Daily Digest - May 31: Everyone Hates ISPs

May 31, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Americans are not happy with their Internet service providers (Marketplace)

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Americans are not happy with their Internet service providers (Marketplace)

Ben Johnson talks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford about the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which shows ISPs are dead last in keeping customers happy. With little to no competition, they'd rather put profits into dividends for shareholders.

From the Mouths of Babes (NYT)

Paul Krugman feels that the Republican Party's war against SNAP is worth getting angry about, because SNAP encourages economic growth by giving families more to spend. And since the program feeds hungry people, more cuts mean more empty stomachs.

The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty -- and It's Creeping Upward (AlterNet)

Paul Buchheit argues that while the Census Bureau reports 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty, with alternate measures it's more like 50 percent -- a number that should raise some eyebrows, especially as Congress allows cuts to poverty programs.

Man of the (rich) people (Salon)

Joan Walsh agrees with rising Republican star Sen. Ted Cruz: Mitt Romney lost the presidency with the words "47 percent." But she sees a disconnect between Cruz's words and the pro-1 percent policies he and other Republican "reformers" are endorsing.

After Running The Numbers Carefully There's No Evidence That High Debt Levels Cause Slow Growth (Slate)

Matt Yglesias explains why it's problematic that Reinhart and Rogoff took their research straight to the op-ed pages: the data shows it’s likely they were aware that they were jumping from correlation to policy suggestions without the necessary stop at causation.

Washington 'Spends' More on Tax Breaks Than on Medicare, Defense, or Social Security (The Atlantic)

Derek Thompson shows that tax expenditures designed to promote mortgages, employer-sponsored health care, investment, and various other consumer behaviors cost American taxpayers more than many programs that are frequent targets for budget cuts.

Losing Hope in Detroit (Bill Moyers)

Greg Kaufmann examines the kinds of programs affected by sequestration, with Focus: HOPE in Detroit as his example. Their job-training program is going to lose between 250 and 350 spots this year, which will hurt 250 to 350 people still seeking good jobs.

Fast Food Workers Striking in Seattle (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson looks at the fast food strikes that shut down three fast food restaurants in Seattle yesterday. These one-day strikes are an organizing tactic for a world that is increasingly hostile to organized labor, and they're looking more and more effective.

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Daily Digest - May 30: Your Cable Package is Free Speech

May 30, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Comcast and Verizon’s Phony Free-Speech Claim (Bloomberg)

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Comcast and Verizon’s Phony Free-Speech Claim (Bloomberg)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford knows that it's the cable and internet providers who are trying to limit speech through their control of what's available over their wires. Business decisions aren't free speech- especially when they limit fair competition.

Why the Shareholder Rescue Never Comes (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger explains why shareholders aren't going to solve Too Big to Fail. Shareholders want to see big risks and big returns- and as long as they can count on federal bailouts, that means they don't mind seeing big banks, either.

People Over Politicians: Spending Less on Elections Could Strengthen Unions (The Century Foundation)

Douglas Williams argues that unions are wasting money when they donate to campaigns, because even politicians who claim to be pro-labor work against them. Instead, they could invest in local organizing and actually achieve some change.

No cause for relief—austerity will indeed drag hard on the economy in 2013 and 2014 (Working Economics)

Josh Bivens thinks that other writers are too quick to assume that rising stock and housing prices and falling gas prices mean that austerity hasn't slowed our economy. With the job market remaining "dismal," he thinks the recovery hasn't even arrived.

More and more Americans are feeling the effects of the sequester (WaPo)

Brad Plumer looks at the results of a May ABC News/Washington Post poll, which shows that 37 percent of Americans say they've been impacted negatively by the sequester. That number can only grow as spending on vital services continues to shrink.

Children of the Great Collapse (TAP)

Jared Bernstein lays out how the stimulus helped bring children out of poverty, and how the end of the Recovery Act along with sequestration will put them right back in it. Nothing helps the country's long-term economic growth quite like cutting 50,000 spots in Head Start.

