Chobani And Other Donors Pay Off Lunch Debt, After Controversial Plan Unveiled : NPR

From the article:

The controversy has fueled a national conversation about mounting school lunch debts and the practice of “lunch shaming” in public schools. Policies across school districts have varied drastically. Some routinely throw away lunches when students can’t afford to pay for them; Some prohibit access to hot food; Some stamp the hands of children whose parents are in arrears; and still others make children work to pay off their guardian’s debts.

Source: Chobani And Other Donors Pay Off Lunch Debt, After Controversial Plan Unveiled : NPR

The fact that this happens in the US, one of the richest countries in the world, is astounding to me. We are literally punishing children because their parents can’t pay for food.


Get Bigger Social Security Checks by Delaying Your Payout

From the article:

If you can put off claiming Social Security money for a few years, you can get higher monthly checks for the rest of your life.

Source: Get Bigger Social Security Checks by Delaying Your Payout

This is the most tone deaf stupid article I have ever seen on this topic.

If you need your social security, you are allowed to start taking it at the age of 62. That will be a cut-down payment. You full retirement age is actually 66 for those born after 1942.  You only get it if you worked 10 years or more. They keep upping the age.

The maximum social security sure ain’t much, either.

This article is saying you should delay taking it out until the age of 70.

There is a bunch of graphs that show the probability of a 30 year old living until 70 is 79.6% of men and 85.7% of women. So a bunch of folks won’t even be making it to 70. My in-laws did not make it.

If you are poor, you need that social security, and delaying it is impossible. This article talks as if everyone has some spare IRA’s floating around, or even got a pension at all. . Most of us, that came after the baby boomer era, did not get a pension unless we were very very careful.

They offer 401K’s all over the place, but that is not really going to be enough. We will be having a lot of folks hitting retirement with that false sense of security.

I hate seeing this shit.

Many People are Too Broke for Bankruptcy. A New Report Suggests Some Fixes. — ProPublica

From the article:

For many people, filing for bankruptcy is a luxury that’s out of reach. A new report by the primary bankruptcy professional organization is full of recommendations that, if implemented, could help change that.

Source: Many People are Too Broke for Bankruptcy. A New Report Suggests Some Fixes. — ProPublica

It’s so funny to me that a corporation has almost unfettered access to bankruptcy, but individuals are so restricted.

I’ve known people who were the poster children for bankruptcy. Their debt was medical, and they were crushed by a family medical emergency cutting jobs. Then they can’t access bankruptcy because of all the hoops and costs to do so.

It should be noted, if your debts go to collections, you can often call them and offer to settle. Collection agencies buy the debts for pennies on the dollar. You can really lowball that. If they say they can’t, just ask for their best offer. Tell them you have a bit of money, and the collector that gives you the best deal will get the cash. That will usually get them to settle fast.

You might be surprised. Offer $2000 on a $10,000 debt. Offer $500 on a $5000 debt. Sometimes they settle. You don’t know how cheap they bought that debt for.

Just don’t settle until they get it to you in writing in email or something. Then settle the damn thing and be done.

Oh, and keep the paperwork. Those debts get purchased unscrupulously over and over, and they might not be the only collector that bought your debt, so you might have to prove it’s settled.

Wish us luck!

The rent is too damned high because money-laundering oligarchs bought all the real-estate to clean their oil money / Boing Boing

From the article:

In an absolutely epic Twitter thread (unrolled here) author CZ Edwards lays out an incredibly compelling explanation of spiralling real-estate prices: oligarchs need to launder a lot of oil money — think Russia, Iran, ex-Soviet basket-case states, Saudi — and so they plow the money into offshore Real Estate Investment Trust that then cleans it by outbidding any actual real-estate investors or would-be homeowners, bidding up and snapping up all the property in desirable cities, and then realizing the rental income-flows as legitimate, clean money.

It’s as neat and compelling a way of describing the link between oligarchy and spiraling real-estate prices as you could ask for. Shelter is not optional, so people will spend whatever it takes to get a roof over their heads. Cities are not infinitely sprawlable, so it’s possible to corner the market on places to live in them. Eventually, the parasites will devour the hosts and leave the cities empty shells (ahem, Venice), but by then the money-launderers have sold up and moved on.

Source: The rent is too damned high because money-laundering oligarchs bought all the real-estate to clean their oil money / Boing Boing

I’m in an area that is really hit by offshore property investing. It’s not the only reason our property values are pricing everyone out, but it’s definitely a part of the puzzle.

Trump’s CFPB Fines a Man $1 For Swindling Veterans, Orders Him Not to Do It Again

From the article:

THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU penalized a man $1 this week, for illegally exchanging veterans’ pensions for high-interest “cash advances.” Mark Corbett claimed in sworn statements to the bureau that he had an inability to pay any fine of greater value, and the bureau accepted $1 as payment for making illegal, high-cost loans to former members of the armed forces.

Somehow, two other state regulatory agencies, in Arkansas and South Carolina, assisted in the extraction of a single dollar bill from Corbett.

This is not the first time during the Trump administration that CFPB has taken an inability to pay into account to reduce a fine for violations of consumer protection law. Under the previous acting director, current acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, this type of reduction was so widespread that it came to be known as the “Mulvaney discount.” The American justice system rarely treats impoverished defendants with such mercy.

Source: Trump’s CFPB Fines a Man $1 For Swindling Veterans, Orders Him Not to Do It Again


Most Americans want a 70% tax rate on earnings over $10,000,000 / Boing Boing

From the article:

During a 60 Minutes interview Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez casually mentioned that she thought that America’s super-rich should pay a marginal tax-rate of 70% on annual earnings over $10,000,000 (which is a better deal than they got under Reagan); since then, the proposal has roiled the political classes and billionaire-backed news outlets, who coincidentally oppose taxing billionaires.

