A New Jersey state senator wants the U.S. Coast Guard to send a message to the ultra wealthy: Stop parking your gargantuan mega yachts in front of our Statue of Liberty! Senator Richard Codey has a point. This past spring, one 370-foot yacht blocked the Statue of Liberty view for weeks. That view belongs to us all.

So should our political process. 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. We also mark the annual back-to-school rush with a question we wish we didn’t have to ask: Should public school teachers have to panhandle to prep for a new school year?

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team

Getting Ready for the Day the Power Structure Shifts

The prospects for passing progressive public policy at the federal level right now seem, um, rather remote. But that’s not stopping Matt Bruenig, the founder of the newly launched People’s Policy Project. Bruenig’s new venture is leveraging his massive personal Twitter following — an audience over a quarter-million strong and counting — with a fundraising strategy based on Bernie Sanders-style small-dollar contributions. co-editor John Hoxie had the opportunity recently to interview Bruenig about his new project — and about what gives him hope in these dismal political times.

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Layered in Luxury and Mighty Damn Proud of It!
The ultimate let-them-eat-cake moment of 2017 may end up belonging to Louise Linton, the third wife of mega-millionaire Steve Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s secretary of the treasury. Last Monday, after returning from an trip to Louisville with her husband, Linton touched all the Marie-Antoinette bases. Over the course of less than 24 hours, the online social media world saw her, as one news analysis cogently sums up, “stepping off a taxpayer-funded plane, swathed head to toe in pricey couture, bragging about it, and snarking to somebody who pointed out the distastefulness of the scene by making fun of her for not being rich.” Linton has since apologized for her “highly insensitive” Instagram post. But the incident, some pundits are predicting, could complicate GOP plans to enact a rich people-friendly tax-cut package this fall.

On this week freelance journalist and documentary-maker Marina Watson Pelaez offers an inside look into our rising global urban gentrification. In Portugal, officials in Lisbon are exploring real solutions.

Also this week, is cross-posting the Chuck Collins analysis on the resurgence of “rent to own” housing scams that originally published in the Guardian. A deeper investigative write-up on this growing practice appeared on last month.

Elsewhere on the web, Matt O’Brien at the Washington Post Wonkblog explains just how phony Trump’s populist claims have become. In Trump’s (feeble) defense, pushing policies to help working families can be hard in a White House flush with billionaire advisors. The richest of these advisors, Carl Icahn, has just joined the exodus from Trumpland after brilliant reporting by Patrick Radden Keefe in the New Yorker exposed Icahn’s outlandish abuse of the public trust.

In the Jacobin, Peter Gowan and Mio Tastas Viktorsson offer us some diversion from the Trumpland dominance of the news cycle by pointing us to an overlooked page in the Swedish history books. They tell the fascinating story of the Meidner Plan, a bold 1970s-era Swedish labor movement move toward sharing corporate capital.

From the Roosevelt Institute, J.W. Mason argues for a more market-centric approach in a readable new report that calls on the Federal Reserve to take a bigger role in reducing inequality through a more expansionary policy.

One simple approach to reducing inequality: Executives can pay themselves less and their workers more.  The Harvard Business School’s Michael Wheeler updates the encouraging story of what happened when Seattle credit-card CEO Dan Price did just that — and raised his lowest employee pay to $70,000 per year

And finally, Ian Walsh really wants you to read The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, the 2009 instant classic by the British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. If you don’t have time for the book right now, don’t miss Walsh’s fine review.

Should Teachers Have to Panhandle to Teach?
In Oklahoma, third grade teacher Teresa Danks has been spending $2,000 annually of her own money on school supplies her school district can’t afford to buy. Earlier this summer, with her school facing still another budget cut, Danks actually started panhandling. She took to a busy street corner with a simple hand-made sign that asked for help paying for school supplies. Many passers-by did help. But the fiscal squeeze on America’s local public school budgets is now threatening to get even worse. The wealthy execs who run America’s big-box retail giants — the places where many teachers go to buy school supplies — have unleashed a lawsuit blitz that aims to significantly lower their local property tax bills. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has the story.
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