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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.