Donald Trump Jr. is dominating the news cycle as pundits and politicians alike scramble to understand exactly how damning his recent revelations will be. 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 real needs of ordinary Americans. This week we highlight a sampling of this troubling activity. But we share some inspiration, too — from the advocates for affordable housing now taking on the Wall Streeters who’ve become America’s biggest new landlord. Plenty more in this week’s issue — like a stroll onto the luxury liner with the world’s first floating full-size tennis court.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
Tenants March to Protest Wall Street Landlords
Tenant activists from 16 states converged on the nation’s capital last week to speak out about the country’s affordable housing crisis — a crisis that would get much worse under the Trump budget plan. The budget proposes draconian cuts for low-income housing and shields subsidies that benefit wealthy landlords, including Blackstone and other private equity funds now investing heavily in rental real estate. One Wall Street landlord in Florida, senior activist Margie Mathers shared last week from her first-hand experience, has nearly tripled rents over the last four years.
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A $40-Million CEO Bounces by a ‘Speed Bump’
Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries did quite well in 2016. The UK cable company chief pulled down $40.1 million for running pay-TV operations in Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Liberty Global shareholders didn’t do quite so well. Their shares dropped 17 percent last year. No cause for alarm, opined Fries last month at the company’s annual meeting, “just more volatility in our share price than we’re used to.” Liberty Global, he pronounced, had merely hit “a speed bump.” Fortunately for Fries, that bump hasn’t bothered the American billionaire John Malone, Liberty Global’s single biggest shareholder. At the annual meeting, Malone voted his huge stake in the company against an activist shareholder move to express horror at the “excessive” Fries compensation package.
On this week, Chuck Collins dives into the decidedly shady world of modern day Wall Street loan sharks. Speaking of shady, Josh Hoxie does some eye-opening divulging on the unsavory exploits of the Trump family young ’uns not named Junior. Josh also has more on the landmark Seattle City Council vote to place a precedent-setting 2.25 percent city income tax on individual income over $250,000. 

Also new on, activists Sophia Murphy and Karen Hansen-Kuhn show how global wealth gaps widen when agribusiness corporations export food at artificially low prices. Veteran journalist Rex Weiner offers an inside look at the taxpayer-subsidized hospitals that are letting America’s wealthy buy their way out of a broken health care system, and Peter Certo, editor of OtherWords, makes the case that Trumpean collusion with Russia pales in comparison to the White House’s much more understated collusion with America’s corporate chiefs.

Elsewhere on the web, Kashana Cauley argues that millennials may be well-positioned to lead America’s next great labor upsurge. At the other end of the age spectrum, Teresa Ghilarducci explains, in an engaging 10-minute interview, the workings of what has become a “Retirement Wealth Inequality Machine.”

The generation of 1776 also worried about inequality machines. Jedediah Purdy explains why the founders believed that democracy can only thrive if wealth does not concentrate. Want a more modern take on the problems inequality creates? Kai-Fu Lee has a timely warning about what may happen if we let CEOs call the shots on the rise of artificial intelligence.
A Rorschach Test for a Deeply Unequal World
Does the world’s finest floating luxury condo complex offer the ultimate in human existence or the surest sign yet of an economic order gone hopelessly haywire? co-editor Sam Pizzigati has the story of The World, a residential luxury liner for the top 0.1 percent that endlessly circumnavigates the globe, offering the 200 deep pockets onboard not a home away from home, but an actual home.
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