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March 9, 2020
In these uncertain times, who can be blamed for turning toward numbers for answers? But sometimes numbers just raise more questions.
What should we make, for instance, of a recent poll that found likely Democratic voters in Texas prefering socialism over capitalism by large margins? One thing we know for sure: People in the United States, and around the world, know our global economy isn’t working for them.
As my colleague Sam Pizzigati writes this week, by framing issues like climate change, racism, and immigration outside the realm of wealth and income inequality, some polls may even be obscuring just how much Americans don’t approve of our economic status quo. We have more this week on the fight against inequality — on multiple fronts!
March 2, 2020
With Super Tuesday fast approaching, the coronavirus has us thinking yet again of how high the stakes for the 2020 U.S. election have soared — for people the world over, not just in the United States. We have Americans today worried about spreading the virus who are facing hospital charges in the thousands of dollars just for trying to do their civic duty and get tested. Americans desperately need a more equitable health care system, and the rest of the world needs to have us get one.
The United States certainly has the resources to provide health care equity. We’ve watched the fortunes of the ultra rich explode, I noted for CNN last week, all while an entire “wealth defense industry” protects them from taxes — and corrodes our democracy.
But we’re still hopeful, thanks to movements pushing big ideas for challenging oligarchy to the political forefront. To help spread that hope, this week’s issue is launching a new section dedicated to spotlighting bold new solutions to our grand divides. Your comments welcome!
February 24, 2020
Does the world belong to us or the billionaires? Author Anand Giridharadas has just posed that question in the New York Times. The 2020 presidential election, Giridharadas opines, has essentially become a referendum on billionaires!
Giridharadas goes on to list the questions that few voters this year will be able to avoid. Among them: Should we have billionaires at all? Does wealth make you more immune or more prone to corruption? Can we enhance the well-being of the millions “locked in the basement of opportunity” without confronting our billionaire problem?
My colleague Sam Pizzigati has shared a few data points relevant to these questions on social media. And we’ve got much more on billionaires in this week’s issue for those of you still contemplating your answers.
February 17, 2020
A budget, we’re often reminded, says a lot about priorities. Three years deep into the Trump administration, we’ve become well aware what the president’s priorities are — cut whatever’s left of a social safety net, citing “costs,” all while expanding tax cuts for the wealthy and pouring more funding into cruel and costly deportation and military programs.
Trump’s latest budget, released last week, tells us what we already know. But growing social movements are pushing back on austerity plans that funnel wealth upwards. We’ve got more this week on one of them.
Also this week: a look at the wealthy snapping back, in fear, at movements for change and a profile of Silicon Valley, a place where concentrated wealth is crushing the dreams of all but the already affluent.
February 10, 2020
Could we have had a busier week than last week? For one, we saw the U.S. Democratic Party kick off the battle for the 2020 presidential nomination with the Iowa caucuses, a distinctly inequitable exercise, as my colleague Sarah Anderson wrote before the contest.
We were still watching the results from Iowa unfold when President Trump last Wednesday delivered a State of the Union that papered over the rising inequality on his watch. Trump’s address boasted that his presidency had built a “prosperous and inclusive society” — one of many unfounded claims that peppered a speech filled with racist rhetoric.
February 3, 2020
We’ve published thousands of words, charts, and graphics about wealth inequality over the years, so we can spot a vivid depiction of our staggering economic divide when we see one. We’ve just seen one: this new CBS News video that features a reporter asking mall-goers to divvy up — literally — America’s economic pie.
Participants in this exercise quickly became surprised and disturbed at just how unequal the U.S. distribution of wealth actually turns out to be. And, as CBS notes, those feelings are playing into voting choices around the presidential elections
January 27, 2020
In Davos this past week, at the annual Alpine gathering of the world’s rich and powerful, our global elites demonstrated that even they understand how deeply inequality is tearing our societies apart.
The influential execs at Davos 2020 made “stakeholder capitalism” their central theme, a sign they recognize that catering to shareholders alone will only accelerate the breakdown in the world order they dominate. But will “stakeholder capitalism” be enough to fix a rigged economic system? Hardly. The Davos elites, as I write in the Guardian, need to ask themselves whether they’d rather see a fair tax system or pitchforks?
January 20, 2020
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. described poverty as a “lonely island” in a “vast ocean of material prosperity.” We have more such islands today. In Oakland, California, for instance, over 4,000 people are living homeless lives while nearly 16,000 housing units sit vacant.
Last week, we saw the three evils Dr. King fought — systemic racism, poverty, and militarism — in brutal action. Police used AR-15s and armored vehicles to evict homeless mothers from a vacant Oakland home owned by the property-flipping Wedgewood Homes. But the eviction isn’t stopping the Moms 4 Housing movement. As activist Dominique Walker told the media last week: “We want speculators out of our community.”
January 13, 2020
What makes for a “healthy economy”? Wall Streeters and our current White House measure economic health by the Dow Jones stock average. Last week, for the first time ever, that average hit 29,000. But outside the offices and watering holes of America’s privileged, few were cheering. Dow Jones numbers, most of us understand, tell us precious little about how our economy is impacting the lives most Americans lead.
What sort of indicators do offer real insight into how our economy works? Try this finding from a new study just published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health: Higher minimum wages, investigators have found, appear to lower the suicide rate.
The minimum wage in the United States nationally hasn’t budged up a nickel since 2009. But the fight for a $15 minimum has raised the minimum wage in a number of states and localities. The new suicide rate stats show that providing all workers with a real living wage couldn’t be a more urgent task. A more equitable economy saves lives.
January 6, 2020
If only a new decade really meant a fresh start...
With the 2020s just a few days old, the Trump administration has already reminded us what we stand to lose if we don’t make massive, rapid changes to our political and economic systems. The drone-strike assassinations of Iranian and Iraqi officials have put people across the Middle East — and the world — in greater danger.
These same assassinations, my colleague Sarah Anderson details in a new Inequality.org analysis, are triggering windfalls for top U.S. military contractors and their CEOs. The longer we allow these execs to make big money off our war economy, the more likely wars will be. In the new decade ahead, we need to do better.
