Protesters around the world are singling out the bad actors profiting off the deforestation of the lungs of the planet.
Some state motor vehicle bureaus have found a wild new way to raise revenue, Vice revealed last week. They’re selling the information you might give up to the government to get a driver’s license — everything from your birthdate to your address — to third parties, including bail bond companies and private investigators.

We have a better idea for states looking to enhance the public purse: raise taxes on the wealthy! Higher tax levies on the wealthy don’t require any invasions of privacy and have an extra added benefit. They reduce the inequality that’s poisoning our future. More this week on what our pols could — and should — be doing to narrow our grand divides and protect us from companies that profit off the harm they do us.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
Facebook Twitter
Activists Follow the Money Fueling Amazon Fires
With the world watching in horror as fires rage on in the Amazon, activists are shining a light on the big businesses destroying what’s popularly known as the “lungs of the Earth.” On September 5, people around the globe stood in solidarity with the rainforest’s indigenous communities by partaking in a Global Day of Action for the Amazon, staging protests and singling out the bad actors profiting off deforestation. We have a dispatch this week from one demonstration in Washington, D.C.
Read More
Facebook Twitter
The Unending Damage Dynastic Wealth Can Do
Newspapers labeled Cordelia Mellon Scaife the world’s “richest baby” at her birth in 1928. She certainly had one of the world’s richest families. Her grand-uncle, the industrialist-turned-U.S. treasury secretary Andrew Mellon, spent his lifetime squeezing workers and fighting to cut rich people’s taxes. But Mellon’s impact on American life didn’t end with his 1937 death. His heir Richard Mellon Scaife — Cordelia’s brother — spent his inheritance bankrolling the right-wing networks that undergirded the Reagan pushback against the New Deal’s egalitarian legacy. Cordelia, the New York Times revealed last month, made an equally destructive impact. She quietly became the nation’s single largest donor to anti-immigrant ideologues, bankrolling “the founding and operation of the nation’s three largest restrictionist groups.” Her life’s goal: keep the United States from “being invaded on all fronts” by immigrants who “breed like hamsters.” Before her 2005 death, Cordelia Mellon Scaife May exhorted her foundation’s board “to exercise the courage of their convictions” once she departed. Thanks to the Mellon dynastic fortune, that foundation now holds assets worth half a billion. That ought to be enough to give xenophobes everywhere enough “courage” to keep persecuting.
Facebook Twitter
Restructure Big Pharma? We Have a Decent Shot
The overall economic cost of fighting the opioid epidemic is now running over $500 billion a year. A leaked possible settlement with Purdue Pharma, a corporate ringleader of the opioid horror, could put a real dent into that outlay — if accompanied by similar settlements with other Big Pharma firms. But we know from the 1998 tobacco settlement that cash awards can go awry. Of the $125 billion that has gone to states since 1998, only 3 percent is fighting smoking and helping tobacco’s victims. In some states, tobacco settlement revenue may even be filling revenue holes left by tax cuts for the rich. So does that leave the possible Purdue Pharma settlement little more than a big nothingburger? Maybe not. The settlement may offer a template for a restructuring of Big Pharma. co-editor Sam Pizzigati, author of The Case for a Maximum Wage, has more.
Read More
This week on 

Liam Kennedy, Boris Johnson, Voice of the People? Give Me a Break. As the UK moves towards a People vs. Parliament election, the elitist defender of the big banks will need quite a transformation.

Yasin Khan, An Uber Driver’s Death Shows the Harms of Misclassifying Workers. Workers and their families should not have to rely on public donations if hurt or killed on the job.

Max Lawson, Billionaires Are a Sign of Economic Failure. Inherited wealth and crony capitalism have created an aristocratic class that undermines social mobility and democracy.

Phil Mattera, Has the Business Roundtable Really Seen the Light? Corporate signatories to a widely publicized statement on stakeholder accountability have racked up nearly $200 billion in penalties for past misconduct.

Jessicah Pierre, 400 Years After Slavery’s Start, No More Band-Aids. It’s time to heal the deep wounds of racism — not only to ensure equity for African Americans, but for our entire economy.

Jerome I. Levinson, Trump’s Order to Bring Jobs Home from China is Toothless. But There Are Sensible Ways to Discourage Offshoring. As his tariff war threatens to inflict unending pain on workers, farmers, and consumers, we need solutions that can actually deliver.

Chuck Collins, Tax the Rich Before the Rest. Candidates should pledge that the middle class won't pay $1 more in new taxes until billionaires put up at least $1 trillion.

Elsewhere on the Web

Jared Bennett, Lawmakers target anti-poverty programs after paid trips to Disney, Center for Public Integrity. A case study in how dollars from the wealthy undercut efforts to help our most vulnerable.

Chuck Thompson, The Rise and Spread of Excessive Wealth Disorder, Gen. A thoughtful look at the people of means leading the charge to tax the (very) rich.

Daniel Markovits, How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition, Atlantic. Meritocracy prizes achievement above all else, making everyone miserable. Greater equality offers the only way out.

Reuven Avi-Yonah, The Shaky Case Against Wealth Taxation, American Prospect. Taxing wealth remains both feasible and constitutional.

Trymaine Lee, A vast wealth gap, driven by segregation, redlining, evictions and exclusion, separates black and white America, New York Times. Law and public policy, not just spontaneous violence, have generated the racial wealth divide.

Samuel Brunson, Afterlife of the Death Tax, Indiana Law Journal. Why we need to move from taxing estates to taxing inheritances as income.

Robert Reich, The 5-Step CEO Pay Scam, Common Dreams. A new gameplan for quashing over-the-top CEO pay that includes a tax hike for firms that pay CEOs over 100 times more than average workers.

Whitney Milam, The Global 1% Is Destroying Democracy, Medium. The United States has become one of the leading jurisdictions in the world for moving, hiding, and legitimizing stolen wealth.

Binyamin Appelbaum, Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In, New York Times. Why did America listen to the people who thought we needed richer rich people?

Liaquat Ahamed, The Rich Can’t Get Richer Forever, Can They? New Yorker. How did the United States go from being the most egalitarian country in the West to being one of the most unequal?
Facebook Twitter