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I get around

Rodney Durham stopped working in 1991, declared bankruptcy and lives on Social Security. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo lent him $15,197 to buy a used Mitsubishi sedan. “I am not sure how I got the loan,” Mr. Durham, age 60, said.

Mr. Durham’s application said that he made $35,000 as a technician at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., according to a copy of the loan document. But he says he told the dealer he hadn’t worked at the hospital for more than three decades. Now, after months of Wells Fargo pressing him over missed payments, the bank has repossessed his car.
_______________

The thermometer showed a 103.5-degree fever, and her 10-year-old’s asthma was flaring up. Mary Bolender, who lives in Las Vegas, needed to get her daughter to an emergency room, but her 2005 Chrysler van would not start. The cause was not a mechanical problem — it was her lender.

_______________

This is the face of the new subprime boom. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 1, 2014 - 61 comments

The human being is very often not profitable from the system’s POV

According to the philosopher Anselm Jappe, who has come to Lisbon to give a talk at the Teatro Maria Matos, in capitalism we are defined by our relation to labor. But the system is a “house of cards that is beginning to collapse”. It is time to rethink the concept of labor.
posted by a_curious_koala on Sep 28, 2014 - 67 comments

I.P. Freely

What happened to pay toilets in the USA? In the early 1900s, when railroads connected America’s biggest cities with rural outposts, train stations were sometimes the only place in town with modern plumbing. To keep locals from freely using the bathrooms, railroad companies installed locks on the stall doors—only to be unlocked by railroad employees for ticketed passengers. Eventually, coin-operated locks were introduced, making the practice both more convenient and more profitable. Pay toilets then sprung up in the nation’s airports, bus stations, and highway rest stops. By 1970, America had over 50,000 pay toilets. By 1980, there were almost none.
posted by modernnomad on Sep 17, 2014 - 98 comments

Growing Number of Canadians Unprepared For Financial Emergency

According to the Annual BMO Rainy Day Survey released today, "the percentage of Canadians that have enough savings to only cover one month or fewer has climbed to 27% - up 8 percentage points [since 2012]. For those who have one month or fewer in savings, the average fund is only $2,051. …. Three-in-ten Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque or spending more than they earn". The Huffington Post Canada reports that "[t]his comes at a time when Canada's support structures for the unemployed are growing thinner. Recent estimates show that little more than a third of Canadians who lose their jobs now qualify for Employment Insurance."
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on Sep 8, 2014 - 19 comments

Everything is upside down.

Advice on how to survive late capitalism: "Your life is sold to serve an economy that does not serve your life. You don’t seem to be entertained, Bank-robbin’; your white-hot rage festers. It probably doesn’t help that you live in Brooklyn—this place where in the last ten years rent has spiked 77 percent while real median income has dropped, where the rich (the top 10 percent of earners who, as is well known, control 80 percent of the wealth) and their children live right on top of some of the worst poverty known to this country, while 20 percent of Brooklynites survive somehow below the poverty level, such that the widening income and wealth gap becomes achingly visible here. I could advise you to leave Brooklyn. But I don’t want you to leave Brooklyn."
posted by Snarl Furillo on Aug 1, 2014 - 74 comments

The most expensive decision of my life I made alone.

Now, on the downslope of parenting, I have misgivings about my decision to stay home. It would be far too strong a word to say I have regrets. I don’t know any parent who regrets time spent with their kids, especially kids who have moved on to their own lives. Although I am fully aware that being a stay at home mom was certainly a luxury, staring at an empty nest and very diminished prospects of employment, I have real remorse.
posted by stoneweaver on Jul 17, 2014 - 103 comments

"Free markets killed capitalism," Or really, the other way around.

Monopoly is back: Barry Lynn on the concentration of American economic power — and how we can restore fairness. Highlights: [more inside]
posted by cthuljew on Jun 30, 2014 - 47 comments

Precarity

Generational Poverty Is the Exception, Not the Rule [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Jun 29, 2014 - 65 comments

Garbage Everywhere

What refuse in India's streets reveals about America’s hidden trash problem
posted by infini on Jun 22, 2014 - 43 comments

It's last call to do your shopping at the last mall

The Guardian on the decline of America's shopping malls. "Dying shopping malls are speckled across the United States, often in middle-class suburbs wrestling with socioeconomic shifts. Some, like Rolling Acres, have already succumbed. Estimates on the share that might close or be repurposed in coming decades range from 15 to 50%. Americans are returning downtown; online shopping is taking a 6% bite out of brick-and-mortar sales; and to many iPhone-clutching, city-dwelling and frequently jobless young people, the culture that spawned satire like Mallrats seems increasingly dated, even cartoonish.

