A weekly newsletter from the Institute for Policy Studies
With Earth Day and Tax Day sharing a week, what better time to focus on the connection between climate change and economic inequality? Our colleagues with the Institute for Policy Studies' National Priorities Project have released a new tool that helps us do just that.
This handy receipt breakdown lets U.S. taxpayers see just where their federal tax dollars are going. One example: Average taxpayers are shelling out $106 to Lockheed Martin, our top military contractor, but only $6 for renewable energy!
The main message here? Our government is continuing to invest too much in militarization, with its millionaire CEOs and high-polluting machinery, and not nearly enough on safeguarding the health and future of our communities.
Meanwhile, here at Inequality.org, we celebrated Tax Day at the Patriotic Millionaires Spring Forum in Washington, D.C., hearing from distinguished analysts and organizers working to create a more equitable world — by seriously taxing the richest among us. You can find a link to a video of the forum below, along with some musings from our team.
And speaking of our team and climate change, our own Chuck Collins will shortly be releasing his first novel, Altar to an Erupting Sun, a riveting take on our climate crisis. But don't just take our word for it. The award-winning sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson is calling Chuck’s latest project a “provocative book” that “makes us think hard about what we might need to do to save Earth’s biosphere.”
Want to learn more? Join Chuck on May 9 for a virtual book launch. Thanks!
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
Building Worker Power in North Carolina and Far Beyond
After dropping out of high school, Cat Hadley found herself working multiple minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. Now a mom, a University of Michigan grad, and Truman Scholar, Hadley is tapping into her experience growing up in poverty to empower working class people as the state campaign manager for the Patriotic Millionaires Great Economy Project.
As part of this project, Hadley has organized a series of dialogues in the small town of Whiteville, North Carolina. She’s engaging residents from both sides of our current political divide on exactly how politicians from both parties have rigged the economy in favor of the rich — and what we can do to fix that.
We can “build a movement where working class people take their power back,” Hadley told the Patriotic Millionaires spring forum last week, and remind folks of “the power they’ve always had.” More about her project below.
Let's Kick Private Equity Out of Nursing Homes — Now
Private equity’s presence in health care has been, in a word, disastrous. The complex financialized ownership structure that private equity has imposed on health care facilities has shuttered rural health care providers, overcharged and denied care to elderly patients, and even delayed wheelchair repairs.
In nursing homes, private equity has killed. Americans for Financial Reform has uncovered deeply concerning levels of infection and death in private equity-owned nursing homes compared to all others.
A broad-based coalition is now circulating a petition to demand that policy makers protect nursing homes from Wall Street greed. Add your name and, at the link below, learn more about what we can do. Americans for Financial Reform's campaigner Ricardo Valadez explains federal proposals to mandate nursing home ownership transparency and create safe nurse-to-patient ratios.
Audit the Rich? Great Idea. Really Tax the Rich? Even Better.
In 2019 — the most recent year with data available — the IRS ended up auditing only 0.4 percent of America’s taxpayers making over $500,000. Subjecting the wealthiest among us to serious audits would certainly up how much in taxes rich people pay. But those among our wealthiest who belong to the Patriotic Millionaires fair-tax group believe we need to do much more than up the tax audit rate on our richest.
Last week, meeting in Washington, D.C., activists with Patriotic Millionaires unveiled a bold new gameplan — Crack the Code — for thoroughly overhauling how we treat the rich at tax time. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
PETULANT PLUTOCRAT OF THE WEEK
Getting Rich Off Cable Cruelty — and Loving Every Minute
This week’s dour deep pocket: Dana White, president of the mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship and the most prominent promoter of “slap fighting,” cable TV’s hottest new craze.
What has him sour: In slap fighting, competitors stand a few feet apart, then take turns standing motionless while their foe slams an open-palmed blow into their face. In other words, suffering as a spectacle. A profitable one for White, now halfway to his first billion as the UFC’s top exec, a slot that pays him $20 million a year. White has no patience for critics of his new “sport.” He calls them “morons.”
