CEO-to-worker wage gap yawns ever wider, hitting 312:1 in 2017, up by 17.6%

The CEO:worker wage ratio was stable in 2015/6, but some unnameable policy or policies, which we can only guess at, were at work in 2017, boosting the gap by 17.6% to 312:1. Read the rest

Florida's prisons change tech providers, wipe out $11.2m worth of music purchased by prisoners

For seven years, Florida state inmates could buy a $100 MP3 player from Access Corrections, the prisons' exclusive provider, and stock it with MP3s that cost $1.70 -- nearly double the going rate in the free world. Read the rest

12% of music industry revenues go to musicians

There are more people who want to make art than the market would support, and the arts are a highly concentrated industry: combine those two facts and you get a buyers' market for artists' work, controlled by intermediaries, who take almost all of the money generated by the work. Read the rest

Former Obama trade official teams up with Trump to create highly profitable TB epidemics in poor countries

When Josh Black quit his job as Obama's director for U.N. and Multilateral Affairs after the 2016 election (citing "growing disillusionment"), he found a sweet job as Associate Vice President for International Advocacy at Phrma, the global lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry, which meant that he still got to work at the UN, but now he'd be advocating for giant, rapacious corporations that hold peoples' lives hostage to their profits! (speaking as a former NGO observer at the World Intellectual Property Organization from the era of the Access to Medicines treaty, Phrma are effectively public health war criminals). Read the rest

Economic indicators: consumer debt continues to grow, delinquency rises, students face "crippling debt"

Trump's economic statistics are all about stock growth and low unemployment numbers, but more than two thirds of the US economy is driven by consumer spending, so if you want to know where we're headed, you should be looking at the average American's ability to buy things. Read the rest

On the cruelty of ankle-monitors

Ankle monitors are billed as a humane alternative to incarceration, allowing people who might otherwise be locked up to be reintegrated into the community. Read the rest

Why would a company give free tablets to prisons for inmate use?

Spoiler alert: to steal from prisoners and their families. Read the rest

Seattle passes America's most comprehensive labor protections for domestic workers

Domestic workers -- overwhelming female, overwhelmingly racialized -- have historically been exempted from traditional labor protections, from the minimum wage to workplace safety to recourse for harassment and worse. Read the rest

Universal basic income vs jobs guarantees: which one will make us happier?

Two competing (or, possibly, complementary?) proposals for resolving income inequality and the hole that four decades of demand-side Reaganomics has dug us into are Universal Basic Income and a federal jobs guarantee (the former being a kind of "venture capital for everyone" that provides enough money to live without having to work for an employer; and the latter being a guarantee of a good, meaningful job of social value in sectors like infrastructure, education and caring professions). Read the rest

Quality employers announce that they'll close down on election day so everyone can vote

Patagonia has long given its employees election day off, but now they're calling on other employers to follow suit. The good eggs at Adafruit heard the message: they're giving all their employees a day off to go and vote. Read the rest

Illinois's "anti-corruption" Republican governor handed out $300,000 in cash at a campaign rally

Bruce Rauner is a millionaire hedge-fundie who currently serves as governor of Illinois, a position he attained by campaigning as an "anti-corruption" candidate. Read the rest

The American Conservative: "The Dickensian Return of Debtors’ Prisons"

It's fascinating to read Dan King writing in The American Conservative to decry "Dickensian debtors' prisons" in the USA -- the practice of judges locking up poor people who can't pay fines for petty infractions like traffic tickets. Read the rest

McMansion meanings: why do America's jumbo-sized status homes have useless "formal spaces?"

As far back as 2012, UCLA researchers were publishing studies that showed that Americans basically never used their "formal spaces" -- dining rooms, "great rooms" and parlours -- instead, they spend most of their time in the kitchen and the "informal" den. Read the rest

America's largest fast-food chains forced to end conspiracy not to hire people looking for better-paid McJobs

Wage stagnation in the USA has many causes: both the destruction of trade unions and the erosion of labor protections in the law (these two things are connected) are obvious culprits, and do much to explain how real wages could be falling even as unemployment has gone down. Read the rest

The Gates Foundation spent $775m on a Big Data education project that was worse than useless

Kudos to the Gates Foundation, seriously: after spending $775m on the Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching, a Big Data initiative to improve education for poor and disadvantaged students, they hired outside auditors to evaluate the program's effectiveness, and published that report, even though it shows that the approach did no good on balance and arguably caused real harms to teachers and students. Read the rest

Restaurant servers can't afford San Francisco rents so restaurants are going self-serve

San Francisco is one of the most expensive places in the world to live -- six figure incomes are considered "low" and even the tiniest homes are farcically expensive. Read the rest

What it's like to be personally responsible for automating away someone's high-paid, high-skill job

When Erin Winick was a sophomore, she got a summer internship at a company where her manager offered her the opportunity to use her passion for 3D printing to streamline the company's mold-making process; but when she started consulting with "Gary," a 34-year veteran of the company who was responsible for the complex molding process, she realized that she was about to put him out of a job. Read the rest

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