A weekly newsletter from the Institute for Policy Studies
Nearly two million people have visited our site so far this month, our highest total ever. This upsurge almost, in fact, broke our site. Why the huge spike?
A fascinating new piece by our Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow Bob Lord seems to have caught some really significant online world attention. Please don’t take the headline on the piece — The First Trillionaire: No Cause for Celebration — literally. No, our nation hasn’t yet welcomed the globe’s first trillionaire. But we’re coming much closer as our corporations become ever more gigantic and our tax policies ever more rich people-friendly.
Bob Lord has an interesting take on the massive interest his piece has engendered. To give a little perspective, he notes that if a million of the people who viewed his post “gave me $1 million, I’d be a trillionaire.”
A trillionaire, in other words, has the wealth of a million millionaires. Says Bob: “No one person should ever have that much wealth.”
Luckily, public opinion agrees with him. A new survey from the Center for Working-Class Politics finds that U.S. voters without four-year college degrees — 60 percent of the electorate — overwhelmingly favor an economic vision for our country that works for everyone, not just CEOs and the top 1 percent.
So where do we start building that country? We’ll never truly take on the super rich, Bob’s piece suggests, so long as millions of Americans identify with them.
Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org team
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
Union Power Rises in the American South
Earlier this spring, some 1,400 workers at the Blue Bird electric bus manufacturer in Fort Valley, Georgia defied history. They voted to join the United Steelworkers, unionizing in a historically union-hostile part of the nation.
Collective power is now building throughout the South. Airport workers in North Carolina, first responders in Virginia, utility workers in Georgia and Kentucky, and Starbucks partners in Tennessee have all successfully organized for unionization.
“We just really need to keep putting the message out there, letting people know that there is a better way than what the employers are wanting you to believe,” says Rinardo Cooper, a USW Local 572-affiliated paper worker and a former Blue Bird employee who helped with the Blue Bird union drive.
Read more at the link below from USW’s international president, Tom Conway, on how unionization will benefit workers in the South — and across the nation!
Unlikely Allies Warren and Vance Join Forces to Claw Back Banker Pay
It’s a rare day in Washington when progressive and conservative lawmakers actually find common ground. But that’s what happened recently when Democrat Elizabeth Warren and her GOP Senate colleague J.D. Vance teamed up to introduce a bill to get execs at failed banks to repay some of their compensation.
The Failed Bank Executives Clawback Act would require top brass to cough up all or some of the compensation they received during the three years preceding a big bank collapse. The clawback would apply to directors, officers, and other high-level decision-makers at banks with $10 billion or more in assets.
The Warren-Vance bill responds to public outrage over dangerous Wall Street greed and will hopefully become law. But this new legislation wouldn’t be necessary if regulators had done their jobs in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. Inequality.org co-editor Sarah Anderson has more.
Washington State’s Super Rich Are Finally Frowning
The tax-the-rich spirit seems to be building some fascinating new momentum in the Pacific Northwest. Washington’s deepest pockets have just become subject to a landmark new state tax, a measure that Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat is describing as the state’s first-ever “wealth-related levy.” Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has some details — and a little historical perspective.
PETULANT PLUTOCRAT OF THE WEEK
Blasting Saudis for Show, Cutting Deals for Dough
This week’s dour deep pocket: Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, the dominant organizer of the world’s most prestigious professional golf tournaments.
What has him sour: The massive outrage last week — from both golf pros and the human rights community — against Monahan’s decision to merge the PGA Tour with the upstart Saudi-backed LIV golf circuit. That decision came after Monahan’s PGA Tour had spent over a year blasting the LIV for paying “astronomical sums” to get PGA pros “to breach their contracts” and use “the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities.”
Monahan’s response to attacks on his secretly negotiated merger deal: “I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite.”
A rich hypocrite. Monahan pocketed as much as $14.2 million a year as PGA Tour CEO. The merger deal now has him serving as the CEO of the newly merged PGA Tour-LIV entity as well.
The last word: “Shame on any of us who thought this could have ended up in any way other than the Saudis’ gobbling up professional men’s golf,” says sports analyst Dave Zirin, “while pink-faced PGA Tour fat cats look away from Saudi atrocities and count their money.”