December 16, 2019
The year now ending has certainly had its horrors. But we’ve made progress, too, in the struggle against inequality. CEOs, for instance, are still stuffing their pockets at worker and public expense. But we now have before Congress landmark “pay ratio” legislation that levies tax penalties at companies that wildly overcompensate their top execs.
Also before Congress: a new millionaires surtax bill, an idea showcased at the Taxing the (Very) Rich conference we helped host this past June. Meanwhile, we have reason for good cheer at the local level as well. In Boston just last week, the City Council moved toward enacting a luxury real estate transfer tax.
December 9, 2019
The five richest families in the United Kingdom own more wealth than the bottom 13 million people, our friends at the Equality Trust reported last week. The extreme inequality these numbers illustrate will likely be a motivating factor for UK voters in this coming week’s general election. These voters have a clear choice: accept the years of austerity that have deepened UK inequality or set a course for a more equitable future.
December 2, 2019
Calls for systemic change, in this last month of 2019, are getting harder and harder to ignore. We are witnessing an incredible year of protest, with uprisings taking place in dozens of countries.
These protests all have local triggers. But they also all reflect the same reality: a global economic order that channels wealth to the top, with little or even no concern for the inequality and injustice that results. We’ve got more this week on the movements growing out of this moment of tumult, more on the demand for a polity and an economy that takes care of us all.
November 25, 2019
Have the rich finally lost their political immunity? We’ve been watching with great interest this year as 2020 White House hopefuls have called time and again for policies that could pain our nation’s deepest pockets. Might be a good idea, we thought, to pin the field down on specifics. So we joined with The Nation magazine and sent all this year’s presidential candidates a detailed questionnaire on inequality.
November 18, 2019
The latest point of evidence that Washington’s consensus on matters wealth-related is cracking: Landmark new legislation just introduced in Congress offers a chance to take on Corporate America’s incredibly extreme divides in compensation.
The wide gulf between what companies pay their CEOs and what they pay their median worker has skyrocketed in recent years. The average CEO took home about 20 times what average workers did in 1970, compared to a ratio of 287 last year. And many corporations have gaps much larger than that.
Taking on inequality means tackling those gaps. The Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act, introduced this week by Representatives Barbara Lee and Rashida Tlaib and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, does just that.
November 11, 2019
Over the last several months, we’ve covered a variety of new tax initiatives that could help reduce American inequality. Last week, we were part of the launch for another new proposal, a millionaires surtax.
With this tax – which targets only ultra-rich Americans – we could bring in hundreds of billions over the next decade to invest in healthcare, education, and the environment. On top of that, this levy would put a decent dent into our staggering economic divides.
November 4, 2019
If you’re in the United States, you probably don’t have to look far to see how inequality destroys our public services – and leads to violence. We’ve seen examples from coast to coast this week.
New York City made the choice to spend its resources criminalizing poor transit users for fare evasion instead of shoring up a rapidly deteriorating subway system. And we’ve watched as private utility companies in California plan power outages to stave off wildfires, after choosing shareholder profits instead of infrastructure maintenance.
October 28, 2019
The Washington Post reported last week on a private phone call between writer Anand Giridharadas and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, an unlikely conversation between two people with quite different takes on capitalism. How might Dimon feel in private about the new Business Roundtable position that corporations should work to create value for all their stakeholders, not just shareholders?
“I think he really thinks he’s changed capitalism…it was beyond his understanding that voluntary virtue does nothing on its own,” Giridharadas said about the CEO and Roundtable chair. Fortunately, we’re seeing plenty of movements demanding more than voluntary virtue
October 21, 2019
Across the world, skyscrapers and mansions are rising in globalized super-cities, a form of “wealth storage” for elites looking to diversify their asset holdings. Our new Institute for Policy Studies report, Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom, examines one of these super-cities. The more expensive a luxury condo in Seattle, our study finds, the more likely the listed owner will be an opaque corporate entity that masks the identity of the real owner. Average Seattle residents, meanwhile, are suffering through an intense affordable housing crisis while the ultra rich use their city’s luxury real estate to hide their wealth.
October 14, 2019
How is one city in California expecting residents with medical needs to cope with the power shutoffs the utility giant PG&E is now inflicting on the state? The advice from Berkeley city officialdom: “Please use your own resources to relocate to an unaffected area now.” This advice might work for the wealthy, like the PG&E shareholders who’ve reaped ample financial rewards or the flacks raking in millions distracting attention from PG&E’s role on deadly wildfires. But that advice certainly isn’t going to work for Californians without resources.
October 7, 2019
Did you see my colleague Sarah Anderson on CNBC last week? Over a decade has passed since the recklessness fueled by runaway CEO pay helped crash the U.S. economy, she reminded viewers, but the same characters who justified that recklessness — and even benefited from it — are still appearing on our TV screens.
Corporations don’t seem willing to take the CEO pay problem seriously on their own. We need public policies — like hiking taxes on companies with wide CEO-worker pay gaps — that treat inequality as the danger to our social well-being it most definitely is.
September 30, 2019
The Census Bureau announced last week that income inequality in the United States has hit a 50-year record high. That didn’t surprise us. Our latest annual Institute for Policy Studies Executive Excess report, released this morning, shows that at the 50 publicly traded U.S. firms with the widest pay gaps in 2018, typical employees would have to work at least 1,000 years to earn what their CEO made in just one!
September 23, 2019
No more business as usual! Students around the world, from Nairobi to New York, delivered that message Friday with a global strike that has kicked off a week of climate action. The mobilizations are demanding an end to the systems that put profits over people and planet.
September 16, 2019
What do workers at the biggest automaker in the United States do when their CEO takes home about $22 million in compensation while laying off thousands of employees? They strike! Nearly 50,000 General Motors workers have just walked out to demand their fair share of GM's billions in annual profits.
September 9, 2019
Some state motor vehicle bureaus have found a wild new way to raise revenue, Vice revealed last week. They’re selling the information you might give up to the government to get a driver’s license — everything from your birthdate to your address — to third parties, including bail bond companies and private investigators.
