Did you know that 49 states have the ability to bill prisoners for their stay when they get out? And 46 states can put you back in jail for failing to pay your five-digit "debt" to the state. I put "debt" in quotation marks for a reason: you pay your actual debt to society by serving your sentence. And if you get saddled with a $50,000 bill for the cost of incarcerating you, you'll almost certainly never make enough to pay it back (most criminals can't find work as banksters, after all). You can't work it off in prison, either, and certainly not at 50 cents an hour. But wait, there's more! The problem is even worse in states that have privatized their prisons. What a racket!
Ho hum, our President said that tax "reform" would bring $5 trillion back into America -- from corporations that stashed it overseas and pretended it was money made in foreign countries -- but a mere $147 billion has come back. Nobody could have predicted that, given the choice between paying a low percentage on their "foreign" profits and no percentage, corporations would choose the latter! Well, except anyone who thought about it. You like how our politicians act like there's just no way to make corporations pay the taxes they owe? Even though they routinely kill bills that would do that? (And, in a peripherally-related note, Administration economic advisor Larry Kudlow tells the Economic Club of New York that it'll be time to go after Medicare and Social Security after the midterms -- you know, since tax "reform" blew another hole in the budget, not that Mr. Kudlow will say that. His statement is, of course, a Democrat ad that writes itself, and thus a Democrat ad we're not terribly likely to see.)
Michigan's reactionary state legislature passes a paid sick leave law which also makes the minimum wage the same for tipped workers as for everyone else -- but labor activists aren't celebrating. Both of these initiatives were going to go before the voters in November, but now that the legislature has passed them, they're not -- and the legislature can now change the law with a simple majority, instead of the three-quarters supermajority they'd need to overturn laws passed via ballot initiatives. You know how politicians talk about "polishing this turd" when they support bills they know aren't perfect? Well, this is kinda the opposite of that. You might even call it "turding" a bill.
Lisa Song and Al Shaw at ProPublica inform us that Hurricane Florence is very likely to destroy homes that have already collected federally-funded flood insurance payments. And naturally climate change is going to make all that much, much worse. Remember that time John Stossel all but admitted he built a house on the beach so he could collect flood insurance payments? Good times! Seriously, you can't tell people where to live, but it seems to me you can tell developers where to build.
Verizon ends its membership in the notorious American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC) because of its association with the notorious David Horowitz. You may well be asking, as I did, "Stand Your Ground didn't do it, Voter ID didn't do it, climate change denialism didn't do it, but David Horowitz did?" Mr. Horowitz has, after all, been a sort of ambulance chaser of right-wing causes for decades. But, yeah, he says profoundly ugly crap that's unworthy of a civilized people. And anyway I'll take a hit to ALEC's pocketbook however I can get it.
Finally, Fareed Zakaria takes to the Washington Post an alleged "Threat to Democracy -- From the Left." How has this threat manifested itself? Well, two colleges disinvited right-wing speakers three years apart, the New Yorker changed its mind about having Steve Bannon on a panel last month, Roy Innis never got to debate William Shockley about racism in 1974 though he really really wanted to, and John Stuart Mill and Oliver Wendell Holmes said things about freedom of speech. Really, that's the whole argument. Here's a better, shorter one: the First Amendment only protects you from your government; it does not guarantee a public audience for your views, nor does it guarantee a reputation as a public intellectual. Even if one of our papers of record routinely prints your ramblings.