The trend is especially noticeable in the Midwest, a former blue-collar bastion where ailing malls have begun dotting suburban landscapes. Outside of Chicago, Lakehurst Mall was levelled in 2004 and the half-vacant Lincoln Mall is costing its host village millions in botched redevelopment plans. Dixie Square Mall sat vacant for more than 30 years after serving as the backdrop for the iconic chase scene in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. It was finally demolished in 2012. Many others will similarly lie dormant as they wait for the wrecking ball."
posted by porn in the woods on Jun 19, 2014 - 181 comments

“bordering on a sense of alarm” toward the opposite party

This PewResearch animation graphically shows the growing polarization among US voters during the past 15 years. Part of a 121 page pdf. Pew doesn't address why polarization is happening, but the pundits will try: "Voters are becoming angrier because living standards are falling and the middle class is shriveling." Democrats blame corporations, Republicans blame the government and the Dallas Fed blames robots. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Jun 16, 2014 - 213 comments

Re-Thinking the Game of Monopoly

K. Mike Merrill at BigThink has some ideas on how to modernize Monopoly while helping players better understand the nature of our financial system.
posted by reenum on May 17, 2014 - 39 comments

It's only supposed to be 30% of your income

In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class. Here's What $800 in Rent Gets You in 11 Major Cities [more inside]
posted by desjardins on May 10, 2014 - 293 comments

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

David Harvey's latest book looks at the internal contradictions within the flow of capital that have precipitated recent crises and "why this economic engine should be replaced, and with what." Available online are the Prologue, the last two chapters, and video & audio for his April 2nd talk at the London School of Economics.
posted by spamandkimchi on Apr 9, 2014 - 44 comments

Unrecognized state continues to exist anyway

Somaliland is an odd land. In global limbo since its birth, it continues to develop economically and socially in a reasonably stable and secure environment. Recently, the British town of Sheffield was the first to recognize its very existence as an independent country. In the meantime, the capital Hargeisa city, which has only one paved road, recently installed streetlights for the first time, and an enterprising entrepreneur returned home from Australia to start a familiar city service - the yellow cab. Investors and businesses have started paying attention while the major powers still prefer to pretend it doesn't exist. Even while experts debate whether their model can be utilized in far more volatile Somalia, Hargeisa's residents want you to know they are Happy.
posted by infini on Apr 6, 2014 - 13 comments

No people without houses, no houses without people.

Photojournal of Spain's new squatters: families, young professionals, degree-holders, single mothers, the elderly. "I have grandchildren," she says. "When I die I would like to be able to say to myself that they will have jobs, homes and a happy life. The corralas are important. They set an example to people who are struggling. They show that we can help ourselves and each other. I don't know what the future will hold for any of us, but one way or another I believe that this will be a successful fight. I have to, otherwise I wouldn't be able to sleep at night." [more inside]
posted by alona on Mar 10, 2014 - 11 comments

Money and finance: For an anthropology of globalization

There is much talk today of a financial and economic crisis comparable to the 1930s. With the threat of a currency war and the euro’s collapse looming, the specter of the Great Depression’s bloody aftermath has returned with a vengeance. Several versions of how to make human beings and build society co-existed during the Cold War, when much of the world won independence from colonial empire. Yet, discussion of humanity’s growing interdependence is today limited to a one-world capitalism driven by finance. What have anthropologists to say about that? It would seem very little. But a positive case can be made for the discipline’s contribution to public debate. We make such a case here. We review recent developments in the anthropology of money and finance, listing its achievements, shortcomings and prospects, while referring back to the discipline’s founders a century ago. Economic anthropologists have tended to restrict themselves to niche fields and marginal debates since the 1960s. We hope to reverse this trend by focusing on money’s role in shaping global society and bringing world history into a more active dialogue with ethnography.
Money and finance: For an anthropology of globalization by Keith Hart and Horacio Ortiz
posted by infini on Feb 12, 2014 - 17 comments

Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States

"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 23, 2013 - 66 comments

El Empleo / The Employment

El Empleo / The Employment by Santiago 'Bou' Grasso
posted by jeffburdges on Dec 3, 2013 - 5 comments

Thankfully, the Constitution says you only have to do this once a year.

