A weekly newsletter from the Institute for Policy Studies
If you’re reading this, you’re likely to know someone impacted by the nearly 10,000 flights canceled or delayed earlier this year due to “system failure.”
Headline after headline about the aviation industry laments the current state of U.S. air travel, with its overcrowded aircrafts, unreliable schedules, and frequently canceled flights. Aviation safety advocates and industry experts alike are decrying the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to modernize outdated technology.
A new report from our Inequality team at the Institute for Policy Studies outlines one key reason for this FAA failure: The private jets of our nation’s ultra-wealthy are starving the FAA of needed resources. Private jet trips make up about one out of every six flights the FAA handles but contribute just 2 percent of the taxes that make up the trust fund that primarily funds the agency.
Private jets are also emitting 10 times more pollutants than commercial planes per passenger.
“When the ultra wealthy get to opt out of a system, they have much less of a stake in improving it,” Inequality.org co-editor Chuck Collins, a co-author of our new Institute for Policy Studies private jet report, recently told the New York Times. “If over 100 billionaires couldn’t get home to their families because the air traffic system was having a meltdown, maybe we’d have a better system.”
Read on to learn more about our new bombshell private jet report — and what we can do to curb the dangerous habits of our ultra-wealthy.
for the Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org team
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
Pacific Northwest Nonprofits Make the Case for Moving the Money
The Pacific Northwest hosts some of America’s vastest fortunes — and annually generates bountiful philanthropic dollars. But those dollars aren't exactly flowing freely to actual working charities and those in need who depend upon them. Many of those dollars are going instead to the “donor-advised funds” that have become so popular with America’s most affluent.
Over $234 billion now sits in these charitable intermediaries, subject to concerning few requirements for generosity.
Andrea Caupain Sanderson of Seattle’s Byrd Barr Place nonprofit, a leader in a key Washington State coalition of BIPOC executive directors, sees donor-advised funds as exclusive and inaccessible to many nonprofit workers who are scouring the region for funding.
“This new, emerging philanthropy,” Sanderson adds, “is beginning to mirror, ironically, the inequality in wealth that funders are saying they want to remedy.”
Philanthropy Northwest's recent webinar put the spotlight on new research on the donor-advised-fund landscape. For more on what the charitable sector can do to ensure that needed funding reaches working charities faster, tune in and catch up at the link below.
How the Private Jet Habits of the Ultra-Wealthy Harm Us All
The U.S. airline debacle that stranded millions of travelers over the holidays last winter had little impact on America’s wealthiest and well-connected. Those affluents were flying private.
A new headline-making report from our team explores how this expensive, carbon-intensive private travel is hurting both our Earth and the average U.S. taxpayers who subsidize it.
The time has come to pass legislation that offsets the environmental, economic, and security risks of private jet travel. Taxes on this private industry would impact only the world’s wealthiest people — and the revenue raised could ensure a more environmentally sustainable future. Read more from our researcher Omar Ocampo, a co-author of the High Flyers 2023 report.
Can Auto Industry Execs Give Us a Climate-Safe Planet?
All electric vehicles, observes the U.S. EPA, create carbon emissions. Building the Tesla Model 3 battery alone can create up to 16 metric tons of CO2. Tesla’s electric cars have also created something else: the fortune of the world’s second-richest soul, Elon Musk. But Musk hardly rates as the only amply rewarded auto exec. GM CEO Mary Barra collected $29 million in 2022, on top of $62 million in 2021 and $40 million the year before. Overall auto CEO pay jumped 78 percent in 2021. This hefty compensation gives auto execs a powerful incentive to keep making oodles of autos. And that, says a new U.K. union report, makes no sense. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
PETULANT PLUTOCRAT OF THE WEEK
Not Really My Fault at All, Says Target’s Chief Exec
This week’s dour deep pocket: Brian Cornell, the CEO of the Target retail powerhouse.
