Big Pharma greed hasn’t just left us less safe. Our United States has become more unequal, as the Axios-Morning Consult Inequality Index report has just detailed. Lots more in this week’s issue on our unequal world and the corporate greed behind it.
Global stock markets tumbled over the holiday weekend as South Africa reported the emergence of a new “Omicron” Covid variant. South Africa had pleaded with Western governments earlier this year to waive vaccine patents. Instead, South Africa ended up having to pay over double the price for doses that European Union nations paid. One result of that price gouging: South Africa now has a vaccination rate less than 30 percent

What we have here, pure and simple: corporate greed. We warned almost exactly a year ago that letting Big Pharma call the coronavirus shots was creating a scenario that would deny our world’s poorest countries access to a future free from Covid’s carnage. And now that prediction has come to pass, leaving the entire world less safe.

Things don’t have to turn out this way. Over a half-century ago, we pointed out last November, our country conquered polio, and no one became fabulously rich in the process. We could have done the same with Covid. But the contrast with the current crisis could hardly be more striking. Moderna has already minted five billionaires off its vaccine.

So Big Pharma greed hasn’t just left us less safe. Our United States has become more unequal, as the Axios-Morning Consult Inequality Index report has just detailed. Lots more in this week’s issue on our unequal world and the corporate greed behind it.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Temporary Relief for Essential Workers
For more than 20 years, Guillermo Garcia has worked in the fields of California harvesting the produce that annually graces our Thanksgiving tables. Like more than half of U.S. farmworkers, Garcia is undocumented, a status that leaves him vulnerable to deportation and exploitation each and every day. The recently passed House version of the Build Back Better Act would make undocumented immigrants like Garcia eligible for temporary work permits. Noted Garcia outside the Capitol last week: “It’s time essential workers like me can work without fear of being deported and separated from our families.” With the Senate about to take up Build Back Better, managing editor Rebekah Entralgo has more.
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Up in Montana’s Mountains, a ‘Disgusting’ Mess
What’s going on Whitefish? This Montana town famed for its fly fishing has become the epicenter of sordid lawsuits and countersuits revolving around the billionaire Michael Goguen, a one-time Silicon Valley superstar at the venture capital giant Sequoia Capital. In 2016, Goguen lost his Sequoia partner status after a former mistress accused him of sexual abuse. Goguen went on to relocate into a huge Whitefish mansion with his fourth wife and launch a security firm that angled to set up a spy network for the Trump administration. But the shady ex-Marine Goguen hired to run his security shop ended up charging that Goguen had him enabling a secret harem. Earlier this month, the New York Post detailed that charge and various other tales of debauchery in a piece the 57-year-old Goguen promptly labeled “disgusting nonsense.” Whitefish’s recently retired police chief, himself a party to all the legal wrangling, doesn’t agree. He’s calling Goguen “a billionaire a la Harvey Weinstein.”
A New Biden Crackdown on Corporate Criminals
For years, rogue corporations and their wealthy executives have gotten away with murder through a system that allows them to avoid prosecution for serious offenses. All they have to do to escape accountability: promise to change their ways and pay modest financial penalties. Numerous companies — including Monsanto, Walmart, and Wells Fargo — have violated the terms of these deferred or non-prosecution agreements with apparent impunity. The Biden Justice Department is now vowing to crack down on these repeat offenders. Phil Mattera, who manages an extensive database of corporate violations for Good Jobs First, has more.
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What’s That ‘Surtax’ Doing in Build Back Better?
Sales tax. Property tax. Income tax. We all know what these three familiar taxes tax. But what does a “surtax” do? What difference, in particular, is the Build Back Better “surtax” that just passed the House of Representatives going to make? Maybe a big difference. In fact, if the Senate follows the House lead, the Build Back Better surtax might just turn out to be a giant first tax step toward the more equal America that we all so desperately need. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

The Facts that Define Our Grand Divides. People in the United States and around the world, researchers have found, significantly underestimate the extent of our contemporary inequality. Just how wide have the gaps between our most affluent and everyone else grown? We highlight here the basic data and statistics that tell our 21st-century inequality story.

Elsewhere on the Web

Harold Meyerson, Building Back Better Through Taxing Stock Buybacks, American Prospect. Finally, a move against the stock buybacks that have been a major contributor to the misshaping of the American economy.

David Sirota, Sanders Tries to Rescue Dems from a GOP Attack, Daily Poster. Bernie Sanders is trying to limit a tax giveaway to the rich that Republicans are already slamming.

Clay Cockrell, I’m a therapist to the super-rich: they are as miserable as Succession makes out, Guardian. What would your life be like if you couldn’t trust those close to you? If you looked at any new acquaintance with deep suspicion?

Phyllis Taite, May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor: How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Fortified the Great Wealth Divide, Pepperdine Law ReviewThe Hunger Games tells a cinematic tale that has the wealthy enjoying the rewards of high society while using the poor for labor and entertainment. This illustration may also depict contemporary American reality.

Ted Gioia, How Music Created Silicon Valley, The Honest Broker. The tech titans couldn’t have built their empires without songs — and now they’re destroying the cultural ecosystem that made them rich.

Steve Dubb, The Rich Also Cry: As Congress Skimps, the Wealthy Squirrel Away Assets, Nonprofit Quarterly. The wealth defense industry has been hard at work.
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