Though the establishments of the Democratic and Republican parties have scrambled to brand this proposal “unworkable” and “radical,” there’s another group of people who really like the sound of it: voters, including Republican voters.

A newly released Hill-HarrisX poll found that 59% of registered US voters support the proposal, and that breaks down to 62% of women, 55% of men, 57% of southerners, 56% of rural voters, 60% of independents, 71% of Democrats, and even 45% of Republicans.

Source: Most Americans want a 70% tax rate on earnings over $10,000,000 / Boing Boing

I feel like the 1% out there are still in the “let them eat cake” phase, not realizing that this economic disparity is going to hopefully really change things. The government shut down was like tossing lighter fluid on a fire.

In this US city, women are using paper towels & tissues because they can’t afford tampons / LGBTQ Nation

From the article:

In the study, posted in the current issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 183 interviews and three focus groups collected the experiences of women in the St. Louis area. In addition, 18 community organizations were surveyed to discover what sort of access they provide to menstrual hygiene products.

Researchers found that 64 percent of the women who participated were unable to afford menstrual hygiene products in the past year, with a fifth of these women facing this issue on a monthly basis. Additionally, 46 percent of those surveyed had to choose between food and menstrual hygiene supplies.

Source: In this US city, women are using paper towels & tissues because they can’t afford tampons / LGBTQ Nation

I’m surprised this isn’t in more news articles. This is a huge issue. The fact that we tax menstrual supplies like it’s a luxury is stunning to me. This is a basic need, and should be accessible.

I remember hitchhiking before I transitioned. I made $4000 or less that year, and had been using a ripped up old flannel shirt for my needs. When I had to hitchhike, I made it a priority to buy two boxes of tampons. It was such a luxury for my half homeless status. I was terrified I’d get my period while on the road trying to get to Arizona. I was so scared I preferred to not eat then not get the tampons.

There is such misinformation about women’s periods with some of these lawmakers. Just do some basic googling, and there are some hilariously bad screen shots of men saying women should just hold it. . . Like that’s even possible.

There are so many men, even ones in positions to make actual decisions that could change this, that have literally no biological grounding in how biology works.

Once again, homeless deaths in King County appear to break record | The Seattle Times

From the article:

The year 2018 will probably be the most deadly one on record for homeless people in King County, with a preliminary count by the King County Medical Examiner of 191 deaths.

Source: Once again, homeless deaths in King County appear to break record | The Seattle Times

This isn’t just because the rates of homelessness are skyrocketing. If you look at the chart, the rate when down in 2014 while the rates of homelessness were still rising.

The problem is the opioid issue with fentanyl is killing a population with heaving mental health and addiction issues, and that the homeless population is aging into elderly.

How Cities Make Money by Fining the Poor – The New York Times

This isn’t exactly shocking.

From the article:

No government agency comprehensively tracks the extent of criminal-justice debt owed by poor defendants, but experts estimate that those fines and fees total tens of billions of dollars. That number is likely to grow in coming years, and significantly: National Public Radio, in a survey conducted with the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Center for State Courts, found that 48 states increased their civil and criminal court fees from 2010 to 2014. And because wealthy and middle-class Americans can typically afford either the initial fee or the services of an attorney, it will be the poor who shoulder the bulk of the burden.

“You think about what we want to define us as Americans: equal opportunity, equal protection under the law,” Mitali Nagrecha, the director of Harvard’s National Criminal Justice Debt Initiative, told me. “But what we’re seeing in these situations is that not only are the poor in the United States treated differently than people with means, but that the courts are actually aggravating and perpetuating poverty.”

I have family that are destitute and were in and out of the court system. It is awe inspiring the sheer amount of cash they owe just to weave their way through a run in with the police.

All of them have been in jail more than once because they could not pay the fines. it’s a de facto debtors prison system leveraging the poor to do what they can to pay hefty escalating fines for infractions.

From the article:

Moreover, Karakatsanis argues, jailing poor defendants has proved to be an effective way of raising money. By threatening a defendant with incarceration, a judge is often able to extract cash from a person’s family that might otherwise be difficult to touch. “A typical creditor,” he says, “can’t put you in a steel cage if you can’t come up with the money.”

In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union detailed evidence of what it calls “modern-day ‘debtors’ prisons’ ” — essentially, courts operating in the same way as Judge Ross’s in Corinth — in Georgia, Michigan, Louisiana, Ohio and Washington State. “If you spent a few weeks driving from coast to coast, you might not find similar policies in place in every single county,” Sam Brooke, the deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s economic-justice program, told me. “But every other county? Probably. This is a massive problem, and it’s not confined to the South. It’s national.”

My father in law, before he passed, got a DUI at some point. It went on for decades after that because he could not pay the fines. Bench warrants were issued. It took us close to 15 years to pay off all the cumulating fines, with two stints in jail. It was only over ten years later serving time in jail not for the initial DUI but for the failure to pay the fines that the actual initial fines passed.

By then he didn’t drink, and we paid thousands and thousands of dollars to get him through the rest of the system to get his license back.

Sure, it was a DUI, but the man was so poor as to be living on less than $2000 a month with only $130 a month for food, for two. A rich man would have paid his fines and been out without jail time.

This was an overarching disaster on my father in laws life for over a decade.

He’s not unique. If you have money, the justice system just passes you through because you can pay. If you can’t pay? You are truly fucked.