We have a better idea for states looking to enhance the public purse: raise taxes on the wealthy! Higher tax levies on the wealthy don’t require any invasions of privacy and have an extra added benefit. They reduce the inequality that’s poisoning our future.
August 12, 2019
Last year, Koch Foods settled a $3.75-million lawsuit over discrimination and sexual harassment against predominately Latinx poultry plant workers. Last week, workers at Koch Foods became the targets of one of the biggest immigration raids in years. The raid separated hundreds of workers from their families, leaving entire communities in fear.
Immigration activists, Payday Report’s Mike Elk detailed last week, see the Koch Foods raid as part of a broader pattern: A workplace gets investigated for abusing workers, then the workers get targeted by ICE. If workers can’t speak up without fear of retaliation — and especially if that retaliation includes family separation and deportation — then none of us can ever truly have justice on the job.
August 5, 2019
We’ve had more mass shootings in the United States in 2019 than days so far this year. Here at Inequality.org, we’re mourning the victims of this weekend’s back-to-back deadly shootings in El Paso and Dayton today.
Amid the mourning for the dozens of people killed this weekend, we’re also taking care not to forget those who are making big bucks off the ongoing violence — from the weapons manufacturers to the media platforms that rake in cash spewing hate.
These players all have blood on their hands. They ought to remind us of the deadly dangers we face when we let some among us privilege profits over people’s lives.
July 29, 2019
Puerto Rico taught us a beautiful lesson about accountability last week. On Wednesday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló stepped down, after the island’s residents gathered en masse to protest his corruption and hateful rhetoric.
But Puerto Ricans aren’t stopping with Rosselló’s resignation. They’re already calling for the ouster of Rosselló’s successor, an insider complicit in the previous administration’s corruption. And they’re not stopping there either. The only real answer, Puerto Ricans are showing us, will be a political and economic system that works for everyone, not just the rich and well-connected, and activists are building a movement to bring that system to life.
July 22, 2019
The most moving moment from last week’s racist and nativist ugliness? That may have come when Rep. Ilhan Omar landed in Minnesota to chants of “welcome home, Ilhan.” Omar used her time in her home state to conduct a town hall on Medicare for All. She received a standing ovation.
Omar’s constituents know that their representative is working in Washington to do the crucial social justice work they elected her to do. She’s fighting for a just, more equal society. And the same goes for Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, & Ayanna Pressley.
We have more this week on the four congresswomen and their focus on an inequality-busting agenda, even as a president taunts them with one vile attack after another.
July 15, 2019
The U.S. House of Representatives may well vote this week on the Raise the Wage Act, legislation that would give American workers the first federal minimum wage boost in more than a decade. A new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office says the bill would increase pay for 27 million people and reduce both poverty and inequality. The pitiful part of all this? That Congress has taken this long to act on raising the minimum wage. The encouraging part? The movement that’s forced lawmakers into action has been nothing short of monumental.
July 8, 2019
Six months ago, many of us may have hesitated to say the words. But thanks to a political season of bold ideas — and growing public anger at four decades of extreme inequalities of wealth and power — all of us can now utter the phrase in polite company: Time to tax the very rich! Last month our Institute for Policy Studies co-produced with the Economic Policy Institute a conference that broke new ground with a say-it-straight title: Taxing the (Very) Rich: Finding a Cure for Excessive Wealth Disorder. Those of you who weren’t able to join us in person last month can now watch the day’s incredible panels and presentations, including keynotes from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen.
July 1, 2019
How much has the political conversation on inequality changed since the 2016 election? Let’s take a look at one measure: what candidates stress in the presidential primary debates.
In last week’s Democratic Party debates, we heard one signature stat from our Institute for Policy Studies Billionaire Bonanza report repeated more than once. Just three billionaires own more wealth than half the people in the United States combined, as Senator Bernie Sanders reminded us in both his opening and closing remarks.
June 24, 2019
The Poor People’s Campaign came to Washington last week and made the case to lawmakers and presidential candidates alike that our wealth gap in the United States reflects conscious policy decisions. Now, this week, activists, analysts, and legislators will be gathering in D.C. to explore the conscious choices we can make to narrow that extreme wealth gap — by taxing our top 0.1 percent, the deep pockets who wield such disproportionate power over all our political and economic systems.
June 17, 2019
We often highlight, here at Inequality.org, the grossest unjust contrasts in our U.S. economy: the luxury condos near encampments of homeless people, the CEO pay that skyrockets while the minimum wage stagnates. What would our economic order look like without those injustices? How can we go about building that economy? A new report from the Poor People’s Campaign and the Institute for Policy Studies brings us closer to an answer.
June 10, 2019
Yet another sign that our inequality conversation is scaring the corporate elites who hold disproportionate power over us: Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told the company’s annual shareholders meeting last week that the time has come for Congress to raise the minimum wage! What could possibly be driving this new-found affection for a higher minimum from a CEO who took in $23 million last year? How about a tip of the hat to activist Walmart workers and their years of organizing for a real living wage!
June 3, 2019
Remember the claims Republican leaders in Congress made back at the end of 2017 as they were rushing their huge tax-cut bill to passage? Those leaders sure hope you don’t. They promised, back then, that cutting tax rates on rich people — and the corporations they run — would leave everyone better off, millionaires and minimum-wage workers alike. Oops. Things haven’t quite worked out that way. In fact, as the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reported last week, things haven’t worked out that way at all.
May 20, 2019
For those of us here at Inequality.org, one devilishly difficult question animates much of the work we do: How can we rein in the power that the richest of the rich have over every aspect of our society? We’ll be joining up with some of our epoch’s best thinkers on inequality to address that question, at the first-ever “Taxing the (Very) Rich” conference our Institute for Policy Studies is co-hosting with the Economic Policy Institute.
May 13, 2019
Could Jeff Bezos be any less grounded? The Amazon founder — and world’s richest individual — opined last week that building the infrastructure that would allow humanity to leave Earth en masse rates as the most important thing he could be doing. Of course, Bezos could make plenty of amazing things happen right here on our home planet — like allowing Amazon workers to unionize, refusing to play ball with the Trump deportation machine, or ending his company’s corporate tax dodging.
