In 2021, during a painstaking year of unspeakable loss and economic turmoil, average S&P 500 CEOs saw their pay increase by more than $700,000. So reports the latest bombshell PayWatch corporate executive compensation analysis from our friends at the AFL-CIO.

 
INEQUALITY.ORG
THIS WEEK
In 2021, during a painstaking year of unspeakable loss and economic turmoil, average S&P 500 CEOs saw their pay increase by more than $700,000. So reports the latest bombshell PayWatch corporate executive compensation analysis from our friends at the AFL-CIO.

We released our own Institute for Policy Studies take on CEO pay, the 28th annual Executive Excess report, just last month. Reports on CEO pay excess this year feel particularly salient, as average families fall further and further behind economically. Some 75 percent of middle-income families now say their wages are falling behind inflation.

With the midterm elections fast approaching and the economy a top issue, let’s all keep in mind that our economy generates more than enough wealth for all of us to thrive. But that wealth is mostly landing at the top end of our economic ladder. Things don’t have to be that way.

We’re taking the next two weeks off for our annual summer break, but that doesn’t mean we’re going completely dark. Keep tabs on all our work by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and, of course, our inequality.org.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
 
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
Facebook Twitter Download
 
FACES ON THE FRONTLINES
Etsy Artisans Strike for a Fair Marketplace
Earlier this year, Samantha Carter — a ceramic artist and owner of Half Light Honey — shut down her Etsy storefront for an entire week as part of a strike by artisans on the site. For Carter, a difficult decision, but one she felt she needed to make to bring attention to the “Amazonification” of online marketplaces like Etsy.

Carter first began selling on Etsy, a network for small artisans, in 2013. Now, with Etsy CEO Josh Silverman upfront about his intention to compete with Amazon, most sellers can no longer thrive or even survive on the platform. Last April, Etsy raised its transaction fee by over 30 percent. In response to this growing greed from Etsy execs, an Indie Sellers Guild has formed to fight on behalf of sellers.

“It's becoming harder and harder, especially after Covid, to be a small business competing with a rapidly growing billionaire class,” Carter tells Inequality.org. Next Leader Nikki Ramsy has more.
Read More
 
WORDS OF WISDOM
Facebook Twitter Download
 
PETULANT PLUTOCRAT
OF THE WEEK
A Rich Young Man on a Money-Grubbing Mission
What chunk of Americana will the crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried buy up next, Wall Street’s “plumbing” or the Democratic Party? This 30-year-old, Joe Biden’s second-largest 2020 donor, has been busy pumping tens of millions into political action committees comfortable with his hostility toward federal regs on risky financial maneuvers. A $6 million chunk of that outlay this spring went to the House Majority PAC, a campaign committee supposed to be “fighting” to elect Democrats. That PAC — and another Bankman-Fried-backed PAC — proceeded to dump big bucks into a Democratic primary in Oregon on behalf of a candidate running against a candidate likely to challenge the fossil fuel-dependent “mining” of the crypto industry. This past May, Bankman-Fried announced he may spend as much as $1 billion on the 2024 elections. That ought to buy him, notes New York magazine, even more friends in high places as he also moves to muscle in on the behind-the-scenes Wall Street firms that “skim money as it flows” through our financial system.
 
BOLD SOLUTIONS
Top Grantmaker Finally Gives Bigger
The Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund — the largest charitable entity in America — has announced an uptick in donations. This year, Fidelity has shelled out $4.8 billion, an increase of 11 percent. Considering that Fidelity stewards around $50 billion in assets, just shy of Mali’s estimated GDP, any increase in giving has to be a welcome development.

But this story has more to it. The donor-advised funds, or DAFs, that financial giants like Fidelity manage now warehouse over $160 billion in assets, an almost Azerbaijan-sized sum. Thanks to a tax code loophole, these DAFs have no legally mandated annual payout nor transparency regulations, meaning donors can enjoy front-loaded tax breaks, giving discretion, and a leisurely giving cadence.

We as a nation cannot, explains our just-published Gilded Giving 2022, rely on random DAF benevolence, and our new Institute for Policy Studies study details just why legislators should mandate new DAF rules on time-bound payout and transparency. The public agrees: 73 percent of Americans, polled by Ipsos in June, support requiring DAFs to make grants within two to five years of receiving donations.

Even Fidelity Charitable President Jacob Pruitt has come on board, telling the AP he’d “support legislation that encourages donors to actively make grants from their donor-advised funds.” Read more from AP reporter Glenn Gamboa, in conversation with our Chuck Collins, below.
Read More
 
GREED AT A GLANCE
Facebook Twitter Download
 
TOO MUCH
Janet Yellen’s Noble Tax Effort Comes to Naught
Poor Janet Yellen. You have to be wincing these days for our 75-year-old U.S. secretary of the treasury. Yellen has spent a lifetime trying to inject a little humanity into the macho male ranks of our nation’s elite economists, and this past year she may have engineered her greatest contribution yet: an epic global tax deal — involving over 130 nations — designed to drive corporate tax havens out of existence. Earlier this month, this career-defining personal achievement needed only U.S. Senate approval to begin going into transformational worldwide effect. But then a single U.S. senator — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who else? — pulled the rug out from under Yellen. Corporations can now continue to cheat their way into mammoth tax savings. But let’s be a bit more precise here. Corporations can’t literally cheat anyone. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
Read More
 
MUST READS
What's on Inequality.org 

Chuck Collins and Helen Flannery, Giving USA 2022: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy. As inequality has grown in the U.S., the nation’s charitable system is in danger of becoming a taxpayer-subsidized platform of private power for the ultra-wealthy. This poses risks to the independent nonprofit sector and our society as a whole. It's time for reform — and we have some ideas.

Elsewhere on the Web

Judd Legum, The billionaires buying the midterm elections, Popular Information. Are the 2022 midterm elections for sale? A handful of billionaires are trying to find out.

Sami Peretz, Not Just Netanyahu: Why Do Billionaires and Politicians Make Such Good Friends? Haaretz. The excitement of tycoons and politicians over one another derives mainly from the reciprocal advantages they can offer — power and benefits from one side, money and pampering from the other.

Steve Phillips, Why are Democratic billionaires backing white candidates over better candidates of color? Guardian. The 2022 primaries have seen a surge of white billionaires, ostensibly Democrats, throwing their weight – and their money – around to try to boost the fortunes of under-qualified white men running against candidates of color.

Art Raymond, The new serfdom: While U.S. workers lost money last year, CEO earnings shot up 18%, Deseret News. The growing economic storm perfect for only America’s rich.

Harlan Ullman, America’s wealth inequality is a domestic IED, ready to ignite, The Hill.  Are we in America headed for a Bastille-like assault on government?

Oliver Milman, A 17-minute flight? The super-rich who have ‘absolute disregard for the planet,’ Guardian. Kylie Jenner rates as far from the only deep pocket to make short hops on private jets despite mounting concerns over the climate crisis.

Noah Lanard, Blake Masters Is Peter Thiel’s Dream Candidate — and a Total Nightmare for Democracy, Mother Jones. The right-wing tech giant, who sees freedom and democracy as incompatible, has poured millions into his protégé’s Arizona U.S. Senate campaign.
 
 
A FINAL FIGURE
Facebook Twitter Download
 
BE THE 1% (NO, NOT THAT 1%)

Our goal for 2022: that 1% of our Inequality.org subscribers become monthly sustainers and help grow our newsletter and research efforts. Be the 1%, for as little as $3 a month!
Sustain Inequality.org