A Modern-Day Debtor’s Prison in Pennsylvania

Emma Jacobs looks at a "modern-day debtor's prison" in Montgomery County, Pa. where a judge is sending people to jail for being unable to pay fines. Vic Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania told Jacobs: "What is perfectly clear under both the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure is that you cannot send someone to jail if they cannot afford to pay the fine, because that's the equivalent of having a debtor's prison — of putting someone in jail simply because they're poor." Records show that each day in jail was worth about $40 towards their fines, but taxpayers are ultimately paying for it.

“It’s Only Because There’s a Fire That You Even Know About This”

The quote is from Hammond, Indiana city attorney Kristina Kantar talking about a fire that killed three children during a cold snap. The family's rental power had been cut after they failed to pay their electric bill; it is suspected that propane heaters started the blaze.

The Power of Positive Thinking (When You’re White)

This Jen Dziura piece, "When Life Hacking Is Really White Privilege" is definitely worth reading. As a bonus, it is mostly about the money guru dude James Altucher -- our friend from yesterday who said he felt poor because he had ten million dollars instead of 100 million.

Jay, in Front of the Church on Broadway

Jay was leaning against the fence in front of the church on Broadway, holding out a plastic coffee cup, asking for change. He was in socked feet and blue booties, the kind that would wrap around a cast or a sprained ankle. He was standing on a thin piece of styrofoam, and had a shopping bag and a backpack on the ground text to him. I stopped and said, hello, and he smiled a huge smile that I wasn't expecting.

On “Marrying Down”

A Practical Wedding has a post by a woman named Rachel who talks about dealing with a thing you wouldn't think was a thing anymore except of course it is for some people: being a woman and marrying someone who is less educated than you, and/or makes a lot less money.

The Working-Class Heroes of Figure Skating

Please tell me you've already read Sarah Marshall's Believer essay about Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Okay I'm glad we are all on the same page.

Vlad in the Snow on Broadway

Vlad was sitting under a small awning on Broadway, a green duffel bag next to him. His cardboard sign said, "Homeless Help Please," and there was a smiley face that he'd spent some time on in the corner. It was freezing and snowing.

A People’s Court That Fails The People

Kat Aaron at the American Prospect has a fascinating/devastating profile of Detroit's 36th District Court, one of many civil courts in Detroit, and across the country, that are underfunded and failing their citizens. Civil court, as Aaron puts it, "is where the problems of income inequality and unaffordable housing and low wages and unemployment and poor education play out."

Definitions of Class for an Uncertain Future

Douglas Coupland, who writes a fortnightly discussions about culture and money for the Financial Times, talked to assembly-line workers who were working at a Shanghai factory producing internet routers, and asked them what class they believed they belonged to. They were unable to provide him with an answer. This got Coupland thinking about how we might think about class in the future, and he put together a (facetious) list. (i.e. jeudism: "In the future, every day of the week will be a Thursday. We’re all working to the grave, and life will be one perpetual fast food job of the soul. The weekend? Gone. And we all pretty much know it in our bones.")

A Look at One Homeless Man’s Life in San Francisco

Priceonomics talked to a homeless man in San Francisco named Nathaniel who has been on the streets for 15 years. Logan has been on this beat here in NYC, but it's good to look at how the homeless navigate the streets in other cities.

Poverty in America

The New York Times's 22,000-word piece about Dasani, an 11-year-old who is part of an "invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America" has been making the rounds on the internet, and yes, is most definitely worth reading.

My Third Shift Mom

My mother worked the third shift because my father had a high school diploma and she didn’t, and he could land a job that conceded the importance of sunlight while she was stuck with whatever her employers deemed fitting.