The growing concentration of wealth and power is distorting philanthropy and imperiling our democratic institutions.
Last month, just before our summer break, we noted we were looking forward to seeing how much our political imaginations could stretch in our two-week pause. And then we saw the unimaginable: Donald Trump citing our work in one of his tweets! The billionaire president shared a new Business Insider video that showcases our Billionaire Bonanza research.

For the record, our research includes our president — and his entire administration — among the biggest contributors to our atrociously unequal status quo. They’ve given us still another example of an ultra-elite using policy and politics to enrich themselves. But we do want to thank Business Insider for putting together such a compelling summary of our work — regardless of who shares it.

And if you want to have a hand in crafting and sharing our work, come join our team! We’re looking for a new managing editor. Many thanks to Negin Owliaei who’s moving on to another opportunity to spread understanding about our unequal world after doing so much to help build More details on our new position in this week’s issue.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
Facebook Twitter Download
Indigenous Organizers Against Mining and Covid-19
With the effects of Covid-19 continuing to be felt unequally around the globe, Indigenous peoples are increasingly using ancestral organizing practices to care for each other. The Xinka in Guatemala were already applying traditional organizing skills to combat another public health threat: metals mining. Now they’re drawing from those same roots to combat the pandemic. The democratically elected Xinka are distributing food to families who have presented Covid-19 symptoms and gone into quarantine. They’re also supporting inter-community exchange of health information, food, and traditional medicines. Valerie Croft has more.
Read More
Facebook Twitter Download
A Top Banker Declares: The Music Must Go On!
Wall Street’s coolest dude? That may well be Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, America’s only big-time banker “who moonlights as a dance party DJ.” Just over a week ago, Solomon — under his stage name DJ D-Sol — opened a “drive-in concert” in Southampton, the Long Island summer watering hole for high finance’s super rich. Some 2,000 well-heeled music lovers paid between $225 and $25,000 for tickets that entitled them to socially distanced parking spots. But many of those well-heeled felt entitled to a good bit more. They crowded the stage in direct defiance of New York corona regulations that prohibit non-essential gatherings of over 50 people. Two days later, the top state health official began investigating what he termed an “obvious public health threat.” Solomon responded by having his PR people defend his participation as a noble contribution to a charity event. Solomon personally, of course, could have easily contributed to charities many times what they raised at the sloppily managed concert. He pulled down $24.7 million last year. 
Protect Charities from the Wealthiest Donors
What impact does the growing concentration of U.S. wealth have on the charitable giving sector? Our new IPS report, Gilded Giving 2020: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy, takes a look at two troubling trends, the ongoing decline of small-donor contributions and the parallel rise in wealthy mega-donors. The report hits on the 10th anniversary of the “Giving Pledge,” the effort founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage billionaires to give away at least half their wealth in their lifetimes. But the growth in billionaire wealth has largely outstripped billionaire capacity to give in a timely way: Over the last ten years, their wealth has doubled, and most of their contributions are going into private family foundations rather than flowing directly to charities on the ground. Our report has suggestions for policy interventions that could change the collision course of private philanthropy with our democratic institutions.
Read More
Facebook Twitter Download
For Egalitarians, a Sudden Sense of Possibility
Something seems to be in the air these days — besides coronavirus. A hopefulness. A boldness. A conviction that we now have a real opportunity for blunting the corporate power that’s done so much to make the United States the world’s most unequal wealthy nation. How can we seize that opportunity? New reports from two veteran national advocacy groups — Public Citizen and Oxfam America — are offering up a gameplan. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
Read More
This week on 

Sarah Anderson, Republicans’ Brute Force Approach to Economic Reopening Would Benefit Reckless CEOs, Endanger Workers. A GOP proposal would give corporate CEOs a five-year “get out of jail free card” for jeopardizing the health and safety of their workers while threatening the overall economic recovery.

Adam Shah, The 1 Percent’s Attack on Unemployment Benefits Is a Sign of Our Broken Democracy. If policymakers care about motivating people to work, they should focus on raising the minimum wage and giving workers a voice in decision making.

Chuck Collins, MacKenzie Scott (Bezos) and The Giving Pledge: The Perils and Possibilities of Billionaire Philanthropy. Almost all growth in charitable giving has come from wealthy donors. Scott’s actions offer a possible path forward in an age of top-heavy philanthropy.