This week on Inequality.org
Chuck Collins, Create a Congressional Climate Tribunal to Investigate Corporate Deniers. We have the right to know what Exxon officials knew — and when they knew it.
Trish Brown, Protecting Safety Net Programs Means Protecting People from Poverty. Our social safety net is flawed but vital. Let’s work together to protect it from political attacks.
Elsewhere on the Web
Tim Karr, How Musk Is Setting Up Twitter’s New CEO to Fail, Common Dreams. An update on the antics and inanities of the world’s wealthiest man that helps expose just how little insight and intelligence a person needs to become unconscionably rich.
Marcia Angell, Inequality threatens U.S. — and it’s no accident, Santa Fe New Mexican. The former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine sees the United States in a class war that the rich are winning without a struggle.
Michael Smith and Eric Fan, Super-Rich Escaping to Miami Are Insulated From Realities of Crime, Bloomberg. Ultra-rich transplants to Miami can count on resources average citizens can't. The city’s economic disparity rivals Colombia and Angola.
Ishan Anand and Anjana Thampi, Mind the wealth gap, bridge it with wealth tax, Deccan Herald. A wealth tax aligns well with the idea of India as enshrined in its constitution.
Sonali Kolhatkar, Hollywood Finally Starts Skewering White Wealth, Yes! Making visible the often-invisible power and abuse of white billionaires can shape our culture as a whole and make it less acceptable for the uber wealthy to keep hoarding resources.
Branko Marcetic, Clarence Thomas’ Billionaire Benefactor Tied To SCOTUS Bombshell, The Lever. The Supreme Court just gutted wetland protections after lobbying by Harlan Crow’s business interests.
Robert Reich, The demise of CNN. Behind the recent CNN slide to less MAGA-skeptical coverage, the multibillionaire cable magnate John Malone, the leading shareholder in Warner Bros. Discovery and a chief architect in the merger of Discovery and CNN.
Ed Rampell, The Gap Between Billionaires and Ordinary People, Progressive. A review of the important new film AMERICONNED.
Scott Chan, Why CEO Pay Matters to Stock Performance, Investing Daily. What the data show: Companies with the highest-paid execs tend to underperform in the stock market.
Robert Reich, The subtle morality of kissing the as*es of rich as*holes. Bard College president Leon Botstein acknowledges that “among the very rich is a higher percentage of unpleasant and not very attractive people.” But those unpleasants wield extraordinary power over our world’s Botsteins.
Sarah Young, Why Swiss Billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny Was Found Guilty of Asbestos Deaths In an Italian Court — and What Will Happen Next, Forbes. Deaths from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses have been claiming 40 to 50 deaths a year in a small Italian town.
IPS Charity Reform Initiative, Until the River Runs Dry. How wealthy donors use charitable intermediaries to their own advantage, drying up the river of donations.
Paris Marx, The Influencer Industry Is Built on Precarity, Tech Won’t Save Us. Writer and researcher Emily Hund joins to discuss the creation of the influencer industry, how it’s been formalized by companies who profit from it, and what can be done to make it fairer for the people who work in it.
Robin D.G. Kelley, Whiteout: How Racial Capitalism Changed the Color of Opioids in America, Haymarket Books Live. Helena Hansen, Jules Netherland, and David Herzberg — authors of Whiteout — explain how a century of structural racism in drug policy and in profit-oriented medical industries led to mass white overdose deaths.
Inequality is skyrocketing even within the Forbes 400 list of America’s richest. As of May 2023, the richest member of this group held 38 times the wealth of the top fortune in 1982, in today’s dollars. Since 1982, just eight men have held the top 400’s top spot: shipping magnate Daniel Ludwig (1982), oil executive Gordon Getty (1983-1984), Walmart founder Sam Walton (1985-1988), media owner John Kluge (1989-1991), Microsoft founder Bill Gates (1992-2017, except 1993), investor Warren Buffett (1993), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (2018-2021), and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (2022). Check out our interactive wealth charts at the link below.
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