Why Can’t America Be Sweden? (NYT)

Tom Edsall examines the claim that Sweden's "cuddly capitalism" would not work in the United States, where our role as supposed innovation entrepreneurs requires a more cutthroat system. This sounds like an awfully convenient excuse to abandon those in need.

The Very Low Threshold For What Conservatives Consider “Reform” (Washington Monthly)

Ed Kilgore doesn't think that policy priorities are enough to differentiate conservative reformers. When the plan for "reform" is to cut taxes and reduce the social safety net, it's hard to see how conservative reformers can claim to support the poor -- or new ideas.

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Daily Digest - May 29: No CFPB Director For You

May 29, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The GOP doesn’t oppose Richard Cordray. It opposes his whole agency. (WaPo)

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The GOP doesn’t oppose Richard Cordray. It opposes his whole agency. (WaPo)

Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal explains why Republican opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is based on falsehoods. Unfortunately, filibusters mean that Republican temper tantrums about the power of the CFPB translate to blocking any director.

Did I get the money-and-politics debate all wrong? (WaPo)

Ezra Klein responds to critiques of his own pieces on money and politics, including Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Mark Schmitt's take, which he mostly agrees with. Unsurprisingly, spending lots of time fundraising doesn't make for better legislators.

Walmart Workers Launch First-Ever 'Prolonged Strikes' Today (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson reports on the strikes in Miami, Massachusetts, and the Bay Area, which are the first multi-day strikes again Walmart. Worker-activist Dominic Ware's biggest fear? That his son will have to work for Walmart too.

Beware Capitalist Tools (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich doesn't understand why Forbes writers would argue that it's a bad thing for government to condition market access on the social benefits we receive from corporations. Why wouldn't we want to tell corporations to put jobs here?

Central Banks Act With a New Boldness to Revitalize Economies (NYT)

Binyamin Appelbaum, Jack Ewing, Hiroko Tabuchi, and Landon Thomas Jr. note that once-cautious central banks have become more aggressive in recent years, taking action to get their countries' economies moving while their governments are stuck on austerity.

When Sequestration Becomes Devastation (Bloomberg)

Evan Soltas wants us to look ahead to sequestration’s effect on the 2014 budget, because if we think things are bad today then we haven't seen anything yet. Next year’s cuts aren’t automatic -- the House gets to decide where to cut deeper.

Like a Bad Cough: Why Austerity Economics Lingers (HuffPo)

Steven Conn thinks the reason we can't get past austerity economics is that we're treating a set of moral propositions about wealth, self-denial, and work as hard science. But when something doesn't work in chemistry, the chemists start a new experiment.

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Daily Digest - May 28: Global Economy, Global Loopholes

May 28, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Globalisation isn't just about profits. It's about taxes too (The Guardian)

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Globalisation isn't just about profits. It's about taxes too (The Guardian)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Joseph Stiglitz argues that in today's global economy, all countries suffer when major corporations take advantage of tax loopholes, and that reform is needed so that corporations pay a fair income tax rate internationally.

The Facts (Captive Audience)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford corrects what Comcast's Executive Vice President told the U.S. Conference of Mayors about how great high-speed Internet access is in the U.S. If the mayors believed him, they must not look at what household Internet costs in their cities.

See How Citigroup Wrote a Bill So It Could Get a Bailout (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger spoke to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal about Citigroup's attempt to gut the "push-out rule," which would forbid banks from trading certain derivatives. This prevents banks from protecting risky trades with FDIC insurance, and Konczal says we need it "more than ever."

This Week in Poverty: Homeowners Take the Foreclosure Fight to the DOJ (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann spoke to activists involved in protests last week to fight illegal foreclosures and push for principal reductions for homeowners at risk of foreclosure. These newly minted reformers first fought to keep their own homes; now they’re fighting for others.

  • Roosevelt Take: The jobs crisis hasn't helped people struggling to keep their homes. Roosevelt Fellows and other distinguished guests will discuss A Bold Approach to the Jobs Emergency on June 4th.

