The shame of last week has left all of us here at even more committed to working for a more equal America. Our democracy will never be secure until we have it.
What just happened? Corporate America has an answer: We have just witnessed, corporate leaders intoned after last week’s assault on the Capitol, “a dark day for our democracy” we could not have possibly imagined. Exclaimed Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire CEO of the Blackstone group, in one typical comment: “I’m shocked and horrified.”

The titans of our economy have no right to feel shocked. They enabled Donald Trump, as we detail in a new analysis. They bankrolled his campaigns, with Schwarzman alone kicking in over $40 million overall in the 2020 cycle. They cheered as Trump cut their taxes, swept away regs that pinched their profits, and packed the courts with judges eager to wink at their transgressions.

Trump rained record riches on the already rich and blamed the pain from the resulting inequity on the nation’s “others,” tapping into generations of racism, red scares, and nativist hate. That toxic mix wrought last week’s shame. And that shame has left all of us here at even more committed to working for a more equal America. Our democracy will never be secure until we have it.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Grocery Workers Demand Health Over CEO Profits
Last week 800 Albertsons distribution center workers in Texas and Arizona held protests to demand better Covid-19 protections. With consumers stocking up on food during the pandemic, the second-largest U.S. grocery chain’s profits and share prices have soared, boosting the fortunes of its top execs. Less than two years into the job, CEO Vivek Sankaran holds company stock worth nearly $33 million. Meanwhile, warehouse workers and drivers say they lack adequate social distancing and paid leave protections. Demands for Covid-related leave have been rising nationwide since Congress let federal mandatory paid leave policies expire at the end of 2020. Those benefits, limited to companies with under 500 workers, prevented an estimated 15,000 Covid infections per day.
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Special Treatment? Why Not? We Rich Deserve It!
In Florida’s Palm Beach County, the Covid vaccine distribution has been nothing short of chaotic. Elderly in the area actually found themselves having to camp out overnight outside vaccination centers. Meanwhile, the top exec at MorseLife Health System, the operator of a luxury nursing home in West Palm Beach, has been inoculating his donor pals from the Palm Beach Country Club with vaccine vials meant for nursing home residents and staff. One of the immunized: Robert Fromer, a former managing partner at the New York law firm Hartman & Craven, pictured here with David Mack, a real-estate developer who chairs the Palm Beach Country Club’s foundation. Says Fromer to charges that he and his country club mates are getting preferential treatment: “Nothing could be farther from the truth.” State lawmaker Omari Hardy would beg to differ. His constituents, Hardy points out, can’t get access to vaccines, “but these people can buy themselves a place at the front of the line.”
Progressive Agendas for a New Political Landscape
With the Georgia senate victories delivering a Democratic trifecta, we have an enormous opportunity to narrow our divides and build a more resilient, just nation. Over the past year, the Institute for Policy Studies helped convene eight working groups representing 75 organizations to prepare expansive lists of priorities for the new Congress and White House, all now available online at Priorities for Progress 2021. co-editor Sarah Anderson led the drafting of an Economic Justice Agenda that features bold proposals to “break up extreme concentrations of income and wealth that undermine our economy and democracy and invest in people and shared prosperity.” IPS analyst Lindsay Koshgarian co-led the development of a Foreign Policy Agenda that calls for deep cuts in military contracts, reparations for communities harmed by U.S. militarism, and investment in diplomacy and economic development.
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The Ming Dynasty and Our Post-Trump Democracy
How best to understand last week’s unprecedented assault on the Capitol? Might some historical perspective help us better comprehend how endangered our democracy has become? Could that perspective point us to a more encouraging post-Trump path? A global team of anthropologists from the United States and Mexico may be offering up just the sort of historical perspective we need. Their new research — on premodern societies — might at first glance seem irrelevant. Wednesday’s mob violence has Americans by the millions, after all, worried about “democratic backsliding.” But we had no democratic nation states in premodern times. So how could the experiences of premodern states help us overcome today’s Trumpism, in any of its manifestations? co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo, Trump and His Many Billionaire Enablers. Trump didn’t get here on his own. Many have enabled him, especially the billionaires who funneled money his way and then stood by as he damaged our democracy.

Karen Dolan, Biden Should Build on Bipartisan Support for Hiking the Minimum Wage and Taxing the Rich. Despite our sharp divisions, a majority of Americans stand united behind policies to combat poverty and reduce inequality.

Phil Mattera, Accountability for Trump’s Corporate Enablers. Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman and other big business leaders have offered little more than mild rebukes to Trump’s dangerous tendencies while reaping substantial personal benefits.

Elsewhere on the Web

Hamilton Nolan, America Is Built to Feed Us Poison, In These Times. Behind the sad, delusional assault on the Capitol, the conviction that life's purpose amounts to gaining the maximum benefit for yourself.

David Dayen, Pandemic Recovery in a Plutonomy, American Prospect. The optimistic case for economic recovery doesn’t take into account the on-the-ground reality of economic life in our deeply unequal society.

Zoe Mathews, 'Billionaire Supremacy Is Like White Supremacy Or Male Supremacy,' Anand Giridharadas Says, Boston Public Radio. We can break up the hijacking of the public good by American plutocrats if we get serious about the American dream not being something that merely lives in other countries.

Peter Bofinger, Best of Mankiw: Errors and Tangles in the World’s Best-Selling Economics Textbooks, Institute for New Economic Thinking. A devastating critique of economic orthodoxy on inequality and more.

Amy Haneuer, New Leadership Should Seize Tax Justice Mandate; Cash Payments Offer On-Ramp, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The moment has come for a tax code that does much more to reduce inequality.

Ben Steverman and Benjamin Stupples, The Wealth Tax Is Going Global, Bloomberg. Argentina imposed a one-time levy on millionaires in December, and other serious proposals are surfacing from California to Germany.

Jim Brumby, A wealth tax to address five global disruptions, World Bank Blogs. Mainstream support for seizing the opportunity to finally tax the wealth of the wealthy.

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall Street’s Casino Banks, Taking Deposits from Savers, in 1929 and Today, Wall Street on Parade. On the chase after grand personal fortune that gave us banking deregulation -- and bailouts.
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