Sophia Paslaski, SCOTUS’ Birth Control Decision Favors Medicare for All. Access to essential medications should not be subject to the whims of our employers.

Sarah Anderson, Scott Klinger, and Brian Wakamo, USPS Needs Financial Aid to Continue Providing Essential Services. Despite a boom in package deliveries, the Postal Service is facing insolvency due to crisis-related drops in mail revenue and increased costs.

Elsewhere on the Web

Richard Wolff, The Consequences of Inequality Can Be Fatal, Brave New Europe. Pandemic capitalism distributes death in inverse proportion to wealth and income.

Grace Blakeley, Why the Superrich Keep Getting Richer, Jacobin. Billionaires don’t work harder or innovative more than everyone else. They’ve become obscenely wealthy because they’ve gained enormous marketplace power.

Eleanor Morgan, Obesity can’t be tackled until we address the trauma that causes it, Guardian. What people can afford to eat, how much time they have to prepare food, and how they eat all reflect levels of inequality.

Linda Riddell, To make America truly great again, move toward greater equity, Portland Press Herald. Social ills become more prevalent in societies that become more unequal.

Max Abelson, Covid Conversations With One of America’s Richest Men, Bloomberg Businessweek. A billionaire agreed to share his candid, unfolding thoughts about the pandemic so long as he could remain anonymous. The chilling result.

Amir Barnea, Elon Musk’s ‘performance award’ could reach $55 billion — and that is unacceptable, Toronto Star. The median compensation for an employee at Tesla: $56,163 in 2018. Musk may be about to make about 100,000 times that amount.

Ceri Radford, London stalling: How the capital became an empty playground for the global elite, Independent. Exploring a world of bland, shuttered luxury on half-empty streets where oligarchs digging out basement pools make the only sounds.

Les Leopold, Covid-19’s Class War, American Prospect.  New research on the pandemic suggests that the greatest predictor of coronavirus deaths may be income.

Edward Burmila, You’re Only As Free as You Are Wealthy, Nation. Without real economic freedom, Americans cling to petty acts of refusal, like refusing to social distance or wear masks.

Jane Mayer, How Trump Is Helping Tycoons Exploit the Pandemic, New Yorker. The secretive titan behind one of America’s largest poultry firms, one of the President’s top donors, is ruthlessly leveraging the coronavirus crisis — and his vast fortune — to strip workers of protections.

Pam and Russ Martens, Here’s What Everyone, Including Mary Trump, Gets Wrong About Donald Trump’s Failed Response to Covid-19, Wall Street on Parade. An administration bankrolled by billionaires and staffed by the alumni of billionaire front groups was never going to let the “regulatory state” successfully meet the Covid-19 challenge.

William Lazonick, Philip Moss, and Joshua Weitz, There Can Be No Equality Without a Dramatic Renewal of Employment Opportunity for All American Workers, Institute for New Economic Thinking. We need a government-policy equivalent of therapies and vaccines to eradicate the malicious “maximizing shareholder value” disease that has destroyed the American middle class.

Thomas Hanna, Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality and the COVID-19 Pandemic, Democracy Collaborative. To be effective our pandemic recovery efforts must focus on the intersection of racial and economic inequality and directly confront generations of white supremacy.

Bruce Bartlett, The Whiners Who Earn $200,000 and Complain They’re Broke, New Republic. In an increasingly class-segmented America, the complaints to take seriously don’t come from the affluent.

Robert Frank, Spend More on Society and Get More for Yourself, New York Times. Taxing the rich can end a consumption arms race that helps no one.

Chris Tomlinson, Wanted: CEO to fight income inequality by cutting executive pay, Houston Chronicle. Corporate boards are showering wealth on execs who cut worker jobs and salaries.
Facebook Twitter Download
We’re Hiring an Managing Editor!
The Inequality team at the Institute for Policy Studies works with partners to reverse the maldistribution of income and wealth that is undermining our democracy, fraying our social fabric, and destroying our planet. We’re looking for a new managing editor for the website and weekly newsletter, ensuring that the content stays fresh and meets high-quality standards for a broad, general audience. This full-time, full-benefit position will operate out of our office in Washington, D.C., pandemic permitting.