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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.