"Billionaires have seen their wealth go up by $1.8 trillion,” President Joe Biden remarked in a briefing last week, citing data from our Inequality team. "Simply not fair." Now if only we could get all of Congress to read this newsletter as well.
“Billionaires have seen their wealth go up by $1.8 trillion,” President Joe Biden remarked in a briefing last week, citing the latest  data from our Inequality team. “Simply not fair.”

Now if only we could get all of Congress to read this newsletter as well!

Biden’s remarks tee up what figures to be a few hectic weeks ahead as Congress debates a historic $3.5 trillion package that would take us a long way down the road to greater equality. The Senate now has pending, as we noted last week, a number of tax proposals that tackle wealth inequality at the top end to help build a more equitable economy for us all. For our part, we’ll continue to document the extreme levels of wealth hoarding that necessitate big, bold adjustments to our tax code.

In more uplifting news, Nabisco workers have just voted to ratify a new contract and end their strike. You can now go back to eating your Oreos without fear of crossing the picket line.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
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Fighting Back: ‘Private Equity Destroyed My Job’
Shirley Smith loved her job at a family-owned furniture retailer in Detroit, Michigan. But in 2017 the company she loved so much began to vanish before her eyes as the private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners bought the enterprise out and scrapped it for parts. Soon after, Smith’s job had become one of the over half a million retail slots destroyed by private equity big shots. Shirley Smith, now an activist with United for Respect, is using her voice to help make sure greedy execs can no longer victimize others for their personal profit.
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A Sackler Speaks: No Regrets and Plenty of Billions
Until last month, no one in the Sackler family — the clan that made billions off the painkiller OxyContin — had ever testified in open court on their Purdue Pharma company’s role in the opioid epidemic that’s so far left over 500,000 Americans dead. But that testimony finally came in August, via an exchange that involved former Purdue Pharma president Richard Sackler. Does Sackler, an attorney asked, bear any personal responsibility for the opioid crisis? “No” came the reply. Does the Sackler family have any responsibility? “No.” Does Purdue Pharma? “No.” Moments later, Sackler observed he didn’t really know the details of the proposed settlement to all the lawsuits pending against the Sacklers: “It is an extremely dense document. I read a page or two and realized it would take me an enormous amount of time.” The settlement “details” Sackler chose not to defend in open court let the Sacklers keep their billionaire status. Last week, the U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal seeking to block the Sackler-friendly settlement plan from going into effect.
A ‘Millionaire Surtax’ on Incomes Above $5 Million
The House Ways and Means Committee is now proposing a “millionaires surtax” to help pay for President Biden’s Build Back Better plans. The panel’s proposal would levy a 3 percent surtax on the incomes of households making $5 million or more per year and raise $127 billion over 10 years. Lawmakers should stand up to pressure from lobbyists for the ultra-wealthy and defend this fair tax reform — or even strengthen it in the final legislation by raising the rate to 10 percent, as we originally proposed in the “millionaires surtax” campaign.
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Why Do Europeans Live Longer Than Americans?
A just-published study from a global team of social scientists offers up some numbers that will take most Americans completely by surprise. Back in 1990, the new data detail, White Americans showed the same 76-year average life-spans as the general populations of England, Germany, France, Netherlands, Norway, and Spain, with Black Americans trailing behind by seven years. By 2018, Black Americans had nearly halved the life-span gap with their White American counterparts. But those same White Americans had fallen well behind the Europeans. Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more on why greater equality may well be the best medicine any doctor can ever prescribe.
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This week on Inequality.org 

Rebekah Entralgo, Unemployment Insurance Isn't Holding Back the Economy. Inequality Is. Ending enhanced unemployment benefits didn’t get people back to work. It just made them poorer.

Peter Bakvis, The World Bank’s Deregulation Guide Goes Down in Flames — 18 Years Too Late. A pay-for-play data manipulation scandal spelled the end of the ideologically driven Doing Business report.

Dan Petegorsky, National Philanthropic (Mis)Trust. Donor-advised funds are making misleading claims in response to criticism that they are warehousing wealth instead of boosting charitable giving.

Manuel Pérez-Rocha, Mexico Got Rid of a Prominent Columbus Statue. Neo-Colonial Economic Policies Should Fall Next. A recently revived high-level dialogue between the United States and Mexico may help tackle international rules giving corporations excessive power.

La’Shon Marshall, What the Expanded Child Tax Credit Means to Me. “I grew up poor and traumatized, not knowing how to get help. Now my own child’s life will be better.”

Elsewhere on the Web

Dorothy Brown, Congress is passing up a chance to close a tax loophole — and the racial wealth gap, Washington Post. The “step-up in basis” rule benefits a small, mostly White, group of Americans.

Rebecca Nathanson, The movement launched a generation of leftist activists –and gave them a vision of real change, Guardian. Life can be different: Ten years ago, Occupy Wall Street changed the world.

Derek Thompson, Why Americans Die So Much, Atlantic. Americans of all races, ages, and income levels are paying a high price for our inequality: death at a much earlier age than people die at in Europe.

Michael Roberts, China and common prosperity. The best analysis yet of the Chinese government’s current offensive against China’s billionaires.

Ed Pilkington, Staggering US wealth inequality heaps long-term harm on to minority children, Guardian. Black children have access to just 1 cent for every dollar enjoyed by their White counterparts, new research shows, and Hispanic kids fare little better.

Servaas Storm, Why the Rich Get Richer and Interest Rates Go Down, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Higher wages, progressive redistribution, and more public spending constitute essential ingredients in any sensible macroeconomic strategy for economic renewal. 

Max Chafkin, Peter Thiel Gamed Silicon Valley, Donald Trump, and Democracy to Make Billions, Tax-Free, Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The high-tech billionaire has created the ideology that has come to define Silicon Valley today: that technological progress should be pursued relentlessly, with little regard for potential costs or dangers to society.

Judd Legum, Tesnim Zekeria, and Rebecca Crosby, Very wealthy people can afford very good lobbyists, Popular Information. Four quick case studies of plutocracy at work.
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