Pope to greedheads: better to be an atheist than the kind of Catholic who screws the poor

During an "improvised sermon" in his residence during morning mass, Pope Francis excoriated Catholics who lead a "hypocritical double life," going to mass and joining religious organizations while living from the exploitation of others -- the Pope said these people should say to themselves, "my life is not Christian, I don't pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, (I lead) a double life'." Read the rest

Guillotine watch: Paris has become a high-risk zone for the super-rich

The criminals of Paris have targeted super-rich visitors in a string of daring robberies -- one gang broke into Kim Kardashian's hotel room, tied her up, and stole millions in jewels; another carjacked a pair of rich Qatari sisters' Bentley and made off with $5.3m in valuables; another one tried to rob Bollywood star Mallika Sherawat after gassing them, but botched the job. Read the rest

"Nothing in life is truly free" -Billionaire heiress Betsy Devos, explaining to Bernie Sanders why your kids won't get free college tuition

Convicted election fraudster and public education opponent Betsy Devos made her billions through hard work -- really, you can't overstate the effort required to emerge from the loins of someone who married a rich guy, nor the work of later marrying someone else who emerged from the loins someone who married a rich guy. Read the rest

Reminder: if you have one penny, your net worth is equal to the combined wealth of the world's poorest 40%

Every year, Oxfam publishes a headline number about global wealth inequality that takes this form: "The richest X people own more than the poorest Y billion people on Earth" (some examples: 2014, 2016, 2017, UK edition). Read the rest

98% of Bitcoin trading volume over the past six months was in Chinese Renminbi

In case you were wondering why Bitcoin experienced a crazy spike recently: China's economy is a hyperinflated bubble, poised to burst and the Chinese central bank is depreciating the Renminbi -- so China's wealthy are getting their cash out of the country as fast as they can, using any means necessary: suing themselves, spending huge whacks of cash while on vacation, and converting it to Bitcoin (this is especially urgent now that the Canadian real-estate money laundry is shutting down) -- this is just the latest salvo in the Chinese capital flight story. Read the rest

The World Wealth and Income Database: data and visualizations from 110 researchers in 70 countries

Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty endorses the World Wealth and Income Database, where you will find "open and convenient access to the most extensive available database on the historical evolution of the global distribution of income and wealth, both within countries and between countries" in English, with upcoming translations in Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and French. Read the rest

Lawmakers' support for bank bailouts was correlated with their individual investment in banks

In The Personal Wealth Interests of Politicians and the Stabilization of Financial Markets, researchers from the London Business School and Tillburg University demonstrate the likelihood of US members of Congress voting in favor of bank bailouts was correlated with those politicians' individual investments in banking stocks. Read the rest

Folding Beijing: the 2016 Hugo-winning novelette about the obsolescence of labor and the preservation of privilege

Belatedly, I've finally read Hao Jingfang's novelette "Folding Beijing," which won the Hugo Award last summer in Kansas City: it's a story about a future in which the great cities continue to be engines of economic power, but where automation eventually makes most of the people in the cities obsolete -- a problem solved by dividing the city's day and geography up by strata, using marvellous origami buildings that appear and disappear, and suspended animation technologies that whisk away great portions of the city's unneeded proletariat for most of the day. Read the rest

Portland proposes a special tax on companies where CEOs make 100X more than median employee

Environmental lawyer-turned-Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick has a cool use for the new SEC rules requiring companies to disclose executive pay starting in 2017: he's going to impose special taxes on businesses where the ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay exceeds 100:1 -- an increase of 10% for 100:1 companies, and 25% for 250:1 companies. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders: Trump just used your taxes to reward Carrier for offshoring American jobs

Last February, Carrier announced that it was offshoring its US air-conditioner manufacturing jobs to Mexico, despite having made a $7.6B profit that year, despite having received more than $6B in US military contracts, despite having recved a $50M tax-break, despite having paid its retiring CEO a $172m bonus, despite having spent $12b on stock-inflating accounting tricks. Read the rest

Billionaire tech investors back ballot initiative to purge homeless people from San Francisco

Sequoia Capital Chairman Michael Moritz and angel investor Ron Conway have donated to San Francisco's Proposition Q: if passed, "the city would give residents of tent encampments 24 hours’ notice to relocate to a shelter or accept a bus ticket out of town." Read the rest

Support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's action against predatory payday lenders

The predatory payday lending industry -- "'legalized loan sharks collect 75 percent of their fees from people stuck in more than 10 loans a year by charging 300 percent APR" -- is lobbying hard to kill the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposed "debt trap" rule, "that would require lenders to determine whether borrowers can afford to pay back their loans and cut off repeated debit attempts that rack up fees and make it harder for consumers to get out of debt." Read the rest

Brigadier General: TPP is a threat to America's national security

Retired Brigadier General John Adams served for 30 years, including a stint as a military intelligence officer: in an op-ed in The Hill, he says that while he supports trade deals, the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership has almost nothing to do with trade, and will hasten America's de-industrialization, making it harder for the US military to source the materiel it needs, and making it vulnerable to price gouging by foreign powers, who might even go so far as to block America's ability to source certain vital items altogether. Read the rest

Hedge fund paid terminally ill people to sign up for "death puts"

A "death put" on a certificate of deposit means that the bond matures immediately upon the bearer's death, rather than when its term runs out: they're used as a form of life-insurance, cushioning the blow to loved ones from unexpected death, and they can be held jointly, so that the bearer's heirs and a third party get a payoff on death. Read the rest

Starve #2: Brian Wood lands the tale in a screaming dive and a perfect touchdown

Brian Wood's Starve, Volume One (collecting issues 1-5) was the best, meanest new graphic novel debut since Transmetropolitan; now, with Starve, Volume Two (issues 6-10), Wood brings the story in for a conclusion that is triumphant and wicked and eminently satisfying, without being pat.

Worst of McMansions: architectural criticism of inequality's most tangible evidence

Between the Reagan years and the crash of 2008, developers absorbed the skyrocketing wealth of the 1% with monuments to bad taste and ostentation: the McMansion. Read the rest

Scalpers drive Harry Potter play prices from £140 to £8,327

What do you get when you combine fantastic wealth-inequality with winner-take-all entertainment economics and high-speed trading algorithms? The Viagogo marketplace, where botmasters who've harvested every available ticket for the new Harry Potter play, Harry Potter & the Cursed Child are auctioning them off to the war-criminals and financiers who've colonized London since the Blair years -- with Viagogo trousering a healthy £1,772.53 transaction fee on each ticket. Read the rest

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