Forget myths about razor blades — the real danger of Halloween candy is the corporate greed behind it.

Each week, we here at strive to deliver the humor, hope, and – especially today – horror of our deeply unequal world.

Take for example the Mars family. This candy-baron clan owes its fortunes to Halloween treats like M&Ms and Snickers and currently ranks as America’s third-wealthiest family, worth a collective $94 billion. Only the Waltons and Koch families hoard larger piles of cash. Between 1983 and 2020, our Silver Spoon Oligarchs report. found last year, the Mars family wealth jumped 3,517 percent, after adjusting for inflation!

And yet, despite this fortune, candy prices have jumped 13 percent this year, an increase that used to take nine years to reach. Some candies like Starburst and Skittles, both manufactured by Mars, have seen price hikes of anywhere from 35 to 42 percent. A true Halloween horror.

But we’re also feeling some hope today, after Lula da Silva’s victory in last night’s Brazilian presidential election, a giant step forward for Brazil’s working people and wondrous Amazon forest. And let’s also note a final piece of news for this week’s trifecta of horror, humor, and hope: Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert is now sharing our billionaire wealth research in his newest comic segment, Rich, Please!

One closing request: If you enjoy our weekly dispatches, please consider forwarding this email to friends and encouraging them to subscribe. Thanks so much!

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

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Housing Justice On This Year’s Bay Area Ballot
Inequality is haunting San Francisco. Mansions bankrolled by tech fortunes coexist with a severe and worsening housing crisis. A United Way study estimates a minimum-wage worker in San Francisco would need to log 161 weekly hours to afford the median rent on a one-bedroom apartment. No wonder analysts report that the city has 14 dwellings sitting empty, kept off-market by speculators, for every unhoused person.

Bay Area residents will weigh in next week on ballot measures that hope to tackle their untenable vacancy squeeze. People First San Francisco is organizing support for three key measures. Proposition M, a tax on empty homes, would target units vacant for the majority of the year — and invest the resulting revenue in creating more affordable housing stock and subsidizing rent for elderly and low-income San Franciscans.

“We’re just asking that you pay your fair share for affordable housing,” notes Gwen McLaughlin, field director for the Proposition M campaign.

Alongside M, Proposition O would levy a new property tax to revitalize San Francisco’s City College, a mobility engine for local students who can attend for free. And Proposition H would move citywide elections to even-numbered years, hoping to double voter turnout and keep local lawmakers more responsive to their constituents’ needs.’s Bella DeVaan has more.
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This Stink Will Require Perfume Aplenty to Cover
Deep-pocketed locals in Florida’s Palm Beach breathed a sigh of relief six years ago when a pair of charter-school moguls finally finished construction on a 16-bathroom mansion. Those locals sighed too early. That mansion has now changed hands, and the new owner — billionaire William Lauder, the grandson of Estée Lauder and a former CEO of her cosmetics empire — is now planning to tear his newly purchased $110-million manse down “to the dirt.” Lauder has already demolished the mansion next door. He paid $25.4 million for that one. His new neighbors, meanwhile, are stewing. In Palm Beach’s old days, says one long-timer, “nothing was really torn down to make way for just another huge, enormous house.” The 62-year-old Lauder has also just settled a lawsuit with a former mistress. He thought she had agreed to conceal his identity “even from the child” their time together had produced.
No Taxpayer Cash for Bad Corporate Behavior! co-editor Sarah Anderson recently took a close look at 74 low-wage, major federal contractors. In 2021, these firms forked out an average of $13 million for CEO pay. They also spent a total of $4.6 billion on stock buybacks, a maneuver that further inflates executive stock-based compensation while doing nothing for workers.

Is that how you want your tax dollars spent? We’re guessing not.

In a recent letter, labor unions and other economic justice groups urged President Biden to make it more difficult for companies to get lucrative government contracts if they have huge CEO-worker pay gaps, bust unions, or waste money on stock buybacks. Anderson has more on why these executive actions would help workers and give taxpayers a bigger bang for their contracting buck.
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Our Inane Campaign Financing Double Standard
Do you have a favorite candidate in the upcoming congressional midterm elections? Want to do everything you can to see that candidate elected? Thinking about opening your wallet in the campaign’s final days? If you do feel so inclined, you’ll find out — as soon as you move to make an online contribution — that you can only open your wallet so wide. Federal election law sets strict limits on how much you can contribute, as an individual, to your candidate of choice. That limit now stands at $2,900 per election. Contribute more than that and you’ll be breaking the law. And you could face some hefty penalties. But wait. How can ordinary Americans face substantial penalties for contributing too much to their favorite candidates when we regularly see headlines about the multiple millions America’s wealthiest are legally investing in our elections?’s Sam Pizzigati has some answers.
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What's on 

Jack Metzgar, We Can’t Afford NOT to Have a Wealth Tax. We’re producing more food than at any other time in human history, yet millions worldwide are starving.

Where Has All The Money Gone? Watch our webinar on why food banks and other nonprofits should support philanthropic policy change — and learn how you can, too.

Elsewhere on the Web

Thom Hartmann, This Is the Election You Get for 9 Billion Bucks, The Hartmann Report. Simply put, the elections are “tightening” because rightwing billionaires and giant corporations are pouring billions of dollars into advertising. And advertising works.

Justin Elliott, Megan O’Matz and Doris Burke, That Cardboard Box in Your Home Is Fueling Election Denial, ProPublica. A boom in profits for the shipping giant Uline has provided the funds for a deeply conservative Midwestern family to bankroll anti-democracy causes around the country.

Donald Morrison, Amid economic gloom, it’s raining billionaires, Berkshire Eagle. This election cycle, at least 30 individuals — up from three in 2020 — have made at least $10 million in political contributions, mostly to Republicans.

Rasika Sittamparam, The ex-lawyer helping billionaires shed their wealth, Spears. This attorney used to help build grand fortunes. Now she’s campaigning for progressive taxation on the wealthy and promoting the Patriotic Millionaires.

Tanya Kaushal, What’s driving the gap between the richest and poorest Americans? Yahoo! Money. Many of the richest Americans live in what have been categorized as “billionaire enabler states,” according to a recent Institute for Policy Studies report.

Tesnim Zekeria and Judd Legum, What happens when you put ideologues in charge of a university? Popular Information. A university president in the empire of billionaire Charles Koch is killing off tenure for profs who refuse to toe a rich-people-friendly line.

Rupert Neate, Wealth taxes could raise £37bn for UK public services, campaigners say, The Guardian. Tax Justice UK is calling on the new Rishi Sunak government to introduce five reforms targeting the nation’s richest people.

Kabir Agarwal, To Reform Our Destructive Global Food System, We’ll Need to Tackle Inequality, Jacobin. We’re producing more food than at any other time in human history, yet millions worldwide are starving.

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