Harvard Study: 60% of Bankruptcies Caused by Health Problems

A new study finds that more than 60% of personal bankruptcies in the United States in 2007 were caused by health-care costs associated with a major illness. That’s a 50% increase in the number of bankruptcies blamed on medical expenses since a similar study in 2001.

In an article published in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, the results of the first-ever national random-sample survey of bankruptcy filers shows that illnesses and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of bankruptcies.

Consumer Affairs, Truman Lewis

This bunk bed is $1,200 a month, privacy not included – CNN

Housing costs have become so expensive in some cities that people are renting bunk beds in a communal home for $1,200 a month. Not a bedroom. A bed.

PodShare is trying to help make up for the shortage of affordable housing in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles by renting dormitory-style lodging and providing tenants a co-living experience.

A PodShare membership allows you to snag any of the 220 beds — or pods — at six locations across Los Angeles and one in San Francisco. There’s no deposit and no commitment. You get a bed, a locker, access to wifi and the chance to meet fellow “pod-estrians.” Each pod includes a shelf and a personal television. Food staples, like cereal and ramen, and toiletries like toothpaste and toilet paper, are also included.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/05/success/podshare-co-living/index.html

 

Supercommuter

FOUR DAYS A week Andy Ross travels—by car, train, and bus—120 miles from his home in Auburn, California, to his job at a bank in San Francisco. His eight-hour round-trip typically begins at 6 a.m. He’ll be at his desk by 10, having begun work earlier on his laptop. He leaves the office by 4 p.m. and arrives home about 8.

Ross became a “supercommuter” eight years ago, after he left a tech business and took the bank job. He joined nearly 105,000 people who spend at least 90 minutes getting to jobs in the Bay Area. Ross and his wife kept their four-bedroom home in Auburn rather than move to San Francisco, where the median price is $1.4 million—more than three times that in Auburn. “I love working at my job. As a result, I’m now doing this crazy commute,” he says. “There are a lot more of us long-haul commuters” than a decade ago.

National Geographic April 2019 edition

Working conditions of movie theater janitors

The major chains — AMC, Regal Entertainment and Cinemark — no longer rely on teenage ushers to keep the floors from getting sticky. Instead, they have turned to a vast immigrant workforce, often hired through layers of subcontractors. That arrangement makes it almost impossible for janitors to make a living wage.

Alvarez got hurt on the job, and a doctor recommended a lighter workload. When she made that request in April 2015, she was fired. The following year, she filed a California Labor Commission claim for unpaid wages, including overtime. The hearing officer awarded her $80,000 in back pay and penalties. But Alvarez could not collect. She did not work directly for AMC or its janitorial contractor, ACS Enterprises, which shielded them from liability. Instead, she worked for a couple — Alfredo Dominguez and Caritina Diaz — who had not even shown up to the hearing.

Even Dominguez and Diaz didn’t consider her an actual employee. In their minds, she was a contractor of a contractor of a contractor of AMC Theatres. AMC and ACS did send an attorney to fight her wage claim. In the end, the companies agreed to pay her $3,500 to go away.

Over the last eight months, Variety has investigated wage complaints from movie theater janitors across the country, reviewing class-action lawsuits, state labor commission records and investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor. A clear pattern emerged: AMC and other theater chains keep their costs down by relying on janitorial contractors that use subcontracted labor. Those janitors typically have no wage or job protections, toiling on one of the lowest rungs of the U.S. labor market.

After Rob Winters was barred from California, ACS took over many of his accounts, including the Regal theater at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. Working conditions remained much the same, says Georgina Hernandez, who was a janitor there. She worked seven days a week, sometimes 10-11 hours a day, and was paid $400 a week. She quit after two years and took a job cleaning offices.

How America’s Biggest Theater Chains Are Exploiting Their Janitors, Variety, GENE MADDAUS

Why America’s New Apartment Buildings All Look the Same

Cheap stick framing has led to a proliferation of blocky, forgettable mid-rises—and more than a few construction fires.

Labor Day podcast episode on where the labor movement is now

http://radioopensource .org/a-new-labor-movement/

It’s Labor Day week 2018, and “The American Worker” doesn’t fit any single poster shot. Is it the Uber driver – working flex time in the ‘gig’ economy, for a magic dispatcher of taxis around the world? Is it the brainiac Google engineers insisting to their CEO that “we need to know what we’re building?” In a gilded, globalized, unequal economy of work today, the old industrial unions are almost gone. But suddenly non-union professionals feeling dealt out of pay and power are shouting, we’re workers, too, and forming unions: graduate students at great universities, magazine writers at the ritzy New Yorker. Prisoners, too, and sex workers, coming out of the shadows to claim rights, and respect, as workers, with skills, thank you. Plus hospital nurses and public school teachers coast to coast.

