first_imgIn her annual State of the Nation speech before members of the Legislative Assembly Wednesday night, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla pushed forward the message that despite overwhelming public disapproval of her administration, her government has had achieved several major accomplishments. Yet in a tone that has become common for the unpopular president of the dominating National Liberation Party – which earlier in the day secured the presidency of the Assembly in an annual May Day vote by lawmakers – Chinchilla acknowledged that “there is still a lot of work to do and challenges that we have not been able not overcome.”Speaking to lawmakers, Cabinet members and invited dignitaries for 75 minutes, Chinchilla admitted her administration still faces high rates of unemployment and poverty, and officials have been unsuccessful at reducing a social-economic gap among citizens.Chinchilla, who took office in 2010 as Costa Rica’s first woman to hold the presidency, also cited progress, including 5 percent growth in the national economy, “the highest in the last 15 years,” as well as a drop in interest rates and the blockage of short-term investments that threatened the country’s economic balance.She highlighted an earlier and successful issuance of Eurobonds that helped reduce the country’s staggering fiscal deficit, which last year topped $2 billion, or 4.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The speech also addressed foreign trade by highlighting an increase of 10 percent in exports and positive performance by companies, which helped Costa Rica surpass by $200 million a $2 billion annual export goal. That positive news came mostly because of high-technology and free-zone companies.On social development, Chinchilla said the most notable accomplishments include poverty rates that leveled off for the first time in five years and actually began decreasing (by 1 percent). She also highlighted the success of one of her flag projects: a national daycare program that increased coverage by 75 percent, with 79,000 new children added. Public security was another of the president’s main focuses. The president, who campaigned on the issue in 2010, reported a decrease of nearly 50 percent in homicides in 2012, of 15 percent for car theft, and 10.6 percent for home invasions. She said “local police forces were able to disrupt some 350 criminal organizations.”As for what is missing, Chinchilla said three factors are preventing her administration from moving forward: “First, our democratic system is not responding to the timing and quality demanded by our citizens,” she said.She cited limited management and technical skills in most public institutions, as well as a complicated system of rules that encourage paralysis in public administration.A second problem is caused by an incapacity for dialogue and the polarization of public debate, the president said. “The prevalence of antagonistic interests and the radicalization of positions hinders the necessary negotiation process for democracy to move forward,” she stated.Finally, the president refered to “despicable acts of corruption in public administration that have been generating a deep distrust of politics” referring probably to scandals such as the construcion of a road along the border with Nicaragua, that ended with the dismissal of several officials.Chinchilla ended her speech by asking lawmakers to increase dialogue in order to expedite bills in the Assembly, proposed government programs and public works projects. Those stalled bills include reform on in vitro fertilization – which Costa Rica must implement following a recent Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling – and granting same-sex couples equal rights under the law.The president asked opposition parties to exercise “the unavoidable task of political control, which is essential yet taxing, and something with which the government is obliged to comply.”“My government does not ask for less, and expects no less,” Chinchilla said. No related posts. Facebook Commentscenter_img Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla delivers the annual State of the Nation address on Wednesday to lawmakers, administration officials, dignitaries and other invited guests at the Legislative Assembly in San José. Courtesy of Luis Navarro/La Naciónlast_img

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first_imgLife and disability insurance and wills are things most of us don’t like to think about–they’re too potent a reminder of our own mortality. In the New York Times business section, a freelancer shares her perspective on these issues. M. P. Dunleavey and her husband have a child, making it particularly important that they have life and disability insurance. As one financial advisor tells her, she is “many times more likely to become permanently disabled before age 65” than to use her life insurance policy. (The author gets disability coverage through Freelancers Union.) Especially with a child, a mortgage, or other other ongoing expenses, it’s important to have disability insurance.  Having health coverage is crucial, of course, in the event that you’re injured or get sick.  But disability insurance ensures you’ll be able to keep paying your health insurance premium, and maintain coverage, even if your income is interrupted.last_img