May 6, 2019
Soaring GDP growth! A booming stock market! Lower unemployment! Headlines like these have some Americans believing the U.S. economy couldn’t be better. Yet, as my colleague Sarah Anderson told NPR’s 1A last week, all the good news the headlines trumpet has a backstory. Our nation’s economic gains are still going primarily to people at the top — and boosting the inequality behind so many of the ills that plague us.
April 29, 2019
Here’s a stat for celebrating this year’s May 1 International Workers’ Day: 485,000 U.S. workers went on strike in 2018, more than any year since the 1980s. In a real sense, these workers were striking against inequality. We saw striking teachers last year demanding higher taxes on the rich to underwrite adequate funding for public schools. We saw AT&T employees insisting the company share its tax cut windfall. American workers know their labor creates ample wealth. They want that wealth spread around.
April 22, 2019
French president Emmanuel Macron seems to be hoping that the inferno at the famed Notre Dame cathedral will help him quell the “yellow vest” protests that have been a thorn in his side ever since December. Macron is calling for a national display of unity, and some of his billionaire compatriots are heeding the call. They’ve pledged hundreds of millions toward restoring Notre Dame to its original splendor. Can you imagine a similar response for unified action to combat inequality?
April 15, 2019
Some of our American readers may have filed their taxes weeks ago. Others may still be scrambling to beat the April 15 tax filing deadline. But regardless of your tax status, today is a great day to deeply consider how and what we collectively choose to fund with our tax dollars.
April 8, 2019
Ask Starbucks CEO-turned-White House hopeful Howard Schultz how to solve economic inequality and he’ll give you a vague, nonsensical answer. We only need to balance the federal budget, assures Schultz, and elect someone who can bring Democrats and Republicans together. In a recent MSNBC interview, his hosts balked, wondering how the “leadership” Schultz promises could ever address our maldistribution of global wealth. Fortunately, we here at Inequality.org are covering ideas that could address the crisis of wealth distribution that Howard Schultz can’t seem to grasp. We have more on those proposals in this week’s issue.
April 1, 2019
Gender discrimination is woven into the very fabric of our U.S. economic system. We have more in this week’s issue on a new report from my colleague Sarah Anderson that explores how Wall Street helps promulgate some of this same discrimination.
March 25, 2019
Who cares what Jamie Dimon thinks about the Green New Deal? CNN apparently does. The network asked the JPMorgan Chase CEO what he thinks about the plan to attack both climate change and inequality. Dimon — shocker — turns out not to be a fan. We should go about the massive task of saving the planet more “wisely,” says Dimon, “because you could hurt the economy, which hurts everybody.” Dimon should know a thing or two about that.
March 18, 2019
The biggest scandal in college admissions? That will come if we simply punish the most rotten of college admission’s players without addressing the inequality underpinning our system as a whole.
March 11, 2019
Two years ago, a coalition of community groups launched a campaign called Corporate Backers of Hate, an attempt to name and shame the companies that profit off the many dehumanizing policies of the Trump administration. Last week, the campaign won a giant victory when JPMorgan Chase became the first major bank to stop financing private prison and immigrant detention companies.
This win comes thanks to tenacious immigrants-rights activists who’ve been confronting JPMorgan and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, at every opportunity to expose how banks are exploiting communities of color.
March 4, 2019
“Sorry not sorry.” That’s how Rep. Pramila Jayapal responded when reporters pointed out that her newly introduced Medicare for All bill has the share prices of our health insurance giants tumbling — and their CEOs scrambling. These health industry execs have come together under the innocuously titled “Partnership for America’s Health Care Future” in a desperate attempt to derail single-payer health care. Those execs have good reason to worry. Their gravy train has hit a rough patch.
February 25, 2019
Most Americans, the polls tell us, now realize that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in 2017 — the Trump administration’s signature legislative “achievement” — has been a gift to the nation’s wealthiest that keeps on giving. Just last week, a top federal banking agency released still another data point that highlights how generous this giving continues to be.
February 18, 2019
Amazon doubled its profits in 2018, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported last week, and paid nothing in federal income taxes, not a dime on the $11.2 billion the company raked in, the second year in a row the online behemoth has paid zilch at tax time. But recent news out of New York suggests Jeff Bezos and company might have to kick their anti-tax habit sooner rather than later.
February 11, 2019
The inequality debate has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last several weeks. One sign of how far we’ve come: Former Starbucks CEO (and current White House hopeful) Howard Schultz is trying to rebrand billionaires as “people of means,” a not-so-subtle attempt to gloss over how dramatic our economic divides have become — and a sign our richest are worrying about shifting public attitudes about grand fortune.
February 4, 2019
Kenneth Griffin has been on a buying streak. The hedge fund billionaire spent $238 million on a Manhattan apartment — the highest price ever paid for a U.S. home — last month. That’s in addition to the nearly $60 million he dropped on four floors of a condo in his Chicago hometown of last year, as well as his properties in London and Miami. Imagine if some of those millions had gone for housing Griffin’s fellow Chicagoans shivering through the record chills of last week’s polar vortex. Those Arctic temperatures stretched the city’s ability to provide for its sizable homeless population. Fortunately, we may be nearing a political moment for changing all this, for ending the deep inequality that enriches people like Griffin while leaving others without a place to sleep.
January 28. 2019
This year’s annual World Economic Forum in Davos turned out to showcase a bit less of a global who’s who than the affair has in the past. A handful of heads of government — including the UK’s Theresa May and France’s Emmanuel Macron — had to skip the elite Alpine gathering to deal with inequality-fueled calamities at home. All these absences shifted plenty of media attention onto attending global corporate chiefs like Michael Dell, whose wealth has soared by $12 billion over the last five years. The Dell CEO smugly laughed off a reporter’s question about a recently proposed 70 percent top marginal tax rate on America’s wealthiest. He’d much rather focus on “skills shortages” than the worldwide inequality that has both right-wing autocracy and our planet’s temperatures rapidly rising.
