Robert Reich calls the "sharing" economy -- that economy represented by corporations such as Uber and Taskrabbit -- the "share the scraps" economy. His argument is really solid, but I also think the meme will work pretty well -- it might work less well with young people who think they're invincible (it wasn't that long ago that I was one of them!), but then even they should be impressed when writing a product description (which is actually a lot more difficult than it looks!) only gets them $3. Best line: "But the biggest economic challenge we face isn’t using people more efficiently. It’s allocating work and the gains from work more decently." "Decently" is a very well-chosen word here.
The New York Times finds observers from both parties putting the blame for Louisiana's current budget Armageddon squarely on the shoulders of outgoing Governor (and likely Presidential candidate) Bobby Jindal. Theme: as Mr. Jindal's national profile has risen, his state's financial situation has fallen, almost like that's the whole idea. And remember that tax plan Mr. Jindal says would have addressed the corporate welfare problem in his state? That was the same tax plan he had to withdraw because it would have cut income and corporate taxes and hiked sales taxes, which is a great way of being mean to working families. One hopes the Times would be as tough with Scott Walker and the mess he's made in Wisconsin, but that mess may not be apparent until after he's President.
Citizens for Tax Justice describes just how bad an idea it is to use lottery systems to raise revenues. It isn't just that "a statistically impossible number of convenience store owners and clerks have hit lottery jackpots," at least partly by lying to you about how much money you just won -- it's also (and I can't believe I didn't think of this before) that lotteries get their money almost entirely from working families. After all, the rich don't play the lottery -- well, except insofar as they've turned our entire economy into a lottery rigged for their own benefit. The even worse news, undescribed by CTJ? That states are starting to turn to casinos to raise revenue, and from guess whom? Their most vulnerable citizens.
The Straight Dope provides a pretty good rundown on issues surrounding privacy and mobile phone/tablet apps. Key points: user agreements tend to make it impossible to use the app without consenting to all kinds of privacy invasion, but the real problem is that those apps might leave your data around unencrypted -- and also, the third-party doctrine means your government can get your private data without your consent once a third party (i.e., any phone service provider) to get it, which is another matter which you've likely already given consent without really knowing it. Fixing this will be a big job, but so's anything worth doing.
Yes! magazine reminds us that Alaska residents get a piece of that state's oil revenues every year. This has been true through Democratic- and Republican-run governments. Payments to citizens aren't big enough to live high on the hog from (they range from $1,000 to $3,000), but every citizen gets the same amount, which is very, you know, democratic of them. Of course I'd like the money to come from somewhere other than oil extraction, but if there must be oil, I'd prefer it belong to the people who live where the oil comes from, and not some politician's crony corporation.
Finally, on a lighter note, Robert Moore, Jr., writes a terrific piece of satire called "I'm an Anti-Braker." You should recognize the inspiration for this satire fairly quickly, so I won't spoil it for you.