It's time for Americans to gather around the dinner table, eat too much, and argue about politics! A new genre of Thanksgiving-themed web pages seems to be taking off this year, that being the "How to argue with your [opposite political party] family members at Thanksgiving" genre. From the left side of the political spectrum, the Democratic National Committee has launched "The Democrat's Guide to Talking Politics with Your Republican Uncle", and The Huffington Post chimed in with "Here's Every Argument You'll Need To Win Your Obamacare Debate This Thanksgiving". Not to be outdone, conservatives have responded with cheat sheets of their own, including RedState.com's "Thanksgiving dinner with your liberal relatives" and The Washington Examiner's "The Thanksgiving guide to making conservative arguments liberals can understand". [more inside]
posted by tonycpsu on Nov 28, 2013 - 126 comments

Administrators Ate My Tuition

Washington Monthly examines the rapid increase in the numbers of middle managers at universities and the correlation to the rampant increase in tuition costs at American universities.
posted by reenum on Oct 8, 2013 - 184 comments

The Big Chill

Why American refrigerators are so huge, and what it says about our culture.
posted by reenum on Oct 6, 2013 - 265 comments

The Coming Eucatastrophe

Over the past few years, the zombie apocalypse has come to represent an alternative to neoliberalism – an ideology that admits no alternatives. The Political Economy of Zombies by John Powers [previously, previouslier] Bonus: What Terrifies Teens In Today's Young Adult Novels? The Economy
posted by chavenet on Oct 1, 2013 - 59 comments

The third act in the triple-fucking of ordinary people by Wall Street

Looting the Pension Funds: All across America, Wall Street is grabbing money meant for public workers. By Matt Taibbi. [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Sep 26, 2013 - 46 comments

The Tuition Is Too Damn High

Over the past couple of weeks, Wonkblog has examined the fast rising cost of college tuition in the United States and its effects on society. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Sep 8, 2013 - 48 comments

"Big waste country, the U.S."

To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure: Johnson Zeng is a Chinese trader who travels across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 others like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper. His purchases, millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars, will eventually be shipped to China. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 7, 2013 - 29 comments

The Chasing Out Room

With mass layoffs still taboo in Japan, senior workers who refuse to resign are sent to "chasing-out rooms" instead of being allowed to work. (SL NYTimes)
posted by reenum on Sep 4, 2013 - 48 comments

People simply empty out

"They call it '9 to 5.' It's never 9 to 5, there's no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don't take lunch."
posted by Memo on Aug 16, 2013 - 82 comments

Matt Taibbi on the Ripping Off of Young America

Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal. "The federal government has made it easier than ever to borrow money for higher education - saddling a generation with crushing debts and inflating a bubble that could bring down the economy."
posted by homunculus on Aug 16, 2013 - 142 comments

"Some things...can only happen once."

The Blip: What if everything we've come to think of as American is predicated on a freak coincidence of economic history? And what if that coincidence has run its course?
posted by Sticherbeast on Aug 12, 2013 - 107 comments

The Opt-Out Revolution, Revisited

In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
posted by zarq on Aug 7, 2013 - 64 comments

The True Cost of Living Here

This Atlantic article about the EPI Family Budget Calculator tries to calculate the required income to live a comfortable yet modest lifestyle in various parts of the US.
posted by COD on Jul 13, 2013 - 45 comments

You Are Not an Artisan

"So long as you stop thinking in terms of crafts and aim to practice a trade instead, there is more work for humans than people realize... When people talk about saving work or jobs, they mostly talk about saving sexy, income-generating conspicuous production packaged as creative work, in a debt-fueled de facto leisure society." Writer and speaker Venkatesh Rao weighs in on the difference between "Sexy Jobs and Schlub Jobs," and what it means for the future of work. For a slightly different take, see The Death of the 'Prestige Economy'
posted by verb on Jul 13, 2013 - 56 comments

Suddenly, I was rage-reading millennial trend pieces every day.

In "Can We Stop Worrying About Millennials Yet?", editorial cartoonist Matt Bors highlights the absurdity of blaming millennials for inheriting a lousy economy.
posted by tonycpsu on Jul 9, 2013 - 170 comments

President Correa and Ecuador's Economy

Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado was first elected president of Ecuador in Nov. 2006 and most recently for his third presidential term in Feb. 2013. Ecuador is sometimes identified as joining the Latin American leftist "pink tide" movement by electing Correa, and Correa in turn joined the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) economic bloc in 2009, which also includes the countries of Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia, and which was explicitly conceived by Hugo Chavez as an alternative to US-lead economic partnerships in the region. [more inside]
posted by airing nerdy laundry on Jun 24, 2013 - 34 comments

Eat the meat you are Fed: It's good, we guarantee it!

