Today’s issue serves as a reminder that there are many avenues to effectuate policy change.

 
INEQUALITY.ORG
THIS WEEK
We’ve now gone months without any real movement on President Biden’s agenda for a more equal America. We have had, to be sure, some recent Capitol Hill successes, most notably on the Postal Service Reform Act we so avidly champion. But the overall absence of transformative change at the federal level, despite growing progressive power, can feel defeating.

So let today’s issue serve as a reminder, for all of us, that we do indeed have many avenues for effectuating egalitarian-minded policy change.

We can be challenging corporate influence on state-elected officials. Or bypassing a gridlocked Congress through executive orders. Or working on common-sense reforms to our nation’s philanthropic system. We have options aplenty. And now spring has finally sprung — made even brighter by permanent daylight savings thanks to much-needed Senate action. 🌼

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
 
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
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FACES ON THE FRONTLINES
Keeping Florida Honest on Corporate Giveaways
Usually, to commemorate the end of Florida’s legislative sessions, both chambers’ sergeants-at-arms drop handkerchiefs from the Capitol’s rotunda before politicians give speeches. This year, activists swapped out handkerchiefs for fake dollar-bills, confronting the corruption of Governor Ron DeSantis and other lawmakers responsible for a $624 million corporate tax refund in the recently passed state budget.

Florida’s government has a long history of passing lax, pro-business policies that burden lower-earning residents with higher taxes and even punish them with diminished workplace protections.

“The Sunshine State cannot continue to operate as a piggy bank for corporations and the ultra-wealthy,” Florida protest organizer Thomas Kennedy writes this week on Inequality.org, “while millions of its residents are crushed under the weight of stagnant wages and rising costs of living.”
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WORDS OF WISDOM
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PETULANT PLUTOCRAT
OF THE WEEK
Fulfilling His Patriotic Duty — To Keep Unions Out
Back in 2014, then-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz came out loudly against a $15 minimum wage. Most firms, Schultz declared, “would not be able to afford it.” Schultz himself, the national “15 Now” campaign quickly pointed out, happened at the time to be making $9,637 an hour. Three years later, Schultz retired as Starbucks CEO to become the company’s executive chair. His total take-home for the previous nine years: $553 million. Last week, facing a grassroots organizing drive that’s caught fire since Starbucks workers in Buffalo last year voted to unionize, the company’s board brought Schultz back as CEO. His clear mission: kill the union drive dead. Schultz did just that 35 years ago when he led an effort that decertified the handful of Starbucks outlets that had gone union. Schultz, notes the American Prospect, may be “the very personification of the ineradicable authoritarianism of the American CEO.”
 
BOLD SOLUTIONS
Progressive Caucus Gives Biden Marching Orders
Most Americans outside the Washington Beltway couldn’t give a rip whether bold policy solutions come out of the legislative or executive branch. They just want government to work for them and their families.

That’s why it’s exciting to see the 98 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus come together behind 55 recommendations the Biden administration could act on without lawmaker approval. With Capitol Hill largely gridlocked, the real opportunities for fast action clearly now sit on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the Caucus is urging Biden to reduce inequality on a wide variety of fronts, from setting high-road standards for federal contractors, closing tax loopholes for the rich, and canceling student debt to cracking down on price-gougers and building real worker power.
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GREED AT A GLANCE
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TOO MUCH
Who Really Holds an ‘Affinity’ for Philanthropy?
Anyone in the deep-pocket universe who has given “at least one single gift of $10,000 or more to charitable causes over the past five years,” says a new report on the wealth of our globe’s wealthiest, qualifies as someone with an “affinity” for charitable good works. By that yardstick, well over half of our world’s contemporary wealthy have a clear “affinity” for sharing their grand private fortunes. But giving away a tiny share of the wealth you can easily afford to give away in no way shows an “affinity” for charitable giving. The real question: Why are our wealthiest giving away so little to those who need so much more? Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati explores the latest numbers.
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MUST READS
What's on Inequality.org 

Lindsay Owens, It’s Not Just Inflation — It’s Price Gouging. Corporations are using “inflation” as a cover to hike prices and record record profits. We’ve got the proof.

Bob Lord, How to Fix America’s Roundabout, Badly Broken System for Taxing Our Richest. Yes, we could ensure that our richest pay something in the neighborhood of their fair tax share.

Sam Pizzigati, How Excessive CEO Pay Undermines Enterprise Effectiveness and Efficiency in the 21st Century. Enterprises that tolerate huge pay gaps “succeed” not by empowering employees, but by building and wielding monopoly power.

Elsewhere on the Web

Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby, As Koch Industries continues business in Russia, Koch-backed groups oppose sanctions, Popular Information. Pundits and groups bankrolled by billionaire Charles Koch are publicly advocating against sanctions on Russia — without disclosing their ties to Koch, whose companies are still doing business in Russia.

Brigid Delaney, Money might save your property, but who wants to live in a country where the poor drown and the rich are saved? Guardian. Who wants to live in a world where catastrophic climate change meets catastrophic income inequality? The rich are already buying their way out of the climate crisis.

CK Tan, Shenzhen overtakes New York as home for billionaires, NikkeiAsia. China’s southern factory hub now hosts 113 billionaires versus the 110 of New York. But China’s wealthiest still haven’t cracked the list of the world’s 10 wealthiest billionaires.

Pat Garofalo, Walmart Kills Wages, Boondoggle. The corporate power CEOs wield is costing workers one-fifth of their wages, a new U.S. Treasury Department report finds.

Paola Peralta, 10 Fortune 500 companies with the biggest wage gaps between employees and CEOs, Employee Benefits News. Included in the ten greediest companies: four tech firms and two pharmaceuticals.

Joe George, The Batman’s Privilege Problem, Progressive. The latest take on this classic comic openly addresses class disparities in Gotham.

Patrick Cockburn, Oligarchs have shaped our view of Russia, but it’s Putin’s corrupt elite that has hamstrung him in Ukraine war, i News. The Russian leader’s army is performing poorly. That may be because soldiers don’t want to get killed for a ruling class with mansions in London.

Joseph Zahra, The land of greed, Times of Malta. Those who seek excess in wealth are chasing, notes Pope Francis, an “idolatry that kills.”
 
 
A FINAL FIGURE
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