January 21, 2019
In the decades since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's death, vast sums of American wealth have continued to concentrate in far too few hands. That economic inequality has exploded our racial wealth gap, as we describe in our new report, Dreams Deferred: How Enriching the 1% Widens the Racial Wealth Divide. Black families have seen their median wealth drop to $3,557 since 1983. Typical Latino families now hold net worths of just $6,591. Meanwhile, the nation’s top 0.1 percent has grabbed one of every six dollars in new wealth created over the past 33 years.
January 14, 2019
Hundreds of thousands of U.S. federal workers received $0 paystubs on Friday as the government shutdown entered its third week. Furloughed federal workers are holding yard sales — and turning to payday lenders — to make ends meet. Donald Trump, meanwhile, continues manufacturing a border crisis and demonizing immigrants.
January 7, 2019
We may only be a few days into 2019, but chief execs at the top 100 firms in the UK have already “celebrated” Fat Cat Day last week. As of January 4, notes a new Centre on Labour and Social Studies report, Britain’s top 100 execs have pocketed more compensation on average than typical British workers will take home for the entire year.
December 17, 2018
Inequality — and its consequences — dominated the headlines in 2018. From the blowback of last year’s tax cuts to Brexit, from the protests in France to new warnings of climate catastrophe, the year showed over and over what we can expect if we don’t deal with our economic divides. But the work of activists and organizers helped us move forward.
December 10, 2018
Our newly elected members of Congress haven’t yet started their new jobs, but they’re already stirring up a storm. This past week Representatives-elect Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lambasted their biased congressional orientation, where panels were dominated by CEOs and war hawks.
December 3, 2018
The massive corporate tax cuts Congress passed last year handed American companies a mighty windfall – a $500 million windfall in the case of General Motors. And where did General Motors spend its windfall? Certainly not on its workers. GM announced last week that it would end thousands of jobs in North America. The real rationale for the job losses? Corporate greed. We’ve got more on the blatant self-interest of GM’s execs in this week’s newsletter.
November 26, 2018
Like people around the world, we’ve had our eyes on the Central American migrants fleeing violence and inequality as they attempt to enter the United States. And we’ve been horrified by the response of the U.S. government to their caravan, from the ramped-up military presence to the gassing of families protesting at the border. What makes this treatment all the more heinous: Washington’s complicity in creating the conditions the migrants are fleeing, including the unfettered free trade agreements and privatization of public services that have led to so much displacement.
November 19, 2018
Households across the United States will give some heart-felt thanks this Thursday. Should our list of what we ought to be thankful for include the philanthropy of our ultra wealthy, like Michael Bloomberg's $1.8 billion gift to Johns Hopkins University?
November 12, 2018
We’ve written up online our biggest takeaways from the midterm voting, as well as what we expect to unfold in the coming weeks and months. One thing that strikes us as absolutely clear: To make any real progress on inequality, we’ll need sweeping policy changes along the lines of the big, bold ideas we’re profiling in this week’s issue.
November 5, 2018
The 2018 election will be the most expensive midterm to date, with candidates, political parties, and outside groups spending more than $5 billion to plug their preferred politicians. Over $100 million of that sum comes from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who knows that tipping the political scales in his favor can return him many times those millions. Adelson and his fellow billionaires have been rigging the rules to favor wealth for some time now. And the consequences could hardly be more dire.
October 29, 2018
We’ve had a whirlwind two years since the 2016 U.S. elections, and the Trump administration continues to forge forward with disastrous policies that protect and enrich our elites while hurting the most vulnerable among us. But Americans have been pushing back at every opportunity, from our workplaces to our borders. Next week, on November 6, that pushback shifts to the ballot box, and inequality will figure mightily in the decisions voters make.
October 22, 2018
Imagine lining up all the riches in the world and distributing them evenly to adults across the globe. Every adult on Earth would then end up with $63,100, according to the just-released 2018 Global Wealth Report from the Swiss bank Credit Suisse. That stat, the report notes, puts global adult average wealth at a record high. But, of course, our world’s riches aren’t distributed evenly.
October 15, 2018
UN reports don’t often make global headlines, but one certainly did last week. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a bombshell: We’ve got 12 years to avoid environmental catastrophe. Inequality runs as a consistent theme throughout this new landmark UN study. The more dramatically temperatures rise, a whole section makes clear, the more we can expect our economic divides to widen.
October 8, 2018
Did you catch my colleague Sarah Anderson on NPR’s 1A last week? Sarah was talking about Amazon’s move to hike the company’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. That number — no accident — represents a symbolic nod to the Fight for $15 movement, and Amazon’s wage boost should remind us that collective power can alter economic reality for workers by the hundreds of thousands.
October 1, 2018
Eyes across America fixed on the Supreme Court nomination hearing of Brett Kavanaugh last week, an event that perfectly distilled our power dynamics at work. A man who sees this power as his birthright threw a tantrum at a job interview when confronted with the harm he has done. More this week on how elitism allows men like Kavanaugh to ignore the rules. We also look at the activists battling the power structures that value the Kavanaughs of the world much more than the people they hurt.
September 24, 2018
This week, my colleagues down in Washington witnessed the latest step down a deeply disturbing anti-democratic road. The District of Columbia’s city council held a 16-hour hearing over whether to repeal a minimum wage increase for tipped workers that D.C. voters had overwhelmingly approved in balloting this past June. Why ignore the will of the voters? As Dia King, a hotel valet who testified on Monday told the Washington Post, Chocolate City has now turned into Money City, and the city’s powerful restaurant industry has blitzed the District with a well-funded misinformation campaign.
September 17, 2018
Every once in a while, we come across a headline that really captures the drama of American inequality. One that caught our eye this week: “Amazon executive admits patent to cage workers was ‘bad idea.’” That bad idea was brought to light earlier this month in a project by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler, a pair of AI researchers mapping the systems behind Amazon’s Echo speaker system. Crawford and Joler write that “dystopian futures are built upon the unevenly distributed dystopian regimes of the past and present, scattered through an array of production chains for modern technical devices.”
