A weekly newsletter from the Institute for Policy Studies
We awoke this morning to a strange new reality: A speaker-less House of Representatives. Why? The Republican Party’s furthest right members have punished Kevin McCarthy for not keeping promises he’d made to acquire power in the first place.
McCarthy got the boot by trying to keep the government open last week to actually govern. This drama will stymie the passage of crucial bills for hungry children, struggling families, immigrants, and asylum seekers.
Our dysfunctional Congress provides a shining example of why we need to reform our campaign finance and political influence systems — pronto. But the speaker saga should also motivate us to drive advocacy beyond the Beltway.
You already know how we feel about private jets: They symbolize extreme wealth inequality and wreak climate disruption. By flying in them, our wealthiest are engaging in what amounts to heir pollution.
This past May, we chronicled the luxury travel boom in High Flyers 2023. That report went on to inform the FATCAT Act, federal legislation Senator Ed Markey introduced to hike fuel taxes on private jets and fund green transit.
Our team has now just released a new study on private jet excess at Hanscom Field, an airport outside Boston. The report profiles the twenty most frequent flyers out of that airport. Any guesses on the worst offenders? The answer from the Boston Globe front-page story summarizing our work: “Billionaires are responsible for large amounts of climate pollution from Hanscom.”
We’ve joined climate activists in a campaign for No Private Jet Expansion at Hanscom — or Anywhere. In the struggle to stop construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure, an attainable first step might be an end to new private jet infrastructure. Our research, we hope, helps make that case clear.
We’ve got plenty more in this issue on municipal struggles for economic justice — and the intense industry efforts to stop them.
Chuck Collins and Bella DeVaan
for the Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org team
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
Bosses Are Battling Their Low-Wage Workers. But We Can Beat Them.
Inayat Sabhikhi has learned the hard way that the battle for decent pay and working conditions never really ends. One Fair Wage, where Sabhikhi manages research and coalition building, has supported campaigns that have delivered huge victories over the past two years for workers who rely on tips.
In New York City, workers won the country’s first minimum wage for delivery drivers. In Washington, D.C., voters passed a ballot initiative to get rid of the local subminimum wage for restaurant servers and other tipped workers.
In both cities, deep-pocketed industry lobby groups are using malicious tactics to undercut these hard-fought wins. So far, they’ve had limited success. Just last week, a judge tossed out legal challenges by Uber and other major gig companies against the New York wage law.
But, as Sabhikhi writes in an Inequality.org exclusive, “worker movements have had to expend precious organizing resources to defend these victories rather than tackling the myriad other issues that plague low-wage workers.” Read on for her views on how to end industry obstructionism once and for all.
An Expansion of Private Jet Capacity? That Should Never Fly.
After a summer of disruptive weather events, all supercharged by climate change, we need to reassess our public infrastructure priorities.
Outside Boston, climate justice activists are taking a stand to do just that. They’re opposing the expansion of Hanscom Field, an airport that already serves as New England’s largest private jet port. A group of private developers is requesting approvals to triple Hanscom's private jet capacity.
Our Institute for Policy Studies team has analyzed the private jet scene at Hanscom. The primary flyers, we’ve found, turn out to be ultra-wealthy travelers who fly to luxury destinations for short trips, emitting tons of carbon and worsening the climate crisis.
Any expansion of Hanscom would release a “carbon bomb” of emissions, all so that our richest can fly to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Hamptons rather than drive or take the ferry.
Our new report, Hanscom High Flyers: Private Jet Excess Doesn’t Justify Airport Expansion, urges regulators to reject a proposal to expand the airport and calls for higher taxes on private jet flights and fuel. Take a look at the link below.
How About a General Strike Against Dollar General?
A president of the United States last week walked a picket line in solidarity with striking auto workers. An amazing sight. What could President Biden do for an encore? He could stand before an outlet of what has become a major American retailer — Dollar General — with a simple two-word placard. The placard’s message? For Shame. Dollar General may well be, as a new Bloomberg news analysis puts it, our nation’s “worst” retail employer. Why does that description so matter? Dollar General’s execs have amassed more outlets than Walmart and Wendy’s combined. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
PETULANT PLUTOCRAT OF THE WEEK
A Messy Divorce of Billionaire Proportions
This week’s dour deep pocket: John Paulson, the 67-year-old hedge fund billionaire who traces the bulk of his $5.1 billion personal fortune to his winning housing market bets at the Great Recession’s outset.
