Wells Fargo's ex-CEO will pay $17.5m in fines and never work in banking again (but he is still very, very rich)

When John Stumpf (previously) was CEO of Wells Fargo, he oversaw a string of scandals including literally millions of acts of bank fraud, and still managed to walk out of the business with millions in bonuses and no criminal prosecutions. Read the rest

Play: Dungeons and Deadlines, "an epic game of work-life balance"

Smarter people than me have pointed out that "work-life balance" says the quiet part out loud, implicitly confirming that you stop living when you're at work. Miles Matrix's Dungeons and Deadlines makes all this much realer with acerbic wit and rockin' chiptunes. My spouse left me after five turns. (via Four Short Links) Read the rest

Manhattan: a city of empty luxury condos and overflowing homeless shelters

New York's luxury real-estate market has been in freefall for years, and now the city's super-luxe buildings are sitting empty -- even as property prices in the city remain stubbornly high, prompting 300 New Yorkers to move out of the city every day, and filling the homeless shelters to capacity and beyond. Read the rest

Court case lays bare KPMG's crimes: poaching employees from its own regulators and making them steal government secrets

Capitalism has a foundational dependence on auditors -- outside entities who evaluate companies' claims about their financial state so that investors, suppliers and customers can understand whether to trust the companies with their money and business -- but those auditors are paid by the companies they're supposed to be keeping honest, and to make matters worse, 40 years of lax antitrust enforcement has allowed the auditing industry to contract to a four gigantic firms that openly practice fraud and abet corruption, with no real consequences. Read the rest

The 2010s were the decade of Citizens United

Slate has dubbed the 2010s as the decade of Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for unlimited, anonymous corporate election spending. In 2010, the year of Citizens United, the largest political donors were Robert and Doylene Perry ($7.5m for Republicans); in 2019, it was Sheldon and Miriam Adelson ($122m). Read the rest

Betsy DeVos quietly spends millions to promote the unpopular policies she hopes to enact as a federal official

Betsy DeVos is the religious fanatic whose access to two unearned fortunes -- one from the Amway Ponzi scheme, founded by her husband's father; the other from her own father's machining business -- has allowed her to project her ideas about eliminating secular public education in favor of Christian indoctrination schools over millions of peoples' lives, especially the lives of poor people. Read the rest

Private equity firms should be abolished

In his latest BIG newsletter, Matt Stoller (previously) relates the key moments in the history of private equity, from its roots in the notorious "leveraged buyouts" of the 1980s, and explains exactly how the PE con works: successful, productive business are acquired through debt financing, drained of their cash and assets, and then killed, leaving workers unemployed and with their pension funds looted, and with the business's creditors out in the cold. Read the rest

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy

America is one of the only developed countries in the world that pays people to donate blood, much of it sold abroad (70% of the world's plasma is of US origin), and as commercial blood donations have soared, blood now accounts for 2% of the country's exports -- more than corn or soya. Read the rest

In any other industry, emergency medical billing would be considered fraudulent

Last summer, MD/journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal's husband had a bike accident and was seriously injured and taken by ambulance to an emergency room. Read the rest

Prasad's Law: there's always enough health spending to concentrate wealth, never enough to diffuse it

In a recent installment of his Plenary Session podcast, hematologist-oncologist Vinay Prasad observed that "There are interventions that disperse wealth, … and they give people jobs, and they send them out in the community; and there are implantable drugs, implantable devices, there are drugs, there are cancer screening tests, and we will always prioritize interventions that consolidate money in the hands of the few, over interventions that disperse money to the hands of many, with the same levels of evidence." Read the rest

Colombians take to the streets in the third general strike in two weeks

The far-right Duque administration in Colombia is only fifteen months old, but its polarizing policies have brought the country to its knees, with a third general strike in just two weeks shutting down the country yesterday. Read the rest

The south's latest culinary trend: inadequate, rotting prison food, supplemented by cattle feed

One of my favorite podcasts is Gravy, from the Southern Foodways Alliance, where highlight hidden and fascinating changes and progress in southern food -- from disappearing "community canneries" to Mahalia Jackson's once-booming chain of fried chicken restaurants to the strange story of the Tennessee hippie commune that pioneered vegan food in the USA to the Klan's Texas BBQ rallies of the 1920s. Read the rest

Four union organizers fired from Google

On Friday, googlers staged a workplace rally demanding the reinstatement of two suspended co-workers who'd been involved in workplace organizing against collaboration with ICE and tolerance for homophobia; on Monday, four of the organizers of the rally were fired. Read the rest

1941 film shows striking animators brandishing a working guillotine at the Disney studio gates

The 1941 Disney animator's strike was bitterly fought, as Walt Disney refused to grant the concessions that all the other animation studios had agreed to, and instead grew paranoid and accusatory, convinced the "Communist infiltrators" had turned his animators against him. Read the rest

Terabytes of data leaked from an oligarch-friendly offshore bank

The Distributed Denial of Secrets Twitter account has published links to terabytes of data identified as raw data from the Cayman National Bank and Trust; Phineas Fisher (previously), the public-interest hacker(s) behind the Hacking Team breach, is credited with the leak. Read the rest

Trump's signature tax break for poor people went to subsidize a superyacht marina in Florida

Trump's 2017 #taxscam transferred more than a trillion dollars to the richest people in America, but when Trump talks about it, he likes to tout the bill's "opportunity zone" provisions that provided massive tax breaks to investors who put money into places that would supposedly create jobs and housing for poor Americans. Read the rest

The poorest half of Americans have nothing left, so now the 1%'s growth comes from the upper middle class

The Fed's latest figures on American household wealth paint a rosy picture -- in the aggregate. US households now own a record-breaking $107T worth of assets! Read the rest

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