September 10, 2018
What’s easier than checking out a library book in Boston? Creating a shell company to buy luxury real estate — anonymously — and avoid oversight in the process. That’s what my colleague Emma De Goede found out when she came to Boston this summer. To get a library card, Emma had to prove who she was and where she lived. In America today, by contrast, you can create a shell company without doing either.
September 3, 2018
Here at the Institute for Policy Studies, we’ve been worrying about the wild divide between how companies treat their CEOs and their workers for well over two decades now. My colleagues Sarah Anderson and Sam Pizzigati have just released our 25th annual Executive Excess report.
The study’s key finding: Two-thirds of the U.S. corporations that rake in the most federal tax dollars, either via contracts or subsidies, pay their CEOs more than 100 times what they pay their median workers
August 27, 2018
If you only read the headlines, you’d be forgiven for thinking the U.S. economy has reached some kind of encouraging peak. Pundits are celebrating a bull-market run that last week set a record for Wall Street’s longest upward trend ever. Should the rest of us be celebrating, too? Not hardly.
August 20, 2018
This summer, we’ve seen more and more headlines documenting a trend that should come as no surprise to our readers: Corporations are failing to share the wealth with the workers who create it. Indeed, even with the enormous corporate tax savings from last year’s Trump tax cut, wages for U.S. workers are, as Bloomberg reports, “dramatically deteriorating.”
July 30, 2018
We’ve all heard loads of euphemisms for wealth hoarding. In our new report, Warehousing Wealth, my colleagues Helen Flannery, Josh Hoxie, and I take a deep dive into donor-advised funds, yet another loophole the rich have carved out to sidestep taxes, this time in the name of charity.
July 23, 2018
Jeff Bezos has just become, after adjusting for inflation, the richest man in modern history. How did Bezos bring in such extreme wealth? His employees across Europe know all too well.
July 16, 2018
TruTV launched a game show this past week with an interesting premise. Contestants on Paid Off can compete for money to pay off their student loans. Throwing cash at a few lucky contestants, the show’s producers seem to feel, constitutes a meaningful response to “out of control” student loan debt. That TruTV should feel this way — and fail to understand the structural factors driving student debt — shouldn’t surprise us.
July 9, 2018
We asked a while back whether greed would deep-six Scott Pruitt’s anti-science tenure as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief. Now we know. Pruitt has finally stepped down after several scandal-filled months, leaving behind a long trail of receipts for misspent public funds. Where could those dollars have gone instead? How about to schools in Detroit, where students just lost a class-action lawsuit over shockingly poor school conditions?
July 2, 2018
Plutocracy scored a major win last week. The U.S. Supreme Court dealt organized labor a long-expected blow with Janus v. AFSCME, a decision that climaxes a generation-long attack on the worker right to effective union representation. But our plutocrats shouldn’t be getting too excited. People around the world are rising up against the corporate interests that have rigged the global economy with cases like Janus.
June 25, 2018
Like people around the world, we’ve been aghast over the last few weeks at the ruthlessly cruel Trump administration moves to separate immigrant kids from their families. But not everyone shares our shock. As David Dayen reports for In These Times, private prison companies and defense contractors are already raking in the cash. Their share prices soared after Donald Trump signed an executive order that would end the separation policy by indefinitely detaining and caging families together.
June 18, 2018
“What’s up, bootlickers?” That’s how one angry Seattle citizen greeted city council members after they repealed a corporate tax they had passed only a few weeks earlier to raise funds to help the homeless. Who lurked behind this remarkable about-face? That would be Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who threw a fit over the original tax.
June 11, 2018
People around the world will turn their gaze to Russia – itself one of the world’s most unequal major economies – for the start of the World Cup. But the tournament doesn’t just showcase the beautiful game. The spectacle perfectly encapsulates some of our most glaring global inequities, beginning with the wildly varying valuations of the competing national teams.
June 4, 2018
Researchers at the Kansas City Federal Reserve have found that 14.3 percent of American workers haven’t received a single penny in wage hikes over the past year. For top corporate execs, of course, it’s a completely different story. Their pay, details a new Equilar analysis for the New York Times, jumped 14 percent in 2017. So what do we do about numbers like these? Maybe we ought to start thinking about setting a maximum wage.
May 28, 2018
American top execs are now pulling down pay packages that tower over the compensation of their peers in every other nation. And American workers? They no longer rank as the world’s highest-paid. They don't even rank, new research shows, in the global top ten. We have all the new numbers in this week’s issue.
May 21, 2018
Social change can take a really long time. Consider the fight to halt the ever-widening gap between executive pay and worker pay in the United States. The legislation requiring corporations just to disclose the gap between their CEO and median worker pay passed in 2010. Now, eight years later, thanks to a brilliant new report from the staff of Rep. Keith Ellison, we are one step closer to knowing which corporations share the wealth with their employees — and which do not.
May 14, 2018
Recent months have been rather dismal — at the national level — for U.S. inequality activists. But we’re seeing a much different story in the states, with plenty of initiatives keeping us hopeful.
May 7, 2018
According to Jeff Bezos, billionaires have a hard time finding ways to spend their money. In an interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner, the Amazon head and richest person in the world called space travel the only way he could imagine using his vast financial resources. But billionaires don’t need to go to space to spend their money. They have plenty of options right here on Earth. A good place for Bezos to start: actually paying Amazon’s corporate taxes.
April 30, 2018
What have legislators and bank executives learned since the 2008 economic collapse? Seems not much. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a financial deregulation bill that supporters claim will help small banks. Their idea of “small”? Banks with assets between $50 to $250 billion!
April 23, 2018
People around the globe marked Earth Day as coordinators centered their efforts on ending plastic pollution. A sensible next step? That might be confronting the big-time polluters who now head up some of America’s most important federal agencies.
April 16, 2018
Tax Day represents more than a deadline. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the choices we make as a society on everything from who pays what at tax time to where our tax dollars end up going. These choices reveal our deepest priorities.
