The water in Jackson, Mississippi has been inaccessible – and often undrinkable – for months. Why are Jackson’s 150,000 residents, the vast majority Black, suffering this system collapse?
 
INEQUALITY.ORG
THIS WEEK
The water in Jackson, Mississippi has been inaccessible – and often undrinkable – for months. Why are Jackson’s 150,000 residents, the vast majority Black, suffering this system collapse? White flight “drained the city of resources,” Benji Jones points out in Vox, and state lawmakers have chronically neglected the city’s water infrastructure.

Funding from last year’s federal infrastructure rescue plan arrived too little, too late. The $42 million that did eventually arrive, notes Jackson mayor Chokwe Lumumba, can’t undo “30 years of deferred maintenance.” So last week Jackson’s water ran brown when it ran at all.

Making sure Jackson has clean water “could cost $2 billion,” Bernie Sanders’ staff director Warren Gunnels tweeted in response, adding that “we currently spend over $2 billion a day on the Pentagon.” 

In the wake of 9/11, the costs of our chronic disinvestment in domestic infrastructure have been piling up. Our National Priorities Project colleagues estimate that the $21 trillion spent on militarism could have instead funded a host of needed programs ranging from decarbonizing our electric grid to reconstructing our nation’s water infrastructure.

Check out the Project’s eye-opening State of Insecurity report for more on the mortal costs of choosing war over basic human needs.

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
Farmworker Speaks Truth to Power in Washington
California farmworker Carolina Sanchez didn’t hold back when Labor Secretary Marty Walsh invited her to share her pandemic experiences at a recent event in Washington. Speaking through an interpreter, Sanchez described how her employers refused to give non-union farmworkers sick leave or any kind of protective equipment. With some of her co-workers, she tried to raise concerns with one particularly abusive supervisor.

“He let us know we weren’t worth anything,” Sanchez noted.

Labor Secretary Walsh acknowledged, in response, that even he doesn’t always think about how hard people are working to harvest the food that sits in his own refrigerator.

“We as a country,” he added, “need to start respecting farm workers.”

Sanchez and other essential workers had come to the nation’s capital for their induction into the Labor Department’s Hall of Honor for their heroic efforts during the pandemic. Inequality.org managing editor Rebekah Entralgo and co-editor Sarah Anderson have more.
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WORDS OF WISDOM
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PETULANT PLUTOCRAT
OF THE WEEK
Big Tech’s Secret Sauce: ‘Fake It Until You Make It’
Billionaires — inside and outside Silicon Valley — loved Elizabeth Holmes and her blood-testing start-up Theranos. Holmes and her company claimed their revolutionary new tech was going to transform their industry by delivering hundreds of tests “from just a few drops of finger-pricked blood.” Billionaires ranging from Larry Ellison to Rupert Murdoch lapped up that line and poured hundreds of millions into Theranos. But media exposés then began revealing that Theranos was actually using traditional tech to do most of its testing. In 2018, an unrepentant Holmes paid $500,000 in fines to settle federal SEC fraud charges. This past January, after a federal jury trial, Holmes became “the first Silicon Valley CEO to be convicted of a white-collar crime.” But last week, in a last-ditch effort to stall sentencing, Holmes asked for a new trial, contending that one of the prosecution’s 29 witnesses against her had come by her home and told her partner that he felt sorry about his testimony.
 
BOLD SOLUTIONS
We Have an Alternative to Painful Interest Rate Hikes
Everyone agrees: Prices have gone too high. But do we have to hurt working people to bring them down? Many “experts” appear to think so. They regularly espouse the “unavoidable” necessity of hiking interest rates and overlook the consequences: skyrocketing unemployment and depressed wages. This thinking deserves deep-sixing, argues Groundwork Collaborative chief economist Rakeen Mabud, who notes that July’s strong job market didn’t contribute to any inflationary burst.

Lawmakers should be focusing, Mabud believes, on fixing the ?root causes of rising prices,? from corporate concentration to brittle supply chains and global conflicts. The Biden administration and Congress are starting to do just that, as the recently enacted Inflation Reduction and Ocean Shipping Reform Acts attest. Federal Reserve officials should be heeding Mabud?s call and avoiding more rate hikes when they meet later this month.
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GREED AT A GLANCE
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TOO MUCH
What’s Hiking the Heat Up So High This Summer?
America’s media have been teeming over recent weeks with stats on heat horrors. In Phoenix, daily highs have averaged well over 100 degrees all summer long. Oregon’s governor last month pointed to the “imminent threat” of wildfires that rising temperatures had created and declared a state of emergency. California, meanwhile, declared a statewide grid emergency “to cope with surging demand for power amid a blistering heat wave.” Sacramento then promptly registered 116, “its highest-ever recorded temperature.” What’s missing in most all this massive heat-wave coverage? The inequality connection. Inequality isn’t just determining who’s suffering the most from all the heat. Inequality is actually driving the mercury higher, as new research out of New York is dramatically detailing. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
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MUST READS
What's on Inequality.org 

Inequality.org, Barbara Ehrenreich Speaks Truth to Royalty. In accepting a prestigious European award, the veteran journalist reflected on her life's work of writing about all the people left out of America’s fabulous wealth.

Robin Broad and John Cavanagh, Water is Life. Can We Protect It? Americans will have to fight hard to protect their water from corporate greed. They can learn a great deal from El Salvador.

Elsewhere on the Web

Douglas Rushkoff, The super-rich ‘preppers’ planning to save themselves from the apocalypse, Guardian. Never before have our society’s most powerful players assumed that the primary impact of their own conquests would be to render the world itself unlivable for everyone else.

Martin Sandbu, Governments cannot afford to ignore a wealth tax, Financial Times. Net wealth taxes would restore some fairness to tax systems that fail to put the greatest burdens on the broadest shoulders.

Chris Hedges, Let’s Stop Pretending America Is a Functioning Democracy, SheerPost. We have no institutions, including an electoral system that amounts to little more than legalized bribery, that can be defined as democratic.

J. Bradford DeLong, Why Can’t We All Be Rich? Project Syndicate. We have expanded the economic pie. We still have not figured out how to slice and taste it.

Jo´hann Pa´ll Jo´hannsson, Progressive taxation for a renewed social contract, Social Europe. An Icelandic MP explains how the postwar revolution in living standards throughout the western world rested on the adoption of steeply progressive taxes on incomes and inheritance.

Annie Brown, Liz Truss will deliver as PM - for Britain's growing gang of the super-rich, Daily Record. Truss, a particularly big fan of Amazon, claimed her Prime membership on her parliamentary expenses.

Sharon Zhang, ‘Billionaires Have Got to Go’: Labor Activists March to Bezos’s NYC Penthouse, TruthOut. Amazon continues to deny the results of the historic union election at the firm’s giant Staten Island warehouse.

Amber Raiken, Julia Fox confesses to using billionaires and claims they ‘should not exist,’ Independent. The 32-year-old actor says “money coming into billionaires should go right back into the community that made them rich.”
 
 
A FINAL FIGURE
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