In the News: Week of March 1st

What happened in the world from March 1st - 7th

Happy Sunday morning everyone! I hope you all had a great week.

In the news this week

Joe Biden won big on Super Tuesday, winning 10 out of 14 states, including Texas. Biden outperformed nearly all of the polls taken before Super Tuesday (mostly because a lot happened in the short window between Saturday and Tuesday, and pollsters didn’t have time to account for that). Barack Obama was the “hidden hand” meddling in the race; he spoke with Mayor Pete on the same day he dropped out of the race, and is thought to be pulling the strings behind the scenes for Biden.   

After Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden, and he secured an important endorsement from former Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, it became clear that the party establishment was interfering in the race to stop once front-runner Bernie Sanders. The results from Super Tuesday showed that it was a winning strategy, at least for the Democratic nomination. Sanders now has around a 5% chance of winning a plurality of delegates. It’s less clear if interfering in the primaries will help Biden win in November. He doesn’t appear as mentally sharp as he once was; he mixed up his sister and his wife on Tuesday, and said on Monday that “tomorrow is Super Thursday.” 

Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe and in the United States. The U.S. has 312 confirmed cases as of Saturday morning and the death toll so far is 17; Washington is the hardest-hit state with 86 cases. The University of Washington and Stanford University both announced Friday they would close their campuses until at least March 20th, the end of the winter quarter. Worldwide, there are now over 100,000 cases and 3,400 deaths. The number of new cases in China has slowed significantly, which means that drastic containment measures can potentially halt the spread of the novel virus. A flurry of huge events, including SXSW, have been recently canceled in the U.S., but more drastic measures will need to be taken to control the spread of coronavirus.

Headline of the Week: Man who licked ice cream and put it back in shop freezer jailed

I’m glad they got this one, but I wonder how many ice cream lickers are still out there, going from store-to-store, licking ice cream without any repercussions. Apparently this is a trend now, and I’ve gotta say, it couldn’t be coming at a better time. You might just get some free coronavirus with your next ice cream purchase.

Recommended Reading: A $60 Billion Housing Grab by Wall Street

Housing prices in many places have fully recovered from where they were in 2006. In many cases, though, homeowners aren’t the ones benefiting from the rise in home prices. Wall Street is.

Many Americans were pushed out of their homes in 2008 and 2009 because they lost their jobs and couldn’t pay their mortgage. Hundreds of thousands of single-family homes were scooped up during the housing crisis by giant companies to be rented out. Many of them refuse to sell because the money from renting is so good.

As you might imagine, these giant Wall Street corporations are terrible landlords. Their shareholders demand a certain level of growth year after year, which means they’re constantly inventing new ways to rip off their tenants. One tenant, Chad Ellingwood, was late for rent one month and had to pay a $50 late fee. Three days after he paid the late fee, he received another notice that he owed a $35 delivery fee for the initial late fee notice. The delivery of the second notice incurred another $35 delivery fee. 

Invitation Homes, the owner of Ellingwood’s house, was not keen on making repairs, either. He spent thousands of dollars on a new bathroom floor, and had to decide whether or not to live with mold or pay to have the problem fixed. When he complained to the company because they hadn’t fixed his shower, a representative just told him “Good thing it’s not your main shower.”

Horror stories about companies like Invitation Homes are a dime a dozen. They don’t treat tenants right because they have no motivation to do so; their only motivation is making more money for their shareholders. Not only that, they’ve stolen the dream of home ownership from millions of Americans. Even if they want to buy the home, the company often won’t let them because they can make much more money juicing them for rent money, fees, and repairs for years and years.

In 2008, the American middle class lost out. Millions lost their jobs and homes. When the housing market recovered, it was Wall Street, not the middle class, that won big. It’s funny how that tends to happen. When markets go down, corporations get bailed out but normal Americans don’t. When markets go up, corporations profit but most Americans don’t.

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