Bezos could make plenty of amazing things happen right here on our home planet — like allowing Amazon workers to unionize, refusing to play ball with the Trump deportation machine, or ending his company’s corporate tax dodging.
Could Jeff Bezos be any less grounded? The Amazon founder — and world’s richest individual — opined last week that building the infrastructure that would allow humanity to leave Earth en masse rates as the most important thing he could be doing.

“We’re gonna build a road to space,” the billionaire said about his new plans to help us exit Earth, “and then amazing things will happen.”

Of course, Bezos could make plenty of amazing things happen right here on our home planet — like allowing Amazon workers to unionize, refusing to play ball with the Trump deportation machine, or ending his company’s corporate tax dodging. We’ve got more this week on tech industry-fueled inequality and the people fighting back against it.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
Facebook Twitter
Rideshare Drivers Strike as Uber Goes Public
With the ring of a bell, ridesharing giant Uber made its debut last week on the New York Stock Exchange with a value of about $80 billion. Uber execs are cashing in nicely on the long-awaited IPO, but the drivers who actually build the company’s wealth aren’t seeing nearly as much of a payout. As one driver told co-editor Negin Owliaei: “On a bad day — and there’s too many of those bad days — you make less than minimum wage after expenses.” Rideshare drivers across the world went on strike ahead of the Uber public offering to demand that the big-dollar rideshare companies treat them — the backbone of the rideshare business model — with respect. We have more this week on their story.
Read More
Facebook Twitter
Financialization and Flying: A Deadly Combination
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg didn’t begin the production of the aerospace giant’s 737 MAX, an ill-fated jet that’s now crashed twice over a five-month span. He didn’t become Boeing’s CEO until 2015, four years after Boeing opted to compete — on the cheap — with a competitor’s new line by revamping Boeing’s existing 737 model instead of designing a new one. But Muilenburg did oversee that revamping, a process that now appears rushed and flawed. He also kept insisting after the two crashes, amid a global uproar over the 346 dead, that the 737 Max should keep flying. Late last month, a reporter asked Muilenburg if he’s considered resigning. Muilenburg refused to give a yes or no, instead noting he wants “to continue to lead on the front of safety.” Up until now, the Seattle Times points out, Muilenburg has actually led only on “reinventing” Boeing as a “diversified global player” with “predictable profits” capable of competing with Apple and Exxon for investor dollars. The reinventing has gone well for Muilenburg. He pulled down $23.4 million last year.
Facebook Twitter
A Stirring Call to Arms for Our World’s Netizens
The wealthy have been extracting wealth from the rest of us since time immemorial. In our modern times, the fossil fuel industry has come to serve as extraction’s most shameless poster-child. But today’s digital dynasties have maneuvered themselves into an extractive sweet spot that even the fossil-fuel crowd hasn’t been able to reach. Fossil-fuel kingpins have to pay at least a little to access the land they dig into. The kingpins of our Internet Age get the value they extract for free. That value — the data from Internet interactions — comes from us. We give it up at no charge whenever we go online. Now emerging in California, a drive to change that. co-editor Sam Pizzigati, author of The Case for a Maximum Wage, has more.
Read More
This week on 

Manuel Perez-Rocha and Jen Moore, Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble with Latin American Lives. In more than two-thirds of the mining-related lawsuits against governments in the region, communities have been actively organizing against the mining activities.

Sarah Anderson, U.S. Minimum Wage Would Be $33 If It Had Kept Pace with Wall Street Bonuses. Financial sector execs are enjoying a bonus bonanza, but low-wage workers haven’t seen a raise for nearly a decade.

Elsewhere on the web 

Pablo Uchoa, How global warming has made the rich richer, BBC. A new study has examined environmental and economic outcomes in 165 nations.

Heidi Shierholz, Reject the myth that rising inequality is inevitable, Guardian. The evidence clearly shows that our unequal economy does not reflect the unstoppable outcome of forces like automation.

Rick Edmonds, The newspaper company CEO pay game — heads I win, tails I win, Poynter. How media corporate boards justify slashing reporter jobs while paying their CEOs multiple millions.

David Cay Johnston, The Biggest Loser, DC Report. Newly disclosed tax returns reveal a President who may be the biggest loser in U.S. business history and a tax system that lets deep pockets strip businesses of cash.

Jesse Barron, How America’s Oldest Gun Maker Went Bankrupt: A Financial Engineering Mystery, New York Times. This compelling case study tracks how private equity billionaires hollow out going concerns for their own enrichment.

Thomas Piketty, Elizabeth Warren and the Wealth Tax, IndyBay. A tax on inherited wealth begins much too late. We also need an annual tax on grand concentrations of private wealth.

Alana Semuels, What the Strike Ahead of Uber's IPO Exposes About American Inequality, Time. Uber’s 3.9 million drivers will likely see their pay worsen over the upcoming year as the company strives to become more profitable while facing public shareholder pressure for the first time.

Krystal Ball, Trump didn't kill the rule of law — plutocrats did, The Hill. For more than 30 years, the uber-wealthy have been rewriting the tax code, feeding at the loophole and subsidy troughs.
Facebook Twitter
Finding the Cure for Excessive Wealth Disorder
The Institute for Policy Studies,, and the Economic Policy Institute invite you to attend a day-long conference on Taxing the (Very) Rich. Join policy experts, activists, and elected officials who will be making the case for taxing the very rich — and debating how best to accomplish that taxation!

Any serious policy agenda geared towards combating inequality and raising living standards for the vast majority, the conference will help show, must look to ultra-high earners in the top 0.1 percent, the elites who wield disproportionate economic and political power.

Free with Eventbrite Ticket.