(Thank you allonym for submitting this! PFG)

This article explains so much about how Ferguson came to be.  It quotes from new report from Arch City Defenders, a non-profit legal defense organization:

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

As the article notes, you don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.” 

And how much of that $2.6 million in annual revenue from fines and court fees went towards buying military-grade gear?


I really enjoyed this article in The Economist on the astonishing increase in textbook prices relative to the consumer price index, so I decided to investigate some other items.  Food and apparel both had interesting results, so here are the graphs!  These use CPI for all urban consumers, and the data are seasonally adjusted.

Data source: http://www.bls.gov/cpi/data.htm

The 30 statistics that you are about to read prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed.  Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a staggering pace.  Yes, the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights this year and there are a few isolated areas of the country that are doing rather well for the moment.  But overall, the long-term trends that are eviscerating the middle class just continue to accelerate. 

So let’s do a brief thought experiment type thing about American college tuition. I’ve heard more than one person tout the “I worked during the summer so I could pay for school” idea, and I find that hella interesting.
So let’s say you worked eight weeks (June 1-Aug 1) at minimum wage, 25 hours a week. “Why 25 hours a week,” you ask, “when full-time is 40 hours a week?” For one thing, I don’t think it’s fair to ask an 18 year old to graduate high school and immediately begin working full time at a minimum wage job in order to pursue an education to (presumably) avoid working full time at a minimum wage job. For another, it’s actually pretty fucking difficult to get full time hours at a minimum wage, entry level job — full time means benefits, so nearly all places would rather keep you just under the full time cut off. But I’ll run this math with both 25 hours, the reasonable projection, and 40 hours, the insane workaholic idealistic projection.

8 weeks x $7.25 x 25 hours = $1,450
8 weeks x $7.25 x 40 hours = $2,320

If our theory is that a high school graduate should be able to work over the summer and make enough to pay for college the next year, college should cost no more than $2,320 per year. That includes tuition, books, and class fees — I’ll give room and board a pass because I don’t think that’s a feasible adjustment to make at this point. TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS, PEOPLE. FOR A YEAR.

There are 168 hours in a week. If you worked literally all of those hours, which is obviously impossible both physically and financially. you would make $1,218. In a summer, you would make between $9.744 and $12,180 WHICH IS STILL. AT MANY SCHOOLS. LESS THAN A YEAR’S TUITION.

This is impossible. Just for comparison, LSU, my darling state university subsidized by the state which accepts state scholarships like TOPS, charges in-state residents about $8,7000 a year in tuition and fees. Out of state residents pay $26,476 — again, only in tuition and fees, not books or living space or food (or parking, or the dozen other ways a university charges you money). Housing and food are an estimated $10,000 more per year.

I’ve been out of college for several years now, and I don’t regret having gone. I test exceptionally well, and my bachelor’s degree cost me no money; I actually made money off of scholarships and federal grants. Grad school brought in some student loans, but still, I am extremely fortunate in this country, and I know that. But my youngest sister is sixteen, and my stepsister has two children. College tuition and the incredibly fucked up market that is the American educational system don’t stop mattering when you graduate, or when I do. This is unacceptable, and it has to change.

The logic behind allowing labor migration is straightforward. Decisions need to be made regarding the allocation of labor, which, like other goods and services, is a scarce resource. Open migration not only expands the range of potential choices available to individuals – the essence of economic freedom – but allows for the reallocation of labor to its highest-valued use across a more extensive range of alternatives. In other words, removing barriers to migration allows people to discover the highest-valued use of their labor and thereby contributes to broader economic development. Indeed, the potential contribution of migration to global economic wealth is staggering.
—  Christopher Coyne, Doing Bad by Doing Good (via Don Boudreaux)

Notebooks And Pencils And Pens, Cha-Ching!

This August, Americans will spend an estimated on back-to-school shopping, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. A lot of that spending is driven by the lists that schools and teachers give out, detailing what students need to bring on that first day.

To get a handle on what’s on those lists and in those backpacks — and how much it costs to fill them — we pulled a sample of schools around the country, one from each of the U.S. Census Bureau’s nine geographic regions. Then, we examined each school’s lists for grades one, three and five.

