By Paul Kirk Haeder for Dissident Voice. Constitutional checks and balances were put in place to prevent citizens from succumbing to undue and unfair prosecution, and the courts have upheld many times the right of individuals who have served their time in prison to move on, move ahead. However, times have changed, and there has been a huge push to privatize prisons, and to place filing fees, court costs and even the daily maintenance, upkeep and staffing of these halls of justice on the financial backs of the accused. It’s sometimes called a punishment society, and on top of that, when we start looking at African-Americans and Latinos in this snapshot of Mass Incarceration, we have the respective stats – black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, and Latinos 2.5 times more. The cost of their crimes also increases with the color of their skin.
By Michael J. Sainato for Counter Punch – In June 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed new guidelines to protect consumers from payday loan traps. These traps help perpetuate the cycle of poverty and prey on individuals in low income communities who are unable to obtain loans from a bank. The multi-billion-dollar payday lending industry has garnered influence with both Republicans and Democrats in order to inoculate itself from legislations and reforms that could potentially hurt its profits.
By David Graeber for ROAR Magazine. So hundreds of thousands suddenly showed up. I mean, we had what — like 800 occupations at peak? Then of course came the evictions and they realize, “oh, I guess we couldn’t after all.” And after that the repression became extremely brutal and the media coverage also shifted to be just completely one-sided. But all that was really just back to normal. So the question is, why was there any sympathetic media coverage at all in those first few months? Why was there this little bubble of democracy? I think in retrospect it’s easy to see: there was a fraction of the establishment, basically the left of the Democratic Party, that thought that we were going to become their version of the Tea Party. That is, a grassroots movement that would make a lot of anti-establishment noises but ultimately play the game of raising money, running candidates again. They tried to infiltrate the media teams, set up tacit leadership structures… But eventually they figured out we were really serious. If our main complaint was that the US political system had turned into a system of legalized bribery, no, we weren’t going to join the system and try to see if we could raise enough bribes ourselves to run candidates and change that from within. Suddenly the curtain went down.
By Staff for Telesur. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in San Juan Wednesday to block the first scheduled conference on the installation of a financial control board to remedy Puerto Rico’s crippling debt crisis but slammed by critics as an anti-democratic, neo-colonial policy that will redistribute wealth from the island nation to Wall Street. Demonstrators formed protests lines and blocked roads with rocks and bricks to disrupt the conference at San Juan’s Condado Plaza Hilton. They carried signs and shouted slogans against the federal control board, whose authority will supercede that of Puerto Rico’s democratically-elected governor, effectively handing budgetary decision-making over to unelected appointees, many of them bankers. The U.S. law creating the control board, known by its acronym PROMESA, grants the oversight panel the power to cut pensions, labor contracts with civil servants, and social services, to restructure its US$73 billion debt load. Despite lines of riot police and occasional use of pepper spray, the protests managed to block conference-goers on their way to the venue and forced organizers to re-arrange the meeting agenda, local media reported.
By Staff of Telesur – Private creditors have replaced the public sector as lead borrower to developing countries, which has contributed to a new borrowing and lending boom. Private financial institutions are responsible for prompting a potential “new wave” of debt crises among developing nations, according to a new report carried out by European Think Tank Eurodad. Public debt in developing countries is increasingly being borrowed from private lenders, which the authors argue has meant that an increasing portion of credit is not effectively monitored or regulated.
By Mike Krauss for Truth Dig – So far, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton has offered a credible plan to restart the long-stalled U.S. economy. Trump favors lowering taxes to spur demand, a reduction in the supply of illegal foreign labor to boost wages, and modifying trade policy to encourage investment in U.S. manufacturing and create better-paying jobs. He also touts an unspecified infrastructure investment. Some argue that this approach will not provide jobs in the magnitude required, and will likely increase the federal deficit.
By Max Haiven for ROAR Magazine – Sunday midnight in Santurce, the old downtown working-class neighborhood of Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan which, like seemingly all such neighborhoods around the world, struggles with the uneven brutalities and gifts of gentrification. Old men sit on decaying swivel chairs outside small bars pumping local music, faded newspapers line the insides windows of shops long-shuttered by the island’s ongoing economic crisis. Yet here and there new businesses and experimental social spaces are also flourishing
By Dave Johnson for Campaign for America’s Future – I have been hounded for months by a company attempting to collect money for a gym membership that I canceled more than 15 years ago. I was paying $150 a year for the membership before I correctly canceled the membership in writing. That “fitness center” was bought by a national chain that is known for hounding people for unpaid memberships, even if the membership has been canceled and nothing is actually owed.
