Even if you pay off your student loan, be prepared to spend decades trying to get bottom-feeding debt-buyers to acknowledge it

Kaja Robinson is 53 and has a daughter about to go off to college, but she is still embroiled in bizarre, kafkaesque disputes over the $17,000 student loan she took out in the 1980s: for decades, she has had to set aside whole days to call debt collectors and try to get them to acknowledge the payments she's made -- for which she has paperwork, but which the lenders lost track of, causing her loans to balloon to $49,000. Read the rest

The complicated, nuanced story of how racialized French people fought to save their local McDonald's

On NPR's always-excellent Rough Translation podcast comes an incredibly complex and nuanced story (MP3, transcript) about marginalized, racialized people in public housing in Marseille who found an accepting haven in a local McDonald's franchise, and who banded together to save it -- and other nearby McD's -- in a series of direct actions ranging from occupation to threats of self-immolation. Read the rest

Piketty on the "Brahmin left" and the "merchant right"

Thomas Piketty, the French economist behind 2014's game-changing Capital in the 21st Century, has a new book, Capital and Ideology (out in France now, coming in English in 2020), which uses the same long-run economic series that Capital 21C benefited from to understand the relationship between wealth and ideology. Central to Piketty's thesis: that it's not enough to use class to understand how people vote -- you also have to take account of peoples' beliefs about class (this is a neat way of resolving the tension between traditional left class analysis and contemporary "identitarian" theories of leftist politics). Read the rest

Uber general counsel threatens California: pass a law that makes drivers into employees and we'll spend $60m on a ballot initiative to overturn it

AB5 is about to pass the California legislature: it forces companies like Lyft and Uber to comply with the longstanding Dynamex decision and treat their employees as employees. Read the rest

California to force NCAA to pay athletes

The NCAA is notionally an "amateur" league, but the only thing amateur about it is that the athletes (who risk their health and even their lives) are unpaid, while the universities effectively own and operate wildly profitable pro sports teams. Read the rest

NYT calls for an end to legacy college admissions

In the wake of the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, a new debate opened up, about the mundane, everyday ways that wealthy people buy their way into elite institutions: from hiring, poorer, smarter kids to write their kids' essays, to surrendering custody of your kids in order to misappropriate low-income tuition grants, to simply "donating" shit-tons of money to the school. Read the rest

Interview with Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue's labor reporter

Kim Kelly is Teen Vogue's labor columnist and has written a series of excellent pieces on labor politics for the #resistance glossy. Read the rest

Rideshare companies' effort to kill California employment bill is failing miserably

California's Assembly Bill 5 isn't radical: it merely affirms the obvious fact that Uber and Lyft drivers (and other "gig economy" workers) are employees, something that the California Supreme Court already made obvious in the Dynamex decision. Read the rest

McMansion Hell: the Campbell County, Wyoming edition

McMansion Hell (previously) continues to tear through America's most affluent ZIP codes with trenchant commentary on realtors' listings for terrible monster homes; in the current edition, critic Kate Wagner visits Campbell County, Wyoming, home to some of the most ill-considered monstrosities in America. As always, she is laugh-aloud funny as she tackles the "Divorce Lawyer house," a 6,000 square foot house from 2002, listed for a mere $700k. Read the rest

The saddest song: setting the "Amazon Ambassador" borg-tweets to music

Jonathan Mann (previously) writes, "Like many people, I've been disturbed by the borg-like tweets coming out of the Amazon Ambassador program. I took a few of the bleakest ones and set them to music. It turned into an incredibly sad song." Read the rest

Paying for climate change: the question isn't "How?" but "Who?"

Writing in Wired, political scientist Henry Farrell points out what should be obvious: we're going to pay for climate change (that is, either we're going to rebuild the cities smashed by weather and take care of the people whose lives are ruined, or we're going to pay to cope with the ensuing refugee crisis), so the question isn't "how can we possibly pay for climate change?" but rather, "Will the people who profited from pumping CO2 into the atmosphere pay, or will their victims be left on the hook for their greed and recklessness?" Read the rest

Germany's powerful IG Metall trade union is organizing Youtubers to force Google to play fair

As Google has enacted a series of high-handed, opaque changes to how Youtube monetizes, upranks and censors videos, Youtubers have found themselves battered by the changes: they built Youtube into a global multi-billion-dollar success story, but they don't get a say in how it's managed. Now, a group of Youtubers have teamed up with Germany's powerful IG Metall trade union to fight back, using Europe's broad privacy laws and Germany's broad labor laws to force the company to come to the negotiating table and give them a say in how the service is run. You can read more about it on the Fairtube campaign site. Read the rest

How Memphis's Methodist University Hospital, a "nonprofit," sued the shit out of its Black, poor patients while raking in millions and paying execs more than a million each

Methodist University Hospital in Memphis is a nonprofit: it pays virtually no local, state or federal tax; but unlike other Methodist hospitals, Methodist University Hospital is relentless in pursuing medical debts from indigent patients. The hospital owns its own collection agency, and is one of the leading litigants in Tennessee's debt courts. Read the rest

After American juvenile offenders are released, they can be re-imprisoned for failing to make restitution payments

Many states require criminals to make financial restitution to the victims of their crimes -- paying to replace the things the damaged or stole -- and this applies to juvenile offenders as well as adults. Read the rest

Stop saying "robots are coming for your job"; start saying "Your boss wants to replace you with a robot"

Tech reporter and sf writer Brian Merchant (previously) calls our attention to the peculiar construction of the problem statement in articles about automation and obsolescence, in which "robots are coming to steal your job." Read the rest

Supreme Court of Canada to rule on the enforceability of arbitration clauses

Back in January, an Ontario court ruled that Uber's arbitration clause couldn't keep its drivers from suing it; Uber has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has taken up the case and will hear arguments about whether arbitration clauses (through which the parties surrender the right to sue in court) are enforceable in "adhesion contracts" (contracts that are not negotiated, where one party has much less power than the other, such as in click-through agreements). Read the rest

Connecticut's racist NIMBYs have used zoning laws and dirty tricks to make it one of the most unequal, racially segregated states in the union

Racism and oligarchy aren't merely Blue/Red phenomena: Connecticut has had a Democratic legislature for 22 years and a Democratic governor for eight years, and it is one of the nation's most racially segregated, unequal states, divided into affluent, all-white cities and towns with virtually no affordable housing and poor, underserved towns primarily inhabited by racialized people, whose children are five times more likely to be imprisoned than the white children across the city line a few miles away. Read the rest

More posts