The Americans Civil Liberties Union on Friday revealed that courts in Ohio are illegally throwing poor people in jail for being unable to pay off a debt.
In a report titled, “The Outskirts of Hope,” (PDF) the ACLU shines a light on a harrowing “debtors’ prison” system in Ohio — one that violates both the United States’ and the Ohio constitution. Ohioans are being jailed for “as small as a few hundred dollars,” despite the constitutional violation, and the economic evidence that it costs the state more to pay for their jail sentence than the amount of the debt.
You don’t have to be a Tea Party conservative to believe that the economy is threatened when there are too many “takers” and not enough “makers.” The “takers” who threaten the dynamism and fairness of industrial capitalism the most in the 21st century are not the welfare-dependent poor — the villains of Tea Party propaganda — but the rent-extracting, unproductive rich.
The term “rent” in this context refers to more than payments to your landlords. As Mike Konczal and many others have argued, profits should be distinguished from rents. “Profits” from the sale of goods or services in a free market are different from “rents” extracted from the public by monopolists in various kinds. Unlike profits, rents tend to be based on recurrent fees rather than sales to ever-changing consumers. While productive capitalists — “industrialists,” to use the old-fashioned term — need to be active and entrepreneurial in order to keep ahead of the competition, “rentiers” (the term for people whose income comes from rents, rather than profits) can enjoy a perpetual stream of income even if they are completely passive.
Occupy Wall Street offshoot, Strike Debt, announced Friday that it has abolished $1.1 million in medical debt for more than 1,000 people.
The protest group did this by buying emergency room debts for pennies on the dollar and then simply forgiving them rather than trying to collect the money, Strike Debt said in a statement.
When a bank, lender or other company, like a hospital, is unable to collect on a debt, it typically sells it to debt buyers or collectors — often at a much lower price than the original amount owed since the odds of collecting the money are low. Whoever buys the debt then attempts to get the money from the debtor.
Very cool but still just projectism. They should be using money to get occupy sympathizers elected. I mean the Tea Party has managed to get over 50 people in office and Occupy has, what, Elizabeth Warren? Don’t get me wrong, she does a lot for the movement but she can only do so much.
The minimum wage would be $16.50 an hour — $33,000 a year — if it had kept up with the growth of productivity since 1968. To put the effect of this a different way, 40 percent of Americans now make less than the 1968 minimum wage, had the minimum wage kept pace with productivity gains.
To put this even another way, the average American’s living standard would be much, much higher today if wages had not decoupled from productivity gains – with the gains all going to the 1 percent instead of being shared by workers. If wages had kept pace we wouldn’t feel the terrible squeeze that everyone in the middle class is feeling.
Between 2006 and 2008, Durán had falsely identified himself and his intentions in obtaining 68 personal and commercial loans from 39 different banks for a total value of 492,000 euors. Before the judge, Durán confessed that a significant portion of the money had been donated to social movements that he refused to identify, and the rest he spent on the publication of 300,000 copies of two editions of a magazine called “Crisis,” denouncing the inner workings of the global financial system.
Over the last decade (and especially during the last four years) wealthy nations have increasingly brokered deals for huge swathes of agricultural land at bargain prices in developing countries, installed industrial-scale farms, and exported the resulting bounty for profit. According to the anti-hunger group Oxfam International, more than 60 percent of these “land grabs” occur in regions with serious hunger problems. Two-thirds of the investors plan to ship all the commodities they produce out of the country to the global market. And droughts, spikes in food and oil prices, and a growing global population have only made the quest for arable land more urgent, and the investments that much more alluring.
In what a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) characterizes as a “new form of colonialism,” investors from the US, UK, and China are gobbling up foreign farmland at “alarming rates” and often with little consultation and compensation of poor small-scale farmers and local populations.
It’s not necessarily all doom and gloom. These industrial farms should be much more productive than the ones they’re pushing out, it should lower global food prices and may provide new revenue for the local governments. Who knows? Those governments might even spend it on improving infrastructure if they don’t just pocket it. But then the question is do these people even have access to global markets so they can benefit from lower food prices? And if they don’t now will that change in the future if the governments do begin to develop? And of course there’s all the disadvantages of industrial farming (environmental degradation and the growth of stronger viruses and bacteria).