I was deeply saddened in recent days to learn that the great-grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller had died. Richard Rockefeller, a physician who practiced for nearly two decades in Portland, Maine, was killed while piloting his light plane. He was 65.
Richard was a philanthropist and humanitarian whom I had the pleasure to meet during the production of a documentary film I co-produced a couple of years ago. His work with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins San Frantieres has been widely noted. He was instrumental in establishing the organization in the United States and sat on its board of advisors for 21 years. He spoke passionately about the need to give people in poor parts of the world access to medicine.
My interview with Richard Rockefeller for my doc “Fixing the Future” was about a different kind of community-building. Rockefeller was among those who helped fund the creation of a fascinating initiative in Maine called "Hour Exchange Portland." The exchange is a what is known as a “time bank.” People in the Portland area agree to provide their skills, whatever those skills may be, by the hour. Maybe it’s cutting a lawn. Maybe it’s physical therapy. People who provide their skills via this bank don’t expect money in exchange. What they do expect is to be able to get an hour of someone else’s skill in return.
There are time banks of one form or another in spots across the country. After my film came out, some volunteers put together a time bank in my own part of New Jersey. Rockefeller explained to me during the filming that an hour earns a person the same “time dollar," no matter what the service.
“Right away, (that’s) a radical departure from the formal economy where different services are worth different things depending on scarcity and supply and demand,” Rockefeller told me. Within the time bank, everybody’s time is equal, so economists, for that reason, often find this “completely foolhardy and incomprehensible,” he said.
Rockefeller also noted with a smile that “fortunately” the system also does not compute for the Internal Revenue Service, which has ruled that time banking involves the swap of what are termed “friendly favors," and are, therefore, non-taxable.
The best way to understand a system is to try it out. So I did. What I put into the time bank was an hour squirting in and nailing in insulation for a nice Portland woman’s basement. What I got in return was magnificent: an hour-long sailing lesson riding the waves of Maine’s Casco Bay.
With the hard work of volunteers and Dr. Rockefeller’s moral and financial support, Portland has ended up with an extensive time exchange system. Some people without health insurance are even able to swap their skills by the hour for medical treatment from doctors and other health professional who are part of the bank.
What I noticed was that swapping skills is a handy way to bring diverse individuals together. People often talk while they are together giving or taking the labor. They talk about a lot of things, but often they talk about community challenges and opportunities. They even might talk ways to fix those challenges. In this way, Richard Rockefeller should also be remembered as a man who helped build something that was more than a time bank. He also helped build what I like to call a social capital generation device, a system that pulls people out of their living rooms and puts them together to get important things done.
Few artists have rivaled Michael Jackson’s lasting impact, but the strength of his image went beyond musical talent. The superstar was able to make an estimated $700 million (according to reporting by Zack O'Malley Greenburg) after he passed away, five years ago this week -- that's more than any other artist during that period.
Greenburg, senior editor at Forbes and author of "Michael Jackson, Inc.," joins host David Brancaccio to talk about the rise, fall and resurgence of Michael Jackson’s fortune.
Click the audio player above to hear Zack O'Malley Greenburg in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio
More on Representative Kevin McCarthy's announcement that he is in favor of ending the export-import bank. Plus, the GI Bill turns 70 this week, and among its initiatives was making it easier for veterans to attend college. That's why many soldiers took the GED. But these days, the primary test-takers of the GED are very different. Also, more on the cost of getting high-speed wi-fi into classrooms.
And now for a tech mystery. Described as "an anonymous social experience for good," the twitter account @HiddenCash has been tweeting clues to actual stashes of cash hidden in San Francisco and other cities.
@HiddenCash generally hides around $50 to $100 in an envelope and then sends clues as to the money's whereabouts via Twitter, which people then use to find the money.
And until recently, the man behind @HiddenCash was a complete mystery. Now, the social media robin hood has come forward. His name is Jason Buzi.
