"The Grand Dark": Kadrey's latest is a noir, dieselpunk masterpiece that's timely as hell

Regular readers will know Richard Kadrey (previously) from his bestselling Sandman Slim series, but as much as I love those books, I think I love his latest, "The Grand Dark" -- a noir/dieselpunk novel set in a fictionalized weimar city in a brief, hectic interwar period -- even more. Read the rest

Americans are too poor to survive whether or not they're working

A new study from the United Way claims that 43% of American households are in a status called "asset limited, income constrained, employed" (ALICE), which denotes employed people who can't afford housing, food, childcare, healthcare, transportation, and a cellphone -- the basics of modern living. Read the rest

Inequality makes a nation poorer

Responding to Professor Sir Angus Deaton’s report into the causes of inequality, economics writer Chris Dillow provides an excellent list of eight ways in which unequal societies sacrifice overall economic growth and national prosperity to preserve the fortunes of their elites. Read the rest

Ted Chiang's "Op Ed From the Future": socialized transhumanism vs American oligarchy

The New York Times has inaugurated its "Op-Eds From the Future" ("science fiction authors, futurists, philosophers and scientists write op-eds that they imagine we might read 10, 20 or even 100 years in the future") with a piece from Ted Chiang (previously) that imagines a future in which genetic engineering of human embryos is commonplace, leading to a well-intentioned attempt at preventing literal speciation into the haves and have-nots by subsidizing "intelligence boosting" genetic manipulation for lower-income families. Read the rest

Report from the Fed reveals that "economic growth" is a highly localized phenomena, masking widespread financial desperation

Trump likes to boast about economic growth, and while many have pointed out that many of the policies that produced the rosy figures are leftovers from Obama's policies, it's also important to note that the "growth" is highly localized, with aggregated national figures hiding the incredible economic desperation in the poorest parts of America. Read the rest

Wealth is correlated with greed, dishonesty and cheating -- are these effects or a causes?

There's a wealth of psychological research that correlates wealthy people in the real world with negative traits like rudeness (people driving fancier cars are less considerate of pedestrians and their likelihood of cutting off another driver is correlated to the cost of the driver's car); greed (rich people take more candies out of dishes set aside for kids than poor people); generalized unethical behavior; cheating at games of chance; and overall stinginess. Read the rest

The UK grew rich by looting the world; now it launders billions for other looters

The British empire was a globe-spanning criminal enterprise that produced vast riches for England (and, to a lesser extent, Scotland and Wales) by stealing the lands of others while slaughtering and enslaving them; today the empire is in decline and the UK is no longer reliant on direct looting. Read the rest

Gabriel Zucman: the Piketty-trained "wealth detective" who catalogued the secret fortunes of the super-rich and figured out how to tax them

Bloomberg's Ben Steverman offers a long and exciting profile of Gabriel Zucman (previously), a protege of Thomas Piketty (Zucman was one of the researchers on Piketty's blockbuster Capital in the 21st Century) who has gone on to a career at UC Berkeley, where he's done incredibly innovative blockbuster work of his own, particularly on estimating the true scale of the wealth gap in the USA and worldwide. Read the rest

A former college admissions dean explains the mundane reverse affirmative action that lets the rich send their kids to the front of the line

Thanks to the college admissions scandal the issue of inequality and access to postsecondary education is now in our national conversation, but despite the glitz of the bribery scandal, the real issue is a much more mundane form of reverse affirmative action that allows wealthy Americans to dominate college admissions, muscling out better candidates from poorer backgrounds, especially Black students. Read the rest

After Notre Dame bailout Yellow Vests urge more Victor Hugo tributes, starting with "Les Miserables"

The Notre Dame fire is a global tragedy, and it's also raising complicated questions about our present moment, including trenchant inquiries into which church fires merit global outpourings and whose sacred sites get mourned when they are destroyed. Read the rest

Occupy Gotham: my essay about the class war at the heart of Batman

The book Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman commemorates the 1000th issue of Batman comics; my contribution is an essay called Occupy Gotham, about the terror of letting a billionaire vigilante decide who is and isn't a criminal (featuring Lessig and Piketty jokes!). Read the rest

How the super-rich defeated the IRS's crack Global High Wealth unit

In 2009, the IRS created a Global High Wealth Industry Group to audit the super-wealthy, staffing it with skilled lawyers and accountants who could unravel the webs of "trusts, foundations, limited liability companies, complex partnerships and overseas operations" that were used to hide the income of the super-rich from the tax-collector. Read the rest

Socal! I'll be in Burbank on April 7, San Diego on April 11 and UCLA on April 12

I've got a couple of hometown appearances coming up, including a rare west-side event: on Sunday, April 7 at 4PM, I'll be at Burbank's Dark Delicacies for a final signing in their old store before they occupy their new digs around the corner, and then I'm taking off my writer hat and putting on my activist hat to do two more events in the area. Read the rest

London developer makes last-minute changes to lock poor kids out of "communal" playground

Henley Homes got permission to build a 149-home development on the site of the Baylis Old School complex on Lollard Street by promising to include some subsidised, below-market-rent units and "a network of courtyards and open spaces ... which will provide attractive areas for informal play. This will emphasise the sense of community within the scheme stressing that the common areas are there for the use of all the residents." Read the rest

Massive study finds strong correlation between "early affluence" and "faster cognitive drop" in old age

A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reports on new analysis of the Survey of Health, Aging, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which tracks outcomes for 24,066 people aged 50-96 with a good balance of genders (56% female), and reports a strong correlation between "early affluence" and "faster cognitive drop" in "verbal fluency" (measured with an animal naming challenge). SHARE is the largest study of its kind, with more than double the subjects of similar projects. 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

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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