This week, we explore the obscene cascades of cash flooding the world of big-time consulting.
The five richest families in the United Kingdom own more wealth than the bottom 13 million people, our friends at the Equality Trust reported last week. The extreme inequality these numbers illustrate will likely be a motivating factor for UK voters in this coming week’s general election. These voters have a clear choice: accept the years of austerity that have deepened UK inequality or set a course for a more equitable future.

In this week’s issue, we take a look at a group of workers fighting for all our futures. We also explore the obscene cascades of cash flooding the world of big-time consulting.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Retail Workers Fight for Wall Street Accountability
Giovanna De La Rosa worked at Toys ‘R’ Us for 20 years before its Wall Street billionaire owners bankrupted the company. She’s now helping to lead the way for United for Respect, a worker group striving to hold private equity firms accountable for the job cuts they’ve caused at major U.S. retailers they’ve taken over. United for Respect has already successfully pressured the funds that drove Toys ‘R’ Us into the ground to provide some financial support for laid-off workers. De La Rosa’s bigger goal: to regulate the private equity industry and make it impossible for private equity kingpins to grab big bucks by putting people out of work.
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Hard to Imagine: A Telecom Exec Dissing Fortnite
Stockholders at Australian telecom giant Telstra haven’t been particularly happy of late. They’ve seen their share values plunge 40 percent while their CEO has registered a 34 percent pay hike. Telstra chairman John Mullen hasn’t been too happy of late either. He’s had enough of people piling on CEOs. At Telstra’s annual meeting earlier this fall, Mullen complained that “young kids can earn $5 million now by playing Fortnite” and yet business execs get nothing but grief “when they get to the top of their profession.” Why, he wondered, should CEOs be “somehow morally wrong” when “they get rewarded”? One possible reason: Kids playing Fortnite aren’t cheating anybody. Two years ago, Telstra agreed to compensate 42,000 customers who hadn’t been receiving their Internet service at the speeds promised. Late last month, Telstra admitted that the company hadn’t yet fixed the problem that led to those overcharges.
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On ICE and CEO Pay’s Most Obvious Contradiction
A blockbuster exposé on federal immigration policy and consultants at McKinsey & Company has suddenly bumped the giant consultancy industry onto the nation’s political center stage. The New York Times and Pro Publica last week revealed that the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — the notorious ICE — has shelled out millions to McKinsey for help implementing the White House border offensive. McKinsey has pushed, the news reports note, recommendations that risk “jeopardizing the health and safety” of detainees. This new spotlight on big-time consulting just might end up demystifying how high-flying consultants actually operate — and who they serve. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Josue De Luna Navarro, The Centuries-Long History of Extractive Greed. Climate change reflects the latest symptom of the malevolent virus that infects our capitalist economic order. Indigenous liberation offers a path towards healing our planet.

Basav Sen, Most Americans Support Phasing Out Fossil Fuels. Isn’t That Worth a Headline? The Washington Post downplayed the most hopeful findings of its own poll on climate action. We highlight those findings.

Elsewhere on the Web

Rupert Neate, UK's six richest people control as much wealth as poorest 13 million, Guardian. A new Equality Trust report demonstrates just how broken the UK economy has become.

Ben Steverman and Laura Davison, How Warren Could Get a Wealth Tax Past the U.S. Supreme Court, Bloomberg. A rundown on options for sidestepping bogus constitutional opposition to the Warren and Sanders wealth tax proposals.

Jeff Stein, Biden releases $3.2 trillion tax plan, highlighting divisions with Sanders and Warren, Washington Post. In a surprise, the just-unveiled Joe Biden tax plan does not include a financial transaction tax on Wall Street speculation. More on the inequality-related proposals of 2020 candidates.

Jim Tankersley, Could Tax Increases Speed Up the Economy? Democrats Say Yes, New York Times. Higher taxes on the rich could spur on the economy, even if the government did nothing with the revenue, because the concentration of income and wealth is dampening consumer spending.

Rhymer Rigby, Psychology of wealth: if you are worth millions, why bother working? Financial Times. So much for the argument that CEOs need high pay to perform: Studies consistently show that few of us work entirely or even mainly for money. 

Roy Poses, Why Hospitals Never Have Enough Nurses: The Explanatory Power of “Prasad’s Law” of Wealth Concentration, Health Care Renewal. In the U.S. health care system, goods and services that concentrate wealth never go begging. Medical goods and services that disperse wealth, by contrast, become “unaffordable.”
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