young and high-growth generate a large share of new jobs. Locally owned firms have been found to generate greater local economic ripple effects than chain establishments or other non-locally owned companies…. the Small Business Administration, for example, attributes almost half of private nonfarm GDP and almost two-thirds of net new private-sector jobs to what it calls small businesses.
[Yet a]cross the 16 programs in 14 states examined, large companies are receiving 80 to 96 percent of the subsidy dollars, and somewhat smaller but still very disproportionate shares of the deals (indicating that deals granted large businesses are more lucrative). Overall, big businesses received 90 percent of the $3.2 billion awarded, and 70 percent of the deals.
For example, in New York City, 80 percent of $82,471,363 in deals went to large firms.
Greg LeRoy

Greg LeRoy founded Good Jobs First in 1998

One way to address these problems is for Americans to buy more products manufactured in the United States and for New Yorkers to purchase more locally made products.

Made in NYC

If we all buy just 5% more US made products we will create a MILLION new jobs.

America’s problem is not that it does not work like China. It is that it no longer works like America. ~ Richard McGregor

American Made Matters

We at Pistis are addressing this by developing a search engine that will have products ads with place of manufacturing information. This is to provide the data so that we can all buy 5% more US made products and create a MILLION new jobs.
Today on Google, when someone searches for anything related to a product name, Google automatically populates most of the above-the-fold space on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) with Product Listing Ads (PLAs). 

Google PLAs

What big-brand Pay-Per-Click (PPC) managers are finding out is that their PLAs are doing extremely well but this is at the expense of their regular text ads such as AdWords.
Frank DuBois

Frank DuBois

Product ads such as PLAs are proving to be very effective and we propose to create a search engine that will have products ads with place of manufacturing information. This information will be like the Kogod Made In America Auto Index assembled by Frank DuBois at American University’s Kogod School of Bussiness.

Made in America Index

We are also exploring the following four concepts:
  • Remittance
  • Blockchain technology
  • Machine learning
  • Elasticsearch
The Fight For The $400 Billion Business Of Immigrants Sending Money Home
A new class of startups is using bitcoin and the blockchain to drastically lower fees as they try to grab a share of the remittance market from old competitors like Western Union.
For a long time, economists tended to overlook these dollars, but recently they’ve come to appreciate their importance. Remittances, which totaled $429 billion in 2016, are worth three times as much as all the foreign aid doled out by governments worldwide, and it’s likely the money is more effective dollar-for-dollar.
Currently, it’s expensive to send money overseas, which is especially damaging for the immigrants sending small savings home to the developing world. The World Bank says transaction fees average 7.45% globally, and, in many remittance corridors, they’re a lot higher than that. Sending money to Africa from the U.S. or Europe sometimes costs an extra 15%, and within Africa, the fees can be stupendous. To transfer 33,000 Angola Kwanza (about $200) from Luanda to Namibia costs about $50, according to the World Bank’s price database.
Is Blockchain Technology the Next Big Thing?
Blockchain protocol has the potential to revolutionise finance by increasing transparency and simplifying processes.
Blockchain can basically ease finance. In cross-border payments, it could be used to replace the traditional SWIFT network and cut transaction fees significantly. It offers a convenient way to send money cheaply and efficiently, to facilitate remittance flows.
5 AI applications in Banking to look out for in next 5 years
  1. AML Pattern Detection
  2. Chat bots
  3. Algorithmic trading
  4. Fraud detection
  5. Customer recommendations
The Engine for Key Security Platforms at Barclays
Barclays utilizes Elasticsearch in key data analytics initiatives to enable cyber security and cyber defense. The initiatives are aimed both at key security teams working to enable security, as well as C-level executives.
How Adopting Elastic at Bankwest was a Catalyst for Cultural Change
Digital disruption is driving sweeping change across many established industries and finance is no exception. In order to increase business agility and foster experimentation, Bankwest’s technology strategy is focused on breaking down existing monolithic systems into smaller distributed components organized around business capability, from which a requirement for centralized logging emerged. Elastic looked like a natural fit, and whilst we had confidence it would meet our requirements, what we didn’t anticipate was how it would become a catalyst for wider cultural change.
SWISS LIFE FRANCE’S 360 CUSTOMER VISION POWERED BY ELASTICSEARCH
The Elastic Stack helps Swiss Life France achieve its Vision 360 project, part of its digital foundation architecture
Swiss Life is a major player in insurance and wealth management. On the French market, its position as a private insurer is renowned. Swiss Life offers comprehensive advice to individuals and corporations, plus a broad range of products and services such as life insurance, private banking, financial management, health and disability, and property and casualty insurance. Swiss Life France supports its customers throughout their lives, building a lasting relationship thanks to personalized advice and provides them with tailored solutions to help them face a longer self-determined life.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
~ Matthew 6:25
Hope Community Services

