From the blowback of last year's tax cuts to Brexit, from the protests in France to new warnings of climate catastrophe, the year showed over and over what we can expect if we don't deal with our economic divides.
Inequality — and its consequences — dominated the headlines in 2018. From the blowback of last year’s tax cuts to Brexit, from the protests in France to new warnings of climate catastrophe, the year showed over and over what we can expect if we don’t deal with our economic divides.  

But the work of activists and organizers helped us move forward. A wave of teacher strikes invigorated us right after pessimistic pundits deemed the Janus Supreme Court decision a death knell for the labor movement. Jeff Bezos, after facing years of protest pressure, finally set a $15 minimum wage for Amazon workers. Even just this month hotel workers won the biggest strike their industry has ever seen.

And 2019 will bring a fresh new slate of inequality-minded leaders into Congress. We’re looking forward to seeing what they — and the movements that helped elect them — will accomplish next year. Meanwhile, we’ll be taking a short holiday break for the next two weeks, so an early happy New Year to all of our readers!

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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The Public Servants Fighting For U.S. Mail
The holidays are a time for surprises, some of them unwelcome — like the additional fees private delivery companies like UPS and FedEx charge based on where you send your packages. U.S. Mail’s flat rate option, by contrast, will allow you to send a present to your grandma at a uniform price, regardless of where she lives. But the federal government is pushing to restructure our public post office. Kathy Toler has been a postal clerk for 23 years. This week, she tells us why extra charges make up just the beginning of what we can expect if the Trump administration gets its way.
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A New Twist for a Billionaire Addicted to Silence
The billionaire Richard Sackler doesn’t much like talking to the press, especially since in-depth media analyses have labeled Purdue Pharma, the privately held firm that’s made his family rich, a key profiteer behind the opioid crisis that last year cost nearly 50,000 Americans their lives. But Sackler’s low-profile may be fading. A Kentucky court last week ruled that depositions in a 2015 lawsuit against Purdue, including one from Sackler himself, must now be unsealed. The Sacklers are currently facing “mass litigation” for the overprescribing and deceptive marketing of the addictive painkiller OxyContin. That hasn’t stopped Richard from moving to profit from this mass addiction. He has patented, news reports have revealed, a “reformulation of a drug used to wean addicts off opioids.” The addict advocacy group PAIN has condemned this new patent for Sackler and his associates as morally “reprehensible.” Adds the group: “Maybe they can patent a funeral parlor next.”
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Can an Unequal Earth Beat Back Climate Change?
Some 250 million years ago, life on Earth survived an existential climate crisis. But that Earth had a distinct advantage. No rich. Taking significant action against climate change, a global civil society environmental coalition is now suggesting, will require that we directly confront the inequality both between and within nations. co-editor Sam Pizzigati, author of The Case for a Maximum Wage, has more.
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This week on 

Porter McConnell and Rion Dennis, No Labels and the ‘Problem Solvers’ are Wolves of Wall Street in Sheep’s Clothing. Last year's tax cut legislation was a barely-cloaked present to the same financiers who crashed the world economy in 2008.

Max Moran, Wall Street Thrives and Working People Struggle as GOP Tax Cut Turns One. Political organizations hide their pro-finance politics under the cloak of bipartisanship while they rake in funding from corporate interests.

Elsewhere on the web 

Khury Petersen-Smith, America Has 14,000 Golf Courses and 6,000 Refugees Waiting at the Border, BuzzFeed. The United States is a land of plenty, not scarcity — and undocumented immigrants are not the reason our hospitals and social services are crumbling.

Meagan Day, The Fund for Needy Millionaires, Jacobin. Five ways Washington shovels billions in public money to the super rich.

Bonnie Honig, No Collision, Boston Review. In the face of climate apocalypse, the rich are devising escape plans.

Claude Fischer, Shareholder Value: Law, Inequality, and the Doubting Justice, Made in America. How the idea that only shareholders matter took root and devastated U.S. workers.

Paul Buchheit, The Inequality to Be Suffered by Our Children, Common Dreams. Nearly a third of U.S. wealth will be handed down over the next generation, mostly to rich kids.

Dean Baker, Robert Samuelson Says That He Is Very Closed-Minded and Won't Accept Wage Stagnation, Beat the Press. A takedown of a widely syndicated columnist who’s claiming that the income divide in the United States hasn’t been growing all that much.

Joe Pinsker, The Reason Many Ultrarich People Aren’t Satisfied With Their Wealth, Atlantic. The power of reference groups.

Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger, Who’s More Likely to Be Audited: A Person Making $20,000 — or $400,000? ProPublica. Thanks to budget cuts at the IRS, the audit rate on America’s wealthiest has been cut in half.

Harold Meyerson, How to Compel Big Employers to Be Better Employers, American Prospect. Some innovative proposals for sharing our wealth from American’s only woke venture capitalist.
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A Special Holiday Book Deal
Our team published two books this year, and we’re pleased to offer our subscribers a special holiday discount! Whether you’re doing last-minute gift shopping or looking for some vacation reading to motivate your fight against inequality in 2019, you can get 20 percent off the paperback version of new titles from co-editors Sam Pizzigati and Chuck Collins.

In The Case for a Maximum Wage, Sam Pizzigati details how egalitarians worldwide are demonstrating that a “maximum wage” could be both economically viable and politically practical. And in Is Inequality in America Irreversible? Chuck Collins succinctly diagnoses the causes and drivers of rampant inequality and demolishes simplistic theories that hold that current inequalities reflect technological change, globalization, or differences in merit.

Use the promo code EQUAL to get 20 percent off the paperback version of one or both books from Polity Books website. Shipping, please note, does run extra.