Brett Brownell

Brett Brownell

Multimedia Producer

Brett Brownell is the Multimedia Producer at Mother Jones and has visited all 50 states. He also helped launch MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes as a video and web producer, served as new media director for the employee rights organization Workplace Fairness, and founded the annual global photography event Worldwide Moment in 2007. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-T.V. and grew up in Arlington, Texas.

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How Bad Is the Income Gap in Your City? The Answer in GIFs

| Mon Oct. 7, 2013 1:33 PM PDT

Artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm recently created these eye-popping 3-D images of New York City's towering levels of incoming inequality.

Lamm has now expanded his project to include other major US cities. As you'll see in the GIFs below, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami are now part of the 3-D inequality club. Using 2012 data from the mapping site ArcGIS, Lamm superimposed green blocks representing the median net worth of census block groups over photos of the cityscape. The effect clearly visualizes the drastic levels of income inequality found across the country.

San Francisco
San Francisco
San Francisco
San Francisco
Boston
Boston
Boston
Boston
Chicago
Chicago
Chicago
Chicago
Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Miami
Miami
Miami
Miami

View Nickolay's original post of these images here.

"Money for Nothing": A Film About the Fed, Funded by the Mortgage Crisis

| Fri Sep. 27, 2013 3:00 AM PDT
Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan in a scene from "Money for Nothing"

Hindsight may be 20/20, but luckily for filmmaker Jim Bruce, so was his foresight into the financial crisis of 2008. Prior to the collapse of the housing market, Bruce was a film editor for movies like X-Men: The Last Stand and The Incredible Hulk. But Bruce also had been reading up on financial news and recognized that many of the biggest banks were over-leveraged and at risk of failing. "I was writing an email newsletter to family and friends starting in late 2006 saying 'watch out'," he recalls. "You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to see how bad the mortgages being given out were." Bruce recognized that a small increase in foreclosures would wipe out the over-extended lenders. So while millions of Americans invested in new homes, Bruce was investing in their implosion.

"All I did was short home builders and banks," he explains. His short bets paid off big, as Countrywide tumbled and AIG collapsed, doubling his investment. Now what to do with all that money? The answer: Make a down payment on a documentary about the Federal Reserve, which Bruce believed had not been held accountable for its role in creating the financial crash that made him a bundle.

The product of Bruce's back-handed thank-you is Money for Nothing, a sometimes harsh, sometimes cautious critique of the Fed and its 100-year history. The film includes many candid interviews with current and former members of this immensely powerful financial institution, including active regional governors and current vice chair Janet Yellen (who many suspect will replace current chairman Ben Bernanke to become the first woman to lead the central bank).

Watch: Rep. Jim McGovern Calls GOP Food Stamp Bill "Heartless"

| Thu Sep. 19, 2013 8:34 PM PDT

Earlier today the House of Representatives approved a bill 217-210 that would cut funding for food stamps by nearly $40 billion over ten years. No Democrats voted for it and only 15 Republicans voted against it. If the measure were to become law, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, nearly 4 million Americans would lose their benefits in 2014. Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern voiced concern prior to the vote, calling out Republicans not only for the "heartless" bill itself, but the lack of hearings prior to the vote. Watch:

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