As if we needed more proof that we’re in another Gilded Age, railroad barons reared their ugly heads last week, forcing employees to the precipice of a strike. Why?

With the midterm elections just around the corner, millions of Americans will quite literally be voting for their lives this fall.

“We are once again in a moment of extreme division, with rising assaults on democracy and levels of racism, sexism, and inequality that are tearing our country apart,” write Institute for Policy Studies executive director Tope Folarin and Rev. Dr. William Barber II of the Poor People’s Campaign in a just-published op-ed in Newsweek.

“For everyone to thrive,” the pair add, “we must do much more to tackle the interlocking injustices that long pre-date the Covid-19 crisis."

The past two years have seen some modest strides towards addressing inequality, from canceling up to $20,000 in student debt to expanding healthcare subsidies. But the pandemic-era social and economic policies that pulled millions out of poverty in 2021 have since expired while the fortunes of our wealthy and well-connected grow ever grander.

All this sets the stage for November’s second Tuesday. Real chances for change do lie ahead. Can we show enough political will to seize them?

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

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Celebrate the Amazon Labor Union on October 13
The Amazon Labor Union, the worker group that led the successful campaign for the first U.S. union presence at the retail behemoth earlier this year, continues to face steep challenges. Amazon is still fighting to overturn the election results that won bargaining rights for the company’s Staten Island warehouse workers. The new union is expecting a final NLRB ruling any day now.

In the meantime, the Amazon Labor Union is supporting organizing drives at other warehouses around the country, including a facility in Albany, New York, where voting on unionization will begin October 12. The Staten Island victory has also inspired workers at other retailers to seek union representation, including, most recently, at Home Depot.

The Institute for Policy Studies will be presenting the Amazon Labor Union with the prestigious Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award October 13. Want to help celebrate a major triumph against our top-heavy economy? You can participate at the outdoor award presentation ceremony in Washington, D.C. either on-site or via livestream.
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Free Speech Forever, Until the Bottom Line Fidgets
Matthew Prince, the billionaire CEO of the online infrastructure colossus Cloudfare, readily acknowledges the “real challenges the Internet has created.” But “none of us,” he adds, “can underestimate the amount of good that it’s done.” Especially for his personal bottom line. Forbes last year rated Prince 229th on its annual list of America’s 400 richest. Prince doesn’t dwell on his billions. He’d much rather have people focus on his ideals. This CEO sees himself as a “a free speech absolutist,” and his Cloudfare started out providing cloud access to all comers, including the white-supremacist Daily Stormer. After Charlottesville’s Neo-Nazi violence five years ago — with anger rising at the Daily Stormer’s continuing Internet access — Prince reversed course and cut off the vile site, all the while insisting that firms like his must remain “consistently content neutral.” Earlier this month, after once again vowing not to dump a despicable, Cloudfare terminated Kiwi Farms, a hate site that publishes the personal info of vulnerable people. Prince last year termed Cloudfare “a very principled organization.” Might that principle be “profits first”?
Lawmakers Weigh Serious Dark Money Disclosure

Last week, the U.S. Senate failed to pass the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, missing a key opportunity to check the exorbitant influence of anonymous spending on American politics. The bill would have required 501(c)(4) advocacy groups to disclose their donations worth over $10,000 and banned foreign participation in domestic political advocacy outright.

During the 2020 election cycle, some $2 billion in dark money distorted democracy and benefited candidates in both parties. Yet all 50 Senate Democrats co-sponsored this year’s DISCLOSE bill, and President Biden implored all lawmakers to approve it. Republican Senators rejected that bipartisan plea and uniformly opposed the bill.

The hopeful news? States can create their own transparency standards. Arizona voters have a shot at instituting mandatory donor disclosure through an initiative, Voters’ Right to Know, on the ballot this November.’s Bella DeVaan has more.

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A Voice at the UN the Entire World Needs to Hear
Hardly anyone seems to pay close attention to the UN these days. And that sad reality counts as a real shame because the current UN secretary-general, former Portuguese prime minister António Guterres, has been doing more to focus world attention on the catastrophic inequality that endangers humanity than probably any other figure on the world political stage. We may all be “floating on the same sea,” Guterres has noted, but some of us are floating “in superyachts while others are clinging to the floating debris.” Declares the secretary-general with no hesitation: “Inequality defines our time.’s Sam Pizzigati has more.

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What's on 

Chuck Collins, Close the Medicaid Coverage Gap . Over 2 million Americans ind ourselves stuck without health care because 12 GOP-ruled states keep refusing to expand Medicaid.

Elsewhere on the Web

Rev. William Barber and Tope Folarin, Poor People Will Be Voting For Their Lives in the Midterms, Newsweek. Pandemic policies that reduced poverty in 2021 have expired, leaving 40 percent of the country struggling to pay basic bills. Meanwhile, efforts to tax billionaire pandemic windfalls have failed, leaving the ultra-rich with trillions more in wealth.

Rupert Neate, Number of global ultra high net worth individuals hits record high, The Guardian. Credit Suisse finds those with assets exceeding $50m total 218,200 after our post-Covid wealth explosion.

Robert Reich, Why Billionaires Need To Call Stop Calling Themselves ‘Self-Made,’ Digg. Can anyone actually become a billionaire if they work hard enough?

David Dayen, The Importance of Citizen Activism, The American Prospect. Still another billionaire outed for cheating consumers on his way to a 10-digit-fortune.

Carl Rhodes, Patagonia’s radical business move is great – but governments, not billionaires, should be saving the planet, The Guardian. Rather than addressing the underlying political and economic system that creates inequality, billionaire philanthropy provides it with a moral justification.

Liz Richardson, People Are Sharing Things Rich People Buy That Poor People Don't Even Know Exist, and It's Wild, Buzzfeed. One plutocrat’s advance team gets sent a few days before a trip to scope out the rented/bought location and report back exact dimensions for closet and drawer space.

Zachary Tashman, William Rice, and Frank Clemente, The Club for Billionaires, Americans for Tax Fairness. One reason billionaires have so much money available to try to buy elections: Many of them often pay little or nothing in federal income taxes.

Jake Johnson, Koch Network Showers Fascist Election Deniers with Campaign Cash Ahead of Midterms, Common Dreams. Fortune 500 and trade groups execs, meanwhile, have directed around $25 million to election deniers since last January.

Jris Wendt, U.S Billionaires Are Powering the Recovery of the Global Private Jet Market, Aviation Source. The demand for private jets, the latest data show, is increasing drastically.


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