Robinhood and r/WallStreetBets blur the line between investing and gambling.

Edit: This story was updated on September 22 to reflect additional events related to XpressSpa.

Stock market speculation has always resembled something of a casino. Great excitement for quick riches is often met with even greater disappointment. These days, we know it best by the “infinite leverage” glitch of Robinhood and nihilistic chaos of Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets. But five years prior to either Robinhood or WSB, there was just StockTwits, a social media-esque platform where each stock has its own “cashtag” message board, with users marking themselves as bullish and bearish. Fittingly unveiled in the middle of the Great Recession, StockTwits now has more than 2 million users. Anonymous and energetic, StockTwits users have that WSB energy, where every stock is just one press release away from heading “to the moon”. …


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Scott Walker has been busy since being voted out of office last year. He became finance chairman for a GOP gerrymandering lobbying group, president of the Young American Foundation, and was appointed by Trump to chair (ironically) an esteemed think tank. To stay relevant, he regularly attacks AOC on Twitter, and deceived some fifth graders in the process.

In January, I wrote a list of 26 ways Scott Walker Ruined (Or Embarrassed) Wisconsin, largely from memory. I wondered if I could whip up another list of 26, and sadly, it was as easy as expected. So here we go with numbers 27 through 52 in how Scott Walker failed Wisconsin. …


Payday loans hurt America’s poorest people

Imagine needing a loan of $300 to cover an immediate expense, but you, like 42% of American households, do not have any savings. Would you be willing to pay upward of 600% interest on a short-term loan?

For those of us fortunate to never have considered such a dilemma, the idea seems pretty ridiculous. But for others, there are few options. As Mehrsa Baradaran titled her book, this is just one way how the other half banks.

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As a way to obtain short-term cash, over 12 million Americans take out loans at over 20,000 payday loan shops in the United States. Exorbitant fees make loans difficult to pay back — so borrowers typically need a second loan to pay the first, then a third, etc., sparking an endless spiraling debt trap. A full 80% of payday loans are taken within two weeks of a previous loan. Lenders have direct access to a borrower’s bank account. Payday loans are marketed as short-term cash for an unexpected expense, like a medical emergency, but in reality, 7 in 10 borrowers use the loans for rent or utilities. …


Republicans have held 60+ percent majorities in the Wisconsin State Assembly for the past eight years, while electing Democrats to statewide office, including Tammy Baldwin twice to Senate and Tony Evers to the Governor’s Office in 2018. Not shaken, the Republican State Legislature responded to losing the governor’s office by passing lame-duck legislation to weaken the powers of the office.

Why is the GOP emboldened to act so aggressively, even in the face of a seemingly leftward political swing? Gerrymandered districts were redrawn in 2010, which made winning the majority of the State Assembly dramatically easier for Republicans, simply by “packing” predominantly Democratic areas into a select few districts. …


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My friend and I were less than enthused to meet Walker in 2011.

Part 2 available here

I suffered from Scott Walker’s gubernatorial reign firsthand. While Walker was governor, I graduated from a Wisconsin high school and university, also receiving a master’s from the La Follette School — an esteemed policy school named after Wisconsin’s legendary progressive, “Fighting” Bob La Follette. Walker cut my education and scholarships, but he did so much worse for so many others.

In eight years, Walker dismantled civility and good sense. He championed policies that attacked public services, workers, marginalized communities, the poor, and the environment. …

About

Omer Arain

DC-based labor researcher. @omersarain

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