April 9, 2018
Fifty years ago, on the eve of his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in Memphis, where sanitation workers were striking for better working conditions, and urged us all to build a new movement for economic justice. After Dr. King’s death, organizers continued working to forge the transformative, multi-issue Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. King had envisioned. Fifty years later, racism, inequality, and militarism remain entrenched in our politics.
April 2, 2018
The latest Wall Street bonuses really ought to disturb us, and not just because they’ll widen our economic divide. These hefty rewards offer more proof that Wall Street has failed to rein in the reckless behaviors that led us to economic collapse just a decade ago.
March 26, 2018
This week, we have more on the new numbers that point to growing inequality in the United States. We also look at a victory over the “other NRA” — the National Restaurant Association — that reminds us we can make change even in the most difficult of political moments.
March 19, 2018
Over the last week we’ve been mourning the loss of one of the greatest minds of our time. The world knew Stephen Hawking primarily for his research on the cosmos, but his brilliance extended to our daily existence here on Earth as well. Hawking challenged war and oppression, advocated for universal health care, and fought inequality at every opportunity.
March 12, 2018
Back in 2010, right after the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, corporate lobbyists went all out to kill a provision in that legislation that requires publicly traded U.S. companies to disclose the ratio between what they pay their CEO and median worker. But we beat them back, and this past month we began to see the first ratio disclosures.
March 5, 2018
The past several months, for those of us fighting to bridge our stark economic divides in the United States, have seen one dismal moment after another. The Republican tax plan passed late last year caters to the nation’s wealthiest. And the Janus case now before the Supreme Court threatens to devastate public sector unions and the workers they represent. But down at the local level activists are now fighting back, pushing for a more equitable economy.
February 26, 2018
The best stat that tracks the vast — and still growing — economic divide in the United States? That may well be the CEO-worker pay ratio, the number you get when you take how much corporate CEOs take home and compare that to the wages of their typical employees. Now we can finally make that comparison firm by firm. This year, for the first time ever, publicly traded companies have to release their CEO-worker pay ratios.
February 19, 2018
President Trump released his latest budget last week, and, to no one’s surprise, his budget plan calls for massive cuts to social services. This same budget, again no surprise, funnels billions more to the Pentagon.
February 12, 2018
This Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting a campaign that’s won our hearts. In California, as I noted last week in The Nation, activists are organizing for a statewide vote on a plan that breaks up concentrated wealth by restoring the estate tax and uses the resulting revenue to fund tuition-free college. We have more this week on their effort. Want to share the love? Check out the College For All campaign and learn how to get involved.
February 5, 2018
In this week’s issue, we’re asking what’s needed to make transit accessible for all. We profile a group that’s won victory after victory for Portland’s transit riders and explore the perils of letting plutocrats have the last word in planning how we do our daily commutes.
January 29, 2018
The world’s elite came together high in the Swiss Alps last week for the annual Davos World Economic Forum. During the gathering's star-studded panels and soirées, the rich and powerful attendees paid nonstop lip service to solving our planet’s most pressing problems. But, as I wrote in Quartz, wealthy people should be going someplace else when they want to make change. They should be going back home, to their communities.
January 22, 2018
Thousands of members of the global elite are descending upon Davos, Switzerland this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. The summit will have the world’s richest and most powerful rubbing shoulders with politicians and regulators, all under the theme of “creating a shared future in a fractured world.” Will the Davos panels count the divide between the mega rich and the rest of the world as one of those fractures?
January 15. 2018
More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a protest movement from Selma to Montgomery, demanding voting rights for black people in a region known for its deadly racist violence. Now, in a county that falls just along the march trail, a storm of racism, inequality, and ecological devastation continues its hold over the state.
January 8. 2018
We at the Institute of Policy Studies ended 2017 on a mournful note. Our co-founder, Marcus Raskin, passed away in late December. Marc was many things — a brilliant thinker, an accomplished musician, and a dear mentor — and his loss is deeply felt at IPS.
December 18, 2017
All year, we’ve been tracking the rants of America’s mega-rich, and last week we put it to a vote: who was the most petulant plutocrat of 2017? Thanks to you, we have an answer: Betsy DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education.
December 11, 2017
Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican from South Dakota, has been a key player in the orchestrated effort to repeal the federal estate tax. Noem has claimed repeatedly that estate taxes deeply undermined her “average” farm family. But it turns out that Noem may be stretching the truth — beyond recognition — on her family’s estate tax encounter.
December 4, 2017
Congress cleared another hurdle in their effort to pass a disastrous set of tax cuts for the wealthy. The GOP giveaway isn't just a political or an economic catastrophe. It also speaks to the moral questions Americans must ask of their government. What — and who — do they prioritize? People, or profits?
November 27, 2017
GOP leaders are trampling over almost all the legislative niceties in a mad rush to pass a tax plan that privileges the already privileged. The key vote on this tax disaster — and disgrace — could come this week. Can we stop this greed grab? In this week’s issue, we go back to 1932 for a little stop-the-rich inspiration.
November 20, 2017
In this week’s issue, we highlight one group that’s keeping the pressure on corporate lobbyists as the tax debate moves into the Senate. We also look at the just-released — and staggering — new stats in the Swiss bank Credit Suisse’s latest annual Global Wealth Report. The new numbers have a great deal to tell us about inequality in America, none of it good.
November 13, 2017
Just three people – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett – now own more wealth than America’s entire poorest 50 percent. The nation’s rich overall, our newly released Institute for Policy Studies Billionaire Bonanza report details, are watching their wealth multiply at speeds nearly beyond belief. Meanwhile, one in five Americans belong to “Underwater Nation.” They have either zero or negative wealth. If any of the GOP tax plans circulating on Capitol Hill ever pass, we can only expect to see our current chasm widen. Lots more on that and the new Billionaire Bonanza in this issue.
November 6, 2017
A trove of just-released leaked documents is shining some light on the shadowy world of tax avoidance. U.S. lawmakers are considering whether to hand the ultra-wealthy another set of tax cuts, but the Paradise Papers are just another example of what we all know: when it comes to paying taxes, the rich play by their own set of rules.
