Plenty of state fights against inequality are keeping us hopeful.
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.

Among these encouraging efforts: In California, activists are pushing to reinstate an estate tax on grand fortune and use the resulting revenue to fund debt-free higher education. If just a few thousand of the state’s multi-millionaires and billionaires had to face this tax, a new report that we’ve just released details, 2.5 million students would benefit mightily — and California would be considerably less unequal.

We’re also excited about this week’s launch of the Poor People’s Campaign. Activists involved with the extraordinary fusion movement will be making their presence felt around the country over the next seven weeks, in a mobilization that reminds us where real change takes place: at the grassroots.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Building a United Working Class in North Carolina
Brigid Flaherty knew exactly where she had to start when she founded the grassroots organization Down Home North Carolina along with Todd Zimmer after the 2016 election. She had to listen — to rural red state residents written off by the left. Flaherty’s new group would go on to knock on 4,000 doors and show rural communities the respect so often denied. As Flaherty puts it: “No one ever asked me to give tax breaks to billionaires and multinational corporations. No one ever asked me to transfer wealth off of the backs of working people or allow big money to influence our election.” Down Home North Carolina compiled the research from its listening tour into a report released earlier this year, and the group is now working alongside the Poor People’s Campaign to build a transformative movement in the South. Negin Owliaei has more.
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Save the Children: A Wheeler-Dealer’s Prescription
The Wall Street billionaire Ken Langone, an original moving force behind Home Depot, is worried about America’s young. Their support for “higher taxes and spending and an expanded government role in health care, child care, and higher education,” he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, has the country “in trouble.” So Langone is pushing back with a new memoir entitled I Love Capitalism. The 82-year-old has also begun pumping political contributions to more conservative Democrats, not just the Republican right-wingers he normally bankrolls. Langone currently splits his time between a home on Long Island and pads in Manhattan, North Carolina, and Florida. He may now own “custom-made suits and airplanes,” but, Langone insists, he still enjoys the simple pleasures.
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Three Cheers for a Frugal Brooklyn Legal Secretary
Over the course of her 96 years, long-time legal secretary Sylvia Bloom pinched pennies into a multi-million-dollar fortune, then gave that fortune away to help others. She deserves credit. The flacks for our wealthy who so loudly salute her thrift and caring, on the other hand, deserve only a Bronx cheer. They’re exploiting Bloom’s remarkable life — and other lives like hers — into a rationalization for the riches of our richest. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has details.
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This week on 

Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, Restoring Opportunity: Taxing Wealth to Fund College For All in California. A new report describes an estate tax initiative that could make college accessible for millions of students.

Sarah Anderson, Gender Justice at the Heart of the Poor People’s Campaign. The campaign's first week of nonviolent moral direct actions will shine a spotlight the problems of women in poverty.

Eli Clifton, Follow the Money: Three Billionaires Paved Way for Trump’s Iran Deal Withdrawal. GOP megadonors are getting exactly what they paid for when they threw their financial weight behind Donald Trump.

Bob Lord, Congress Made It Harder to Give Teachers Raises. Under the new GOP tax law, states that pay teachers a living wage subsidize states that pay them poorly.

Beverley Skeggs, Pursuing Profits in Elder Care Puts Us All at Risk. The UK is turning adult care into an investment proposition, with disastrous results for care givers and residents.

Elsewhere on the web 

Annette Alstadsæter, Niels Johannesen, and Gabriel Zucman, Tax evasion and inequality, Vox. The super rich appear to evade at least 25 percent of the taxes they owe. But we can limit that evasion by shrinking the supply of wealth concealment services.

Jillian Berman, The black-white wealth gap is fueled by student debt, MarketWatch. The latest evidence that college financing is increasingly contributing to inequality.

Robert Booth, Give millennials £10,000 each to tackle generation gap, The Guardian. A UK think tank is proposing a “citizen's inheritance” to narrow the generational wealth gap.

Brent Lang and David Lieberman, Do Media Chiefs Deserve the Lavish Pay Packages They Rake In? Variety. Big media CEOs are averaging over 500 times their typical worker pay.

Rick Wilson, If Extreme Inequality Harms Our Whole Society, What Is a Conscientious Person to Do? Common Dreams. Thoughts from a veteran American Friends Service Committee activist.
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Is Inequality in America Irreversible?
We are living in a time of extreme inequality, and few places have become more unequal than the United States, where the 20 richest now own more wealth than the bottom half of the population combined.

In his latest book, activist Chuck Collins succinctly diagnoses the causes and drivers of rampant inequality and demolishes the simplistic theories that link current inequalities primarily to technological change and globalization or differences in merit. Is Inequality in America Irreversible? proposes a wide range of public policies that could de-rig our economic system and shows how transformative local campaigns can become a national movement for lasting egalitarian change. readers who pre-order before May 31 can get 50 percent off the cover price. Just use promo code COL18.