This week we feature the inspiring story of how Indian farmers stood up to corporate agribusiness and an iron-fisted government and won. This remarkable triumph is a strong contender for the list we're putting together of the Top 10 Inequality Victories of 2021. Please send us your suggestions. We could all use more inspiration.
What if I told you that levels of global inequality now rival the peak rates they hit during the Western colonial heyday in the early 20th century?

This happens to be our current sad reality, not some fictional Orwellian nightmare. Economist Thomas Piketty’s World Inequality Lab spells out the details in its just-released 2022 World Inequality Report. We have lots more on this blockbuster analysis in this week’s issue.

But we also spotlight this week some far less dour developments. We have for you the inspiring story of how farmers in India have stood up to corporate agribusiness — and an iron-fisted government — and won. This remarkable triumph will be a strong contender for our upcoming year-end list of the “Top 10 Inequality Victories of 2021.” Have a triumph to suggest? Please drop us an email. We could all use more inspiration!

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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In India, Small Farmers Win Big Over Big Ag
A year ago, thousands of Indian farmers faced water cannons and tear gas as they tried to reach their capital city to protest new laws favoring corporate agribusiness. Instead of returning home, these farmers launched what would become a year-long protest strike, demanding the repeal of laws they feared would destroy small farmers and jeopardize the nation’s food security, all while enriching India’s ultra rich. During current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reign, Indian billionaire net worth has grown exponentially. But Modi, with farmers planning events to mark the first anniversary of last year’s strike, has reversed course. He has announced his decision to drop the three controversial farm laws. Shiney Varghese of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has more.
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A Big-Rich Tomb Raider Gets Caught and Gets Free
Buying stolen goods can constitute a felony — if you have reason to believe the goods might be stolen. Hedge fund honcho Michael Steinhardt, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. concluded last week after a three-year investigation, had plenty of reason to suspect the ancient artworks he was buying had been stolen. Steinhardt, Vance’s probe found, had spent decades “in the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers, and tomb raiders,” buying over 1,000 pieces. But the billionaire won’t be doing any jail time or even paying any fines. He’s signed a deal instead to return $70-million worth of artworks to their rightful owners and cease collecting antiquities. Steinhardt’s lawyers are crowing that the DA’s investigation has ended “without any charges.” The 80-year-old Steinhardt, they add, is reserving “his rights” to bring suit against dealers who fenced him his goodies.
End a Tax Dodge for Rich Private Equity Execs
The Wall Street Journal recently identified U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema as the sole Democratic defender of one of the most obscene examples of how the rich have rigged our tax code: the carried interest loophole.

This loophole allows wealthy private equity execs to pay a lower tax rate than many teachers and firefighters by claiming the bulk of their earnings as capital gains, income taxed at about half the rate of ordinary income.

President Biden is calling on Congress to eliminate the carried-interest loophole to help fund the pending Build Back Better legislation. In an effort to help move Sinema out of the way, Patriotic Millionaires last week ran full-page ads in her home state. Asked the ads: “Who exactly are you working for, Senator Sinema? Arizonans or the billionaires?” The group also created a moving billboard spoofing the wine-loving senator.

Mandla Deskins of the Take on Wall Street campaign has more on why we so need to end the carried-interest giveaway to our richest.
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Against Plutocrats, Platitudes Will Always Be Pitiful
We the people of the United States, almost 250 years ago, made a choice to try to practice democracy. We’ve beem “practicing” democracy ever since. Maybe someday we’ll get it right. But that day will only come, the evidence suggests, when we have a significantly less unequal nation. Unfortunately, the global pro-democracy initiative the Biden administration inaugurated last week is missing this all-important inequality connection. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Bama Athreya, Gig Workers are in the Driver’s Seat in Europe. Is There Hope for the US?. Major legal and regulatory victories in the UK and EU should boost momentum for strengthening gig worker rights in the United States.

Sonali Kolhatkar, Amazon Can’t Bust Unions Forever. Amazon is raking in record profits — and still trying to keep workers from earning their fair share. This time, that greed may not triumph.

Mary King, A Strong Economic Case for Federal Investment in Universal Preschool. Congress cannot waste another fifty years before investing in our children, our families, and our future.

Chuck Collins and Helen Flannery, How Do We Fix Abuses of Donor-Advised Funds?. Donor-advised operate under rules that provide more benefit to their wealthy donors than to public charities. We can fix that.

Elsewhere on the Web

Judd Legum, Want to be a criminal in America? Stealing billions is your best bet to go scot-free, Guardian. A wave of shoplifting crimes are attracting front-page news while the billions CEOs heist from workers receive no coverage at all.

Paul Kiel, Jesse Eisinger, and Jeff Ernsthausen, When You’re a Billionaire, Your Hobbies Can Slash Your Tax Bill, ProPublica. Thoroughbred horses, auto racing, and massive ranches are helping the ultrawealthy get away with paying  zilch in income tax for ten years at a time.

Kevin Blackistone, Don’t listen to MLB owners spin. Just watch their behavior, Washington Post.  Why have Major League Baseball owners locked out their own ballplayers? These players are threatening the ability of their multibillionaire owners to become trillionaires.

Molly Sprayregen, Should 5% of companies’ profits be shared with everyone? LGBTQ Nation. We all have a right to a share of our national prosperity, says the campaign for a national Citizen’s Dividend.

Matt Stoller, Cryptocurrencies: A Necessary Scam? BIG. The crypto movement rests on the theory that the existing nation-state amounts a system rigged by billionaires. Crypto’s response? Create a different and more corrupt order rigged by different billionaires.

Kim Velsey, Does Succession Sell Luxury Real Estate? Curbed. Plenty of movies and TV shows portray lives of extreme wealth, but few have done that as well as Succession, a hit series that manages to convey both the seductiveness of that world and the blasé entitlement, even boredom, of the global elite.

Jonathan Weisman, Rift Between Senator and Son Shows the Challenge of Taxing the Ultrarich, New York Times. A dispute between Ron Wyden, the Democratic Senate Finance Committee chair, and his hedge fund-manager son illustrates how the merely rich help the fabulously rich resist tax hikes.
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