The Bailouts for the Rich Are Why America Is So Screwed Right Now

Did they prevent a full-scale collapse? Yes. Was it necessary to do it the way we did? Not at all. (VICE)

In 1948, the architect of the post-war American suburb, William Levitt, explained the point of the housing finance system. “No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist,” he said. “He has too much to do.”

It’s worth reflecting on this quote on the ten-year anniversary of the financial crisis, because it speaks to how the architects of the bailouts shaped our culture. Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, and Hank Paulson, the three key men in charge, basically argue that the bailouts they executed between 2007 and 2009 were unfair, but necessary to preserve stability. It’s time to ask, though: just what stability did they preserve?
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Obama The Hamiltonian

Taking money from an investment bank in the form of a speaking fee is not immoral, it is eminently reasonable.(The Huffington Post)

When former President Barack Obama decided to take $400,000 from a Wall Street investment bank for the first paid speech of his post-presidential career, he accelerated an important debate within the political establishment.

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Facebook must be restructured. The FTC should take these nine steps now

If FTC commissioners truly are serious about making Facebook serve the interests of the American public, here is a set of actions they should take (The Guardian)

Since news broke that a data analysis firm with ties to the Trump campaign harvested personal information from tens of millions of Facebook users, much of the speculation has focused on whether the Federal Trade Commission will fine the corporation for violating a 2011 deal to protect user privacy.

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What is net neutrality? It protects us from corporate power

Net neutrality is a rule against censorship and manipulation. The vote to repeal it would do real damage to our democracy. (The Guardian)

This Thursday, Ajit Pai, Donald Trump’s choice to chair the Federal Communications Commission, will force a vote to repeal net neutrality protections for broadband providers. This is an important step backwards for our democracy. It will affect what consumers pay for broadband and what we can buy. More importantly, it will affect what we as citizens can say and to whom we can say it.
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Trump’s administration is right to block the AT&T and Time Warner merger

“…both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees were skeptical of the deal.” (The Washington Post)

In October 2016, the announcement that AT&T wanted to buy Time Warner helped bring some unity to a deeply divisive presidential race. The $85 billion deal aimed to combine the biggest telecom company in the country with some of the nation’s top news and entertainment producers, including HBO, TNT and CNN. Faced with the prospect of a media and data behemoth with unprecedented power over vital information, both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees were skeptical of the deal.
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Facebook, Google, and Amazon Aren’t Consumer Choices. They are Monopolies That Endanger American Democracy

Can users of what is essentially privatized social infrastructure really log off? (Tablet Magazine)

When it comes to platform monopolies, there’s a weird libertarian myth about our ability as consumers to choose our fate. If you don’t like Facebook, goes this argument, just turn it off. For Facebook, Google, or Amazon, this myth goes, it is your individual choice whether to use them. And if you choose to use these services, you are complicit in giving them your data. As the Onion put it in a recent headline, “Nothing Stopping You From Deleting Your Facebook Account Right Now.” The article concluded, “at press time, sources told reporters they were unsurprised you were too fucking weak to pull the trigger.”
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Equifax Isn’t A Data Problem. It’s A Political Problem.

The credit reporting debate we should be having. (Huffington Post)

Here’s a simple thought experiment to understand how the use of data has changed America. If The Great Gatsby were written today, it would be a one-page story about a rich guy who lied a lot and threw great parties until someone ran a credit check. That’s what the ability to instantly access and exchange personal data has done: It has reordered the very notion of identity. No one is a stranger anymore, at least not when it comes to credit relationships.
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Lords of Misrule

How the legal profession became Wall Street’s helpmeet. (The Baffler)

In 1937, future Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson gave a toast at the New York State Bar Association on the civic responsibilities of the legal profession. “No other people have submitted so generally to lawyer leadership,” he said. Yet, he argued, “There is no constitutional protection for our lawyer monopoly.” Jackson was referring, in a tone of populist outrage, to the new wave of big law firms that were then vehemently opposing Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and its crackdown on Wall Street in the wake of the 1929 crash. “We must rely solely on the record of a trust well fulfilled to perpetuate lawyer control.” Jackson was the last Supreme Court Justice not to graduate from law school, and he hated the corruption of the craft of lawyering via the growth of corporate law, centered then in the American Bar Association. Jackson believed that the professionalization of the law and the resulting priority of financial over ethical considerations among lawyers have been toxic for American democracy.

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Return of Monopoly

With Amazon on the rise and a business tycoon in the White House, can a new generation of Democrats return the party to its trust-busting roots? (The New Republic)

On July 15, 2015, Amazon marked the twentieth anniversary of its founding with a “global shopping event” called Prime Day. Over the next 24 hours, starting at midnight, the company offered special discounts every ten minutes to the 44 million users of Amazon Prime, its members-only benefit program. The event was astonishingly successful: Amazon made 34 million Prime sales that day, nearly 20 percent more than it had on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving buying bonanza. The company received almost 400 orders per second—all on a single, ordinary day in the middle of summer.
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How inequality makes our government corrupt and our democracy weak

If we want a functioning democracy, we need to pay for a functioning public sector. (The Washington Post)

On his way to an early retirement from Congress later this week, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has asked for a housing subsidy for members of Congress. “I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college and a second place here in Washington, D.C.,” he said. Chaffetz showed no indication that he cared about affordable housing when he chaired the committee that oversees the District of Columbia, and he recently mused that if families can’t afford health insurance, maybe they shouldn’t buy new iPhones; he deserves no sympathy.
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