America is the only rich country that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation or holidays (WaPo)

In honor of Memorial Day, Ezra Klein reminds us that in the U.S., poorer workers are less likely to have any paid time off, and if they do, they get less. Compared to European countries' paid time off guarantees, yesterday's barbeques seem a little less exciting.

Let Them Make Their Own Jobs (NYT)

Nancy Folbre considers that statement to be the new "let them eat cake," because entrepreneurs and start-ups struggle as much as established businesses with the lack of demand. Creating your own job doesn’t guarantee you've created any income for yourself.

The Falling-Bridge Lesson: The U.S. Infrastructure Failure Is Still Totally Inexcusable (The Atlantic)

Matt Thompson thinks the bridge that collapsed near Seattle last week needs to be a wake-up call to increase spending on infrastructure. Maybe some members of Congress will take family road trips this summer and notice how the roads just end at that big blue space on their map now.

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Daily Digest - May 24: The Real (Student) Debt Crisis

May 23, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Nobel winner: Cut student loan rates (USA Today)

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Nobel winner: Cut student loan rates (USA Today)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz says he backs Elizabeth Warren's plan to let students borrow at the same discount rate as banks because student debt is holding back our economy, especially compared to countries that are actually doing something about it.

  • Roosevelt Take: The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's policy report "A New Deal For Students" lays out concrete and innovative policy solutions from students to solve the student debt crisis.

Donors Urge Cuomo to Press for Public Financing of State Campaigns (NYT)

Thomas Kaplan talks to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Ellen Chesler and others who feel public campaign financing is necessary to combat an unusual form of peer pressure -- the kind the wealthy exert on politicians. According to Chesler, it's a moral issue.

In one chart: we have a demand problem, not a skills problem (Working Economics)

Heidi Shierholz looks at the unemployment and underemployment rates of college graduates under 25, and concludes that when even the young and highly educated have trouble finding jobs, the problem is pretty simple: no one is hiring.

America's Scandalous Underfunding of Community Colleges (Slate)

Matt Yglesias uses data on school spending changes to illustrate just how bad things have gotten at community colleges. Even with tuition hikes, they haven't been able to increase spending, which means they're forced to reduce services to our neediest students.

Black Unemployment Is Still Shamefully High (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann knows the jobs crisis isn't close to over in the black community, where unemployment is both high and long-term. But Congress sees a string of decent jobs reports and a booming stock market and convinces itself the recovery is color-blind.

Food Stamp Cuts Backed By Farm Subsidy Beneficiaries (HuffPo)

Arthur Delaney points out the hypocrisy of lawmakers who receive significant subsidies for their family farms but feel the government doesn't have an obligation to feed the poor through SNAP. Anti-poverty programs: too costly. Photo op on a tractor: priceless.

Japan the Model (NYT)

Paul Krugman makes the case for Japan's current intense political efforts to turn around its economy, noting that no one else in the developed world is attempting stimulus on this level, and while it's too early to be certain, the signs look good that it's working.

New on Next New Deal

Michael Kinsley Gets It Wrong On "Austerians"

According to Mike Konzcal, austerians are setting eliminating the deficit as the only priority, while the rest of us see a bigger picture. Kinsley and other austerians are in a fantasy world where everyone saves, no one spends, and the economy improves without stimulus.

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Daily Digest - May 23: Fearing the Future

May 23, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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What’s in millennials’ wallets? Fewer credit cards (LA Times)

Emily Alpert talks to Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz about why young households are carrying less and less credit card debt. According to Aronowitz, it’s all about fear of an uncertain future.

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What’s in millennials’ wallets? Fewer credit cards (LA Times)

Emily Alpert talks to Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz about why young households are carrying less and less credit card debt. According to Aronowitz, it’s all about fear of an uncertain future.