The last word: “What’s next, who can survive being run over by a tank?” asks New York Times sportswriter Kurt Streeter. “Knife fights on national television?”
This week on Inequality.org
Lindsay Koshgarian, Breaking Down Your Tax Bill. Our tax dollars should make life better — not go to waste on bloated military contracts and Pentagon boondoggles. A look at what the numbers show.
Kali Daugherty, Don’t Shred the Safety Net — Expand It. Conservative lawmakers are threatening to slash the programs that help families escape poverty. We should be doing the exact opposite.
Elsewhere on the Web
Amy Hanauer, We Can Create a Fair, Feminist Tax Code, Ms. Taxing wealthy people and corporations and using the revenue for paid leave, childcare, and education would transform America — especially for women and families.
Allison Hurst, Class Ceilings, Working-Class Perspectives. The insidious myth of meritocracy belies increasingly insane levels of inequality that are preventing our younger generations born into the middle class from ever achieving “the American Dream.”
Andrew Perez, Matthew Cunningham-Cook, and Rebecca Burns, Tax-Free Day for The Ultra-Wealthy, The Lever. New data show the wealthiest Americans have stashed $2 trillion in offshore tax havens, as the government relaxes efforts to combat tax evasion.
Luke Savage, The 'Conservative Movement' Is a Giant Exercise in Plutocrat-Financed Astroturfing, Jacobin. The scandal of Clarence Thomas accepting enormous gifts from billionaire Harlan Crow reminds us just how little mass support the right has.
Andrew Simms, Hope from the Seed of Trauma, Resilience. Overcoming our “selfish, competitive, unregulated market economics” requires “people to be able to see how things could be different.” The Covid years have begun that process.
Gregory Mikkelson, A Steady State Sustains All Boats, Steady State Herald. Inequality tends to worsen with economic growth. The good news? Economic democracy makes for an effective antidote!
Phyllis Taite, Inequality by Unnatural Selection: The Impact of Tax Code Bias on the Racial Wealth Gap, Kentucky Law Journal. A deep dive into how laws and policies, primarily in tax, have completely obstructed or imposed barriers to wealth building for minority households.
John Plender, Eye-popping executive pay rewards luck, not managerial wizardry, Financial Times. Our contemporary corporate bonus culture largely explains the ongoing decline in investment and our low productivity growth.
Richard Raycraft, Singh proposes corporate tax hike tied to CEO-worker pay gap, CBC News. Canada’s leading progressive party is pushing a plan to increase corporate taxes based on the size of the gap between worker and CEO pay.
Amy Hawkins, Unsafe at the top: China’s anti-graft drive targets billionaires and bankers, Guardian. Xi’s campaign has been popular with the Chinese public, with many people appalled by the riches that increasingly accompanied political office.
Why Hollywood Writers Are Going on Strike, More Perfect Union. While corporate profits have skyrocketed, writers are making less than they were 10 years ago. Streaming is killing Hollywood, and these writers are not standing for it.
Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen, Child Labor, Child Strikes, with Jack Hodgson, Belabored. Recent news reports have revealed that child labor in the United States remains much more than a historical relic. Some politicians actually see less oversight as good for business.
Daniel Denvir, Teach the Children Well, The Dig. Authors Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider join Denvir to discuss everything from charter schools that fill investor pockets to teacher social movement unionism.
At last week’s Patriotic Millionaires forum, Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow Bob Lord shared research showing that the American super rich have enjoyed an 83 percent cut in the indicator that matters most: their tax rate as a share of their wealth. Noted Lord: “We need taxes to bring the wealth growth of the top 0.01 percent back to the rate of growth of the country as a whole.”
Inequality.org | www.inequality.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Editor: Rebekah Entralgo
Co-Editors: Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, and Isabella DeVaan
Production: Isabella DeVaan