What's wrong with blaming "information" for political chaos

David Perell's 13,000 word essay, "What the Hell is Going On?" presents a reassuring -- and contrarian -- view on how our current dysfunction in politics, media, and business has come to pass, drawing on orthodox economic theories about "information asymmetry" in a way that makes the whole thing seem like a kind of adjustment period between a middling old world and a fine new one. Read the rest

McMansion Hell tours the homes of the "meritocratic" one-percenters who allegedly bought their thickwitted kids' way into top universities in the college admissions scandal

Yesterday, federal authorities announced 50 indictments of college personnel, wealthy parents, and fixers who ran a multi-million-dollar bribery ring that ensured that the slow, plodding, undeserving fruit of wealthy grifters' loins could be admitted to the top universities in America. Read the rest

From prisons to factories to offices: the spread of workplace surveillance and monitoring tech

A new report from Data & Society (previously) goes into depth on the ways that employers are increasingly rolling out workplace surveillance and monitoring technologies that "exert greater control over large workforces, rapidly experiment with workflows, detect deviant behavior, evaluate performance, and automate tasks." Read the rest

Cataloging the far right elements of the Yellow Vest movement

The Yellow Vest movement, like a lot of anti-establishment movements, is a complex phenomenon, filled with both right- and left-wing elements, changing character from place to place and even day to day. Read the rest

How the payday loan industry laundered policy by paying academics to write papers that supported its positions

When Elizabeth Warren inaugurated the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of her prime targets was subprime/payday/predatory lenders; and the lenders' lobbyists went on an all-out blitz, eventually prevailing under Trump's CFPB boss Mick Mulvaney. Read the rest

France fines UBS €3.7b for helping rich French residents launder more than €10b

Swiss banking giant UBS has been hit with the largest fine in French history: €3.7b, the result of a 7-year investigation of the bank's role in helping the wealthiest French citizens hide €10b from tax authorities. The fine is more than ten times larger than the next-largest fine in French history, when HSBC paid €300m over its wrongdoing. The fine represents 92% of the bank's 2018 profits. Read the rest

Fast food executive complains that social media inflates young people's "self-importance," killing their willingness to work for free

Natalie Brennan is general manager of Muffin Break -- a multinational fast-food franchise business owned by Foodco -- and she's really angry that today's young people will not work for her for free. Read the rest

Small business in Wisconsin cancels its unusably bad internet service from Frontier; Frontier demands $4,300 cancellation fee

Wisconsin's Pardeeville Area Shopper is a one-person family business run by Candace Lestina, whose mother founded the weekly paper; like all businesses, the Shopper needs internet service, and like most American businesses, the Shopper is at the mercy of a terrible, monopolistic ISP, in this case, Frontier. Read the rest

Tucker Carlson thought anti-elite historian would be an easy interview, but ended up telling him "go fuck yourself"

You may have seen the Dutch historian Rutger Bregman in a viral video last month, in which he appeared on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos and berated the attendees for their tax-evasion and insisted that no amount of philanthropy can make up for starving the state of the money it needs to provide for everyone under democratic guidance. Read the rest

Yacht dealers rely on Instagram "yacht influencers" to flip their wares

Alex Jimenez grew up poor in Puerto Rico, and is obsessed with yachts; by being one of the first people on Instagram to take a lot of pictures at yacht shows, he has become a sought-after "yacht influencer" who gets flown around the world to take photos of yachts that are going up for sale or whose owners are looking for renters. Read the rest

Blizzard/Activision celebrates record revenues by laying off 800 employees

Blizzard/Activision posted $7.5b in net revenues for 2018, and announced that it would lay off 800 of the employees who made those revenues possible, but fear not! The last time the company did a mass layoff (600 people in 2012), it generously rehired those people as temps, doing the same jobs for less pay, with no security or benefits. Read the rest

Thomas Piketty explains how Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax is American as apple pie

Last month, Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren proposed an annual tax on the largest fortunes in America, with some of the cash generated by the tax being funneled into the IRS to catch dodgers who move or hide their money to escape the tax. Read the rest

Bank lobbyists are scared to meet with AOC because she might humiliate them on Twitter later

A "lobbyist for a major bank" told Reuters that they're afraid to meet with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who now sits on Congress's Financial Services Committee, because "anything you do or say can be used against you" -- the lobbyist likened meeting with AOC to "going in to talk to the FBI." Read the rest

Addressing inequality is foreign policy, not domestic

The scholarship on inequality has been producing a wealth of empirical findings about how inequality is created, expanded and perpetuated, building on the work of Thomas Piketty in tracing capital flows. Read the rest

Trump's properties routinely employed (and abused) undocumented Latinx workers, including dozens from a single Costa Rican town

The Washington Post tracked down workers from Santa Teresa de Cajon in Costa Rica, who say that they and their neighbors were part of a "pipeline" from Central America to Trump properties in New Jersey and elsewhere, where they worked doing construction, groundskeeping, and cleaning, with the full knowledge of their supervisors and Trump Organization managers (a claim verified by a police report detailing a warning from local officials to Trump Organization bosses about the number of undocumented workers on Trump's property). Read the rest

Kleptocracy in America: Russian-style corruption, driven by global oligarchs, enabled by US elites

As Naomi Klein documents in her classic and seminal book The Shock Doctrine, disasters and upheavals are the bread-and-butter of global looters, who use the collapse of civil society or the default of debtor states to privatize state assets at pennies on the dollar, then milk them into further crises, which create more chances for looting -- but the collapse of the USSR was different, because the spies and strongmen who rode out that collapse ensured that public assets were only given to domestic looters, not off-shore oligarchs. Read the rest

Swedes are entitled to six months' leave to start a business, look after a sick relative, or study

Sweden consistently ranks as one of Europe's most innovative and entrepreneurial nations, and one of the most obvious explanations for this is the country's generous leave policy, which entitles salaried, full-time workers to six months' unpaid leave to start a (noncompeting) business, look after a sick relative, or go back to school. Read the rest

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