In today’s issue we share insights from two watchdog groups on how we can hold these insurrectionist enablers accountable, while also ensuring our democracy is strong enough to prevent a second one. Happy new year, everyone!
“I’m shocked and horrified,” lamented Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire CEO of the Blackstone group, shortly after the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol one year ago last week.

Schwarzman and other CEOs proceeded to issue a rush of statements labeling the attack “a dark day for our democracy.” But those blasts have always rung chillingly hollow, given how many billionaires have funneled money to the insurrectionists’ most avid enablers. Here at, we called out these billionaires in one of the most read pieces we published in 2021: Expose the Insurrection Financiers.

In today’s issue, our first in 2022, we share insights from two watchdog groups on how we can start holding  the insurrectionists and their billionaire enablers truly accountable, while also ensuring our democracy remains strong enough to prevent a second insurrection.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies team

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Hitting Disinfo Peddlers Where it Hurts: Their Wallets
Since the insurrection, we’ve all heard lots of chatter over how we as a society can prevent another January 6. Should we be insisting on stricter security for the U.S. Capitol? Or reining in big tech platforms like Facebook? Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin, founders of the recently launched watchdog group Check My Ads Institute, have a very specific solution: cut off the cash flow to disinformation peddlers by going after their advertisers. Big Lie superspreaders, the two note, “raked in millions of dollars by dialing up the rage and anger across YouTube, Twitter, and their own outlets” and kept up raking even after their handiwork “spilled out into real-world violence.” Learn more about how to get involved in the campaign against adtech and disinformation below.
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Rising Prices? A CEO’s Less-Than-Meaty Rationale
Prices for “protein” — the U.S. meat-packing industry’s preferred label for beef, chicken, and pork — are rising three times faster than prices for fruits and vegetables, and Donnie King, CEO of the nation’s largest meat-packer, says he knows why. The Tyson chief is blaming “substantial inflation across our supply chain.” Adds King, Tyson’s CEO since last June: “I can’t think of a single thing that has either stayed the same or gone down.” Tyson will battle rising prices, King is pledging, by focusing “on the factors we can control.” Those factors apparently don’t cover the severance pay going to King’s immediate CEO predecessor, Dean Banks, who served just seven months in the company’s top slot. Banks will be collecting $6 million in severance pay over the next two years, plus another $6.5 million in “accelerated” stock option vesting. Also apparently not under CEO King’s control: Tyson’s quarterly profit margin, now up 136 percent for beef over the comparable 2019 pre-pandemic quarter.
Stop Corporate Funding of the ‘Sedition Caucus’
After the January 6 Capitol attack, many corporate leaders pledged to halt contributions to lawmakers whose rhetoric and actions played a part in the insurrection. But several of these same companies turned out to be alarmingly quick to forgive and forget. The nonpartisan watchdog group Accountable.US has found that Fortune 500 company PACs and corporate trade groups have donated more than $8.1 million to lawmakers who voted to throw out the 2020 presidential election results.

Many of these firms —  including Boeing, UPS, FedEx, Cigna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson — welcomed praise for initially condemning the insurrection and then, within months, reopened the campaign money spigot to the very politicians who helped instigate the failed coup attempt. Accountable.US is calling on companies to recommit to their own stated values and stop rewarding those who threaten our democracy.
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Worshiping Markets, Genuflecting to Grand Greed
Our conventional wisdom tends to see utopians as lefty egalitarians, clueless reformers and revolutionaries who just don’t understand how the “real world” operates. But today’s most clueless utopians, suggest recent reflections from London School of Economics analyst Abby Innes, actually hail from the right. These “neoliberals” see corporate execs as “honorable wealth builders” whose “self-regulation” will always be “superior to state action.” By minimizing that state action, neoliberals hold, societies can create a “frictionless” world where shareholders can recycle profits to benefit us all. Neoliberal pieties like these have helped turn nations on both sides of the Atlantic into “late-stage materialist utopias” — for the rich. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Bob Lord, A Perfect Storm Has Elon Musk Paying $11 Billion in Tax. But our only quarter-trillionaire is still not paying anything close to his fair tax share.

Sarah Anderson, Rev. Barber: ‘Our Deadline is Victory’. The Poor People’s Campaign and progressive members of Congress are vowing to continue the fight for the Build Back Better Act.

Elsewhere on the Web

Allison Morrow, The world’s 500 richest people became $1 trillion richer last year, CNN Business. Meanwhile, the UN estimates that 150 million people fell into poverty in 2021.  

Victoria Haneman, Wealth, Privilege, Power, And Opportunity, Trust & Estates. A fascinating new look at how our wealthy inherit unearned opportunities via the handing down of pivotal social and cultural capital, everything from elegant table manners to knowledge of the fine arts.

Ben Phillips, The Global Assault on Human Rights, Inter Press Service. Humanity is now facing two assaults simultaneously: a crushing of human rights and rising inequality. These two phenomena feed off each other.

Branko Milanovic, What I read in the Year III of covid, Global Inequality. A top economic analyst of our unequal world greets the New Year with some fascinating ruminations.

Erin Griffith, Silicon Valley Can’t Escape Elizabeth Holmes, New York Times. During the brief, high-flying career of the now-convicted Holmes, high tech’s super rich bought into the same rationalizations for greed grabs that they’ve been hawking for years.

Khristopher Brooks, Bitcoin has its own 1% who control outsized share of wealth, CBS News. The crypto crowd wants us to see their digital money as a fix for what ails our financial system. Crypto so far certainly isn’t fixing our obscene concentration of wealth. The top 0.01 percent of bitcoin owners hold 27 percent of the digital currency.

Andrew Perez, The Biden Consultants Working To Sink His Agenda, Daily Poster. For the Beltway consultant class, money remains far more important than ideology.

Brendan Montague, Billionaires ‘should pay for climate action,’ Ecologist. Polling shows the public wants the financial resources of the ultra rich focused on climate change, not jaunts into outer space.

Charles Pierce, American Plutocracy Would Adapt Swiftly and Smoothly to American Authoritarianism, Esquire. Just look at where the donations are flowing.
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