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

Oakland to expand managed homeless shantytowns of prefab sheds

Oakland, like San Francisco, has an out-of-control homeless crisis fueled by out-of-control housing prices; like San Francisco (where aid for homelessness can include tents to make outdoor sleeping more comfortable and safe), Oakland is supplying "temporary housing" for homeless people that institutionalizes a kind of living that has heretofore been viewed as a problem in and of itself. Read the rest

History's solutions to runaway inequality: warfare, revolution, state collapse and plague

In Walter Scheidel's new book The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, the Stanford classics prof traces the rise and fall of inequality from humanity's history, showing how over time, the rich get richer and richer, creating an ever-more-unstable situation, until, basically, the world melts down or the people start building guillotines on their doorsteps. Read the rest

From Tahrir to Trump: how the internet became the dictators' home turf

Zeynep Tufekci (previously) leads Tech Review's politics issue with the best overview of the forces that have combined to make the internet so hospitable to totalitarians and racist pigs. Read the rest

NYU makes med school free for all students

The median US med-school grad has $195,000 in loans; all 93 of NYU's freshman med-school class will have free tuition for their entire degree program, as will all future students (the 350 currently enrolled students will no longer pay tuition, same goes for the school's 9 grad students) Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren wants to save capitalism from itself

President Elizabeth Warren (2020-2028) has proposed the Accountable Capitalism Act, which will subject US corporations with $1B/year or more in revenue to the "German model" of corporate governance, in which workers get board-seats and financial decisionmaking must take into consideration the impact that decisions will have on "stakeholders" including workers, investors, suppliers, retailers, and residents near plants or facilities. 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

Extreme poverty is on the decline, extreme inequality is on the rise

The rich world has never been more unequal, and the poor world has never richer: in 2018, we're seeing record low levels of global "extreme poverty" (a measure that's admittedly a bit fuzzy) and record levels of inequality, which wealth concentrated into a declining number of hands. Read the rest

America's big cities are increasingly home to people living in their cars

In King County (which encompasses Seattle), the number of people living in their cars surged by 46% in the past year; and other big cities are catching up: LA, San Francisco, Portland, etc. Read the rest

California home-buyers are increasingly reliant on parental gifts to afford their down-payments

California's housing bubble has pushed prices so high (the median Californian home sells for double the national average) that, in some cities, 48% of first-time buyers could only afford to purchase their homes because their parents gave them the downpayment. Read the rest

Trump wants to hand a $100,000,000,000 tax cut to the super-rich, without Congressional approval

Trump finance secretary/supervillain Steve Mnuchin says he wants to unilaterally allow Americans to factor in inflation when calculating capital gains; the move would cost the US government $100 billion and 97% of that would go to the top 10% of US earners (66% would go to the 0.1% of US earners). 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

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

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

The Rent's Too Damned High: 15,000 words on the ways real-estate speculation and inequality have killed NYC

Harper's has published The Death of a Once Great City, Kevin Baker's beautifully written, 15,000 word, non-comprehensive list of all the ways that raising the rents in New York City (something that was enabled by the related phenomena of the increasing wealth of the global rich and the influence of property developers on New York City's planning) has squeezed all the juice out of the city, evicting its people and its businesses in favor of "land banked" condos and co-op units that serve as "an investment, a pied-à-terre, a bolt-hole, a strongbox" -- and whose only viable retail is chain pharmacies and ATMs. 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

America: where rising productivity means longer working hours

In most countries, rising productivity means fewer working hours: but US workers, among the world's most productive, put longer hours than other rich-country workers, especially nordic workers -- if America's productivity/hours curve worked like it does in Denmark and Norway, American workers would get an additional 2.2 months of vacation every year. Read the rest

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