With a new era of grassroots mobilizing, the Biden years could leave us with an even better deal. We’ll do our best to track — and advance — that story here at Inequality.org.
 
INEQUALITY.ORG
THIS WEEK
President Joe Biden, the conventional wisdom goes, is entering office facing more challenges than any president since Franklin Roosevelt. FDR, of course, went on to meet those challenges — and then some. His years in office set the foundation for a fundamentally more equal America.

Could the Biden years do the same? That depends on us.

FDR didn’t remake the world over the course of his first 100 days in 1933. The triumphs we now remember as the legacy of the New Deal — everything from Social Security and labor rights to higher taxes on the rich — didn’t come until the “second 100 days” in 1935, until after mass movements had grabbed headlines with actions as bold as general strikes and demanded a nation that shared the wealth.

That mass pressure, not one person in the White House, created the New Deal. With a new era of grassroots mobilizing, the Biden years could leave us with an even better deal. We’ll do our best to track — and advance — that story here at Inequality.org.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
 
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
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FACES ON THE FRONTLINES
Jobs With Justice Takes on Corporate Landlords
President Biden has extended through March a moratorium offering modest protection against eviction for about half of U.S. renters. But this important first step merely postpones the looming eviction crisis. In a new report, Jobs With Justice and the Private Equity Stakeholder Project join the growing calls for cancelling the rents facing families hard hit by the pandemic. They’re also demanding action to rein in abusive corporate landlords. Just one sign of corporate landlord excessive power: Owners of rental housing have pocketed more than $320 million in federal Covid aid while moving to evict more than 5,300 families. This sum could have covered nine months’ rent for nearly 25,000 low-income families.
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WORDS OF WISDOM
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PETULANT PLUTOCRAT
OF THE WEEK
A Deep Pocket Stuffs Jokers in Democracy’s Deck
Former stockbroker Laura Goldman has known Jeffrey Yass, the secretive billionaire co-founder of the Pennsylvania-based Susquehanna financial group, for over 30 years. After the January 6 assault on the Capitol, an upset Goldman sent Yass a note as soon as she learned that he had been bankrolling GOP lawmakers — like Missouri senator Josh Hawley — who had been enabling the Trump election fraud fakery. Yass feigned surprise in his response. Said the publicity-shy mogul: “Do you think anyone knew Hawley was going to do that? Sometimes politicians deceive their donors.” And donors sometimes engage in their own deceiving. Press accounts show that Yass — a fervent poker player — donated $2.5 million after the November election to a right-wing PAC that’s been actively spreading the “stolen election” line. Among other beneficiaries of Yass political contributions: GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania who delayed the counting of write-in ballots and set the stage for “vote theft” charges.
 
BOLD SOLUTIONS
Five Ways Biden Can End Abuse of Gig Workers
The Biden-Harris administration has raced off to a strong start for workers, putting in place a progressive incoming labor team, calling for a $15 minimum wage, and quickly removing some key anti-union Trump loyalists. But is the Biden team ready to take on the 21st century’s most thorny challenge: the lawless digital economy? In this Inequality.org exclusive, former Obama labor specialist Bama Athreya lays out a bold five-point plan for bridging digital rights and labor rights — not just to address exploitation of Uber, Instacart, and other platform workers, but to reverse the erosion of decent work across the U.S. economy.
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GREED AT A GLANCE
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TOO MUCH
Greed in the Suites, from Walgreens to Walmart
Walgreens has no buzz. Most every week millions of us walk into a local outlet of this drab drugstore giant and give the enterprise all around us not a second thought. Maybe we should. Walgreens illustrates — personifies — the long-term economic trends that the Trump years so cavalierly doubled down upon. The core reality at the heart of these trends: Top corporate executives are busily pocketing immense paychecks at the direct expense of their workers. At Walgreens, the five top execs averaged $11 million last year, a 9 percent hike over the previous year. Thanks to these same execs, no retail giant in the United States has given its workers less of a Covid hazard-pay bump. Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more about the squeeze workers are facing at the start of the Biden years — and one route for seriously softening that pressure.
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MUST READS
This week on Inequality.org 

Max Lawson, Bridgerton, Jane Austen, and Today’s Wealth Dynasties. The new Netflix drama is set in the early 1800s, but the hype-unequal patrimonial society it portrays is not far from current realities.

Chuck Collins, Six Questions for Justin Farrell, 'Billionaire Wilderness' Author. Wealth has not just disrupted our major cities, it's now changing our towns and countryside. In this interview, 'Billionaire Wilderness' author Justin Farrell shows us how a place like Jackson Hole has been changed by wealth inequality.

Jenny Ricks, Global Protest to Fight Inequality Rejects Davos Elite’s ‘Great Reset of Capitalism.’With the annual gathering of the 1 percent moving online, young activists from around the world are flipping the script and demanding real solutions to inequality.

Elsewhere on the Web

Andreas Kluth, The U.S. Mustn't Follow Weimar Germany and Ancient Rome, Bloomberg. Republics that let wealth concentrate inevitably crumble.

Carl Beijer, Donald Trump Was Always a Plutocratic Fraud, Jacobin. Trump never touched the carried-interest loophole and cut taxes for the rich so aggressively that our wealthiest 400 paid taxes at a lower average rate than the poor and middle class.

Marshall Auerback and Albena Azmanova, Here's why US political dysfunction has reached its breaking point, Alternet. The American economy has begun to resemble a new feudalism, with Silicon Valley tech overlords and Wall Street billionaires at the top and a rapidly growing serf class at the bottom with no social safety net.

Mercedes Streeter, Tesla Would Take Nearly 1,600 Years To Make the Amount of Money the Stock Market Values It At, Japopnik. Another reminder that speculation always runs wild amid extreme inequality.

Lawrence Mishel, Rebuilding Worker Power, IMF. Corporate practices and economic policies adopted at the behest of business and the wealthy have systematically disempowered U.S. workers and kept their wages low.

Betsy Wood, Businesses have turned against Trump and his allies, but is it too little too late? Washington Post. Corporate America stood by for four years as Trump stoked the flames of racism and hatred. And they did so because his policies — like large corporate tax cuts — made them richer.

The pandemic windfall, The Week. A deep dive into the biggest beneficiaries from our year of Covid.

Michael Hiltzik, These 63 billionaires supported Trump, showing the necessity of a wealth tax, Los Angeles Times. Billionaires made up a quarter of 1 percent of Trump’s Victory Fund donors, but their donations came to 10 percent of the fund’s overall haul.

Brendan O'Connor, The Capitol riot wasn't a fringe 'uprising'. It was enabled by very deep pockets, Guardian. We need to see the siege as just one battle in a long assault on democracy funded by billionaire donors.

Zachary Warmbrodt, Biden’s Wall Street backers face new threat from Warren, Politico. The coming drive to hold predatory companies accountable for abusive practices that line the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
 
A FINAL FIGURE
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