first_imgIt’s September, which means kids back in the classroom, legislators back in Albany, and Freelancers Union … turning up the heat on our Get Paid, Not Played campaign after a summer of behind-the-scenes groundwork. As you know, the Freelancer Payment Protection Act is historic, groundbreaking legislation that will give protection and legitimacy to independent workers. It will allow freelancers to file claims with the Department of Labor when their clients don’t pay, rather than being forced to sue or walk away. The support we’ve seen on this campaign from our members is exactly what we mean when we talk about creating “power in politics.” Over the past few months, Freelancers Union members have come together, contributing time, shoe leather, dollars, and ideas to ensure the bill becomes a law this fall. Where our campaign’s been so far:May: Freelancers took New York’s capitol by storm, meeting with dozens of Albany policymakers to ask for their support for the Freelancer Payment Protection Act.June: those policymakers brought our bill to a vote in the Assembly – where it passed! The Senate version didn’t come up for vote, however.July: Having learned more about our bill’s opposition, we began working on new arguments, ideas, and potential allies to help get it passed.August: Members created tools and resources to help freelancers deal with client nonpayment, and by the end of August the Client Scorecard, Contract Creator, and Get Paid, Not Played resources were all born.So what now?There’s a chance the Senate may come back to Albany before the end of this year’s session, so we want to make sure we’ve done everything we can to give our bill a chance of going up for a vote and passing.We’re reaching out to 8 key Republicans whose support can help us get a majority in favor of the bill. In fact, we’ve already won a new ally – Senator Roy McDonald signed on as a sponsor just this week.Members are phonebanking, lobbying, petitioning, and writing letters-to-the-editor to drum up support in their districts among our target policymakers.Expect to hear lots more from us in the coming weeks as we get our bill back to Albany. Help heat things up during this critical season by petitioning and postering in key neighborhoods. Sign up now to get in early on the action. Here’s to putting a stop to deadbeat clients this fall, and to the ongoing support, strength, and power of our members who are joining us on this important issue.last_img

first_imgThis is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.After my freshman year in college at the University of Massachusetts, I lived for the summer with three roommates in an Amherst apartment. I worked part-time as a bagger at a nearby supermarket from 9am to 3pm, and then would bicycle over to the college library in order to read and write poetry. The university offered something called the Juniper Prize, which (if I recall correctly) was $1,000 in cash and publication by the university press. My goal that summer was to read poetry for three hours each day, write fifty poems of my own, and win the Juniper Prize.Spending an entire summer reading and writing poetry did wonders for me as a writer—not because my poetry was good. In fact, it was juvenile and simply awful, as the poetry of teenagers so often can be. I’d write poems about the birdsong I’d hear in the morning from my bedroom window and how it made me feel. Sorry about that, Emily Dickinson. I wrote the sort of bad, navel-gazing juvenalia that every writer has written at one time or another—and hopes gets destroyed in a fire.The reason that summer was valuable was because it was my first encounter with the never-ending struggle every writer faces when trying to write something readable. I had to learn discipline. It helped to have the Juniper Prize as a goal, silly as my ambition was. I began developing an ear for words, actually listening to the sounds they made on the page as I read at the library and typed away at night. Even today, as a business writer explaining changes in the new healthcare law or how companies can reduce their tax burdens, I write with my ear as much as with my brain. This is a good thing, to be musical and conscious of the sounds that words make on the page.I also had to learn how to tell a story, for a poem is nothing if not a compressed story. Best of all, I learned to read in order to inspire my writing. I read voraciously, sitting on the eighth floor of the library in the stacks of the poetry and literature floor. I’d spend a week with e.e. cummings, enjoying his humor, his tenderness, and that wild way he has with language.Emily Dickinson would become a favorite, especially since I’d bicycle past her Amherst house each morning and wonder how she’d once been in her bedroom writing her meditative poems and listening to the birdsong outside, as I was doing a century later. I read Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” over and over—not to mention my favorite poem then and now, T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”In the middle of August that summer, I finished writing my fiftieth poem and proudly put all the pages into a manila envelope with my $20 entry fee, which I sent to the Juniper Prize Committee with hope in my heart. Did I feel like a “real” poet then, a “real” writer? Of course I did, and I’m embarrassed now at how silly that conceit was from a pimply 19-year-old undergraduate. But every writer goes through that “young poet” phase, and I certainly checked off that box and picked up the t-shirt.A few weeks later, my manila envelope came back to me in the mail, along with a one-page letter from the Juniper Committee. I remember reading the letter with initial excitement which quickly turned into deflation: “Thank you for submitting your poems, however we have decided not to grant you the Juniper Prize.” I was stunned. Had they made some epic mistake? Had they failed to recognize my precocious poetic genius or overlooked me because I was younger than other entrants?I thought for a minute and then, as if unconscious, walked out to the parking lot in front of my apartment building. There was a large dumpster there. I carefully put the letter back into the manila envelope with my 50 poems inside, my only copies of my magnum opus, and hurled the entire package into the dumpster, then turned and walked away. As literary gestures from 19-year-olds poets go, this was a fairly dramatic one.I was done with writing right there and then. I had failed as a poet, and I spent the next week brooding and confused about my “wasted” summer and the idiocy of the Juniper Committee. Needless to say, I somehow found the strength to carry on. Looking back, that was one of the best summers of my life, including “losing” the Juniper Prize. The writing life is nothing if not difficult, and dealing with rejection is the most basic tool every writer needs. As the great Irish writer Samuel Beckett once wrote: “I can’t go on; I’ll go on.” That’s how I felt then. I moved on and kept writing after all.Boston-based Chuck Leddy is a freelance B2B Brand Storyteller who connects brands and customers through engaging stories. His clients include ADP, Catalant Technologies, The Boston Globe’s BG Brand Lab, and The National Center for the Middle Market. His website is www.ChuckLeddy.comlast_img

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