We have more this week on why we should always be skeptical when corporate elites say they care — and some suggestions as well for holding these elites much more accountable.
Every pandemic week that passes seems to only highlight more and more how insulated — and wealthier — our wealthy elites have become. A sizable number of pandemic profiteers, as our recent Billionaire Bonanza report detailed, are making vast sums off the misery of the rest of us.

Meanwhile, with millions of people struggling to cope amid ballooning unemployment, the community-based nonprofits that could be providing real relief are struggling, too. We’ve identified one solution: Congress could require cash-flush foundations to step up their annual payouts.  Wealthy donors have already taken tax deductions on these dollars.

We have more this week on why we should always be skeptical when corporate elites say they care — and some suggestions as well for holding these elites much more accountable. 

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
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For Gig Workers, an Unexpected Organizing Focus
This time last year, we were sharing the stories of rideshare drivers who were demonstrating their collective power and staging a historic strike to demand fair pay for their work. Now, deep into our corona pandemic, Uber and Lyft drivers and other gig workers are finding themselves fighting for their lives, not just their livelihoods. With companies worldwide turning to contactless service, the guidelines and protections gig workers can win today in the midst of our coronavirus crisis will have an incredible future impact. More this week from Bama Athreya on how gig workers are adapting their organizing during the pandemic.
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Pay to Play, For This Mogul, Becomes Pay to Pluck
Mountaire Farms, one of the nation’s largest poultry packers, has been a notorious corner-cutter under CEO Ron Cameron, paying out over $9 million in safety and environmental penalties since 2000. Last month, a rising Covid-19 caseload at Cameron’s plants had the North Carolina National Guard testing symptomatic Mountaire employees in Chatham County. That testing revealed 74 cases. Mountaire’s response? Company officials have “stopped publicly confirming the number of positive cases at their plants.” Mountaire plants are remaining up and running because President Trump has designated “processors of beef, pork, and poultry” as “critical infrastructure” that must continue to operate. This designation, the president may figure, will also help ensure that industry heavyweights like Ron Cameron will continue on as generous Trump contributors. So far in the 2020 cycle, Popular Information’s Judd Legum notes, Cameron has poured over $4.5 million into various Trump-related campaign stashes.
Make Bailed-Out CEOs Put ‘Skin in the Game’
Congress is now beginning debate on a fourth crisis relief package. Will lawmakers put in place tough corporate oversight measures to prevent corporate profiteering off this relief? Major labor unions, responsible investment groups, and other public-interest organizations have called on congressional leaders to consider five specific steps that can restrict executive pay at firms that receive financial aid. Here’s one that deserves more attention: Withhold part of the paychecks of top executives as insurance against potential misconduct. Specifically, execs who earn more than $1 million should have to put half their pay in a pot for 10 years. If their company is caught engaging in misconduct — whether by misusing aid, money laundering, abusing consumers, price gouging, or some other infraction — the company would pay any fines from this pot. With their own paychecks on the line, senior executives would have a strong incentive to police their own companies.
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Top CEOs Said They Cared About Us All. They Lied.
Last August, the nearly 200 top CEOs who make up the prestigious Business Roundtable sort of asked for forgiveness. Twenty-two years earlier, the Business Roundtable had released an official policy statement celebrating the notion that corporations essentially have only one responsibility: to make money for shareholders. This past summer, Business Roundtable CEOs delivered unto America a new policy statement that totally contradicted the smug certainty of that 1997 corporate decree. All that business about shareholder primacy? Chief execs don’t believe that anymore, the new Business Roundtable declaration gave notice. The corporations they lead instead “share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders.” Now, thanks to the pandemic, we know those chiefs didn’t mean a word of that. Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more on how we know.
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This week on Inequality.org 

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Poor People's Campaign: We Refuse to Allow Politicians and Big Corporations to Balance State Budgets by Denying Rights. Leaders are using the lie of scarcity to place the burden of the corona crisis on the poor while billionaires are getting richer and major corporations are getting bailouts.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Sally Sim, Racial Health and Economic Disparities are Two Sides of the Same Coin. Covid-19 continues to aggravate deeply embedded inequalities. We need bold policy solutions aimed at bridging the racial wealth divide now more than ever.

Sarah Anderson, A For-Profit Postal Service Would Slam Small Businesses. Trump's false claims about Amazon ripping off USPS are a distraction from a privatization agenda that would be devastating for ordinary Americans who rely on the Postal Service.

Elsewhere on the Web

Alissa Quart, An American tradition: Shaming the poor. Washington Post. The Economic Hardship Reporting Project executive director on four important new books that explore how American society paints a toxic portrait of those struggling to get by.

Scott Wallace, How to trigger $200 billion in coronavirus aid at no cost to taxpayers: Tap foundations, USA Today. The grandson of the great egalitarian Henry Wallace explains why we need to expect much more from the foundations where the rich park their cash.

Eileen Appelbaum, Andrew Park, and Rosemary Batt, How Private Equity Firms Will Profit From COVID-19, American Prospect. J. Crew joins a long list of private equity–owned retail chains that have made millions for their Wall Street owners and cost hundreds of thousands of retail workers their jobs.

Harold Clarke and Paul Whiteley, Economic inequality can help predict Covid-19 deaths in the US, LSE US Centre. Economic inequality, new research shows, works to increase the incidence and impact of Covid-19 among all segments of the American public.

Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Why coronavirus might just create a more equal society in Britain, Guardian. In the UK at least, the pandemic has forced the government to put well-being before growth.

Agata Soroko, The Financial Literacy Delusion, Public Seminar. Our schools need honest narratives about the distribution of wealth.

Steve Wamhoff, Trump’s Latest Tax Break Proposals Include Everything — Except Helping Regular People, JustTaxes. The White House proposal to suspend the Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes for the rest of the year would send 65 percent of the move’s benefits to the richest fifth of Americans and 25 percent to the top 1 percent.

Steve Randy Waldmann, Segregation cannot set you free, Interfluidity. Segregation has always been affluent America’s go-to coping mechanism.

Paul Heideman, Don’t Listen to David Brooks: It’s Not You, It’s the 1 Percent, Jacobin. Apologists for our unequal economic order have been trying to absolve the 1 percent of any real responsibility for inequality by attacking the privilege of the top 20 percent. A clear, cogent refutation of that perspective.

Dean Baker, Fixing the Bailout Scammers: The Ten Percent Solution, Center for Economic and Policy Research. We can’t pull the rich away from the trough with Donald Trump in the White House. But we can propose remedies that a Biden administration should pursue.

J.C. Pan, Billionaires Are Eating the Economy, New Republic. The rising wealth of the top 0.01 percent should come as little surprise.

Evan Osnos, How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump, New Yorker. To understand the president’s path to the 2020 election, look at what he has provided the country’s executive class.

Ben Steverman, Rich Americans Seize Historic Chance to Pass On Wealth Tax-Free, Bloomberg. How the rich are exploiting today’s low interest rates to move big bucks to their heirs tax-free.

James Vincent, This brilliant data visualization explains Jeff Bezos’ staggering wealth one pixel at a time, Verge. One of the simplest and most eloquent presentations yet on America’s incredibly maldistributed distribution of income and wealth.
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