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

Why the voting age should be lowered to 16

Every American 16-year-old enrolled in high-school has to learn civics, with extensive instruction on the more confusing aspects of the American electoral system, such as the Electoral College; they are also required to study current affairs -- so why not let them vote? Read the rest

Trump wants to cap lifetime Medicaid benefits, even for disabled people, the chronically ill, and people with Alzheimer's

If Trump gets his way, your elderly relatives will be evicted from nursing homes after their Alzheimer's care eats up their lifetime Medicaid benefits; as Yves Smith writes, "are family members supposed to let them wander out into traffic and have nature take its course?" Read the rest

Teen Bo$$: a magazine advising tweens on how to get rich by being "social media brands"

Bauer Media's Teen Boss is a new quarterly magazine, launched last summer for "Gen-Z entrepreneurs" aged 8-15 who want to pursue careers as "influencers." Read the rest

Australia put an algorithm in charge of its benefits fraud detection and plunged the nation into chaos

In a textbook example of the use of big data to create a digital poorhouse, as described in Virginia Eubanks's excellent new book Automating Inequality, the Australian government created an algorithmic, semi-privatised system to mine the financial records of people receiving means-tested benefits and accuse them of fraud on the basis of its findings, bringing in private contractors to build and maintain the system and collect the penalties it ascribed, paying them a commission on the basis of how much money they extracted from poor Australians. Read the rest

Convicted criminal Silvio Berlusconi returns to Italian politics as a kingmaker

Silvio Berlusconi, a misogynist, racist creep-authoritarian who was caught paying a teenager for sex and then lied to cops to get them to stop investigating the case, is banned from holding public office in Italy thanks to a criminal conviction for fraud; but that hasn't kept Italy's media (a large slice of which he controls) from elevating him to the role of political kingmaker in the country's upcoming elections. Read the rest

Sears Canada execs paid hundreds of millions in dividends before declaring bankruptcy and leaving 16,000 workers' pensions unfunded

Sears Canada has been in serious financial trouble since 2013, when workers wrote to the CEO and regulators and senior politicians to ask that their pensions be safeguarded. They were ignored, as they had been since 2009, when they first started asking for greater scrutiny of the pension fund. Read the rest

Nudging doesn't give poor people retirement savings, it just makes them poorer

Nudging -- the idea that a well-designed "choice architecture" can help people make free choices that are better than the ones they would make without the nudge -- has a few well-publicized success stories: the cafeteria where frontloading veggies and other healthful options gets kids to choose carrots over pizza; and the employer-side deduction for retirement savings that gets employees to put aside a little more to retire on (this insight rates a Nobel-adjacent prize*!). Read the rest

Camperforce: Laura Poitras documentary on the elderly precariat nomads who keep Amazon's warehouses working

Last September, I wrote about Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, Jessica Bruder's important, fascinating book-length investigation into the Americans who live on the road out of economic necessity, including the Camperforce, a precariat army of retirees who saved carefully all their working lives, only to be bankrupted in the 2008 financial crisis who travel from Amazon warehouse to Amazon warehouse, filling in as seasonal and temp workers on gruelling, 12-hour shifts that leave them in pain and with just enough money to make it to the next stop. Read the rest

Oil industry is running out of employees, because millennials

The oil industry is mired in a recruiting crisis because its workforce is aging out and millennials don't want to work for an industry that is destroying the planet they were hoping to live on. Read the rest