Let me tell you about that most dishonorable profession - sales. These are the same men and women who as boys and girls were the flibbertigibbets of the playground - full of words, opinions, and in general themselves. It never matters what you may think, they’ve already decided for you: how much of a dinosaur you are for not already knowing about their latest mortgage product, how “life-changing” their shiny new app is, and how badly you need (as if suddenly humankind’s basic necessities included one more item) what they have. To think of the hundreds, even thousands of cubicle farms across this country packed full of warm-bodies with one explicit purpose - “to pad their numbers” just so that they can sleep at night. Forget what “value-add” they peddle, anything that requires the act of selling is not at all important; it’s his ego that’s important, her place among her fellow tribesmen that matters. By answering the phone you’re only contributing to the deadweight loss in society. And don’t worry, you’ll find out sooner or later if whatever it is they’ve cooked up supplants food and water.
—  Publico, editor of Public.SQ

Pavel Yakovelev on the findings of a study he authored for the Mercatus Center, “State Economic Prosperity and Taxation:”

  • A higher average tax burden reduces state economic growth. Dividing total tax revenue by gross state product (GSP) shows that a 1 percent increase in a state’s average tax rate is associated with a decrease of 1.9 percent in the growth rate of its GSP.
  • Taxes impact migration patterns. If higher state taxes lead to lower economic activity and employment, it is conceivable that people will move to states with better economic pro­spects. Of the nine states with no personal income tax, four—Florida, Nevada, Washington, and Tennessee—are among the states with the highest population growth rates in the country in recent decades. Also, data show that a higher personal income tax rate is associ­ated with a higher probability of residents migrating to a state with a lower tax rates.
  • Income tax progressivity affects the number of new firms. The number of new firms open­ing in a state is a key indicator of beneficial creative destruction and innovation that will improve living standards for the state’s residents over time. Other studies have found that new firm entry accounts for 20–50 percent of a state’s overall productivity growth. The lat­est economic data show that the rate of start-up creation is sensitive to personal income tax progressivity. A 1 percent increase in personal income tax progressivity is associated with a reduction of 1.2 percent in the growth rate of the number of firms.
  • While the data show an important relationship between GSP growth and average tax rates, the impact of average tax rates on per capita income is less clear. A 1 percent increase in a state’s average tax rate can be expected to decrease per capita income by 0.07 percent.
For those of us who are going to participate in Blackout Monday on Sept. 8th

Let’s not rush the day before and buy everything we need from the stores we’re planning to boycott or return to those stores the day after relieved of a burden. Let’s keep in mind that the focus is an economic shift: from allowing the nutrient that is the dollar to escape the veins of the black community, to circulating this nutrient between the vital organs of businesses and households that will promote growth and stability in all levels of our unified culture. 

-Peace, Love and Solidarity 

People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as ‘parasites’ fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.
—  Jason Read
Watch on fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com

Naming Babies: A new video about health care in rural Ethiopia, meeting Bill Gates, and how sometimes bureaucracy can be very beautiful indeed.

The Gates Foundation

The L10K Project, which helps provide support to rural health extension workers like Yetagesu and Abdulkadir.

LBJ signs the Economic Opportunity Act, 50 years ago today. 

"Today for the first time in all the history of the human race, a great nation is able to make and is willing to make a commitment to eradicate poverty among its people." 

-President Lyndon B. Johnson

The Act was designed to provide education, job training, health and employment counseling, and neighborhood improvements. Programs included Job Corps, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Legal Services, Upward Bound, and Head Start.

Photo: LBJ visits a Job Corps Center. 11/8/65.

-from the LBJ Library


Everything is expensive because it’s expensive. It’s a nice place to live.

(( Switzerland is expensive because: company monopolies -> sell items at high prices by law/or for more profit -> items are more expensive -> people charge more money for services -> everything is expensive!!

BUT it works only because of the general Swiss attitude toward high prices. They’re used to paying them and say ‘that’s the price of things here’.

If you want a more detailed explanation, please ask me! ))