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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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."
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.")
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.