The current economy has made it clear that now is the perfect moment to un-rig the system that has allowed these pandemic profiteers to not only exist, but thrive. More on that in this week's edition.
Millions of people will soon be reaching their painful first anniversary of the pandemic shutdown. But relief may now be on the way before this week ends, in the form of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Once signed into law, this relief package will provide $1,400 checks to approximately 160 million households and cut child poverty by four million through policies like an expanded child tax credit.

Rebuilding the country after a global pandemic, of couse, is going to take much more than a single rescue plan. The pandemic has merely exacerbated the deep inequities that have plagued us for decades.

The private healthcare sector, for example, has been serving as a cash cow for millionaires and billionaires looking to get rich off the suffering of others. A new analysis from our team finds that since March 2020 alone the wealth of just one for-profit healthcare family — the Frists, the founding family of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) — has doubled to $15.6 billion, an increase of 108 percent!

Now may be the perfect moment to un-rig the system that’s allowed pandemic profiteers like the Frists to not only exist, but thrive.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Essential Workers Deserve $15 An Hour
A $15 an hour minimum wage increase won’t be in the final Covid-19 relief package that Congress passes later this week, but frontline workers remain firmly committed to the $15 cause. Eshawney Gaston, an essential worker and a leader with the North Carolina branch of “Fight for $15 and a Union,” explains that workers need stronger unions and better health care to make ends meet, not just $15 an hour. Even so, the struggle for $15 makes a great place to start the drive for fair pay for hard work.
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This Hedge Funder Needs More Incentive to Learn
Hedge fund billionaire Thomas Sandell has just agreed to pay out $105 million to settle claims that he fraudulently evaded taxes to New York city and state. Will that payout be enough to scare Sandell straight? Probably not. Back in 2007, Sandell had to shell out $8 million to settle claims against his shady maneuvers involving a New Orleans holding company after Hurricane Katrina. But his shadiness would continue. In 2017, under New York law, Sandell owed state and city taxes on $450 million in hedge fund fee income. To evade those taxes, he shifted his residence to London and claimed — falsely — he was no longer doing business in New York. But a whistleblower would eventually sue Sandell under New York’s False Claims Act and expose the scheme. New York attorney general Letitia James last week called Sandell’s greed “astonishing” in announcing the settlement. Sandell, for his part, is refusing all comment, and his latest penalty payout hasn’t much dented his $1.3-billion personal fortune. New York loses an estimated $10 billion a year to tax evasion.
Spread the Benefits of Trade to Black Workers
U.S. trade policies have enriched corporate elites while leaving workers — particularly Black and Latino workers — behind. IPS Black Worker Initiative director Marc Bayard has spent several years on the ground in Alabama and other southern states where a surge in foreign manufacturing investment has done little to lift up Black workers. In an op-ed for CNN, Bayard is urging Biden trade officials to take several steps to ensure that workers of color benefit from trade and investment. These include new conditions that foreign investors hire from local communities, offer apprenticeships for Black and Latino workers, support unions, and give workers a voice in corporate decisions.
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Why the Amazon Vote in Alabama Means So Much
Most every morning this winter, starting about 3:30 a.m., pro-union workers have been gathering on a public sidewalk outside Amazon’s huge new warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. They wait for the nearby traffic light to turn red — and the chance to urge their fellow Amazon workers to vote “yes” in the mail voting that’s going to decide whether they all get a union. Amazon currently employs over half a million U.S. workers. Not one has the protection of a union contract. Gaining a union at Bessemer, the early-risers in Alabama believe, could change that. But not just Amazon workers figure to benefit from the outcome of the Bessemer balloting. The votes that Bessemer workers are casting could change the entire economic trajectory that has turned the USA into the world’s most unequal wealthy nation. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo, Frist Family Leads Pandemic Profiteer Parade in Health Sector. For-profit hospital billionaire owners have seen their fortunes increase by $8.1 billion since March 2020.

Rebekah Entralgo, Paid Sick and Family Leave Can't Wait. For frontline workers, the financial strain caused by a lack of paid leave can be just as stressful as the virus itself.

Mary King, A New National Model for Preschool and Child Care in the U.S.. Portland, Oregon is showing the rest of the nation that we can win universal child care — if we tax the rich.

Madeleine Johnsson, If We Want to Renew Democracy, We Need to Tax the Ultra-Wealthy. After the tech sector, Wall Street has become the second-highest source of wealth for American billionaires.

Elsewhere on the Web

Joan Walsh, Is a Tax on ‘Ultra-Millionaires’ the Answer to Massive Inequality? Nation. The “Ultra Millionaire Tax” proposed last week could be a powerful organizing tool that focuses attention on the obscene wealth of the 100,000 households who would pay the tax.

Lachlan Markay, The new grifters: outrage profiteers, Axios. Political consultants are getting rich marketing candidates running hopeless campaigns against their party’s most reviled opponents.

Miriam Gottfried and Mark Maremont, The Billionaire Behind the Biggest U.S. Tax Fraud Case Ever Filed, New York Times. This deep pocket is facing charges he hid $2 billion in income from the IRS.

Gregory Crespi, Teaching a Class on Income and Wealth Inequality, SSRN. How one higher ed faculty member goes about it.

Kelly Grotke, Are Endowments Damaging Colleges and Universities? American Prospect. At private colleges and universities, enormous investment management fees are pouring out of endowments and into the pockets of hedge and private equity fund managers.

Samantha Subramanian, The rich vs the very, very rich: the Wentworth golf club rebellion, Guardian. A billionaire’s takeover of one of the UK’s most prestigious golf clubs has confronted high-income professionals with the unsentimental fury of global capital.

Kara Baskin, New narratives and policy for diverse entrepreneurship, MIT Management. Public policy makes choices about who wins in America, spurring generations of inequality. New narratives can break the habit.

Glenn Gamboa, Debate amid pandemic: Should foundations have to give more? Associated Press. The case for a proposal now before Congress that would require foundations and donor-advised funds to contribute at least 10 percent of their investment assets each year for three years.

Katherine Chiglinsky, Buffett’s ‘Tone Deaf’ Annual Letter Skirts Major Controversies, Bloomberg Business. Maybe billions don’t make you brilliant about everything after all.
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