By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt – When then-Fed Governor Ben Bernanke gave his famous helicopter money speech to the Japanese in 2002, he was talking about something quite different from the quantitative easing they actually got and other central banks later mimicked. Quoting Milton Friedman, he said the government could reverse a deflation simply by printing money and dropping it from helicopters. A gift of free money with no strings attached, it would find its way into the real economy and trigger the demand needed to power productivity and employment.
By Sue Sturgis for Facing South, Month in which Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights group involved in the Jennings case, filed a federal class-action lawsuit alleging systemic violations of basic human and civil rights in the New Orleans legal system resulting in a modern-day debtors’ prison: 9/2015 Percent of government agencies involved in the New Orleans criminal justice system that rely on criminal convictions and high money bonds for funding:100 Under the part of the system in New Orleans that’s drawn the most public outrage, amount per felony charge a judge can assess on individual defendants to fund a judicial expense account that can pay for everything from court staff salaries to coffee: $2,000 Month in which Equal Justice Under Law and the MacArthur Justice Centerat the University of Mississippi School of Law filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Jackson, Mississippi, over a forced-labor camp and debtors’ prison used by the city: 10/2015 Amount impoverished Jackson residents are able to work off their debt per day at the Hinds County Penal Farm near Jackson: $58
By Staff of Take Part – Black students have 68.2 percent more student loan debt than white students when they graduate from college, according to a recent study by researchers at Dartmouth College. The study, published in the journal Race and Social Problems, found that black students are more likely to attend pricey, for-profit institutions, and they’re not as protected by their parents’ wealth. The average net worth of white parents is $174,841, which is nearly four times higher than the $48,494 average net worth of black parents.
By Charles Eisenstein for Local Futures – Do mortgage debtors, credit card debtors, and student loan borrowers have a moral obligation to pay back their debts? Is it unethical for debtor nations to default on their loans? Most folks, thinking themselves to be honorable people, feel a strong moral obligation to “make good” on their debts, to honor their debts, to follow through on what looks very much like a promise to repay. Today, however, a burgeoning debt resistance movement draws from the realization that many of these debts are not fair.
By Joseph Stiglitz for Project Syndicate. Today, the expectations of young people, wherever they are in the income distribution, are the opposite. They face job insecurity throughout their lives. On average, many college graduates will search for months before they find a job – often only after having taken one or two unpaid internships. And they count themselves lucky, because they know that their poorer counterparts, some of whom did better in school, cannot afford to spend a year or two without income, and do not have the connections to get an internship in the first place. Today’s young university graduates are burdened with debt – the poorer they are, the more they owe. So they do not ask what job they would like; they simply ask what job will enable them to pay their college loans, which often will burden them for 20 years or more.
By Zach Cartwright for US Uncut. United States – Cities, counties, and states are all hemorrhaging hundreds of billions, and possibly even trillions of dollars a year in banking fees. The root cause of this extortion has been ignored, until now. The Public Banking Institute’s (PBI) What Wall Street Costs America project is shining light on the fact that fees paid to private Wall Street banks simply for managing accounts for state and local tax dollars is bankrupting communities across the country. The combined total for all 50 states may be as high as $4 trillion. United States – Cities, counties, and states are all hemorrhaging hundreds of billions, and possibly even trillions of dollars a year in banking fees. The root cause of this extortion has been ignored, until now. The Public Banking Institute’s (PBI) What Wall Street Costs America project is shining light on the fact that fees paid to private Wall Street banks simply for managing accounts for state and local tax dollars is bankrupting communities across the country. The combined total for all 50 states may be as high as $4 trillion. PBI has launched a crowdfunding campaign to find the true cost of what private Wall Street banks really cost in major cities in all 50 states: 1pbi “The latest banking collapse cost people their lives, their homes, their educations, their futures. What we have been seeing is that Wall Street extracts hundreds of billions of dollars of our taxpayer money used for our public needs. That’s not necessary,” PBI board chair Walt McRee told US Uncut. “We don’t need to borrow their money for public needs.”