How did Jeff Bezos bring in such extreme wealth? Amazon employees across Europe know all too well.
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.

Amazon workers across the continent went on strike last week on the retail giant’s deep-discount “Prime Day,” just as the Bezos fortune passed the $150 billion mark. Warehouse workers have served notice. They’re no longer going to sit back and watch their boss rake in unimaginable piles of cash while they’re forced to skip their bathroom breaks.

More this week on Bezos and how collective action – like those strikes in Europe – remain our best bet for protecting workers from their ultra-wealthy corporate chiefs. 

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Collective Action the Key to Keeping Labor Strong
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month in Janus v. AFSCME dealt a huge blow to public-sector unions, and some pundits jumped quickly to sound the death knell for organized labor. But those pundits haven’t been paying attention, as an AFL-CIO panel earlier this month make plain. The panel brought together workers from different economic sectors where innovative groups of workers have, over recent months, been making organizing inroads that concretely improve working conditions. Mery Concepcion shares their stories and shows how collective action can level the workplace playing field.
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Really Goofy: A CEO ‘Job Creator’ Barks Back
Disney CEO Bob Iger has a new pay deal that could reap him, Institutional Shareholder Services estimates, as much as $423 million over the next four years. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont wants to know how Iger could be making hundreds of millions “while workers at Disneyland are homeless and relying on food stamps to feed their families.” Disney flacks have no official comment on that. Iger himself did comment on Facebook to an earlier Sanders barb. Wrote the cranky chief exec: “To Bernie Sanders: We created 11,000 new jobs at Disneyland in the past decade and our company has created 18,000 in the U.S. in the last five years. How many jobs have you created?” Analysts last December noted that Iger’s upcoming Disney merger with Fox “could mean job cuts of between 5,000 and 10,000 at the Mouse House once the deal closes.”
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The Stunning Geography of U.S. Income Inequality
All politics, the old saw goes, is local. By the same token, all economics may be local, too. We don’t experience our economy as a national phenomenon. We experience economic life in more localized spheres. Researchers at the Economic Policy Institute have explored this reality over recent decades in a series of landmark collaborations that detail how our unequal economic order is playing out at the subnational level. The latest collaboration in this series — EPI’s best yet — has just appeared and offers rich insights into the social geography of America’s rich and their relationship to the rest of us. co-editor Sam Pizzigati, author of the just-published The Case for a Maximum Wage, has more.
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This week on 

Josh Hoxie, Our Missing $10 Trillion. Tax cuts from the Bush, Obama, and Trump years have left a massive gap in the public coffers. This hurts everyone.

Marie Clarke and Yolette Etienne, Haitian Development Should Start With the Haitian People. The recent IMF-sparked fuel price crisis offers just the latest example of wealthy nations and institutions pushing policies that worsen inequality.

Tom Lyon and Magali Delmas, When Corporations Take Credit for Green Deeds, Their Lobbying May Tell Another Story. Companies greenwash their records, drawing attention to their inconsequential initiatives instead of the environmental damage they cause.

Elsewhere on the web 

Nicole Karlis, We asked psychologists why so many rich people think the apocalypse is coming, Salon. Wealth, in the end, can’t buy security.

Lizzie O'Leary and Maria Hollenhorst, ‘Generation Wealth’ is about more than money, Marketplace. Filmmaker Lauren Greenfield discusses why many Americans feel pressured to “fake it till you make it.”

Martin Wolf, How we lost America to greed and envy, Financial Times. Understanding the strategies that make a plutocratic politics sustainable.

Osmond Chiu, CEOs don’t understand how angry workers feel about executive pay, Guardian. Are executives getting rewarded for wage theft? Sure looks like it.

Bill Torpy, Suwanee and South Atlanta, two worlds apart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contrasting daily life in metro Atlanta’s richest and poorest zip codes.

Lindsay Koshgarian, We Can Pay For Free College The Same Way We Paid For A Pointless $5.6 Trillion War, Buzzfeed. Ideas like Medicare for All are written off as fantasy thinking by the same people who support virtually unlimited military spending.

Andy Beckett, How to Spend It: the shopping list for the 1%, Guardian. Nothing reveals the lives of the ultra-rich like an unashamedly ostentatious luxury magazine.

Jeff Stein, ‘Housing for All’: Democrats push for big government response to soaring rents, Washington Post. Among the ideas being floated: taxes on vacant luxury properties, new housing units, and a national “Tenants Bill of Rights.”

William J. Barber II and Karen Dolan, Trump’s War on the Poor has just begun, Washington Post. The U.S. president declares “mission accomplished” in the War on Poverty, even though 43 percent of Americans rate as poor or low-income.
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The Case for a Maximum Wage!
Modern societies set limits on everything from how fast motorists can drive to how many ducks hunters can shoot. But we don’t limit incomes. Should we? Would limiting income address the inequality that ails us more effectively than more conventional approaches? Could a cap on income – a maximum wage – ever become politically practical?

All these questions deeply matter. That some people are making far too much has become not just a problem. This inequality has become the problem, a social cancer that’s coarsening our cultures, distorting our democracies, and even limiting how long we live.

This cancer we can conquer. Egalitarians worldwide, Sam Pizzigati details in The Case for a Maximum Wage, are exploring promising new approaches to capping income. These grassroots struggles point us toward a grander goal: a world with income ceilings set as a multiple of income floors. A world without the super rich. A better world for us all. readers who order before July 31 can get 50 percent off the cover price. Just use promo code PIZMW.