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Debtors prison

Remember when that was all just a distant memory?

NPR just ran a story called “Unpaid Bills Land Some Debtors Behind Bars.” As they report, ”Here’s how it happens: A company will often sell off its debt to a collection agency, generally called a creditor. That creditor files a lawsuit against the debtor requiring a court appearance. A notice to appear in court is supposed to be given to the debtor. If they fail to show up, a warrant is issued for their arrest.” Marie Diamond has more.

This is increasingly common across the country. My colleagues Matt Stoller and Bryce Covert have both written about debtors being jailed for failure to appear in court. Debtors’ prisons are illegal, and some point out that this is really jail for a summons problem, not a payment. But I haven’t had a full vision of the practice until I read this excellent working paper by Lea Shepherd of Loyola Chicago law school, “Creditors Contempt” (h/t creditslips). Beyond laying out the problems with the current system, which gives a disproportionate amount of the coercive powers of the state to creditors, this paper also has implications for another topic I’m interested in — the class bias of the submerged state.
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Hallelujah corporations

PA redistricting maps

Looks like they re-drew the 7th district house by house to protect Rep. Pat Meehan — that is, house by white house. Doesn’t look like there’s one black vote to pester him in his new district! I’m sure he’s much more comfortable that way.

Dance the world awake

Occupy SF and Oakland:

The real unemployment rate

How can we tell?


Does anyone still care what TIME thinks about anything? Didn’t think so.


Russ Baker points out a series of “small, strange threats” to Obama. Hmm.

The passion of the newly converted

Whether Jack Abramoff really believes the things he now says, I can’t say. But he’s cooperated fully with the feds, and he’s certainly spelling out what’s wrong with the system. Here he is on Cenk Uygur last night:

Protecting PA voters from legitimate votes

Your Pennsylvania Republicans, working to keep you from voting:

In the wake of the 2010 elections,numerous GOPcontrolled states have adopted so-called “voter ID” laws to target the entirely fabricated problem of in-person voter fraud. Such voter fraud is so uncommon that a voter is 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to actually commit fraud at the polls. Yet because these laws also disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters in demographics that tend to support Democrats, they have become the darling of GOP lawmakers.

So it is much more disappointing than surprising that Pennsylvania’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is now pressuring lawmakers in his state to enact one of these vote suppressing laws, despite the fact that a top GOP lawmaker admits that there is no proof that these vote suppressing laws are needed:

Republicans continued Monday to press legislation to require Pennsylvanians to show photo identification before they vote, despite resistance from Democrats who say it is intended to suppress turnout of poor and black voters and Republicans acknowledging they lack proof of voter fraud.

Senate State Government Committee Chairman Charles McIlhinney said he has seen no proof that people are casting illegal ballots, but he also said he’s seen no proof that tightening the requirements would deny anyone the right to vote. He called the requirement a “security check.”

“It was put upon us and asked for by the governor and by the House, who passed the bill, and they asked me to take it up,” McIlhinney, R-Bucks, said after the committee vote. “I made the changes based upon what I felt I would accept to come out of the committee.”

So the GOP has no evidence whatsoever that voter fraud exists in Pennsylvania, yet they are pushing this bill through anyway. Sadly, America has seen this movie before.

The book of jobs

Joseph Stiglitz in Vanity Fair:

Forget monetary policy. Re-examining the cause of the Great Depression—the revolution in agriculture that threw millions out of work—the author argues that the U.S. is now facing and must manage a similar shift in the “real” economy, from industry to service, or risk a tragic replay of 80 years ago.

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