Collection companies and the services they offer appeal to politicians and public officials for a number of reasons: they cut government costs, reducing the need to raise taxes; they shift the burden onto offenders, who have little political influence, in part because many of them have lost the right to vote; and it pleases taxpayers who believe that the enforcement of punishment — however obtained — is a crucial dimension to the administration of justice.
As N.P.R. reported in May, services that “were once free, including those that are constitutionally required,” are now frequently billed to offenders: the cost of a public defender, room and board when jailed, probation and parole supervision, electronic monitoring devices, arrest warrants, drug and alcohol testing, and D.N.A. sampling. This can go to extraordinary lengths: in Washington state, N.P.R. found, offenders even “get charged a fee for a jury trial — with a 12-person jury costing $250, twice the fee for a six-person jury.”
This new system of offender-funded law enforcement creates a vicious circle: The poorer the defendants are, the longer it will take them to pay off the fines, fees and charges; the more debt they accumulate, the longer they will remain on probation or in jail; and the more likely they are to be unemployable and to become recidivists.
When someone declares how impartial they are, I am immediately suspicious. It often means they report what I would call the authorised received wisdom. For example, when Tony Blair invaded Iraq, BBC reporters lined up to declare his actions “vindicated”. They called that “impartial”. To point out that Blair was a liar was committed journalism. It’s actually Orwellian, as in “war is peace”.
Of course, there are some first rate journalism colleges - or rather first-rate teachers within the system - but generally academic journalism has achieved obedience to a set of assumptions that young journalists ought to be challenging. Too often the media courses are factories, supplying corporate fodder. Young journalists ought to be taught they are agents of people, not power. Too many graduate believing a cynicism about their readers and viewers ordains them as journalists: the Murdoch view.
Here is a brief excerpt from an article today by the amazing team of Pam and Russ Martens at Wall Street On Parade titled, Are U.S. Markets Liquid and Deep or Rigged and Broken? I suggest you read the entire article when you have the opportunity as this is just a snippet.
"…the SEC which oversees stock exchanges has allowed both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq to create a bifurcated market. The unsophisticated investor is given trading data on which to base trading decisions on a slow data feed called the Securities Information Processor or SIP. The SIP is not only slow in getting the data to the technology-challenged investor, but it has limited data.
For the rich and powerful on Wall Street who can afford massive fees, there is another data feed offered by the exchanges called the Direct Feed. The Direct Feed data, which has far more useful information, arrives in the hands of High Frequency Traders and Wall Street’s proprietary traders ahead of the arrival of the SIP data. This allows the Direct Feed users to buy a stock on the cheap and sell the stock back to the SIP user at a higher price…
The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, which also have a mandated regulatory role to ensure that their markets are fair and non-discriminatory, have allowed the two-tiered market to exist because they are collecting hundreds of millions of dollars a year selling the SIP to the dumb money and the Direct Feed to the smart money…”
For someone that is not drinking the daily dose of electronic kool aid from the mainstream media, this is a systemic, institutionalized control fraud that inevitably leads to a financial crisis. And a close survey of the markets today might lead one to observe, ‘My God. These lunatics are going to do it again.’
Uber is arming teams of independent contractors with burner phones and credit cards as part of its sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors. Interviews with current and former contractors, along with internal documents obtained by The Verge, outline the company’s evolving methods. Using contractors it calls “brand ambassadors,” Uber requests rides from Lyft and other competitors, recruits their drivers, and takes multiple precautions to avoid detection. The effort, which Uber appears to be rolling out nationally, has already resulted in thousands of canceled Lyft rides and made it more difficult for its rival to gain a foothold in new markets. Uber calls the program “SLOG,” and it’s a previously unreported aspect of the company’s ruthless efforts to undermine its competitors.
Since at least mid-summer, some Uber brand ambassadors in New York have been turning their talents against Lyft. Using Uber-provided iPhones and credit cards, the contractors hail rides, strike up conversations with their drivers, and attempt to sign them up before they arrive at their destination. (In other cities recruiters travel with “driver kits” that include iPhones and everything else a driver needs to get started on Uber; ambassadors were told New York State does not allow this.) Compensation varies, but contractors can earn a $750 commission for successfully recruiting a single new driver to Uber, according to a contractor.
San Francisco is quickly adding residents, but very few cars.
Between 2000 and 2012, the city has seen a net increase of 11,139 households, and 88 percent of them have been car-free. That’s according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by Michael Rhodes, a transportation planner at Nelson\Nygaard and a former Streetsblog reporter. One net result of this shift is that the proportion of San Francisco households who own zero cars increased from 28.6 percent in 2000 to 31.4 percent in 2012, the fifth-highest rate among large American cities.
The stats show that the city’s average car ownership rate is declining, even as the population is growing. The data don’t distinguish where specific households are forgoing cars, so this doesn’t necessarily mean that the residents of all the new condo buildings going up are car-free. But the broader effect is reverberating throughout the city, whether car-free residents are moving in where car-owning residents previously lived, or residents are selling their cars.
“A lot of people who are moving here are choosing it because it’s a place you can get around without a car,” said Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich. “People will self-select. If convenience for an automobile is their criterion, there’s a lot of places in the city and elsewhere” to live.