More this week on a key step we could take to advance racial and gender justice while stimulating the entire economy. And we also examine the blunt force billionaires are using to “defund” our democracy and block our drive for a more equitable world.
Almost every week so far this year seems to reveal new depths to the staggeringly unequal foundation the United States rests upon. But with almost every week we’re also seeing the immense power we have when we organize our outrage against injustice.

One heartening example from just this morning: After decades of tireless work from activists around the country, the Supreme Court has finally ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

More this week on another key step we could take to advance racial and gender justice while stimulating the entire economy: canceling student loan debt. And we also examine the blunt force billionaires are using to “defund” our democracy and block our drive for a more equitable world.

One final note: Please consider joining us digitally on Saturday, June 20, for the Mass Poor People's Assembly and Moral March on Washington. Our close partners at the Poor People's Campaign will be lifting up the voices of those facing the pandemics of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
Facebook Twitter Download
Retail Workers Fight Private Equity Profiteering
Private equity firms are always looking for opportunities to capitalize on tragedy. These days, they don’t have to look far. Businesses across the country are reeling, making for ripe pickings for Wall Street investors who specialize in sucking the value out of distressed firms. Organizer Aliya Sabharwal is leading a United for Respect campaign to support workers at retail firms targeted by private equity vultures. She has shared her strategic analysis with Ricardo Valadez of Americans for Financial Reform.
Read More
Facebook Twitter Download
A Fitness Chief Executive Totally Unfit to Lead
The founding CEO of CrossFit, the world’s largest gym network, has amassed a sweet $100-million fortune getting body parts in tip-top shape. But Greg Glassman never seems to have done much to exercise his cerebral matter. Glassman earlier this month tapped out a tweet that mocked a respected research center’s declaration that “Racism is a public health issue.” Glassman’s smug response — “It’s FLOYD-19” — would soon have over a thousand CrossFit local gym affiliates angrily exiting the fitness network. Glassman would subsequently deny any racist intent, an “apology” that would ring totally hollow after BuzzFeed revealed a Zoom call made just a few hours before the tweet. On that call, Glassman announced that neither he nor his staff were “mourning for George Floyd.” Added the CEO: “Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it’s the white thing to do?” Last week, amid a rapidly rising global uproar, the 63-year-old mega millionaire announced his retirement.

Cancel Student Debt to Stimulate the Economy
Congress has done nothing to reduce the $1.68 trillion in student debt now held disproportionately by women and people of color. Meanwhile, for-profit colleges that have saddled students with heavy debt burdens are raking in taxpayer-subsidized emergency assistance. The evangelical Christian Grand Canyon University and the notorious University of Phoenix make up just two of the many for-profits that have grabbed coronavirus aid dollars. Congress should be using those dollars instead to cancel all student debt. That move would stimulate the economy — and benefit all Americans — since people would be spending money on meeting basic needs, not servicing their debts. This universal approach would also reinforce the principle that education, like health care, must be a human right.
Read More
Facebook Twitter Download
The Rich Are Quietly ‘Defunding’ Our Democracy
Political leaders in true democracies, notes political scientist Clarissa Rile Hayward, “win popular support by making the better argument: by advancing platforms, developing policy proposals, and articulating goals that resonate with voters.” By this yardstick, we don’t have anything close to a vibrant democracy in the United States. What we do have: a political system that lets billionaires use “the blunt force” of their “superior economic power” to “shape the messages citizens receive” and “influence the ways they understand and participate in politics.” We see these days this “superior economic power” play out on all sorts of fronts, from the petty to the profound. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
Read More
This week on 

Chuck Collins, Move Charity Dollars to the Frontlines. The affluent have parked over $1 trillion in private foundations and donor-advised funds. Most of these dollars are sitting idle as communities struggle.

Elsewhere on the Web

Anna Helhoski,  Why do wealthy college students get more financial aid? MarketWatch. Colleges tend to choose students who’ll boost their rankings, and rich students often have characteristics that fit the bill.

Robert Reich, Trump stokes division with racism and rage – and the American oligarchy purrs, Guardian. The president has become the best thing that ever happened to the corporate elite, a distraction on the lines of the old Jim Crow.

James Stewart and Nicholas Kulish, Leading Foundations Pledge to Give More, Hoping to Upend Philanthropy, New York Times. The Patriotic Millionaires and the Institute for Policy Studies are leading the drive to double the required annual foundation payout to 10 percent of their assets.

Paris Marx, Yes to Space Exploration. No to Space Capitalism, Jacobin. Billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have space visions designed for wealthy people like themselves.

Polly Mosendz and Eric Roston, Dune Road Is Falling Into the Sea — Unless the Billionaires Can Save It, Bloomberg Green. Why are our tax dollars keeping billionaire beachfront mansions dry and cozy while ocean waters rise? In a plutocracy, that's just what tax dollars do.

David Bacon, Family Farmers and Farmworkers Face The Virus, FoodFirst. The coronavirus has stripped away the dysfunction of a Corporate Agriculture that concentrates power and rewards at the top of America’s economic hierarchy.

Ian Kumekawa, We need to revisit the idea of Pigou wealth tax, Financial Times. In times of crisis and unequal sacrifice, a 25 percent levy on the wealth of the wealthy can make societies both more effective and fairer.

Alan Weil, The Social Determinants of Death, Health Affairs. Not enough for health care institutions to say they stand against racism. They need to use their power to cede wealth accumulated over decades to those who’ve been excluded.

Peter Atwater, The gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening sharply, Financial Times. Most of the world’s wealthy have seen a bungee jump-like rebound from the economic crisis.

Robert Frank, Don’t Kid Yourself: Online Lectures Are Here to Stay, New York Times. During past technological disruptions, we’ve ignored the injuries associated with rising inequality. Our experience during the pandemic highlights powerful reasons for reconsidering that strategy.

Alex Zhang, The Wealth Tax: Apportionment, Federalism, and Constitutionality, Journal of Law and Social Change. How to write a wealth tax to survive any court challenge.
Facebook Twitter Download