"Sixteen Tons": the student debt edition

When I was a kid, we used to sing Merle Travis's Sixteen Tons in the car on long trips: it's a poetic masterpiece, capturing the clash between a worker's proud and indomitable spirit and his impossible, inescapable poverty trap (chances are you've heard Tennessee Ernie Ford or Johnny Cash perform it). Read the rest

Since 2007, debt-haunted grads have been doing public service to earn loan forgiveness, which they won't get

The roster of people carrying student debt is really just "a list of people liable to additional taxation after graduation"; in 2007, GW Bush signed into law the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that would allow debt-haunted grads to earn loan forgiveness by foregoing the private sector and working for lower wages in public service for a decade. Read the rest

Rice University eliminates tuition for all but wealthiest students, makes housing free for poorest

From its founding in 1912 until 1965, Houston's Rice University was free to attend; but today, Rice has joined other US universities in saddling its students with ghastly, inescapable mountains of debt, with annual attendance costing $61,350, $40,000 of which is tuition. Read the rest

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the collapse of 2008 and things are much, much worse

Nobody covered the Wall Street collapse, bailout, and corrupt resurgence better than Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, from giving Goldman Sachs its unforgettable epithet to covering the hearings on the bailouts to documenting the foreclosure mills, to deep dives into the sweetheart deals the banks got; to the revolving door between finance regulators and the finance sector to the rise of Occupy; to the consolidation of financial primacy after the collapse; to the double-standard for criminal justice revealed by the collapse; to the frauds that surfaced after the crash; to the tiny bright spots where bankers were brought to justice; all capped by an incandescent, outstanding book about the crisis and the systematic racial and economic justice it revealed. Read the rest

Betsy DeVos's summer monstrosity is pure McMansion Hell

Kate "McMansion Hell" Wagner is carrying $42,000 in student debt; heiress Betsy "Marie Antoinette" DeVos is the anti-public-school advocate whom Donald Trump put in charge of the nation's public schools, and one of her first official acts was to end the rules limiting sleazy student debt-collection tactics, even as Trump was ending debt relief for students defrauded by diploma mills (like, say, Trump University). Read the rest

America's economic growth has come from subprime borrowing by the poorest 60%

Normally, economic expansion is driven by more spending by the wealthy, and you'd think that 2018 America, where the wealthy are wealthier than they've ever been, would be dependent on the few people with ready cash as engines of economic growth. 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

New game show pays off winner's student loans

There's a long history of TV programs that exploit the personal struggles of individuals for ratings. Now there's a new game show that tackles the student loan crisis. Like its predecessors in this genre, it's bad. Read the rest

We know how to fix homelessness, we just won't do it

The largest, wealthiest cities in America are filling up with tent cities -- especially on the west coast, where East Coast style right-to-shelter laws are rare -- and if the spectacle of human misery doesn't alarm you, perhaps you should be thinking about communicable disease epidemics. Read the rest

GDP vs human thriving: a "healthy" economy means debt-haunted people, desperately searching for housing

GDP and stock market performance are the two metrics that economists (and politicians) use to measure the health of a nation's economy, and by those metrics, Trump is doing a hell of a job. Read the rest

Mass protests against IMF austerity force Jordan's Prime Minister to resign

Jordan is broke, thanks to falling tax revenues due to tax avoidance and low taxes on the super-rich, and the country is seeking to bridge the gap in its finances by borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, which backed a bill that imposed crushing cuts on public services to ensure that money could be found to pay back Jordan's creditors. Read the rest

America is the world's first poor rich country

Americans' median income is $60,000 -- but the average American couldn't stump up $500 to bail themselves out of an emergency, and a third of Americans can't afford food, shelter and healthcare. Read the rest

Student debt crisis watch: pay $18,000 of your $24,000 loan, owe $24,000

Kaitlin Cawley finished grad school with $95,000 in student loans, including a $24,000 variable-rate loan that started at 9.4% and now stands at 11%, a loan that the US government lender Sallie Mae brokered for her when she was 20. Read the rest

World Bank recommends that countries eliminate minimum wage, dismantle wrongful dismissal rules and contractual protections for workers

A draft of the World Bank's annual flagship World Development Report says that its creditor-states (the poorest countries in the world) should eliminate their minimum wage rules, allow employers to fire workers without cause, and repeal laws limiting abusive employment contract terms. Read the rest

If this goes on... The 1% will own two thirds of the world by 2030

The House of Commons Library has published research projecting the post-2008 growth of inequality until 2030, arriving at an eye-popping headline figure: at current rates, the richest 1% will own two thirds of the world's riches by 2030. I think that number is too low. Here's why. Read the rest

The Wall Street Journal on the decade since the crash: inequality, giant banks, regulatory failures, looming catastrophe

It's been ten years since the financial crisis, when barely regulated banks destroyed the world's economy, kicked off wars, and directly and indirectly killed millions. Read the rest

Mortgage debt back at 2008 levels

Just in time for the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to disappear! The chart was created by Jaydub.

Data Source: https://www.federalreserve.gov/data/mortoutstand/current.htm Tools used: Microsoft Excel and Plotly

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