HOPE Community Services is the largest food pantry/soup kitchen in Westchester County. Former HOPE Volunteer Coordinator Sue Gedney, former New York State High Chess Champion Joshua Cola, 96 years old volunteer Iris Freed, and Terrance Jackson.  Photo: Gene Shaw

I spent over five years homeless mostly in New Rochelle, NY and discovered the power of empathy to fuel innovation and creativity:
I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the art of living. Over the past decade, I have become convinced that it has the power not only to transform individual lives, but to help tackle some of the great problems of our age, from wealth inequality to violent conflicts and climate change.
It is important to understand what empathy is and is not. If you see a homeless person living under a bridge you may feel sorry for him and give him some money as you pass by. That is pity or sympathy, not empathy. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to look at the world through his eyes, to consider what life is really like for him, and perhaps have a conversation that transforms him from a faceless stranger into a unique individual, then you are empathising. ~ Roman Krznaric

Dev Patnaik, author of Wired to Care:
At Jump Associates, my colleagues and I have had the chance to collaborate with some of the world’s most amazing companies. And if there’s one thing that we’ve learned in all that time, it’s that companies prosper when they’re able to create widespread empathy for the world around them. That’s why I ended up writing Wired to Care, which shows how great companies around the world, from Nike to IBM, benefit from building a culture of widespread empathy for the people they serve.
Wired to Care

“Wired to Care will convince you that businesses succeed with their hearts as much as their heads. Dev Patnaik has given us just what we need for the lean years ahead.”
— Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point

In The Case for God, Karen Armstrong explains that until the modern period, the major Western monotheisms all concerned themselves primarily with practice, the doing of religion, rather than doctrine. A good Muslim was one who stood alongside and supported the Pillars; a good Jew observed Sabbath and remained committed to the Law and the ritual year; and a good Christian embodied the Sermon on the Mount by caring for the marginalized, promoting compassion and peace, and sharing God’s love. This is what it meant to be religious, Armstrong explains:
Religion as defined by the great sages of India, China, and the Middle East was not a notional activity but a practical one; it did not require belief in a set of doctrines but rather hard, disciplined work, without which any religious teaching remained opaque and incredible.
For most of Western history, religion has been primarily a matter of orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. In fact, no doctrine made any sense without participation in the community of faith and in its rituals. No doubt, there were certain thoughts or “beliefs” that mattered and were of extreme importance; however, unlike today, these convictions were never understood as either the core or the purpose of the religious life.
In fact, for most of Western history “belief” has meant nothing like what it means today. Today, when someone asks me if I believe in God, for example, they are asking if I assent to the proposed verity or the factual existence of God—and usually it is in reference to a very specific understanding of that God. Similarly, if I’m asked if I have “faith in Christ”, the question is whether I agree with the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth was divine, died on a cross, and was raised from the dead, or some form of that story. In both cases, questions of “belief” and questions of “faith” require answers of thought.
Yet, as surprising as it may seem, these understandings are relatively recent. “Faith” has its etymological roots in the Greek pistis, “trust; commitment; loyalty; engagement.” Jerome translated pistis into the Latin fides (“loyalty”) and credo (which was from cor do, “I give my heart”). The translators of the first King James Bible translated credo into the English “belief,” which came from the Middle English bileven (“to prize; to value; to hold dear”). Faith in God, therefore, was a trust in and loyal commitment to God. Belief in Christ was an engaged commitment to the call and ministry of Jesus; it was a commitment to do the gospel, to be a follower of Christ. In neither case were “belief” or “faith” a matter of intellectual assent.
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing [pisteuó from the root pistis], you will receive.”
~ Matthew 21:22

Great achievers of history

From a video essay about creativity we learn:
All of history’s greatest figures achieved success in almost exactly the same way. But rather than celebrating this part of the creative process we ignore it.
This missing chapter in the story of success reveals the secret to doing meaningful work. But in the modern world, full of distraction, do we have what it takes to do great things?
All of history’s greatest figures achieved success by having pistis, “trust; commitment; loyalty; engagement.”
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