Buzi hails from the bay area, and previously tried to make it big with a series of failed web ventures. One particular fiasco was a YouTube knockoff called “Cashtomato.” A publicity stunt for the site in New York’s Union Square that included giveaways of money hidden in boxes of tomatoes devolved into what was written up in the New York Daily News as a “free-for-all”.
These days, Buzi makes most of his money through real estate.
Technology is pouring into schools faster than their wi-fi can keep up with it.
Virtually all school officials in a recent survey of 447 school districts said they will need to upgrade their Internet speeds within three years. The survey was done by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a professional association for district technology leaders.
Education Super-Highway, which promotes high-speed Internet in schools, recommends a download speed of 100 Mbps* (megabits per second), for a school with 1,000 students and staff. But, the organization says "the typical public school has the same Internet access as the typical home – but with 100x more users."
The solution? Mostly more money. Nearly three-quarters of districts in the CoSN survey said the cost of the monthly Internet charges are a barrier to getting the speed they need. That wasn’t the only problem. Just over 10 percent said their Internet provider was not able to give them the higher speed they required.
Click the audio player above to hear more on the topic from Adriene Hill in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio
How to Use the Map:
The map shows federal data on the maximum possible download speeds available at more than 70,000 schools in the country. It does not show whether the school has the top speed. You can see schools in your town, or nearby, by entering your zip code into the box above the map.
The green markers show schools that have speeds of at least 50 mbps available to them (enough for good Internet speed for at least 500 people, according to Education Super-Highway).
Yellow markers show schools that could get 25 mbps to 50 mbps (enough for 250 to 500 people) and red markers show schools in areas where the top available speed is less than 25 mbps (enough for 250 people).
By clicking on the markers you can see more specific information on download speed.
The GI Bill turned 70 this week. Among the benefits provided, the bill enabled returning WWII veterans to go to college.
Those without high school diplomas turned to the General Educational Development Testing Service, still known as the GED.
When he signed the GI Bill on June 22, 1944, FDR created a huge new market for the private company behind the GED test, which had been created a few years earlier.
Of course, in those days, the test was mainly taken by returning troops who didn’t have a high school diploma. More recently, the demographic interested in taking the test has changed a great deal.
“So now we’ve got the GED heavily weighted toward the prison population,” says Lois Quinn, a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's Employment and Training Institute. “So the prisons become the greatest customer for the test.”
Quinn also says more teenagers are taking the test after dropping out of high school.
Recently, the GED's value has been put into question.
“To the extent that there are more people with a high school diploma, then that would put people with a GED at a disadvantage,” says Chris Swanson, vice president of Editorial Projects in Education, which publishes Education Week.
In fact, the military now prefers recruits with a high school diploma over those with a GED.
Soccer fans will be focused on the players during the World Cup, but tech fans should keep an eye on the referees -- Their equipment is getting an upgrade this year.
The first thing you may notice is a new, spray-foam-like shaving cream that refs will use to mark the position of free kicks. It vanishes a few seconds later.
“It’s kind of fun,” says Victor Matheson, a sports economist at The College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. He’s also a former ref for Major League Soccer and has used the spray before.
“But the big great innovation that really opens the door here is goal line technology,” says Matheson.
When the ball goes near the goal, you might also notice refs checking their watch – but not for the time. Seven high-speed cameras will now monitor each net and send an alert to the ref’s watch within a second of the ball crossing the goal line.
Sam Laird, who covers sports and technology for Mashable, says the hope is to avoid situations like the 2010 World Cup, where England lost a match to Germany thanks, in part, to a questionable call.
“It was a close play and the ref made the wrong call,” says Laird. “[It’s] a human error, but one that could have been corrected with the help of replay and for the first time that will be an option this year.”
But even with all the tech support refs will get at the World Cup this year, they are still human – which means there will likely be plenty of other reasons for fans to scream at them.
An Egyptian court has convicted three journalists for Al-Jazeera English and sentenced them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges.