Pundits and political scientists are always searching for that simple theory that’ll explain just what makes our politics tick. Where should they be looking? How about in the eyes of a billionaire at tax time?
Pundits usually have income in mind when they talk about the top 1 percent. And analysts sometimes rank our richest by wealth. But Duke University sociologist Lisa Keister points out that if we really want to understand privilege, we need to start looking at both.
If you give a dollar to a middle class family, that family will spend that dollar in the local economy and spur growth.
Baseball’s top hitter and Wall Street power suits both ply their trades in a high-speed world. That hitter will make over a quarter-billion in the next decade. The top suits stand to ‘earn’ astonishingly more. The phenomenon of high-speed trading accounts for one reason why.
We always get what we measure. And if we measure inequality with a yardstick that only wonks can decipher, we’ll end up with a society too confused about inequality to do anything meaningful about it. Thanks to Chilean economist Gabriel Palma, we do have an alternative.
Heiress Bunny Mellon lived a long and rich life that spanned the divide between the top-heavy United States of the early 20th century and the equally top-heavy United States of our own times. The mystery: How did her family’s fortune outlast America’s years of high taxes on the rich?
How concentrated has America’s wealth become? In the not-so-distant future, if current trends continue, the Koch brother, Walton, and Mars family households will together hold over $1 trillion in wealth, over 1 percent the net worth of a nation with over 300 million people.
The California Constitution says the water belongs to the people. Yet the state gives water almost free to agriculture–resulting in enormous waste and dire “shortages” during droughts. If the state were to charge for water, that would end the water crisis–and solve California’s fiscal crisis too.
The chase after the super rich is leaving the world’s choicest cities nastier places to live for anyone without a grand fortune. Any city “in thrall to money and greed,” one UK newspaper editorial warns, is inviting “nightmarish consequences” that only begin with inflated housing costs.
Let’s learn from our not-so-distant past and share the gold. New technologies don’t have to bring us new inequalities. The prime example from our relatively recent past: the advent of television in the decade right after World War II. TV changed our lives, without creating billionaires.
A prominent conservative in Congress, House Ways and Means Committee chair David Camp, has released a wide-ranging tax reform package that actually will not leave the rich significantly richer. Should America’s 99 percent be grateful for small blessings — or suspicious? Or both?
Why should moving data around be any different from moving people? No private party, the battle over the pending Comcast-Time Warner merger reminds us, ought to be getting rich off a basic public trust. Decades ago, in a more equal America, no private party did.
Equal pay for equal work? We still haven’t arrived at that destination. Decent pay that reflects the dignity of all who labor? In today’s America, we’ve barely even begun that journey, as suggests a deeper look into the controversy over the compensation for GM’s first female CEO.
Back when I studied economics, we “proved” in class that a minimum wage causes unemployment. But that proof depends on assuming a perfectly competitive market. Big low-wage employers like Wal-Mart have substantial market power; they can deliberately under-staff operations to force down wages. In that case, a minimum wage increase can actually create jobs–if it can be enforced.
Those arrows aren’t hitting their lovelorn targets the way they once did. The reason? Sociologists and economists are pointing to our growing economic divide. In our stressful, deeply unequal times, love and marriage are fast becoming the equivalent of luxury goods.
The new Congressional Budget Office report projects that the Affordable Care Act will lead to a decline in full-time equivalent workers of 2.5 million. This is people voluntarily deciding to work less–like mothers with small children, or workers in poor health or close to retirement. That should mean higher wages for the remaining workers.
We already have the technology necessary to attain a decent, sustainable lifestyle — technology that can create more and better jobs.
In the fierce debate over our top-heavy distribution of income and wealth, egalitarians have vanquished both inequality’s deniers and defenders. Now the debate is shifting to the most pivotal question of all, thanks to a new book from the French economist Thomas Piketty.
Why the 2014 State of the Union action agenda won’t take us nearly as far as we need to go.
At the annual Swiss mountain retreat of our global elites, the world’s wealthy have spent a week wringing their hands over widening inequality. The irony? We owe much of this widening inequality to their relentless behaviors, as two just-released studies suggest quite clearly.
QE is supposed to stimulate the economy by encouraging investment with low interest money. That hasn’t happened, but why? Does no one want to borrow, or do banks not want to lend?
A new Toronto-based campaign is aiming to change the global conversation on CEOs, workers, and the real value of all their labor. The effort has already begun certifying those enterprises that pay their top executives no more than eight times their lowest-paid workers.
Present-day inequality reflects the poisonous result of eroding net worth among African-American and Latino households and an exploding concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent, and within that, among our richest 400 billionaires.
A half-century since Dr. King’s dream, we’re living through a nightmare where America’s 400 richest now hold as much wealth as America’s 14 million African-American households. Dr. King worried deeply about wealth distribution in his day. He would be even more worried today.
Those Americans struggling against poverty in the 1960s faced plenty of obstacles. Americans today may face even more. A half-century ago, after all, America’s wealthiest had nowhere near the chokehold on the nation’s political system that they hold today.
In the year ahead, the struggle against America’s chronic — and growing — income inequality just might jump-start. And one spark may come from Maryland’s St. Mary’s College campus, where activists are working to limit the top campus paycheck to 10 times the lowest.
Nurses, philosophers, and trade unions have over the past 12 months all shared some fascinating ideas on how we can make our societies more equal — and much better — places to live. We highlight here ten of the year’s most promising and provocative inequality-busting notions.
Butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. You won’t find any of them in this latest annual list of America’s most avaricious from Too Much, the Institute for Policy Studies weekly on excess and inequality. You will find wheelers and dealers and even a candy store heiress.
What makes a society a fun place to be? Nice weather and exciting night-life options certainly help. But so, suggests a leading World Bank economist, does avoiding a starkly skewed distribution of income. In his new global index of “funness,” he lists inequality as a key limiting factor.
In plain yet powerful language, Pope Francis is challenging the givens of our deeply unequal world — and helping inspire resistance to it. His new “apostolic exhortation” offers a wide-ranging critique of our unequal status quo that draws from multiple sources.
Making the market “decisive” means that the Chinese government has decided to place profits before people — and even before that previously invincible talisman, economic growth.
A new kind of social disease has spread from recession in the United States to austerity in Europe to manufactured crisis in Australia. Tenured and emeritus academics should be hoisting the banner of civilization, raising the battle-cry for justice.
In the United States today, thanks to glaring tax loopholes, even modestly competent tax attorneys can help their wealthy clients sidestep the federal estate tax almost entirely. If we don’t plug these loopholes soon, some observers feel, we may as well not even bother.
America’s corporate CEOs feel entitled to pensions that pay out $86,000 monthly. To protect their entitlement, they’re attacking ours: Social Security. But a new report neatly exposes the monumental hypocrisy of their legislative assault on America’s only remaining retirement bedrock.
If Europe successfully implements a financial transactions tax (FTT), it will demonstrate that it is possible to make banks pay for the privilege of trading financial instruments like stocks, bonds, and derivatives.
Young activists in Switzerland have plutocrats hyperventilating — and spending a fortune to beat back a November 24 national ballot initiative that would establish a landmark legal limit on the pay gap between top corporate executives and their lowest-paid workers.
Americans are gaining, ever so slowly, a more accurate picture of just how wide the gap has stretched between the nation’s most fabulously privileged and everyone else. New data from Social Security statisticians are helping fill in the holes. But a full picture remains elusive.
This year’s fast GDP growth underlines one of the great myths of economic statistics: the myth that growth benefits everyone, or at least most people.
People who cut food stamp benefits — and gut child labor laws — most all had empathy when they came into the world. So what squeezed the empathy out? At the Economic Policy Institute and elsewhere, analysts and researchers are pointing to inequality.
Fox News may have failed to have an impact on the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election in the United States, but media organizations controlled by Rupert Murdoch celebrated a victory this year in Australia.