October 30, 2017
This week, we take a look at the campaign restaurant workers have launched against a powerful industry lobby to end the two-tiered tipped wage system. And we have more on the grassroots activists working with cities to demand local investment from the wealthy institutions in their neighborhoods. Both fights offer ideas on the path to more equity in our communities.
October 23, 2017
Weeks after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico remains horribly devastated, the vast majority of the island still without power and struggling to rebuild. Among the obstacles Puerto Ricans face: billionaire “vulture funds” profiteering off their pain. Activists with New York Communities for Change are fighting back. In this week’s issue, we have their story.
October 16, 2017
Growing inequality, this week’s issue reminds us, has become a deep-seated global concern, and overcoming that inequality is clearly going to take nothing less than a global effort. So where do we start? We start with building up understanding and anti-inequality expertise. And that’s just what an exciting new project — the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity — is now working to achieve.
October 9, 2017
In this week’s issue, we interview the new president of the Economic Policy Institute — a key resource in the struggle against inequality — and wonder about the psychological underpinnings that hold inequality in place.
October 2, 2017
Like many of you, we’ve been glued to the scant coverage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the completely insufficient emergency response. We’re hopeful the island gets the help they so desperately need and the news outlets don’t lose track of this incredibly important story.
One story the media has spared no expense to cover is the rollout of Trump’s tax plan. Check out co-editors Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, Josh Hoxie, and Inequality.org contributor Bob Lord in this viral video produced by Bernie Sanders explaining exactly who’ll benefit from the plan (now over a million views!). And don’t miss Chuck sitting down with Bernie for a Facebook Live interview on Tuesday October 3rd at 11:30!
September 25, 2017
With his hate-filled rhetoric, President Trump has managed to mobilize a new force against racial injustice: professional football players and team owners. As we all know, the racist justice system that has been the focus of the “take a knee” actions is intertwined with the problem of racial economic inequality. To learn more about this economic divide, check out the recent report we released with Prosperity Now, “The Road to Zero Wealth.”
This week, we’re excited to feature a commentary by the monopoly-busters who recently lost their jobs after criticizing Google’s excessive power. We also analyze the health care debate, the coming fight over tax cuts for the wealthy, and an absurd new way for billionaires to waste their money: luxury submarines.
September 18, 2017
The corporate interests getting rich on America’s current health care mess are already working to scare support off the Universal Medicare for All legislation Senator Bernie Sanders has just introduced with 15 co-sponsors. But Sanders is fighting back with a detailed analysis of tax-the-rich options for financing universal health care that draws upon our previously published Billionaire Bonanza report.
September 11, 2017
We cover a great deal of ground in this week’s Inequality.org issue, everything from the CEO-worker pay ratio disclosure victory just won in the UK to the absurdity of the runaway paychecks now going to American college football coaches.
September 4, 2017
The latest annual edition of our Institute for Policy Studies Executive Excess series reveals that profitable, tax-dodging corporations do not create jobs with the tax savings they reap. They lavish even higher pay on their top execs instead. The details and lots more in this week's issue.
August 28, 2017
In this week’s issue, we sit down with Matt Bruenig, founder of the just-launched People’s Policy Project, a new initiative that’s pushing back against the plutocratic stranglehold on America’s ongoing public policy discourse.
August 21, 2017 issue
The New York Times has featured a new analysis of the week since the racist riots in Charlottesville that salutes “a surprising group of Americans” for taking “the risk to speak truth to power.” And what “surprising group” did the Times have in mind? America’s corporate CEOs! We take a quite different perspective that takes into account the inequalities that drive horrors like the Charlottesville riots
July 31, 2017 issue
Pundits are giving credit for last week’s stunning defeat of the kill-Obamacare push to the three Republican senators who opposed the final repeal bill gasp. But the real heroes happen to be the countless activists nationwide who refused to be steamrolled and even put their bodies on the line. Unfortunately, the plutocrats aren’t stopping to lick their wounds. Next up on the Trump White House agenda: a tax cut for the wealthy that can only be described as a monumental cash grab by the ultra rich.
July 24, 2017 issue
Many of us have at times felt powerless in the face of the Trump era’s relentless inequality-increasing agenda. Not the folks behind Momentum, the grassroots UK initiative that last month shocked the political-insider world. Thanks in great part to the imagination — and dedication — of Momentum’s bottom-up efforts, the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn far exceeded political expectations in the UK parliamentary elections. We have more on Momentum, from two stalwarts of the new group.
July 17, 2017 issue
Donald Trump Jr. has been dominating the news cycle this past week. But Junior is turning out to be not the only Trump kid with sins on display. And Russia’s oligarchs are getting nearly as much out of our current White House as America’s home-grown variety of magnate. This collusion with Corporate America is enriching our rich and endangering programs and regs that speak to the needs of ordinary Americans. This week we highlight a sampling of this troubling activity.
July 10, 2017 issue
Who’s doing more globally than the folks at Oxfam to highlight how unequal our world has become? No one comes to our mind. But the folks at Oxfam aren’t resting on their laurels. They’re doing some cutting-edge thinking on what we have to say and do to start making a significant dent on our world’s incredibly concentrated income and wealth.
July 3, 2017 issue
Most all the early leaders of the American nation shared a commitment, as Connecticut minister Benjamin Trumbull put it, “not to suffer a few persons to amass all the riches and wealth” of their young nation. Nothing would do more to ensure the success of the new American republic, Noah Webster would proclaim after the Revolution, than achieving “a general and tolerably equal distribution of landed property.” On this Fourth of July, we would do well to heed that counsel.
June 26, 2017 issue
The new Senate health care bill looks every bit like earlier versions out of the House of Representatives: massive tax cuts for the wealthy made possible by massive increases in the ranks of the uninsured. How can so many of our elected leaders have lost all semblance of compassion and empathy? We sat down with a seasoned activist who can help us keep pushing forward in the face of a cruel and painful era. We have his advice — and more — in this week’s issue.