What has him sour: Paulson expected full-bore happy-ever-after once he dumped the 54-year-old Jenny Paulson, his wife of 21 years, for the 35-year-old Alina de Almeida, a “dietitian and Instagram influencer.” But John is now facing a lawsuit from Jenny charging that he secretly siphoned off billions of their shared assets to shield those dollars “from her in the event of a divorce.”
The Paulsons, news reports note, “married in 2000, after meeting at the Bear Stearns cafeteria, where she served him and his staff.” The Romanian-born Jenny first learned of John’s filing for a divorce two years ago after reading about it in the tabloid press.
The last word: Paulson’s lawyers are calling the lawsuit against their client “a selfish money grab by Mrs. Paulson to strip her children of their inheritance.” Add the attorneys: “The extent of her greed is unconscionable.”
This week on Inequality.org
Omar Ocampo, Heir Pollution. The dynastically wealthy are flying more than ever. They will continue to do so at our own climate peril — unless we fight against private jet expansion and, through struggle, mobilize for a green energy future.
Denise Kohr, The Price of Amazon’s “Prime” Business Model Is Our Bodies.
The billion-dollar company profits off pushing workers like me to our physical limits — only to ignore us when we’re hurt on the job.
Elsewhere on the Web
Alex Aronson and Bob Lord, Oh, Look! Billionaires Have Their Perfect Case to Start the Supreme Court Term, Slate. With this year’s High Court term again presenting a docket that looks like a wish list personally stuffed into Justice Clarence Thomas’ breast pocket by Harlan Crow after a long day of duck hunting, the American people should be forgiven for feeling queasy.
Hannah Marder, 25 Facts About Billionaires And The Wealth Gap That Will Make You Say ‘Eat The Rich,’ BuzzFeed. To really understand the difference between a million and a billion, how about using time? One million seconds ago equals about 12 days. One billion seconds ago equals about 32 years.
Robby Porter, Why do we act as though there is not enough for everyone? VTDigger. The same technological magic that creates fantastic wealth for a few now reveals to all of us our extraordinary inequities. The simplest smartphone can show a poor person the waste and indulgence of our richest.
Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza, Why US Automotive CEOs make more than global competition, BBC. Japan — home to Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Honda — has long been a top exporter of automobiles. Yet Japanese auto CEOs make far less than their U.S. peers.
Richard Wolff, Artificial Intelligence: Profit Versus Freedom, Economy for All. One way of using AI yields added profits for our richest few. The other yields added leisure and freedom for our many.
Madiba Dennie, Are There Any Right-Wing Billionaires Clarence Thomas Hasn’t Gone On Secret Trips With? Balls and Strikes. The Koch brothers, no surprise, have now shown up in the Thomas conundrum.
Jon Schwarz, The Secret History of How the Super-Rich Have Kept the Working Class Out of Work, The Intercept. Why have corporate elites opposed moves to a full-employment economy? Amid full employment, the mid-20th century economist Michael Kalecki understood, the threat of the “sack” would lose its capacity to terrify — and undermine corporate power in the process.
Rupert Neate, ‘Saint-Tropez has become LVMH Ville’: locals slam super-rich ‘takeover,’ Guardian. A look at the world’s only fishing village where buying a $26,500 “mini” Celine handbag can be easier than picking up a rod and tackle.
John Johnson, The Psychology of (In)Equality and Fairness, Psychology Today. Whether our instincts favor an equal distribution of resources or an unequal distribution surely depends on a number of factors, especially where we individually stand in the status hierarchy. At the same time, many upper-middle-class Americans want to radically reduce wealth inequality.
Rebecca Vallas and Steven Greenhouse, Labor of Love: A Sit-down with America’s Most Celebrated Labor Reporter, Off-Kilter. A far-ranging chat about the history of Labor Day in the United States and why Greenhouse has become excited about the future of worker-to-worker organizing.
Daniel Denvir and Jo Guldi, Long Land War, The Dig. The global history of the long land war — covering everything from agrarian reform to tenant rights, from India and China to England and Ireland.
Within racial groups, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the largest gender pay gaps among whites and Asians — not because Latinas and Black women have made faster progress towards equity but because average pay for men in these groups falls far below the compensation of white and Asian men. For an interactive version of this chart and other gender inequality charts, check out the link below.
Inequality.org | www.inequality.org | email@example.com
Managing Editor: Isabella DeVaan
Co-Editors: Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, and Sam Pizzigati
Production: Isabella DeVaan