Why Suburban Poverty Is Less Visible and More Insidious (The Atlantic)

According to Emily Badger, suburban poverty is an incredibly isolating phenomenon. In areas where children play in back yards, not public playgrounds, and commuters drive instead of taking the subway, communal support for the poor all but disappears.

Elizabeth Warren Grills Treasury Secretary on Too Big to Fail (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger characterizes Jack Lew’s response to Senator Warren’s questioning on breaking up the biggest banks as nothing but avoidance. In the linked video, Lew sticks to name, rank, and serial number while Warren pushes for a direct answer on capping bank size.

How Budget Cuts Could Lead To Higher Costs From Tornadoes (Think Progress)

Bryce Covert reminds us that sequestration is still happening and is causing furloughs at the National Weather Service. The NWS warned residents of Moore, OK about the tornado 16 minutes before it touched down, and we can’t afford to cut it much closer.

Fed Endorses Stimulus, but the Message Is Garbled (NYT)

Nelson D. Schwartz explains that it doesn’t look like the Fed will be cutting back its bond-buying program just yet. Bernanke’s testimony yesterday showed a sense of caution, despite the apparent signs of improvement in the job market.

Robert Kaiser on Dodd-Frank: ‘This example of Congress working also illuminated why it works so rarely.’ (WaPo)

Neil Irwin and Robert Kaiser discuss why no one would want to emulate the process required to pass Dodd-Frank, with months of negotiations for bipartisan support collapsing and the bill barely scraping by. Instead, we get no negotiation and no legislation, saving everyone time.

Why Obama’s Scandals Won’t Lead to Reform (Bloomberg View)

Ezra Klein points out the disconnect between who is upset about the policy problems raised by the IRS and AP scandals, and who wants to make a fuss about them. With those categories split, he doesn’t think we will see any changes in anonymous political spending through 501(c)(4)s or legislation to protect journalists and their sources.

U.S. Retailers See Big Risk in Safety Plan for Factories in Bangladesh (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse says major U.S. retailers are worried the accord that many European retailers have embraced will open them up to legal liability. Apparently the real risk isn’t sending workers into a death trap; it’s all the paperwork and billable hours that could result.

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Daily Digest - May 22: Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone?

May 22, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Case for Raising the Minimum Wage (U.S. News and World Report)

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The Case for Raising the Minimum Wage (U.S. News and World Report)

David Cooper makes the case that raising the minimum wage is not only advisable but necessary: with full-time minimum wage workers living below the poverty line, every taxpayer is subsidizing low wage employers. Not the most uplifting way to see your tax dollars at work.

Workers Strike Over Federal Contracts and Low Wage Jobs In D.C.(HuffPo)

Arthur Delaney and Dave Jamieson spoke to workers striking yesterday to protest low wages at workplaces funded by federal contracts. If taxpayers subsidize low-wage workers, this piece of the puzzle is even more frustrating, because federal contracts could set a higher wage floor.

SNAP Rolls: They’re Elevated for a Reason (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein explains why SNAP enrollment isn’t dropping right alongside unemployment, even though that’s a pretty logical idea. Unemployment may be down, he says, but that doesn’t mean people have actually gone back to work, and in the meantime, they still need to eat.

Keynes Skeptics Find New Economic Poster Boy (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait has discovered the new face of austerity, following the collapse of Reinhart-Rogoff: James Buchanan (the economist, not the unloved U.S. president). Buchanan argued “temporary” stimulus would create permanent long-term deficits, but Chait isn’t buying it.

Naming Names in the Dodd Frank Mess (TAP)

David Dayen wants us to stop blaming generic “Wall Street lobbyists” for gutting Dodd-Frank when they have name-brand help. Regulators like Mark Wetjen, one of the Democratic commissioners on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, are also responsible for weaker rules.

The IRS controversy isn’t about taxes. It’s about disclosure. (WaPo)

Dylan Matthews thinks that the IRS controversy is really about the distinction between 501(c)(4)s and 527s: the former can keep donors a secret, but 527s must disclose. Apparently Tea Party organizations are worried that no one would donate to them if they had to own up to it.

