We have more in this week’s issue about the State of the Union. And we also have more on the movements working to create a real prosperous and inclusive society, whether by pushing pro-worker legislation through Congress or building global networks to take on corporate power.
Could we have had a busier week than last week? For one, we saw the U.S. Democratic Party kick off the battle for the 2020 presidential nomination with the Iowa caucuses, a distinctly inequitable exercise, as my colleague Sarah Anderson wrote before the contest.

We were still watching the results from Iowa unfold when President Trump last Wednesday delivered a State of the Union that papered over the rising inequality on his watch. Trump’s address boasted that his presidency had built a “prosperous and inclusive society” — one of many unfounded claims that peppered a speech filled with racist rhetoric.

We have more in this week’s issue about the State of the Union. And we also have more on the movements working to create a real prosperous and inclusive society, whether by pushing pro-worker legislation through Congress or building global networks to take on corporate power.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
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A New Global Network is Driven to Organize
Last month’s long-awaited Brexit signaled the UK’s apparent exit from all things international. But UK union activists are moving in the opposite direction by working to build global solidarity. The UK-based United Private Hire Drivers association has brought together organizers from 27 countries, from as far away as Indonesia and Australia, and launched a new global network, the International Alliance of App Based Transport Workers. Bama Athreya has more this week on the new group challenging the global power of transportation companies like Uber and Lyft.
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This Billionaire Can’t Fleece Us Fast Enough
What gets Amazon’s billionaire “genius” Jeff Bezos really upset? Getting upstaged by another billionaire “genius,” of course! Bezos, Bloomberg reports, felt enormously irked a few years back when he saw Tesla’s Elon Musk grabbing far more in subsidies from states and localities than Amazon. Enough with playing nice, Bezos groused, with communities where Amazon wanted to situate new facilities! Amazon would play tough instead and hold a national competition to get elected officials into bidding wars over who could cough up the most tax dollars for Amazon’s new second headquarters. Internally, Bloomberg notes, Amazon staffers “cringed,” fearful their company “would come across as tone-deaf given Bezos’s wealth.” Those fears would be realized. In New York — Amazon’s final choice for one of two “HQ2” sites — massive local opposition erupted. In a huff, Bezos pulled out of the $500-million subsidy deal, and that gave Elon Musk the last laugh. Amazon remains $100 million behind Tesla’s $2.4-billion handout haul.
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Living in Deep Inequality, Dying in Deep Despair
Americans are living a little bit longer, according to new stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the United States still sits at the bottom of the developed world’s life expectancy rankings. As the developed world’s most unequal nation, we shouldn’t be surprised. Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on Inequality.org 

Michaela Rafferty, Before Celebrating Sinn Féin Election Surge, Consider Their Pro-Austerity Record in the North of Ireland. For over two decades, the party has shared power in the North of Ireland, where it has widened the gaps between rich and poor.

Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo, Progressive Experts Rebut Trump’s False Claims About Shared Prosperity. In his State of the Union address, the president made a poor attempt to conceal the continued rise in economic inequality under his administration.

Anastasia Christman and Brian Chen, House Approves Worker Rights Bill in Face of Growing Labor Backlash Against Trickle-Down Policies. The PRO Act, which offers a pathway to increased power for the working class, passed the House with bipartisan support. 

Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo, In Blow to Privatizers, House Passes Postal Financial Relief. The bipartisan bill would ease the financial challenges that critics have used to justify calls for postal worker wage cuts and selling lucrative parts of the service to for-profit corporations.

Chuck Collins, Taxing Wealth Emperors in the Empire State. The Strong For All coalition is pressing for “budget justice,” a package of higher taxes on the very rich rather than austerity budget cuts and new levies that hit the non-wealthy. 

Jake Lilien, Civil Rights Testing Finds Discriminatory Housing Practices. As several recent cases from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition show, laws alone are not enough to end housing discrimination.

Elsewhere on the Web

Casey Michel, How the US became the center of global kleptocracy, Vox. The United States has become the key cog in the machine of modern kleptocracy worldwide. But that status didn’t start with Trump.

Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, Taxing the Superrich, Boston Review. Two of the world’s top experts on wealth distribution explain the necessity and practicality of a stiff tax on grand private fortune.

Amy Hanauer, Washington Is Finally Having the Right Conversation about Taxes, Just Taxes. Americans have been telling pollsters for years that they want higher taxes on the wealthy. Pols are finally catching up. 

Daniel Markovits, How McKinsey Destroyed the Middle Class, Atlantic. Technocratic management, no matter how brilliant, cannot unwind structural inequalities.

Lisa Graves, Love the billionaire bucks flooding US 2020 elections? Thank Charles Koch, Guardian. New revelations on why most Americans can’t afford to max out in campaign contributions while billionaires have what amounts to a divine right to spend unlimitedly.

John Cassidy, Can We Have Prosperity Without Growth? New Yorker. A larger GDP doesn’t necessarily mean a rise in human well-being — especially if it isn’t distributed equitably.

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