Bankruptcy is sort of a relief valve for the economy. When financial pressure (debt) builds up to a certain point, the relief valve opens and people use bankruptcy to discharge their debt. Then, they go back to being consumers and the economy can return to a healthy state. There are other relief valves, of course, but bankruptcy is really the only one available to consumers. Bailouts are for too-big-to-fail banks, not the little guy.
If consumers cannot declare bankruptcy, they cannot go back to being consumers. That means the pressure stays high and the economy has trouble returning to a healthy state.
Two weeks ago, it was big news when a Salt Lake City school took lunches away from students when their card was declined at the register. (Students at many schools use a card to buy lunches, and parents are responsible for depositing money to the student’s lunch card account through the school’s website.)
It turns out that many Minnesota schools do the same thing. According to the StarTribune:
A majority of public school districts in this state deny hot lunch — or any lunch at all in some cases — to children who can’t pay for them. Some schools take the meals from students in the lunch line and dump them in the trash when the computer shows a deficit in their lunch accounts.
A “child-nutrition manager” in Salt-Lake City, notified of an unusually-large number of students who owed money for lunch at Uintah Elementary School, came up with a brilliant plan: take away their lunches. Students with delinquent school-lunch accounts went through the lunch line as usual, but when their card was declined at the register, the lunch-room staff tossed their meal in the trash.
Several parents told the Salt Lake Tribune that they were not notified that they owed money for their children’s lunches. It doesn’t seem like anyone was notified that their children would have their lunches taken away from them, either. The school has said it is “currently investigating to see if [notification] guidelines were followed correctly.”
Update: TMZ says Prince has withdrawn the lawsuit. According to his lawyer, “Because of the recent pressure, the bootleggers have now taken down the illegal downloads and are no longer engaging in piracy.” So all he wanted was the injunction, not the damages, apparently.
Prince is well-known for aggressively enforcing his copyright, so this is no surprise. This time, the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Know As Prince has sued 22 Facebook users for posting links to bootlegs of his concerts on Facebook, blogs, and elsewhere. (Here is the complaint.) The defendants have usernames like PurpleHouse2, PurpleKissTwo, and FunkyExperienceFour, making it look like Prince is suing some of his biggest fans.
The Minnesota interest rate for debts due to overdrawn bank accounts is 6%. Bradstreet & Associates was trying to charge 21.75%. According to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson,
Since 2009, Bradstreet and its predecessor company bought at least $18 million in debt that originated with Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank. This affects, we believe, at least 16,000 Minnesota consumers.
McDonald’s had published an etiquette guide on a company website full of advice from Emily Post on how families should tip their help during the holidays. If you were a McDonald’s worker with a pool cleaner, a personal trainer, or massage therapist, corporate had you covered.
For more budgeting advice from McDonald’s, here’s my earlier post with more ridiculous McDonald’s budgeting tips
Pretty striking. Can we all agree this is a problem, even if we can’t all agree on the solution?
At the Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal explains how retailers use “retail price” to make it look like you are getting a good deal. At Macy’s, for example:
“‘Regular’ and ‘Original’ prices are offering prices that may not have resulted in actual sales, and some ‘Original’ prices may not have been in effect during the past 180 days,” it read (emphasis added).
Before you click the buy button on what seems to be a good deal, make sure you look for the same product at other retailers. Don’t trust the retailer to give you an honest “sale.”