The last mystery of the financial crisis. It's long been suspected that ratings agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's helped trigger the meltdown. A new trove of embarrassing documents shows how they did it. by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone.
posted by lalochezia on Jun 19, 2013 - 34 comments

7 year bookends

25 Things I'm Learning From Closing a Bookstore. (previously)
posted by telstar on Jun 16, 2013 - 138 comments

A threadbare set of ideas

The Austerity Delusion: Why a Bad Idea Won Over the West. "Austerity is a seductive idea because of the simplicity of its core claim -- that you can’t cure debt with more debt. This is true as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. Three less obvious factors undermine the simple argument that countries in the red need to stop spending. The first factor is distributional, since the effects of austerity are felt differently across different levels of society. The second factor is compositional; everybody cannot cut their way to growth at the same time. The third factor is logical; the notion that slashing government spending boosts investor confidence does not stand up to scrutiny."
posted by spamandkimchi on May 1, 2013 - 153 comments

A funny thing happened on the way to the funeral

The novel resurgence of independent bookstores. {Single page version} [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Apr 29, 2013 - 31 comments

Taibbi held a gun to my head, er, I mean...

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There's no price the big banks can't fix
posted by infini on Apr 26, 2013 - 127 comments

The alchemists of Wall Street are at it again.

Wall Street begins playing again with the same matches that burned the economy in 2008 From the New York Times: "The banks that created risky amalgams of mortgages and loans during the boom — the kind that went so wrong during the bust — are busily reviving the same types of investments that many thought were gone for good. Once more, arcane-sounding financial products like collateralized debt obligations are being minted on Wall Street. " (View article on a single page) [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 20, 2013 - 57 comments

Austerity Bites, especially if you can't Math

"[a]ll I can hope is that future historians note that one of the core empirical points providing the intellectual foundation for the global move to austerity in the early 2010s was based on someone accidentally not updating a row formula in Excel." [more inside]
posted by T.D. Strange on Apr 16, 2013 - 165 comments

The Day Care Dilemma

"Trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things that a parent has to do — and in the United States, it’s harder still, because American day care is a mess. About 8.2 million kids—about 40 percent of children under five — spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent. Most of them are in centers, although a sizable minority attend home day cares.... In other countries, such services are subsidized and well-regulated. In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian."
posted by zarq on Apr 15, 2013 - 139 comments

Material Poverty & Privilege in India

What would a poverty map of India look like?
posted by Gyan on Apr 14, 2013 - 10 comments

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed

There is a curious feeling of power you get when you drop a couple of twenties without a trace of critical thinking. "Here in the West, a lifestyle of unnecessary spending has been deliberately cultivated and nurtured in the public by big business." [more inside]
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Apr 14, 2013 - 57 comments

"like most of the working class, I’ve developed a locust morality."

The Locust Economy
I was picking the brain of a restauranteur for insight into things like Groupon. He confirmed what we all understand in the abstract: that these deals are terrible for the businesses that offer them; that they draw in nomadic deal hunters from a vast surrounding region who are unlikely to ever return; that most deal-hunters carefully ensure that they spend just the deal amount or slightly more; that a badly designed offer can bankrupt a small business. He added one little factoid I did not know: offering a Groupon deal is by now so strongly associated with a desperate, dying restaurant that professional food critics tend to write off any restaurant that offers one without even trying it.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 11, 2013 - 73 comments

"I couldn't afford for Carpentersville to become Detroit"

Tom Roeser was unhappy about the decline of his town, Carpentersville, IL. So he decided to do something about it. Roeser bought some foreclosed properties, renovated them, and then rented them out for below market value.
posted by reenum on Apr 2, 2013 - 56 comments

Workers of the world... Relax!

"Because work is unnecessary except to those whose power it secures, workers are shifted from relatively useful to relatively useless occupations as a measure to assure public order." -- The Abolition Of Work by Bob Black [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jan 29, 2013 - 92 comments

Evaluating the impact of international aid, scientifically

International aid projects come under the microscope Clinical-research techniques deployed to assess effectiveness of aid initiatives.
posted by infini on Jan 24, 2013 - 3 comments

There's a lot of bullshit coming from America

"Of the top 100 Swiss companies, 49 give shareholders a consulting vote on the pay of executives. A few other countries, including the United States and Germany, have introduced advisory "say on pay" votes in response to the anger over inequality and corporate excess that drove the Occupy Wall Street movement. Britain is also planning to implement rules in late 2013 that will give shareholders a binding vote on pay and "exit payments" at least every three years. Minder's initiative goes further, forcing all listed companies to have binding votes on compensation for company managers and directors, and ban golden handshakes and parachutes. It would also ban bonus payments to managers if their companies are taken over, and impose severe penalties — including possible jail sentences and fines — for breaches of these new rules."
posted by vidur on Jan 21, 2013 - 32 comments

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