Furloughed federal workers are holding yard sales as Donald Trump manufactures a crisis to demonize immigrants.
Hundreds of thousands of U.S. federal workers received $0 paystubs on Friday as the government shutdown entered its third week. Furloughed federal workers are holding yard sales — and turning to payday lenders — to make ends meet. Donald Trump, meanwhile, continues manufacturing a border crisis and demonizing immigrants.

The federal shutdown, Jamiles Lartey points out in the Guardian, is hitting black workers the hardest. Discrimination in the private sector has left a disproportionate number of black workers in government jobs, and a $0 paycheck, given America’s longstanding racial wealth divide, has a much bigger impact on black families.

That wealth gap has worsened over recent years, we show in our new Institute for Policy Studies study, Dreams Deferred: How Enriching the 1 Percent Widens the Racial Wealth Divide. Read on for a sneak peek from this new report. We have the data — and the policy prescriptions the nation desperately needs to start the U.S. economy working for us all.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
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New Yorkers Hold New Politicians to Their Word
November’s Blue Wave didn’t just change the face of Congress. Democrats flipped hundreds of state legislature seats as well, including in New York, where the party won effective control of the Senate for the first time in years. Winning candidates in New York promised significant progressive change. Now the activists who helped elect those winners have turned their attention to holding the victors accountable. Inequality.org co-editor Negin Owliaei has more.
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Bribery: Still a Great Shortcut to Grand Fortune
The embattled corporate drug pusher John Kapoor believes he “will be vindicated.” But you have to figure that Kapoor must be having his doubts. Last week a venture capital exec that Kapoor hired to run one of his pharmaceutical companies pled guilty to scheming “to bribe doctors into increasing prescriptions to boost sales.” That company, Insys Therapeutics, has been hawking a mouth spray that delivers fentanyl, an opioid 80 times more potent than morphine. For Kapoor, the Insys scandal amounts to business as usual. He’s “made a habit,” Forbes charges, “of founding companies and allowing them to push legal and ethical limits.” A lucrative habit. In 2015, Kapoor’s personal fortune hit $3.3 billion. In late 2017, authorities arrested Kapoor for his role in the Insys conspiracy, and his fortune subsequently skidded to a mere $875 million. Kapoor goes on trial January 28. He still should be able to afford his legal fees.

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A Sharp New Turn in Our Tax-the-Rich Discourse
Who gets taxed in the United States — and by how much — can change both drastically and fast. Over the last century or so, for instance, the top tax rate on America’s rich has bounced as low as 7 percent and as high as 94 percent. We’re now living in a low phase for that top rate. No dollar of a billionaire’s income today ever faces a federal income tax rate over 37 percent. But could we soon be in for another big bounce up? America’s biggest fans of grand private fortune certainly think so — and that prospect has them terrified. What’s spooking the go-gentle-on-the-rich crowd? An appearance on 60 Minutes by the most charismatic new lawmaker on Capitol Hill in years. Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati, author of The Case for a Maximum Wage, has more.
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Dreams Deferred: How Enriching the 1 Percent Widens the Racial Wealth Divide
Over the past three decades, a polarizing racial wealth divide has grown between White households and households of color. In commemoration of what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 90th birthday, the new Institute for Policy Studies report, Dreams Deferred: How Enriching the 1 Percent Widens the Racial Wealth Divide, highlights how historic racial wealth disparities have been perpetuated and increased by the trend towards extreme inequality in the United States.

The median Black family today owns $3,600, just 2 percent of the $147,000 in wealth the median White family owns. The median Latino family has assets worth $6,600, 4 percent as much as the median White family. In other words, the median White family has 41 times more wealth than the median Black family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family.

The widening of the racial wealth divide has coincided with the extreme concentration of U.S. wealth. Between 1983 and 2016, the number of households with $10 million or more skyrocketed by 856 percent.

Both the racial wealth divide and our staggeringly unequal economy reflect public policies that have favored Whites and the very wealthy. Public policies aimed at reducing both trends will be critical to creating a more equitable economic system and a more just society overall.
This week on Inequality.org 

Basav Sen, Democratic Leaders Failed Their First Big Test on Climate. Policymakers blocked action on a Green New Deal, which would tackle climate change alongside economic inequality.

Elsewhere on the web 

Fernando Duarte, It takes a CEO just days to earn your annual wage, BBC World Service. A global comparison.

Lawrence Wittner, Do We Really Need Billionaires? History News Network. No, but we have them anyway, as the heads of state of the world’s three most powerful nations no less.

Pam Martens, A Wall Street Felon and High Frequency Traders Announce Plan to Form Stock Exchange, Wall Street on Parade. Plutocrats are getting ready to release volume II of financialization’s greatest hits.

Dylan Grundman, Moving Toward More Equitable State Tax Systems, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The specific steps states can take to make the taxing they do more effective and equitable.

Top charts of 2018, Economic Policy Institute. Twelve charts that show how policy could reduce inequality instead of making it worse.
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