A Keynesian Victory, but Austerity Stands Firm (NYT)

Eduardo Porter examines why Keynesian economists are running victory laps around austerians, yet austerity politics are still reigning across the globe. The intellectual battle may be won, but politicians are resisting.

New on Next New Deal

Creating Good Jobs is the Defining Issue of Our Time (Next New Deal)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch knows that our biggest economic problem isn’t the deficit or national debt: it’s jobs. Good jobs, the ones that provide decent pay and benefits, are disappearing, and the economy can’t recover without them.

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Daily Digest - May 21: Fixing the Economy First, but not Yet

May 21, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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What's the best way to pass a climate bill? Fix the economy first. (WaPo)

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What's the best way to pass a climate bill? Fix the economy first. (WaPo)

According to Brad Plumer, if we’re serious about climate change, we need to solve the jobs crisis first: there’s a connection between a Senator’s “green score” from the League of Conservation Voters and the unemployment rate in his or her state.

As rich gain optimism, lawmakers lose economic urgency (WaPo)

Jim Tankersley reminds us that while the economy and jobs remain a top priority for most Americans, the House has only approved three bills that could be considered economic policy this year- and one of those was the 37th attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Camping Out for Five Days, in Hopes of a Union Job (NYT)

Most jobs created since the recession are low-wage, but Jessica Glazer’s story about more than 800 people camping out to apply for the training program at Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers shows how far people will go to escape that rut.

Sequestration Nation: Budget Cuts Endanger Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims (CAP)

Kwame Boadi lays out the effect of sequestration on one of our most vulnerable populations: domestic violence and sexual assault victims, who are losing services, beds in shelters, and more. These cuts could kill, but Congress has prioritized keeping flights on schedule.

Poverty Flees to the Suburbs (MoJo)

Josh Harkinson breaks down yesterday’s report from the Brookings Institution, showing that the suburban poor now outnumber the urban and rural poor. With most federal anti-poverty spending targeting urban communities, there’s a serious mismatch.

Senator Introduces Bill To Allow Holders Of Student Debt To Refinance (Think Progress)

Bryce Covert reports on Senator Gillibrand’s proposal to force the Department of Education to automatically refinance federal student loans with interest rates above 4 percent to fixed 4 percent loans, which would save nearly 37 million borrowers billions in interest payments.

Ready to Testify on Financial Stability, Lew Is Likely To Be Grilled on IRS Scandal (National Journal)

Catherine Hollander notes that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is scheduled to deliver the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s annual report this week, but Congress is less interested in the global financial system than it is in what’s going on at the local IRS office in Cincinnati.

The Unemployed Need Bold, Creative Moves from the Fed (The Fiscal Times)

Mark Thoma remembers when the Fed took risks and pushed the rules to their limits in orchestrating the bailout for big financial institutions. Why, he asks, aren’t they maintaining such boldness for the sake of the unemployed?

 

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Daily Digest - May 20: Why the Internet Moves at the Speed of Indifference

May 20, 2013Tim Price

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Telecom's Big Players Hold Back the Future (NYT)

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Telecom's Big Players Hold Back the Future (NYT)

David Carr profiles Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford and explores her crusade against the telecom monopolies that offer high fees instead of high speeds. Every time you wait for a video to buffer, you're experiencing the magic of the market at work.

Sheila Bair: Dodd-Frank really did end taxpayer bailouts (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal talks to the former director of the FDIC about why skeptics are wrong to doubt the agency's commitment to winding down failed banks and why it's important to raise leverage requirements so it doesn't have to prove it.

Obama Urged to Make Economy a Bigger, Bolder Topic (AP)

Jim Kuhnhenn reports that with the CBO projecting a lower deficit and the GOP scrounging for scandals in the couch cushions, Obama advisers and critics are asking the president to change the conversation by laying out a real second-term economic agenda.

