A weekly newsletter from the Institute for Policy Studies
Tomorrow marks 47 years since agents of the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet brutally assassinated two Institute for Policy Studies colleagues right in the heart of Washington, D.C.: Orlando Letelier, a vocal Pinochet critic and a top analyst of global inequality, and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, a 25-year-old development associate.
We hope you’ll join us this weekend, in person or in spirit, to commemorate the memory of Letelier and Moffitt and the 50th anniversary of the Chilean coup that installed Pinochet, wrought such violence, and invites us to pursue justice — everywhere.
This Friday afternoon, Letelier’s son Francisco will discuss how his father’s legacy informs his murals, currently on display at D.C.’s MLK Library. His activist artistry channels Chilean tradition to build resistance and solidarity.
On Saturday morning, Chilean president Gabriel Boric, along with Rep. Jamie Raskin and our own Sarah Anderson, will speak right at the site of the assassination.
Boric — who emerged as a national leader from Chile’s democratic student movement — won election in 2021, vowing to fight “the privileges of the few.” He’s battled as president to better distribute his nation’s wealth, in part by replacing his country’s notorious private pension system that has had the few profiting royally off the many.
But Boric faces an uphill battle, particularly since Chilean lawmakers have rejected new tax hikes on the rich to fund a progressive agenda. Chilean democracy, Boric notes, "is still under construction.”
So is ours. More in this issue on anti-poverty programs, charity reform laws, and union organizing — trusty tools for democratic renovation.
Chuck Collins and Bella DeVaan, for the Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org team
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
Poverty Is Solvable. So Why Don’t We… Do That Solving?
Lakeisha McVey has lived and studied poverty most of her life. After growing up in shelters, churches, and motel rooms as a child in Des Moines, she now leads the Experts on Poverty program at RESULTS.
But, McVey notes, you don’t have to be an expert on poverty “to see why it’s spiking after lawmakers let antipoverty programs expire.”
U.S. lawmakers expanded public assistance programs during the pandemic and, in the process, helped cut child poverty nearly in half. The national Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure fell to its lowest level ever.
Yet the federal government couldn’t keep a good thing going. Lawmakers let those aid program expansions lapse, increasing poverty by a record amount.
“We need to renew and expand those programs as soon as possible,” says McVey. “Poverty is solvable. We know what works. Why don’t we do it?”
Read more of her story at the link below.
Putting Our Heads Together to Rebuild Public Trust in Philanthropy
You probably know by now that our Inequality.org team sees major design flaws — inequality inducements, even — in our contemporary philanthropic system. Foundations and donor-advised funds amass billions, sidelining tax-exempt dollars because of an insufficient mandate to disburse to working charities.
The consequence? Deep distrust in a sector that’s supposed to be making our world a better place, and that distrust has experts from all corners of the charity world deeply troubled. We’ll be convening next week a panel of these thinkers, including our own Chuck Collins, in partnership with the sector’s premiere publication, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and the conservative Giving Review.
Expect vibrant debate and heartening consensus-building on solutions that aim to restore public trust in the charitable sector. You can register at the link below.
America’s Auto Workers: On Strike Against Inequality. Again.
This past Thursday night, just hours before the expiration of the United Auto Workers contract with Detroit’s Big Three, UAW president Shawn Fain had plenty on his mind, with most of it obvious and predictable. The impending end of his union’s auto industry contract, with no new pact in sight. The state of the union’s readiness for what could be the UAW’s most pivotal strike since 1937. But Fain had something else on his mind as well: the unforgivable maldistribution of America’s income and wealth. Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
PETULANT PLUTOCRAT OF THE WEEK
‘We Need to See Pain in the Economy,’ Says Real Estate Magnate
This week’s dour deep pocket: Australian CEO Tim Gurner, a 41-year-old luxury property developer now closing in on his first billion in net worth.
What has him sour: Australia, Gurner told the Financial Review last week, has “a housing crisis coming like we’ve never seen before.” Who does Gurner blame? Australia’s workers and their unions!