The midterm measure of the American mood in Trump-time may well turn out to be not – or not just – the off-year House and Senate election scorecard, but the work-place turbulence all over the map this year. Workers who never organized before – in grad schools, in media, in sex work, in prisons – are talking solidarity. And notice the word “strike” is back in circulation, inspired maybe by the furious telemarketers in the seriously funny fantasy film, Sorry to Bother You. In the movie they shout “Phones down!” In real Boston, this week, housekeepers in three Marriott-owned hotels downtown could soon be shouting “Mops down!” in their fight for a new contract.

We’re in the work-place, not the political arena, this hour, though of course they’re connected as soon as workers say it’s all about the power of the corporate class, a fight about places at the table and restoring an idea of people-power democracy.

 

Residential Architecture

Patchwork Quilt-ism?

This building is in Denver, on Broadway and just south of I-25. The boxiness is fine, the color scheme chaps my hide though. Loud and inharmonious. Reminds me of the old orange roof on Howard Johnson’s. Least that had the justification of letting people know there’s some place to eat.

20180824_184236

WBUR is on it ->

In cities like Seattle, Boston, Denver and Charlotte, new “luxury” condos and apartment buildings are going up to meet demand for new housing. But many of these buildings look like simple, plain boxes.

Those ‘Luxury’ Condos Look A Little Drab

Living Wage Calculator – MIT

Families and individuals working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to meet minimum standards given the local cost of living. We developed a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region based on typical expenses. The tool helps individuals, communities, and employers determine a local wage rate that allows residents to meet minimum standards of living. 

Living Wage for DenverlivingwageDenver

Zhengzhou / iPhone City

It all centers on Zhengzhou, a city of six million people in an impoverished region of China. Running at full tilt, the factory here, owned and operated by Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn, can produce 500,000 iPhones a day. Locals now refer to Zhengzhou as “iPhone City.”

A 32-gigabyte iPhone 7 costs an estimated $400 to produce. It retails for roughly $649 in the United States, with Apple taking a piece of the difference as profit. The result: Apple manages to earn 90 percent of the profits in the smartphone industry worldwide, even though it accounts for only 12 percent of the sales, according to Strategy Analytics, a research firm.

They file steadily into dozens of factory sites, spread out across 2.2 square miles. At the peak, some 350,000 workers assemble, test and package iPhones — up to 350 a minute.
Apple’s labor force, the size of a national army, relies heavily on the generosity of the Zhengzhou government.
As part of its deal with Foxconn, the state recruits, trains and houses employees. Provincial officials call townships and villages to ask for help finding potential worker


NY TIMES December 2016

Facebook & Funny Or Die

Last month, in its second round of layoffs in as many years, comedy hub Funny or Die reportedly eliminated its entire editorial team following a trend of comedy websites scaling back, shutting down, or restructuring their business model away from original online content.
Hours after CEO Mike Farah delivered the news via an internal memo, Matt Klinman took to Twitter, writing, “Mark Zuckerberg just walked into Funny or Die and laid off all my friends.” It was a strong sentiment for the longtime comedy creator, who started out at UCB and The Onion before launching Pitch, the Funny or Die-incubated joke-writing app, in 2017.
But Klinman explained in a thread: “There is simply no money in making comedy online anymore. Facebook has completely destroyed independent digital comedy and we need to fucking talk about it.”

Article on Splitsider. (long)

Gentrification 2018

Are we in another bubble? I remember 2008. I see a lot of places for rent and for sale that I don’t see a lot of people being able to afford. Maybe I’m not getting it.

Here’s how it looks in Somerville, Massachusetts.

For a century and more, Somerville was a working-class neighborhood bordering Cambridge. The city is still populated with a dense mix of blue-collar workers and recent immigrants, all living in together in red-brick and clapboard three-decker housing. It also provided many affordable, off-campus rooms and apartments to Tufts, Harvard, and MIT students as well as artists, writers, and radicals. Today, it’s dealing with the aftershocks of a boom in biotech and the knowledge economy that’s now rippling out from post-rent-control Cambridge. That bloom of wealth and demand is pushing premium jobs and rocketing rents into neighboring Somerville, a place where suddenly everybody wants to live and a lot of proud residents can no longer afford.

via Open Source with Christopher Lydon