The 1 Percent Are Only Half the Problem (NYT)

Timothy Noah argues that while runaway wealth at the top contributes to rising inequality in the U.S., there's also the growing educational divide and resulting skills-based gap. But if the left and right discuss both problems, they risk an agreement breaking out.

Boom or Bubble? (New Yorker)

James Surowiecki has good news (1) and bad news (2) for analysts who think stock prices are overinflated because GDP isn't keeping up with corporate profits: (1) corporate profits are only barely connected to the real American economy these days, and (2) see (1).

Global Capital and the Nation State (Robert Reich)

Reich notes that big corporations are hiding their money from tax collectors while extorting sweetheart deals from national and local governments, but right-wing nationalist parties are convincing more and more voters that cooperation is the new exploitation.

Food Stamps Get Licked by Cuts (Prospect)

Monica Potts writes that the House and Senate farm bills would make food stamp funding less generous and kick millions off the rolls even as more Americans are going hungry. In other words, let them eat cake, just as long as they're paying for it out of pocket.

This Week in Poverty: Fighting Poverty Through Wall Street Accountability (The Nation)

Organizer and activist Stephen Lerner tells Greg Kaufmann that one of the challenges in fighting poverty is that there are so many different root causes, but one advantage of focusing on Wall Street is that behind most of these big problems there's a big bank.

Note: After three years writing the Daily Digest, I'll be handing the reins to Rachel Goldfarb, a talented new addition to the Roosevelt Institute communications team, starting tomorrow. While I will continue to provide editorial oversight and support, I'm confident Rachel will make the Digest her own and ensure that it remains a fresh and engaging resource for progressive economics news and analysis over the next three years and beyond. Thanks for reading!

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Daily Digest - May 17: It's Gatsby's World, They're Just Working In It

May 17, 2013Tim Price

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Gatsby and the McJobs Rebellion (KC Star)

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Gatsby and the McJobs Rebellion (KC Star)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren notes that the new adaptation of The Great Gatsby is timed nicely with fast food and retail workers' push for fairer wages. The story of unbridled greed keeps being retold, but this time they plan to write their own ending.

Millennials reject 'lazy, entitled' label: 'Who are they talking about?' (Today)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz writes that while pundits sneer at Millennials, members of the generation that came of age during the Great Recession are too busy working to improve the bad hand they've been dealt to have time for haters.

84 Percent of NYC Fast Food Workers Report Wage Theft in a New Survey (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson highlights a new report that finds many fast food restaurants are pulling a fast one on their workers, who are forced to work without pay or denied breaks and overtime. Even the Hamburglar himself would never have stooped to this kind of petty thievery.

That's a 'Depression': Europe's Double-Dip Is Officially Longer Than Its Great Recession (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien notes that GDP data prove Europe's response to the recession has been worse than the recession itself, but polls still show widespread support for the euro and austerity, so the continent may just have an unusually large population of masochists.

Surprise! Inflation is too low almost everywhere on earth (WaPo)

Neil Irwin writes that in contrast to inflationistas' repeated warnings that quantitative easing would lead to a grim, dark future in which there is only Bitcoin, none of the leading central banks have even been able to hit the 2 percent inflation rate they were aiming for.

Foreclosure Crisis Cost U.S. $192.6 Billion in Lost Wealth Last Year, Study Finds (HuffPo)

Jillian Berman writes that even as the housing market rebounds, millions continue to lose their homes or struggle in vain to save them, with minority borrowers hit particularly hard. Is there no "moral hazard" in leaving enough people underwater to re-settle Atlantis?

The real IRS scandal: Targeting by class (Salon)

David Dayen points out that unfairly scrutinizing one group over another isn't new behavior for the IRS. That's why the working poor get audited while big corporations get away with just about anything as long as they employ a sufficiently intimidating number of lawyers.

Billionaires Unchained (TomDispatch)

Andy Kroll argues that you can't measure the impact of money in politics by simply chalking up big donors' wins and losses and calculating the score. The point is that something's off when one person can spend more in one election than most voters will ever make.

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