As bleak as the news can feel, there are moments of light to take inspiration from. Also in this issue, more on the victory against inequality in Colombia as well as the burgeoning labor movement taking hold across the United States.
 
INEQUALITY.ORG
THIS WEEK
Friday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — after nearly 50 years of precedent — still hangs heavy over the nation this Monday.

As our Economic Policy Institute friends  note, the first states now banning abortion just happen to be states with the lowest minimum wages and the most tight-fisted policies on Medicaid and other core family-support programs. Analysts often frame abortion as a social “culture-war” issue. But abortion rights actually go hand-in-hand with economic progress. Any loss of abortion rights means the loss of economic security and mobility for millions, as we lay out on our Inequality.org fact page.

The news today can feel bleak, but we do have some inspirational moments of light to share in this week’s issue, most notably a stunning political victory over inequality in Colombia and continuing good news on the burgeoning labor movement taking hold all across the United States.

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
For Starbucks Baristas, CEO Pay Fuels Union Drive
Across the country, union organizing campaigns are spreading like wildfire. At Starbucks, for example, 165 of the coffee giant’s outlets have won union bargaining rights in just the past six months, with hundreds more set to join in the near future.

For readers of Inequality.org’s Executive Excess 2022 report, this Starbucks organizing burst should come as no surprise. In 2021, then-Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson raked in $20.4 million, a haul that would take a median-pay Starbucks worker 1,579 years to match. Considering that ridiculous gap, gaining signatures on union cards may be an easier sell these days at Starbucks than a frappuccino on a hot summer’s day.

Austin-based barista and Starbucks Workers United member Morgan Leavy underscored the glaring Starbucks pay inequity last week at a Poor People’s Campaign congressional briefing. Noted Leavy: “With Starbucks’s billions, Starbucks workers should not be poor people.” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz continues to insist that collective bargaining has no place in the company. Rampant inequality, Schultz apparently believes, does. Inequality.org’s Brian Wakamo has more.
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WORDS OF WISDOM
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PETULANT PLUTOCRAT
OF THE WEEK
This Billionaire Heir May Be Our Ultimate Insider
What happens when your daddy, the world’s third-richest man, starts handing you the keys to his kingdom? You have “a lot of eyeballs looking,” says Bernard Arnault’s 30-year-old son Alexandre. Bernie five years ago gave Alexandre the reins to Rimowa, a trendy German luggage maker, after he added that company to his luxury retail empire. A year and a half ago, that empire acquired New York’s Tiffany & Co., and Alexandre became the fabled firm’s executive VP. Alexandre, UK Vogue reports, “has had quite an 18 months” at Tiffany, orchestrating a series of “zeitgeist-capturing moments” that have kept the jeweler “firmly in the news.” What Alexandre wants out of the news: the ongoing federal probe into “rampant” insider trading in crypto non-fungible tokens. This past February, Alexandre came under suspicion after buying a “HypeBears” NFT that he quickly flipped for an astounding 377-percent profit. Through a spokesperson, Alexandre is “vehemently” refusing to answer any queries about his personal ties with the HypeBears founder.
 
BOLD SOLUTIONS
In Colombia, a Real Chance to Reverse Inequality
A week ago, voters in Colombia ushered in the first left presidency in their nation’s history. Gustavo Petro, the former mayor of Bogotá, ran on a platform of gender equity, progressive taxation, and environmental protection alongside his vice-presidential running mate Francia Márquez Mina, an Afro-Colombian environmental lawyer and former housekeeper. These two champions for the working class are now leading one of Latin America’s most unequal nations. To reverse this inequality, the Petro-Márquez platform vows to increase taxes on the 4,000 wealthiest individuals in the country. According to the Wealth-X database, 4,740 Colombians currently hold net worths of at least $5 million. Inequality researcher Omar Ocampo has more.
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GREED AT A GLANCE
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TOO MUCH
Does the Amazon Now Have a Shot at Survival?
The wealthy of Colombia haven’t faced a national leader interested in seriously taxing them since Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Ayala — the last serious progressive candidate for Colombia’s top office before this year — died in a broad-daylight assassination during his 1948 presidential campaign. Now Colombia has just elected a president and vice-president who understand the link between plutocracy and the plunder of the Amazon, our Earth’s most valuable ecosystem. Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez, after their stunning June 19 electoral victory, will be taking office pledged to a platform that places the well-being of Colombia’s poor and our global climate above the interests of the affluents who’ve dominated Colombia for so long. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
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MUST READS
What’s on Inequality.org 

Phil Mattera, Challenging Corporate Investment in Anti-Abortion States. With corporations garnering good press by vouching to pay for employees to travel to receive abortions in the wake of the Roe decision, past history tells us that this won’t prevent those companies from doing business in those anti-abortion states.

Claire Goldstene, The War on (Poor) Women. Attacks on reproductive health, most especially the one striking down Roe v. Wade, ultimately amount to a war on poor women.

Elsewhere on the Web

Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Tackling inequality takes social reform, Nature. In two important new books, leading economists explore the wide-ranging changes needed to produce a more just society.

Ted Howard, Delivering community wealth for all, Democracy Collaborative. What may be our best and final chance to simultaneously address the crisis of wealth inequality and the economic, racial, and environmental injustices exacerbated by it.  

Paul Kiel, Ten Ways Billionaires Avoid Taxes on an Epic Scale, ProPublica. How can the owners of pro sports teams be paying taxes at lower rates than the athletes they employ? That answer and lots more.

Steve Dubb, The Rich Get Richer: CEO Pay at 300 US Companies Climbs 31 Percent in 2021, NPQ. With polls showing large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats supporting a mandatory cap on CEO pay, the challenge has become not building public support for policy change, but rather breaking the corporate stranglehold on the U.S. political system.

Kamolika Das, Creating Racially and Economically Equitable Tax Policy in the South, Institute on Tax and Economic Policy. Southerners deserve far more than the upside-down, anti-democratic tax policies supported by many Southern state lawmakers.

Tim Murphy, How a Former Transcendental Meditation Devotee Ended Up Funding America’s Wildest Right-Wing Spy Op, Mother Jones. A chilling case study illustrates how grand inherited fortunes are poisoning our political process.

Nick Serpe, Billionaire Bash: The ignoble story of Davos, Nation. A compelling look at Davos Man, “a predator who attacks without restraint, perpetually intent on expanding his territory and seizing the nourishment of others, while protecting himself from reprisal by posing as a symbiotic friend to all.”
 
 
A FINAL FIGURE
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