What has him sour: Cornell saw his annual pay drop 41 percent for the fiscal year that ended this past January 31, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported last week, after his personal “performance” metrics didn’t quite pan out. In a CNBC interview during the course of that year, the long-time Target chief blamed rising freight and transportation costs for his corporation’s bumpy financial returns.
The last word: Don’t feel too sorry for CEO Cornell. Even with his big pay slump, he still took home $34.2 million last year, 680 times the take-home of the typical Target worker.
This week on Inequality.org
Dan Petegorsky, Right-Wing Judicial Activist Using Schwab Charity DAF to Move Funds. Secretive funding from ultra-wealthy donors has shaped the courts and public policy. One donor-advised fund in particular has facilitated that shaping.
Elsewhere on the Web
Jane Thier, The scourge of ‘heir pollution’ shows that the rich are exacerbating climate change — and the dynastically wealthy are leading the charge, Fortune. Flying private, a new Institute for Policy Studies report shows, has become a major way ultra-rich people pollute the planet.
Chloe Taylor, Bernie Sanders calls for income over $1 billion to be taxed at 100%: ’People can make it on $999 million,’ Fortune. The Sanders support for the notion of a maximum wage came in an interview with HBO Max’s Chris Wallace.
Andrew Perez, Matthew Cunningham-Cook, and David Sirota, How Pundits’ Inflation Myth Crushed The Working Class, The Lever. Corporate CEOs leveraged the power their oligopolies give them to raise prices and fuel inflation. The punditocracy covered that profit grab up.
James Reinl, Fatter cats: America’s top CEOs now earn 288 times more than their employees — getting 7.7% pay bumps to $22.3 million on average last year, despite the markets tanking, Daily Mail. The CEO pay gains came in a year when the total return of the S&P 500 fell 18 percent.
Chris Townsend, We Are All Salts, Labor Notes. Virtually all top corporate execs follow a ferociously anti-union playbook that sets up enormous legal and illegal obstacles to unionizing efforts. “Salting” can be a powerful antidote.
Jon Brodkin, Googlers angry about CEO’s $226M pay after cuts in perks and 12,000 layoffs, Ars Technica. Internal Google platforms are teeming with memes slamming CEO Sundar Pichai for taking a pay bump up while slashing costs elsewhere in the Alphabet empire.
Edward Lempinen, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman wins prestigious Clark Medal, Berkeley News. The American Economic Association has awarded the most important prize of the economics profession, outside the Nobel in economics, to Gabriel Zucman, a UC-Berkeley economist who has helped drive research into widening economic inequality and tax avoidance.
Marilou Johanek, Illinois billionaire attacking Ohio voters also funded Jan. 6 and election deniers, Ohio Capital Journal. The Ohio House GOP is moving to replace the state’s century-old majority-vote standard for passing constitutional amendments with a 60-percent threshold, and a billionaire two states away is putting big money into advancing this anti-democracy effort.
Anmar Frangoul, Billionaire Richard Branson defends space travel, argues it can benefit planet, CNBC. Research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, makes a strong case that the space tourism of Branson and his fellow billionaires threatens Earth’s protective ozone layer.
Marco D'Eramo, Capital’s Militant, New Left Review. Billionaire Peter Thiel may well become the first political activist to win over his audience not by promising anything in particular, but by guaranteeing hell as the only future the rest of us – the herd – deserve.
Sam Adler-Bell and Matthew Sitman, "Succession," "Extrapolations," and TV Writing Today, Know Your Enemy. Writers Dorothy Fortenberry and Will Arbery discuss writing about political topics and themes in these fraught times, along with the Writers Guild strike and why that strike so matters.
Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei, What's Your Worth? Throughline. Media historian Josh Lauer covers credit's origins as a moral judgment and how a tool intended to level the playing field has instead created haves and have-nots.
Congrats to all the new college grads. But once their cap-and-gown ceremonies end, many will have to face the stress of repaying student loans. Women make up 56 percent of college students yet hold nearly two-thirds of student loan debt.
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