Covid, claimed Gurner, left workers feeling “they didn’t really want to work so much anymore.” Workers Down Under, he added, “have been paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years, and we need to see that change.”
And what can speed that change? Opined Gurner: “Unemployment has to jump 40 to 50 percent, in my view.”
The last word: Gurner may have a bright future, one Australian Labor Party lawmaker noted after the CEO’s comments went viral, as “a cartoon supervillain.” Doing his best to avoid that future, Gurner ended the week with an apology on social media. Losing jobs, he posted, “has a profound impact” on workers, “and I sincerely regret that my words did not convey empathy for those in that situation.”
This week on Inequality.org
Sarah Anderson, Using Public Art to Narrow the Gaps. After his father was killed in a 1976 terrorist attack in Washington, D.C., Francisco Letelier turned to murals as a tool for building solidarity and reducing economic, political, and cultural divides.
Helen Flannery, More than Half of America’s 20 Top Public Charities Are Donor-Advised Funds. The highest-earning DAF now takes in $11 billion more than the highest-earning working charity.
Elsewhere on the Web
Drew Lindsay, A Short History of the Fast and Furious Rise of DAFs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Donor-advised funds are now more popular than private foundations and rank among the most powerful forces in philanthropy, new data shows.
John Burbank, Overpaid Seattle CEOs need maximum wage limits, Real Change. We have a minimum wage. We now need to legislate maximum compensation, explains the retired executive director of Seattle’s Economic Opportunity Institute.
Kate Stringer, Here’s how social and economic inequalities are impacting everyone’s life expectancy in America, University of Washington School of Public Health. Even our healthiest in the United States show lower health levels than ordinary people in nations with far more even distributions of wealth.
Sam Knight, Billionaires Cash In On Abusive Farm Worker Scam, The Lever. To staff their agricultural properties, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, and other tycoons are using a controversial visa program linked to labor abuses and human trafficking.
Lynn Parramore, How Shareholder Value Fixation Turns AI and Robotics into a Recipe for Failure, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Apple has spent over $610 billion since October 2012 buying back its own shares. We need a shift, says economist Bill Lazonick, that has firms using resources for things like retraining workers.
William Gale and Semra Vignaux, The difference in how the wealthy make money — and pay taxes, Brookings. Capital gains reform and taxing intergenerational wealth transfers, among other steps, could shift the tax burden to the wealthy.
Robert Kuttner, The Stealth Attack on the Power to Tax, American Prospect. The Supreme Court may soon deliver onto our rich another windfall by overturning a well-established form of federal taxation.
Owen Jones, Robbing the poor to fund tax cuts for the rich – Britain is a Tory test lab for a new rightwing populism, Guardian. Decades ago, the British served as lab rats for privatization, tax cuts for the rich, and the crushing of trade unions. Now we see a right-wing populism that fuses crude nationalism, culture wars, and migrant bashing.
Victoria Richards, `It Costs How Much?’ 18 Things We All Enjoyed Until The Rich Ruined It, MSN. The many injustices that wealth inequality nurtures.
Ian Masters, Child Poverty Has Doubled in a Year From an Historic Low of 5.2% to 12.4%, Background Briefing. Institute for Policy Studies poverty expert Karen Dolan discusses the Census Bureau's troubling new data.
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Boundaries, Burnout, and the 'Goopification' of Self-Care, The Ezra Klein Show. Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a psychiatrist, discusses patients whose stresses come from systemic failures like financial precariousness and the lack of family leave.
Nick Hanauer, What the new Draft Merger Guidelines could mean for the economy, Pitchfork Economics. The U.S. Department of Justice's Maggie Goodlander explains why new guidelines can help bring competition back by making it harder for big corporations to swallow each other up.
The United States currently hosts more wealth than any other nation. But the top-heavy distribution of that wealth leaves typical American adults with far less wealth than their counterparts in other industrial nations. For an interactive version of this chart and other global inequality charts, check out the link below.
Inequality.org | www.inequality.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Editor: Isabella DeVaan
Co-Editors: Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, and Sam Pizzigati
Production: Isabella DeVaan