It used to take 3 years for a British family to save for a home down-payment; now it takes 20 years

The Resolution Foundation's Living Standards 2017 is an eye-opening look at the current state of the British experiment in allowing wealth inequality to expand without any check, to use a combination of austerity, the elimination of protection for tenants, reckless lending, offshore money-laundering and public subsidies for speculators to turn the human necessity of shelter into the nation's leading asset-class. Read the rest

Man sells his tattooed skin to art collector who will flay him when he dies

Belgian artist Wim Delvoye attained fame and controversy by tattooing fine-art pieces on pigs; when retired tattoo parlor manager Tim Steiner volunteered his skin for a Delvoye piece, the result was purchased by a German art collector called Rik Reinking for €130,000 (Steiner got a third of that). Steiner has agreed to be flayed after his death, with his skin stretched, cured and framed for Reinking's collection. Read the rest

Billionaire charter-school advocate and political donor calls Betsy DeVos "unprepared and unqualified"

Eli Broad is a billionaire who's made major donations to both the GOP and Democrats to push for charter schools, and his Broad Foundation has spent millions lobbying for public funds to go to private schools ("school choice"); but even he thinks that charter school advocate/ponzi scheme billionaire/Christian warrior/plagiarist/sister of war criminal Erik Prince/latter-day Marie Antoinette/convicted election fraudster, Betsy DeVos is unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education, a role that Donald Trump has selected for her. Read the rest

Beyond the Trolley Problem: Three realistic, near-future ethical dilemmas about self-driving cars

MIT Professor Emeritus of Robotic Rodney Brooks has published a thought-provoking essay on the most concrete, most likely ethical questions that will be raised by self-driving cars; Brooks is uninterested in contrived questions like the "Trolley Problem" (as am I, but for different reasons); he's more attuned to the immediate problems that could be created by selfish self-drivers who use their cars to get an edge over the people who drive themselves, and pedestrians. Read the rest

"Work ethic": Minutes from 2011 meeting reveal Federal Reserve bankers making fun of unemployed Americans

The Federal Reserve Board, charged with maximizing employment in America, sets interest rates and takes other measures to achieve this goal; because of public records laws, we get to look in on their deliberations five years after the fact. A recently released transcript, dating from the depths of America's unemployment crisis in 2011, reveals that Board members selected by American business (as opposed to those members appointed by the President) mocking unemployed Americans as being uneducated, addicted to drugs, and having a poor "work ethic." Read the rest

Financial Times columnist advocates imprisoning dirty corporate executives

Rolls Royce just arranged for a "deferred prosecution" with UK prosecutors over revelations that it had committed jailable offenses by bribing overseas officials in order to secure their business; under this arrangement, prosecutors have allowed Rolls Royce to pay to have the prosecution halted and to have their executives immunized from criminal repercussions for their actions. 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

Robot-proof your kids by teaching them to perform "unpredictable" jobs

On Quartz, Dave Edwards and Helen Edwards assert that after studying 30 professions, they've concluded that the occupations that are most resistant to roboticization are those that are "unpredictable" -- CEOs, school psychologists, economists, allergists, immunologists, and environmental scientists. 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

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

Obama's legacy: eight years of not holding executives criminally responsible for their companies' misdeeds

The most remarkable criminal justice story of 2017 is that the FBI has arrested a real corporate criminal, a VW executive who tried to engineer a coverup of the Dieselgate scandal, and that he might go to jail -- it's remarkable because the Obama administration spent eight years resolutely not sending criminal executives to jail, preferring instead to let their corporations buy their way out of criminal sanctions with huge fines, a doctrine pioneered by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder back when he worked for Bill Clinton's administration. But while Clinton rejected this idea, Obama put it into practice. Read the rest

America's gargantuan new corporate landlords evict the shit out of Americans

The housing recovery has been famously uneven, in every way: for one thing, it's allowed hedge-fund and publicly listed landlords to acquire a greater proportion of America's housing stock than ever, even as mass foreclosures created a new class of desperate tenants who pay rent to these corporate giants, who charge higher rents than ever. Read the rest

The average FTSE 100 boss earns as much in 2.5 days as his (yes, his) median employee earns in a year

The great recession and austerity have been very good to the chief executives of Britain's biggest companies: according to the High Pay Center, the average compensation for FTSE 100 CEOs rose 10% in 2015, to £5.5m -- meanwhile, UK workers' wages have stagnated year on year, averaging £28,200. Read the rest

When robots take routine middle-class jobs, those workers drop out of the workforce

In Disappearing Routine Jobs: Who, How, and Why? economists from USC, UBC and Manchester University document how the automation of "routine" jobs (welders, bank tellers, etc) that pay middle class wages has pushed those workers out of the job market entirely, or pushed them into low-paying, insecure employment. Read the rest

Kirkus just gave me an AWESOME Christmas present: this starred review for WALKAWAY

Kirkus Reviews is one of the publishing industry's toughest gauntlets, used by librarians and bookstore buyers to help sort through the avalanche of new titles, and its reviews often have a sting in their tails aimed at this audience, a pitiless rehearsal of the reasons you wouldn't want to stock this book -- vital intelligence for people making hard choices. Read the rest

Tribute album to help pay radical singer Anne Feeney's cancer bills

Evan Greer writes, "Anne Feeney has been raising hell with an acoustic guitar since you were in diapers. She's toured the world, rambling from protest to picket line with the likes of Pete Seeger and Billy Bragg. She was the first woman to become the president of a musicians union in the U.S. and has raised tens of thousands of dollars for striking workers. Anne has been battling cancer, and winning! for the past several years, prompting Anne's daughter, Amy Sue Berlin, to gather a notable lineup of musicians to contribute to a tribute album for Anne, with acts like punk icons Anti-Flag, Peter Yarrow (of Peter Paul and Mary), and Dan Bern covering her rabble rousing songs. With the fights we have ahead of us in the next four years and beyond, we're we're gonna need songs like these stuck in our heads." Read the rest

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