The Big Squeeze

Crumpled dollar bills on a pink background
Getty Images/Westend61

The economy’s stacked against us.

We live in a world that’s constantly trying to sucker us and trick us, where we’re always surrounded by scams, big and small. And not all of them are obviously illegal; most are business as usual. Car rentals come with a litany of unexplained fees. Cable companies are rarely forced to compete for our business. Crypto and the stock market are supposed to level the playing field, but in general, the house always wins. It all messes with our money, our time, our hearts, and our minds.

There’s a saying that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism. But is there such a thing as consumption — and frankly, participation — in capitalism that’s fair? It can feel nearly impossible to understand, and even harder to navigate. Every two weeks, join Emily Stewart for a look at the little ways our economic systems control and manipulate the average person. Welcome to The Big Squeeze.

Have ideas for a future column? Email