31. January 2024 · Comments Off on Civic Action Tapback – January 31, 2024 · Categories: Announcements


It checks out that big banks are bitterly opposed to new regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would limit how much they can charge customers in overdraft fees. After all, banks take in more than $8 billion a year in consumer fees, and they are pretty much always going to oppose constraints on their profits.

But it’s not obvious how anyone else could try and make it sound like there are legitimate reasons for companies with trillions of dollars in assets to price gouge people who temporarily run out of money before their next paycheck. So, credit of a sort to Megan McArdle, who writes in the Washington Post that “Capping overdraft fees could actually hurt poor families.” And while that’s a standard piece of corporate bullshit, it does imply something curious: that high overdraft fees help the very people they’re intended to hurt. So really what we have here is an openly sadist approach to income inequality and consumer protection in the pages of one of the most influential newspapers in the country.

Make it make sense.

U.S. households pay more than half of their income to their landlords in the form of rent. Housing is generally considered affordable if it costs less than one-third of your income. 

were laid off from Microsoft’s videogame division soon after the company closed its purchase of Activision Blizzard. When the purchase was first announced, the then-CEO of the acquired company assured employees that “the transition is going to be smooth because [Microsoft is] committed to trying to retain as many of our people as possible.”

would be reaped each year by billionaire Charles Koch if a proposed new flat income tax is implemented by the state of Kansas. The Republican Speaker of the State House said the law was “purposely designed to primarily help those who are on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.”

A lot of us like to assume that  political debates about budgets and spending are primarily debates about issues, priorities, and economics. Commentators often write about this stuff as battles of ideas, taking it as a given that people analyze these questions according to how they land on an ideological spectrum. And on some matters, that might very well be true.

But sometimes it’s just words. Debates about “welfare” have played an important role in American politics, at least since President Reagan went after “welfare queens” and then President Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it.” And as the chart below highlights, “welfare” remains highly unpopular: just 30% of Americans tell pollsters we should spend more on “welfare.” But instead ask if we should spend more money on “assistance to the poor” — quite literally welfare by another name — and you find overwhelming 71% support.

Much has already been written about the multiple failures of Boeing management which led to their latest round of serious safety and quality control issues. And given the company’s recent history, which includes $60 billion in stock buybacks, two headquarters moves, and intense lobbying for exemptions from safety rules, many more deep dives and analyses of archival documents remain ahead. 

But amidst all this well-considered hindsight, it’s quite extraordinary to revisit the foresight shown in this article — published about a month before the Alaska door plug incident — which examines concerns about Boeing’s practice of conducting self-inspections on quality issues. The piece details how the strong commitment of front-line workers to high-quality work has been repeatedly undermined by management decisions aimed at maximizing short-term profits. And strikingly, in a discussion of why independent safety inspections matter, an example is offered which is remarkably prescient given the events that followed: namely, how to confirm that bolts are tightened to specifications.

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